We Resist: Day 358

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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: Here Is a Thing That Is Still Happening and Donald Trump Is a Racist.

[Content Note: Racism] Because Donald Trump is not only a racist but a liar, of course he took to Twitter to deny having called Haiti, El Salvador, et. al. "shithole countries."

Unfortunately for Trump, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who isn't known as a compulsive liar, disputed the president's denial in a very straightforward and powerful way:

As Senator [Lindsey] Graham made his presentation, the president interrupted him several times with questions, and, in the course of his comments, said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist.

I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that, in the history of the White House and that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.

You've seen the comments in the press; I've not read one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hateful things, and he said them repeatedly.
Wow. Thank you, Senator Durbin.

In other news, Trump has cancelled a visit to London next month to open the new U.S. embassy, fearing mass protests. But he's too much of a coward to admit that he's afraid for the world to see how hated he is, and he won't admit that his trip has been downgraded by the UK because of his bigotry, so he claimed it was because President Obama made a "bad deal" selling the previous embassy.

Couple of problems with that:

Worst. President. Ever.


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Ashley Feinberg at the Huffington Post: Here Is a Draft of Trump's Nuclear Review: He Wants a Lot More Nukes.
In October, NBC reported that [Donald] Trump had told a gathering of high-ranking national security leaders that "he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal." While the report doesn't nearly go that far, it does call for the development of new, so-called low-yield nuclear weapons — warheads with a lower explosive force.

The logic of those pushing for the development of smaller nukes is that our current nuclear weapons are too big and too deadly to ever use; we are effectively self-deterred, and the world knows it. To make sure other countries believe that we'd actually use nuclear force, the thinking goes, we need more low-yield nukes.

..."Making the case that we need more low-yield options is making the case that this president needs more nuclear capabilities at his disposal," said Alexandra Bell, a former senior adviser at the State Department and current senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, "regardless of the fact that we have 4,000 nuclear weapons in our active stockpile, which is more than enough to destroy the world many times over. So I don't think it makes a convincing case that we somehow lack capabilities. And, in fact, I don't think you can make the case that this president needs any more capabilities."
Not only do we have 4,000 nukes in our active stockpile, but, Feinberg notes, "we already have over 1,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal with low-yield options, to say nothing of the fact that the more nuclear weapons you introduce into the world, the more likely it is that they'll one day be used."

Especially when the sitting president is someone who [CN: video may autoplay] doesn't understand why we even have nuclear weapons if we don't he doesn't get to use them.


But Trump is busily accusing members of the U.S. intelligence community of treason. Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Tells WSJ That FBI Employees' Critical Texts Were Treasonous. "Donald Trump said Thursday that text messages critical of him shared by FBI employees amounted to treason, the Wall Street Journal reported. Journal reporters interviewed Trump for 45 minutes, the paper reported, in a conversation that touched on everything from North Korea to Steve Bannon. 'A man is tweeting to his lover that if [Democrat Hillary Clinton] loses, we'll essentially do the insurance policy,' Trump said. 'We'll go to phase two and we'll get this guy out of office. This is the FBI we're talking about — that is treason,' he added. 'That is a treasonous act. What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.' Trump was referring to text messages between Agent Peter Strzok — once a member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team — and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked briefly on Mueller's team as well." That is not treason. FYI.

Foreign Staff at the Telegraph: U.S. Ambassador to Panama Resigns, Saying He Can No Longer Serve Under Trump Administration. "U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve [Donald] Trump. 'As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,' Mr Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters."

James Hohmann at the Washington Post: Trump Has No Nominees for 245 Important Jobs, Including an Ambassador to South Korea. (Emphasis original.)
Next Saturday brings the anniversary of the inauguration. Over the first year, a fixation on the chaos and churn inside the West Wing has often overshadowed the less-sexy decay and neglect at the departmental level. There are a striking number of big jobs that have not been filled.

The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, have been working together to track the status of 626 top jobs in the executive branch. This includes assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, heads of agencies, ambassadors, and other leadership positions that experts believe are critical for the federal government to function effectively. These represent about half of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation.

The White House likes to blame Congress for dragging its feet, but that's only part of the story: As of this morning, there is no pending nominee for 245 of the 626 jobs we're tracking. Among them: Deputy secretary at Treasury and Commerce, director of the Census, director of ATF, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice, and commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

At Veterans Affairs, no one has been tapped to be the undersecretary for health or benefits.

At the Transportation Department, there is not a nominee to be administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Trump has not submitted nominees to direct the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Geological Survey. He has also not picked someone to be assistant secretary of Interior for fish, wildlife, and parks.

Many of these jobs have "acting" directors, but these people aren't fully empowered and cannot indefinitely stay in these roles without being confirmed by the Senate because of laws related to vacancies. The lack of permanence creates uncertainty and makes strategic planning difficult. It also makes it harder to manage career staff, who are less likely to follow orders they disagree with when they realize that their boss is a short-timer.
Fucking hell. All of these vacancies are alarming, but the fact that there is a vacancy for the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice is chilling.

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[CN: Rape apologia] "Andrew Sullivan writes that it's time to resist the excesses of #MeToo." Oh.

[CN: Sexual harassment and vengeance]

[CN: Fat hatred] Kaiser at Celebitchy: Megyn Kelly: Some Women Want to Be Fat-Shamed Because Fat-Shaming 'Works'. "Megyn was doing a segment on her Today hour about 'Fit Mom' Maria Kang, the woman who posted a photo of her fit body with the caption 'what's your excuse?' As Megyn and Maria spoke, Megyn talked about how she kept weight off when she was in law school. Megyn said: 'Some of us want to be shamed! When I was in law school, I was gaining weight, I said to my stepfather, 'If you see me going into that kitchen one more time, you say, 'Where you going, fat ass?' And it works!'" Fuck. Off.

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

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