We Resist: Day 735

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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: Pelosi Reiterates: No SOTU While Government Is Closed and Trump Backs Down; Won't Give SOTU and Shutdown Is Making Air Travel Increasingly Unsafe and Reps. Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff to Investigate Deutsche Bank and I Am Here for It!

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

Niels Lesniewski at Roll Call: Wilbur Ross Doesn't Understand Why Furloughed Federal Workers Need Food Banks.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he does not understand why federal employees who are furloughed or have been working without pay during the partial government shutdown would need assistance from food banks.

Several credit unions serving workers at federal departments and agencies have been offering stopgap loans, as they have during previous shutdowns. But it’s not clear how those loans would even be sufficient as the shutdown enters its second month.

"I know they are, and I don't really quite understand why," Ross said Thursday when asked on CNBC about workers getting food from places like shelters. "Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union are in effect federally guaranteed."

But in addition to the federal employees who are set to miss another paycheck at the end of this week, there are many federal contractors who have no expectation of ever getting the missed payments back.
Which means they might be unable to pay the loans back. But anyway, Ross doesn't think it's that big a deal. He also said (for real, which I feel obliged to make clear, because this sounds like I'm making it up): "Put it in perspective: You're talking about 800,000 workers, and while I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay, which is not the case they will eventually get it, but if they never got it, you're talking about a third of a percent on our GDP. So, it's not like it's a gigantic number overall." This fucking guy.

I just keep thinking about the survey from three years ago which found that "56 percent of Americans said they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined" and "nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name." We are a nation of people most of whom can't come up with $1,000 in case of emergency and our Commerce Secretary doesn't understand how furloughed workers can't just make it without getting paid indefinitely.

Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder at the Washington Post: Federal Workers Affected by Partial Shutdown to Be Billed for Dental, Vision Coverage. "The 800,000 federal employees furloughed by the partial government shutdown and working without pay were warned Wednesday that they must pay their dental and vision premiums beginning this week or they could lose their coverage. The workers are not at risk of losing their health insurance benefits, which will stay in effect through the duration of the shutdown — and for as long as a year — even if they are not receiving a paycheck, with their accumulated premiums deducted from their pay once their agency reopens. However, that protection does not extend to vision and dental insurance, and starting with their second missed paycheck at the end of this week, employees will be billed directly for premiums for dental and vision coverage."

Katelyn Marmon at ThinkProgress: The Shutdown Exposes Just How Vulnerable Federal Workers Are. "As the shutdown enters its second month without much progress toward reopening the government, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are bracing to miss their second paycheck in a row. ...For federal employees who are unable to do their jobs, being caught in the crossfire of a political debate is not what they signed up for when they decided to become a public servant. And when they're unable to do their work, everyone suffers. 'It's sad that we're actually being held hostage,' said [Ed Hill, a 22-year employee of the Census Bureau who is currently furloughed]. 'We serve the American public. So not only are we being held hostage — people that we serve, the American public, is being held hostage.'"

Brian Faler at Politico: 'Extraordinarily Angry and Very Upset Taxpayers': IRS Faces Chaotic Tax Season Amid Shutdown.
The IRS is facing tax season amid the shutdown with new rules that could complicate filing for millions of Americans — and a potential shortage of workers to handle the returns — raising the possibility of refund delays and angry taxpayers.

...The public, meanwhile, will be filing for the first time under Republicans' sweeping tax overhaul, H.R. 1, and many will surely be confused by changes made as part of the biggest tax code rewrite in a generation. At the same time, even experts are unsure whether workers have had the correct amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks, which could mean that many people accustomed to receiving refunds may instead owe the IRS.

...It is shaping up to be a big test of the Trump administration and is an increasingly important pressure point in the fight over the ongoing partial government shutdown.

"Everybody is concerned," said John Koskinen, who stepped down in 2017 as IRS commissioner. "There would have been uncertainty and challenges even without the shutdown — the shutdown is just exacerbating all of that."
Meanwhile, over at the Department of Homeland Security...

Tanya Snyder at Politico: 'We're Done': Shutdown Strikes Small, Midsize, and Rural Transit. "The government shutdown is pushing some of the nation's small, midsize, and rural transit systems to an existential crisis, prompting bus agencies to scale back service, prepare for furloughs, or even contemplate closing their doors entirely. ...The trauma for crucial transportation lifelines in rural or small-town America, including in states [Donald] Trump won in 2016, underscores the damage the 34-day shutdown is inflicting hundreds or thousands of miles from Washington, D.C. While the loss of federal dollars is hitting transit systems large and small, including those inside the Beltway, the most vulnerable agencies are those that don't get significant state support. And their riders are primarily low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans."

I guess if you don't need to eat, you don't need to be able to get to the grocery store — or your job or your doctor or anywhere else, either.

Fucking hell.

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Staff at the Daily Beast: Russia Tells Trump: Leave Venezuela Alone. "Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow has thrown its support behind Maduro and directly warned the U.S. against military intervention. 'We consider that would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model which we see in Latin America,' said Ryabkov. He went on: 'Venezuela is friendly to us and is our strategic partner... We have supported them and will support them.' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that outside interference in the country was 'unacceptable' and that the prospect of military intervention from the U.S. was very dangerous." Oh.

That's the guy for whom Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort and Bernie Sanders' chief strategist Ted Devine used to work. Yup.

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Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis at the Washington Post: Civil Penalties for Polluters Dropped Dramatically in Trump's First Two Years, Analysis Shows. "Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data. In the two decades before [Donald] Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last year's $72 million in fines was 85 percent below that amount, according to the agency's Enforcement and Compliance History Online database." Good grief.

[Content Note: Rightwing terrorism] Luke Barnes at ThinkProgress: Experts Warn of Far-Right Threat as Police Foil Two Separate Violent Plots in One Week. "The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its annual report on extremism within the United States this week, revealing that individuals linked to or affiliated with the far-right were responsible for every extremist-related murder committed in the United States in 2018. The report notes far-right extremists were responsible for 50 murders in the 2018, making it the fourth deadliest year on record for domestic extremism in the United States. What's perhaps more alarming is that those murders only represent the tip of the iceberg. Just this week, authorities uncovered two separate violent plots in New York and Utah, both of which were planned out by suspects with far-right leanings, but thankfully not carried out."

[CN: Gun violence] Pilar Melendez at the Daily Beast: Gunman Accused of Killing 5 Women in Florida Bank Shooting 'Wanted Everybody to Die': Ex-Girlfriend. "There were plenty of warning signs. Zephen Xaver — the 21-year-old former prison guard trainee accused of killing five women while holding them hostage inside a bank in Sebring, Florida — had an obsession with guns and death, his ex-girlfriend told The Daily Beast. ...'His fascination with death got worse when we broke up,' she said. ...The 20-year-old said she tried to 'warn people' about Xaver's 'potentially fatal interests'... 'Listen, he was pretty open about the fact that he wanted everybody to die. All he talked about was killing people,' she said. 'He was one of those people that was too into mass shootings you know? He even got kicked out of school for having a dream that he killed everyone in his class.'"

[CN: Erosion of abortion access] Soumya Karlamangla at the LA Times: 60 Hours, 50 Abortions: A California Doctor's Monthly Commute to a Texas Clinic. "She comes here once a month, part of an unofficial network of physicians who travel across state lines to perform abortions in places where few doctors are willing. It's not yet 9 a.m., and the clinic's waiting rooms are filled, navigating them a game of human Tetris. Women with their husbands. Women pushing strollers. Women alone. The young doctor will spend 60 hours in Dallas this trip and perform 50 abortions. She will have to run in the hallways to keep up with her packed schedule."

[CN: Anti-choicery] Josephine Yurcaba at Rewire.News: Valerie Huber's New Role at HHS Could Bring Abstinence-Only Agenda to Global Policy. "Abstinence-only proponent Valerie Huber will move to a new position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Global Affairs, worrying reproductive health advocates and experts who believe she could push her agenda into the global arena. ...She previously served as senior policy advisor for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. An unnamed department official told Politico that Huber is 'expected to strip references to sexual and reproductive health as well as sex education from the agency's global health documents,' and advocates say that move would have widespread repercussions."

[CN: Misogynoir; birtherism] Savas Abadsidis at Towleroad: #MAGA Troll Jacob Wohl, Who Previously Attacked Mueller, Is Trying to Smear Kamala Harris with Birther Rumors. "Jacob Wohl the troll who attempted to smear Robert Mueller by paying women to make false sexual harassment complaints against him is now targeting 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris. In a tweet on Tuesday, Wohl said that Harris should be disqualified from the presidential race because her parents were not born in the U.S." But she was, which is all that matters.

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

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