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Hometown: Green Mountains
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Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
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Journal Archives

Analysis of Trump's tweets reveals systematic diversion of the media


President Donald Trump's controversial use of social media is widely known and theories abound about its ulterior motives. New research published today in Nature Communications claims to provide the first evidence-based analysis demonstrating the US President's Twitter account has been routinely deployed to divert attention away from a topic potentially harmful to his reputation, in turn suppressing negative related media coverage.

The study focused on Trump's first two years in office, scrutinising the Robert Mueller investigation into potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 Presidential Election, as this was politically harmful to the President. The team analysed content relating to Russia and the Mueller investigation in two of the country's most politically neutral media outlets, New York Times (NYT) and ABC World News Tonight (ABC). The team also selected a set of keywords judged to play to Trump's preferred topics at the time, which were hypothesized to be likely to appear in diversionary tweets. The keywords related to "jobs", "China", and "immigration"; topics representing the president's supposed political strengths.

The researchers hypothesized that the more ABC and NYT reported on the Mueller investigation, the more Trump's tweets would mention jobs, China, and immigration, which in turn would result in less coverage of the Mueller investigation by ABC and NYT.

And we all know that he isn't smart enough to do this on his own. Now let's see, where do those wires lead?

If Trump Tries to Sue His Way to Election Victory, Here's What Happens : Propublica


A hearing on Wednesday in an election case captured in miniature the challenge for the Trump campaign as it gears up for what could become an all-out legal assault on presidential election results in key swing states: It’s easy enough to file a lawsuit claiming improprieties — in this case, that Pennsylvania had violated the law by allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were defective to correct them — but a lot harder to provide evidence of wrongdoing or a convincing legal argument. “I don’t understand how the integrity of the election was affected,” said U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage, something he repeated several times during the hearing. (However the judge rules, the case is unlikely to have a significant effect; only 93 ballots are at issue, a county election official said.)

“A lawsuit without provable facts showing a statutory or constitutional violation is just a tweet with a filing fee,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Levitt said judges by and large have ignored the noise of the race and the bluster of President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. “They’ve actually demanded facts and haven’t been ruling on all-caps claims of fraud or suppression,” Levitt said. “They haven’t confused public relations with the predicate for litigation, and I would expect that to continue.”

If Levitt is right, that may augur poorly for the legal challenges to the presidential election. Either way, the number of cases is starting to rapidly increase. But lawsuits will do little good unless, as in the 2000 presidential election, the race winds up being so close that it comes down to a very thin margin of votes in one or more must-win states.

One of the few certainties is that we will not see the instant Bush v. Gore replay that Trump seems to have in mind. A few hours after voting ended, in a 2 a.m. speech that drew bipartisan condemnation for the president’s premature declaration that he had won the election, Trump baselessly described the ongoing ballot count as “a fraud on the American public.” “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he told his supporters. “We want all voting to stop.” Trump is famously litigious, but he’s not a lawyer, and he seemed not to understand that apart from a small class of cases (largely territorial disputes between states), lawsuits don’t originate at the Supreme Court. The Trump campaign would have to file suit in a state or federal court and eventually appeal an adverse decision to the high court. Along the way, as the Pennsylvania court anecdote suggests, the Trump campaign would need to show evidence to back up his claim, and so far there’s no evidence of fraud in the ongoing ballot counts, which often run beyond election night. Tallying legitimate votes is not, despite the president’s tweeted claims, a form of fraud.

Police Brutality at the Black Lives Matter Protests (Phase 2)

Apparently vimeo wants to track the viewers... sorry.

Video link to my earlier post: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100214386279

A New Platform Maps US Police Violence Against Protesters : Bellingcat

After the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, protests erupted across the United States. They have continued ever since, spreading out across the country as Americans come together to speak up against systemic racial discrimination and the militarization of the police. While the vast majority of protesters have shown up to speak their minds peacefully and engage in nonviolent resistance, the state has responded with disproportionate acts of aggression. As Bellingcat has previously reported, police have also used violence against journalists covering the protests.

Together with Forensic Architecture, Bellingcat has identified, verified, and archived over 1,000 incidents of police violence against protestors across the United States since May 2020. The data can be accessed here, and is available for use and visualization.

Bellingcat and Forensic Architecture have engaged in active outreach with organizations, activists, and journalists to ground our work in the context of the protests and assist ongoing cases with our data. Similarly, we have reflected on the ethical impact of publishing and locating these incidents alongside the historical and analytical importance of archiving them. In order to avoid amplifying imagery that has not been widely seen, we have limited our published dataset to media that already has at least 5,000 views. For more details, please view our mission statement.

The data has been visualized using TimeMap, a platform developed by Forensic Architecture that maps the incidents in space and time. We have categorized the data into different kinds of violence and misconduct: Physical (Assault, Arrest/Detention, “Less-lethal” rounds), Chemical (Tear gas, Pepper spray), Destruction/confiscation of property, Permissiveness to the far-right, Hiding identity, Attacks on legal observers, and Attacks on medics.

We have published the map and the dataset in order to allow anyone to investigate the data and find patterns. Our analysis has shown that this behavior is widespread and ongoing. Police officers across the entire country, from different towns and cities, have used violence and deliberate aggression against protesters. This is not a case of one bad police department, rather it seems that this behavior is intentional and part of the country-wide protocol.

This is also violence that is, in some cases, rare for many of these cities and departments. There were some cities that did not previously have protocol around chemical weapon usage, because before these protests chemical weapons had only been used in specific SWAT team situations. Nevertheless, their police forces still deployed tear gas on protestors. The response to the first wave of protests has normalized this violence, despite public outcry and resistance.

This norm has maintained itself and continues to spread throughout the country.

While many organizations are working hard to achieve justice and accountability for victims of the violence, their job is complicated due to the unique concept of qualified immunity in the United States. This is why we believe it to be vital that these acts are archived and visualized, to create a historical record of the violence at these protests and to shed light onto the officers involved.

You can watch the video explaining the platform and the context of the protests, as well as access the map here.


Top FEC Official's Undisclosed Ties to Trump Raise Concerns Over Agency Neutrality - ProPublica


A top Federal Election Commission official, whose division regulates campaign cash, has shown support for President Trump and has close ties to his 2016 campaign attorney, Don McGahn. Experts said the actions raise questions about impartiality.

Debbie Chacona oversees the division of the Federal Election Commission that serves as the first line of defense against illegal flows of cash in political campaigns. Its dozens of analysts sift through billions of dollars of reported contributions and expenditures, searching for any that violate the law. The work of Chacona, a civil servant, is guided by a strict ethics code and long-standing norms that employees avoid any public actions that might suggest partisan leanings.

But Chacona’s open support of President Donald Trump and her close ties to a former Republican FEC commissioner, Donald McGahn, who went on to become the 2016 Trump campaign’s top lawyer, have raised questions among agency employees and prompted at least one formal complaint. Chacona, a veteran agency staffer who has run the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division, or RAD, since 2010, has made her partisan allegiance clear in a series of public Facebook posts that include a photo of her family gathered around a “Make America Great Again” sign while attending Trump’s January 2017 inauguration.

So much for draining the swamp. Replacing it with a sewer.

Heather Cox Richardson: "palpable sense of rats leaving a sinking ship"


This is a very powerful piece.

The theme of the day was the palpable sense of rats leaving a sinking ship as Republicans, administration officials, and administration-adjacent people distanced themselves from the president.

There was a foreshadowing of that exodus on Wednesday, when Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) let loose about the president in a telephone call with constituents. Sasse was an early critic of Trump but toned down his opposition significantly in the early part of the administration. On Wednesday, he reverted to his earlier position, saying he had “never been on the Trump train.” He complained about the way Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” and went on: "The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor…. [He] mocks evangelicals behind closed doors...has treated the presidency like a business opportunity" and has "flirted with white supremacists." He said: “What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?"

The theme of abandoning the administration became apparent yesterday, when officials leaked the story that intelligence officials had warned Trump against listening to his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. This was a high-level leak, and suggests that more and more staffers are starting to look for a way off the S.S. Trump.
Meanwhile, at his rally tonight in Georgia, Trump told the crowd “You should… lock up the Bidens, lock up Hillary.” The crowd then began to chant “Lock them up.” But one thing about a bully: when people finally start to turn on him, there is a stampede for the exits.

Tonight, at his Georgia rally, Trump outlined all the ways in which he was being unfairly treated, then mused: “Could you imagine if I lose?... I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”

Can't imagine which country he and his family could go to.... I don't think vlad would have much use for him and his cohort any more.

The Times Drops the Big One and a Modest Proposal for a Deal with Donny: Wry Wing Politics


Fascinating hypothesis.

While this latest Times piece confirms virtually everything any clear-headed adult suspected of a carnival act like Trump for the past 30 years, it will likely mean nothing to MAGA nation, assuming they even hear a word about it in their thickly-insulated echo chamber. But the moderator of next Tuesday’s first debate, Chris Wallace of FoxNews, will commit journalistic malpractice if he doesn’t push Trump on what is in the Times story.

...all the noise Trump (and Bill Barr) have been making about the “rigged” election and “getting rid of the ballots” and the “continuation” is a tactical device to build leverage for a “deal” with Biden once Trump is defeated. (I’ve written about this before, because I think it is palpable likelihood. Like a layer of flop sweat forming under a bad con man’s comb over.)

As today’s Times story lays out, Trump is in (ridiculously) deep debt, with huge bills coming due in the next couple years, for which he is personally on the hook. And the tab gets bigger if he loses his much-referenced tax audit (over $100 million including penalties), and bigger still if New York and god knows how many stiffed contractors, harassed women, former employees go after him … hard … post the immunity of the White House.

Trump desperately … and I do mean desperately … needs a way out of this looming apocalypse. One way is if he wins the election. But barring that he needs something like blanket immunity from the state of New York. And that would mean striking … a deal.

As I’ve said before, only a hopeless idiot would enter into any deal with Trump that didn’t have airtight conditions and abusive-level penalties.

So this is my proposal:

Trump agrees to concede the election. In return, the Biden administration, in union with Andrew Cuomo and Vance in New York set the following conditions for Trump — and his family, (since Ivanka and the boys appear to have fat chunks of fraud splatter in their laps as well) — to avoid prosecution.

The deal requires Trump to submit to a public interrogation by tax and white collar fraud attorney/prosecutors into any and all of his business dealings, from the time he took over from his father through to today. This would include everything involving the Russians, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Turks, and any other thug-ocracy he’s been trolling for loose change.

It also stipulates “the deal” is voided the second Trump lies, “misstates” or “mischaracterizes” any pertinent fact.

Why “public”?

Because the story of Trump and the foundational lies of Trumpism has to be told. It has to be admitted to and confessed by Trump himself. History has to be written by the winners … from the mouth of the loser.

Gellman’s post-election hellscape is based on the premise that “we will never know”. That the fog and stench of Trumpism and Federalist Society Bill Barr-ism is desaigned to prevent anything from ever being truly knowable. (Such is Putin’s game in Russia.)

I believe Adam Schiff for one will eloquently argue that accepting anything less than a full peeling of the Trump myth simply enables a smarter, less louche and preposterous Trump from picking up the pieces and starting all over again. Even the most oblivious and deficient Trumper has to be presented with stark evidence that they’ve been conned … again.

Thirty nine percent will ignore the Times’ tax blockbuster and/or dismiss it as “fake news”, and Biden still needs a solid victory in Florida election night and a landslide overall to neuter any plausible claim Trump and Barr might present.

But the basis is now visibly forming to squeeze Trump into a corner from which his only escape is a Walk of Shame, to reference the entirely apt “Game of Thrones.”

Repeat After Me, "It Will Never Be 'Normal' Again." : Wry Wing Politics

Good article (IMHO)

Forget raining, it’s pouring Trump scandal books. The past few days I’ve been toggling between Jeffrey Toobin’s, “True Crimes and Misdemeanors” and Brian Stelter’s, “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.”

There are separate discussions to be had about both, as there are over Bob Woodward’s “Rage”, the New York Times’ Michael Schmidt’s, “Donald Trump v. The United States” and top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissman’s “Where the Law Ends.”

But one stark takeaway from Toobin and Stelter is how completely unprepared “the establishment” was for Donald Trump. More to the point both are argue, is how unprepared traditional legal bureaucracies and journalism organizations still are even today, nearly four years and 20,000 lies after Trump was elected … the first time.

The Eisenhower-era of journalism, courts and politics is long gone. And we’re at a point, right now today where tradition-groomed and bound judges, politicians and journalists are have to ask themselves if they’re really going to play this moment as Robert Mueller did? Are they going to continue to respect the “norms” of their professions, all of which have been mocked, abused and degraded by Donald Trump, in the anachronistic hope that eventually, at some point, if not now, November or a decade from now, normal respect for tradition will prevail again?

And Who Would Be The Donald's Real "Losers" and "Suckers"? - Brian Lambert


A good read with some interesting ideas.
Even before we got to the “losers” and “suckers” phase of The Donald Trump Experience we already knew this election was set in cement. Nothing is going to stop 39% of the American voting age population from idolizing a narcissistic reality TV performer. That 39% can almost be described as “genetic”, certainly figuratively and quite possibly literally.

To be specific, about the likelihood that the 39% is an evolutionary standard, possibly millions of years old. There have been studies of the psychological manifestations of an overactive, which is say, “differently wired” amygdala, the brain’s physical center for controlling emotions. A bit more active than “normal” and the fight-or flight mechanism is more hair-trigger and less reflective.

As scientists have said, ruefully in many cases, it’s an open question whether in evolutionary terms this 39% represents the portion of the species that survives what comes next and therefore passes on its DNA, or whether it fades away, an unadaptive anachronism, like wooly mammoths, dodo birds and our prehensile tails.

The immediate problem of course is what damage this highly instinctive, highly reactive, all but completely unreflective allegiance to the biggest ape’s constant false alarms does to the tribe in general.

Former Daily Caller Editor Reveals He Was Forced to Publish Oleg Deripaska


In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Report’s scathing description of Oleg Deripaska’s key role in Russia’s 2016 election interference, a former editor from the Daily Caller, Eric Owens, reveals that his bosses — Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel — forced him to publish an Oleg Deripaska column that he recognized as sloppy propaganda.

Back in 2018, I was the opinion editor for The Daily Caller. I had worked for the website for about five years as a journalist and editor. I really believed in what we were doing. I believed in what founders Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel said they were building. (More on that later.)

In early March 2018, Deripaska submitted an opinion piece to The Daily Caller. He didn’t submit it directly to me or through the Caller’s conventional submissions process. Presumably, villainous Russian billionaires are above such hoi polloi procedures. Instead, Daily Caller publisher Patel contacted me directly one day saying he had received Deripaska’s op-ed. He wanted to know how I felt about it.

I hated it. Anyone with a passing knowledge of European politics would know who Deripaska is and what he represents. I had been in the U.S. foreign service for a bit, so, of course, I knew.

More importantly, Deripaska’s op-ed itself was—and remains—an extraordinary exercise in audacious Russian propaganda.


n the case of the 2018 Deripaska op-ed, which I myself published and placed despite my own doubts and qualms, The Daily Caller was the plaything of a Russian billionaire working directly with Russian spies who used conservative media to spout completely false and fabulous conspiracy theories.

Tucker Carlson. A known Russian asset. And groomed to be a star in the New GOP.
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