We Resist: Day 371

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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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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: This Is What Happens When the President Is a Bigot and Devin Nunes and His F#@king Memo.

Lindsey Bever, Sarah Kaplan, and Abby Ohlheiser at the Washington Post: The Doomsday Clock Just Moved: It's Now 2 Minutes to 'Midnight,' the Symbolic Hour of the Apocalypse.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced the symbolic Doomsday Clock a notch closer to the end of humanity Thursday, moving it ahead by 30 seconds after what the organization called a "grim assessment" of the state of geopolitical affairs.

"As of today," Bulletin president Rachel Bronson told reporters, "it is two minutes to midnight."

In moving the clock 30 seconds closer to the hour of the apocalypse, the group cited "the failure of [Donald] Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change."

The organization — whose board includes 15 Nobel Laureates — now believes "the world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago; it is as threatening as it has been since World War II," Bulletin officials Lawrence M. Krauss and Robert Rosner wrote in an op-ed published Thursday by The Washington Post. "In fact, the Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight today as it was in 1953, when Cold War fears perhaps reached their highest levels."

Krauss, a theoretical physicist, and Rosner, an astrophysicist, added: "To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger — and its immediacy."
Everything is fine.

cartoon image of me inside 'The Scream' painting

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Ari Berman at Rolling Stone: How the GOP Rigs Elections.
To say that Republicans are facing a toxic political environment heading into the 2018 midterm elections would be a massive understatement. Donald Trump is the most unpopular president at this stage of his term in modern American history. Just three in 10 Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party, and Democratic voters' enthusiasm to vote in 2018 tops Republican voters' by 17 points. But because of sophisticated gerrymandering, Republicans who should be vulnerable, like Wanggaard, have been seen as untouchable. "It's more challenging than it should be because of the way the districts are drawn," says Jenni Dye, who works for Democrats in Wisconsin's state Senate. Wanggaard is among 11 Republican state senators up for re-election in 2018, but no one has stepped forward to challenge him yet.

The gerrymandering in Wisconsin, which experts call among the most extreme in U.S. history, is but one part of Republicans' stealth plan to stay in office. Since Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature took power, they've also introduced some of the country's harshest voting restrictions, passing laws that make it harder for Democratic-leaning constituencies to register to vote and cast ballots. At the same time, the state has become the "Wild West of dark money," according to Lisa Graves, a senior fellow at the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy, with Republican politicians like Walker raising unprecedented sums from billionaire donors to finance their campaigns.

"All three of these things have to be seen as part of a whole," says Eric Holder, Barack Obama's attorney general, who founded the National Democratic Redistricting Committee in 2016 to challenge Republican gerrymandering efforts. "Unregulated dark money combined with these voter-ID laws combined with gerrymandering is inconsistent with how our nation's system is supposed to be set up. American citizens ought to be concerned about the state of our democracy. We could end up with a system where a well-financed minority that has views inconsistent with the vast majority of the American people runs this country."
David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight: Hating Gerrymandering Is Easy; Fixing It Is Harder. "It's easy for opponents of gerrymandering — the drawing of political boundaries for the benefit of one party or group over another — to argue what districts shouldn't look like. ...But it's much more difficult to say what districts should look like, because reformers can disagree on what priorities should govern our political cartography. Should districts be drawn to be more compact? More conducive to competitive elections? More inclusive of underrepresented racial groups? Should they yield a mix of Democratic and Republican representatives that better matches the political makeup of a state? Could they even be drawn at random? These concepts can be difficult to define and often stand in tension with one another."

And, on the same topic, ICYMI:

I've said it before, and I will say it again: If you're someone who is putting your future hopes in the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections, you'd better preoccupy yourself with fighting every effort to disenfranchise voters for the next 10 months.

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[Content Note: Misogyny]

I'll take "Great Mysteries of Life" for $200, Alex.

He seems nice.

[CN: Sexual assault] Itay Hod at the Wrap: David Copperfield Accused of Drugging, Assaulting 17-Year-Old Model in 1988. There are details about the assault at the link. Copperfield is one of the many men in the entertainment industry about whom there have long been "open secrets" regarding sexual predation, as I noted back in October.

[CN: Sexual assault] Kaiser at Celebitchy: Being Accused of Abusive Behavior Has Been 'Very Hard' on James Franco. Boo hoo. How's it been for his victims? These PR placements about how upset Franco is are gross AF. I like what Kaiser says at the link: "This, too, is performance art." Yup.

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Matt Shuham at TPM: 24-Year-Old at Highest Levels of Drug Czar Office Will Leave This Month. "The inexperienced 24-year-old who quickly ascended from Trump campaign volunteer to the highest levels of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy will leave that office by the end of the month, the White House confirmed to the Washington Post Wednesday night. The Post first profiled Taylor Weyeneth 11 days ago, reporting based on public records requests that his resumes misleadingly included a masters degree from Fordham University (one he never completed) and a claim that he'd worked at a New York law firm for eight months longer than he had (he was 'discharged' after not showing up for work), among other irregularities." Whoooooops.

Lachlan Markay at the Daily Beast: A Coal Giant Gave $1 Million to Donald Trump's Super PAC as It Sought Help from Trump. "A major coal company wrote a seven-figure check to [Donald] Trump's leading super PAC as it sought a major federal energy policy intervention that would save the company billions. Murray Energy donated $1 million to America First Action on August 8, according to newly released Federal Election Commission records. That was four days after its CEO, Robert Murray, personally appealed to the White House to prop up a struggling utility that buys coal from his company. The administration ultimately did not intervene." Cool cool cool.

Casey Michael at ThinkProgress: A Dangerous Piece of Fake News Is Spreading Like Wildfire on Facebook.
Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that it would be reformatting its maligned News Feed, looking for the latest means of steering away from the fake news controversies that have dogged the company over the past year. Hoping to undercut the fake news publishers pumping falsehoods and conspiracy to users, Facebook announced it would now be prioritizing "more posts from friends and family" and "less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses."

In theory, the move should help gut outlets known for outright fabrication – the types of fake news outlets that consistently pushed pro-Trump material through the election.

But in practice, at least thus far, it appears the move has fallen woefully short of its goal.

A study from NewsWhip found earlier this week that one of the top four stories with the most engagement since Facebook's change belonged to YourNewsWire, a notorious fake news factory. The story, which claimed that an unnamed "CDC doctor" said the flu vaccine was "causing [the] deadly flu outbreak," had at the time generated more overall engagements than any story from outlets like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, or even Fox News. (The YourNewsWire story has since fallen a few slots.) At last check, the YourNewsWire story had nearly a half-million total Facebook engagements.
Goddammit. Meanwhile... [CN: Objectification; misogyny; hostility to consent] Alex Hern at the Guardian: AI Used to Face-Swap Hollywood Stars into Pornography Films without Consent. "Advanced machine learning technology is being used to create fake pornography featuring real actors and pop stars, pasting their faces over existing performers in explicit movies. The resulting clips, made without consent from the women whose faces are used, are often indistinguishable from a real film, with only subtly uncanny differences suggesting something is amiss."

Not only is this terrible news for the countless women whose lives will be ruined by this technology, but imagine for a moment what it means for the creation of fake news. Fucking hell.

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

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