How your voices are making a difference: Karmic twists

Democrats flipped a Missouri House seat in a district that went for Trump by 28 points. (By a slim margin of 108 votes—3% of the total vote. Democrats can win even with heavy Republican gerrymandering, but we have to VOTE.)

After ruling that Pennsylvania congressional maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans and had to be redrawn, the Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to delay redrawing the congressional lines, meaning the 2018 elections in the state probably will be held in districts far more favorable to Democrats.

The House ruled that U.S. lawmakers can no longer use taxpayer dollars to defend themselves in harassment cases, but must use their own funds—and must regularly report and make public any settlements. It also voted to prohibit sexual relations between lawmakers and staffers.

A flurry of emails released to the national security blog Lawfare under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the FBI “rank and file” reaction to Donald’s firing of James Comey was the opposite of the “grateful and thankful” one characterized by the White House (surprise). The 103 pages of emails released show a bureau shocked and devastated by the loss of a man who appears to have had the near universal respect and admiration of his agents. Comey’s firing appears to be at the center of Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Donald obstructed justice.

In a highly unusual request likely precipitated by the GOP’s sensationalist release of cherry-picked information from the House Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI’s surveillance of Trump campaign staffers, the New York Times has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal secret documents pertaining to wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic rebuttal to Nunes’s memo, a ten-page memo that provides context and complete information to Nunes’s selectively curated memo designed to undermine Mueller’s investigation (though arecent Quinnipiac poll shows that it had little impact even on Republicans). Donald is balking at approving the release for being “overly political and long,” (at ten painful pages for the illiterate-in-chief), but not doing so would open a very suspicious can of worms.

The Justice Department backed Robert Mueller over Paul Manafort in a lawsuit filed by the indicted Donald campaign manager arguing that Mueller overstepped the parameters of his investigation. The Justice Department recommended dismissal of the case.

In Abu Dhabi, former president Bush began speaking openly and pointedly about Russia’s interference in our election, citing “pretty clear evidence that Russians meddled” in what seems a direct refutation of Donald’s denials.

Meanwhile in the former “family values” party, White House staff secretary Rob Porter is resigning following allegations from his two ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse. Like his boss, Porter—whose background check for working in the White House was never completed, and who was there despite not having gotten security clearance—vehemently denies the allegations, with the staunch support of the self-confessed sexual-predator-in-chief. White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly defended Porter as a “man of integrity and honor”—and then hours later claimed to be shocked by the allegations, which the White House has known about since late last year (andapparently told staffers to lie about how he handled it).

Amid all this, Donald’s approval rating among women since his election has plummeted 10 points, and the percentage of women who “strongly disapprove” of him has jumped 12 points.

Republican Steve Wynn, who recently stepped down as RNC finance chairman after sexual harassment allegations, has now also stepped down as CEO of his casino resort company after many more employee allegations surfaced. Oregon GOP state senator Jeff Kruse resigned in the face of probable expulsion after allegations of sexual harassment of coworkers and staffers.

And number-one Donald superfan Chachi might be looking at his own #MeToo reckoning—Scott Baio’s former costar in the show Charles in Charge has filed as-yet-unreleased charges against him reportedly related to statutory sexual assault she’s publicly spoken out about several times before, and her testimony has been backed up by another cast member who also claims physical abuse.

In a karmic twist, one of the women who accused Donald of sexual harassment is running for a state house seat in Ohio. And after a clever teenager discovered a loophole in the Kansas electoral laws, more than half a dozen of his under-eighteen peers are running for governorof that state.

The White House is hemorrhaging staff again—Friday Rachel Brand, number three at the DOJ, announced she will be stepping down after nine months. To go work at Walmart. No, really. Brand is #2 in line behind Rosenstein overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation, and the person who would have taken over if Rosenstein is fired. And deputy chief of staff Jim Carroll, who has served in the White House for a whopping three months, has announced he will be stepping down to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, after Rep Tom Marino, the White House’s first nominee for the drug-czar job, withdrew from consideration last fall after a report revealed that legislation he sponsored helped make it easier for drug companies to distribute opioids across America.

Donald’s child-dictator demand for a military parade has met resistance from lawmakers, who are balking at the multiple-million-dollar price tag.

In general uplifting world news, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a rocket (and a Tesla roadster) into space and It. Was. Awesome.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Another One Bites the Dust

This was one of those son-of-a-bitch weeks that’s harder to stomach than some. But there was still plenty of progress still being made.

The GOP quietly introduced another abortion-ban bill, which quietly failed to advance in the Senate.

A Manhattan federal judge decried ICE for “cruel” tactics in jailing immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir and ordered him freed.

The Republican Governors Association cut all ties with former RNC chairman and accused harasser Steve Wynn and returned money he had donated to the organization, and the University of Iowa, which had named one of its institutes after him in exchange for his $25 million commitment to the school, is retracting the honor.

Donald’s release of cherry-picked facts from the memo House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes carefully and selectively edited regarding the Russian investigation and the FBI’s surveillance of people in the Trump campaign has resulted in a firestorm of controversy, but it’s not just the FBI and Democratic lawmakers speaking out against the irresponsible, propagandized, potentially national-security-threatening memo.

Republican John McCain says, “The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

And former CIA head John Brennan (under both Bush and Obama) accused Nunes (who, let’s remember, tried to secretly share confidential House Intelligence Committee info with the White House last year before he even briefed his bipartisan committee colleagues) and the GOP of “reckless partisan behavior” pointedly adding that “Absence of moral and ethical leadership in [White House] is fueling this government crisis.”

And a former FBI special agent and counterterrorism investigator spoke out in a NYTimes op-ed about why he’s leaving the bureau in the interest of being free to protect it and our institutions, sharply calling out “political operatives” trying to shake the public’s trust in the FBI in order to undermine the findings of the Russia investigation—“operatives” he doesn’t call out by name, but by using direct quotes from Donald’s tweets, makes his subject entirely clear.

Lawyers for Donald’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s codefendant in Mueller’s fraud and money-laundering prosecution, Rick Gates, have asked the federal judge in the case to let them leave the case—the third shift in legal representation since Gates was indicted. The attorney’s declined to offer a reason, citing a gag order. Meanwhile, TIME magazine discovered that in 2013, Donald’s former campaign adviser Carter Page bragged of his Kremlin contacts in a letter to a publisher—not only adding fuel to Mueller’s investigation of him, but lending credence to the FBI’s decision to surveil him that Nunes’s memo glosses over as probable cause.

Meanwhile, here’s the Washington Post’s great visual breakdown of who we know has spoken with Mueller’s investigation.

Another one bites the dust—Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee (and he who relentlessly dragged out the Benghazi investigation, racking up millions of dollars in cost to taxpayers despite repeatedly finding no evidence of wrongdoing), has announced he won’t seek reelection, calling himself “a lousy politician” (we can’t help but agree). GOP lawmakers are being picked off like carnival ducks—do they know something we don’t know (like that a new conservative party is forming?) or are they simply leaving the field in disgrace?

Donald may yet face few consequences for calling Haiti and other minority nations “shitholes,” but one official has—the lottery board chairman who referred to a town in Illinois as “a shithole of the universe” has stepped in the face of heavy public criticism.

The White House has withdrawn Kathleen Harnett White, Donald’s nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality, after loud public and congressional outcry against the climate-change denier—including a letter signed by more than 300 scientists across the country.

Need a palate cleanse for the week? Stream the inaugural episode of David Letterman’s new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, featuring Barack Obama and John Lewis. Here’s a clip—but don’t miss the whole one-hour show. It will remind you why we’re fighting and how far we’ve come—and how hard those before us have fought, and how much there is to be gained.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Golden Toilet

This week’s delicious Donald smackdown comes from the Guggenheim museum, which made a rather overt statement about their opinion of Donald and his presidency when he asked for the loan of a Van Gogh and they offered him a golden toilet instead.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Pat Meehan was removed from the House Ethics Committee for… (wait for it) an alleged ethics violation: using thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual misconduct complaint against him, and he has announced he will not be running for reelection amidst the fallout.

Pennsylvania’s supreme court threw out the congressional district map as unfairly gerrymandered, giving state lawmakers till mid-February to redraw the maps more fairly. (For a wonderful take on gerrymandering—how it happens, why it’s undemocratic, and how to fight it—read this Q&A with Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf.)

The Russia investigation is growing tentacles. Jeff Sessions apparently tried to influence FBI director Christopher Wray to fire or demote deputy director Andrew McCabe (whom, it was revealed, Donald asked how he voted in 2016) and all other Comey-affiliated investigators. Bob Mueller plans to interview Donald, and ask among other questions about the ousters of lying national security adviser Michael Flynn and resisting former FBI head James Comey, indicating he may be pursuing an obstruction-of-justice avenue. This follows Mueller’s several-hours-long interview with Jeff “I don’t recall” Sessions last week about Donald’s campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

But wait, there’s more! Michael Flynn met with the FBI last year without the knowledge of the White House about his meeting with the Russian ambassador. Mueller’s team has also interviewed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency director Mike Rogers, and CIA director Mike Pompeo as “peripheral witnesses” to the James Comey firing, and Pompeo “was allegedly asked by Trump to lean on Comey to drop his investigation.” Steve Bannon will meet with Mueller, and his attorney says Bannon will not be able to invoke executive privilege, as he did in his belligerent testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. Mueller’s team has interviewed more than 20 White House officials so far, and to the reported dismay and surprise of friends and advisers, Donald says he will testify under oath with Mueller—in fact he says he “would love to do it” and he “can’t wait!” —despite new revelations that he moved to fire Mueller in June of 2017, which sources say was stopped only by lawyer Don McGahn’s threat to resign. In true Trumpian fashion, Donald’s attorney Ty Cobb immediately walked back Donald’s very clear statements as not what he meant.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced it will be releasing all transcripts of testimony related to the infamous “I love it!” Trump Tower meeting with Donny Jr. hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Amid all this, some in the GOP are leading a frantic propaganda campaign to distract attention from Mueller’s net closing, alleging misconduct by the FBI.The Justice Department (yes, the one under the aegis of Donald) issued a rebuke to one arm of this baseless smear campaign, warning Devin Nunes, head of the House Intelligence Committee, that it was “reckless” for him to continue to push for a public release a committee memo drawing on classified information to try to malign the Russia investigation. And despite many at FOX News trying to perpetuate the unsubstantiated attacks on the integrity of American intelligence agencies, a rebuke against the propaganda efforts was issued by…well, FOX News, insanely.

federal judge in Maryland has indicated he might be sympathetic to hearing anti-corruption cases against Donald’s many ethical breaches and violations of the emoluments clause in Maryland and DC.

Donald’s 24-year-old entirely inexperienced drug policy appointee will step down after less than a month in his position.

Even the pope is now defending freedom of the press and speaking out against “fake news”: “a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes [that] leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”

If this administration is rolling back women’s rights, the rest of the world is roaring louder than ever to protect them, as seen in the one-year anniversary women’s marches that drew hundreds of thousands last weekend. The unrepentant sex abuser Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison after the judge in his multiple sex-crimes case allowed more than 150 women to testify about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Olympic doctor under the guise of medical exams, and the entire board of directors of Olympics USA has been asked to resign in the wake of questions about how his abuse was allowed to go on so long. RNC finance chairman Steve Wynn resigned after allegations of pressuring employees to perform sex acts. A reporter went undercover in a high-society men-only charity event in London and revealed a culture of sexual harassment and abuse that has resulted in the dissolution of the event and its parent foundation. Women are driving the resistance, with Indivisible national reporting that in 2017, 86% of calls to members of Congress were made by women, and 70% of Indivisible group members, and the majority of group leaders, are women.

And in other civil-rights advances, this year Texas has 48 LGBTQ candidates running for office—more than any other election cycle.

So far 50 senators have indicated support for upholding net neutrality rules—and Burger King has thrown its corporate support behind net neutrality with a new video that attempts to show why a fair and open internet is essential.

Finally, a must-listen for resisters: Vox’s Ezra Klein presented a podcast called “How to Oppose Trump without Becoming More Like Him.” A great reminder to hold on to what we’re fighting for as we continue to engage in battle with what we’re fighting against.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Women’s March 2.0

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out across the country over the weekend for the one-year anniversary of last year’s global Women’s Marches (while the entirely GOP-controlled government proved it can’t govern by shutting down on the one-year anniversary of the Incompetent-in-chief at the helm).

Bannon lawyered up and was subpoenaed to testify in Mueller’s investigation before a grand jury, after a truculent refusal to testify before the House Intelligence Committee that also resulted in a subpoena. Subsequently Bannon agreed to testify directly with Mueller’s investigators instead and is expected to cooperate with the investigation.

Democrats in Congress are one vote away from restoring net neutrality. And 22 state attorney generals have also filed suit to block the repeal.

Wisconsin flipped a state senate seat blue by a relatively wide margin in a rural district that has gone Republican for the last two decades—hopefully a sign of things to come in the 2018 elections.

In a bizarre but welcome turn, one of Donald’s federal judicial appointees ruled in favor of a deported immigrant.

Freedom of the press got some much-needed GOP love this past week. John McCain penned an impassioned (though likely futile) plea to Donald to stop attacking the press, likening the president’s attempts to stifle a free press to the actions of governments like RussiaTurkeyChina, Egypt,Venezuela, and stating that “journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely. Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.” And retiring senator Jeff Flake also asserted the crucial importance of a free press, as well as piling on with the criticisms of Donald, comparing him and his White House to Stalin’s Russia.

Despite delayed denials by a few attendees of the infamous immigration meeting in which Donald denigrated swaths of the world as “shithole countries,” Sen. Lindsey Graham continues to (kind of, sort of) admit that Donald did indeed say it, and publicly praised Sen. Dick Durbin, who continues to assert that Donald did use exactly that language. Graham also denounced the White House advisers who convinced Donald to 180 from his initially conciliatory approach with the bipartisan group of senators hoping to pursue a compromise for the DACA program and revealed more about how they intervened to sway the easily swayed president, blaming those advisers for the acrimonious meeting and stating that they’d given Donald “really bad advice.”

The NOAA, the UK’s meteorological office, the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, and NASA all independently found 2017 to be one of the three hottest years on record in human history, following the trend of 2016, which is also on that very short list. NOAA’s five hottest years have been from 2010 on. The abnormally hot temps that continue to spike are a clear sign of man-made global warming—which is not good news, but it’s included on this list as—hopefully—a sign that overwhelming scientific opinion may yet prevail on even the most stubbornly ignorant of climate-change deniers in the White House.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll reveals that while Americans have faith in a recovering economy, more credit President Obama’s administration than Donald’s, and Donald’s ratings remain historically low at 37 percent.

The marvelous Internet did this all week.

This viral video of schoolchildren in Puerto Rico finally getting electricity back gave the Internet all the feels, as did this costume designer who stitched a prosthetic wing for a butterfly and watched it fly away.

And Barry is back, y’all.

How Your Voices Made a Difference: The Tide is Turning

The head of the parent company of Henry Holt—the publisher that recently released Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury with eyebrow-raisingly candid comments from White House intimates about Donald’s fitness (or lack thereof)—defended itself against Donald’s cease-and-desist lawsuit, citing it as a breach of the Constitution: “a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government… This is an underlying principle of our democracy. We cannot stand silent,” the CEO wrote in his memo. “We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court. We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment of our Constitution.”

Meanwhile, amid the dust-up over the book and those who’ve disparaged Donald in it, Steve Bannon, prime among the disparagers, has stepped down from Breitbart, his mouthpiece of hate and propaganda.

Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee, overruled Republican committee head Chuck Grassley’s efforts to suppress the testimony to the committee by the former British spy who helped assemble the infamous Trump dossier for Fusion DPS. On Tuesday she released transcripts of all ten hours of testimony by Christopher Steele, which indicates the FBI believed the information Steele had given them, and that the bureau had had an informant from within the Trump camp.

On Tuesday a panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s voting districts as unconstitutionally gerrymandered—the first time a federal court has blocked a congressional map because of a gerrymander.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case over whether Texas’ congressional and state House maps discriminate against voters of color.

A San Francisco federal judge ruled—again based on Donald’s tweets and his own words right from his shithole–that the federal government must reinstate the DACA program for young immigrants to find a path to citizenship that he announced the end of in the fall, as legal challenges to the ban move forward. The federal government has accordingly announced it will continue to enroll “dreamers” in the DACA program, per the ruling.

Donald’s announcement that oil drilling would be allowed in all U.S. waters immediately met with opposition from Florida’s Republican governor, and the White House quickly excluded the state’s waters from the order. It’s likely a move to appease voters in his key state in advance of the 2018 elections, and is having bipartisan repercussions from voters and other governors across the country.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected measures proposed by Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy (at least as far as he knows) that would favor the coal and nuclear industries over natural gas and renewables in competitive electricity markets. Of the five-member agency, four were appointed by Donald, three of them Republicans.

A Senate bill introduced to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality laws has received 40 senate sponsors and will proceed to the floor for a vote, which could overturn the repeal—a repeal opposed by the vast majority of Americans.

God bless the notorious RBG—Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointed law interns for the next two terms, signaling that she intends to serve at least until 2020.

New, wide-net, demographically detailed survey results by Survey Monkey reveal that Donald is not doing so well, even among his base. The tide is turning, slowly but inexorably, reminding us once again that America is great because America is good…and goodness will prevail as long as good people refuse to be silent.

How Your Voices Made a Difference: Inexorable Progress

Judging by his customary angry-baby tantrum whenever it looks like the spotlight is about to shine on his misdoings, Donald must be getting pretty nervous about what Steve Bannon might have revealed to author Michael Wolff, whose incendiary new book claims to shed behind-the-scenes light—unflattering light at best—on Donald’s campaign, administration, and person. After an “I know you are but what am I” tweetstorm calling into question Bannon’s sanity (as if no one were questioning it already), Donny desperately tried to block the book’s release, his lawyers sending a cease-and-desist to Bannon and the president of Henry Holt, the publisher. The author, however, responded that he has tapes of Bannon and Donald’s former deputy chief of staff to corroborate, and thanked Donald for making his book an advance bestseller on Amazon; the publisher as a result decided to release the book this past Friday, four days early. This sent Donny into an even greater tizzy, tweeting that he’s “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius” as he bemoaned the fact that libel laws were too lenient, and White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said with a straight face that the fact that people can even besmirch the president was “disgusting,” and—in a coup de grâce of irony—that Donald “believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact, when it certainly and clearly is not.” Meanwhile Breitbart considers whether to fire Bannon, and the Mercer billionaires that back the outlet have severed ties with him, as a panicked White House has banned cell phones from the West Wing. Welcome to the circus.

New revelations indicate that Donald instructed his lawyer Don McGahn, to convince Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia probe, despite the Russian contacts Session lied about, which prompted his resignation. This would constitute obstruction of justice, and Mueller is said to be investigating it as a key element of his probe.

Donald abruptly shut down his sham voting fraud commission, formed after his false claims that it was voter fraud that resulted in his losing the popular vote by 3 million. The commission had been beset by problems since its inception, from its illegal requests of states to provide voter information to lawsuits to its exclusion of Democrats in its functions—and hasn’t produced a scrap of evidence to support its assertions of widespread voter fraud.

Mike Pence and his family were greeted by their neighbors on their Colorado ski vacation with Make America Gay Again banners.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts announced an initiative to protect court employees from sexual harassment after group of nearly 700 former and current law clerks sent Roberts a letter requesting action.

Alabama senator Doug Jones was sworn into the Senate, closing the GOP majority to 51-49…a narrow margin that may shift entirely away from Republicans in 2018.

Washington State’s attorney general has filed suit against Motel 6 for routinely handing over to federal immigration agents info about registered guests without any reasonable suspicion, probable cause or search warrants, including circling names that sounded Latino.

One of the women who accused Roy Moore of statutory sexual contact with her when she was 14 has sued the failed senate candidate for defamation after he attacked her character in the wake of her allegations against him.

Donald’s false or misleading claims while in office are approaching the 2,000 mark, a grim milestone that defines his presidency at a rate of nearly six lies a day. In case America is missing the Orwellian overtones of his reign thus far, Donald gave a video statement at a White House press conference at which he sat 150 feet away. Like the Wizard of Oz.

Fusion GPS published this op-ed in the New York Times defending their investigation that yielded the infamous dossier on Donald (you know the one…complete with golden showers). In it the company discusses the 21 hours of testimony they gave to three congressional committees that the GOP-led committees stifled, and they share some of their testimony the congressional committees have refused to release about the dossier that was funded by Republicans as well as the Clinton campaign.

2017 sucked on many levels, but don’t overlook the big-picture global progress inexorably being made, despite Donald and the minions. And record numbers of women are running or seriously considering running for governor across the country—79, leaving the previous record of 34 (in 1994) in the dust, and dozens of women are running for office in Texas.

How Your Voices Are Making A Difference: Holiday Double Whammy Edition

Week of December 25

A moment of holiday joy: On a regular day in a regular grocery store, one ordinary employee stunned customers with this gorgeous rendition of “O Holy Night.” This gave me shivers.

On to our progress. Despite Donald’s blustering threats of vague retaliation, the UN voted overwhelmingly against his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, denouncing it in a 128–9 vote and demanding Donald rescind the decision.

Despite GOP efforts to dismantle the ACA, 8.8 million people signed up during the (shortened and not advertised) registration period—an astonishing (under the circumstances) 96 percent of those who signed up last year.

More than 300 health organizations (and a handful of Senate Democrats) have protested Donald’s administration’s banning of certain words—including “evidence-based,” “science-based,” “diversity” and “transgender”— from reports by the CDC and HHS.

A partisan Republican PR firm ended its controversial contract with the EPA—granted by the White House without other bids—after public outcry. And a consulting firm that was investigating EPA employees thought to be critical of the Trump administration lost its federal contract with the agency.

Donald lost yet another judicial candidate (that’s three, if you’re counting), after a video of Matthew Petersen’s nomination hearing went viral, in which he revealed he’d never tried a case and struggled to answer even the most basic legal questions.

Donald’s candidate for chairman of the Export-Import Bank was rejected based on his having previously called for the abolishment of the bank.

Memphis, TN—the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated—removed two Confederate statues, including one of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader and grand wizard of the KKK.

federal judge temporarily blocked Donald’s flouting of ACA rules to offer loopholes to employers to avoid covering women’s contraception for religious reasons.

Betsy DeVos got hit with not one but two lawsuits for her failure to process thousands of student loan forgiveness applications.

Donald and his propaganda mouthpiece, FOXNews, continue to try to undermine Robert Mueller and the FBI’s credibility as the Russia investigation heats up. It seems evident that Don John is panicking as more and more evidence of his campaign’s ties to Russia and their efforts to influence our election surface; enjoy this thread by lawyer Seth Abramson, a frequent analyst of the Mueller investigation, spelling out the latest revelation that Reince Priebus lied on National TV about what Donald knew and when about Michael Flynn. Abramson also has an enlightening thread about the Republicans who are running this investigation, as well as the one into the Clinton emails.

In related news, House Dems seem to be preparing for impeachment.

In the spirit of the holidays, I leave you with Dan Rather’s 12/23 post on his Facebook page, a comforting, hopeful reminder of who we are, what we have accomplished, and the world and nation we continue to fight for.

It’s been a rainy day in New York. It seems that the temperature is now too warm and the precipitation will pass before the thermostat drops to deliver on my annual hopes for a white Christmas. But in so many of the most important ways, I am counting my good fortune. Our family has gathered for the holiday, and after a disorienting, fitful, and often perilous year I feel a calm in being surrounded by the people I love.

These are frightening times. I know that many face the hardships of life, health, and financial circumstance. I know that our divisions and inequalities are being stirred and fomented by many in political leadership. I know we face dire environmental and social challenges.

But as I reflect on the Christmas spirit and as I look ahead to 2018, I refuse to let my optimism in this nation wane – at least when viewed over the longer arc of history. I think the vast majority of Americans are determined to strive to continue that unending quest “to form a more perfect union.” I see acts of service, of political activism, and of empathy. I see steely determination that our nation should right its course. We are better than this. I know it. And I think most of you know it. Do not lose heart. And do not lose the will or courage to strive for what you believe to be the just and equitable destiny for the United States and the world at large. I know we can do great things as a nation, and as a global community, if we work together.

Thank you all for working so diligently together for more than a year toward a common good and a brighter future, and never losing heart.

Week of January 1

In yet another slap to Roy Moore’s face, every single election official in Alabama—every single one of them Republican—signed off to certify Doug Jones’s Senate victory just hours after accused child molester and proven racist Moore filed suit claiming election fraud. It’s also a victory against those who are working to delegitimize our elections and Americans’ faith in them, from the Russians all the way up to the White House.

As the Russia noose tightens around Donald and his minions’ necks, Federal prosecutors have separately requested records from DeutscheBank on Jared Kushner’s $285 million loan, made a month before his father’s electoral election as president.

Robert Mueller is also investigating whether Donald’s campaign and the RNC knowingly used Russian hacked info to do voter outreach. A jailedRussian hacker says he was hired by the Kremlin to hack the DNC, and claims to be able to prove it.

While GOP lawmakers pass tax legislation that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the average American and strips lower-income children of their health care program, some privileged folks are instead looking to help others. NFL defensive end Chris Long quietly donated every single one of his 2017 paychecks to charities benefiting children, asking donors to match him—joining a number of players who are giving back to our country and helping others while the president attacks the NFL for lack of patriotism as he fills his own pockets from the nation’s coffers.

Putting our last year into appalling perspective is this fascinating read about the story of America in 2017, if it happened somewhere else. But chess genius, activist, and firsthand expert on authoritarian societies Garry Kasparov also wrote a year-end reflection that, despite his concerns for America and the attacks on our democracy in this last annus horribilis, nonetheless strikes a tone of optimism and hope. Donald has exposed the very worst of our nation and our governance. But that has also engendered a wave of the very best of us as we fight against the forces attacking our country, our democracy, and the most vulnerable among us. You have helped hold the line of freedom. You have held Donald’s worst transgressions at bay. If democracy is measured by the strength, determination, and honor of its people, then you are the reason it will continue to stand.

 

How your voices are making a difference: Roll Tide!

Our feature story: The Crimson Tide turned blue this week as Alabama decided to send demagogue, scofflaw, and accused child molester Roy Moore packing (and the horse he rode to the polls on), handing the win to Democrat Doug Jones, a man who made his mark defending a little girl against the KKK in 1963. While we might hope that the spread between decency and depravity had been greater than 1.5 points—even in Alabama—it’s a positive sign: the victory narrows the GOP majority in the Senate to just 2, and sends the first Democrat to Congress from Alabama since 1992.

Austin City Council took a step toward police reform by rejecting the police union contract that Campaign Zero called one of the worst in the nation.

The FCC voted to roll back net neutrality rules, despite that it places control over end users’ internet access and costs in the hands of corporations, despite that the large majority of Americans—including three-quarters of Republicans—support net neutrality rules, and despite that 18 attorneys general asked the FCC to delay the vote until allegations of widespread commenting fraud could be investigated. But the ACLU, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and other groups have already announced they will sue to oppose the rollback and defend a free and open internet.

Two of Donald’s more controversial federal judge nominees—and that’s saying something—will not be confirmed, says Chuck Grassley, head of the committee responsible for confirming them. Jeff Mateer—who called a transgender first grader part of “Satan’s plan”—and Brett Talley have made public comments that were racially and gender discriminatory, and Talley—who has practiced law for just three years and never tried a case—was nominated in a party-line vote despite being rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Donny, who hates it when he is doing so much losing, pulled his nominees—and may wind up pulling another, who couldn’t answer even the most basic legal questions in his nomination hearing.

federal judge smacked down Donald’s attempt to ban transgender people from military service, and beginning January 1 all people have equal rights to serve our country.

Meanwhile, while the GOP attacks Mueller and his investigation and tries to make it a partisan battle, in his testimony Wednesday, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, asked directly whether he had reason to fire Robert Mueller, stated simply and categorically, “No.”

And Donald Jr. spent nine hours (yep, nine) in cloistered testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee answering questions about Russia.

Donald’s campaign adviser (and conspiracy theorist) Roger Stone is working on a book called The Fall of Trump, predicting that Mueller and the many (17 at last count) sexual-harassment allegations against Donald will bring him down.

Donald’s own UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, weighed in against Donald to state that the women accusing him of sexual harassment should be heard. That didn’t sit well with the pussy-grabber-in-chief, who continues to deny the accusations brought by 13 women against him so far…despite his own admission to sexually predatory behavior on the Access Hollywood tapes.

Meanwhile, in the wake of senators Conyers and Franken leaving office over sexual harassment allegations, three senators have asked Donald to step down as result of all of his. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas—accused sexual predator and harasser—has announced he will not seek reelectionin 2018.

And—dare we hope it?—Paul Ryan is allegedly making rustlings about retiring from office as well.

Five Native American tribes are suing the federal government to prevent the stripping of 85 percent the formerly protected Bears Ears monument in Utah.

Donny’s approval ratings continue to tank, now down to 32 percent. Here’s a fact the hyperbole-loving Donald might appreciate: these are the lowest ratings for Donny ever. Tremendously low. Sad!

His popularity might be summed up by the normally neutral USA Today, who joined the chorus of voices declaring Donald is unfit for office, but went even further in an editorial, saying he is “uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed…. A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes.”

And with that, happy holidays to you all, and may Robert Mueller bring us something we all really, really want this year.

How Your Voices Made a Difference: Rolled Like a Burrito

I’m not going to bury the lede—Michael Flynn rolled like a burrito, my friends, and has promised “full cooperation” with Mueller’s investigation. The former national security adviser was the highest of high-level advisers to Donald and the minions, and in exchange for one paltry count of lying to the FBI (despite the reams of incriminating info Mueller has on him), it sounds like he’ll be singing like the proverbial canary. Know what song I keep hearing…? “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Bet things aren’t quite so merry in the White House, where Melania’s horror-movie holiday decorations now seem pretty spot-on. For more from a legal expert on why this is Very Big News, please enjoy this delightful read.

Meanwhile Donny Jr. has agreed to talk to the House Intelligence Committee. I wonder whether he has the sense of self-preservation to point fingers at Daddy or if he’ll throw himself on the grenade in accordance with Donald’s demands for loyalty at any cost.

A right-wing group that targets media and left-leaning organizations attempted to “sting” the Washington Post by hiring a woman to pretend to be an accuser of child molester, disgraced judge, and Congressional wannabe Roy Moore—but the effort backfired when the Post, following its stringent fact-checking policies, declined to run the story, and in checking on the woman and her story discovered (and published) evidence of her duplicity and the sting operation conducted by Project Veritasa right-wing extremist organization that uses deceptive tactics and secretly recorded conversations in an effort to discredit its targets (and one that Donald himself donated $10K to).

As Donald reportedly denies his own voice on the Access Hollywood tapes, which the pussy-grabber-in-chief initially owned up to, the New York Times ran a well-sourced article revealing how many Republicans Donald has pressured to end the Russia investigations. Never minds separation of powers or ethics or, you know, the law.

Donald’s recurring and renewed attacks against the free press are escalating, and journalists are fighting back. He held out his propaganda station, FOX, for praise against CNN, saying, “FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!” CNN whipped back within minutes: “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S. to the world. That’s yours.” Donald then called for a boycott of CNN when the media organization decided not to attend the White House holiday party for news media.

Two media organizations are suing the White House for information on the federal government’s surveillance practices against journalists, and for which the White House has denied records requests.

One of the first things authoritarians do in consolidating power is attack the free press, and Donald’s constant war against the media and the First Amendment is one of the more alarming attacks on our democracy. You can help by supporting the outlets doing top-notch journalism and keeping this regime accountable and transparent despite their attempts otherwise: Subscribe to the Washington Post and NY Times; donate to NPR and the Guardian; and support the many other excellent media sources that deal in truth and facts and relentlessly bring both to light.

The Inspector general of the Treasury Department has launched an investigation to determine whether Steven “Moochin’” Mnuchin suppressed a Treasury analysis of the Republican tax bill—or even initiated one at all.

Donny John was also recently exposed for hiring undocumented laborers—without adequate workplace safety precautions—for $4/hour (less than half the union wage—for those who were paid at all) to raze the Bonwit Teller building in Manhattan where his gaudy gold Trump Tower now stands. Donald settled the class-action lawsuit in 1998 (despite his false claims that he never settles), and the terms were recently unsealed by a district court judge.

Twenty-three Donald-affiliated business have received subpoenas from Maryland and DC attorneys general instructing them to preserve records as part of a lawsuit against Don John for violating the Constitution—again, this time the emoluments clause intended to prevent presidents from personally profiting from their office, as Donald is.

Texas Rep Joe “Dick Pic” Barton announced he is retiring from the House after it was revealed that the hard-line conservative sent lewd photos to a woman he was having an extramarital affair with. In not-unrelated news, members of both parties are pressuring Congress to end the culture of secrecy around sexual harassment claims—and especially to unmask lawmakers who have used taxpayer dollars to settle harassment claims.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Flippin’ Flynn

This week brought an intriguing development in the latest Russia report: Michael Flynn abruptly cut off all direct contact with Donald and his team—a pretty good sign that he may be working to cut a deal with Robert Mueller…in other words, to roll on what he may know about Donald and the campaign’s Russia ties. Pass the popcorn, please.

After announcing an end to the Obama-era ban on importing elephant “trophies” from nations without adequate protections for the endangered animals, Donald flip-flopped at loud, immediate bipartisan outcry, and has decided to uphold the ban (for now).

More Republican senators are waffling on the GOP tax scam, endangering its chances of passing in the Senate.

Donald’s tanking approval ratings are even spreading to FOX—FOX News host Neil Cavuto aimed a scathing reprimand at Donald over his tweets that he should have left the UCLA basketball players in jail: “Forget about either comment not being presidential. At what point does the president see such remarks don’t even border on being human?… Last time I checked, you are the president of the United States,” he said. “Why don’t you act like it?”

Ex-RNC chair Michael Steele called Donny’s backing of sexual predator Roy Moore “sickening” and “beyond stupid” and said he was doing “irreparable harm” to our country.

(Kim Jong Un, as always, takes things a linguistically memorable step further, calling Donald an “old lunatic, mean trickster and human reject.”)

Unlikely superhero Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, filed a complaint with his former agency regarding Kellyanne Conway’s comments advocating for Roy Moore while in her official capacity—a potential violation of the Hatch Act, a law that forbids federal employees from using their positions for political purposes. Shaub resigned halfway into Donald’s first year, after heroic battles with the new administration, which refused to observe rules and norms the office was designed to enforce, and has been eloquently outspoken since about the many ongoing violations of ethics of Donald and his minions.

Amid claims against one of Roy Moore’s accusers that his campaign refuses to substantiateMoore’s communications director has resigned.

Richard Spencer-organized event was abruptly called to a halt smack in the middle of it when the farmers who managed the venue in Maryland where it was being held learned white nationalist Spencer was behind it and kicked the entire gathering out. Management refunded the group’s money, but stood by its refusal to host the group as “strongly in opposition to our values…including welcoming people of all backgrounds, race, ethnicities, cultures, and religions.”

A second federal judge has ruled Donald’s ban on transgender people serving in the military is unconstitutional—and goes one step farther, ruling that the White House cannot deny funding for certain medical treatments—including gender reassignment surgery.

Another federal judge issued an injunction to permanently block the federal government from withholding funds from “sanctuary cities,” citing the White House policy as a violation of the Fifth and Tenth Amendments, and of the separation of powers doctrine.

Right now, federal judges are helping keep Donald’s unconstitutional attempts in check—but what should scare all of us is how he and Jeff Sessions are feverishly appointing judges to the bench—aided by the GOP’s blockading of legitimate appointments during Obama’s administration, and by their steamrolling the rule that prevents nominees from office if a certain number of senators from the nominee’s home state object (the “blue slip” rule). If conservatives get their way,Donald will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). This is a major battle that’s not in the spotlight—and as long as it isn’t the GOP can keep railroading onto the bench extreme-conservative, unqualified, young judges who could change the face of our judiciary for the next 50 years (appointed by an attorney general who was himself judged too racist to serve as a federal judge). Fight, warriors—this will have repercussions for years to come, and generations after us.