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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Did Fake News Swing the Election?

This from Paul Horner:

I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me.

Who is Paul Horner? He is the leader of a fake news empire, including his ABCnews.com.co site that The WaPo wrote about today:

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he’s British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. “South Park” lawsuit last year.

But he really hit his stride in the 2016 presidential election. From WaPo:

In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google:

faux-news-google

He also pushed a story that Trump protesters were paid by Democrats. Even Trump on the campaign trail, said it was true. Here is the story behind the story by Horner:

My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.

Horner is correct. Here is (then) Trump Campaign Manager Lewandowski tweeting it:

lewandowski-retweets

WaPo asks Horner, why do his stories go so viral?

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it

Real news is so boring. Fake news is so compelling.

Despite Horner’s “dumber people” comments, satire should not need to be fact- checked by the reader to determine that it is satire, not false news. When Horner writes a purported news story reporting that a protester was paid thousands to protest at a Trump rally, that story presented itself as news, not satire. It also generates revenue for him while providing ammunition for Trump supporters.

NPR reported yesterday on how Facebook reviews news sites that post on their platform. They said that FB:

Turned to the consulting firm Accenture to put together a dedicated team of subcontractors. Sources say the team is now several thousand people, with some of the largest offices in Manila…and Warsaw.

Ok, outsourcing isn’t necessarily good or evil, but NPR also reported that:

Current and former employees of Facebook say that they’ve observed these subcontractors in action; that they are told to go fast — very fast; that they’re evaluated on speed; and that on average, a worker makes a decision about a piece of flagged content once every 10 seconds.

The 10 second rule means that a worker on an eight-hour shift, at the rate of one post per 10 seconds, means that they’re clearing 2,880 posts a day per person. How do you evaluate something as fake news in 10 seconds, particularly when you don’t even live in the US?

There’s another huge barrier: The subcontractors typically don’t get to see the full story, because the messages are truncated. Therefore, no one can really evaluate a particular story’s context.

This is America in the 21st Century. How can people develop good bullshit detectors, when the platform that 1.7 billion people worldwide subscribe to, can’t be serious about checking to see if something posted is true?

We are in an era where facts are increasingly irrelevant.

The solution is to fund independent social media organizations that really fact check BS statements. And then, reach out to counter the faux that easily-manipulated individuals want to believe. Their fact-checking will have to be part of social media, since that is what people who live mostly on social media understand. Next, treat them with respect, and work hard to relieve their underlying anxieties.

Consider Obama’s last press conference: He treated the reporters well, and they were respectful of him. He paid homage to the death of the respected newsperson, Gwen Ifill, including thanking her for holding his feet to the fire.

That’s the kind of presidential temperament we need.

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Election Wrap-Up Linkage – Saturday Edition

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”George Orwell

Feeling blitzed by the election? Science has an answer. Research by neuroscientists have led to a list of 10 songs which reduce stress. According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, “Weightless” has been named as the most relaxing song ever, which reduces a person’s stress by 65%. Your mileage may vary.

The most interesting thing so far in the analysis of who voted is the number of Democrats that didn’t vote:

popular-vote
While America hasn’t counted all the votes yet, Clinton’s total vote is down significantly from both Obama elections. On the margin, people apparently thought that they didn’t have sufficient reason to show up for Clinton. Everybody knew what Donald Trump’s top three issues were. Despite an issue-laden website, nobody knew what Hillary Clinton’s’ top three issues were, they just knew she was against DT.

Krystal Ball (yes her real name) was a candidate for Congress in Virginia a half dozen years ago and has been writing since. She has a column up at HuffPo: The Democratic Party Deserved To Die in which she says the following:

In 29 states, truck driving is the number one job and it is one of the few jobs left that can provide a middle class living for high school grads. What will happen to the 1.5 million families who get their daily bread from a truck driver when all of those jobs are eliminated by driverless trucks? It’s not a matter of if but when. Are we going to teach all those drivers to code or retrofit windows or whatever other pathetic nonsense we’ve held up as a solution? This new reality is upon us. The markets are not going to magically fix it.

Stronger Together” meant nothing to all these people that felt that they were left behind by globalization, free trade agreements and technology. Democrats have been on an 8-year slide from electing a President with veto proof majorities in Congress to holding zero power in DC. Maybe this will reignite the revolt in the party to ditch its leadership and get back to its roots.

Orange County CA among the most Republican counties in CA, finally votes for a Democratic Presidential candidate, and the rest of the country pulls up the ladder. WTF?

On Election Day, most voters use electronic or optical-scan ballots. Nearly half of registered voters (47%) live in jurisdictions that use only optical-scan as their standard voting system, and about 28% live in DRE-only jurisdictions, according to Pew’s analysis of data from the Verified Voting Foundation, a nongovernmental organization concerned with the impact of new voting technologies on election integrity. Here is how votes are tallied in America:

type-of-voting-machine

 

 

 

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Hail The Orange Overlord

(Wrongo will say more about Veteran’s Day during Sunday’s cartoon edition. For today, let’s acknowledge that Veteran’s Day is one of America’s most patriotic holidays, and that this year, it feels very disappointing to many of us. Leave that aside. Take a minute to reflect on those who fought for us so that we have the right to vote for whomever we please.)

Regarding the election: Aren’t you happy that America is on its way to being great again?

For both the winners and the losers, please don’t make things worse than they have to be by deepening the divide between the two political camps. Most of all, try to be understanding of each other. Half of the country is not reacting well to this, and some on both sides are going to say things that they’ll regret, or that put them at odds with you and your core values.

People aren’t at their best when they’re afraid and confused, so take a beat, and let the next month or two go by without overreacting. There will plenty of time to do that after the inauguration.

And there is little value for Democrats in performing a self-flagellating post-mortem. We can analyze the results, but we can’t change them. We know what went wrong, even if we won’t admit it. Here’s what has to happen:

  1. Democrats need to find a way to make sure that their primary process favors new faces with bold, inspiring ideas. We can’t have any more competent retreads. Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and Hillary Clinton were all competent technocrats who were really weak candidates. How many times must we replay this record before changing direction?
  2. It’s time for Democrats to stop using white working classas a pejorative. Not so long ago they were the bedrock of the New Deal Democratic Party. Find a way to be respectful. Think about how to bring them back to the Democrats’ side.
  3. There is one argument that we need to see less of: that the demographic makeup of the US is sure to produce a Democratic paradise. This argument is false, as we learned on November 8, and it promotes lazy thinking by the leaders of the DNC: the “We’ll just sit back and they’ll drop into our hands like ripe fruit” kind of thinking.

Finally, the notion that since the old white people will die off, we should focus solely on Millennials is stupid. Time makes more old people every day. And as people age, they change their opinions and politics.

Hillary and her campaign team failed. They raised $1.1 billion by Election Day, and lost conclusively. Their strategy, and its execution were both failures. If you spent a $billion in the corporate world and failed, you would be fired immediately by your organization. Dems should take no consolation from Hillary winning the popular vote. It doesn’t change who the president is. The real numerical difference is very small, and may even be reversed by the time all votes are counted.

Hillary did not articulate an inspiring vision. Her damned emails and the Clinton Foundation were self-inflicted wounds. Her team’s strategy of micro-targeting, which worked well for an inspiring candidate Barack Obama, was self-limiting for the technocrat Clinton.

The 2016 problem that Democrats failed to address was that nearly half of the electorate was dissatisfied enough that they were willing to vote for Donald Trump, arguably the least qualified person to ever hold the office. And Clinton and her campaign team had no message or vision directed at the group Donald inspired.

Presidential campaigns are an affair of the heart, but Hillary was a cerebral candidate in a highly-charged emotional situation.

The so-called Deplorables have spoken. Democrats have opened the door and let the Right Wing demons in. The GOP now has free reign. And doubtless, there will be no mercy dispensed as they roll back the new deal legislation that remains of the books.

It is likely that the “lesson” the DNC will learn from their loss will be to move even further to the right. Yet, when Americans have to choose between an ersatz Republican-lite and the real thing, they will choose the real thing every time. If the DNC had an ounce of clever thinking, they would recognize the need to be once again have a platform that is:

  • Fully committed to adding more jobs, jobs, jobs
  • For reining in the economic power of large corporations
  • For reversing income inequality
  • For Medicare for all
  • For additional taxation of the highest personal income brackets
  • Against endless war
  • Against Citizens United

The question is whether progressives attempt to “reform” the Democratic Party, or whether they organize a new party. It might begin like the Republicans began when they split from the Whigs. The Whigs split started in 1850, and by 1856, the Whigs were no longer a national party.

Maybe in these times, a new “American Justice” party could recruit Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Gavin Newsom and most important, a battalion of young messengers to bring a third party to power in the US.

If that doesn’t happen, we need to see the DNC leadership’s heads on a pike.

In either case, we face a decade or more of rebuilding progressivism into an American political majority.

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Election Day 2016: Closing Argument

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” –  John F. Kennedy

JFK said that at Amherst College less than a month before he died. He wasn’t running for reelection yet, but that quote shows how he towers over the two presidential candidates in front of us today.

We could ask: “What does wisdom have to do with being president?” And our answer should be “everything”!

Some Americans are angry. Some are mainly angry with Washington. Many are impatient, unable to keep a long complicated idea in their heads to a conclusion, saying things like: “bottom line this for me” after less than a couple of minutes of talk. People are overwhelmed with information, much of which is patently false, so they do not know what to believe. The simply angry people will not help us solve anything, and they may not even accept a solution designed to help with some of their problems.

This is the context for today’s election.

The best case for Hillary Clinton is that she represents a continuation of Obama’s policies, with a few slightly more progressive ideas forced into the mix by Bernie. If Clinton is president, she will continue to have the same fights with Republicans in Congress that Obama had, but since Trump wants to enact policies that are destructive, some of which will be enthusiastically supported by Republicans in Congress, wisdom indicates Hillary is our best option this year.

Over the next four years Clinton is unlikely to do anything domestically that makes the lives of most Americans worse, and any Supreme Court justices she picks are likely to be reliably liberal on social issues, assuming Republicans are willing to confirm any nominee offered by a Democrat.

Her foreign policy is hawkish. This is the one place where Trump seems to be to the left of Clinton. How we handle Russia, China and the Middle East will be a huge challenge to the next president, but the leader of the free world cannot be an impulsive know-it-all.

What about the arguments against Clinton?

Emails are Hillary’s quicksand. Win or lose, Congress will keep worrying on that bone for a long, long time.

What about the paid speeches, the relationships with Wall Street and foreign governments? None of that is unique to Clinton. Her neoliberal positions and affiliations are common in both Parties. Obama, both Bushes, Bill Clinton, and Reagan have all taken money from most of these same groups through the campaign finance system.

Money and influence are the business plan for all American politicians. There’s nothing particularly revelatory about that, and it doesn’t make her any more corrupt than most other Democrats and Republicans who have run for president.

Arguments for Donald Trump:

The best argument for Donald Trump doesn’t rely on any of his policy positions, some of which are unclear and many of which are completely detached from evidence-based reality. Instead, the argument for him is that he will shake things up, and possibly, change some things.

Arguments against Trump:

A Trump presidency would be risky, since his ideas and temperament could easily make things worse than the current situation. He’s been called many names, his own ghostwriter for the book “The Art of the Deal” called him a sociopath. Many words describe Donald Trump, but here are a few that do not: Thoughtful. Serious. Presidential. So, wisdom argues that we not elect Trump.

People are looking for change. For them, it’s disheartening to settle for someone like Clinton who seeks gradual improvement, but is not a change agent.

America needs change, but it has to be a positive kind of change. That means it’s better to stick with the lower risk candidate unless there is a political alternative who really might make things better.

There will be better messengers for left-driven and right-driven populism down the road. When that happens, we will have more chances to pick a workable political alternative to the neoliberalism of both establishment parties.

Be patient, while we wait for a better alternative.

And vote today, if you haven’t yet.

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Monday Wake Up Call – Election Eve Edition

It is less than 36 hours until someone loses the 2016 presidential election, and the FBI has again cleared Hillary Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing related to her private email server.

But the damage is done. James Comey caused this and must resign, assuming Clinton is inaugurated. He tried to sabotage her campaign, he stalled her momentum, and caused quite a few people who planned to vote for her to have a false and negative impression of her honesty.

No American should have faith in Comey’s impartiality. But, once again, it is “mission accomplished” for the GOP, they used the go-to Republican tool of character assassination.

It works every time if it involves a Clinton, and the media is always happy to oblige.

In other news, the Pant Load just renewed his lease on the Trump Tower of Ignorance. On Saturday in Florida, he questioned the current mission to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS. He again criticized the US leaders involved in its planning. From CNN: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The Republican presidential nominee knocked US officials as a “group of losers” for not launching a “surprise” attack and said he was convinced the offensive — which is led by the Iraqi military — was launched “for political reasons” to benefit his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He suggested she would get “credit” for its success.

This was after his Friday musing in Hersey PA, where he questioned the core rationale behind the military offensive, which is central to defeating the terrorist group in Iraq:

Who benefits by us getting Mosul? You know it’s going to benefit Iran. We’re not going to benefit. Because Iran is taking over Iraq.

Trump misunderstands the goals of the US program to defeat ISIS, which he claims to support. Retaking Iraqi territory from ISIS is key to that goal.

Trump also misunderstands military strategy and tactics. He says we shouldn’t announce plans to attack Mosul, but US military officials say it is impossible to move tens of thousands of troops and the associated materiel into position without alerting the enemy. They also stressed the importance of warning civilians of the coming battle.

And despite forces pushing ISIS back around Mosul, Trump said on Saturday that the offensive has been a “disaster,” directly contradicting accounts from our military leaders.

Trump’s ego tells him that he knows more than the generals about military operations, that he knows more than economists about economics, that he’s an incredibly virile 70 year old man, and that he was the greatest athlete in NYC during the 1960s.

If you haven’t voted yet, go vote, because otherwise, no one will want to hear your pathetic excuses about why you didn’t go to the polls. Please don’t talk about why you chose to cop out, or to cast a third party ballot, when the actual choice before us this week is as stark as we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.

A popular rationale to justify not voting, or voting for a third party, is: “I don’t like either candidate, they’re both terrible.”

The thing is, there are no perfect leaders. We have never had a flawless president. There are always weaknesses, foibles and scandals. It takes decades before we really understand who the great leaders were, and even then, most had defects that would diminish them with today’s scandal-focused media.

So, undecided voters, look into your soul, and find that part of “us” that’s within you. Remember that while dystopian nightmares are fine in the movies, you really don’t want to actually experience one firsthand.

And, when you wake up on Wednesday morning in a country that hasn’t turned into a hellish wasteland overnight, pat yourself on the back for having done the right thing.

It’s time for America to wake the F up! With one candidate, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. With the other, you have no idea what you’re going to get, but, as his Mosul comments show, you can be sure he doesn’t know shit from Shinola about anything other than real estate.

To help America wake up, here is Sunnyland Slim with “Be Careful How You Vote”. Sunnyland was a patriarch of the Chicago blues scene from the 1940s to the mid-1990s when he died. Slim was in his mid-70s at the time of this recording:

Don’t be buying Trump’s lies about “building a wall” or “bringing back manufacturing jobs“. Neither will ever happen. Be careful how you vote.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Presidential Election Edition

Here we are, the Sunday before Tuesday’s presidential election, and the time change just added another hour to our long national nightmare.

The contest between Clinton and Trump has become uncomfortably close since the FBI’s intervened in our political process.

Can we build a wall around the FBI? It will be the best wall, and we’ll get James Comey to pay for it.

The WaPo reports that it has moved Ohio from “toss-up” to “leans Republican” and moved New Hampshire and Arizona from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up”. This leaves Clinton with 290 electoral votes. CNN, as of Friday morning had Clinton below 270 electoral votes for the first time in a long time.

This election reminds Wrongo of 1988. That was George H. W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis. In July, Dukakis led Bush by 17 points in a Gallup poll. In fact, Dukakis led Bush by comfortable margins into August, but things went badly for the Democrat. A number of false rumors were reported, including the claim Dukakis had been treated for mental illness. Then came the ridiculous picture of Dukakis in a tank, and the Willie Horton ad, and Dukakis’ goose was cooked. Bush took the popular vote by nearly 8 points, winning 40 states and 426 electoral votes.

Let’s hope we are not witnessing the second coming of a Dukakis loss in Hillary’s inability to close out Donald Trump.

This means we need an extra helping of cartoons. Something has to give us a smile before the crying starts on Tuesday. Face it, one team or the other will be crying.

Cubs win, Cubs WIN:

cow-cubs-win-2

Some voters will definitely have some ‘splaining to do:

cow-answer-to-st-pete

When you think that all the choices are bad, what are ya gonna do?

cow-vote-anyway

Views differ on Comey:

cow-comey-is-wonderful

FBI Director takes on a new meaning:

cow-the-director

If Trump wins, some are going to Canada, others are just going:

cow-advance-directive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s all over, we’ll call it a “Wave Election”:

cow-wave-election

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The World Series and the Election

From Bob Lefsetz, who all of you should read: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

…tonight’s game was an epic finish that not only rekindled your belief in the game, but America too….The most valuable player was a Jewish egghead who never took the field. Theo Epstein reversed the [World Series] curse in Boston and then brought a championship to Chicago.

Maybe Theo should be a candidate for president. After all, he has fixed two underperforming organizations, and the US certainly underperforms. Sadly, Epstein’s success is based on using analytics and a plan to achieve a goal.

Facts and a plan. How could THAT possibly work for the country? Where would Trump and/or his boy, Mitch McConnell, fit within that concept? Trump speaks in broad generalities and platitudes, inflaming the passions of his followers, and obliterating any possibility of reasoned discourse or debate. He’s done nothing to inform America of the details of how he plans to make America a better and stronger place.

More from Bob:

And the teams are a rainbow coalition of ethnicities. It’s a white supremacist’s nightmare, not only are there various colors, but immigrants too! And somehow they all get along, they come together as a team, they’ve got a common goal, victory!

Ain’t that America?

But, one candidate thinks that he can win by scapegoating many of the kinds of people that were on the field last night. How can so many Americans support a candidate steeped in racism, religious bigotry, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, and misogyny, when we just saw such a great example of winning by working together?

And Lefsetz makes a final great point:

What is the common goal in America today? The telecast was riddled with political ads that made one wince. Duplicitous candidates utilizing subterfuge to try and win. Whereas the baseball players had shaggy haircuts, some tattoos, and had to play by their wits, there was little time for thinking, you had to make decisions.

The metaphor can be extended further. The Series went to the full seven games, and then into extra innings before a narrow one-run victory. The 2016 presidential election will go down to the wire, and who will win isn’t very clear. Both candidates have flaws, and yet, both are able to score points against the opposition.

We hope the election doesn’t go into overtime, but we need to understand that regardless of which candidate wins, it is just the restart of a protracted contest.

Unlike baseball, where the season ended last night.

A final word on Trump and his supporters. The Pant Load talks a good game, but his policies will not help his supporters. He promises to bring their jobs back. But, as Tom Friedman says: most of their jobs didn’t go to a Mexican. They went to a microchip: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The idea that large numbers of factory jobs can be returned to America if we put up a wall with Mexico or renegotiate our trade deals is a fantasy. Trump ignores the fact that manufacturing is still by far the largest sector of the US economy. That our factories now produce twice what they did in 1984 — but with one-third fewer workers.

This trend in robotics and intelligent machines is well under way worldwide since the 1990’s, and no world leader, including Donald Trump is going to stop it. More from Friedman:

I understand why many Trump supporters have lost faith in Washington and want to just “shake things up.” When you shake things up with a studied plan and a clear idea of where you want to get to, you can open new futures. But when you shake things up, guided by one-liners and no moral compass, you can cause enormous instability and systemic vertigo.

Baseball is over for this year, but America’s need for leadership and teamwork based on a vision and a plan continues.

How can so many Americans willingly settle for a candidate who is more caricature than qualified or capable in a world where only talent and vision matter?

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Voting Rights and John Roberts

From USA Today:

National and local voting rights activists, worried about threats to casting ballots nationwide, are setting up command centers, staffing hotlines and deploying thousands of monitors to polling sites across the country to ensure voters can get to the polls.

There has been plenty of talk about “rigged’’ elections in the 2016 presidential campaign. Link that with the Supreme Court’s rejection of a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and civil rights and voting rights activists say they’re concerned about possible roadblocks at the polls next week.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 14 states will have new voting restrictions in place, ranging from photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks, to registration restrictions.

Some of the blame for this can be laid at the door of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts. Stephanie Mencimer in MoJo writes that Roberts “had it in for the Voting Rights Act”:

In 2013, when Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. issued the most far-reaching Supreme Court decision on voting rights in the 21st century, he finally succeeded in gutting a civil rights law he has been fighting his entire career. For three decades, Roberts has argued that the US has become colorblind to the point where aggressive federal intervention on behalf of voters of color is no longer necessary—and this case, Shelby County v. Holder, was the pinnacle of that crusade.

Roberts honed his views on race and voting as a clerk for Justice William Rehnquist and later in the Reagan DOJ. Rehnquist redefined opposition to civil rights laws as a commitment to color blindness, using this leap of logic to undermine the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Atlantic reports that Roberts has a history of insisting that the US is a post-racial, colorblind society, a viewpoint he emphasized in his 2013 Shelby County v. Holder opinion. That decision removed a critical component of the Voting Rights Act: the requirement that jurisdictions with a long history of voting discrimination submit any changes in voting procedures to the DOJ for “preclearance,” to ensure those changes didn’t have a discriminatory impact.

Preclearance blocked more than 700 discriminatory voting changes between 1982 and 2006. But in the Shelby opinion, Roberts asserted that such protections were no longer warranted. He said that federal oversight of the jurisdictions in question, mostly states in the Deep South, was outdated and unjustified.

After the Shelby decision, several states passed new voting restrictions that were overwhelmingly directed at minorities. On the day the Shelby decision was handed down, Texas announced that the only two forms of state voter identification it would accept were a driver’s license or a gun license—a measure the DOJ had previously blocked.

  • Georgia moved some municipal elections in predominantly minority areas from November to May, depressing turnout by nearly 20% in one instance.
  • Alabama implemented a strict voter ID law—and then shut down driver’s license offices in every county where more than 75% of voters were African American.
  • The most blatant was North Carolina’s omnibus voting law. Passed shortly after the Shelby decision, the NC law imposed strict ID requirements, limited the registration window, and dramatically cut early voting during times traditionally used by African Americans.

Some lower courts are walking back the Shelby decision. In July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of North Carolina’s voting law, saying its provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Will the lower court ruling cause Roberts to rethink his Shelby opinion? No.

In August, the Supreme Court, without a Scalia replacement, would not hear an appeal of the 4th Circuit’s blocking of North Carolina’s voting law, but Roberts wrote that he personally would have allowed most of the law to take effect.

According to Harvard’s Alex Keyssar, the popular vote in North Carolina for the state legislature and members of Congress for the last several years has been pretty much evenly split, but the seats are overwhelmingly Republican. And that matters. That’s how the Republican legislature put together its voting laws.

Voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering are the greatest threats to our democracy. Suppression provides the opportunity to gerrymander. Taken together, suppression and gerrymandering provide the means to disenfranchise groups of the electorate from our democracy.

The anger in this nation is because people can feel things slipping away, even if they don’t all agree on why it is, or who to blame.

At some point, it won’t matter anymore. But by then, we might have a Republic in name only.

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Monday Wake Up Call – Anthony Weiner Edition

“God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh”Voltaire

Many funny memes have emerged after the FBI’s announcement that, in their investigation of Anthony Weiner’s possible sexting relationship with a 15 year-old girl, they turned up emails that may or may not be related to the Hillary Clinton private server investigation.

The internets are having fun associating Weiner and Clinton:

Dickileaks – NY Post

Weiner Probe – WaPo

The only thing that would make this more insane is if Trump’s tax returns were found in Anthony Weiner’s email – twitter

The Cocktober Surprise – twitter

Apparently, HRC’s 33,000 deleted emails were all just dick pics from Anthony Weiner – twitter

Seriously, the NYT reports that officials at the DOJ urged FBI head James Comey not to violate policies and procedural norms by intervening in the presidential election. The linked article contains this rather remarkable set of facts: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The FBI offered no comment, and Justice Department officials said they had no idea what Mr. Comey saw as his next move. Justice Department officials were particularly puzzled about why Mr. Comey had alerted Congress — and by extension, the public — before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.

Law enforcement officials have begun the process to get court authority to read the emails, officials said. How soon they will get that is unclear, but there is no chance that the review will be completed before Election Day, several law enforcement officials said.

So not only to they have no idea what’s in the emails, they don’t have a warrant to read them yet.

This from the Jane Mayer article at the New Yorker: (brackets and emphasis by the Wrongologist)

According to the Administration official, [Attorney General] Lynch asked Comey to follow Justice Department policies, but he said that he was obliged to break with them because he had promised to inform members of Congress if there were further developments in the case. He also felt that the impending election created a compelling need to inform the public, despite the tradition of acting with added discretion around elections…

In essence, Comey is saying: “Well, I know the rule is designed to make sure that our investigations don’t influence elections, but I think in this case, we should break that rule, because there’s an election, and we should influence it.

There are as yet no further developments in the case. After the FBI obtains a warrant and reads the emails, there might be, but right now, nada.

What we have so far isn’t a “further development” at all. If a police detective walked into a DA’s office and told the DA the equivalent of what Comey said to Congress, say: “we found a box of Clinton files”. He would get a puzzled look and a question: “Yes? Go on? What did you find?” and if the cop responded with: “We haven’t looked in the box yet” the DA would say: “Why are you HERE, then?”

But that’s not how Congress works.

No one knows what the impact will be on the presidential election; we will see next Tuesday. Comey’s act of partisan bad faith is staggering, and there is no denying that his letter to Congress was a bombshell. This undermines democracy at least as much as anything the Pant Load says on the trail about “rigged elections.” Undermining democracy apparently comes with zero consequences these days.

So, it’s time to wake up America! You could lose your democracy without even knowing it is gone.

To help you wake up, here is Serj Tankian, the lead vocalist of the rock band System of a Down, with “Uneducated Democracy”, released in 2012. Serj lives in California and supported Bernie Sanders this year:

The video for “Uneducated Democracy” is made by Tumo, a technology school in Armenia. All of the crew were teenagers.

Sample Lyrics:

In dire need of reason
In a truly deaf nation
In dire need of reason
In a truly deaf nation
Without an education there is no real democracy
Without an education there is only autocracy

Open your eyes
Open your mouths
Close your hands
And make a fist
Down with the system
As we lay helpless against the machine

As sex scandals dictate
The winding road of realpolitik
The bully runs from his corner
Images rule through the media
Hungry hunger further
The hungry hunger further

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Rigged Election Edition

Donald Trump was in Gettysburg on Saturday.  In what was supposed to be a serious-minded policy speech where he would outline his first 100 days as president, he couldn’t restrain himself from re-litigating grievances with Hillary Clinton, the media and especially the women who have come forward in recent days. He started by saying he would sue every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or other inappropriate behavior:

All of these liars will be sued once the election is over…I look so forward to doing that.

The election is rigged, Hillary shouldn’t be allowed to run, and those women are liars. Maybe he was hit so hard in the last debate that he can’t remember saying all of these things before.

Hillary vs. Donald, III. The outcome was the same as Ali vs. Liston:

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Trump’s stump speech attacks the roots of our democracy:

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Rigged, or what?

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Your bill for participating in our democracy is due, Don:

cow-stiffed-himIn completely unrelated news, Snoopy was fired by Met Life:

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