We Resist: Day 734

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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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Late yesterday and earlier today by me: Trump Still Plans to Do the State of the Union and Let Them Eat MAGA Hats and Pete Buttigieg Announces Candidacy for President and The Shutdown Is Impeding Federal Investigations.

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

Brian Klaas at the Washington Post: For Two Years, Trump Has Been Undermining American Democracy: Here's a Damage Report.
Can U.S. democracy survive when between 35 and 45 percent of the population cheers a president who behaves like an autocrat?

When Donald Trump took office two years ago, I and many others began sounding the alarm — not out of partisan worry but out of concern for democracy. Trump, we argued, was an existential threat to the republic. For the first time in American history, the president of the United States was an authoritarian-minded demagogue who viewed checks and balances as outdated nuisances rather than sacred principles.

I even wrote a book explaining how Trump was behaving like a "lite" version of the thin-skinned authoritarian leaders I have interviewed and studied in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. I called Trump a wannabe despot. In return, some Trump fans called me an alarmist — a person suffering, perhaps, from "Trump Derangement Syndrome." Others acknowledged that Trump had autocratic tendencies but argued that he had become such a weak and unpopular president that those impulses were meaningless.

Now, two years later, should we still be alarmed? Or was I an alarmist?

The United States is still a democracy. The Constitution and its checks and balances still exist. And even though Trump swoons at even the mention of a foreign dictator or despot, he is not one himself. Yet Trump has done immeasurable damage to U.S. democracy. That damage can be broken down into three categories: damage to institutions; damage to norms; and normalization of authoritarian tactics within the Republican Party.
The whole thing is worth your time to read. Long story short: Maybe once upon a time, the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, but now we've got a sitting president who, along with the elected members of his party and his base, is a true threat to the survival of our democracy.

Azeen Ghorayshi at BuzzFeed: Trump's Lawyer Said There Were "No Plans" for Trump Tower Moscow: Here They Are.
The plan was dazzling: A glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump's company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.

The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump's relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.

The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion — a rough plan led by Trump's then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.

On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said "the proposal was in the earliest stage," and he went on to tell the New Yorker that "no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file."

However, hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.
What a shocker that Donald Trump, his son, his attorney, and literally everyone else around him are all filthy fucking liars!

Sara Murray at CNN: Mueller Wants to Know About 2016 Trump Campaign's Ties to NRA. "Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has expressed interest in the Trump campaign's relationship with the National Rifle Association during the 2016 campaign. 'When I was interviewed by the special counsel's office, I was asked about the Trump campaign and our dealings with the NRA,' Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, told CNN. The special counsel's team was curious to learn more about how Donald Trump and his operatives first formed a relationship with the NRA and how Trump wound up speaking at the group's annual meeting in 2015, just months before announcing his presidential bid, Nunberg said."

Here again is another "breaking news!" story that we've actually already known for quite some time. It was in June of 2018 that I wrote: "For some time now, we've known about the NRA's documented ties to the Kremlin and the distinct possibility that the NRA illegally filtered dark money from Russia to the Trump campaign. Today at McClatchy, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon have an important report on...the Justice Department investigation into whether the NRA filtered Russian money to Trump's 2016 campaign."

This is exhausting.

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If you, like me, have been feeling as though the entire MAGA Teen Harasser Force incident increasingly seems like a set-up from go, a perfect storm to re-energize the jackboots heading into the next presidential campaign season, then this will probably add grist to your mill, too:


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Dan Witters at Gallup: U.S. Uninsured Rate Rises to Four-Year High. "The U.S. adult uninsured rate stood at 13.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Americans' reports of their own health insurance coverage, its highest level since the first quarter of 2014. While still below the 18% high point recorded before implementation of the Affordable Care Act's individual health insurance mandate in 2014, today's level is the highest in more than four years, and well above the low point of 10.9% reached in 2016. The 2.8-percentage-point increase since that low represents a net increase of about seven million adults without health insurance."

Rebecca Grant at Rewire.News: Opening a Reproductive Health Clinic Is Hard; Trump's Steel Tariffs Make It Even Harder. "Rebecca Terrell, executive director of CHOICES, founded in 1974 as a nonprofit abortion clinic in Memphis, Tennessee, anticipated obstacles when she set out to build a 16,000-square-foot facility that would include both abortion care and a birth center. What she didn't anticipate was that CHOICES would feel the impact of a Trump trade policy, announced last March, that seemed completely unrelated to her work. 'When the news broke about the tariffs, I just didn't know what the impact would be,' Terrell told Rewire.News. 'I had no idea that just about all of our building materials would be affected: Masonry, steel, plumbing. Everything. The tariff may seem like it is targeting one thing, but it has such ripple effects.'"

[Content Note: Domestic violence] Natalie Nanasi at Slate: The Trump Administration Quietly Changed the Definition of Domestic Violence. "Without fanfare or even notice, the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women made significant changes to its definition of domestic violence in April. ...The previous definition included critical components of the phenomenon that experts recognize as domestic abuse — a pattern of deliberate behavior, the dynamics of power and control, and behaviors that encompass physical or sexual violence as well as forms of emotional, economic, or psychological abuse. But in the Trump Justice Department, only harms that constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime may be called domestic violence. So, for example, a woman whose partner isolates her from her family and friends, monitors her every move, belittles and berates her, or denies her access to money to support herself and her children is not a victim of domestic violence in the eyes of Trump's Department of Justice."

[CN: Sexual violence; descriptions of assault at link]

[CN: Sexual violence; police brutality] Staff at the Daily Beast: Pennsylvania Police Officer Charged with Raping Four Women While on Duty. "Officer Robert Collins, 53, of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department was charged with rape, witness intimidation, and official oppression, among other charges, which stemmed from the alleged assaults of four women between August 2013 and December 2014, and was arrested as his shift ended Tuesday afternoon. Bail was set at $125,000. Prosecutors allege that after finding evidence of criminal activity, Collins would demand sexual favors in exchange for avoiding arrest. ...Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro condemned Collins' alleged actions in a statement. 'This case is reprehensible — the perpetrator is a public official, someone who the community entrusted to protect them,' he said."

[CN: Christian supremacy] Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress: Justice Alito Pens a Bizarre Love Letter to the Christian Right. "One of the Christian right's top policy priorities is to effectively create two different codes of law in the United States. The first code, which applies to people who do not hold conservative religious views, is rigid and unmoving. The second code, which would apply primarily to Christian-identified conservatives, contains broad exceptions for people who hold the right religious beliefs. ...Justice Samuel Alito's opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District suggests that the Court's right flank would give conservative Christians such broad immunity from the rules that govern all other Americans that it is unclear the government would be allowed to manage its own workforce — at least when some members of that workforce identify with the Christian right."

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

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