We Resist: Day 330

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: This Is Sabotage and Today in Rape Culture.

Stephen Ohlemacher and Marcy Gordon at the AP: GOP Leaders Move to Appease Rubio, Finalize Big Tax Bill.
Congressional Republicans finalized their sweeping tax package Friday, expanding its child tax credit to placate a reluctant GOP senator as they pushed to muscle the bill through Congress next week and give President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been a potential holdout, though lawmakers have been working to appease him. Rubio wrote on Twitter earlier Friday that he was dissatisfied with the size of a tax credit that low-income families can claim for their children.

...At the White House, Trump said he was confident that Congress would pass the legislation. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans — Trump among them — and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families.

"We're putting in a tremendous child tax credit and it is increasing on a daily basis," Trump said. "I think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week which will be monumental."

I don't know what I can say that I haven't already. This is a vile bill, and it will fundamentally alter life in the United States for the worse, for hundreds of millions of people.

Meanwhile, Ed Pilkington at the Guardian: A Journey Through a Land of Extreme Poverty: Welcome to America. And that's what is happening in this country now, before this despicable bill passes.

Fuck the Republican Party. Greedy, deplorable scum.

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Eleanor Clift at the Daily Beast: Trump's Numbers Near a Tipping Point. "Public opinion can take off like a runaway train once it gets going. [Donald] Trump, already polling lower than any of his predecessors in his first year, might soon be hearing the hoofbeats of history. At 32 percent in the most recent Pew and Monmouth polls, he is perilously close to what most historians and political scientists say is a tipping point of 30 percent, below which a president can no longer effectively lead."

Which would matter if this were a traditional presidency, but it is not. Trump was never able to effectively lead. And he doesn't respond to poll numbers, which he simply decries as "fake news." As long as there are people who will still show up to applaud for him at rallies, he'll feel popular enough to not give a fuck about anything else, and, if his ego starts to feel threatened by low polling, he'll start a war to drive his numbers back up, because he's an authoritarian nightmare.

Speaking of which, since Nikki Haley's attempt to sell a war with Iran has been "met with skepticism," Lindsey Graham is continuing his reprehensible crusade to sell a war with North Korea. Goddammit.

In other dreadful foreign policy news... Peter Beaumont at the Guardian: Mike Pence's Holy Land Visit in Disarray After Jerusalem Recognition.
The lights are already illuminated on Bethlehem's huge Christmas tree in Manger Square.

Nearby, at the narrow entrance to the Church of the Nativity, holiday pilgrims queue daily for their chance to descend into the cramped subterranean shrine said to be the birthplace of Jesus.

One person, however, who will not be entering the church, barring a last-minute diplomatic miracle, is the US vice-president, Mike Pence.

A proposed visit to Bethlehem and the Nativity church — now cancelled — had been intended as the highlight of a tour of the Middle East next week.

That tour has been thrown into disarray by Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the consequent refusal of Palestinian and many Christian leaders to meet Pence.

Part of the reason is that Pence — who stood next to Trump during his announcement — is seen by Palestinians as having been a key influence on Trump regarding the decision, and appears to have made little effort to repair the damage.

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Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: DOJ Now Says Early Release of FBI Agents' Private Texts to Reporters Was 'Not Authorized' by the Department. "Sarah Isgur Flores, a DOJ spokeswoman, told Politico that the text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were given to key members of the House Judiciary Committee the night before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's public testimony on Wednesday. The DOJ's Public Affairs division shared the same messages with a group of reporters after they were shared with the lawmakers, Flores said. But some members of the media 'had already received copies.' 'As we understand now, some members of the media had already received copies of the texts before that — but those disclosures were not authorized by the department,' she said." So does that mean the Deputy Attorney General of the United States just lied under oath?

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Mueller Requested Docs from Trump Campaign Data Firm. "Mueller reportedly asked the data firm, Cambridge Analytica, to provide his investigative team with emails of employees who worked with the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke with the WSJ. The House Intelligence Committee, which is also probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the foreign power, also requested similar documents from the data firm earlier this year. Cambridge Analytica's CEO Alexander Nix was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, the people familiar with the investigation told WSJ."

The Democratic ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Jerry Nadler, want to know more about this, too.

David Ignatius at the Washington Post: The Russia Facts Are Hiding in Plain Sight. "Trump shouted out his defense earlier this month: 'What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion!' he told reporters over the whir of his helicopter on the White House lawn. Since then, Trump's supporters have been waging a bitter counterattack against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, alleging bias and demanding: 'Investigate the investigators.' But what do the facts show? There is a growing, mostly undisputed body of evidence describing contacts between Trump associates and Russia-linked operatives. ...As Republicans seek to discredit the investigation, it's useful to remember just what we've learned so far..."

Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: The Major Tell in Trump's Comments About a Possible Pardon for Michael Flynn. "During a brief press scrum on Friday morning, [Donald] Trump was asked about if he would 'consider a pardon for Michael Flynn.' ...Trump did not deny that he has considered a pardon for Flynn. 'I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,' Trump said. 'We'll see what happens, let's see. I can say this — when you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.' The word 'yet' is particularly notable. By suggesting that he may eventually consider a pardon, Trump could be interpreted as indicating to Flynn that whether or not he gets one depends on the extent to which he protects Trump and his family."

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[If you can't view the image embedded in the tweet, you can read the full statement at Rep. Waters' website.]

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman: I Will Sue to Stop Illegal Rollback of Net Neutrality. "Today's vote also follows a public comment process that was deeply corrupted, including two million comments that stole the identities of real people. This is a crime under New York law — and the FCC's decision to go ahead with the vote makes a mockery of government integrity and rewards the very perpetrators who scammed the system to advance their own agenda. This is not just an attack on the future of our internet. It's an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the integrity of every American's voice in government — and we will fight back."

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[Content Note: Sexual harassment and assault] Jana Winter at Foreign Policy: Head of Congressional Ethics Office Sued for Abusing Position, Accused of Assaulting Women. "A top congressional ethics official who oversees investigations into misconduct by lawmakers is accused in a federal lawsuit of verbally abusing and physically assaulting women and using his federal position to influence local law enforcement, according to a complaint filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania last month. The ongoing lawsuit against Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, stems from his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, and includes a range of allegations relating to his behavior that evening and in the following two-and-half years." Perfect. Just fucking perfect. Seethe.

Rebecca Leber, Andy Kroll, and Russ Choma: The EPA Hired a Major Republican Opposition Research Firm to Track Press Activity. "Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt's office track and shape press coverage of the agency. According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt's office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign." Cool. That makes me feel amazing about doing my job. And about paying my taxes!

Okay. I mean, neat curve on this garbage rollercoaster, or whatever.

Derek Hawkins at the Washington Post: Trump Judicial Nominee Fumbles Basic Questions About the Law. "Nomination hearings for U.S. district judges tend to be dry affairs that offer little in the way of mass entertainment — in other words, they're not typically the stuff of viral videos. But a clip of one of [Donald] Trump's federal judicial nominees struggling to answer rudimentary questions about the law garnered well more than 1 million views in a matter of hours on Thursday night and stoked speculation that another of the president's nominations might get derailed."

Kennedy is a Republican, by the way. That's just how bad these fucking nominees are.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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