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erronis's Journal
erronis's Journal
December 6, 2020

History of Repuglican dirty deeds to cheat the elections - HCR


Her Letters from an American should be required reading for anybody that cares about where we've been and cares about the lessons to be learned.

This is a big deal. This was not a close election. Biden currently has over 7 million more votes than Trump, and has won by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. And yet, Republican leadership is permitting Trump to undermine our democracy. Try to imagine any past Republican president doing what Trump is doing, and you can’t. But today’s Republican lawmakers are standing to the side, permitting Trump to poison our democracy.

To what end? Why are Republicans accepting this anti-American behavior from Trump?

It seems to me they are unwilling to risk losing Trump’s voters in the future because they are determined to regain power. They don’t much care about our democracy, so long as they have a shot at keeping Trump’s people on their side. But then, again, to what end? If Republicans regain power in 2022 or 2024, what will that look like? Do we have any reason to think they will then begin to defend our democracy? Do we have any reason to think they are interested in anything but even more legislation that moves wealth upward?

We have been in a spot much like this before. In 1884, Americans turned against the Republican Party because it had abandoned its support for ordinary Americans in favor of the industrial leaders who put money into Republican lawmakers’ political war chests, as well as into their pockets. Voters put Democrat Grover Cleveland into the White House, the first Democrat to hold the presidency since James Buchanan was elected in 1856.

Horrified, the Republicans flooded the country with stories of how Democrats were socialists who would attack the rich by ending the legislation that protected businesses. If Democrats continued to control the government, Republicans said, they would destroy America. In 1888, they suppressed Democratic votes and created modern political financing as they hit up businessmen for major donations. Despite their best efforts, voters reelected Cleveland by about 100,000 votes, but Republicans managed to eke out a win for their candidate, Benjamin Harrison, in the Electoral College. Harrison promised a “BUSINESSMAN’S ADMINISTRATION,” and indeed, in office, he and his men did all they could to cement the Republican Party into power so it could continue to defend business (among other things, they added six new states to the Union to pack the Electoral College).

But voters still didn’t like the Republicans’ platform, which seemed more and more to funnel money from hardworking Americans upward into the pockets of those men who were increasingly portrayed as robber barons. In 1892, they voted for Cleveland in such numbers they couldn’t be overridden in the Electoral College. Voters also put Democrats in charge of Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
December 4, 2020

Bellingcat: What Restaurants and Maps Can Tell us About Billions of Dollars of Covid-19 Relief Funds


I like it when this investigative journalism site shines its light on the US. France and the United Kingdom are also examined. They have the talent to snoop out a lot of information that some other news organizations don't follow.

In the wake of the first wave of coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns in early 2020, governments around the world scrambled funds to support furloughed workers and keep businesses afloat. These programs distributed a huge amount of money and succeeded in many of their goals. Not only that, they did so in rapid time. However, as governments have begun to release detailed information about relief aid, indications of geographic inequities in some programs appear to have emerged. In others, data appears to point toward interesting demographic and economic trends. To better understand these patterns, the Bellingcat Tech Team has created interactive maps of coronavirus aid programs in three countries: the United States, France and the United Kingdom, using sector-specific data to facilitate geographic comparisons where possible.

In the United States, data suggests the chaotic rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) could have exacerbated existing inequality. For example, restaurants in neighborhoods in some cities, including New York and Los Angeles, appear to have had access to 20 times more funds than comparable neighbors. Restaurants were used in our analysis to make disparate regions of the US more comparable, because these businesses are common throughout the country. However, analysis suggests PPP inequalities extend beyond this sector. The vast differences in restaurants’ PPP uptake also appear to fall along existing racial and wealth divides in many neighborhoods, and are starkest in the most segregated cities.

A lot of excellent statistical analysis...

None of these correlations between aid access and demography have been intentionally designed into the Paycheck Protection Program, to our knowledge. Instead, it is likely that this is a consequence of existing inequities across the United States. Majority-minority neighborhoods have less access to banking services necessary in order to apply for aid, and immigrant communities where English is less frequently spoken may have had more difficulties accessing information and materials about the program.

Regardless of the intent or cause of the disparity, the consequences are clear: restaurants in whiter and wealthier neighborhoods across the United States have greater access to economic resources through the Paycheck Protection Program for recovering quickly from the coronavirus recession. While this analysis can only draw conclusions for restaurants, similar PPP trends for other broadly-distributed businesses such as hair salons and retail stores suggest that this inequity might extend throughout the larger economy. However, the United States also introduced other coronavirus aid programs, including Extended Unemployment Benefits (EB) and “Main Street Loans,” and this analysis does not necessarily generalize to these programs as well. Explore the patterns in their full detail in the interactive map below, hosted with the support of the Mapbox Community team.
December 3, 2020

Durham Has Unaltered Copies of the Documents that Got Altered in the Flynn Docket : emptywheel


I think the p-poor legal abilities left in the upper part of the Barr DoJ are going to rue the day that they signed on the trump gravy-train.

I'll quote a couple of paragraphs from Marcy's excellent analysis. This will be developing.
Bill Barr could come to regret his neat effort to place a ticking time bomb inside the Joe Biden DOJ, because John Durham has evidence in hand that Bill Barr’s DOJ tampered with documents.

I’ve been thinking … There’s something that doesn’t make sense about Bill Barr’s roll-out of the order making John Durham a Special Counsel. For the better part of a year, Barr has been saying that Durham could roll out actual indictments before the election, since none of the people he would indict were candidates. Yet Barr claimed, in his order, that he decided (not Durham) that, “legitimate investigative and privacy concerns warrant confidentiality” until after the election. And then he waited almost an entire month before he revealed the order. He did so in spite of adopting 28 CFR 600.9, which otherwise requires notice to Congress, to govern this appointment.

There is so much information packed into this blog and the commentaries. These will make an excellent historic record of this time of criminality and attempted tyranny.
November 12, 2020

How to be fearless in the face of authoritarianism - TED - Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya


How do you stand up to authoritarianism? And what does it mean to be "fearless"? In this powerful talk, housewife-turned-politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya describes her unlikely bid to defeat Belarus's long-time autocratic leader in the nation's 2020 presidential election. Painting a vivid picture of how small acts of defiance flourished into massive, peaceful demonstrations, she shares a beautiful meditation on the link between fearlessness and freedom, reminding us that we all have what it takes to stand up to injustice -- we just need to do it together.

Great talk by a great woman.
November 10, 2020

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?
November 4, 2020

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.
October 29, 2020

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

October 29, 2020

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.

October 28, 2020

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.

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