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Mattea Kramer, Hit Him Where It Hurts

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. T

As his polling figures sag, the chaos of his presidency increases exponentially, and the news turns ever grimmer (for him), President Trump faces growing opposition nationwide. As TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer reports today, from boycotting businesses carrying his products to jamming the phone lines of his hotels, an expanding, if somewhat uncoordinated, set of anti-Trump organizations are focused on how to divest America of its 45th president. They are, in particular, aiming at what he undoubtedly cares most about (other, of course, than himself): his business dealings and those of his children. (And just wait until such anti-Trumpism gains traction abroad and those businesses with the giant golden letters become ongoing targets of protest -- or worse -- globally.)

And yet these days, believe it or not, that may be the least of his problems. There seems to be another Resist Trump movement growing right in the heart of our nation's capital in what has become the unofficial fourth branch of our government, the one not written into the Constitution but funded as if it were the only thing that Constitution contained: the national security state.

Among the many missteps (a kind word under the circumstances) of a president who clearly thought the worst was over when he won the election, none may prove more disastrous than his -- you can't call it a decision, but perhaps an impulse -- to take on parts of that state within a state. He began memorably by comparing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to so many Nazis and proceeded from there. That he evidently never imagined such institutions, which now surveil the world in a way that might have amazed George Orwell and stunned the totalitarian regimes of the previous century, having the power to respond to him should amaze us all. That he fired James Comey, for instance, without any sense that the FBI director or his supporters inside the Bureau could or would strike back was perhaps the ultimate in blind self-faith. (Of course, in these years, America's intelligence agencies have often seemed like the proverbial gang that couldn't shoot straight, as with the recent -- possibly North Korean -- ransomware attack on computer networks globally that was based in part on hacking tools pilfered from the National Security Agency.)

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Now, from secret memos about "pledges of loyalty" to leaks of every sort, the national security state may be in the process of trying to divest itself of President Trump. It looks like some of its professionals have stopped collecting intelligence for him and started collecting it on him. If his recently tweeted threat -- "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" -- wasn't so much hot air (and he does have a past history of taping phone conversations), he might turn out to have done their work for them. If so, he better hope that such tapes turn out to have an 18-and-a-half hour gap.

At the moment, the scandals seem unending. Campaign collusion (or was it confusion?) with Putin's Russia, the Comey firing, the never-ending disaster of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, including the president's possible request that the FBI director shut down the Flynn investigation, and the sharing of "highly classified" information with the Russian foreign minister just head a list that seems to grow by the day, as congressional muttering about "obstruction of justice" and "impeachment" grows. Meanwhile -- signs of the times -- the president's aides are reportedly polishing their CVs and joining the crew leaking about him, while he remains angry with them for his own crazed behavior.

If this isn't the potential script for a modern Dr. Strangelove, what is? Only the nuclear weapons are missing (so far). Tom

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Boycott Trump
Can a Movement to Hurt the President Financially Change the Political Landscape?
By Mattea Kramer

In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid's Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president's penchant for grabbing women "by the p*ssy." Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.

Since Donald Trump's election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president. They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there's one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics -- including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration's agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies -- protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14th.

Such economic dissent may prove to be an especially apt path of resistance, especially for the millions of Americans who reside in blue states and have struggled with a sense of powerlessness following the election. After all, it's not immediately obvious how to take effective political action in the usual American way when your legislators already agree with you. But what blue-state dwellers lack in political sway they make up for in economic clout, since blue states have, on average, greater household incomes and more purchasing power than their red-state compatriots. The impact of coordinated blue-state boycotts could be enormous. That's why Grab Your Wallet, along with Color of Change, a racial-justice group, and numerous other organizations are encouraging individuals to see their purchasing power as political muscle.

"It was close at the polls, but it's not close at the cash register," Shannon Coulter, a founder of Grab Your Wallet, told me recently.

And yet, even as throngs of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals throw their energy into economic tactics intended to weaken the president, it's still an open question whether this type of resistance -- or, more specifically, its current implementation -- can precipitate anything in the way of meaningful change.

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"A Sprawling Landscape of Resistance"

At first glance, Grab Your Wallet is a modest website: a Google spreadsheet that lists about 50 companies to boycott. Included are the department stores Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Lord & Taylor, as well as online retailers like Overstock.com, Zappos, and Amazon, all of which sell some type of Trump swag. (The precise number of companies listed continues to decline, as retailers dump the Trump brand.) The site gets an impressive two million unique visitors every month, and when I spoke with Coulter, she told me that 22 retailers had dropped Trump products since the start of the boycott. She believes that this is just the beginning.

"I don't think we'll see the full impact of the boycott until summer, because of how the retail cycle works," she explained. The department store Nordstrom, for instance, the biggest company to date to drop the Ivanka Trump brand, sold through its existing inventory before indicating that it would not reorder. That announcement even attracted attention from the president, who tweeted: "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!"

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)
 

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