…full disclosure [DOT 17/5/22]

it's a legal thing...allegedly...

…here’s a thing

Campaign watchdogs complain that the practice further blurs the lines meant to keep big-money interests from influencing people running for office, effectively evading the strict donation limits imposed on federal candidates. And while the tactic is not new to 2022, it is becoming so widespread that a New York Times survey of candidate websites found at least 19 Democrats deploying some version of a red box in four of the states holding contested congressional primaries on Tuesday.

The practice is both brazen and breathtakingly simple. To work around the prohibition on directly coordinating with super PACs, candidates are posting their instructions to them inside the red boxes on public pages that super PACs continuously monitor.

The boxes highlight the aspects of candidates’ biographies that they want amplified and the skeletons in their opponents’ closets that they want exposed. Then, they add instructions that can be extremely detailed: Steering advertising spending to particular cities or counties, asking for different types of advertising and even slicing who should be targeted by age, gender and ethnicity.

…I’m not saying that doesn’t seem a little questionable…I don’t love the overlap between electoral outcomes & large amounts of money sourced from interests that arguably have an oversized sway with the politicians involved in ways that don’t work out great for the rest of us…but…this whole article is weird to me

Red-boxing spans the ideological spectrum of the Democratic Party, from Blue Dog Democrats like Mr. Schrader to progressives like his challenger and Ms. Cisneros, who has the backing of the Working Families Party and Justice Democrats as she tries to unseat Representative Henry Cuellar.

It is not clear why Democratic candidates have so thoroughly embraced the red box tactic in primaries while Republicans have not. Republicans work hand in glove with their super PACs, too, but in different ways.

…am I seriously expected to accept that the overlap between super PAC money & the democrats is problematic in a way that isn’t so much reflected on the other side of the aisle as it is dwarfed?

In 2014, some Republican groups tried using anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data through coded tweets. More recently, J.D. Vance outsourced some of his Ohio Senate campaign’s most basic operations. His allied super PAC, funded by $15 million from the Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, posted troves of internal and polling data on an unpublicized Medium page that campaign officials used to guide decisions.

…did I just imagine all that shit from back when cambridge analytica was the talk of the town?

Money, denials and stalling: How Trump, the Mercers and the GOP beat the FEC [CNBC]

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions [NYT]

Leaked: Cambridge Analytica’s blueprint for Trump victory [Guardian]

…because in that context I can’t help but feel that a campaign whose communications with its super PAC support is relegated to small blocks of text published in public places is using the equivalent of smoke signals when its opponents are communicating over fibre-optic cable in terms of throughput & bandwidth…unless, I dunno…that’s just me?

The Vance super PAC was so central to the campaign that when Mr. Vance walked onstage at a rally with Donald J. Trump, the cameraman filming him from behind worked for the super PAC, not the Vance campaign.

…huh…that’s odd…seems like a pretty advanced degree of coordination there…arguably more than you’d manage through the whole text-box approach this article is about…might we be acknowledging that the thing being complained about is small beer in context?

Adav Noti, the legal director of the watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center, said that red boxes were erasing the very barriers that were erected to make politicians feel less indebted to their biggest financial benefactors. Federal candidates can legally raise only $2,900 for a primary per donor; super PACs can receive donations of $1 million — or even more.

“It’s a joke,” he said. “The coordination of super PACs and candidates is the primary mechanism for corruption of federal campaigns in 2022.”

…uh huh…sure…ok…I’ll buy that…but again, doesn’t that seem like a whole article about the unacceptable line-crossing involved with this text box thing is the proverbial molehill when compared to the mountainous examples of worse practices on the other side of the political divide?

Red boxes are typically hidden in plain sight in “Media Center” or “Media Resources” sections of campaign websites that operatives know how to find, and often use thinly veiled terms to convey their instructions: Saying voters need to “hear” something is a request for radio ads, “see” means television, “read” means direct mail, and “see while on the go” usually means digital ads.
End runs around campaign limits are themselves nothing new: For years, candidates have posted flattering pictures and videos of themselves for super PACs to download and use. But the explosion of red boxes and their unabashed specificity is the latest example of how America’s system of financing political campaigns — and the restrictions put in place to curb the power of the wealthy in the wake of Watergate a half-century ago — is teetering toward collapse.

…yeah…the whole thing is a clusterfuck of somewhat epic proportions…so…why are we sticking to this text-box business for a whole damn article?

While political reformers question the legality of these wink-and-nod arrangements, past complaints to the Federal Election Commission about illegal coordination involving public materials posted online have mostly gone nowhere. A complaint about a top adviser to Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 campaign tweeting a request for specific television ads, which a super PAC then produced, was recently dismissed.

…oh…so now we’re expanding things to twitter…wonder what kind of thing GOP folks have done on twitter that might qualify as coordination with groups of supporters that don’t play by electoral rules…if only there were a massive elephant in the room…like…I dunno…that time a sitting president much associated with twitter mobs directed a crowd of violent insurrectionists (some of the more extreme elements of which were in close communication with people from the top of that alleged administration all the way down to the members of congress who hosted some of them on tours of the very capitol building they subsequently stormed) in hopes of derailing the result of an election their side lost…that seems like it might be relevant to this

The commission has given wide leeway to “publicly available internet materials,” saying they do not constitute illegal coordination. The lax enforcement has emboldened candidates and parties to publish more and more specific instructions.

In the House, both political parties have entire websites that are the equivalent of red boxes, with searchable databases of guidance for races across the country that will be updated by the fall. The National Republican Congressional Committee posts at democratfacts.org; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee uses dccc.org/races.

…huh…so we’re skipping the whole jan 6th thing, then…& that was it for twitter…& we needn’t even mention the unpresidented ways of the multiply-impeached ex-incumbent serially-bankrupt son of a bitch at all…that’s…a curious choice?

Red boxes aren’t static. Candidates update their messaging guidance, essentially scripting super PAC ads for different stages of the campaign.

…yup…we’re still acting like these are the crux of the issue…& you’re probably wondering why I bothered wasting your time with that crap…well…here’s the thing…one of the reasons this is late this morning is because I ran into that under this headline “The Little Red Boxes Making a Mockery of Campaign Finance Laws“…on a day when I’d also been reading a whole bunch of stuff about this little effort by the supreme court that’s looking to strike down roe v. wade

The Supreme Court split along ideological lines in striking another campaign finance restriction Monday, agreeing with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s challenge to federal limits on the use of post-election contributions to repay a candidate’s loan to his campaign.

It was the latest Supreme Court decision to knock out a part of the landmark 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act — popularly known as the McCain-Feingold Act — and reemphasized the court’s view that many restrictions on campaign finance are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s protection of political speech.

“The government has not shown that [the law] furthers a permissible anticorruption goal, rather than the impermissible objective of simply limiting the amount of money in politics,” wrote Roberts, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

…& frankly that thing about the text boxes seemed like such a studious attempt to miss the fucking point as thoroughly as possible that once my head stopped spinning at the sheer incongruity I was almost grudgingly impressed by the doggedness required to pull it off

The result was expected after arguments in the case brought by Cruz (Tex.), and Roberts said it was simply a logical progression in cases including one of its most controversial, Citizens United v. FEC.

“This Court has recognized only one permissible ground for restricting political speech: the prevention of ‘quid pro quo’ corruption or its appearance,” Roberts wrote, “We have consistently rejected attempts to restrict campaign speech based on other legislative aims.”

For example, “we have denied attempts to reduce the amount of money in politics … to level electoral opportunities by equalizing candidate resources … and to limit the general influence a contributor may have over an elected official,” he wrote. “However well intentioned such proposals may be, the First Amendment — as this Court has repeatedly emphasized — prohibits such attempts to tamper with the ‘right of citizens to choose who shall govern them.’ ” The quote is from one of the previous cases.

…maybe if I’d had more coffee this wouldn’t be aggravating me in quite the same way…but…”oh, look – here’s some little text boxes these democrats are using to flag things for super PACs to pay attention to…let’s talk about that like it’s a big fucking deal” while the chief justice of the supreme fucking court is busy saying “look, we’re very clear that money in industrial quantities is in fact protected speech that’s entirely compatible with funneling that shit directly to politicans…in fact the only possible way we’d change our minds about that would be if there were a corrupt quid pro quo involved…or the appearance of one…but in case you think that might mean we’d know one of those if it was right in front of us we’d like to make clear that campaign funds funneled directly into the pockets of candidates totally isn’t like that at all & only a fool or a communist would think otherwise”…&…I dunno…it’s kind of put me in a shitty mood, I guess?

“All the money does is enrich the candidate personally at a time when he can return the favor — by a vote, a contract, an appointment,” [Kagan] wrote in an dissent joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

“It takes no political genius to see the heightened risk of corruption — the danger of ‘I’ll make you richer and you’ll make me richer’ arrangements between donors and officeholders,” she continued.

…so…seems like there’s a good chance I’m not the only one who’s plenty pissed at the way roberts et al are taking the absolute piss…but…to belabor this point some more…apparently the big problem exposed by those text boxes that are supposedly making a mockery of campaign finance laws is all about illegitimate co-ordination

The case involved a somewhat obscure portion of the McCain-Feingold Act, named after Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)

It caps at $250,000 the amount federal candidates can raise and use after an election to repay personal loans. Cruz, in his 2018 Senate reelection campaign against Democrat Beto O’Rourke that Roberts noted was the most expensive in history, lent his campaign $260,000 the day before the general election.

…wait…so…let me get this straight…a day before the polls he voluntarily lent a sum in excess of anything he could expect to legally recoup…hmmm…why would he do something like that, do you suppose?

The government tried to have the case thrown out, saying Cruz’s injury was “self-inflicted”; he chose the amount to exceed the limits for a test case. And his campaign had on hand $2.2 million raised before the election that could have been used to fully repay the loan.

…I mean, they wouldn’t even have needed to rush to the bank if he hadn’t waited until the 11th hour to make the loan in the first place…so…as arguments go…that sounds like a slam dunk…unless…you happen to be fishing for just such a test case, I suppose

But a panel of judges that heard the suit unanimously disagreed. The flaw in the government’s argument, they said, is that “it would require Senator Cruz to avoid an injury by subjecting himself to the very framework he alleges is unconstitutional.”

Loans are an important way to “jump-start” a campaign, especially important to those who challenge incumbents, he said. He noted that the limits on the contributions to candidates post-election are the same as pre-election, and thus carry no particularly corrosive effect. He criticized the law’s “need for prophylaxis-upon-prophylaxis.”

…you know…like that voting rights act stuff…or the consent decree style injunctions against blatant voter suppression with an overwhelmingly racist motivation…voters don’t need protection…not like political candidates need money…let’s not go getting things out of proportion here

Roberts said the government was “unable to identify a single case of quid pro quo corruption in this context — even though most States do not impose a limit on the use of post-election contributions to repay candidate loans.”

And he rejected the notion that the contributions could be seen as gifts to the candidate, rather than simply making him whole for the money spent on the campaign.

…& in other news studies report that contrary to popular belief judge roberts is in fact not competent to find his ass with both hands & considers such a skill to be evidence of witchcraft

Kagan rejected that on a point-by-point basis, starting with how the post-election contributions are different.
She provided examples of post-election contributions that she said had shown just such a pattern, and disputed the majority’s position that the restrictions hamper a candidate’s ability to spend his own money to further his campaign.

“The candidate can in fact self-fund all he likes,” she wrote. “The law impedes only his ability to use other people’s money to finance his campaign — much as standard (and permissible) contribution limits do. And even that third-party restriction is a modest one, applying only to post- (not pre-) election donations to repay sizable (not small) loans.”

She said the court had no reason to “second-guess Congress’s experience-based judgment about the specially corrupting effects of post-election donations to repay candidate loans.”
Supreme Court agrees with Cruz, strikes campaign contribution limit [WaPo]

…but it’s early…& I’m grumpy…& coffee can only do so much…so…maybe I’m off base about this?

…oh…I see…so actually it’s probably worse than I was thinking…great…which reminds me…how do you spell “conflict of interest” again?

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) describes itself as a bastion of “advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” but it’s more than that. Over the last several years, it’s emerged as the powerhouse legal arm of the American right wing. It has deep pockets, employs dozens of lawyers worldwide, and is affiliated with thousands more. Devoted to fighting the GOP’s so-called “culture wars” over issues like abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, it’s been designated an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since 2011, Barrett has spoken to students at ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship Program five times, according to disclosure forms that Barrett filed to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of her SCOTUS confirmation hearing last year. She last spoke to them in 2016, before she was confirmed in 2017 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
The ADF is now clearly a fan of Barrett. When she was confirmed to the Supreme Court last October, ADF President and CEO Michael P. Farris congratulated her.

“We are hopeful that she with other justices will uphold Americans’ fundamental freedoms, including free speech, religious freedom, parental rights, and the right to life from conception to natural death,” Farris said in a statement at the time.
At a 2018 conference, an official with the ADF took credit for crafting the Mississippi 15-week ban.

“I can guarantee you that they will not be able to ignore a 15-week limitation, which is in essence limiting abortion to the first trimester,” Denise Burke, senior counsel at ADF, told a panel at the Evangelicals for Life conference in Washington, D.C., according to the Jackson Free Press. “We’re kind of basically baiting them, ‘Come on, fight us on turf that we have already set up and established.’ I am happy to say the first 15-week limitation based on our model language was just introduced in the state of Mississippi this week.”
After Republicans took over statehouses across the country a decade ago, they first tried to chip away at abortion through incremental laws that made abortion more difficult to access. But in recent years, conservatives have grown bolder and started passing bills that banned almost all abortions at 15 weeks, six weeks, or even earlier, in a deliberate effort to give the Supreme Court a vehicle to reconsider Roe.

Burke even admitted that strategy in the 2018 conference. “We have a strategic plan, that is a comprehensive, start-to-finish, from when we’re considering legislation all the way up to the Supreme Court, to challenge Roe,” she told panelists, according to Right Wing Watch.

…but go ahead & ask me again how outraged I am about those text boxes that are what’s really making a mockery of the law…because apparently I’m the one who has a problem keeping this shit in perspective

But Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who studies lawyers’ ethics, told VICE News she doesn’t think Barrett would or should necessarily recuse herself from Dobbs, despite her past relationship to the ADF.

“I just don’t think this rises to the level of a conflict,” Roiphe said. “Really what is bothering people is not so much—my guess—her connection to this organization as much as it is her views on abortion, which we all know.”
If Barrett were to recuse herself, Roiphe said, it could even backfire and undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, rather than strengthen it. Rather than posing an ethics problem, it becomes an optics issue. In Roiphe’s view, a Barrett recusal could affirm people’s beliefs that the Trump nominee is wildly politicized, and ultimately undermine the entire idea of an impartial judicial system—at a time when the Supreme Court is already struggling to maintain Americans’ trust and confidence.

…plus…you know…that vice piece is from, like, a whole year ago…so…I’m sure it’s not relevant to today’s context & I should just stop living in the past as though quaint notions like stare decisis are considered important…or as if the supreme court majority feels any differently about the “at non quieta movere” part of that phrase than its fellow travelers do about the quiet part these days

A top candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary — endorsed Saturday by former president Donald Trump — participated in the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, the day the U.S. Capitol was attacked.

So, too, did a surging candidate for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

And so did one of the Republican contenders to be the state’s lieutenant governor.
Most of the[se] candidates, including the Pennsylvanians, have said they did not enter the Capitol building that day. But they have made their commitment to Trump’s baseless claims key to their campaigns, and their rise shows the extent to which many in the party’s grass roots have embraced participation in Jan. 6 as a badge of honor.

Should the candidates win their elections, some would be in position to play a critical role in the administration of the presidential vote in 2024. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the governor appoints the secretary of state, who serves as the state’s chief elections officer. Leading GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a state senator, has said he would appoint a secretary of state who would require all voters to re-register before casting their ballots, a move that could dramatically reshape the electorate — and would likely violate federal law.
Other candidates nationwide who have said they attended the rally in Washington on Jan. 6 include Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem (R), who as a candidate for secretary of state is seeking to run his state’s elections. U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks, a Republican state representative in Colorado, and J.R. Majewski, who this month won the GOP nomination to challenge an Ohio Democrat in a swing congressional district, have also said they were there.

When a pro-Trump group recently surveyed candidates for local and statewide office in Michigan about their activities on Jan. 6, 13 of them responded that they had been in Washington.

…there’s occasionally debate about art imitating life…but in all seriousness if you tried with this shit you’d be strictly confined to the realms of parody…& farcical parody at that

Hours after his endorsement from Trump, Mastriano held a joint rally with Barnette on Saturday in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County. A large group of reporters and photographers were barred from entering by security, including by one man dressed in Revolutionary War garb. Donning a tricorn hat, he stood more than 200 hundred feet outside the venue entrance, refusing to either identify himself or let the journalists pass.

Another man, who only identified himself as “security,” told a Washington Post reporter “I love the press, love America and love freedoms.” Asked if this looked like freedom, he threatened to call the police.

…some days…some days it’s just a bit fucking much, to be honest…although the days it’s apparently too much for some people to be honest are…apparently…all of them…but that’s fine…the supreme court says so & every-fucking-thing

Nothing gets Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik angrier than reciting their own words back to them at a politically inconvenient moment. So it is that the New York lawmaker is lashing out at critics who have noted her flirtation with “great replacement theory” in the wake of the horrific racist shooting in her home state.

Stefanik, meanwhile, declared in ads last September that Democrats would legalize undocumented immigrants in a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.” That’s a vile replacement trope pushed by the No. 3 in the House GOP leadership.

Confronted by this in the wake of Gendron’s alleged mass murder of mostly Black victims, a Stefanik adviser insisted she has “never advocated for any racist position,” while raging against “sickening” reporting and a “disgusting low for the left.”

Actually, the “disgusting low” was committed by Stefanik herself. Because in this episode we see how Republicans like Stefanik launder and sanitize these ideas in ways that insinuate them ever deeper into mainstream discourse.

What’s different is the careful mainstreaming of fantasies about a deliberate plot to replace native-born Americans. That puts a new spin on garden-variety nativism or even on various forms of racial nationalism that envision Whiteness as central to American identity, notes Yale professor Philip Gorski, an expert in these movements.

“It’s been gradually moving from the fringes into the mainstream,” Gorski told me. “First it was the entertainment wing of the GOP. Now it’s the political wing as well.”
This sort of trickery works on still another level: It recasts racist conspiracy theorizing in a more acceptable form. As Gorski puts it, the talk about new voters is really a “fig leaf to hide white supremacy.”
Nicole Hemmer, a historian of the right, adds a crucial point. She notes that when high-profile figures float these ideas in a more benign form, it seduces people into being more accepting of them than they otherwise might be.

Once this tactic “legitimates those ideas” and makes them “seem less radical,” notes Hemmer, this might lead people to explore them further, slowly acclimating them to their more virulent ideological core. Meanwhile, as fascism scholar Jason Stanley details, even the sanitized, coded version will be entirely legible and extremely energizing to the movement’s true believers.

So when Stefanik declares herself shocked, shocked that anyone would suggest that nefarious intentions undergird her “great replacement” parroting, remember: This is a key feature of how the whole sordid game is supposed to work.

…to say hypocrisy is a defining characteristic of that game is starting to feel like a understatement of truly british proportions

Citing “despicable” Facebook advertisements promoting great replacement theory Stefanik utilized in 2021, in which she said “radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a permanent election insurrection”, the Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger blasted his House colleague.

“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory? The #3 in the house GOP @Liz_Cheney got removed for demanding truth. @GOPLeader should be asked about this,” he said in a tweet, referring to Wyoming Republican Cheney’s ousting by the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, over her place on the 6 January panel.

Kinzinger, of Illinois, is the only other Republican on the House committee looking into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat to Joe Biden. He also attacked Stefanik this week for a tweet in which she accused Democrats of being “pedo grifters” – meaning pedophiles – for providing baby formula for immigrant babies at the southern border during a national shortage.

…well…apparently she disputes that “pedo” meant “pedophile” when she used it…seriously…her staff offered up a stunningly garbled interpretation that basically boiled down to “no, see…it’s only the first part of that word…so it’s the part that means ‘child’ or ‘children’ & doesn’t imply the suffix you’re unreasonably supposing”…which is laughable to begin with…before you even get to the part where they try to square that with what it might mean in conjunction with the term “grifters” (grifters of children? grifters that are children? no – apparently dems are invidiously grifting on behalf of children…which…for…reasons…is apparently a bad set of interests to be advocating for…no…really…I’m not making that up…but you can waste your own time checking it out if you really feel the need to)

In a study of the history of great replacement theory in Republican circles, Vice notes that it “isn’t new to American politicians”. In 2017, the Iowa congressman Steve King, a fierce Trump loyalist, said in a tweet: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
After the Christchurch murders, the UK-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a counter-extremist organization, issued a report that found the once-obscure ideology was promoted so effectively by the far right that it became ingrained in political discourse, and that social media references doubled in four years to more than 1.5m Twitter mentions alone.

“It’s shocking to see the extent to which extreme-right concepts such as the great replacement theory and calls for ‘remigration’ have entered mainstream political discourse and are now referenced by politicians who head states and sit in parliaments,” Julia Ebner, the report’s co-author, said at the time.

The effect of the backlash against US politicians promoting the theory following the Buffalo attack remains to be seen. The pugilistic Stefanik, for example, was not backing down on Sunday, making no mention of the massacre in her home state as she retweeted criticism of Democrats over the baby formula shortage.

Her only social media comment to date, a single tweet on Saturday, failed to acknowledge the race of most of the victims, or the circumstances or motivation for the shooting.

…but sure…lets keep boiling shit down to talking about culture wars as though one of these things is just like the other

In the United States, fights are raging over cultural issues: constant coverage of “cancel culture”, pitched battles over teaching “critical race theory” (CRT) in classrooms or the definition of the term “woman”. For years, many on the left have argued that such battles were “distractions” from the real fight over class and economic issues. They are only half right.

…speaking of “distractions”…here’s one

Kash Patel, a former Republican aide on the House intelligence committee who Donald Trump weighed installing as deputy CIA director, is publishing a children’s book on Monday that perpetuates the false claim the Steele dossier sparked investigations into Russian collusion.

The book features characters such as “King Donald” and his enemy “Hillary Queenton”.

In the book, titled “The Plot Against the King” and set to be published by Brave Books, Patel repeats Trump’s false claim that the FBI began investigating links between his campaign and Russia based on a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy.

The 35-page tome, complete with an epilogue that details Donald Trump’s false claims about the FBI inquiry, bizarrely uses the tool of children’s fictional characters to provide a revisionist account of the probe that dogged the first two years of the Trump presidency and eventually led to a special counsel investigation.

Over the course of the book, the narrative lionises Patel and depicts him as a wizard who supposedly shows how “the King” Trump was wrongly accused of “cheating” to take the throne.

The book claims the king was accused of cheating by a “shifty knight” – a reference to the Democratic chair of the intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, who claims to have a “paper” from a “steel” box attesting to wrongdoing.

But Patel writes that he then found evidence that the slug “Keeper Komey” – a reference to former FBI director James Comey – put slugs in the “steel” box at the behest of “Hillary Queenton”, who was also vying for the throne – a reference to Clinton.

The wizard Patel then proclaims to the kingdom, the book says, that “the king, King Donald, is innocent” and “did not work with the Russonians” – a reference to Russia – and “Hillary wrote that paper and had her sneaky slugs slide into the steel box”.

…because we live in a world where that’s an actual thing that exists…& apparently one where the guardian assumes its readers may need assistance cracking patel’s incredibly sophisticated efforts at coded language…so…where was I?

These supposed sham battles are simply the most recent moments in a loosely organized cultural rightwing insurgency. The Federalist Society has been incubating rightwing legal careers since the 1980s. The fight against critical race theory continues a longstanding rightwing offensive against public education, whose roots go back as far as the backlash to racially integrated schooling.
It couldn’t be clearer, then, that the view of “culture wars” as purely distractions from “real”political struggle is seriously mistaken. The idea that concrete, “material” issues ought to mean a narrow focus on jobs and the economy – and not, say, uteruses – seems hard to justify.

Even the most hard-nosed materialist, ought to notice that decisions about school curricula determine whose values are listened to, and whose aren’t. That is, in even the most realpolitik of terms, the struggle being waged has real-world effects on redistribution of social and political power. And that redistribution is shifting power in the direction of the least honest, most bigoted and most authoritarian social forces on the political right.

In one sense, the reduction of politics to “culture wars” has never made less sense. The material stakes of the climate crisis is that it threatens regular heatwaves like the one that south Asia is still reeling from. Meanwhile, state conflict is taking a worrying turn: Russia and Ukraine are fighting a great power war between states, the Ethiopia and Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front navigate an uneasy ceasefire in a civil war, and Mozambique is contending with a wave of Islamic State militants. These aren’t problems that can be solved by clarifying the content of math textbooks or being clear about who uses which bathrooms.

But from another vantage point, focusing on “culture” makes perfect sense. After all, it’s not simply that global ruling class lacks answers in the United States and elsewhere. The situation is even more dire: the ruling class lacks questions.

The dramatic shift in state response to the Covid-19 pandemic after mass vaccination evidences that elites believe their interests are so far removed from living conditions for the rest of us that they simply lose interest as soon as they feel their own security is assured. This also makes sense of policymakers’ tepid action on the climate crisis, the national and global housing crisis, and selective empathy for refugees and immigrants in general. You’re cordially invited to participate vigorously in the project of harassing school board officials, but leave the big war and climate stuff to the idle experts.
That’s why an entire cottage industry spanning from YouTube to outrage radio to legacy media has arisen to play off our most legitimate grievances with others, our most petty jealousies and bigotries, and everything in between. Many of these are suspiciously well resourced and funded, and few of them pose any serious challenge to the profit, property and social position of the people who actually hold most of the cards in our political contests. These astroturfed political battles are simply the latest page of the oldest playbook, where the 1% attempts to divide the rest in pursuit of private profit and social domination.

…gee…I wonder what that might look like

Musk was responding to a detailed Twitter thread posted by his Twitter counterpart, Parag Agrawal, explaining the company’s policy on spam accounts. Musk has disputed Twitter’s assertion that less than 5% of its users are fake or spam accounts and has said he will carry out his own audit.

Agrawal explained that tackling automated spam accounts was a “dynamic” process that required fighting “sophisticated and hard to catch” actors. He added that some accounts that appear to be spam are in fact operated by real people.

“The hard challenge is that many accounts which look fake superficially are actually real people. And some of the spam accounts which are actually the most dangerous – and cause the most harm to our users – can look totally legitimate on the surface,” he wrote. He added that estimating Twitter’s fake account numbers could not be done externally because the process required access to sensitive data such as IP addresses and phone numbers.

Agrawal ended the thread with a link to a company blogpost on spam accounts, while revealing that Twitter had discussed how it estimated its spam number with Musk a week ago and that the company looked forward “to continuing the conversation with him”.

Musk responded with a poo emoji, followed minutes later by asking how advertisers on Twitter knew what they were getting for their money.
On Saturday Musk tweeted that Twitter’s legal team had accused him of violating a non-disclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform’s checks on automated users was 100. Last month, Musk engaged with tweets criticizing Twitter employees, despite the entrepreneur agreeing not to “disparage” the company or its representatives while he completes the deal to acquire the social media platform.

Musk’s behavior, underlined by his comments in Miami, has prompted speculation that he is laying the groundwork to reprice the deal or walk away from it, which would carry the cost of a $1bn break fee for the world’s richest man. Some experts doubt whether the multibillionaire is serious about buying the company.

“I honestly don’t know if Elon wants to buy Twitter,” said Drew Pascarella, a senior lecturer on finance at Cornell University. “At first, I thought he wasn’t serious. Then he paired with banks and financiers and came up with a legitimate acquisition plan. Now he’s called a timeout about an issue that is both well known and should have no bearing on his future plan for the company. If it’s attention he’s seeking, he has it. But does he want to own Twitter? Did he ever?”

…because this stuff may be all shits & giggles from some people’s point of view

…just part of a long thread…& I only really wanted the bit about the post-ban twitter account…because among the other shit I didn’t find time or space for in this today is a whole thing about trump & twitter & truth social

…”complicated” seems to mean that the man who’s banned from twitter permanently but whose views still seem to be repeated on that platform with some frequency would have to cope with such incredible burdens as waiting 6hrs after saying some shit on his own platform before it could be rebroadcast as a tweet…assuming any of this shit means anything

Digital World said that Mr. Trump could be paid to post streaming videos on Trump Media’s video-on-demand service in certain circumstances. The licensing deal also does not require him to exclusively use Truth Social, Trump Media’s Twitter-like social media platform, and permits him to “post from a personal account related to political messaging, political fund-raising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time.”

If the former president does anything “illegal, immoral, or unethical,” it is not considered a breach of his agreement with the company, according to the filing.
The more imminent concern to Trump Media is whether securities regulators will allow the deal to proceed, which would enable Mr. Trump’s company to gain access to up to $1.3 billion in investor cash.
If the deal were to be completed at Digital World’s current $44 share price, Mr. Trump’s equity stake would be initially valued at more than $3 billion.
Digital World’s filing said that the SPAC had been looking at more than a dozen companies to acquire at the time it went public. But it confirmed previous reporting by The New York Times that another SPAC controlled by Digital World’s chief executive, Patrick Orlando, was in serious merger talks with Trump Media right up until a few days before Digital World’s initial public offering of stock.

SPACs, companies that go public in the hopes of finding a private business to acquire, are not supposed to have an acquisition target lined up at the time of their I.P.O. Digital World did not disclose the talks between Mr. Orlando’s other SPAC, Benessere Capital Acquisition, and Trump Media.

In a filing earlier this year, Benessere said it had “terminated” a letter of intent it signed with an unnamed social media company on Sept. 1 because it “had not yet executed certain key agreements” or made its audits final.

Digital World priced its I.P.O. the next day.

Shares of Digital World rose more than 6 percent in early trading, to about $44.50 a share. Although down 50 percent from early March, the shares are more than four times higher than before the company announced its deal with Trump Media last year.

Correction: May 16, 2022
An earlier version of this article misidentified the Trump Media & Technology Group service for which former President Donald J. Trump could be paid for posting content. He could be paid for posting to the company’s video-on-demand service, not its Truth Social platform.
Trump could be paid to post for his own start-up. [NYT]

…but over here I’ll be trying to quench the flames currently engulfing my head…& looking to find some tunes to go between here & anything you might feel like saying in the comments



  1. Ah, Pennsylvania. The state has a US-style population spread featuring more populous, more liberal areas along the “coasts”. Which means that the aggregate of all those lesser-populated, Republican, evangelical areas are an issue for the Democrats.


  2. It really does appear that if you post enough good music at the end of a DOT, it counteracts the emotional effects of all the bad news.  Thank you for your service.

Leave a Reply