We Resist: Day 334

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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: Matt Damon Won't Stop Talking and Tacoma Amtrak Derailment Investigation Begins.

Is there anything we can do to stop the Republican tax scam bill at this point? Probably not! But call your Senators and Reps anyway, just to get in your final pleas to stop this disaster! An important part of RESISTING is doing everything you can, even when it feels futile. Because maybe it isn't futile! And, even if it is, always leave it all on the floor. Never leave room for the regret that maybe you could have done more. For your own sake. ♥

Eric Levitz at NY Mag: The Trump Tax Cuts Just Got Even More Skewed to the Rich. "Two weeks ago, the Senate passed a tax-cut bill that would have delivered 62.1 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of Americans. A slew of public opinion polls subsequently showed large majorities of the public opposing the GOP tax plan — with a USA Today/Suffolk University poll declaring it the least popular piece of major legislation in three decades. ...Republicans listened carefully to this feedback. And during deliberations in conference committee, the GOP leadership decided to change the bill in ways that would alter the distribution of its benefits: Now, instead of giving 62 percent of its tax cuts to the one percent, the Republican tax plan gives 83 percent of its tax cuts to the one percent." Emphasis mine.

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Following Donald Trump's address introducing his deplorable "America First" national security strategy, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Deputy Assistant to the President Michael Anton if Trump had actually read the national security strategy document. It's remarkable that this is a question a journalist would even ask about a sitting U.S. president, but Anton's response proves exactly what it needs to be asked in the first place.

WOLF BLITZER: Joining us now: The White House National Security Spokesman Michael Anton. Michael, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: I got a copy, 55 pages, of this [holds up pages] National Security Strategy of the United States of America — a lengthy document; very detailed. Have you read the whole strategy document?

ANTON: We've — I've been reading it, actually, in development for many months. So, yes.

BLITZER: Has the president, as far as you know, read the entire strategy document?

ANTON: The president has been involved in the drafting of it from the beginning, ah, has been presented with sections of it over the past many months, and was briefed on the final document several weeks ago. And then the president himself, uh, personally led the presentation of the document to, to his Cabinet only about a week ago.

BLITZER: But has he read the whole document?

ANTON: I can't say that he's read every line and every word. He's certainly had the document, the entire, um, for — throughout, throughout the process and has been briefed on it. And remember, this document specifically is based on his words; it's based on his campaign speeches and his major speeches this year. So this document is a summation of everything that he has been talking about for, ah, at least the past two years and really much longer. And everything he's been trying to operationalize in 2017 as president on the foreign policy realm.
I've never seen anyone work so hard at trying to convince us that the President of the United States is totally doing his homework.

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Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Carol D. Leonnig at the Washington Post: Trump Team's Meeting with Mueller's Office Poised to Ratchet Up Tensions. "White House lawyers are expected to meet with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's office late this week seeking good news: that his sprawling investigation's focus on [Donald] Trump will soon end and their client will be cleared. But people familiar with the probe say that such assurances are unlikely and that the meeting could trigger a new, more contentious phase between the special counsel and a frustrated president, according to administration officials and advisers close to Trump. People with knowledge of the investigation said it could last at least another year."

I'll note once more: Whether you broadly feel cynical or feel optimistic about Mueller's investigation, we all need to be concerned that, the longer this investigation drags on, the worse the best possible outcome gets. Even if Mueller's investigation results in Trump's removal (or resignation) from office somewhere down the road, which is still incredibly unlikely, how much irreversible damage will be done in the interim, with a vice-president and his entire party positioned to protect every erosion of our norms and liberties? We are running out of time. If we already haven't.

Emma Loop at BuzzFeed: The Senate's Russia Investigation Is Now Looking into Jill Stein. "Dennis Trainor Jr., who worked for the Stein campaign from January to August of 2015, says Stein contacted him on Friday saying the Senate Intelligence Committee had requested that the campaign comply with a document search. ...When asked Monday what the committee was looking for from the Stein campaign, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the committee's chairman, responded, 'collusion with the Russians.' Burr said that the committee is 'just starting' its work investigating two campaigns, but did not elaborate."

Unless you count Gary Johnson, I suppose. Which most voters didn't. I did, however, when making my observation that every single one of Clinton's leading opponents suggested working with Russia in some manner, using the justification of joining forces to defeat ISIS. Her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, and all of her general election opponents — Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson — all four from across the political spectrum, and all four with campaign ties to Russia, each offered a policy of aligning with Russia, with the rationale of defeating ISIS, a foreign policy position that was not being advocated by any serious politicians before the 2016 election. And a rationale that has never made, and continues to make, no sense based on the most basic understanding of Russia's objectives and alliances in Syria. Huh.

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Sally Q. Yates at USA Today: Who Are We as a Country? Time to Decide. "And there is something else that separates us from an autocracy, and that's truth. There is such a thing as objective truth. We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications. Not only is there such a thing as objective truth, failing to tell the truth matters. We can't control whether our public servants lie to us. But we can control whether we hold them accountable for those lies or whether, in either a state of exhaustion or to protect our own political objectives, we look the other way and normalize an indifference to truth. We are not living in ordinary times, and it is not enough for us to admire our nation's core values from afar." You listening, Republicans?

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Toluse Olorunnipa at Bloomberg: Trump Asks 'How's Your 401(k)?' But Most Voters Don't Have One. "Trump has tested out the line this month at a fundraiser, a campaign rally, and in a White House meeting, predicting that the rising U.S. stock market will help him win re-election. But only about 45 percent of private-sector workers participate in any employer-sponsored retirement plan, and the lower-income workers in Trump's political base are the least likely to hold money in such an account, according to the Government Accountability Office." This seems like a fact Trump has never encountered — and probably never will, because he's surrounded himself with sycophants.

Donald G. McNeil, Jr. at the New York Times: A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted. "Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks. Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine. Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic." Welp.

Zack Ford at ThinkProgress: Roy Moore Hasn't Conceded and Is Still Fundraising a Week After the Election That He Lost. "Roy Moore (R), who was twice removed as Alabama Supreme Court Justice for violating federal court orders and who has been accused by multiple women of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers, still refuses to concede the Senate Alabama election to his opponent Doug Jones (D). His latest claim is that voter fraud must have rigged the election against him. In a fundraising email Monday — yes, a fundraising email nearly a week after the election — Moore announced that his campaign had started an 'Election Integrity Program' to investigate 'potential voter fraud and various other irregularities.'" OMFG go away, you creep!

Everything is fine:

Everything is not fine.

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[CN: Sexual harassment and/or assault. Covers entire section.]

Emily Cadei at McClatchy: Fear and Yelling in L.A. Congressman's Office Led to Silence on Harassment, Aides Say. "Los Angeles-area Congressman Brad Sherman says none of his staff ever complained about longtime aide and California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who's been accused of sexual harassment while working in the congressman's district office. Eight former aides said the environment in Sherman's D.C. and California offices was so toxic, it was laughable to think junior staff would have felt comfortable raising concerns about harassment – or anything else. ...While no one suggested the 11-term congressman was aware of Dababneh's alleged conduct, three former staffers doubted he would have responded well to criticism of his onetime district director."

Elana Schor at Politico: Kaine's Bid for Senate Harassment Data Rejected. "The secretive office that processes workplace misconduct complaints on Capitol Hill has declined Sen. Tim Kaine's request for data on sexual harassment claims filed in the upper chamber — data that Kaine had said he would make public. The Virginia Democrat sought details Dec. 6 on the taxpayer-funded settlements that the Hill's Office of Compliance approved for Senate employers, adding that he would release the broad outlines of the data in the interest of transparency as Congress considers an overhaul of its own harassment system. ...In a letter responding to Kaine's request, the compliance office's executive director said 'confidentiality provisions' of the 1995 law that created the Hill's workplace misconduct system prevented a detailed response."

Susan Chira and Catrin Einhorn at the New York Times: How a Culture of Harassment Persisted on Ford's Factory Floors.
In August, the federal agency that combats workplace discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reached a $10 million settlement with Ford for sexual and racial harassment at the two Chicago plants. A lawsuit is still making its way through the courts. This, too, happened before: In the 1990s, a string of lawsuits and an E.E.O.C. investigation resulted in a $22 million settlement and a commitment by Ford to crack down.

For Sharon Dunn, who sued Ford back then, the new lawsuit was a fresh blow. "For all the good that was supposed to come out of what happened to us, it seems like Ford did nothing," she said. "If I had that choice today, I wouldn't say a damn word."

In recent months, as women have spoken out about harassment — at media companies and technology start-ups, in the entertainment industry and on Capitol Hill — they have spurred quick action, with accused men toppling from lofty positions, corporations pledging change and lawmakers promising new protections.

But much less attention has been focused on the plight of blue-collar workers, like those on Ford's factory floors. After the #MeToo movement opened a global floodgate of accounts of mistreatment, a former Chicago worker proposed a new campaign: "#WhatAboutUs."
Asawin Suebsaeng at the Daily Beast: Silicon Valley Star T.J. Miller Accused of Sexually Assaulting and Punching a Woman. "Miller's alleged victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said she is coming forward now in part because of the societal awakening to issues of sexual assault and harassment that has come in the aftermath of misconduct allegations that have rocked the entertainment industry. The Daily Beast is withholding her identity because of her fears of retribution. But for the purposes of this piece, we will call her Sarah. Miller has told friends over the years that he was wrongfully accused. And in a statement to The Daily Beast, Miller and his wife, Kate, denied any wrongdoing. Instead, they cast themselves as the victims." Of course they did.

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

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