We Resist: Day 384

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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: Today in Authoritarianism Watch and Mike Pence Really Wants a War with North Korea.

Let's start out with some good news today!

Cameron Joseph at TPM: Another Dem Pulls off a Big Upset in State Legislative Race. "Democrats on Tuesday pulled off another surprising special election upset, this time capturing a Missouri statehouse seat in a deep-red district that [Donald] Trump easily carried in 2016. Democratic candidate Mike Revis defeated GOP nominee David Linton on Tuesday night by a 4-point margin in a seat Trump carried with 61 percent of the vote just over a year ago, and which former President Barack Obama lost by 12 points in 2012. That's a major swing — and the latest time Democrats have vastly over-performed their previous numbers this year." Huzzah! Congratulations Mike Revis and Missouri progressives!

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David Daley at Salon: How the Republicans Rigged Congress — New Documents Reveal an Untold Story.
If there is to be a blue wave in 2018, it will need to overcome a red seawall that was exactingly designed beginning a decade ago and has proven impermeable in state after state ever since. Even in Virginia last November, Democrats won nearly a quarter of a million more votes than Republicans — and it still wasn't enough to overcome district lines rigged to guarantee the GOP a built-in advantage. In Alabama, where Doug Jones recently became the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in decades, disgraced GOP candidate Roy Moore still carried six of the state's seven gerrymandered congressional districts.

Those kinds of results — Democrats winning more votes, Republicans holding more seats — have become almost commonplace this decade. It's not a coincidence.

The visionaries at the Republican State Leadership Committee, who designed the aptly-named strategy dubbed REDMAP, short for Redistricting Majority Project, managed to look far beyond the short-term horizon. They designed an audacious and revolutionary plan to wield the gerrymander as a tool to lock in conservative governance of state legislatures and Congress.

It proved more effective than any Republican dared dream. Republicans held the U.S. House in 2012, despite earning 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic congressional candidates, and won large GOP majorities in the Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina state legislatures even when more voters backed Democrats.

Now new court documents, previously unrevealed emails and once-secret internal documents — most revealed here for the first time — uncover how early the Republican planning began, how comprehensive the redistricting strategy was and how determined conservative operatives were to dye America red from the ground up.
And, in the process, kill American democracy.

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Jeff Donn, Desmond Butler, and Raphael Satter at TPM: Russian Hacking Group Targets Defense Contractors for Secret Military Info. "Russian cyberspies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found. What ultimately may have been stolen is uncertain, but the hackers clearly exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and barely any direct notification to victims. The hackers known as Fancy Bear, who also intruded in the U.S. election, went after at least 87 people working on militarized drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms, or other sensitive activities, the AP found."

Craig Silverman at BuzzFeed: Russian Trolls Ran Wild on Tumblr and the Company Refuses to Say Anything About It. "Russian trolls posed as black activists on Tumblr and generated hundreds of thousands of interactions for content that ranged from calling Hillary Clinton a 'monster' to supporting Bernie Sanders and decrying racial injustice and police violence in the U.S., according to new findings from researcher Jonathan Albright and BuzzFeed News. While Facebook and Twitter continue to face intense public and congressional pressure over the activity from trolls working for the Russian Internet Research Agency, Tumblr has somehow managed to escape scrutiny. But the blogging platform was in fact home to a powerful, largely unrevealed network of Russian trolls focused on black issues and activism. 'The evidence we've collected shows a highly engaged and far-reaching Tumblr propaganda-op targeting mostly teenage and twenty-something African Americans. This appears to have been part of an ongoing campaign since early 2015,' said Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University."

Jonathan Swan at Axios: Senate Budget Deal Would Bust Budget Caps, Raise Debt Limit. "The two-year deal I expect McConnell and Schumer to strike: busting the budget caps on defense and domestic spending, raising the debt limit, plus funding for disaster relief and funding for community health centers." Fiscal conservatism what.

I mean, at this point, I think any sensible person can agree that whatever deal is struck to avoid a shutdown will be terrible in at least half a dozen ways, because the Republicans won't agree to it otherwise. There's literally nothing we can do as long as the country is being governed by a party that hates 99 percent of the people of this country.

Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Tells Stock Market: Going Down Was a 'Big Mistake'. "Donald Trump said Wednesday that it was a 'big mistake' that the stock market went down in recent days, though it wasn't immediately clear whose judgment he meant to impugn. The White House didn't immediately respond to TPM’s request to clarify the tweet." LOLOLOLOLOLsob.

Trump's tweet reads in full: "In the 'old days,' when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!" OMFG WHAT IS HE EVEN TALKING ABOUT???

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Eli Watkins at CNN: Biden: Trump Should Avoid Mueller Interview, Has 'Difficulty with Precision'. "Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that if he were one of [Donald] Trump's attorneys, he would suggest Trump not consent to a special counsel interview for fear of being caught misleading investigators. 'The President has some difficulty with precision,' Biden said in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Biden said he marvels at some of the comments Trump makes and referenced a line from Trump on Monday that Democrats who did not applaud his State of the Union address were 'un-American' and 'treasonous.' The White House has since called the remark tongue-in-cheek, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying on Tuesday that Trump was 'clearly joking.' 'Well let me tell you, he's a joke,' Biden said in response." None of that is helpful, Biden. None of it.

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[CN: Nativism. Covers entire section.]

Ben Collins at the Daily Beast: Border Agents Make Amtrak Riders Prove They're Citizens.
Corey El was on an Amtrak train from Penn Station to Niagara Falls last Thursday when he says a Border Patrol officer approached his seat.

"He asked me, 'Are you an American citizen?'" he said. "I scoffed at him and said, 'Yeah.'"

El quickly got out his phone and took a video of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers questioning another Amtrak customer, which has since gone viral, receiving over 6,800 retweets.

The train was stopped in Syracuse, about 160 miles away from El's destination, for about 20 minutes, he said. El remembers the officers asking two other riders for their citizenship status, and none of them were white. One passenger, who he said was "possibly Middle Eastern," produced a burgundy passport during questioning.

"I originally wanted to tell him off and to refuse to answer. I know it's legal," said El. "But I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm also black. As a person of color, there's a foot on my neck. I know that I can't."

The viral encounter raises a pivotal civil rights question that Amtrak wouldn't clarify in several interactions with The Daily Beast.
This is reminiscent of a report from a couple of weeks ago about passengers being asked for ID on a Greyhound bus. Samantha Schmidt at the Washington Post: Video Shows Border Patrol Officers Asking Greyhound Passengers for IDs, Taking Woman into Custody. "As a Greyhound bus pulled up to a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., station on Friday afternoon, en route from Orlando to Miami, the driver announced there would be a 'routine' security checkpoint. Two uniformed officers boarded the bus and introduced themselves as Border Patrol agents, passengers told the Florida Immigrant Coalition, an advocacy group. The officers made their way down the center aisle, row by row, questioning passengers. They instructed each person to present 'a U.S. identification or a passport with a stamp of entrance,' one passenger, Raquel Quesada, told CBS4."

It appears we are now entering the "Papieren, bitte!" portion of our descent into authoritarianism.

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[CN: Homophobia] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Gay U.S. Olympian Adam Rippon Declined Request from Mike Pence to Talk It Out. "U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon reportedly turned down a request from Mike Pence to talk after Rippon denounced the homophobic vice president's role in leading the U.S. delegation to PyeongChang. Rippon spoke with USA Today about the choice: 'You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I'm not buying it.' Rippon said he'd avoid a meet-and-greet with Pence because of his views: 'If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren't a friend of a gay person but that they think that they're sick.'"

Smart kid. smart enough to know that Pence is going to spin it against him either way, so he might as well stick to his principles, and let the deplorables hate him for refusing to meet with Pence altogether. It would have been a colossal waste of Rippon's time, in addition to the horror of having to meet face-to-face with a shit-demon from the Upside Down.

[CN: Homophobia] Fred Barbash at the Washington Post: A Wedding Cake Is an 'Artistic Expression' That a Baker May Deny to a Same-Sex Couple, California Judge Rules. "'A wedding cake is not just a cake in a Free Speech analysis,' wrote Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe in a decision late Monday. 'It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as a centerpiece in the celebration of a marriage. There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct,' he said. ...He compared a bakery to a tire shop, saying that the shop could not refuse to sell a tire to a same sex couple because 'there is nothing sacred or expressive about a tire.' Similarly, had the couple just chosen a cake out of a display case, the bakery could not have refused to sell it to them. 'The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. ...The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids.'"

Her religion forbids second marriages after divorce, too, because ADULTERY. So is she refusing to bake cakes for different-sex couples where one or both of them is getting remarried? If not, then her objection isn't truly religious in nature, but is just bigotry dressed up as piety. Why does this question never get asked? (I know why.)

[CN: Trans hatred] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Lawsuit: Alabama Discriminates Against Transgender People Who Want to Change Their Driver's License. "Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an Alabama policy they say discriminates against transgender people who want to change the gender designation on their driver's license. Policy Order 63 provides for changing the gender designation on a driver license and states that it can be changed only 'due to gender reassignment surgery,' according to the complaint. The policy requires applicants to submit '[a]n amended state certified birth certificate and/or a letter from the physician that performed the reassignment procedure.' These requirements, the ACLU attorneys argue, violate constitutional due process, privacy, and speech rights." Indeed they do!

[CN: Environmental racism] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease Linked to Flint Water Crisis. "Between 2014 and 2015, 12 residents of Flint, Michigan, died from — and 87 others became ill with — Legionnaire's disease. New research ties the outbreak directly to the water crisis that hit the city at that same time. In April 2014, Flint switched its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. One year later, pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and scientists discovered there were high levels of lead in the water of the city, where 41.2 percent of the residents live below the poverty line and 56.6 percent of residents are Black. In addition, NPR reports, 'Just months after the water source changed, hospitals were reporting large numbers of people with Legionnaires' disease.'"

[CN: Institutional neglect] Anne Branigin at the Root: How Last Year's Hurricane Season May Have Decimated the Virgin Islands' Middle Class. "Back-to-back strikes from two major hurricanes last year, Irma and Maria, have undone years of economic and social growth in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a new report from the Washington Post finds. The storms have so thoroughly disrupted the islands' economy, education and health systems that 'a generation of Virgin Islanders' may have been 'blown out of the middle class,' the Post writes. The islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix made sizable economic gains in the last 20 years, as the Post writes. Average incomes doubled and poverty rates dropped thanks to a flourishing tourism industry. But the 2017 storms delivered what the Post calls a 'triple whammy' of setbacks: Residents lacked insurance to help offset the damage done to their homes and businesses; federal aid given to the islands has been limited; and, as most major hotels remain closed, jobs have been lost with no sense of when they might reappear."

And finally...

[CN: Guns; death] RIP Muhiyidin d'Baha. Nigel Roberts at News One: Rest in Power: Iconic Black Lives Matter Activist Is Killed in New Orleans. "The family of an iconic Black Lives Matter activist is raising funds to bring his remains home to Charleston, South Carolina after he was gunned down in New Orleans on Tuesday. ...Muhiyidin D'Baha, 32, was shot in the thigh and pronounced dead at a hospital, the Times-Picayune reported. The police have neither identified a suspect nor a motive in its ongoing investigation. ...D'Baha made a name for himself in the movement for Black lives after video captured the moment when he suddenly hurled his body through yellow police tape and snatched a Confederate battle flag from the hands of White supremacists during a protest in Charleston last year."

My condolences to his family, friends, fellow activists, and community. I am so sorry. It is a great loss to everyone who was moved by his work.

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

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