We Resist: Day 691

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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: Help Wanted: Vile Person to Facilitate Agenda of Malice and "It's about undermining key pillars of democracy and the rule of law."

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

There are many journalists who are doing crucial resistance work (even those whose work is not explicitly positioned as part of the resistance), and I support them mightily.

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44 Former U.S. Senators at the Washington Post: We Are Former Senators; the Senate Has Long Stood in Defense of Democracy — and Must Again. "We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld. ...At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time. Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings, or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest."

Okay. Sounds good! But what does that mean? What constitutes being "steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy"? And why is this letter coming now and not in, say, October of 2016?

I'll also note that, despite the fact that this letter from 44 former U.S. Senators is being lauded as bipartisan, the actual composition of its signers is: 32 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 2 Independents.

Which, I've got to be honest, sounds a lot more to me like a handful of opportunistic Republicans piggybacked onto a bunch of principled Democrats in order to try to distance themselves from Trump. Because I see 10 names of Republicans who happily participated in the conservative movement in ways that made Trump inevitable.

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[Content Note: Nativism; video may autoplay at link] Mariam Khan at ABC News: Trump Says Military Will Build Border Wall If Pelosi, Schumer Don't Agree to Pay for It.
Trump drew some rhetorical lines in the sand in early morning tweets Tuesday — repeating a series of questionable claims.

He again pushed to make good on his campaign promise to build what he's now calling a "Great Wall." He continued to attack Democrats for wanting "open borders," despite Democrats agreeing to spend billions of dollars for border security to repair or replace existing fencing — but not for Trump's proposed wall.

He claimed that "large new sections" of his wall had been built although that is not the case, and he touted success in barring the "large Caravans" of Central American migrants seeking refugee that Trump used to gin up fears about illegal immigration leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

In another tweet, he claimed that if Democrats don't agree to funding, the military will build the wall. "If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!" Trump tweeted.
Fucking hell. Trump then met with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, where he behaved like an absolute shitwheel, as usual, in front of the press, despite Pelosi's requests to meet privately.

[Video Description: Trump screams about shutting down the government while Chuck Schumer smiles and nods in the way that you humor someone who has totally lost the plot, simultaneously communicating to everyone else that it's obviously impossible to have a serious conversation with the screaming dipshit.]

Trump is almost impossible to manage in those situations (which is precisely why he orchestrates them that way), but, in my estimation, Pelosi and Schumer handled themselves well given circumstances that favor Trump's cacophonous unprofessionalism.

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[CN: War; death; injury; trauma; starvation; self-harm] Marwan Al-Sabri, Ali Al-Makhaathi, and Hadil Al-Senwi at the Guardian: Yemenis Are Left So Poor They Kill Themselves Before the Hunger Does. "More than 10,000 people in Yemen have been killed and 3 million forced to flee their homes as a result of almost four years of fighting. An estimated 22 million people are now in need of aid and up to 13 million face starvation. As talks to end the conflict continue in Sweden, three Yemeni aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council talk of the physical and emotional destruction the fighting has brought to their country. ...'War brings out the worst in a society. People are subjected to extortion, threats, and detention at checkpoints. The violence has destroyed our social fabric and created smaller conflicts. It has eroded us materially and morally; we have lost the right to live safely and with dignity.'"

[CN: White supremacy; misogyny; anti-choice terrorism; fascism] Elizabeth King and Erin Corbett at Rewire.News: Fascists Find Fertile Recruitment Ground in Anti-Choice Movement. "Attacks on reproductive rights are nothing new, but fascist groups' infiltration of anti-choice groups and recruiting around anti-choice organizing in their genocidal agenda is an escalation. Leaked conversations between white supremacist groups using the Discord messaging site show users discussing recruiting members based on their opposition to abortion rights. ...Under the Trump administration, a surge in white nationalist organizing and policies has meant an uptick in threats against abortion providers and clinics, creating an even more unsafe environment for patients as Republican lawmakers further erode their rights. Threats of violence against abortion clinics have nearly doubled since 2017, and trespassing incidents have more than tripled, according to data compiled by the National Abortion Federation."

[CN: Sexual violence; abuse by clergy]

Gary Fineout at the AP: Thousands of Mailed Ballots in Florida Were Not Counted. "Florida officials say thousands of mailed ballots were not counted because they were delivered too late to state election offices. The Department of State late last week informed a federal judge that 6,670 ballots were mailed ahead of the Nov. 6 election but were not counted because they were not received by Election Day. The tally prepared by state officials includes totals from 65 of Florida's 67 counties. The two counties yet to report their totals are Palm Beach, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, and Polk in central Florida. Three statewide Florida races, including the contest for governor, went to state-mandated recounts because the margins were so close."

Zoe Tillman at BuzzFeed: A Former Trump Campaign Staffer Was Ordered to Pay $25,000 for Violating Her Nondisclosure Agreement. "Jessica Denson, a former staffer for [Donald] Trump's campaign, is fighting an order to pay nearly $25,000 for violating a nondisclosure agreement, according to court papers. The award to the Trump campaign came out of arbitration — nonpublic proceedings the campaign pursued against Denson after she filed two lawsuits against it. ...Denson sued the campaign in New York County Supreme Court in November 2017, claiming that officials discriminated against her, cyberbullied her, and were otherwise hostile toward her... But the Trump campaign claimed Denson's lawsuit violated the terms of her nondisclosure agreement, which prohibited her from disclosing confidential information, disparaging the campaign, competing with the campaign, or violating its intellectual property." Chilling.

Richard Partington at the Guardian: IMF Warns Storm Clouds Are Gathering for Next Financial Crisis. "The storm clouds of the next global financial crisis are gathering despite the world financial system being unprepared for the next downturn, the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund has warned. David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that 'crisis prevention is incomplete' more than a decade on from the last meltdown in the global banking system. 'As we have put it, 'fix the roof while the sun shines.' But like many of you, I see storm clouds building, and fear the work on crisis prevention is incomplete.'" Swell.

Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger at ProPublica: How the IRS Was Gutted. "Had the billions in budget reductions occurred all at once, with tens of thousands of auditors, collectors, and customer service representatives streaming out of government buildings in a single day, the collapse of the IRS might have gotten more attention. But there have been no mass layoffs or dramatic announcements. Instead, it's taken eight years to bring the agency that funds the government this low. Over time, the IRS has slowly transformed, one employee departure at a time. The result is a bureaucracy on life support and tens of billions in lost government revenue. ProPublica estimates a toll of at least $18 billion every year, but the true cost could easily run tens of billions of dollars higher. ...The last time the IRS had fewer than 10,000 revenue agents was 1953, when the economy was a seventh of its current size. And the IRS is still shrinking. Almost a third of its remaining employees will be eligible to retire in the next year, and with morale plummeting, many of them will."

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[CN: Environmental neglect and climate change. Covers entire section.]

Coral Davenport at the New York Times: Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections. "The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants. Environmentalists say the proposal represents a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a commitment to 'crystal-clean water.' The proposed new rule would chip away at safeguards put in place a quarter century ago... The clean water rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules, including proposals to weaken regulations on planet-warming emissions from cars, power plants, and oil and gas drilling rigs; a series of moves designed to speed new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and efforts to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act."

Yessenia Funes at Earther: The Trump Administration Is Spinning Its Latest Pro-Coal Policy as Good for People of Color.
The Environmental Protection Agency is using energy affordability among low-income communities and people of color as an argument to bring back coal. Yes, the same coal responsible for an estimated 3,000 American deaths a year.

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a new proposal Thursday that would repeal Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

...What's perhaps most misleading about Thursday's announcement, however, is the EPA's framing around how deregulating coal plants will somehow make energy more affordable and, in doing so, help disadvantaged communities. The administration loves to tout fossil fuels as a pathway to freedom and prosperity, and today's announcement was no different.

"Affordable energy benefits low and middle-income Americans the most, particularly disadvantaged and underserved communities," Wheeler said, during the announcement.

...Energy poverty is a very real thing, especially in low-income, black, and Latinx communities. Families that make $25,000 a year will spend more than 7 percent of their annual earnings on electricity bills, according to a 2016 report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. A household earning $90,000 a year, on the other hand, will spend just 2 percent on energy. Latinx and black homes especially feel this burden, per the report.

However, more coal won't fix this, especially in a world of cheap natural gas. If the U.S. government really wanted to save people money, it would develop policies that offer bill assistance and encourage retrofitting housing stock to make buildings more energy efficient. Old, dilapidated apartment units with poor insulation are the problem, per that report. So are inefficient household appliances, like fridges and dishwashers. People who rent don't always decide what fridge comes with their apartment.

Investing in renewable energy can also help give low-income communities a boost, said Mustafa Ali, former EPA environmental justice chair, to Earther. Solar and wind don't add to health costs or the detriment of our planet. Instead, they create new jobs.

"By moving in a different direction and a direction focused on renewable energy, we can actually help our most vulnerable communities move to a thriving position," Ali told Earther.

Wheeler's proposal, meanwhile, could cause the air quality in and around many of impoverished communities to take a hit.
Chris Mooney at the Washington Post: The Arctic Is in Even Worse Shape Than You Realize. "Over the past three decades of global warming, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by a stunning 95 percent, according the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual Arctic Report Card. The finding suggests that the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself." Goddamn.

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

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