We Resist: Day 432

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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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Earlier today by me: Heinous Radical Anti-Choice Law Passes in Indiana and Please Listen to Stevante Clark and Mitt Romney Is Terrible. Still.

Here are some more things in the news today...

[Content Note: Police brutality; death; racism] Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was restrained, tased, and fatally shot at point-blank range by two Baton Rouge police officers in July 2016. The next day, President Obama's Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into his death. Less than a year later, in May 2017, Donald Trump's Justice Department ended the investigation and announced its decision not to bring any charges against the officers. Today, the Louisiana Department of Justice further crushed any hopes for something resembling justice by announcing neither officer will be prosecuted by the state, either.

My condolences on this profound failure to Sterling's family, friends, and community. I am so sad and so angry.

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[CN: Nativism and white supremacy. Covers entire section.]

Tierney Sneed at TPM: Trump Admin Makes Change to Census Experts Say Will Lead to Undercount. "The Trump administration on Monday evening announced that it was making a controversial change to the upcoming 2020 Census that experts say could lead to an undercount — particularly among minority and urban communities. For the first time in decades, the Census will ask survey-takers their citizenship status, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a memo. The change was made at the request of the Justice Department. ...Internal research at the Census bureau has shown that the question discourages participation in the survey, even among citizens who perhaps live with undocumented immigrants."

In a statement, former Attorney General Eric Holder said: "Make no mistake — this decision is motivated purely by politics. In deciding to add this question without even testing its effects, the Administration is departing from decades of census policy and ignoring the warnings of census experts."

With all due respect to Mr. Holder, I'm reasonably certain that the administration is not ignoring the warnings of census experts that this change could discourage the participation of immigrants and urban communities, but is treating that warning instead as a recommendation.

Because this administration is full of nativist, white supremacist dirtbags.

Ari Berman at Mother Jones: Trump Administration Creates Census Crisis with Move to Suppress Immigrant Responses.
Civil rights groups say the question will massively depress responses from immigrants fearful of deportation and could sabotage the entire census.

The move sets up a huge legal and political battle over one of the most important tasks mandated by the Constitution. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and former US Attorney General Eric Holder have already announced their intention to sue the Trump administration over the new question. Democratic members of Congress have also said they will introduce legislation to block the new question.

The Justice Department requested the citizenship question in December, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote in a letter on Monday that it was needed for "more effective enforcement" of the Voting Rights Act. (The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau.)

But Vanita Gupta, who led the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama and is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, told me, "Voting rights enforcement has never depended on having that question on the [census] form since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. That's plainly a ruse to collect that data and ultimately to sabotage the census."

The citizenship question, she noted, is already asked on the longer American Community Survey, which reaches roughly 13 percent of American households and is used to enforce civil rights laws.

The census, unlike the American Community Survey, determines how many congressional seats and electoral votes states receive, how voting districts are drawn, and how $675 billion in federal funding is allocated to states and localities. The 2010 census failed to count 1.5 million people of color, including 1.5 percent of Hispanics, 2.1 percent of African Americans, and 4.9 percent of Native Americans. If immigrant communities don't respond to the census for fear that it will be used to initiate deportation proceedings against them, the undercount of Latinos could grow much higher.

That would deny federal resources and representation to areas with large Latino populations and shift economic and political power to whiter and more Republican areas.
Emphasis mine. Because that is the entire point. It's just another attempt to subvert the U.S. democratic process, by the Republican Party, who cannot win federal elections on the merits, because their policies are trash, so they have to cheat to win.

Samantha Schmidt at the Washington Post: California Sues Trump Administration over Addition of Citizenship Question to Census. "The state of California sued the Trump administration Monday night, arguing that the decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census violates the U.S. Constitution. The state's attorney general acted just after the Commerce Department announced the change in a late-night release. The suit is just the start of what is likely to be a broader battle with enormous political stakes that pits the administration against many Democratic states."

Listen, I am very glad that California is suing, and that other states are likely to follow suit, because that is absolutely the right thing to do. But I am also very concerned about where this is heading, in terms of civil stability.

We cannot sustain such fundamental tension as a single nation forever. That is very worrying.

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Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress: New Report Details Just How Rigged the Midterms Are in Favor of Republicans. "A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that congressional races are so heavily rigged in favor of Republicans that the United States can barely be described as a democratic republic. The upshot of their analysis is that, to win a bare majority of the seats in the U.S. House, Democrats 'would likely have to win the national popular vote by nearly 11 points.' To put that number in perspective, neither party achieved an 11-point popular vote win in the last several decades. The last time this happened, according to the Brennan Center, was 1982, when a deep recession led the opposition Democrats to a 269 seat majority against President Reagan's Republicans."

[CN: War on agency] Pamela Merritt at Rewire: Missouri Doesn't Need More Anti-Choice Politicians; That Includes You, Democrats. "Why is Democratic support of anti-choice politicians an urgent concern? Because we need all hands on deck to defeat attacks on access to reproductive health care at the state and federal level. We are in a critical election year, and we need to make sure that those who seek to benefit from the Democratic brand are willing to champion progressive values. ...I can't even imagine a world where party leaders would welcome anti-union or anti-Medicare candidates just as long as they pinky swear not to legislate based on their personal views. But apparently we are supposed to trust anti-choice legislators to not do what all anti-choice legislators eventually do."

[CN: Domestic violence] Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Trump Still Talks to Rob Porter, Hopes He'll Return to White House. "Donald Trump is still in touch Rob Porter, the aide fired over allegations of domestic abuse, and wishes that he could return to the White House, the New York Times reported Monday night. Trump speaks to Porter over the phone, and their conversations have increased over the past few weeks, people familiar with the calls told the New York Times. The President has told some advisers that he hopes Porter comes back to the White House." Fuck off. To both of them.

[CN: Environmental toxins] Mark Hand at ThinkProgress: A Once Thriving Coal Town Has Turned Toxic, and Citizens Are Desperate for Help.
Percy Edward "Eddie" Fruit has lived in Minden, West Virginia his entire life. But without funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he cannot afford to move away from his hometown, contaminated by industrial chemicals over the past 40 years. Fruit wouldn't be able to get anything from the sale of his house because no one would want to buy property in a toxic town.

...Minden was a thriving coal mining community during the first half of the 20th century. The town's mines, located along the scenic New River in Fayette County, were some of the most productive in the region. Life wasn't easy for the miners and their families, but they were able to make ends meet.

Things have changed since then. Minden is now a toxic wasteland where residents are afraid to drink the water and let their children play in their yards. Residents fear the PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls, a highly toxic industrial chemical — that were stored at an old equipment site starting in the 1960s and later dumped in an abandoned mine starting are now making them sick and killing them.

Since Minden was designated a Superfund site in the 1980s, the EPA has not been able to determine why such a large percentage of the community — at least four times higher than the national average — has been diagnosed with cancer. Federal and state health officials claim the evidence does not support a finding of a "cancer cluster" in Minden, a conclusion that angers the town's residents. They believe officials would come to a different conclusion if Minden's residents were not working class.
That, and it might help if the media and politicians would stop romanticizing work that kills people, either via the work itself or the environmental consequences.

Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, and Josh Dawsey at the Washington Post: 'Not in a Punch-Back Mode': Why Trump Has Been Largely Silent on Stormy Daniels. "Trump exercised uncharacteristic public restraint Monday following an interview on CBS's '60 Minutes' in which adult film star Stormy Daniels described, in vivid detail, a consensual sexual encounter with Trump — a relationship the president has repeatedly denied. But privately, the president has lobbed sharp attacks at Daniels and her media tour, calling her allegations a 'hoax' and asking confidants if the episode is hurting his poll numbers. The president even has griped to several people that Daniels is not the type of woman he finds attractive." So, Trump is being "largely silent" or "uncharacteristically restrained" at all. He's just not doing it on his Twitter feed. And somehow the press has found out anyway. Huh.

That reminds of this recent Late Night segment in which political reporter McKay Coppins told Seth Meyers how Donald Trump routinely acts as a source for the flattering news he wants disseminated, but tells journalists to cite an anonymous source, and they accommodate him. If the video doesn't start autoplaying at 3:35, skip ahead to that point for the relevant portion of the clip.

Meyers: I want to talk about sourcing real quick, because, you know, it seems like we hear so much coming out of this White House, more than maybe we've ever had, uh, we've ever heard. Is it because, from the very top, he is a source? That he is talking to the press so often that the people underneath him feel the freedom to do the same?

Coppins: [grinning and chuckling throughout this whole tale] Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's funny, like, Trump does this thing where, after his day's work is done, he'll retire to the residence of the White House and just kind of make freewheeling phone calls to like random people.

Meyers: Yeah.

Coppins: Um, and sometimes they're like fellow billionaire pals, and sometimes they're media people, and sometimes they're reporters. And, and, it's funny, I've had experiences with this, even when I was interviewing him at Mar-a-Lago, where he'll be talking and he'll tell you a story and he'll be like, "Okay, this part's off the record. Well, now this part — just attribute it to someone else." Or whatever. And he'll just — he'll be, he'll just put random stuff out there and that — a lot of the stories you see in, uh, in the press are — it'll say like, "somebody familiar with the situation," or like "a senior White House official," and it'll be the President of the United States.

[audience laughter]

Meyers: Yeah. A lurking, slow-moving mass of a man. [Coppins bursts out laughing] Did — and do you think, like — but that actually seems like he's thinking about it more than we may be giving him credit for. So while he's telling a story, he is at least aware enough to know which parts to pull off the record and put on the record...?

Coppins: Yeah, in my experience, at least, it was the parts that he wanted me to write that were flattering about him but that he didn't want to have it attributed to him.

Meyers: Got it.

Coppins: So [laughs] it'll be like some heroic story about him, or a story about some celebrity who said he was the greatest ever of something, you know? "Put that off the record! Just don't use my name on that!"

Meyers: [laughs] So he wants it out there, but he wants it —

Coppins: Exactly.

Meyers: — to seem like it came from another source.

Coppins: Right.
Just a Serious Journalist yukking it up with a comedian who is doing better reporting on an almost nightly basis than most actual journalists about how he (the Serious Journalist) just prints whatever flattering garbage the compulsive liar sitting in the Oval Office wants him to print, and willingly conceals that said compulsive liar is the source for that information.

And of course we know damn well that Coppins is hardly the only journalist who does so.

I strongly recommend consuming all news items favorable to Trump with anonymous sourcing through that filter moving forward.

We have always known that Trump tried to manipulate the media, even having posed as his own fake spokesperson, but here is confirmation that the media gleefully plays along, because it's all just a big fucking game.

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[CN: Gun violence; death; self-harm; anti-Semitism; Nazism; white supremacy] Justin Jouvenal at the Washington Post: Her Son, Facing Murder Charges, Is Being Called an 'Alt-Right Killer.' This Mother Blames Herself. I honestly have no idea what purpose this story is supposed to serve. Is it meant to be a warning to other parents? Because it doesn't seem like a story like this would have made any difference to the mother in the story. Further, there is zero suggestion about what parents should do if they are worried.

It's just more "oh poor lonely white boys who have no friends and access to unsecured guns" bullshit. And not even a cursory examination of how FUCKED UP it is that we task teenage girls with being the lifeline for murderous emergent Nazis.

In fact, I'll note that this entire story revolves around women and girls and what they did, or didn't do, to try to stop him: The killer's girlfriend, her mother, his mother, and his sister.

Fuck all of this. And fuck the repetition of this sick and unjustifiable narrative that the solution to violent Nazis is for the rest of us to be nicer to them.

The story clearly suggests the shooter became a Nazi (but not a "real" one, sure) because he had no friends, but perhaps he had no friends for the same reason that he became a Nazi. Sometimes people have no friends for no fault of their own. Sometimes people have no friends because people stay away from them. I think it's dangerous to pretend that all people, even young people, are friendless for the same reason. Sometimes, friendlessness is a red flag.

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

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