Average White Man Seeks Job Promotion

This fucking guy:

Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a third-term congressman who has pushed for a “new generation of leadership” in Washington, declared his candidacy for president on Monday, becoming the 19th candidate to enter the Democratic primary field.

“I’m running because I’m a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I’ve never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it,” Mr. Moulton said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Moulton, 40, garnered attention in November when he helped lead a group of rebellious Democrats who had sought to deny Speaker Nancy Pelosi the gavel in the new Congress. The effort was unsuccessful, and Mr. Moulton ultimately voted for Ms. Pelosi. His online biography paints him as something of a disrupter, noting that he was “the only Democrat to unseat an incumbent in a primary” in the House of Representatives when he was first elected in 2014.

One of the other real problems created by the Trump presidency is that literally anyone thinks they can be President now. Here we’ve got some shmuck with no natural constituency and who hasn’t been in politics long enough to accomplish anything and whose name you only know because he came at the queen and failed thinking he has the right stuff. Not to mention, boy does he have his finger on the pulse of the Democratic party, wanting to ignore domestic issues and run on national security. Hoo boy.

Return to sender.








We Must Turn The Country Around

I attended a symposium on authoritarianism a week or so ago. Two of the presentations implicitly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and Hugo Chavez. The parallels are striking. Jay West, retired from teaching Russian history at Middlebury College, spoke about Nazi Germany and the temptations of fascism, something that naturally accompanies Russian history. Charles Shapiro, American ambassador to Venezuela during the Chavez years, spoke about his experience with Chavez.

Hitler, Chavez, and Donald Trump were all elected. Portions of the electorate disapproved of them for one reason or another, but they supported them because they thought they shared common goals and that those elected would be controllable. West and Shapiro gave much longer lists.

Trump has removed the people who might have braked his worst inclinations: the generals and legal staff and cabinet members who have carried out his orders imperfectly in his judgment. He has hollowed out government agencies designed to provide the president with information. He is behaving increasingly erratically; he now opposes his own State Department on Libya. Policy on North Korea and Russia is equally confused. This is the way wars start. Trump has threatened legal action against his enemies. Mitch McConnell is packing the courts with judges who will approve Trump’s agenda. Trump’s rhetoric uses hate and fear to divide the country.

We are in a sequence of events similar to those of the 1930s in Germany or the early 2000s in Venezuela. We must do something that the Germans of the Weimar Republic and the Venezuelans failed to do: stop the progress toward fascism and destruction.

I can’t think of a historical example of a country this far down that road that turned back, but that may be my limitation. Populism had some successes in the United States in the late 19th century, so there may be some examples there. If you’ve got an example, please send it along; we need to look at the historical successes as well as the disasters that rivet our attention.

Today’s situation, while analogous to points along the way to those historical disasters, has significant differences. The courts have struck down a number of Trump’s initiatives, most recently Trump’s reversal of a moratorium from the Obama administration on federal coal leasing. According to the Mueller report, members of the administration have slowed or thwarted actions Trump desired. Voters mobilized sufficiently in November 2018 to turn the House of Representatives Democratic. The system is partly holding.

With the Mueller report, the press seems to be turning from its reflexive “both sides do it” and the overwhelming desire to see Trump become a “normal” president. It’s not clear whether this change in direction will last.

Trump is far from giving up. He has shown extreme persistence in trying to find a way to build a wall along America’s southern border, legal or not. As French Ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, said

[Trump] once criticized the French president [Emmanuel Macron], and people called me from Paris to say, “What should we do?” My answer was clear: “Nothing.” Do nothing because he will always outbid you. Because he can’t accept appearing to lose. You have restraint on your side, and he has no restraint on his side, so you lose. It is escalation dominance.

Trump and his minions are now touting the Mueller report as a success for them. How far that fiction will go is not clear.

A segment of the population will continue to support Trump no matter what; they will see information unfavorable to him as a test of faith. Another segment has been strongly opposed to him since he began his presidential campaign. A middle segment that supported him may have reservations about his behavior in office that are now reinforced by the Mueller report. Elected Republicans are totally committed to him or have felt that they need to support him to avoid primary challenges.

Most analyses of the possibility of impeachment look at those divisions and commonplace sentiments about how voters are likely to behave. There is no reason to believe that any of that basis is lasting. It is very early for polls, but an Ipsos-Reuters poll shows a decrease in Trump’s support. The Mueller report is wide-ranging over Trump’s malfeasance. It will continue to make news, which is likely to continue to erode his support. Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins have expressed concern about Trump’s behavior. Yes, they have expressed concern before in empty ways. Let’s see how this goes.

My point is that a static analysis of impeachment is a mistake. Opinions will change as investigations continue in the House of Representatives. Trump will likely become more incoherent and unhinged in his tweets, which even many of his fans express doubts about. Opinions will change.

We don’t know the direction of that change, of course, but I suspect it would be largely against Trump. It’s possible there would be a reaction in his favor, although that seems unlikely as more of his malfeasance is revealed. There will be little change if things continue as they are. But if we are to stop the descent into fascism, we must change direction.

 








The Coming Information War

The Mueller investigation was primarily into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Much of the discussion in the report about that interference is redacted.

We can expect the same in the runup to the 2020 election. That means starting now.

What Russia is doing cannot entirely be dealt with by those in political power (those who want to, anyway) or those in network power (same). And it’s not just Russia, it’s China, North Korea, Iran, and some 400-pound dude in his mother’s basement. We all have to be responsible consumers and distributors of information on the internet.

This is going to be one of my themes. Today I found a particularly good Twitter thread, which I’ll put into a more narrative form. The thread has gifs that I won’t drag in, so if you like that sort of thing, check out the link.

1/ Finished Reading the . I want to highlight 3 things in the report and how they relate to the IRA (Senate data set) investigation that I was part of last year:

2/ #1 In the “Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” report, it was important to me to focus on the *infiltration of movements & activation of Americans* who were identified and targeted. The Mueller report does that as well, noting repeated outreach via Messenger.

3/ From both far-left/far-right press there’s been an ongoing “haha it was just some stupid memes” line.

No.

The IRA went far beyond what a “social media agency” does. It leveraged techniques used by intelligence pros to target Americans, develop trust, get ppl to take action.

4/ When we think about how disinformation will spread in 2020, this kind of engagement with real, aligned Americans will likely be a big part of it. It’s hard to identify this kind of activity.

7/ There were dozens of formal FB Events but they also occasionally put random event promos into Insta posts. There were tons of community events promoted on Black-community targeted FB pages. Instigating in-the-street action is another thing I would expect more of for 2020;

8/The Mueller report did a great job describing how the IRA prioritized getting people out into the street, carefully monitored results, had ppl take photos, etc. That’s bc it’s an important part of their operation. News coverage + incendiary images lead to emotional engagement.

9/ Point #3: Influencer manipulation. This is another tactic we wrote ab in the Tactics & Tropes report. Many Trump campaign accounts retweeted IRA sockpuppets. Not mentioned in the Mueller report: the celebrity accounts, journalists, etc that also retweeted this stuff.

14/There are still ppl who don’t believe Russia did anything, or can’t separate “interference” from “collusion”; maybe the will help them accept that the GRU hacks & IRA influence op really happened.

They did.

And whatever party you are, that should make you mad

15/ Thanks for reading this thread that was actually very short compared to other threads. 420.








Team Broken Glass (Open Thread)

It’s safe to say the vast majority of folks who comment on this site aren’t big fans of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I’m not either. During the 2016 campaign, I went from believing his candidacy would be a welcome opportunity to emphasize important issues like wealth inequality and the out-sized influence of wealthy donors on politics to wishing he’d shut the fuck up and concede the race already to blaming him in part for fracturing the party and contributing to Clinton’s defeat.

That said, if — dog forbid! — Sanders wins the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, hell yes I’ll vote for him. I would not only crawl over broken glass to do so, I’d swim through sewer pipes, climb a mountain of toxic waste, rappel down a cliff face made of rat shit and THEN crawl over broken glass to vote for Sanders.

Why? Here’s one reason: Trump was tacky and ghoulish enough to announce to cronies that he is “saving” a far-right religious nut judge named Amy Coney Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.

Now, I hope that when Trump finally drops dead, Ginsburg attends his funeral wearing a red dress and a mysterious smile and then goes on to live for a thousand more years. But the fact is, we’ll be lucky to hold Trump’s SCOTUS picks to the two disasters he’s already placed on the court. Whoever wins in 2020 will probably get to choose at least one and possibly two.

In 2020, I hope to Christ it doesn’t come down to a choice between Trump or Sanders, but there’s a non-zero chance it will. Sanders, for all his myriad faults, wouldn’t appoint a Gorsuch, Kavanaugh or Barrett to the SCOTUS. Trump has/would. So yeah, Team Broken Glass. Any questions?








Splitters! (Open Thread)

A new Atlantic piece lays out Bernie Sanders’ 2020 strategy, and guess what, you guys? We were right — it is about splitting the party in hopes of hanging onto the largest chunk:

The 2020 Race Is Going Just Like Bernie Sanders Wanted
The Vermont senator is starting to think he will not only win the Democratic nomination, but beat Trump and become president.

“There’s a three out of four chance we are not the nominee,” Faiz Shakir, the current campaign manager, said he tells the senator, “but that one in four chance is better than anyone else in the field.”

The Vermont senator’s pitch is a mix of idealism and a shouting anger about the system, but at its heart is a hard-nosed math: he’s the only candidate with a sizable chunk of the electorate that won’t waver, no matter what, so a field that keeps growing and splitting support keeps making it easier.

He’s counting on winning Iowa and New Hampshire, where he was already surprisingly strong in 2016, and hoping that Cory Booker and Kamala Harris will split the black electorate in South Carolina give him a path to slip through there, too. And then, they believe, they’ll easily win enough delegates to get him into contention at the convention. They say they don’t need him to get more than 30 percent to make that happen.

So he’s eagerly gotten into fights, like one over the weekend with the Center for American Progress over a video produced by an affiliated website speciously accusing him of profiting off his 2016 run, and then he’s fundraised by citing the fights as evidence of the resistance to the revolution he’s promising.

So, how does Sanders propose to reunite the Democratic electorate after fracturing it? Easy peasy!

Doubters suspect a Sanders nomination could be the one sure way to give Trump a second term, but Sanders’s thinking is that he could get the same Democratic and anti-Trump votes as other nominee, plus all the people who would only vote for him.

Now, I’m Team Broken Glass, but I’m unclear on how waging a scorched earth primary results in Democratic voters resetting their default to “generic Dem” after the race is wrapped up. (See 2016, presidential election of.) There’s a breathtaking arrogance in that assumption, but hey, it explains the lack of outreach to non-Sanders supporters in the party, otherwise known as “the majority of registered Democrats.”