We Resist: Day 553

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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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Earlier today by me: The Trump Regime Wanted to Break up Immigrant Families and Today in Creeping Blazing Authoritarianism and Capitulating to Conservatives Is What Got Us Here.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Michael Harriot at the Root: Evidence Shows Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election But No One Will Admit It.
U.S. officials will admit that Vladimir Putin interfered with the 2016 election. They don't specifically deny that Russian operatives altered votes. They will only say they cannot confirm that fact. They will say that there is no conclusive evidence to support it.

That is simply not true.

When one dissects the publicly available information on Putin's state-sanctioned campaign to elect Donald Trump, the same evidence that supports the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia wanted to elect Donald Trump also points to the inescapable fact Soviet actors most likely changed votes.

...Every single source agrees that Russian could have changed votes. We know it is not a difficult task. We know it is so easy, even a 16-year-old could do it. Every single shred of publicly available evidence says Russian hackers would have altered voter rolls and votes.

Yet, we are supposed to believe that Vladimir Putin concocted this vast, Soviet-sponsored effort that included propaganda, computer experts, spies and an international ring of hackers, but when he was actually successful at breaking into voting systems, all they did was look around and change nothing?

We are supposed to believe the circumstantial evidence that shows Russians interfered but not the circumstantial evidence that shows they changed votes? There will never be any direct evidence. The only other alternative is to believe that the entire plot was an exercise.
And there will never be any direct evidence in part because Republican state legislatures have ensured that any and all potential evidence was destroyed.

Also, by way of reminder, when Rod Rosenstein announced new indictments related to 2016 election cyber-operations against 12 Russian intelligence officers two weeks ago, I noted: "Rosenstein made clear that there was no allegation in the indictment that Americans conspired with the Russian intelligence officers, nor that any vote totals were affected as a result of the cyberattacks. Note the careful language there: Many folks' takeaway will be that no Americans did conspire, and that no vote totals were affected, but that is not what Rosenstein said. He said only that the indictment alleges neither of those things. I'm angry that Rosenstein went to such great lengths to imply that there was no vote tampering, while not actually saying that (because he can't). That's certainly the impression with which most people will be left, though."

Ask yourself why it is that the man who is the gatekeeper for Bob Mueller's investigation into Russian interference is taking great pains to empower the mendacious narrative that Russia could not possibly have altered vote totals in the 2016 election. There is no reassuring answer to that question.

I wrote at length on Tuesday about the grim reality that we are very unlikely to have free and fair elections in November. And let me add this equally troubling thought: The very public failure to hold Russia accountable for election meddling not only means that Russia feels empowered to interfere in the midterms, but certainly so does every other state with the capacity and desire to do so. I fully expect that Russia will not be the only foreign state attempting to interfere and/or successfully interfering in the midterm election.

And, at this point, even countries that previously might have expected to be called out because they don't hold the U.S. president in their pockets surely feel more brazen, because it's unlikely Donald Trump will ever call out any election meddling at all, collusion notwithstanding, given that he doesn't want to acknowledge election interference that undermines his own legitimacy. Or his party's, with regard to the midterms.

The one possible exception he might be willing to call out is if one of our allies interfered with the objective of protecting our democracy. In fact, he just laid the groundwork for it the other day.

Trump has created a situation in which our enemies know they can interfere with impunity and our allies know they cannot interfere even to help.

That should be a significant concern to all of us, and a real wake-up call about the state of the U.S. democracy.

And if that doesn't do it, maybe this will:


Meanwhile... [Content Note: Racism] Michael Wines at the New York Times: New Emails Show Michigan Republicans Plotting to Gerrymander Maps. "Newly disclosed emails show Michigan Republicans angling to give their party a dominant position through gerrymandered maps and celebrating the plight of their Democratic rivals. ...The emails, disclosed in a filing on Monday, boast of concentrating 'Dem garbage' into four of the five southeast Michigan districts that Democrats now control, and of packing African-Americans into a metropolitan Detroit House district. One email likened a fingerlike extension they created in one Democratic district map to an obscene gesture toward its congressman, Representative Sander M. Levin. 'Perfect. It's giving the finger to Sandy Levin,' the author of the message wrote. 'I love it.'"

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Jon Swaine at the Guardian: Maria Butina: Ties Emerge Between NRA, Alleged Spy, and Russian Billionaire. "Senior members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) met the wife of the Russian billionaire who allegedly gave financial support to a woman accused of being a secret agent for Moscow in the U.S. The NRA members met Svetlana Nikolaeva, who is the head of a gun company that supplies sniper rifles to the Russian military and intelligence services, during a trip to Moscow during the 2016 election campaign. Nikolaeva's husband, Konstantin Nikolaev, allegedly provided funding to Maria Butina, a young Russian woman charged with carrying out an illicit spying operation in Washington. Nikolaev reportedly once invested in his wife's gun company. The finding sheds further light on the links forged in recent years between America's powerful gun lobby and well-connected Russians. U.S. prosecutors allege Butina's activities were directed by Alexander Torshin, a senior Russian state banker and an NRA member."

[CN: White supremacy] Kelly Weill at the Daily Beast: American Racists Look for Allies in Russia. "While [Donald] Trump pals around with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the U.S.'s racist right is making open overtures to Russian white supremacists. One day after Trump's disastrous summit with Putin last week, the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group, announced that it would launch a Russian-language site. The southern secessionist group's crush on Russia is the latest appeal by U.S. white supremacists to Russia and Putin — an alliance that has strengthened during the Trump presidency."

Nahal Toosi, Bryan Bender, and Eliana Johnson at Politico: Cabinet Chiefs Feel Shut out of Bolton's 'Efficient' Policy Process.
National security adviser John Bolton's effort to simplify the administration's decision-making process is frustrating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis and causing confusion about the United States' position on major issues including Russia, according to officials familiar with the situation.

Mattis has gone so far as to draft a letter to Bolton requesting that he hold more gatherings of agency and department chiefs "to smooth the bubble" on thorny issues ranging from U.S. policy in Syria to North Korea, according to one senior administration official. In particular, senior officials are concerned about the dearth of "principals committee" meetings scheduled by Bolton, officials say. Principals committee meetings are traditionally key forums for relevant Cabinet bosses to prepare and recommend policy options for the president.

Of special concern is the U.S. relationship with Russia, especially since Trump's July 16 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin with only translators present. Officials across U.S. agencies have been trying to figure out what Trump and Putin discussed. Russian officials, meanwhile, have taken advantage of the U.S. confusion to make a series of announcements about what they say Trump and Putin agreed upon. Bolton did not convene any principals committee meetings to discuss the Trump-Putin summit ahead of time, and hasn't held any such meetings on the issue since the event took place.
Just to be clear: This, too, is a sign of blazing authoritarianism in the White House.

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[CN: War; death. Covers entire section.]

Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria at the Washington Post: Death Notices for Syrian Prisoners Are Suddenly Piling Up; It's a Sign Assad Has Won the War.
The Syrian government has begun issuing death notices for political detainees at an unprecedented rate, according to groups that monitor the prisons, in an effort to resolve the fate of thousands of missing Syrians as the regime prevails in its civil war.

Since the spring, government registry offices have released hundreds of these notifications. Many of the notices report that prisoners have been dead since the early years of the conflict.

While officials have not publicly explained the increase, it could offer a rare window into the mind-set of Syrian leaders, who are notoriously hard to read, at a pivotal point in the war.

Human rights experts and other observers believe the disclosures reflect the growing confidence of President Bashar al-Assad's government as his forces overrun final pockets of rebel-held territory. Authorities no longer fear they will provoke fiercer resistance by revealing the multitude of deaths in regime custody, experts say.

They also suggest that Assad now feels secure enough that he is starting to close the book on the seven-year war, with the death notices signaling to Syrians that it is time to move on while underscoring in grim fashion that he is firmly in control.

The message is that "the war never happened, the regime is back in charge, and everything will be processed through the system," said Faysal Itani, a resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. "I think the word that encapsulates this best is normalization — the Syrian version of it, at any rate."
Daniel Byman at Foreign Affairs: How the U.S. Is Empowering Iran in Yemen. "The United States' own policies have at times advanced rather than hindered Tehran's regional ambitions. Nowhere is this clearer than in Yemen. U.S. support for a brutal Saudi-led military campaign in the country has created a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions, while offering an opening for Iran to expand its influence in the country. Military intervention has made insurgents more reliant on support from Tehran and is turning civilians against U.S. partners. If Washington wants to counter Iranian influence, it needs to reverse course — ending its disastrous support for the Saudi-led coalition and throwing its weight behind peace talks. Doubling down on the military effort will serve only to further Iran's regional ascendance."

And that is only one of many problems with the intervention in Yemen. Sudarsan Raghavan at the Washington Post: U.S. Allies Have Killed Thousands of Yemeni Civilians from the Air; After 22 Died at a Wedding, One Village Asks, 'Why Us?' "More than three years into Yemen's civil war, over 16,000 civilians have been killed and injured, the vast majority by airstrikes, the U.N. human rights office estimates, adding that the figures are likely to be far higher. The deaths are continuing unabated, with as many as hundreds of casualties per month, despite assurances by a U.S.-backed regional coalition to better protect civilians amid mounting criticism within the United States and the international community."

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan... James Mackenzie at Reuters: U.S. Military Says Investigating Afghanistan Air Strike. "The U.S. military is investigating an air strike near the northern city of Kunduz last week following reports that as many as 14 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the attack, a statement said on Wednesday. Last week, Afghan officials confirmed the deaths, which occurred during an operation on July 19 by Afghan security forces backed by U.S. air strikes, but said the causes were unclear. A separate U.S. statement last week confirmed that U.S. aircraft had carried out strikes in support of the operation but said there were no indications they had caused any civilian casualties. On Wednesday, the U.S. military issued a second statement saying that the incident was being investigated."

What are we even doing. Here, around the world, everywhere.

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[CN: Misogyny; carcerality; criminalization of need] Nusrat Choudhury at Ms.: How Modern Debtors' Prisons Are Using Fees to Tear Apart Families. "Every day, families across the country are ripped apart as loved ones are thrown in jail for the 'crime' of not being able to afford fines and fees imposed by courts for traffic offenses, civil infractions, and misdemeanors. We're incarcerating people because they live in poverty, effectively landing them in a new form of debtors' prison. For single mothers — who are far more likely to live in poverty — the consequences are nothing short of devastating."

[CN: Homophobia; Christian supremacy] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Married Gay Couple of 40 Years Denied Housing in Senior Living Community Because the Bible Says No. "Mary Walsh, 72, and Bev Nance, 68, a married Missouri couple who have been together for more than 40 years, were denied housing in a senior living community because the Bible says marriage is 'the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible,' according to a federal lawsuit filed by the couple. ...Said attorney Julie Wilensky in a press release: 'Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and one reason only — because they were married to each other rather than to men. This is exactly the type of sex discrimination the Fair Housing Act prohibits. Their story demonstrates the kind of exclusion and discrimination still facing same-sex couples of all ages.'"

[CN: Racism; police brutality] Blue Telusma at the Grio: NYPD Arrest and Drag Unconscious Black Man as Neighbors Go Off. "[T]he clip shows community members having a shouting match with police over the July 16th arrest of Keith Woody, whose limp body can be seen being dragged from a house, then dropped on the street next to a police cruiser. ...'You don’t knock nobody out like that,' one woman pleads. 'He's out unconscious in 100 degree weather.'...Even though police assured the public that an ambulance would be arriving, this ultimately was untrue. Woody's limp body was thrown in the back of the police care, which quickly drove away."

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

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