We Resist: Day 356

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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: Deadly Mudslides in Southern California; DACA: The Good News and the Bad News; and U.S. President Calls for End of Democracy.

I'm going to start with some good resistance news today!

The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Releases Report Detailing Two Decades of Putin's Attacks on Democracy, Calling for Policy Changes to Counter Kremlin Thread Ahead of 2018, 2020 Elections.
A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report [pdf] released Wednesday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Committee's ranking member, details Russian president Vladimir Putin's nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report comes one year after Senator Cardin introduced the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which served as the basis for the sanctions package signed into law last August, and makes a series of recommendations to adequately bolster U.S. and European defenses and counter the growing Kremlin threat to democratic institutions.

"Putin's Asymmetrical Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security," finds that [Donald] Trump's refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government has hampered efforts to mobilize our government, strengthen our institutions, and work with our European allies to counter Putin's interference in democracies abroad.

Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president, and without a strong U.S. response, institutions and elections here and throughout Europe will remain vulnerable to the Kremlin’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations.

"As the extent of Russia's obvious meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continues to be investigated, it is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin's pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe. That is why I commissioned this report shortly after the 2016 election," Senator Cardin said. "This threat existed long before [Donald] Trump took office, and unless he takes action now, it will continue long after his administration. While [Donald] Trump stands practically idle, Mr. Putin continues to refine his asymmetric arsenal and look for future opportunities to disrupt governance and erode support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years."

"[Donald] Trump must be clear-eyed about the Russian threat, take action to strengthen our government's response and our institutions, and — as have other presidents in times of crisis — mobilize our country and work with an international coalition to counter the threat and assert our values," Cardin continued.

Across eight chapters and several appendices, the report meticulously details the tools the Russian government has repeatedly deployed from its asymmetric arsenal, and how the Kremlin has learned and perfected its techniques attacking democracy both internally and abroad. Such tools — drawn largely from a Soviet-era playbook, but updated with new technologies — include military incursions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime, and corruption.
There is much more at the link. Announcing the release of the report, Senator Cardin tweeted:

Thank you, Senator Cardin and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff. This is critically important work in defense of this nation.

In other good resistance news...

Anne Blythe at the News & Observer: North Carolina Congressional Districts Struck Down as Unconstitutional Partisan Gerrymanders. "A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina's election districts for U.S. Congress on Tuesday as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and gave lawmakers until Jan. 29 to bring them new maps to correct the problem. ...'We're enormously gratified on behalf of our clients and all voters in North Carolina that no one will have to endure another congressional election under an unconstitutional map,' said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented some of the challengers. 'The court was clear in demanding a real remedy before the 2018 elections, and we expect the General Assembly to respect that order.'"

Antonia Blumberg at the Huffington Post: Female Democrats Plan to Wear Black to Trump's State of the Union Address. "A group of female Democratic lawmakers is reportedly planning to wear black to [Donald] Trump's first State of the Union address, in solidarity with movements protesting sexual harassment and assault in numerous industries. NBC News first reported the lawmakers' plan on Twitter, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) confirmed to HuffPost that she was planning to take part in the action. 'This is a culture change that is sweeping the country, and Congress is embracing it,' Speier, who launched #MeTooCongress in response to a social media movement against sexual harassment, told HuffPost on Tuesday."

Zack Ford at ThinkProgress: This Court Just Issued a Sweeping LGBTQ Victory for the Western Hemisphere. "The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a sweeping decision Tuesday ordering the legal recognition of same-sex families and transgender individuals that could impact as many as 20 countries across Central and South America. The decision was a response to an inquiry from Costa Rica, which has already acknowledged it will comply with the ruling. ...The ruling explains that the word 'family' has evolved, and a family can include those with different genders and sexual orientations. Because the Convention protects all people's fundamental rights, states should extend the same protections to those families as they do other families, including the rights of marriage." 🏳️‍🌈

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And now for the shitty news...

Julian Borger at the Guardian: U.S. to Loosen Nuclear Weapons Constraints and Develop More 'Usable' Warheads. "The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for U.S. Trident missiles, according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review. ...The new nuclear policy is significantly more hawkish that the posture adopted by the Obama administration, which sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defence. Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more 'usable' nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely, especially in view of what they see as Donald Trump's volatility and readiness to brandish the U.S. arsenal in showdowns with the nation's adversaries. The NPR also expands the circumstances in which the U.S. might use its nuclear arsenal, to include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties, or was aimed at critical infrastructure or nuclear command and control sites."

Everything is fine. (Everything is not fine.)

Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin. "A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency, according to two former administration officials. While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin — something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia's election-time investment in [Donald] Trump. The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment." I'll bet they didn't.

Liz Sly at the Washington Post: Who Is Attacking Russia's Bases in Syria? A New Mystery Emerges in the War. "A series of mysterious attacks against the main Russian military base in Syria, including one conducted by a swarm of armed miniature drones, has exposed Russia's continued vulnerability in the country despite recent claims of victory by President Vladimir Putin. The attacks have also spurred a flurry of questions over who may be responsible for what amounts to the biggest military challenge yet to Russia's role in Syria [and] about the sustainability of Russia's gains in Syria, said Jennifer Cafarella of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. In December, Putin visited the Hmeimim base and said Russia would start to wind its presence down because the war in Syria is essentially over." Hmm.

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The entire Republican agenda at this point is just straight-up unfathomable malice. It has been for quite some time, of course, but it has never been quite this brazen.

Josh Gerstein at Politico: White House Plans to Destroy Trump Election Fraud Commission's Voter Data. "The White House intends to destroy voter data collected by the election fraud commission [Donald Trump] recently shut down, the Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday night. White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon said in a declaration submitted to a federal court in Washington that officials plan to erase the information, rather than transfer it to the Department of Homeland Security or the National Archives and Records Administration."

I literally just don't believe this. At all. And I have no way of assessing the truth, ever. Because this administration is as resistant to public accountability as it is inclined to lie. About everything.

[Content Note: Nativism] Alice Ollstein at TPM: Trump's Scattershot Immigration Remarks Leave Congress Reeling. "In a sprawling hour-long discussion with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, [Donald] Trump took a range of positions on negotiations over the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program —
swinging wildly from demanding billions in funding for a border wall and other immigration restrictions in exchange for renewing DACA to endorsing Democrats' proposal for a 'clean' renewal and, later, a complete overhaul of the immigration system. ...With no agreement yet on whether a DACA deal will be a part of the Jan. 19 spending bill, what the exact status for the 800,000 impacted young immigrants would be, and what forms of 'border security' Trump is demanding, the mass confusion is raising the potential for a government shutdown."

This was the meeting at which Trump accidentally agreed to Senator Dianne Feinstein's suggestion that they compromise on a clean DACA bill (meaning just extend DACA without any other contingencies), because he didn't understand what she was talking about, as he is an incompetent wreck:

The United States president literally doesn't understand what "clean bill" means. And I know some readers may be thinking, "Well, I didn't know what that means, either," but you're not the president of a global superpower, so it's okay that you didn't know.

Meanwhile, in other Trump administration nativism news...

Fucking hell. This is absolutely chilling. I am so angry — and I am scared.

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Jessica Taylor at NPR: Rep. Darrell Issa to Retire, Adding to Record GOP Exodus from Congress. "Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., announced he will not seek re-election Wednesday, adding to a record number of House Republicans heading for the exits ahead of the 2018 midterms — perhaps seeing the writing on the wall of a possible wave election for Democrats. There are now 31 Republicans who will not seek re-election in November: 19 who are retiring outright and another 12 who are running for higher office. And that list is is expected to grow in the coming weeks."

Yes, that might mean a "blue wave" come November (provided we still have anything resembling free and fair elections at that point). It could also mean that the Republican seats being vacated are filled with Republicans who are even worse than they are, who have zero ethical quandaries about abetting the reprehensible agenda of the Trump administration.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jeff Zeleny, Kevin Liptak, Dana Bash, and Dan Merica at CNN: Facing Staffing Exodus, Trump Struggles to Fill West Wing.
White House aides have been told to decide before the end of January whether they intend to leave the administration or stay through the November midterm elections, an official said, a deadline intended to help bring a sense of order to an anticipated staffing exodus.

[Donald] Trump is finding it difficult to recruit staff to fill the vacancies, several people close to the West Wing say, as he faces the second year of his administration with daunting political odds and an ongoing Russia investigation.

In recent months, top advisers on foreign and domestic policy have announced their departures. Additional aides are expected to make their exit in the coming weeks. Chief of staff John Kelly has embarked upon an effort to fill the ranks by the end of January. But the absence of willing and qualified replacements, paired with a lengthy hiring process, make it unlikely he'll reach that goal.
Naturally, as per usual, the White House is denouncing all of this as fake news blah blah fart, but more turnover is very likely, including at the highest levels. CNN notes: "Two of the most senior officials who are on the potential departure list are Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and HR McMaster, the national security adviser."

I don't guess I have to point out that, in addition to literally everything else, the lack of continuity in, for example, potentially having three different national security advisers in the space of a single year doesn't result in good governance of the nation.

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[CN: Misogyny; sexual harassment and/or assault; rape culture. Covers entire section.]

E.A. Crunden at ThinkProgress: Michelle Williams Earned 1% of Male Co-Star's Salary to Re-Shoot Film. "Actor Mark Wahlberg was reportedly paid $1.5 million to reshoot his scenes for a film while co-star Michelle Williams was paid a per diem rate ultimately totaling less than $1,000. A number of Hollywood figures have declared that 'Time's Up' when it comes to misogyny — but the incident makes it clear the industry has a long way to go."

Jeremy Fuster at the Wrap: Russell Simmons Accused of Rape by Two More Women. "Two more women officially filed criminal complaints against Russell Simmons on Tuesday, bringing the total number of women accusing the Def Jam music mogul of sexual misconduct or assault to 14. According to TMZ, Sherri Hines, who accused Simmons of raping her at his office in 1983 in a televised interview with Megyn Kelly last month, is one of the two women who filed with the NYPD. The other woman, who chose to remain anonymous, claimed that Simmons raped her at his Manhattan residence after a date in 1991. NYPD is already investigating Simmons for at least seven claims of sexual misconduct."

Jordan Crucchiola at Vulture: New York Times Cancels James Franco Event After Accusations of Misconduct Surface. "As James Franco was accepting his Golden Globe on Sunday night for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Twitter started buzzing with several women accusing him of sexual misconduct. Now, two days later, the New York Times has canceled a TimesTalk event with the actor. 'The event was intended to be a discussion of the making of the film, The Disaster Artist,' the Times said in a statement. 'Given the controversy surrounding recent allegations, we're no longer comfortable proceeding in that vein.'"

And finally, this interview with Michael Douglas by Mike Fleming Jr at Deadline is absolutely disgusting, for about a dozen different reasons, but I am fuming about this line in the intro, justifying its publication at all: "The accusation story will most likely follow elsewhere, but in this moment of 'she said, he said' trial by journalism, it was never specified whose version had to be first. So here, Douglas states his case." FUCK OFF. Seethe.

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

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