We Resist: Day 336

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

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.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Rogue Republicans Conspire to Protect Trump and Virginia Election: Now No Votes Matter.

David Smith at the Guardian: Trump Will Personally Save up to $15m Under Tax Bill, Analysis Finds. "Analysis by a leading Washington thinktank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), finds that changes to business rules will save Trump roughly $11m to $15m per year, while an amendment to the estate tax — the tax on the transfer of an estate of a deceased person — would potentially save his heirs $4.5m. ...Along with Trump himself, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary; Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration; Betsy DeVos, the education secretary; Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary; and Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, will benefit to the tune of $4.5m from changes to the estate tax, according to the CAP."

And it's not just Trump and his minions, of course. [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] John W. Schoen at CNBC: Dozens of Lawmakers Stand to Reap a Tax Windfall Due to a GOP Loophole. "The measure — added late Friday to the $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts — reduces the tax rate on 'pass-through' income derived from real estate. Owners of such businesses are allowed to 'pass through' the profits from these enterprises to their individual tax returns, which lowers the amount of tax they owe. Those benefits will now go to roughly four dozen Republican House and Senate members who voted for the bill, according to an analysis of personal financial disclosures for CNBC by the Center for Responsive Politics. They include Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Bob Corker of Tennessee, and James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee and Vern Buchanan of Florida." How lucky for them.

John T. Harvey at Forbes: The Simple Illogic of the Tax Bill. "I've received numerous requests to break down the tax bill in terms of the exact impact on each affected group, but I don't see the point. The problem isn't in the details; it's in the lack of economic logic governing its overall structure. Precisely where the holes were in the Titanic wasn't nearly as significant as the fact that they were there at all."

* * *

Ben Riley-Smith at the Telegraph: U.S. Making Plans for 'Bloody Nose' Military Attack on North Korea. "America is drawing up plans for a 'bloody nose' military attack on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme, The Telegraph understands. The White House has 'dramatically' stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months amid fears diplomacy is not working, well-placed sources said. ...Three sources — two former US officials familiar with current thinking and a third figure in the administration — confirmed military options were being worked up."

Jane Onyanga-Omara at USA Today: North Korea Vows to Retaliate over U.S. WannaCry Accusation. "North Korea vowed to retaliate Thursday after the White House accused it of being behind the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year. Thomas P. Bossert, homeland security adviser to [Donald] Trump, wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that 'after careful investigation' the U.S. 'publicly attributes the massive 'WannaCry' cyberattack to North Korea.' ...In a statement carried by state media, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it had nothing to do with the attack and would never tolerate such 'reckless' allegations. It did not say how it would respond. 'The Trump administration is inciting an extremely confrontational atmosphere by even concocting a plot against us at this delicate moment when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at the crossroads of nuclear war or peace,' a ministry spokesman said."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Andy Sharp at Bloomberg: North Korea Begins Tests to Load Anthrax onto ICBMs, Report Says. "North Korea has begun tests to load anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person connected to South Korea's intelligence services. The report said the testing involves ensuring the anthrax survives the immense temperatures generated during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. North Korea has a stockpile of between 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, and is capable of producing biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox, South Korea has previously said."

Adam Taylor and Tim Meko at the Washington Post: What Made North Korea's Weapons Programs So Much Scarier in 2017. "Building on decades of tests, North Korea has made remarkable technological gains in the past year, despite diplomatic and economic isolation. In the space of just a few months, Pyongyang conducted tests that showed it had boosted the range of its ballistic missiles and increased the yield of its nuclear weapons, as well as other more subtle advances that shocked outside observers. North Korea tested only one nuclear weapon this year, as opposed to two last year. However, the size of the weapon tested Sept. 3 dwarfed all previous tests — most experts agree that the bomb's yield, or the energy generated by the blast, was at least 140 kilotons. Some respected analysts have even pegged it at 250 kilotons. If the higher estimate is true, that would mean that North Korea has a bomb almost 17 times the size of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945."

And let's be frank here: A big part of what has made North Korea, and its weapon program, so much scarier in 2017 is the fact that the United States president so clearly wants a fucking war with North Korea and continually tries to provoke that nightmare into existence.

North Korea having a nuclear weapon of any size is scary. North Korea having a nuclear weapon and being taunted into using it by the leader of a global superpower is even scarier.

* * *

Peter Beaumont at the Guardian: Trump Threatens to Cut Aid to Countries over U.N.Jerusalem Vote. "Donald Trump has threatened to withhold 'billions' of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the U.S. president's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. His comments came after the US ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, wrote to about 180 of 193 member states warning that she will be 'taking names' of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy. Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump amplified Haley's threat. 'Let them vote against us,' he said. 'We'll save a lot. We don't care. But this isn't like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,' he said. 'We're not going to be taken advantage of any longer.'"

Al Jazeera News: Erdogan: Mr. Trump, Turkey's Democracy Is Not for Sale. "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the international community to teach the United States 'a good lesson' in an upcoming U.N. General Assembly vote on Washington's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ...'Mr Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear,' Erdogan said at a cultural awards ceremony in Ankara on Thursday. 'I call on the whole world: Don't you dare sell your democratic struggle and your will for petty dollars. I hope and expect the U.S. won't get the result it expects from there (the U.N.) and the world will give a very good lesson to the U.S.,' Erdogan added."

Patrick Wintour at the Guardian: Trump's Bullying and Bluster on Jerusalem Is Bad News for the United Nations. "If soft power, in the words of Joseph Nye, 'is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion,' then Trump has become the ultimate exponent of hard power diplomacy. ...But there has been something qualitatively different about the US treatment of fellow member states over Jerusalem. The line of attack is so populist, so redolent of a protection racket, that it can only be aimed at a domestic audience rather than an external one. As countless diplomats have warned in the past 24 hours, it will also be counter-productive, only deepening US isolation."

* * *

Tom Winter, Pete Williams, and Ken Dilanian at NBC News: Prosecutors Ask FBI Agents for Info on Uranium One Deal. "On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News. The interviews with FBI agents are part of the Justice Department's effort to fulfill a promise an assistant attorney general made to Congress last month to examine whether a special counsel was warranted to look into what has become known as the Uranium One deal, a senior Justice Department official said."

Even Fox News' Shep Smith has debunked this trash, but still they are pursuing it because LOCK HER UP LOCK HER UP LOCK HER UP.

It would be great, by the way, if members of the political press wouldn't help them by conceding their mendacious frames:

For fuck's sake.

* * *

Stephanie Baker and Irina Reznik at Bloomberg: Mueller Is Looking into a U.S. Foundation Backed by Russian Money. "The foundation, called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative (HRAGI), offers a window into Russian efforts to influence U.S. politics before the presidential election. It was financed by $500,000 in donations, mostly from wealthy Russians with ties to Petr Katsyv, deputy director of Russian Railways and a longtime acquaintance of Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. Rather than a nonprofit helping unite Americans with Russian adoptees, the foundation was a lobbying vehicle against sanctions. 'This whole organization is a sham and a front to pursue the Russian government's objectives,' said Bill Browder, a U.S.-born fund manager whose accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison after accusing Russian officials of fraud. Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital Management, persuaded the U.S. to pass the Magnitsky Act sanctioning Russian officials implicated in his death."

Murray Waas at Foreign Policy: White House Counsel Knew in January Flynn Probably Violated the Law. "The White House turned over records this fall to special counsel Robert Mueller revealing that in the very first days of the Trump presidency, Don McGahn researched federal law dealing both with lying to federal investigators and with violations of the Logan Act, a centuries-old federal law that prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments, according to three people with direct knowledge of the confidential government documents. The records reflected concerns that McGahn, the White House counsel, had that Michael Flynn, then the president's national security advisor, had possibly violated either one or both laws at the time, according to two of the sources. The disclosure that these records exist and that they are in the possession of the special counsel could bolster any potential obstruction of justice case against [Donald] Trump."

Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: A Trio of House Republicans Lobbing Attacks on Mueller Have Been in Touch with the White House. "A House Republican [Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio] who has repeatedly characterized special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and the FBI more broadly, as biased and politically motivated indicated on Wednesday that he has spoken with the White House about Mueller's probe. ...Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, the first lawmaker to openly demand that Mueller be fired, discussed the special counsel probe with Trump aboard Air Force One earlier this month ahead of a rally in Florida. ...Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, another House Judiciary Committee member who put forward a provision in August that would have severely limited the scope and funding of Mueller's probe, was also on the flight with Gaetz and Trump." The collusion was right out in the open, and so is the obstruction.

Further on the subject of Mueller's investigation, here are three more things:

1. Sarah Kendzior writes on Twitter:
I'm less worried about Mueller being fired than about Mueller showing conclusive evidence of criminal acts and there being no repercussions for the incriminated. Trump confessed to obstruction of justice multiple times. Kushner and Sessions were caught lying on their clearance forms about foreign contacts. Those are merely two examples of open, serious offenses for which there's been no penalty.

Many anticipate firing of Mueller as a breaking point that will spur protests and sink Trump. Do not count on that. It is possible Mueller will be fired. What is worse is if crimes openly committed by Trump and admin — obstruction of justice, perjury, lying on federal forms — go unaddressed and many elude indictment.

There are MANY more crimes at play here — ranging from financial crimes dating back decades to treason — but they're largely suspected. Other crimes are not in question. That those who've committed, at best, severe breaches of protocol and more likely, illegal actions, not only remain in power but control the mechanisms of power should concern you greatly. They are acting with impunity in every respect, with no concern for public opinion or for the rule of law. They are behaving like a consolidated autocratic regime.

This is why I was adamant a year and a half ago that this needed to be investigated thoroughly and people who committed open offenses held to account quickly, before consolidation took hold. 2016 was your best bet. They may not fire Mueller — because it's unnecessary. If someone like Kushner — who is a huge ongoing risk to national security -- can hold power unchallenged, then true accountability is in question.

...But just as people had a massive failure of imagination earlier, they are failing to envision an outcome worse than Mueller's dismissal — that his findings could be both extraordinarily damning yet ultimately inconsequential in terms of who holds power.

...When you warn the public that Trump seeks to shut down the Mueller probe, the subtext is that this is a lawless regime who will abuse power so as not to be held accountable for blatant crimes.
2. Me, also on Twitter, with more on the idea that it will empower Trump if Mueller's investigation does not result in his removal:
If Mueller finishes his probe and doesn't conclude that Trump, Pence, and Sessions did anything prosecutable, despite so much evidence of collusion, they're going to claim exoneration, which is a real worry, for a few reasons.

First, because lots of people are invested in some magical outcome of Trump, Pence, and basically the entire administration being swept from office. That is not going to happen, and if nothing at all happens, there will be widespread disillusionment.

Secondly, because a long investigation followed by a conclusion that allowed the top of the executive branch to claim total exoneration is essentially what happened with Fitzgerald's investigation of BushCo in the Plame outing. Mueller's investigation is like Fitz's on steroids.

When Libby was the biggest fish nabbed by Fitz, people were disillusioned AND BushCo was wildly empowered. They behaved with even more contempt for the rule of law than they had been previously. And they were amateurs compared to this lot. Imagine what will happen if/when Trump is empowered in the same way. It's going to get ugly. It could, frankly, be even worse than a Constitutional crisis provoked by Trump firing Rosenstein, or pressuring him/his replacement to fire Mueller.

Any way this plays out, the outcome is going to be troubling. And that has everything to do with the fact that Congressional Republicans refuse to do their job of delivering checks and balances on the executive.
3. Greg Sargent, at the Washington Post, with more on the idea that Democrats are doing the work of conveying that the Trump administration is a lawless regime (to borrow Kendzior's words) who must be held accountable:
The Post's Paul Kane reports this morning that despite their rhetoric downplaying this possibility, House Democrats are privately preparing for a possible effort to impeach [Donald] Trump, should they regain the majority.

That's excellent news. This is exactly what Democrats should be doing — right now.

Not just because an impeachment battle might actually happen, but also for another reason: Democrats will need to find a more effective way to talk to the American people about the serial degradation of our democracy we are seeing in the Trump era, for the good of the party, yes, but also for the good of the country.

...[I]t's perfectly plausible that there actually will be a constitutional crisis in coming weeks or months. We don't know if Trump will try to remove special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but some of his friends and advisers believe this a genuine possibility: Trump's lawyers are telling him he'll be exonerated soon, but if not, Trump may go into "meltdown." If that happens, we just don't know how congressional Republicans will respond. Right now, they should be sounding a loud, clanging alarm, and they simply are not doing this in any meaningful sense.

Even if it doesn't happen, Mueller could end up finding very serious, albeit not criminal, wrongdoing. We don't know how Republicans would respond to that, either. If Republicans punt in either scenario and don't act in the face of obviously impeachable offenses, Democrats will have to take the lead in making a big case to the country about why Trump's aggregate misconduct has crossed over into a legitimate basis for undoing the effects of the election. This is a difficult and complicated business, and Democrats should be preparing for it, with a current effort to grapple with the totality and larger significance of that misconduct, which is, if anything, mounting.
On that note:

This is closer to the action I wanted to see announced in Senator Mark Warner's address on the floor of the Senate yesterday. It's still not as strong as I'd like, but I feel slightly more reassured knowing that the Democrats have a plan. Make the case.

* * *

Today in Facebook is ruining the planet: Julia Angwin, Noam Scheiber, and Ariana Tobin at ProPublica: Dozens of Companies Are Using Facebook to Exclude Older Workers from Job Ads. And Lauren Etter, Vernon Silver, and Sarah Frier at Bloomberg: How Facebook's Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda. These are both really important exposés, and I hope you will take the time to read them both in their entireties.

[CN: Addiction; neglect; death] Lenny Bernstein and Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post: Fueled by Drug Crisis, U.S. Life Expectancy Declines for a Second Straight Year. "American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic. ...The development is a dismal sign for the United States, which boasts some of the world's highest spending on medical care, and more evidence of the toll the nation's opioid crisis is exacting on younger and middle-aged Americans, experts said."

[CN: Disease; death; image of suffering child at link] Colin Dwyer at NPR: 'A Hideous Milestone in the 21st Century': Cholera Cases in Yemen Pass 1 Million.
It has been roughly eight months since cholera first took hold in war-torn Yemen. In that brief span, the waterborne disease has exacted a staggering toll on the country's population — and that toll only continues to rise by the day.

The number of suspected cases of cholera has crossed one million, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced Thursday. Of those who have contracted the disease since April, the World Health Organization believes more than 2,200 people have died of it — almost a third of whom are children.

In its announcement on Twitter, the ICRC was left nearly speechless, elaborating on its confirmation with just three words: "This is devastating."

...[Y]ears of war and eroding infrastructure have left Yemen teetering on the brink of an abyss.

Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S. has conducted an airstrike campaign to dislodge the Houthis, an Iran-backed rebel group that seized large expanses of the country, including the capital. Caught between the warring sides have been the Yemeni civilians, who have suffered as the violence disrupted food supplies, undermined access to clean water, and diminished the capacity of medical facilities — when they've managed to stay open at all.
Goddammit. Sob.

* * *

Let me end with a wee bit of good news...

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

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus