One of the most telling and interesting threads of the Cambridge Analytica story is something that gets mentioned in most of the big pieces but is seldom a focus of attention. Most of the algorthms, techniques and strategies the company eventually deployed against the UK and the US were first used for elections operations in developing countries, what we once called the Third World. The reason is key: these countries had far less legal and technical infrastructure to defend themselves against these kinds of attacks. It was basically anything goes. And if someone got upset it didn’t matter all that much since these countries are off the main arteries of global news flows and have little capacity to uncover or hold to account a shadowy British company which is actually a subsidiary of a company wedded to the British defense establishment.
It looks like Scott Walker doesn’t have a ton of confidence in the GOP’s ability to win elections in the Trump era.
On Thursday a court ruled that Walker has to hold two special elections, which he was trying to avoid doing. Now, Allegra Kirkland reports, Walker is working with the Republican state legislature to change state law governing special elections, rendering the court ruling moot. In other words, he’s changing the law to avoid holding elections he’s afraid the GOP might lose.
Democrats are calling the move a “clear attack on democracy.” Hard to argue with that.
“I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count.”
That’s what John Bolton reportedly said as he entered a room in Tallahassee, Fla. in December 2000 where election workers were re-counting the votes from the recent presidential election.
A week of escalating news out of the Mueller probe is colliding with President Trump’s increasingly rapid moves to spark trade wars in Asia and Europe and most importantly with a foreign policy shake up the results of which very seriously threaten hot wars in both Korea and Iran. As James Fallows put it, the President’s new top advisors on the economy and national security mark a move from people who are at least plausible top appointees in their fields of expertise to true Fox News rule.
Good morning; happy Friday. Here’s what our writers and editors have their eyes on today.
I have thought for some time that Facebook is essentially a bad actor in the tech and platform spaces. There aren’t good companies and bad companies of course. All the tech behemoths play in the space that has now landed Facebook in so much trouble. In some ways, Google does even more, certainly when it comes to collecting, mining and monetizing almost limitless amounts of personal information, largely for the purposes of targeting advertising. But Facebook has again and again shown a more nefarious side – it shows up in the indifferent manner in which they deal with people’s personal information. It shows up in the very different realm of how they deal with business partners – creating whole business ecosystems and then pulling the rug from under them when it suits their purposes. There are lots of problems with Google, which I’ve discussed. But they don’t act like that. Not like Facebook.
So on Wednesday, TPM’s Allegra Kirkland received a tip from a Federal Election Commission staffer: Buried in a recently published FEC rule-making document about requiring online ads to disclose who’s behind them, said the staffer, is an “Easter egg.”
Allegra was getting the tip, the staffer said, because she was the only reporter who correctly noted that the FEC’s recent disclosure that it’ll start looking into whether the NRA received Russian money to help Trump was little more than a standard step in response to a complaint, not a full-blown investigation.
This is a unique and unorthodox post going out to a single reader, Barbara A., who’s written a number of emails over the last few weeks about the podcast and now the Editors’ Blog. Barbara, you’re writing from a dead or misconfigured email address. So all my replies bounce back. (Seems to be a misconfigured MS outlook app. TMI, I know.)
I try to respond personally to as many emails as I can, though inevitably a small minority of the emails we now get. But for everyone please be sure you’re writing from an email which is properly configured with a reply address. In some cases the issue may be a disconnect between your app and clicking one of our email links. In that case, type in our email manually: talk (at) talkingpointsmemo dot com.
President Trump’s lead personal attorney in the Russia probe has quit the case, according to reports. John Dowd’s decision comes shortly after Trump added former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova to his legal team.
As we reported Wednesday, Pennsylvania Republicans have taken the remarkable step of introducing a measure to impeach four of the state Supreme Court’s seven judges. The judges, all Democrats, had angered GOP lawmakers by striking down an extreme gerrymander that favored their party and ordering that it be replaced with a fairer map.
But it’s worth noting that it’s not just in the Keystone State where lawmakers, almost always Republicans, are trying to manipulate state courts in order to make it easier to advance their political goals. The most egregious case is in North Carolina, where the GOP legislature conducted a sweeping overhaul of the state court system after judges blocked parts of their conservative agenda. Among other steps, lawmakers drew new state judicial districts in an effort to boost the number of Republicans on lower courts, and cut the number of seats on the state Court of Appeals so that the Democratic governor couldn’t fill an open seat.
Good morning. Here’s what our writers and editors have their eyes on today.