Three Things: Day After Night Before Day of Disaster [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Updates will appear at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

What a flaming mess.

Bet you can’t really tell which mess I’m referring to — the Iowa caucuses, the State of the Union Address, or the rolling not-trial of Donald J. Trump.

But there they are, the three things this post will address.

~ 3 ~

What can I say that you don’t already know about Iowa?

You already know right-wing assholes began a negative influence operation before the caucuses began, spreading from the Epoch Times to Judicial Watch, Charlie Kirk to the Trump boys, amplified by Hannity and Twitter accounts.

And you already know that for some stupid reason badly-designed, poorly-tested mobile technology was pushed into production after too little time in beta. Just too many variables not reduced in advance of the crunch-time roll-out.

The fallout was and is messy, made worse by a commercial media model based on hyper-competitionwho ever gets and publishes the story first wins is completely diametric to democracy’s need for accurate reporting for an informed electorate.

The caucus app developer, Shadow Inc. — yeah, you’d think this would be an over-the-top name for a software business which keeps its ownership opaque — has apologized today, explaining,

Let’s assume IDP = Iowa Democratic Party. This was not the DNC’s work, which more right-wing trolls tried to claim last night along with blaming former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook for the app failure although Mook is NOT a software developer.

A lot of character assassination by the right-wing over the last 24 hours bears a strong resemblance to the character assassination of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Trump-friendly mouthpiece makes egregious false accusation, picked up by Trump-friendly media, repeated by Trump’s family members, propelled even further by Trumpists and trollbots. What a coincidence.

Of course everybody has completely forgotten it took the Republicans more than two weeks — from January 3 to January 21 — to sort out who won their caucuses in 2012. How convenient the right-wing horde has something else they can bloviate about instead of their own failings. How convenient they were able to set up and complain about “rigged elections” laying the ground for their approach to November’s general election.

Once again we hear complaints about how grossly unfair Iowa caucuses are — they prevent disabled and working people from participation, and the state is the first to select winning primary candidates although it’s a small (31st in population) and non-diverse (90.7% white), unrepresentative of the rest of this country.

There’s also head scratching about apparent low turn-out. Can’t imagine why voters (who may have accessibility issues, lack transportation, work afternoons/evenings, can’t afford or find childcare) won’t turn out to caucus and sort through a large field of candidates even though they may already lean toward voting Democratic no matter which candidate wins the primary.

One piece worth reading and pondering, published in the aftermath of this year’s Iowa caucus, is this three-year-old article by David Auerbach, Confirmation Bias: Did big data sink the Clinton campaign? Auerbach thinks the Ada data analysis program was screwed up and both the Clinton campaign and DNC were prone to confirmation bias, failing to suspect the app could be bad.

But what if like Iowa’s IDP-organized caucuses relying on a mobile app which had not been adequately stress tested the big data program was simply too new and untried for its intended purposes?

One thing also bothered me re-reading Auerbach’s piece, given that he also wrote an essay in 2012, The Stupidity of Computers. Are folks designing and implementing these apps for politics failing because they’re like other software-based platforms? Have they “created their own set of inferred metadata, the categories propagate, and so more of the world is shoehorned into an ontology reflecting ad hoc biases and received ideas,” to the point where threats and risks outside of their imagination easily destroy their aims?

Is it at all possible that the same kind of lack of foresight and imagination that led to last night’s failure cascade also underpinned a big data analysis program which couldn’t see new foreign-born influences manipulating output?

Do read Auerbach, but with your eyes wide open; even Auerbach didn’t anticipate his own credibility being undermined by right-wing provocateurs. Yet another lesson about the impact of technology on human relations.

And yet another lesson about the difference between the chronically underfunded Democratic Party and the wealthy fascistic GOP. How much did the collapse of Obama for America after the 2008 election combined with Tim Kaine’s tepid DNC leadership contribute to the conditions which set up Iowa’s application meltdown — the absence of an adequately-funded national party-wide technology platform?

~ 2 ~

House impeachment managers made closing arguments in the Senate’s not-a-trial yesterday. Rep. Adam Schiff’s speech will be remembered well into the future for its excellence as American oratory.

The Senate debated the charges today. Michigan’s Sen. Gary Peters may have redeemed himself:

West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin was his craven self again, introducing the alternative of censure rather than conviction.

No. Hell no. Manchin isn’t up for re-election this year; he has no good excuse for offering the possibility Trump could crow about a bipartisan acquittal if any Democrat votes for something other than conviction and removal.

Further, Manchin’s sucking up to Trump won’t do a thing for his state. If he thinks this will sway the MAGA base in any way he’s unmoored from data showing Trumpists will not be moved. They believe what Fox News’ talking heads like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson tell them and that’s enough.

Nor will GOP senators vote for censure. They’re simply too bought, owned, corrupt, and spineless.

And of course both senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have played their roles as drama queens, vacillating on whether to vote for or against acquittal. Murkowski blamed partisanship while making the partisan decision to vote with her party for acquittal.

Collins was bought. For the right price — $150,000 laundered through a front corporation in Hawaii — she will play stupid and give women a bad name in general.

Do get a load of the name of the front corporation. Sure. Like women suddenly forgot that Collins approved Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Tomorrow’s vote will be unpleasant — brace yourselves.

~ 1 ~

In about an hour the tangerine hellbeast will shake off his sundowning and step up to the podium in the House to deliver what should be his last State of the Union message.

I refuse to watch that lying malignant narcissist. I’ll check for observations by people watchers like Dr. Jack Brown who will monitor Trump’s body language and Tom Joseph who follows Trump’s mental and physical decline.

I will not enjoy being reminded the dementia-addled wretch has the nuclear codes. Nor will I enjoy knowing Trump may use the podium of the people’s house not to communicate the progress made in governance but to campaign for his re-election.

What are the odds he has the moxie to ask another nation-state for help in his re-election right under our noses tonight?

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. Begin kvetching below.

~ | ~ | ~

UPDATE-1 — 05-FEB-2020 12:45 P.M. —

Yeah, yeah, yeah…Jesus Christ, Jonathan Turley, let it go.

Since last night Turley’s posted ten tweets and an op-ed in The Hill bitching about the Speaker of the House not behaving like a compliant little Handmaid. He makes me wonder if he doesn’t have enough work and he’s bucking for a new paying gig.

By all means ignore the pussygrabber-in-chief’s multitude of disgusting behaviors, wretched political acts, and his slide into dementia, focusing instead on an effective female leader who doesn’t lick your reality TV narcissist’s toes.

Speaking of paying gigs, it occurred to me well after Turley appeared in December as an expert witness in front of the House Intelligence Committee that we don’t know if HIC asked Turley if he was a fact witness.

In his written statement Turley never mentions he wrote an article for The Hill, Could Robert Mueller actually be investigating Ukrainian collusion?

Nor did he mention the same piece was published the very same day in Kyivpost.

Also not mentioned is that this piece ran on February 21, 2019 — the date is roughly one week after Rudy Giuliani met with then-prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko in Warsaw, Poland, and almost one month to the day before John Solomon conducted a character-assassinating interview with Lutsenko for Hill.TV.

Turley’s piece furthers the idea that Ukraine was involved in collusion rather than Russia.

… But what is remarkable is how all investigative roads seem to lead to Kiev, not Moscow, in terms of key figures. It raises the question of whether Russian hacking efforts in the American election in 2016 were little more than what they seem as a clumsy leak and trolling operation. …

How did Turley end up fitting so neatly into the timeline?

UPDATE-2 — 05-FEB-2020 1:00 P.M. —

Though I linked to it in my previous update, I should probably share this here more overtly. This is very troubling; this man has the nuclear football within reach.

Today GOP Senators will likely acquit this person who can barely get through a speech and certainly not without lying repeatedly.

As mentioned before, this is an open thread. I’ll put up another post shortly dedicated to the vote today in the Senate.

140 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    We’re unlikely to see that much-deserved lightning strike him (and all the GOP-T Senators) on live TV. But we can still wish for it. And for all the liars to lose their next several elections.

  2. punaise says:

    what FusterCluck.

    a propos of nothing (other than the approach of April 15):
    If you your CPA takes notes on a legal pad you end up with Yellow Rows of Taxes.

    • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

      Apropos of nothing other than the advent of spring training, I was reading a book about a baseball umpire in the early 20th century. After breaking into the major leagues, he Traveled all over the world and became quite famous. Eventually his star faded, though, and he faded away into obscurity.

      The name of the Book was “The Rise and Fall of the Roamin’ Umpire.”

  3. Rayne says:

    Didn’t have reasonable room to add this info which isn’t the final count:

    Of course there are already complaints about the numbers even though this is only 62% of the votes. Argh…

    • Eureka says:

      One of the freakier things from last night was that sharp-edged, slow-spoken BOOT EDGE EDGE chant at the mayor’s ‘So perhaps I won’ speech. Had to mute. Felt like boots on the neck. Reminiscent of a Trump rally in ‘opposite’ with a multi-cultural/gendered array behind him. Shivers.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      Just saw somewhere that Trump received 26,000+ Caucus votes (96-98% of total) in Iowa. The four top Dem candidates received a total of 92,680 Caucus votes (not the final tally). I don’t see how Trump can possibly win in November, even if half the Dems stayed home. Am I missing something?

    • Rayne says:

      I know there was an update published with about 71% of the Iowa caucus votes counted but I’ll be damned if I can find a source I trust.

      Link one if you find one, thanks.

      Also want to SCREAM about straight white men and their endless whining about women and civility.

      Just fuck off the way off with policing women’s behavior and bodies. Worry about your own damned selves for once — and I mean you, Turley.

  4. MB says:

    “threats and risks outside of their imagination easily destroy their aims” – yes!

    The Trumpublicans have a strategic time-advantage over Dems since the weaponization of data for political purposes started in earnest in 2015 when Steve Bannon and Mercers started up Cambridge Analytica.

    So, as Dems ramp up on their learning curve relative to technology use (and hopefully expand their imaginations as well), along with now-practically-explicit permission given by the Senate for the normalization of seeking foreign help in domestic elections over the next 10 months, I feel a perfect storm may be brewing here. And not necessarily negative in outcome, but certainly high-intensity…

  5. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Props for linking Tom Joseph, his posts with videos documenting what he thinks is FTD are one of my guilty pleasures. I’m suspect of some of his conclusions but he has definitely convinced me there is something neurological going on with Trump and it’s getting worse.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Trump may have Parkinsons. It sometimes comes with dementia and hallucinations. What ever he has, just hope it puts him in the hospital quickly and out of office and the world might be a better place. Not to mention save the American taxpayers a lot of money.

  6. P J Evans says:

    The Dems are not taking it quietly. (The Rs are cheering as much as they can, just like the lapdogs they are.)

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    I didn’t think he could do it, but Trump giving Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom is a new and nauseating low, even for him.

  8. skua says:

    I’m surprised that the start time of the SOTU wan’t changed to a better viewing hour for Moscow.
    Currently 6 AM in Moscow.

    Could be that Putin and friends have been celebrating Trump’s “achievements” so often over the last 3 years that this opportunity, as vile and divisive as Trump has made it, just doesn’t meet the new standards.

  9. Tom says:

    Trump’s voice sounds tired, weaker, and raspier, almost a little quavering at times. Perhaps it’s just the camera angle but he looks physically diminished as well. He seems to be leaning on the lectern for support.

      • P J Evans says:

        Instead of applauding at the end, yes. She took the pages – they’re legal-sized – and very deliberately torn them in half, in two groups of pages. Then she put them on the desktop and left. She was not smiling while she did it.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      American democracy is gone, unless this hideous bag of excrement collapses from a heart attack, stroke, or maybe a short burst of self-awareness.

  10. Margo Schulter says:

    Question: will John Bolton’s book become the next Pentagon Papers case? Might there be litigation to expedite the prepublication review process, especially relating to Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair?

    Or might Bolton be called to testify before the House?

  11. P J Evans says:

    At least three Dem members have walked out: Speier, Ryan, and Doggett. Two of the Squad didn’t come.
    Pelosi apparently just tore her copy of the text in half – it’s lies anyway, and she knows it – but why?

  12. Eureka says:

    Speaking of Orwellian (lol, there is room for just one woman scientist, so plural ‘engineers’ was a surprise — whoever mocked up that org was looking for attention to be flagged towards who usually drops an S), I share this chyron (original was all-caps):

    “Vice President Mike Pence will visit Philadelphia Wednesday To Celebrate Education Freedom”

    I bet that there they will be chanting, ” ONE MORE YACHT, ONE MORE YACHT ”

    (For Betsy)

    • Eureka says:

      The upcoming Pence appearance is a tie-in with Trump’s SOTU blather about corporatizing schools*. Long story short, this has all gone beyond charter schools and yacht slips to finding creative tax breaks for more private money takeover of public functions, with entailments both sundry and unanticipatable. There’s a little bit on it here (and linked), where the Inquirer is following the story of the young girl and her mom who were invited to SOTU, the girl “promised” a scholarship to her school of choice by Trump tonight:

      Trump’s 2020 State of the Union: Philadelphia’s Stephanie and Janiyah Davis among White House guests and her mom

      *Many, including myself, also regard it as a two-fer swing-state vote pandering effort. Again, Trump and Tucker are not trying to “round up” the homeless in swing state cities, like in LA.

      • Eureka says:

        On swing-state pandering: cash handouts in OH; event cancelled in VA. From last week:

        Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters

        Our kingdom for a functioning FEC: see also the article Rayne linked re big donation to Susan Collins.

        They wouldn’t have neutered it out of a quorum if mere GOP dominance in membership was enough.

        They have been corrupting the elections all the moreso these past months, and look to be running wild future-forward sans that simple check on corruption.


        We need a functioning FEC. (I know we need a lot more, but it’s an important cog.)

        How do we get one? Seriously.

        • Eureka says:

          Quoting Ellen Weintraub:

          American University Law Review: “@EllenLWeintraub @GaughanAnthonyJ @Ezaftpak [email protected] “I am much more concerned about tracking down [large] dark money donors than I am tracking down every contributor giving $200 to a candidate.””

          No disagreement, but suspect that the GOP’s financiers would — and surely do, if begrudgingly — pile on smaller amounts under so many identities.

          The GOP always figures clever ways around what it perceives as barriers (to wit: ‘Manifest Destiny’ as EoH noted in a comment re tonight’s SOTU). True, not done with any spirit of ethics. But what are the good folk solutions to clevering around these assholes? What buried, arcane codes are we missing out on, if any such options at all, to revive the letter and spirit of the law that the GOP flouts by, e.g., killing-off the FEC?

          It’s like we need to reboot in Safe Mode. Besides voting, calling, canvassing, all that.

          • Rayne says:

            Weintraub is likely thinking in terms of efficiency — with limited resources, nailing big money is easier.

            But in this day and age when so much can be automated, like swarming attacks via social media, donations could also be swarmed with a little effort. I’ve wondered for a while now if there haven’t been swarmed donations.

            • Eureka says:

              Right? What would stop them. Plus with all of the ID theft/ data breaches, I’ve been thinking we prob need to search all our names for political donations, too (ugh, FCC “comments” reminder there). In our “spare” time.

      • Eureka says:

        Another swing-state pandering note: as gloriously tweeted by Gosar, McSally, and the entire GOP- evangelical -right-wing machinery, the young man who wishes to join Space Force (lightning bolt) — whose great-grandfather was the 100*-year-old Tuskegee Airman — is from Arizona (Scottsdale).

        *I honestly wondered if Trump’s and King Roger’s recruitment channels overlapped here, because the NFL had *specifically 100-year-old* WWII vets rolled out on carts for the Super Bowl coin toss. Which showed that they were “honoring” the NFL 100 yr anniversary more than veterans, IMO.

        (Like what did they do, review records and say, nah, he’s only 97. Maybe find a 99-year-old if the 100-year-old can’t travel.)

        • Eureka says:

          Indeed, it was the same man promoted from Col. to Brig. Gen. at the SOTU who stood for the SB coin toss (looked it up; had not watched SOTU or would have recognized him).

      • Eureka says:

        Updating this SOTU product-placement story (and the creepy chyron at the outset of the thread), featuring the pillagery of, pandering to, and propaganda pushed in urban Rust Belt Philadelphia, for display to the nation*:

        ●First, from the fifth of February, no facetiousness about those yacht slips:

        Education Secretary Betsy DeVos personally funding ‘opportunity scholarship’ for Philly girl cited by President Trump

        ●Second, from the seventh, Veep’s propaganda piece:

        VP Mike Pence: Pennsylvanians deserve school choice | Opinion

        *** This is worth the click just to see the Pulitzer-statement photo by Tim Tai. All of the children — and their expressions — are centered by blurring Pence into incidental foreground. ***

        (cont. next)

      • Eureka says:

        (cont. from 912p)

        ● Updated last night, making today’s front page:

        Trump used a Philly student’s story to push school choice. She already attends one of the best charters.

        Marcy retweeted Daniel Dale’s summary:

        “The little girl Trump said at the State of the Union was trapped in a “failing government school,” and announced a scholarship for, was already attending a sought-after charter school free, and her mom says it’s great, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.[links the above article]”

        *As I recall from _many_ months ago (~ Springtime for Trump), the story about Trump courting the black and or urban vote was that it was *Jared’s plan* (and we all know what that means). The narrative dropped out of print, and then we see this recent full-court press. IMO it’s a cover story to explain how they might “win” more battlegrounds — and, as always, perhaps grow more money trees.

  13. BobCon says:

    Auerbach’s piece starts with the comparison between Perez and Ellison, and notes their ties to Clinton and Sanders respectively. What I think is also relevant is the split in the attitudes they represent between ad focused campaigns and organizing, with Ellison being a strong advocate of organizing and get out the vote efforts, while establishment Dems are far more focused on media buys.

    Obviously data plays a role in both when it comes to spending, but it’s less of an issue in organizing. You either commit to building a turnout campaign in Detroit or Milwaukee or you don’t, while media campaigns are constantly modifying messages and adding and subtracting ad buys in different markets as they go.

    I suspect a lot of the problems with big data campaigns is overvaluing the benefits of media buys — thinking an ad is responsible for a one point swing in support or an increase in opponent negatives. This kind of calculation can mask a lot of uncertainty.

    It’s also not the case that gound games are just an act of faith — they can collect a huge amount of information, but it tends to be anectodotal and unstructured. It’s valuable for people who can read it, but not much use for spreadsheets.

    • P J Evans says:

      They covered that, and Escobar’s afterward, at Kos. Good speeches, both of them. They both made a point of “no one is above the law” and highlighting the ways that he’s damaging the country.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump shook the hands of a few generals on the way out – they could hardly refuse the honor – and the hands of his chosen Supremes, but he missed John Roberts. Not a coincidence, I imagine.

    The lies in Trump’s speech were relentless and breathtaking. I don’t envy the fact checkers. Then there was how little he believed what he did say – he’s a fan of prayer only when he can get a vote from it – and how rambling it became.

    He slewed prayer and guns into one constitutional amendment. Then, he ran off to Davy Crockett and the Alamo. The unspoken part was where those guys saved ‘Murika from the brown Catholic hordes South of the Mexican border, which the US kept pushing farther South.

    He praised Manifest Destiny – that is, keeping ‘Murika for the hard-working European whites, like his draft dodging, brothel-keeping forebear – and ignored the genocide required to take the West from its inhabitants and make it white. He elided from the story, as usual, the African American and Hispanic cowboys who did most of the work, and the many Jewish shopkeepers who kept them in Levis and beans.

    All in, Trump’s Stephen Miller-inspired script hewed to the usual shameless, violent, cruel showmanship Trump loves and which would have made P.T. Barnum proud. Abe Lincoln, not so much.

    • P J Evans says:

      One thing I’ve found out since leaving school: the Mexicans had a good reason for attacking the Alamo and the Texians. The gringos were in favor of slavery, and bringing in the slaves they’d had in the US, and it was illegal in Mexico.

      • e.a.f. says:

        what was with trump and the old t.v. shows from the 1960, Doesn’t he know most young people of today don’t even know about those t.v. shows, much less if they are real or imaginary. yikes. the Alamo stuff, was so Disney world, I thought he was on drugs or off on some place in his elementary school years. this is the president of the U.S.A.? yIKES.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Guardian says Trump’s “divisive address” would not have been out of place at a campaign rally.

    The English gift for understatement sometimes fails to convey an accurate picture of events. After the GOP congresscritters kept going up and down in their seats like puppets, applauding with hands held high at every other word from the president, and after the crescendo of “USA, USA, USA…” I would have added, “even had the rally been held at Nuremberg.”

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The NYT’s finance editor, David Enrich, has a book to sell. Dark Tower (riffing off the Steven King book series) is about how the expensively corrupt Deutsche Bank (fines amounting to well over US$1.0 billion) became Trump’s last and only lender.

    The Russians figure in it. But the tidbit the Guardian leads with is Enrich’s description of how the whole Trump family made a concerted effort to praise and cuddle up to the elderly Justice Anthony Kennedy. The project was aimed at persuading him to give up his seat on the Supremes early, so that Trump could install Brett Kavanaugh in his stead.

    I thought about that when Donald made a special effort to shake the hands of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, but not Roberts, as he passed them on his way to signing ties and shaking the hands of his true admirers.

  17. drouse says:

    All I can say is that I knew it was a bad week to give up airplane glue. The current state of the party reminds a lot of that control room.

  18. Sela says:

    I work for a software company that writes software for the government. In our case, our biggest customer is the US House of representatives. When I get involved in a project, I need to know we have all the resources to make high-quality software, including enough time and budget to properly design and test the software.

    I don’t want to have my name attached to something if it could end up being shitty software, I rather loose the bid and have someone else win the contract if I can’t get the resources to do it properly.

    Right now, I’m lucky enough to work with customers who understand technology enough to get what we need to create high-quality innovative software. But I know from past experiences that many government customers (and it’s probably true for political parties as well, if not even worse) know nothing about technology. I can’t count on them to know and do what need to be done. It is all my responsibility as a developer.

    Unfortunately, it looks like some companies, like Shadow Inc. in this case, don’t really take their job seriously, or maybe lack the expertise themselves. If you combine clueless customers and irresponsible developers, its a recipe for a disaster.

    • orionATL says:

      what sela describes is the “front end” of software creation. there is also a critical “backend” involving training of users. one story about how the voting results were delayed in iowa involves the new app being delivered to the individual voting district officials only hours before it was to be used. this is a recipe for trouble.

      in georgia a judge has mandated voting machines with a paper record. the (republican for years) sec. of state’s office ordered such a machine, though fewer than recommended. georgia has a primary election on March 26.

      the sec. of state’s office appoints its employees to voting offices in each of the counties so these folks have the responsibility to see that things go right with voting in each county.

      now, about that training. every two machines have a reader associated with them. the voter votes with the electronic machine, then receives a piece of paper recording how she voted, then reviews her vote record for errors and corrects, then feeds it into the scanner associated with her electronic voting machine. only then is her vote recorded. this complex process seems guaranteed to lead to vote suppression thru frustration and delays. one training will take place this week and one more the week before the march 26 primary vote. i seriously doubt this is enough. for one, a key problem may not be a machines problem, but how to handle a number of voters at a precinct having problems at once.

  19. Eureka says:

    For the open thread: 5G and the Huawei thing, do we need to be concerned?

    It’s hard to know the simple bottom line from all the chatter. I see there’s been an update just today (this looks non-paywalled):

    US will develop 5G with American, European companies instead of Huawei

    Are current (and future) 5G users safe in the US (for example); is this a red herring (or rather not the only security issue)?

    Rayne, it reminds me of your Rattled series on Bloomberg and the chips, but at a different scale. I’m interested in your evaluation if you’re in the mood to address this (wieldy to me anyway) topic.

    • Philip Webster says:

      The 5G thing the USA follows is at a higher frequency than Huawei. The FCC claim is they don’t want to give up the lower frequency because the military US uses it. The problem: The Huawei is faster and cheaper to roll out and most of the real future development of 5G will be in the Huawei frequency range with the USA missing out. It is technical. There are some good technical papers out there if you look.

      The Huawei thing is the Chinese intel control of their equipment: routers, etc., with back doors and such. The Chinese probably already own us.

    • Rayne says:

      In my opinion any and all of our network equipment should be made inside the U.S. — period. We should have a global standard of interoperability but our communications network is critical infrastructure and should be protected that way.

      Notice how there have still been no lawsuits demanding Bloomberg take down or correct their October 2018 article, The Big Hack?

      EDIT: Adding a link to recent article about China funding U.S. research. Some of the academic facilities mentioned are focused on cancer research, but the case at Harvard was lithium battery technology. I want to know which universities have allowed China to fund electronic technology like chips, thinking in particular of UofT-Austin.

      EDIT-2: Do read that last link and ask yourself if the technology described could be used in smaller-than-rice-grain chips applied to servers. Jesus fucking Christ did we actually collaborate on this with them?

      • Eureka says:

        The trend towards *privatization (or otherwise outsourcing / commingling from USG to other ~govs– as with your examples here) of research funding across the board is alarming on all accounts. Shocker: people pay for the (studies or) results they want (I’m thinking here of even stuff like the diet wars, and Epstein’s funding of +/-techy douchebros comes to mind as well).

        *I’m not talking about well-known — and generally transparent — private foundations here. I’m talking about a similar trend in sciences as to so-called dark money in politics, facultatively or directly. In fact look at what the grifters were up to (very odd anyone even _preliminarily_ signed off on this):

        Indicted Parnas associate was set to partner with VA on cannabis research

        Also compare private/corporate funding of public schools and look at the product placement (from vending machines to billionaires — re latter linked at bottom of Inquirer article posted above).

        China’s not “wasting” their research dollars on what they view as frivolous to their bottom lines, and US gov science funding is threatened by that same instrumental, short-sighted GOP attitude.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks all for the discussion and links. I agree with Rayne that we should be producing and otherwise investing in our own technology infrastructures. I am also highly suspicious that team Trump, Pompeo and Mnuchin at the forefront, is going so hard on this issue. What would the saying be, a corrupt clock is right once a 27-year cicada cycle?

      I still think there’s more there there (ie why they are so “concerned” here, when related topics/security issues (e.g. as in Graff article) appear to give them no bother ‘to own the libs’ or something).

    • Rayne says:

      Manchin could just keep his mouth shut and vote to convict. Bresch’s company has done plenty to merit wrath which might now look legitimate and make the tangerine hellbeast look good during an election year.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Anyone tried to buy an EpiPen lately? Bresch is a perfect example of predatory capitalism: she serially inflated her resume to enhance her poor credibility, and harmed millions with her predatory pricing, putting an essential medical device out of reach. Manchin seems OK with that, not just with his daughter.

        • P J Evans says:

          Drugs, even generics, are all priced way the heck over their manufacturing cost plus a decent profit.

          • Eureka says:

            True, and with that EpiPen debacle, as I recall it, people couldn’t even get generics the usual ways (i.e. if a brand name is written, a generic can be auto- subbed absent a DAW/ Brand necessary designation), and instead doctors and all needed to discover how to write the rx with different language.

    • BobCon says:

      He raises good points about the inbreeding and cooption of the establishment, and the bottom line is that these people would rather own a small pie than have to fight for a share of a big one.

      They are going to find out that the GOP is not going to let them have that small pie either.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Stoller’s key point is that Acronym and its technology arm, Shadow Inc., are cut-outs for establishment Dems’ big donors, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, in particular. It’s a community, a network, of top insiders insiding with each other.

      Acronym, Stoller asserts, is a political ad buying co-op. I would revise that to spending co-op, because ads are probably only part of what it spends big-donor money on. High-flying insiders, such as David Plouffe, are used to provide instant credibility and access, such as to a state party’s buying apparatus.

      Shadow provided the technology to Iowa, and probably also to Nevada and others. It, too, may be a cut-out. Stoller implies it could be Facebook. The nominal license fee the Iowa party paid for the app would then just be a cover charge: the real dough would come from access to the data. (It’s a routine scheme: take a look at how high school athletics stats are published on the net.)

      It’s one reason I think election-related s/w should be provided under open access and open audit requirements. That would include the underlying contract. Similar open-access and audit arrangements should also apply to h/w.

      If a private firm wants to provide it, fine, but subject to those open access requirements, not the usual proprietary secret recipe. The name, “Shadow,” suggests that’s not what Acronym’s backers have in mind. That should be cause wide concern.

      • Rayne says:

        That’s all well and good but Stoller should fucking know better that the pool of people who do technology on the left is very small and why that’s the case.

        It looks incestuous because tech people gravitate toward better paying gigs with more reliable career longevity and advancement. The only people who stick around again and again from campaign season to campaign season are diehards with politics in their veins.

        This mess is really going to piss me off. I can’t stress enough what a fucking pain in the ass it is to introduce any effective, productive technology to campaigning having done it myself. Literally had to form a separate Democratic organization to do the kind of skunkworks we needed like barcode scanning data collected during canvassing to create a local database. Did it on a fucking shoestring — meaning zero money, found equipment like Palm Pilots people were throwing away. But yeah, shadowy stuff. God fucking damn it, it’s no wonder we lose so often.

        Just look at the people here behind this site. You think we couldn’t go someplace and pull down five and six figures doing punditry? But no, we’re here year after year because we are true believers in liberal democracy who don’t want to be beholden to whomever is writing checks.

        And it’s funny that Facebook and Zuckerberg are named as “establishment Dems’ big donors” because Facebook has been in the bag for Trump based on their supportive actions which constitute unreported political contributions.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, it is classic Stoller. He is a smart guy, but also a complete asshole. It is hard to understand that until you meet him, then it is immediately apparent.

  20. N.E. Brigand says:

    Shortly after Stormy Daniels’s libel lawsuit against President Trump was dismissed and she was ordered to pay some $300,000 to Trump per Texas’s anti-SLAAP law, I reached out to a prominent online/radio legal commentator (not someone associated with this site) asking why the judge never considered whether Trump’s comment about Daniels was true or not. I didn’t hear back, and as far as I know, that hardworking legal analyst never did find time to address the issue, and I forgot about it until today.

    As folks may recall, Daniels commissioned a sketch artist to draw the man she said had menaced her years before, apparently on Trump’s orders, to keep her from going public about their tryst. President Trump said her claim was a “total con job” and that the figure in the sketch looked like Daniels’s ex-husband.

    So I was delighted to read this evening that Daniels has appealed her suit, and that in arguments, two of the three judges raised the very point I was wondering about. One of them said, “But, in essence, isn’t what President Trump is saying, he’s saying Ms. Clifford is lying about being threatened by Trump or his agent? Isn’t that a fact that can be proven true or false?”

    Trump’s lawyer argued in response that Trump’s statement was mere hyperbole, and he may yet prevail on those grounds, but I’m glad at least to know this was a legitimate matter for discussion.


  21. Eureka says:

    Adam Klasfeld did some great further reporting on what GOPers did with their grifter money. Plenty of points of interest, but this caught my eye:

    On Oct. 9, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and [Rep. Brian] Fitzpatrick paid $4,000 and $2,000, respectively, to Campaign Financial Services, a Maryland-based consultancy that works with politicians seeking to comply with federal laws.

    Parnas and Fruman’s arrest that same day had not yet been made public.

    Politicians regularly solicit the services of such consultants to comply with federal laws and regulations, and it is unclear whether there is any connection with McCarthy and Fitzpatrick’s consultation and the men’s arrest.
    (internal link removed; emphasis added)

    FEC Records Show GOP Haste to Dump Lev Parnas Cash

    See also Marcy’s twitter for RT’s of relevant threads about this, ca. late afternoon/ dinnertime hours.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump claimed last night to have increased social mobility in America. True, but it’s all downward mobility. It’s what Trump calls normal, and it sends more people into the hands of slumlords like his son-in-law, so it’s all good.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Susan Collins likes to pretend that there is a legitimate reason for her support for Trump, her vote against witnesses and other evidence at the president’s impeachment trial, and her likely vote to acquit the president. It’s because he knows he did something “inappropriate,” and has learned his lesson.

    No one believes that talking point for a second, Susan, certainly not Donald Trump. With his usual understatement, Trump denounced Collins. She’s wrong, but he did nothing wrong. He can do no wrong. His call was perfect. Since he’s already perfect, he can and need learn nothing new. A course correction would not improve perfection, it would only diminish it. (Lest that sound uniquely narcissistic, it is the logic neoliberals use to object to government regulation of the market.)

    That logic applies no more to Susan Collins that it does to Donald Trump. Fortunately, neither of them is likely to remain a public employee for long. Trump, however, will upend the board and smash the pieces before he is sent away for a lonely time-out.

  24. OldTulsaDude says:

    We keep pointing our fingers at Donald Trump and saying, He did, He did, He did; the truth of the matter is we should be pointing those fingers at ourselves and saying, We did, We did, We did.

    Our shame is crushing and whether we can recover is again up to us. We did. We can. We will.

  25. harpie says:

    News items that caught my eye this morning:
    1] Pompeo says Crimea now belongs to Russia…[just get over it!]
    6:24 AM · Feb 5, 2020

    Scoop: During Kyiv visit last week, Pompeo told Ukrainians that international community considers Crimea “lost,” as Russia isn’t the kind of country that will give it back.
    Pro-Russian Crimean official says he “fully agrees” with Pompeo and that it’s time for the world to officially recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. […]

    2] German far right politicians have illegally entered Ukraine to support Russian terrorists.
    8:09 AM · Feb 5, 2020

    Politicians from the “Alternative for Germany” party have made an illegal border crossing into Ukraine to show support for a Russian terrorist front, the so-called “LPR.” #RussiaInvadedUkraine

    3] Brexiteer Nigel Farage was at SOTU
    [link in reply comment]
    10:43 PM · Feb 4, 2020

    Brexit activist Nigel Farage at the State of the Union [photo]

    4] French far right party is indebted to Russia for 2014 campaign help.
    [link in reply comment]
    6:11 PM · Feb 4, 2020

    An obscure Russian aircraft company is suing the political party led by French far-right politician Marine Le Pen to recover $11m lent in 2014 to help fund election campaigns in France. It is understood Marine has no plans to move to New Zealand [link]

    • harpie says:

      With regard to 1] Pompeo’s declaration, remember this?:

      7/27/16 Trump: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” […] “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” […] “Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next. Yes, sir…”

      7/27/16 WikiLeaks: Trump is moving ahead of the story.

      This is the story WL is responding to:

      […] At the same news conference, Mr. Trump also appeared to leave the door open to accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago […]
      When asked whether he would recognize Crimea “as Russian territory” and lift the sanctions, Mr. Trump said: “We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking.”

      • harpie says:

        7/31/16 ‘This Week’ Transcript: Donald Trump, Vice President Joe Biden, and Ret. Gen. John Allen
        [About the RNC platform change]

        TRUMP: [My campaign people] softened it, I heard, but I was not involved.

        STEPHANOPOULOS: They took away the part of the platform calling for the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Why is that a good idea?

        TRUMP: Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?
        You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.

        STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?

        TRUMP: OK, well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there yet. […]

        • harpie says:

          Trump BELIEVES Crimea is “with Russia”, not with Ukraine…why? because, someone told him to believe that.

          But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also.

          Also, on
          7/31/16 Kilimnik emails Manafort “I need about two hours,” [for 8/2/16 meeting] “because it is a long caviar story to tell.” […] “several important messages” from his contact [Victor Boyarkin?] about the “future of his country.”

  26. klynn says:

    This is the morning, that if you know something vital that could save our democracy and shine light on his corruption, you release your information. It’s a risk your life day.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, you have to be kidding. Nobody is riding in on a white horse to “save our democracy”. The impeachment effort was over before it ever formally began due to Pelosi’s sheer obstinance and incompetence. Go register people to vote for November, the rest is useless at this point.

      • klynn says:

        Bmaz. I know. And you can LOL all you want. Look my personal history is a grandparent who was a member of an anti Hitler resistance movement. So in this moment, a part of me clings to someone shining light. That’s all. And as for registering voters, I’ve been on that for a while.

        • bmaz says:

          Again, Lol. I did not “give up” on jack shit. I pointed out ongoing and relentless incompetence, and have been demonstrated correct for having done so.

          “Go to the mattresses day”. PJ, that day was long ago, and you missed it because you bought off on bullshit.

  27. Jenny says:

    Trump made promises appealing to principals in the fossil fuel and banking industries who wanted regulation eliminated; the wealthy and corporate heads who wanted lower tax rates; individuals who wanted their religious convictions to be the laws of the land; removal of immigrants in the country; and people who believe government ignored them while enabling others to prosper. His goal was to enact laws and policies pleasing voters across the spectrum and to undo everything he could that President Obama’s administration had accomplished.

    No surprise with the State of the NON-Union speech last night. He is insecure, abusive, blames, bullies, demoralizes, gossips, deflects, projects, attacks, disrespects and totally self-serving. He goes after the disabled people, victims of sexual abuse and cages children. He seeks attention in need of approval. He lacks respect, empathy, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness or concern for others. All he wants to do is win at any cost, to succeed, control, obtain and maintain not letting laws or ethics interfere with attaining his objectives. Fear keeps him in the spotlight. He is the master of promoting and projecting fear. He said years ago, “Real power is fear.”

    FEAR: Frenzy – Energy – Altering – Reality.

    Beneath his public bravado and self-assurance is fear of loss. So, he whips up his base instilling fear. He is the poster boy for ABUSE. Abuser in Chief.

    Refuse To Be Abused!

    • BobCon says:

      Nadler now says it’s coming, but why they didn’t push sooner for multiple witnesses is the same old painful story.

    • bmaz says:

      Can anybody tell me why the House Democrats have screwed off every possible effort at enforcing their process to date? It has been the most incompetent litigation strategy ever. Like on a Sidney Powell level of incompetence.

      The sole reason is Nancy Pelosi. She controls every lever in this regard. The buck stops with Pelosi.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Well, she has a few followers and like-minded fellows, Chuck Schumer among them. I think my favorite word from now on is going to be “primary.”

      • BobCon says:

        One of the many ridiculous side effects of Pelosi’s bumbling on impeachment is that she has fumbled away a major portion of her fundraising clout.

        The House needs a strong fear of oversight in its regular committees to keep corporate donors in line. By encouraging so much defiance of subpoenas, she is training corporations that they only need to court the GOP and can get away with lip service to the House Democrats.

        She desperately wants their money, but in the end she isn’t even going to get that part of the bargain.

  28. Frank Probst says:

    It’s not much, but I find it highly entertaining to watch Pelosi troll Trump. Tearing up his speech may have looked petty, but it made “the story” of the SOTU all about her. Trump knows that people rarely–if ever–remember anything about the SOTU. Giving Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom DURING the SOTU was supposed to be “the story” that people focused on for the next week or so. Trump would be able to smirk about it in all of his rallies. It was the ideal “owning the libs” act that was supposed to make liberals heads explode in all of the “roundtable” news shows for the next week. And people are definitely talking about it, but “the story” is now about Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech. It was wrong to do that. It was inappropriate to do that. It was all of the bullshit excuses that the GOP Senators are currently spouting to justify Trump’s behavior to do that. And now it’s Trump’s head that’s exploding. It might not have accomplishing anything, but as political theater, I thought it was a brilliant move on Pelosi’s part.

    • Rayne says:

      The downside is that all the whining about Pelosi helps redirect attention away from Trump’s mental and physical decline.

      I hope folks do look at his performance closely. He’s in very bad shape and he’s not going to get better.

      • BobCon says:

        I don’t disagree, although there will be a lot more opportunities over the next nine months.

        I saw footage of him going down the steps from the Marine helicopter recently and he has something going on — worse than before.

        • Rayne says:

          The foot dragging has been there for quite some time.

          The problem with stairs has been nearly two years; I think people have forgotten him hanging onto Teresa May on at least once at the White House and on at least one other occasion. She’s been out of office how long now…

          • P J Evans says:

            There was also the G7 where he used a golf cart instead of walking a couple of hundred yards – I’m not sure he can walk more than twenty or thirty at a time any more, without stopping to catch his breath or reset his balance.

              • Tom says:

                “On Point” on NPR this morning played clips of the President speaking at his inaugural address and the SOTU last night to illustrate what his accomplishments have amounted to since 2017. True, one was an outdoor venue and the other indoors but the contrast in the volume, voice tone, and energy level of Trump’s speech delivery was obvious and striking. He sounded much stronger and more vigorous three years ago.

                • Rayne says:

                  Meds aren’t doing the job any longer, couldn’t dope him up enough to prevent that spastic shoulder jerk last night or ward off his increasing speech problems. That unscheduled trip to Walter Reed back in November for unspecified reasons (which were not a partial physical) was another indicator things are very bad.

                  • Geoguy says:

                    Maybe it’s Mad Cow Disease? See variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. I am mostly joking, slightly serious and definitely not a doctor.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Could be but the incidence of CJD is pretty low out of prion diseases and he’s already exceeded average lifespan if he had CJD symptoms in May 2017. Applying Occam’s Razor, it’s Alzheimers (which killed his father) or it’s frontotemporal dementia (possibly aggravated by history of substance abuse). Some of his behavior is reminiscent of Parkinson’s — the speech problems, flattened facial features, spatial perception challenges — but he’s had too many other symptoms more recently that aren’t typical of Parkinson’s.

                      I am not a doctor, no medical background, only a history of observing close family members with different debilitating neurological disorders. My current guess is frontotemporal dementia, behavioral variant (bvFTD) — which is pretty fucking terrifying because it may not only explain his horrific decision to assassinate-by-drone Soleimani but could portend even worse ahead. bvFTD patients have problems with impulsivity, behavioral disinhibition, and executive dysfunction (no pun whatsoever, sadly).

                      The GOP Senate wanted this mockery of a trial rushed through because they are terrified of him falling apart and taking them out in the process. bmaz may drag on me about this but I think Pelosi did the right thing in sitting on the articles of impeachment until after the holidays because the GOP would have been able to hide this more thoroughly if they’d rushed the mock trial before the end of year.

                      Gods help us all if that blue-suited brain rot really flies off into a narcissistic rage and unleashes his disinhibition.

          • e.a.f. says:

            foot dragging can be a symptom of Parkinson’s. Have a sibling who has it and some times one leg will not cooperate, while the other one does. You can go from walking just fine to shuffling all within a five minute space.

            He could also have the beginning of Louie Body syndrome which is a form of dementia. Parental unit had it, along with Parkinson’s. It some times resulted in them not being able to remember how to sit down or tie their shoe and then be “fine” again. What made me think of it is the picture of him not being able to fold his umbrella and abandoning it as he entered the airplane. This form of dementia, sometimes people seem just fine and other times, not so much and if they have support they can actually present in public , like there isn’t that much wrong. Trump’s problem is he runs off at the mouth, while many who develop some sort of dementia, know it and keep quite.

            • P J Evans says:

              Father of an acquaintance had some kind of dementia, possibly Lewy body. The acquaintance’s ex said they were showing some signs of it. (They also said the docs had done imaging of the father’s brain and it looked like popcorn.)

  29. harpie says:

    bmaz, here is the Doug Jones speech almost in it’s entirety with video:
    11:23 AM · Feb 5, 2020

    This has been a divisive time for our country, but as this chapter of history draws to a close, one thing is clear: our country deserves better than this. We must find a way to come together and to focus on what we have in common as Americans. [VIDEO]

    Here is the text that’s missing from the very beginning of the clip:

    Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, on the day I was sworn in as a United States Senator, I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Just last month at the beginning of the impeachment trial I took a second oath, to do fair and impartial justice according to the same Constitution I swore to protect.

    • vicks says:

      Remember when “back in the day” you could have a civilized argument about policy with a member of the opposing party? Better yet, have a member of the opposing party agree with you, or were open to learning something of value from them?
      I’m pretty sure that was because there were more men and women like Doug Jones in Washington.
      Agree or disagree with their politics, you sensed they were decent people, and they loved their country.
      Jones said his decision to do the right thing shouldn’t be a profile in courage.
      Unfortunately for our country we have gotten to this place where it is.

  30. Zinsky says:

    Very late to the thread but I have to comment on automatronic Mike Pence and how utterly ridiculous he looked, grinning and clapping as Nancy Pelosi tore up his boss’s speech not three feet away! What a doorknob! She could have thrown up a fiery hairball and morphed into a nine foot lizard and Pence would have had that same blank, stupidass grin on his face, clapping mindlessly….

    Did he have his cerebral cortex removed to get his job or WTF??

  31. P J Evans says:

    I spent a good part of Tuesday reading “The Cooking Gene” by Michael Twitty (recommended – it’s not actually a cookbook, but a book about food and slavery). Today I went out and bought the few ingredients I didn’t already have, and made “kitchen pepper” to its recipe. It smells wonderful.

    • orionATL says:

      thanks, p.j.

      history book rather than cookbook or no, this sounds enticing.

      i spent the afternoon trouble shooting/improving my chicken thighs and rice dish, almost certainly one of our simple, common family dishes dating back 5-6 generations at least. this is when you really wish you could talk to your parents or aunts and uncles.

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