The Resistance Report - 2.18.2018

The purpose of the weekly Resistance Report is to “get ourselves grounded in the facts and prepare for the week of action ahead”. But getting grounded in the facts doesn’t just mean understanding the news of the past week.

I’d like to start by addressing the criticism that the Resistance is “just about opposing Trump, not being for something”. This is fundamentally wrong – and events this past week offer a reason why.

On Wednesday in Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz, using an AK-15, opened fire at Douglas High School, killing 17 students. In the aftermath of one more mass shooting, something different happened: students from the school became activists, calling for gun control legislation and taking on the NRA, Republicans and Trump. They issued a rallying cry and, for once, it seems to be reverberating.

Who would make the case that the students are “just against” the NRA and the Republicans who cravenly submit to it? The students are speaking out in defense of their right to be safe. That right was violated and they are angry. Indeed, they’re furious. And they’re focusing that fury, turning it into action so that they – and others – can be safe in the future. These are the roots of anger that leads to activism:  defending what we love.

It’s through that lens that I maintain we can best view the Resistance:  fury leading to action, in the service of what we love. Protection of what we cherish.

This week Nikolas Cruz used an automatic weapon to mow down seventeen innocent high school students. Republicans and Trump, as always, pretended that guns weren’t the issue. Trump, who lacks any empathy whatsoever, made a pathetic visit to Parkland, where he praised the “record speed” of responders and avoided the families of victims. We are all angry because students everywhere have the right to be safe from gun attacks.

Republicans won’t pass gun laws – they’re in thrall to the NRA. They must be voted out.

In addition, Trump’s regime destroyed any chance of reasonable legislation to protect the Dreamers, innocents who were brought here in childhood. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, removed by Trump last year, expires on March 5th. Republicans have made a pretense of caring about the Dreamers, but this week their lie was laid bare. We are angry because America should be welcoming and inclusive. The Dreamers have the right to be treated with empathy. They contribute to our society and should be welcomed. Deporting people who have never known another home is inhumane.

Republicans could care less and will demonize and deport them. The Republicans must be voted out.

The Rob Porter scandal continued to play out. Porter, who had allegedly beaten both of his wives, had been protected in his role as White House staff secretary by chief of staff John Kelly, despite the fact that Porter hadn’t been able to get a permanent security clearance because of the abuse. The testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday made it clear that the FBI had closed the case, revealing that Kelly’s attempts at a cover-up (ie, that the process was ongoing) had been lies. We’re angry because women – and children and men – should be safe from being beaten and harmed. Their abusers shouldn’t be protected and excused. We shouldn’t be lied to. And our national security shouldn’t be in the hands of people like Porter – and potentially Jared Kushner – who could be blackmailed.

The White House and Republicans covering for them instead protected Porter and praised him. They must be voted out.

The news continued to pour forth about Trump’s past affairs and the hush money he paid to cover them up. Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen admitted that he “facilitated” the transfer of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels as hush money about her affair with Trump while Melania was expecting. The New Yorker reported on Trump’s alleged affair with Playmate Karen McDougal and its coverup. Both stories clearly established that Trump was used to paying for sex and to cheating. The hush money raised the possibility that Trump, too, could be blackmailed. We’re angry because we cherish our presidency and its reputation for integrity and honesty – the President represents us all. Even when our leaders fail us, that’s our ideal and we expect them to do their best to live up to it.

Trump drags our reputation through the filth. He must be voted out.

There was more news this week of extravagant waste of taxpayer dollars, with the report that Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, was spending massive sums flying business and first class because he was afraid of being recognized and verbally abused in economy class. And an inspector general’s report showed that VA head David Shulkin’s chief of staff lied and falsified documents so that he could use government funds to fly his wife to Europe. Neither has been punished. We’re angry because we need and expect that our government will spend the money we entrust it with – our money – wisely and in our best interests, not on lavish perks for people who are supposed to be serving us.

Republicans look the other way at this corruption. They must be voted out.

Finally, special investigator Robert Mueller on Friday returned indictments on 13 Russian nationals for meddling in the 2016 election. The indictments laid out the plot in detail and established publicly what intelligence services had said conclusively over a year ago:  that Russia interfered in the election with the intention of helping Trump. The indictment nullified Republican efforts to undermine the investigation and made the Nunes charade irrelevant. Trump’s reaction was to go Tweet-crazy, like the cornered, frightened man he must be. He even used the memory of the deceased students to shield himself, claiming that the FBI would have cut short the shooter’s plot if they hadn’t been so busy with the Russia investigation, which was nonsense. Even for Trump this was a new low. He blamed everyone.

Everyone except Russia.

We don’t know yet if Trump or his associates did finally collude with the Russians, after all their known attempts. But we do know conclusively that Trump will only protect Russia, despite the fact that they have attacked our country. Imagine if, after 9-11, Bush had blamed the Democrats and defended Bin Laden. That’s Trump. We’re angry because we elect our presidents to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” which includes preserving, protecting and defending not only the Constitution but our country – which we love. Trump has repeatedly failed to do this in the face of cyber- and intelligence-warfare against the United States by Russia. There is every reason to believe that he is under the control by some means of Vladimir Putin.

Republicans continue to defend him and refuse to either censure or remove him. They must all be voted out.

We have our work cut out for us. Trump’s poll numbers, though still historically low, have continued to rise. Mueller is doing amazing work but we can’t count on him alone to save our nation. In a democracy, that task is up to us. This week we saw another win as Democrat Margaret Good took a Florida legislative seat in a district that had gone for Trump by five points. Good won it by seven, a twelve point swing.

We can do this, but it will take all of us pulling together. Let’s get working to vote them out!

By Tom Benthin

A reminder:  a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List:

Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, here’s a summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.