Daily Bread for 10.13.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a high of sixty-five, and a probability of afternoon showers. Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 6:14 PM, for 11h 07m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 38.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred thirty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Today is the two hundred forty-second birthday, from 1775, of the United States Navy (initially the Continental Navy). On this day in 1862, the Wisconsin Minute Men muster in: “Company B of the 28th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment was mustered into service by Captain J. M. Trowbridge. Known as the “Waukesha Minute Men,” this company was part of the 28th Regiment, recruited during the summer of 1862 in Waukesha and Walworth Counties and organized at Camp Washburn in Milwaukee under the command of Colonel James M. Lewis of Oconomowoc. They spent the next nine weeks training at Camp Washburn before heading south on December 20, 1862.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Josh Barro writes Trump has been lying a lot about his ‘small business’ tax cut:

President Donald Trump pitched his tax plan on Wednesday in front of a crowd of truckers. He wanted them to know his business tax cuts aren’t just for rich people — benefits would also flow to regular Americans, including truckers.

“The more than 30 million Americans who have small businesses will see — listen to this — a 40% cut in their marginal tax rate,” he said. “Forty percent.”

This was a lie.

Under Trump’s plan, only 1.8% of small-business owners — about 670,000 people, all with family incomes over $400,000 — would enjoy this 40% tax cut….

Denise Clifton reports Twitter Bots Distorted the 2016 Election—Including Many Likely From Russia (“1 in 5 election-related tweets weren’t from real people, research shows”):

The day Donald Trump was elected president, nearly 2,000 Twitter accounts that had pumped out pro-Trump messages in the run-up to the vote suddenly went dark. Then, in spring 2017, these bot-controlled accounts reemerged to campaign en français for Marine Le Pen in the French election, and then once again this fall, to tweet auf Deutsch on behalf of the far-right party in Germany’s election.

The bots were part of a larger group tracked over a month-long period before the US election by University of Southern California researchers, who discovered that bots were deeply entwined in political conversation on Twitter—accounting for 1 in 5 election-related tweets. And the bots were just as effective at spreading messages as human-controlled accounts were, says USC professor and lead researcher Emilio Ferrara, who has studied the influence of bot networks since 2012. “Botnets accrued retweets at the same rate as humans,” he says of the pre-election activity. His most recent research explores how bots are particularly effective at getting a message to go viral among authentic human users.

Ferrara has found that up to 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are run by automated bots. He focuses on understanding bots’ effectiveness, though he doesn’t track their provenance. But researchers for the cybersecurity firm FireEye told the New York Times recently they had determined that possibly thousands of Twitter accounts that campaigned against Hillary Clinton likely were controlled by Russian interests, including many automated by bots….

Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin report Facebook takes down data and thousands of posts, obscuring reach of Russian disinformation:

Social media analyst Jonathan Albright got a call from Facebook the day after he published research last week showing that the reach of the Russian disinformation campaign was almost certainly larger than the company had disclosed. While the company had said 10 million people read Russian-bought ads, Albright had data suggesting that the audience was at least double that — and maybe much more — if ordinary free Facebook posts were measured as well.

Albright welcomed the chat with three company officials. But he was not pleased to discover that they had done more than talk about their concerns regarding his research. They also had scrubbed from the Internet nearly everything — thousands of Facebook posts and the related data — that had made the work possible.

Never again would he or any other researcher be able to run the kind of analysis he had done just days earlier….

Trevor Timm contends Trump’s threats amount to a First Amendment violation:

Many have commented on the First Amendment implications if Trump were to actually go after NBC’s license (or really, the licenses of local affiliates since NBC itself doesn’t need a license) or the NFL’s tax status. But Trump need not act on his threats for his actions to be considered a First Amendment violation. There’s a compelling argument Trump is in violation of Constitution right now—after he crossed the line from criticism of protected speech to openly threatening government action.

There’s plenty of case law on this subject from the Supreme Court to appeals courts around the country. Most recently, in a case in the Seventh Circuit called BackPage LLC vs. Thomas Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, just-retired Judge Richard Posner articulated exactly why Trump may already be running afoul of the First Amendment merely through his threats.

In Backpage, Dart embarked on a one-man campaign to get Visa and Mastercard to cut off credit card donations to Backpage.com because of its adult section. Instead of prosecuting Backpage for any specific violation, he sent letters pressuring the credit card companies to cut off any payments to Backpage.com for any reason, since some of the Backpage ads, as Posner wrote, “might be for illegal sex-related products or services.”

Posner, citing several decades of case law, made it clear that if the Sheriff can’t sue or prosecute Backpage for legitimate violations of the law, he can’t then turn around and use his power as a government official to make threatening statements in an attempt to censor them in other ways:

a public official who tries to shut down an avenue of expression of ideas and opinions through “actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction” is violating the First Amendment. American Family Association, Inc. v. City & County of San Francisco, 277 F.3d 1114, 1125 (9th Cir. 2002).

When Trump veers into actual threats of government action for speech he doesn’t like, he is arguably crossing that same line that the Seventh Circuit, and the Supreme Court before it, has condemned.

Tech Insider explains porgs from Star Wars: The Last Jedi:

2 thoughts on “Daily Bread for 10.13.17

  1. As I rant, the leader of the free world is addressing the Values Voters Summit. Here is a bit of soothing music to go with that nybble of info:

    https://hamellontrial.bandcamp.com/track/values

    (Ed Hamell is an artist of unquestioned acerbity. The song was written for Bush, the younger, but has even greater “value” today).

    The voters of the Values Voters Summit certainly have values, and, by inviting Trump, those values have now had their hoods torn off. Values Voters are just another white-resentment hate group. Trump is perfectly aligned with them. They put him into office and now are celebrating his destroying the fabric of our democracy. Some values, eh??

    Trump is now pissing on the ashes of the once-proud party that he has burned to the ground. The R-Team thought that they had dodged the “Repeal/Replace” bullet, but Trump has now made it sure to be right out front for the next election. Trump is transparently trashing a program supported by 80% of the population, including a majority of Republicans. That is not a way to build an enduring majority.

    Trump has devolved into a caricature of a pluperfect asshole. Da Vinci could not have designed a more exquisite asshole, even if assisted by Computer Aided Design. Trump is a classic angry old white man suffering from mid-stage Alzheimer’s. In the middle of his crowning achievement of signing the ACA destruction, he wandered off without actually signing the order. Pence had to chase him down to remind him that a signing statement has to have a signature in order to be a “statement”.

    Trump is operating on muscle memory, at this point. He lives in a fantasy world where every assertion that he makes is, by definition, a fact. He lies full-time, and then contradicts those lies with additional lies within minutes. It’s un-nerving to watch. Trump is clearly not in touch with any conventional reality. He also has all of the social awareness of a tantrum-throwing two-year-old. He simply does not give a shit about anyone besides himself.

    How long will Yertle and the Wisco-Kid continue to enable this madness? They have the key to fixing the problem. Are they too scared by the vandals of Bannon’s army? Does their reverence for their lord and be-grizzled graven image, Grover Norquist, block any semblance of responsible governing? When, and how, does this shit end?

    We are at a political point of inflection for our country. There is a roiling in the bowls of the USA. How this sorts out is in serious question, but the country will never be the same again.

    1. Describing Trump as pluperfect in any regard is very funny. Yes, regarding all the most undesirable traits and actions, he’s pluperfect.

      The Values Voters Summit, at which Trump insists he’s protecting the Judeo-Christian tradition, illustrates nicely the dishonesty of Trump’s core support: Trump is patently irreligious (in ways big and small, going far beyond his personal conduct), but then anyone supporting him at this point must see that, too. There’s a genuine theological (and philosophical) question about whether evil can be used for a good purpose, but there’s neither serious theology nor serious philosophy in either Trump’s claims or those of supporters on his behalf.

      I’ve been reading, today, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s First White President, and Coates properly removes economic defenses from Trumpism, leaving only properly what’s left:

      Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.

      (It’s worth nothing that I do not support Coates’s longstanding advocacy for reparations; disagreement there doesn’t negate agreement on the role of race as a pro-Trump motivation among attendees at something like the VVS. They know what he is; it variously pleases them or leaves them insufficient displeasure.)

      Obamacare – they can’t let go of it. The GOP: a fanatical, gerrymandered party, with Fox, Sinclair, Brietbart, RT, and Sputnik as propaganda organs. There are improvements that could be made; they’ll make none of them. It’s ruin that excites them, in itself and for the redistribution of spending to their favored, fat constituencies.

      It’s better if they go, and however hard the struggle, go they will.

      One measures the strength of a position by whether one would trade it for a competing one. These overfed and underthinking notables of the GOP maintain power today only until tomorrow’s inevitable ruin. I’d not take anything they have now, anything they could now offer; they’ll lose all that soon (although not soon enough).

      Ryan would have been better off never holding power, McConnell would have been better off never holding power, than to meet inevitable political ruin and lasting ignominy.

      No, America won’t be the same. After Trumpism is properly ruined, we’ll need – and so will have – a long period of a third reconstruction, to assure – as much as one can assure – an enduring defeat of that degrading ideology.

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