It’s not often that The Gray Lady tells you to read The White Dude, but then we are in an era where I sometimes agree with John McCain; where the political spectrum has devolved into batshit deatheaters vs everyone else. Strange bedfellows indeed. Anyway, the recommendation I’m referring to is part of The Times’ new (seemingly recurring) column: Right and Left: Partisan Writing you Shouldn’t Miss. The first and second installments have both offered up articles from the dusty old National Review as needles worthy of piercing our notorious liberal bubbles. Of course, the National Review is no InfoWars, so we lefties are not likely to need a trigger warning just clicking through, but you do have to respect the impulse to diversify views (new slogan: Almost All the News That’s Fit to Print). I should also note that the column also includes links to centrist and left-leaning sources. It would be interesting to see the web analytics on how much traffic the column is generating for the NYT’s competitors.
If you are tired of the same old #Resistance grind of calling MoCs, signing online petitions, resharing political memes on Facebook or writing snarky blog posts, here’s a way you can turn pestering friends to call MoCs and starting online petitions into a full-time job. Or, more glamorously, call it ‘become an activist!’ The founders of Fight for the Future, a mostly online grassroots organizing group that claims credit for maintaining net neutrality rules, are offering grants funding small groups to follow their model in turning a passion cause into a movement. Apparently they will give $15,000 to fund 2-3 person teams (they call A-Teams) for the first month. The vetting process is a little unclear, as is the funding for the following months, so I wouldn’t burn too many bridges at the office on your way out but it’s an interesting project nonetheless.
More legislators are asking for House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from investigations of the Trump/Putin axis. GOP rep Walter Jones (contact) joined key dems in pointing to Nunes’ warm feelz for the administration as disqualifying him from a fair-minded investigation in the possibility that the campaign colluded with a foreign power to influence the election (happy times).
As I mentioned yesterday, since the clusterfucktastrophe™ that was the GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare is fading into the background, it’s time to turn our attention to other abominations. Devin Nunes, CA 22nd District Rep, tops the list of hen house guarding foxes in the current congressional oversight of the Trump administration. This climate change-denying ‘Intelligence’ Committee Chair, and early Trump supporter, has been running interference against allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians while also being ostensibly responsible for investigating those very allegations. Last week, on receiving some new information about the investigation, he ran first to brief the president on the material (drawing a scathing critique from the ranking Dem and sparking a bit of a dust up).
Let’s keep Nunes honest (to the extent that it’s possible) by keeping the pressure on the other members of the committee. So far, checking the majority and minority membership of the committee I’ve found two Republicans from districts that are identified as swing districts on swingleft.org. One was Will Hurd from Texas 23, who won by only 1% in the last election. Then there is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who won her district by 10% (though the district when for Clinton by a wide margin). One Democrat on the committee (Denny Heck) is not in a swing district, but does represent the area around Olympia WA, so I imagine I may have some readers who will be in that district and interested in giving the congressman a ring.
We should definitely feel good about our win on Friday, but we should also remember there is still so much damage that the Trump presidency can do, especially in areas where the affected groups are more marginalized. Case in point, as horrifically detailed by Emily Bazelon in a recent New York Times Magazine article, the Bannon/Sessions axis appears poised to advance their nativist/white-supremacist agenda by restricting legal immigration and reducing or redirecting civil rights enforcement by the Justice Department. That civil rights enforcement has under previous administrations included insuring voting rights and investigating local police departments for allowing officers to, you know, shoot Black people with impunity.
One obvious resistance organization for this rebranding of the Justice Department as a white rights organization is Black Lives Matter. If you go to their website you’ll see a brief redirect from an organization called Deflect. It seems the BLM website has been the subject of numerous DDoS attacks (where a large number of computers are conscripted to make so many page requests that the server can no longer respond to legitimate queries). What Deflect does is provide a network of distributed web servers mirroring the targeted website, essentially fighting DDoS with a parallel strategy. Deflect protection is free for independent media, human rights organizations and activists. The specifics are a little vague, but it seems Deflect also provides a mechanism to donate your own computer resources to provide distributed protection for the organizations that use them.
News is breaking fast, so this could be stale before I finish the draft, but as of this writing, House GOP leaders have decided to postpone the vote on the AHCA until tomorrow, this after the Artful Dealer himself called members of the ‘Freedom Caucus’ into the principal’s office to show off his deft negotiating skills. These Tea Party conservatives apparently were not swayed by offers to eliminate the meager mandates that Ryan had left in the bill. Expecting insurers to minimally cover things like maternity care, mental health services or addiction treatment was apparently too much government intrusion into the Freedom to Suffer and Die from Manageable Disorders.
I call this a victory (however minor) because it proves that GOP leaders are having a hard time threading the needle on this thing. They are hemmed in on both sides, and that’s without even considering opposition in the Senate. I have to think that #TheResistance has played at least some part in keeping the pressure on, but we have to keep it up until this bill is dead and gone. I know that I was able to get through to several congressional offices today, so that means their lines are not tied up with callers. Room for improvement.
As House Republicans rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic shit pile that is their ObamaCare repeal plan, Nate Silver has read the tea leaves of recent polls and come to the conclusion that the recent Trump Slump may indeed be a result of the spectacular unpopularity of the AHCA. For the most part, the changes are meant to shore up support from the ‘hell no’ caucus of Tea Party MoCs, who apparently felt the plan didn’t go far enough in its attempt to kill poor people off.
Russia-gate hearings kicked off with the unsurprising revelations that no, Obama did not actually order Trump Tower to be wiretapped, yes the FBI is investigating the possibility of collusion between the campaign and the Russians; and of course, yes the Russian did indeed try to interfere in the election. No words.
On a more positive note, check out Organizing for Action for ways to support progressive causes. The site provides tips and tools for organizing, hosting events, canvassing and volunteering.