We Resist: Day 369

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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: On the Shutdown Deal and The Consequences of Trump's War on the Press.

Michael S. Schmidt at the New York Times: Jeff Sessions Is Questioned for Hours in Russia Inquiry.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week by the special counsel's office as part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election and whether the president obstructed justice since taking office, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The meeting marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of Mr. Trump's cabinet.

...Mr. Mueller's interest in Mr. Sessions shows how the president's own actions helped prompt a broader inquiry. What began as a Justice Department counterintelligence investigation into Russia's election interference is now also an examination of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry, and the nation's top law enforcement officer is a witness in the case.

For Mr. Mueller, Mr. Sessions is a key witness to two of the major issues he is investigating: The campaign's possible ties to the Russians and whether the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Mr. Mueller can question Mr. Sessions about his role as the head of the campaign's foreign policy team. Mr. Sessions was involved in developing Mr. Trump's position toward Russia and met with Russian officials, including the ambassador.

Along with Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions led a March 2016 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where one of the campaign's foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, pitched the idea of a personal meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Papadopoulos plead guilty in October to lying to federal authorities about the nature of his contacts with the Russians and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's office.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was deeply involved in the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the president has repeatedly criticized Mr. Sessions publicly and privately for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
I can picture Sessions' blank, blinking face and hear his gormless "Not that I can recall"s as he was questioned, and just the thought of it enrages me.

Jonathan Swan at Axios: FBI Director Threatened to Resign Amid Trump, Sessions Pressure. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of [Donald] Trump — has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge. Wray's resignation under those circumstances would have created a media firestorm. The White House — understandably gun-shy after the Comey debacle — didn't want that scene, so McCabe remains. Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn about how upset Wray was about the pressure on him to fire McCabe, and McGahn told Sessions this issue wasn't worth losing the FBI Director over, according to a source familiar with the situation." JFC.

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Dems Ask FB, Twitter to Probe If Russian Bots Boosted Nunes' Memo Hashtag. "California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff are asking Twitter and Facebook to probe whether a hashtag promoting the release of a classified memo compiled by Republicans was propagated by Russian bots. In a letter sent to the two companies' CEOs Tuesday, Schiff and Feinstein asked the social media giants for 'urgent assistance' in 'our efforts to counter Russia's continuing efforts to manipulate public opinion.' The memo in question was authored by Rep. Devin Nunes' (R-CA) staffers. It reportedly contains classified information about the conduct of senior Department of Justice and FBI officials that allegedly proves Republicans' claims of the Justice Department's bias against [Donald] Trump. The memo was made available to the entire House of Representatives on Thursday, which prompted calls on social media for the memo to be made public, including a Twitter hashtag '#ReleaseTheMemo.'"

In a private conversation about Feinstein's and Schiff's letter, Eastsidekate said (which I'm sharing with her permission): "I'm glad they wrote that letter, but the fact that they had to is terrifying. 'Hey tech companies, the Kremlin is using your companies to push a Republican plot against democracy (or vice versa), little help?' is not something one sees in a functioning nation." Indeed.


Nunes is a chaos agent whose incessant spinning of fuckery works simultaneously to the Trump administration's and Russia's favor. This is not a coincidence.

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Emily Guskin at the Washington Post: Most Americans Don't Trust [Donald] Trump with the 'Nuclear Button'. "About half of Americans are concerned that [Donald] Trump might launch a nuclear attack without justification, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. This worry comes as Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continue to provoke each other on Twitter and follows a previous Post-ABC poll that found a large majority of Americans are concerned about the United States going to war with North Korea. Overall, 38 percent of Americans trust Trump to handle the authority to order nuclear attacks on other countries, while 60 percent do not. Among those who distrust Trump, almost 9 in 10 are very or somewhat concerned the president might launch an attack. Combining those results, the poll finds 52 percent of the public overall is concerned the president might launch a nuclear attack without reason, including one-third who say they are 'very' concerned, according to the poll."

That is also typically not something one sees in a functioning nation.

I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that fear about Trump's recklessness is both highly partisan and highly gendered: "Partisanship is by far the biggest factor in opinion: Almost 6 in 10 Democrats are 'very concerned' about Trump directing an unjustified nuclear attack, compared with about 3 in 10 independents and fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans. Gender is also a factor on this question, with almost twice as many women than men 'very' concerned Trump might launch a nuclear attack — 42 percent vs. 22 percent." Welp.

In other dreadful foreign policy news...

[Content Note: Drones; death] Julian Borger at the Guardian: U.S. Air Wars Under Trump: Increasingly Indiscriminate, Increasingly Opaque.
According to statistics compiled by the Airwars watchdog group, there were nearly 50% more coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in 2017 compared with the previous year. Civilian deaths rose by 215%. The coalition, almost all U.S. planes, dropped 20,000 bombs on Raqqa. By the end of the five-month campaign, 80% of the city was declared uninhabitable by the U.N., and 1,800 civilians are thought to have been killed. Airwars estimates 1,400 of those deaths were caused by coalition air and artillery bombardment.

...[W]hat certainly changed was the command tone. The defence secretary, James Mattis, and other officials started calling the campaign against Isis a "war of annihilation" and that is how it was conducted, even in densely packed cities, where the average munition used was a huge 500lb bomb.

In Afghanistan, there were no last-stand battles in crowded cities, but the number of civilian casualties almost doubled in 2017 compared with the year before.

Trump also widened the war. To get around those restrictions the Obama administration placed on operations outside battle zones, the Trump administration declared regions of Yemen and Somalia to be areas of "active hostilities." As a result, there were more US strikes on Yemen in 2017 than in the four previous years combined, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found.

The use of drones has been part of the global expansion of the anti-Isis campaign. It is another trend started under Obama and extended by Trump, but in ways and on a scale that the administration has not made clear.

"Reportedly this administration has made changes, but it has not acknowledged so publicly. So that's a big step backwards in terms of transparency," said Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch.

"Drones are used more frequently among the tools that are causing those civilian casualties but it is difficult to assess the scale of those casualties and whether they are lawful or not without information about the targeted killings actions."

The increased reliance on drones, the spread of the counter-terror battle to remote new areas, where reporting is minimal or non-existent, combined with looser rules of engagement and a gung-ho command tone, threaten to combine to create an increasingly indiscriminate, increasingly opaque, global war in which civilians are likely to account for an ever larger share of the victims.
Ali M. Latifi and Aoun Abbas Sahi at ThinkProgress: Trump's Bombast Further Divides Afghanistan and Pakistan, as Civilians Await Meaningful Change. "Trump's words have not only highlighted the growing divide between Afghanistan and the neighboring U.S. ally Pakistan, but also threatened the United States' own relationship with Islamabad. ...While state officials fawn over Trump, many Afghan civilians question the U.S. president's strategy for Afghanistan, and by extension, Pakistan. They wonder whether his fiery speeches and tweets will lead to meaningful, positive action on the ground."

[CN: Homophobia] Michael Fitzgerald at Towleroad: Chechnya's Anti-Gay Leader Attacks Human Rights Group as Revenge for Instagram Deactivation. "Russia's oldest human rights group Memorial has said that Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov likely directed ongoing attacks against it after he lost his Instagram account dues to U.S. sanctions. In December, Vladimir Putin ally Kadyrov, 41 was sanctioned by the US Treasury over alleged human rights abuses. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said the U.S. decision meant it was legally obliged to deactivate his accounts. Last week, Memorial offices in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia were torched by masked men. Days earlier, Oyub Titiev, the head of Memorial's office in Chechen capital Grozny, was arrested for possession of six ounces of cannabis. That charge could potentially lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Memorial representatives believe that Chechen security forces were involved in both cases."

That is something that the United States would be addressing, if Hillary Clinton were our president and we had a functioning State Department.

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Edward-Isaac Dovere at Politico: Tony Perkins: Trump Gets 'a Mulligan' on Life, Stormy Daniels. "[Conservative evangelical leaders] embrace Trump the policymaker, says Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, despite being uneasy about Trump as a man. Perkins knows about Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who claimed, in a 2011 interview, that in 2006 she had sex with Trump four months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. He knows of the reports that Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford) was paid off to keep the affair quiet in the waning weeks of the 2016 election. He knows about the cursing, the lewdness, and the litany of questionable behavior over the past year of Trump's life or the 70 that came before it. 'We kind of gave him— 'All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,'' Perkins told me in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO's Off Message podcast. ...Evangelical Christians, says Perkins, 'were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there's somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.'"

Zero principles. At least these fuckers are being honest about it now. They just want someone to punch progressives. Noted.

Speaking of the lack of principles among the party of moral values COUGH... [CN: Objectification; misogyny] Noor Al-Sibai at Raw Story: Hot Mic Catches GOP Senator Ogling 'Beautiful' Teenaged Girls with Fellow Lawmaker. "As the Senate prepared to pass the continuing resolution that would reopen the government, a Mississippi Republican was caught on a hot mic making comments about the appearances of high-school aged pages. 'I thought you were going to say this was one of the most beautiful girls,' Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI) said, as flagged by CQ Roll Call's Amelia Frappolli. 'What about these others?'" Goddammit.

[CN: War on agency] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Trump's Federal Agencies Are the Greatest Threat to Roe. "Within the first year of his presidency, [Donald] Trump has managed to stack his cabinet with anti-choice ideologues. He's released two separate executive orders targeting reproductive rights, including one that purports to create an entirely new division within Health and Human Services to back health-care providers that refuse to offer abortion and contraception services, or who have a moral or religious objection to treating LGBTQ patients. And his most powerful attorneys are arguing in the case of Hargan v. Garza that the federal government has the right to unilaterally block access to abortions for undocumented minors in its custody, setting up a direct attack on Roe's legacy — and maybe even a direct challenge to the decision itself."

Joe Romm at ThinkProgress: Trump Hits Solar Imports with Tariff But Still Concedes Millions of Jobs to China. "Donald Trump decided to slap a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels, the White House announced Monday. The tariff comes after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled last year that China had harmed the domestic solar manufacturing industry with policies aimed at taking over the global market. While the administration claimed the president was acting to protect American jobs, the new tariff is only the latest in a series of efforts by the White House to slow the installation of renewable energy in this country in favor of fossil fuels — a strategy that kills jobs in both the near term and long term."

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

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