We Resist: Day 833

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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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Late yesterday and earlier today by me: We Have Become Inured to the Unfathomable and On Bill Barr's Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony and Primarily Speaking and Another Migrant Child Dies in Custody and Trump Wants Funding to Expand Detention Camps.

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

So, Attorney General Bill Barr did not turn up to the House Judiciary Committee hearing today, because he has as much contempt for the rule of law as his deplorable boss, and Rep. Steve Cohen pulled a ridiculous stunt, bringing a bucket of fried chicken to the hearing and eating it in front of the empty chair where Barr should have been, then holding a chicken figurine while giving a press conference and calling Barr "Chicken Barr."

First of all, Barr did not fail to show up because he's afraid. To the absolute contrary, he failed to show up because the Republican Party has consolidated power so thoroughly that a Democratic House majority no longer matters, and the Trump Regime will take every opportunity to show that.


For fuck's sake.

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Kenneth P. Vogel and Iuliia Mendel at the New York Times: Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies. "The broad outlines of how the Bidens' roles intersected in Ukraine have been known for some time. The former vice president's campaign said that he had always acted to carry out United States policy without regard to any activities of his son, that he had never discussed the matter with Hunter Biden and that he learned of his son's role with the Ukrainian energy company from news reports. But new details about Hunter Biden's involvement, and a decision this year by the current Ukrainian prosecutor general to reverse himself and reopen an investigation into Burisma, have pushed the issue back into the spotlight just as the senior Mr. Biden is beginning his 2020 presidential campaign."

The Trump campaign is going to milk this for all it's worth. And, to be clear, there is a valid question about potential conflicts of interest here. But trust that the Trump campaign doesn't care about that even a little. Their only interest is in how it can be used to hurt Joe Biden, legitimately or not.

So I'm linking the story as a heads-up, because the Trump campaign will not drop it, but also to direct your attention to the following passage, highlighted by Brian Beutler with the observation: "Many paragraphs in we learn one reason why the cat got Bill Barr's tongue when Kamala Harris put him on the spot about politically motivated investigations."
Mr. Giuliani has discussed the Burisma investigation, and its intersection with the Bidens, with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor general and the current prosecutor. He met with the current prosecutor multiple times in New York this year. The current prosecutor general later told associates that, during one of the meetings, Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Trump excitedly to brief him on his findings, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Mr. Giuliani declined to comment on any such phone call with Mr. Trump, but acknowledged that he has discussed the matter with the president on multiple occasions. Mr. Trump, in turn, recently suggested he would like Attorney General William P. Barr to look into the material gathered by the Ukrainian prosecutors — echoing repeated calls from Mr. Giuliani for the Justice Department to investigate the Bidens' Ukrainian work and other connections between Ukraine and the United States.
That would be why Barr acted like he didn't even understand the definition of the word "suggest" when Harris asked him if Trump or anyone else at the White House had ever asked or suggested that he open an investigation into anyone — because Trump asked him to open an investigation on Biden.

Of whom Trump is not afraid, despite the widely-held assumption in the political press that Trump's obsessive tweeting about Biden indicates fear of facing him. The fuck it does. Trump wants to face Biden because he knows Biden is the most ethically compromised of all the Democratic contenders. Among other reasons. Like the odds that Biden will take a big roundhouse swing at Trump and end up hitting himself in the face instead.

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Julia Harte at Reuters: Foreign Government Leases at Trump World Tower Stir More Emoluments Concerns. "The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York's Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause. ...The rental transactions, dating from the early months of Trump's presidency and first revealed by Reuters, could add to mounting scrutiny of his business dealings with foreign governments, which are now the subject of multiple lawsuits. Congressional staffers confirmed to Reuters that the Trump World Tower lease requests were never submitted to Congress."

Jon Swaine at the Guardian: Stephen Moore: Trump's Fed Pick Underpaid Ex-Wife's Alimony for Years. "Stephen Moore, Donald Trump's embattled pick for the Federal Reserve board of governors, has underpaid his ex-wife's alimony bills for years, leaving her out of pocket by tens of thousands of dollars. ...The underpayment persisted even after Moore was found in contempt of court in Virginia in 2012, and came close to having his home seized, after he failed to pay Allison Moore more than $300,000 he owed her at the time. A spokeswoman for Moore said he declined to comment." I'll bet he did.

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse] Jacob Soboroff at NBC News: Emails Show Trump Admin Had 'No Way to Link' Separated Migrant Children to Parents. "On the same day the Trump administration said it would reunite thousands of migrant families it had separated at the border with the help of a 'central database,' an official was admitting privately the government only had enough information to reconnect 60 parents with their kids, according to emails obtained by NBC News. ...In the absence of an effective database, the emails show, officials then began scrambling to fill out a simple spreadsheet with data in hopes of reuniting as many as families as they could." Holy hell.

Matthew S. Schwartz at NPR: ACLU: Border Agents Violate Constitution When They Search Electronic Devices.
The ACLU, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sued the federal government in 2017, alleging that its "warrantless and suspicionless searches" of electronic devices at the U.S. ports of entry violated the First and Fourth amendments. Lawyers now say that, through depositions of border agents, they have learned that the scope of the warrantless searches has expanded far beyond the mere enforcement of immigration and customs laws.

Border officers have the authority to search belongings for contraband, or to determine who is admissible into the U.S., the ACLU said. But agents now "claim authority to search travelers' devices for general law enforcement purposes, such as looking for potential evidence of illegal activity beyond violations of immigration and customs laws," plaintiffs wrote.

"That claimed authority extends to enforcing 'hundreds' of federal laws, including tax, bankruptcy, environmental, and consumer protection laws. Defendants' asserted purposes for conducting warrantless or suspicionless device searches also include intelligence gathering or advancing pre-existing investigations."
This is so bad. And if the government is allowed to get away with it, we can be certain that such encroaches on people's privacy will not be limited to the borders.

[CN: Islamophobia; abuse] In a chilling view of what that future might look like... Rosie Perper at Business Insider: Chinese Authorities Are Reportedly Using an App to Monitor Muslims in Xinjiang and See If They Match 36 'Person Types' Deemed as Dangerous. "Researchers at Human Rights Watch said they obtained a copy last year of a mass surveillance app used by police in Xinjiang, which is home to an estimated 13 million Uighur Muslims as well as a other Muslim minority groups that are subjected to unprecedented surveillance measures. ...According to the report, the app compiles data about Xinjiang inhabitants, including their blood type, height, and information about their electricity use, and warns government officials and police officers when it detects a suspicious person."

[CN: Extreme weather; video may autoplay at link] Swati Gupta and Helen Regan at CNN: 100 Million People in Path of India's Worst Cyclone in Five Years. "What is expected to be India's strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in nearly five years is barreling toward 100 million people on the east coast, prompting officials to begin emergency evacuations. ...As Fani was classified as an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm' in India, the country's Coast Guard and Navy deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations. Army and Air Force units have also been put on standby in Odisha, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh states."

[CN: Sexual violence] Tom Vanden Brook at USA Today: Military Sexual Assaults Rise by Almost 38%; Alcohol Involved in Nearly Two out of Three.
Sexual assaults in the military rose nearly 38% from 2016 to 2018, according to survey results obtained by USA TODAY.

That spike in crime within the ranks comes after years of focused effort and resources to eradicate it.

The report, due to be released Thursday by the Pentagon, surveyed Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine personnel in 2018. Based on the survey, there were an estimated 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact — an increase over the 14,900 estimated in the last biennial survey in 2016. Unwanted sexual contact ranges from groping to rape.

Enlisted female troops ages 17 to 24 were at the highest risk of being assaulted, said Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

...More than 85% of victims knew their assailant. Alcohol was involved in 62% of the total assaults.

...The latest report on sexual assaults requires Congress to intervene, said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Armed Services Committee's personnel panel.

"The department must accept that current programs are simply not working," Speier said. "Congress must lead the way in forcing the department to take more aggressive approaches to fighting this scourge.”
One might imagine that the increase is attributable to higher incidents of reporting, but that is, unfortunately, not the case: "The rate of reporting sexual assault to authorities declined, a trend that might point to less confidence among troops." Additionally, the increase is only in female victimization: "For women, assaults involving groping and crimes involving penetration both increased, Galbreath said. The type of assaults for men stayed relatively stable."

It is possible that official reporting has declined, while anonymous reporting in a survey has increased. But it's tragic that the best-case scenario is that it's the same number of assaults with dwindling hopes for justice.

My guess is that it's not a coincidence that this time period overlaps precisely with the time period that a confessed serial sex abuser has been serving as commander-in-chief.

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

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