The Open Thread for 12/18/2018

“A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office,” the Washington Postreports.

“The research — by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details on how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for meddling in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found.”

“The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, used an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters and unleashed a blizzard of posts on Instagram that rivaled or exceeded its Facebook operations, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee,” the New York Times reports.

“The report adds new details to the portrait that has emerged over the last two years of the energy and imagination of the Russian effort to sway American opinion and divide the country, which the authors said continues to this day.”

“Months after President Trump took office, Russia’s disinformation teams trained their sites on a new target: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Having worked to help get Trump into the White House, they now worked to neutralize the biggest threat to his staying there,” the Washington Postreports.

“The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram — which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal — claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with ‘radical Islamic groups.’”

“Such tactics exemplified how Russian teams ranged nimbly across social media platforms in a shrewd online influence operation aimed squarely at American voters.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller “has released a January 2017 memo detailing the FBI’s interview that month with Michael Flynn — a moment that led to a high-profile criminal case against the former Trump national security adviser,” CNN reports.

Marcy Wheeler: “And it is unbelievably damning, in part because it shows the degree to which Flynn’s lies served to protect Trump.”

“Flynn lied to hide Trump’s personal involvement in telling the Russians to hold off on responding to Obama’s sanctions. And when the FBI investigated those lies, Trump fired the FBI Director to try to end that investigation.”

“The White House and Democratic congressional leaders are at an impasse over negotiations to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government at the end of the week, with both sides unwilling to budge from their positions on President Trump’s proposed border wall,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “But House Republican leaders are also confronting a more mundane and awkward problem: Their vanquished and retiring members are sick and tired of Washington and don’t want to show up anymore to vote.”

“Call it the revenge of the lame ducks. Many lawmakers, relegated to cubicles as incoming members take their offices, have been skipping votes in the weeks since House Republicans were swept from power in the midterm elections, and Republican leaders are unsure whether they will ever return.”

Bloomberg: “Trump isn’t inclined to support a one- or two-week stopgap spending measure that would avert a partial government shutdown over the holidays, according to a person familiar with White House planning.”

Playbook: “The available evidence would indicate Congress is heading for its third shutdown in two years.”

“But, we keep hearing over and over again on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue that the White House is privately OK with the Senate-negotiated spending bill, which includes money for border security, not a wall. The question is when do they express that publicly? Do they push this until Friday evening, and force Congress in for the weekend? Once a decision is made, Congress can move quickly.”

CNN: “Sitting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office Monday evening, senior Senate Republicans had no answer to a basic question: What would President Donald Trump sign to avoid a partial government shutdown?”

“Attendees said there is an array of options to avoid a partial shutdown over Trump’s demands for $5 billion for his border wall, but GOP lawmakers are in the dark about what the President would actually sign.”

A new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows President Trump has an 81% approval rating among registered Republicans in Iowa. Sixty-seven percent say they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump if the election were held today. Nineteen percent of Republicans say they would consider someone else, and 10% say they would definitely vote to elect someone else.

“Yet almost two-thirds — 63% — say Iowa should welcome challengers to Trump at the Republican Party of Iowa’s caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.”

NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll: “Overall, 66% of Americans now say they’ve seen enough evidence to justify action, up from 51% two decades ago. That figure incorporates 85% of Democrats, 79% of independents, 71% of women, 61% of men and strong majorities of all racial groups. At least 55% agree on the need for action in all regions of the country, and at all age, education and income levels.”

“Resistance comes only from the one-third of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans. A 56% majority of the GOP says either that concern about climate change is unwarranted or that more research is necessary before taking action.”

Jim Rutenberg: “The most powerful print publication in America might just be the National Enquirer. It functioned as a dirty-tricks shop for Donald J. Trump in 2016, which would have been the stuff of farce — the ultimate tabloid backs the ultimate tabloid candidate — if it hadn’t accomplished its goal.”

“The Enquirer’s power was fueled by its covers. For the better part of the campaign season, Enquirer front pages blared sensational headlines about Mr. Trump’s rivals from eye-level racks at supermarket checkout lanes across America.”

“Wondering what The Enquirer’s covers were worth to the Trump campaign, I called Regis Maher, a co-founder of Do It Outdoors, the national mobile and digital billboard company. He said a campaign with that level of national prominence would cost $2.5 million to $3 million a month.”

“House Democrats are planning to move several high-profile bills to combat gun violence soon after they take power in January, underscoring their belief that the political landscape has shifted dramatically on an issue that’s plagued American society for decades,” Politico reports.

“With backing from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and key chairmen, Democrats will move to require federal background checks on all gun sales, part of a broader effort by the party to advance long-stalled gun control measures. While the proposal won’t get through the Republican-run Senate, much less become law, getting through the House will be a win for the gun-control movement, which has little to cheer about since President Donald Trump was sworn into office.”

Garrett Graff: “After three weeks of back-to-back-to-back-to-backbombshells by federal prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller, it’s increasingly clear that as 2018 winds down, Donald Trump faces a legal assault unlike anything previously seen by any president—a total of at least 17 distinct court cases stemming from at least seven different sets of prosecutors and investigators. (That total does not count any congressional inquiries, nor does it include any other inquiries into other administration officials unrelatedto Russia.)”

“While the media has long short-handed Mueller’s probe as the ‘Russia investigation,’ a comprehensive review of the cases unfolding around the president and the question of Russian influence in the 2016 campaign harkens back to another lesson of Watergate: Deep Throat’s dictum, ‘Follow the money.’”

“Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina have passed legislation that would allow the party to ditch Mark Harris in a new primary election for the 9th District seat if the state board of elections there decides to toss out the results of the Nov. 7 midterms,” Roll Call reports.

“Now the bill sits on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.”

“A business partner of Michael Flynn is being charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy for attempting to get Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited from the United States,” the Washington Postreports.

“Bijan Kian made his first appearance in Alexandria federal court Monday morning.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has served in the U.S. Senate since first being elected in 2002, said that he will not seek a fourth term in the upper chamber, the Tennessean reports.

Timothy O’Brien: “As President Trump and his lawyers turn toward the new year, they’ll have to contend with a legal narrative that’s taken fuller shape through a flurry of court filings and news reports that began landing about three weeks ago and extended through Friday afternoon: Members of Trump’s presidential campaign — and possibly ‘Individual 1’ himself — may have orchestrated a number of criminal conspiracies that took root before and during the 2016 presidential campaign, continued after Trump won the election, and have tainted the White House’s policies and torn at its operations ever since.”

“The breadth of investigations is so sweeping — as many on social media and reporters with the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg News have already noted — that few of the worlds Trump inhabits have escaped prosecutors’ attention. The Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, the Trump family, the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump inauguration, and the Trump White House are all being probed for wrongdoing.”

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “is getting more buzz as a potential White House contender than people who’ve served as governor, senator or even vice president and secretary of state, even though he’s still stinging from falling short last month to Sen. Ted Cruz,” the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said O’Rourke: “The fact that we came close doesn’t diminish the bitterness of the loss.”

Acknowledging the very real doubts about whether someone who couldn’t win election in his home state deserves promotion to commander in chief: “Oh yeah. I think that’s a great question. I ask that question myself.”

He added: “I just don’t feel comfortable talking to anybody in Iowa or New Hampshire, because I don’t want to stoke. I just truly have not made a decision or even really begun the serious work of making a decision, so I just don’t want to lead anyone to think that we’re doing something or not doing something.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Brian Kemp and his aides publicly accused the Democratic Party of Georgia of trying to hack into the voter database in a failed attempt to steal the election. The announcement added last-minute drama to an already contentious campaign. More important, it also pre-empted scrutiny of the secretary of state’s own missteps while initiating a highly unusual criminal investigation into his political rivals.”

“But no evidence supported the allegations against the Democrats at the time, and none has emerged in the six weeks since, the Journal-Constitutionfound. It appears unlikely that any crime occurred. … That examination suggests Kemp and his aides used his elected office to protect his political campaign from a potentially devastating embarrassment.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

26 comments on “The Open Thread for 12/18/2018

  1. RE Vanella

    Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner sent Hunter Thompson and Ralph Steadman to Zaire in 1974 to cover the Foreman v Ali “Rumble in the Jungle.” A story was never filed. Wenner called it, “the biggest, fucked-up journalistic adventure in the history of journalism.”

    Last night wasn’t quite that.

    Many thanks to DD for sitting down in the bunker for a podcast conversation last night. Unfortunately, around the 40 minute mark the software crashed out and I lost the entire audio.

    It was a great conversation and he will be back in after the New Year. Sometimes gonzo goes gonzo.

    • cassandram

      So Anono here is actually using the serious dysfunction of the Veterans’ Administration — dysfunction that specifically underserves the veterans they are meant to take care of as an opportunity to “own the libs” on Medicare for All.

      You are such an utter buffoon, Anono.

  2. cassandram

    The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, […]

    So African Americans don’t have just the GOP trying to suppress our votes, but also the Russians.

    • Over at :

      Teodrose Fikre has a much different take on the NYT article than yours…

      “The corporate recorders at the Times would have us believe that the reason African-Americans did not uniformly vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is because they were too dimwitted to think for themselves and were subsequently manipulated by foreign agents.

      This yellow press drivel is nothing more than propaganda that could have been written by George Wallace.”

      • cassandram

        Very sad you can’t detect propaganda when you read it. The NYT article makes very clear that they are reporting on Russian efforts to try to supress the African American vote. This article also makes clear that there is no way to know if it worked. And here is this person and you making just such a claim. Both with no proof. But let’s start with the fact that African American women voted for HRC by 94%.

        But if you have proof that the Russian targeting of African Americans worked, then I can put you in contact with the FBI.

  3. So, who is coming forward to admit that they were stupid enough to change their vote because of some Russian post on Facebook? Nobody, that’s who. Rosenstein even stated that there is no evidence election results were impacted at all.

    • Um, I don’t think you understand son. Benghazi, U-1, lock her up…that was all the russians..none of it had any anchor in reality, but they sure convinced a lot of people that it did.

    • The idea wasn’t to change votes, it was to give people reasons to stay home. Do try to keep up.

      • Alby, not in the Christmas spirit to be nice yet?

        • I don’t believe in Christmas spirit. I realize you conservatives like to tell yourselves bullshit stories, but it’s not my job to believe them.

      • So, who has come forward to say they stayed home on Election Day because of some Russian post on Facebook. Nobody, that’s who.

        Do try to wise up.

        • The person who needs to wise up is you. First you want to claim the idea that AA Dems did not vote for HRC of their own volition (you have no proof) and now you want to ask for proof of a thing you couldn’t provide proof of before. GTFOH

        • You’re so cute when you try to be clever.

          You yourself are a shining example of someone who has fallen for the St. Petersburg troll farms’ output — either that, or you helped produce it.

          So either you fell for this or worked for it knowing it was helping Russia.

          Which one will you claim at trial?

          • So either you fell for this or worked for it knowing it was helping Russia. – alby

            “What fraction of overall social media impressions on the 2016 election were generated by Russian troll farms? 0.1%?

            Blaming Hillary’s loss in 2016 on interference by Russians is like assigning responsibility for an earthquake to a child throwing a pebble in a lake.” – Nate Silver


            Seriously, which of us is falling for what ?

            • Caring about it is not the same as assigning blame for her loss to it.

              And yes, you fell for Jill Stein. So, seriously, you are the fool here, which we all knew already. It’s also notable that, like Trump, you are blind to your own copious shortcomings.

            • Do wish you would keep up. The charge is that the Russians meddled to help GRIFTUS win. That is incredibly clear, as Jill Stein would tell you. What is not clear is the extent to that interference moved many votes. Still — notwithstanding what Nate has to say here — propaganda, messaging, advertising doesn’t need a ton of impressions for it to be repeated and absorbed by many more people. Sorta like that “the DNC helped HRC win”. There’s no evidence of that — NONE — and yet you and your wingnut friend RSE continue to repeat it. Wonder where you would have gotten such a notion that has no facts behind it? Face it, you are neck deep in propaganda that keeps you in permanent ignorant resentful mode and when people keep pointing out how wrong you are, you reach for more propaganda to prove your point. Like a Fox News viewer, right?

      • First of all she won the nomination unfairly. She kept trying to reboot her image. She would disappear for weeks on end it seemed. She was and still is untrustworthy. She was a stumbling, coughing, falling over mess who was doing weird shit all the time, and the Russians had nothing to do with any of this.

        • Weird shit like running for president? If you read fiction from the fever swamp, don’t be surprised if everybody takes you for a fool.

          • @RSE: Your problem here is that everything you can say about Hillary goes double for Trump, making them invalid reasons to vote against Hillary. I guess they didn’t cover logic at lawn mowing school.

        • This is funny, because there was a journalist on a few days back tracing most of this bullshit back to bot farms. So RSE has outed himself as one of the clueless and credulous AND shows that this shit got repeated by the right and the left alike.

          • Bingo. People who fell for it can’t “admit” it, because they don’t realize they fell for it. Do I think many African Americans fell for it? No. But that’s not how propaganda works. Most of the Fox crowd doesn’t realize it’s been propagandized, either.

          • Bot farms, lol. I watched her do the things she did ,and so did everyone else. Remember “Weekend at Hillary’s”?

            • Frankly, no, because most of us didn’t treat the campaign as mindless entertainment.

              But at any event, we’re not talking about Republicans like you. we already knew how much you hated Hillary. We’re talking about supposedly left-leaning people like delacrat.

              That said, you still have no legitimate reason to complain about Hillary when the alternative was someone who had already committed every sin in her portfolio and many others besides.

              You folks don’t fool us. You’re life’s losers, and you wanted to bring the rest of the country down to your level. Congratulations, and job well done.

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