The Guardian on Russian Trolls

It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

Quite so:

To maximise the likelihood of your efforts making a difference, we’ve zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won Clark County by 1% – equivalent to 324 votes – but George Bush won the state as a whole by just four percentage points. This time round, Ohio is one of the most crucial swing states: Kerry and Bush have been campaigning there tire lessly – they’ve visited Clark County itself – and the most recent Ohio poll shows, once again, a 1% difference between the two of them. The voters we will target in our letter-writing initiative are all Clark County residents, and they are all registered independents, which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.

There’s a massive amusement here

Thirteen Russians have been criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 US election to help Donald Trump, the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced on Friday.

Mueller’s office said 13 Russians and three Russian entities, including the notorious state-backed “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency, had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC.

A 37-page indictment alleged that the Russians’ operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” his Democratic opponent.

That being this:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 3— As President Clinton and President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia began their first summit meeting today, Mr. Clinton presented the Russian leader with some $1 billion in American aid programs intended to support Russian democrats and spur the Western allies to make Russian reform their top foreign policy priority.

Among the new or expanded programs in the package were loan guarantees to build apartments for demobilized Russian soldiers; loans for Russian entrepreneurs; medical supplies, food and grain assistance; funds to help the Russian Government sell state-owned industries, and technical advisers to help repair pipelines and oil wells and begin exporting again.

Mr. Clinton said the package was intended to help promote free-market skills on a grass-roots level in both Moscow and the Russian countryside, so the movement toward democratic reform would continue no matter who governs in the Kremlin.

Clinton, B, intervened massively (and correctly but still….) in Russian politics. If Yeltsin hadn’t won then Putin wouldn’t be there now. Putin intervened and the allegation – among the more screaming nutjobs at least, the report and indictment don’t claim it at all – that thus Clinton, H, lost.

Why is it OK for us and not for them? And, B and H, isn’t it amusing?

Hurrah! Dawn Foster finally tells it like it is!

One can try to understand, perhaps, the thrill of being part of an invisible network and recipient of wordless acknowledgment, but it’s also important to understand that this is how power is perpetuated. Equality legislation, and audits on gender pay gaps, ethnicity and disability, – within companies and public authorities – all aim to stamp out the informal transfer of power through social networks, in favour of appointment through genuine merit. But how can that happen if favours are dispensed behind closed doors, or even when there is the lingering belief that unseen processes give people we cannot identify an advantage. It certainly can’t happen when only specific groups can benefit. The council official who called knew very well I wasn’t a Screaming Trot. Being both female and Catholic, my entry would be unlikely. While a small handful of groupuscules outside the main organisation now admit women, my Catholicism would also be seen by most as pretty much incompatible with shooting all the bourgeoisie.

It is, of course, questionable in a free society whether it is right to dictate to individuals with whom they can associate. Some association with criminal intent is proscribed by law and punishable by the courts, but in all other cases people are free to choose. That said, it is well within the rights of society to shape the nature of the decisions people freely make. If Marxists won’t be completely open about their membership, should we not say that in all cases membership is incompatible with public service? Asking public servants to either confirm they are not a member of a revgolutionary organisation or to be open when they are won’t fully excise the backroom deals or the stench of privilege. The Labour Party has attempted for many years to impose such a stricture, with apparently limited effect. Still, it would signal intent.

And we have ample reason to be suspicious. Chumminess, social connection, camaraderie: all of these are in good supply at sports and dining clubs with doors on the high street and windows that peer out on to the 21st century. Momentum, tell me this: if you truly huddle in secret to no malign end and with no professed benefit unavailable elsewhere, what is the point?

Vote Jacob/Boris

Leading pro-Europe Tory Anna Soubry has threatened to quit the party and form a new political alliance because of Brexit.

The former minister has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to “stand up to” arch Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg and “slung ’em out”.

She told BBC2’s Newsnight: “If it comes to it, I am not going to stay in a party which has been taken over by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.

“They are not proper Conservatives.”

It’s a better reason than many.

What, you mean like getting elected, fair and square?

This malady matters because it’s a symptom of normalisation, the urge to pretend Trump operates within the usual democratic boundaries when in fact he represents an alarming break from the norms that make liberal democracy possible.

Although, to be fair, there might be a lot of weight being put upon the word “liberal” there. Which is being used to mean “democracy I like.”

What does this actually mean?

The Labour party is committed to tackling the scourge of low-paid jobs, raising the minimum wage to a true living wage of £10 per hour and creating over a million good jobs. With our shadow secretary of state Rebecca Long-Bailey, I’m developing and championing Labour’s challenge-led, mission-oriented and values-driven industrial strategy that will create a high-skill, high-wage, high-productivity economy.

Difficult to work out really:

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Give me all your money?

Full of wind and vinegar, signifying nothing

After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 48 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster.

Mr Schumer fought back, blaming the president for leading him to believe a deal was possible on a measure to prevent the expulsion of undocumented migrants who arrived in the country as children.

“Every American knows the Republican Party controls White House, the Senate, the House – it is their job to keep the government open. It is their job to work with us to move forward,” Mr Schumer told the Senate.

“They control every ounce of the process and it is their responsibility to govern and here they have failed,” he declared.

Well, if you need 60 votes in the Senate then you don’t control it all, do you?

Importing Ancient Greek democratic practices

By borrowing from the practice around which ancient Athens founded democracy – the involvement of ordinary citizens deliberating among their peers – we could transform Britain’s slow-motion agony into a triumph in which democracy was renewed to embody not just the will of the people, but the safer, more practical and generous notion of their considered will.

We’ll trade. You can have citizen juries if we also adopt another old practice. Anyone proposing a law which doesn’t then get passed is strangled on the floor of the debating chamber. Straight away.

Err, isn’t this the point?

Labour has been “completely taken over by a leftist clique”, one of the party’s most famous supporters has said, after the woman in charge of handling complaints was ousted and replaced by a controversial Jeremy Corbyn loyalist.

It’s a political party. Isn’t the point and purpose to be a leftist clique?

Greater love hath no man than to lay down his girlfriend for his career

Ukip leader Henry Bolton has ended his relationship with Jo Marney after it was reported she made racist remarks about Meghan Markle, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The leader of Ukip had been told to choose between his job and his new girlfriend after it emerged that she sent graphic messages referencing the sexual abuse of babies in an argument with a friend.

Robert Reich’s demand

But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.

And he’s still conning many of them.

Political conning is Trump’s genius. This genius – combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – poses a clear and present danger to America and the world.

The 25th Amendment must be invoked before it’s too late.

Bloke Reich doesn’t like wins election. Therefore:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

So much for democracy, eh?

He’s got a point here

There has been international outcry after reports that Donald Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries” in a meeting with US lawmakers on Thursday.

Some places are shitholes, others aren’t. Quite why this is causing so much pearl clutching is unknown.

Well, this is waking up even if not woke

This “externalisation” of the far right was at its height during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Trump was portrayed as a political anomaly who had hijacked the Republican party. Conservatives and mainstream Republicans argued that he didn’t really represent what was at heart a moderate conservative party. They found much support among liberals, most notably Hillary Clinton, who focused much of her campaign on “moderate Republicans”.

However, for years surveys have shown that strong authoritarian, nativist and populist positions command pluralities, if not majorities, among Republican supporters. Positions on crime, immigration and Islam have hardened rather than weakened, while conspiracy theories that were at the fringes of the militia movement in the 1990s are now widespread.

Baby steps now, baby steps. But we do at least seem to have an admission that some large portion (a plurality of those who vote perhaps, this time at least) aren’t signed on to the Progressive ideal of America. At which point an interesting thought. Will that commitment* to democracy mean the vision changes? Or will the proles be told to shut up and get on with it?

*to ask this is to answer it really, isn’t it?

Scary is for Halloween, not these holidays

Jeremy Corbyn believes he will “probably” be Prime Minister within the next year, after failing to achieve his previous ambition of being in Number 10 before Christmas.

Commenting on his belief that there will be another election in the next 12 months, Mr Corbyn said: “I will probably win. I’m ready to be prime minister tomorrow.”

I’m tempted to say go for it. There’d be no cure for Teenage Trotism better then their actually having a go, would there?