We Resist: Day 741

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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: Polar Vortex: It's Cooooooooold! and Christie Unintentionally Reveals Trump's Strategy and The Time Is Now: Get Trump Outta There. And some good resistance news, ICYMI late yesterday: Stacey Abrams Will Deliver the Democratic Rebuttal to the State of the Union Address.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, this seemed to resonate (!!!):

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

John Wagner and Shane Harris at the Washington Post: Trump Blasts U.S. Intelligence Officials, Disputes Assessments on Iran and Other Global Threats. "[Donald] Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them 'extremely passive and naive' about the 'dangers of Iran' and pushing back on their assessments of the Islamic State and North Korea during a congressional hearing. ...Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also weighed in. 'The President has a dangerous habit of undermining the intelligence community to fit his alternate reality,' Warner said in a tweet. 'People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter.'"

I still don't understand what Trump (and Pence) are doing in Venezuela, although I am damn certain that their interest does not end at regime change. I do think they are interested in further destabilizing the region, to what ends I'm not sure, and I suspect there's a possibility of waging a false war with Russia in Venezuela, with the purpose of pillaging oil and other regional resources (including state treasure; see above) and the tangential benefit of creating the illusion that Russia and the U.S. are still adversaries and that the U.S. president isn't a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin. In any case, I'm very freaked out and worried for the people of Venezuela.

Emma Loop at BuzzFeed: A House Democrat Is Targeting Steven Mnuchin's Business Dealings in the Russian Sanctions Fight. "A House Democrat is demanding answers about an alleged business deal that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had with an associate of a Russian oligarch whose companies recently received US sanctions relief. California Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Mnuchin last week seeking answers about a deal he reportedly made in 2017 with an associate of Oleg Deripaska's, the billionaire aluminum magnate whose companies Treasury surprisingly announced it would be taking off the formal sanctions list in December."

Igor Derysh at Salon: With Sanctions Lifted, Trump Transition Member Gets Board Position on Russian Oligarch's Company. "On Sunday, the Treasury Department lifted the sanctions on three companies owned by Deripaska 10 months after it imposed them, citing Russia’s 'malign activity around the globe.' Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was also personally sanctioned because the government accused him of threats to rivals, bribing government officials and links to organized crime. As part of the deal to have the sanctions lifted, Deripaska agreed to dilute his control of EN+, the parent company of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal. ...On Monday, EN+ announced seven new board directors, including Christopher Burnham, who served on Trump's State Department transition team and previously worked as an executive at Deutsche Bank." Deutsche Bank. Of course.

Danny Hakim at the New York Times: N.R.A. Seeks Distance From Russia as Investigations Heat Up. "When a delegation of high-profile donors, boosters, and board members from the National Rifle Association traveled to Russia in 2015, they visited a gun factory in Moscow, took in a ballet, and met with members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle. But now the N.R.A. is seeking to distance itself from the trip, after revelations that a Russian woman who helped arrange it, Maria Butina, was conspiring to infiltrate the organization. The trip has been a subject of scrutiny in at least four inquiries into the N.R.A.'s ties to Russia; questions about the N.R.A. have also surfaced in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Newly empowered congressional Democrats are now stepping up efforts to uncover how much money the N.R.A. received from Russia, and whether the group served as a conduit for Russian funds into the 2016 Trump campaign."

Casey Michel at ThinkProgress: Hacked Emails List Right-Wing Fundraiser Partying with Russian Fascists and Oligarchs. "Last month, a new leak site called Distributed Denial of Secrets went live, compiling a cache of hacked emails and documents of Russian officials, confidants of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, and those steering Russian interference efforts. Among the revelations: A higher-up at the Bradley Foundation, one of the main financiers of right-wing groups in the U.S. — including the Daily Caller News Foundation and anti-immigrant organizations — apparently attended a notorious 'pro-family' conference in Russia in 2014, held shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine."

Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco at the Daily Beast: Mueller Witness' Team Gamed Out Russian Meddling...in 2015. "Days after Donald Trump rode down an escalator at Trump Tower and announced he'd run for president, a little-known consulting firm with links to Israeli intelligence started gaming out how a foreign government could meddle in the U.S. political process. Internal communications, which The Daily Beast reviewed, show that the firm conducted an analysis of how illicit efforts might shape American politics. Months later, the Trump campaign reviewed a pitch from a company owned by that firm's founder — a pitch to carry out similar efforts."

Christopher Bing and Joel Schectman at Reuters: Special Report: Inside the UAE's Secret Hacking Team of U.S. Mercenaries.
Stroud had been recruited by a Maryland cyber security contractor to help the Emiratis launch hacking operations, and for three years, she thrived in the job. But in 2016, the Emiratis moved Project Raven to a UAE cyber security firm named DarkMatter. Before long, Stroud and other Americans involved in the effort say they saw the mission cross a red line: targeting fellow Americans for surveillance.

"I am working for a foreign intelligence agency who is targeting U.S. persons," she told Reuters. "I am officially the bad kind of spy."

The story of Project Raven reveals how former U.S. government hackers have employed state-of-the-art cyber-espionage tools on behalf of a foreign intelligence service that spies on human rights activists, journalists, and political rivals.

Interviews with nine former Raven operatives, along with a review of thousands of pages of project documents and emails, show that surveillance techniques taught by the NSA were central to the UAE's efforts to monitor opponents.
There is much more at the link.

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Greg Sargent at the Washington Post: Howard Schultz Is Anything But a Realist. "The idea that a billionaire with no political experience is just what we need is particularly galling amid our current disastrous experiment. And Schultz would run as a 'centrist independent,' which appears to mean 'economically conservative and socially liberal,' but there's not a great constituency for that. ...At the core of this sort of centrism is the idea that there's a hallowed middle ground that — simply by virtue of being equidistant between arbitrarily designated and presumptively equivalent 'extremes' — is inherently sensible, virtuous, and above all, non-ideological. This idea is certainly seductive to far too many people. But it doesn't give rise to anything resembling realism. In a way, it's a rigid ideology all its own."

Pilar Melendez at the Daily Beast: Howard Schultz Shocked a Box of Cheerios Costs Four Dollars. "Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, amid a media tour rife with awkward moments, got stumped by Morning Joe on Wednesday when asked: 'How much does an 18-ounce box of Cheerios cost?' 'An 18 ounce box of Cheerios? I don't eat Cheerios,' the billionaire responded to host Mika Brzezinski. When she revealed the price was four dollars, Schultz was shocked. 'That's a lot,' he said."

There are a whole lot of reasons that the cultural enamourment with billionaires and the attendant belief that they are inherently qualified to be political leaders are garbage. Among them is this: Anyone who is a billionaire is de facto completely out of touch with the lives of the majority of the population. They have no comprehension about what life is really like. One cannot effectively and decently lead people whose lives they fundamentally don't understand.

[Content Note: Class warfare] Ally Boguhn at Rewire.News: Diapers, Tampons, Nursing Bras: The Trump Shutdown's Unseen Costs for Working Families. "Corinne Cannon, founder and executive director of the Greater D.C. Diaper Bank, told Rewire.News Friday that the organization saw 'a pretty drastic increase in requests for help for individuals' during the government shutdown. The diaper bank, operating in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia for more than eight years, normally provides 'diapers, period products, formula, breastfeeding supplies, adult incontinence supplies, and other hygiene products' to social service organizations that then distribute them to those in need. But during the government shutdown, there was 'a massive increase in need,' Cannon said. 'We had an increase in requests for individuals, an increase in requests from organizations — we saw a lot of folks who we've never talked to about diaper needs before coming [to us].'"

[CN: Nativism] John Wagner and Erica Werner at the Washington Post: Trump Digs In on Border Wall Funds as Congressional Negotiators Prepare to Convene. "Trump warned Wednesday that congressional negotiators would be 'wasting their time' if they do not discuss his demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which led to a 35-day partial government shutdown that ended last week with a temporary truce. The president's message, delivered in a morning tweet, came hours before a bipartisan, bicameral committee was set to meet for the first time to broker a compromise over border security funding and avert another shutdown, with Democrats continuing to resist Trump's demand. 'If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!' Trump wrote on Twitter."

Fucking hell.

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

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