Category Archives: Media

WikiLeaks Tweets November 1-8, 2016

In 2016, like a lot of people using social media, I found myself constantly alarmed at the various accusations being leveled at Hillary Clinton and Democrats generally. A lot of these accusations, I found, originated with the Russian hack of the DNC.* As is now widely known (though less so among Republicans in the US*), Russian hackers stole information from both the Democrats and Republicans but only chose to disseminate information potentially harmful to Democrats.*

The claim of dishonesty is important because it suggests that WikiLeaks is itself opaque and, therefore, hypocritical.

One might argue that WikiLeaks founder (and former host of Russia Today’s World Tomorrow) Julian Assange is in favor of transparency generally and that the source of information that increases transparency is unimportant.* I find that explanation plausible. However, what I think may have received too little attention during the 2016 election is how partisan WikiLeaks was and how dishonest their dissemination of information was. The claim of dishonesty is important because it suggests that WikiLeaks is itself opaque and, therefore, hypocritical.

What you find is that, of those 153 tweets, 130 (85%) of them were critical of Clinton and Democrats generally. Of those same 153 tweets, there is not a single one critical of Trump nor of any Republican.

To support my claim of partisanship, I provide below a collection of all 153 tweets by WikiLeaks from November 1st through election day, November 8th, 2016.* What you find is that, of those 153 tweets, 130 (85%) of them were critical of Clinton and Democrats generally. Of those same 153 tweets, there is not a single one critical of Trump nor of any Republican. I categorized 15 of the tweets as neutral. One of those was a retweet of CNN’s Jake Tapper where the reporter wrote, “been hearing for weeks anecdotally about the CIA-FBI divide over this election.” Tapper clarified in a brief, tweeted conversation that he meant, “as a very crude generalization,” he was hearing about the CIA being anti-Trump and FBI being anti-Clinton.* I don’t know what prompted WikiLeaks to share this, so I categorized it as “neutral.”

To support my claim of dishonesty, I will highlight the habit the WikiLeaks tweeters had of misrepresenting the content of articles and emails.

To support my claim of dishonesty, I will highlight the habit the WikiLeaks tweeters had of misrepresenting the content of articles and emails. For example, on November 4th, WikiLeaks tweeted, “MIT prof: What I learned from visualizing Clinton’s emails – Summary: study censored & I was mobbed by Clintonists.”* The problem with this “summary” by WikiLeaks is that the professor never claims to have been mobbed.* He does claim that a Reddit thread about the analysis was taken down by a moderator, but there is no evidence that a “Clintonist” did this. In fact, the analyst himself notes that he was a Clinton supporter who viewed Trump as “potentially a threat to global security.” How did he summarize his own work? Read for yourself:

What I saw on Clinton’s emails was not surprising to me. It involved a relatively small group of people talking about what language to use when communicating with other people. […] I am sure that if we had access to Trump’s emails we would see plenty of the same behavior.

Another case involves a possibly strained relationship between Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. In the email exchange, Nora Toiv shares a November 2015 story published by People titled “Al Gore Declines to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President.” In fact, Gore says that he is not endorsing anyone at that point because it’s too early to decide.* Huma Abedin tells those present in the email thread that Gore warned the campaign that he would not endorse Hillary Clinton: “hard to put on email but there is no love lost in this relationship. reminder that he also refused to endorse in 2008!!!” This obviously indicates a strained relationship of some kind but gives no indication of ill will on either’s part. So, how did it turn out? Gore endorsed Clinton in July 2016, months before WikiLeaks tweeted the email.* Here’s how WikiLeaks presented the email exchange: “Hillary and Gore hate each other. The reason is too dangerous to put in email — Clinton’s closest aid Huma Abedin.”

Call me crazy, but that seems not at all transparent to me.

With this background, I present all 153 tweets with notes and context where I could find them:

11/8/2016
“Clinton: out of touch, cronyistic, didn’t drive a car in 35 years, flew all over the world but accomplished nothing”
link
source WikiLeaks

11/8/2016
“By biasing its internal electoral market the DNC selected the less competitive candidate defeating the purpose of running a primary.”
link
source WikiLeaks

11/8/2016
Video compilation of WikiLeaks top stories, including feature regarding criticism of DNC
link
source WikiLeaks

11/8/2016
Graphic showing election forecast favoring Trump
link
source New York Times

11/8/2016
“The American people don’t like corruption. After the election comes selection. Who will be selected and why?”
link
[Note: Article by David Dayen, who has also contributed to Salon, The Intercept, and Fiscal Times.] source New Republic

11/8/2016
“Hillary Clinton is privately against gay marriage”
link
[Note: Regated is not currently active. It appears to have been founded by Victor Smith and Sam Wenkert. One of the writers for the publication calls himself Robert Powell and wrote on his Gab page on 3/12/18, “These countries are shitholes BECAUSE THEY ARE NO LONGER MAJORITY WHITE.” Other writers: Orlando Navarro, MD Anderson, Julian Wan.] source Regated

Continue reading WikiLeaks Tweets November 1-8, 2016

Liberal Cannibalization Update

First, let’s get this out of the way: Congress has a low approval rating. Why? The main reason is partisan gridlock.

So what would happen, as a congressperson, if you voted in such a way that you might be perceived as less partisan? It might go something like this:

The Intercept: “Fourteen senate Democrats joined all but one Senate Republican in confirming Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director on Monday evening, failing a crucial first test of whether Democrats would present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era.”

Common Dreams: “With Help from Dems, Torture Supporter Pompeo Confirmed for CIA Chief”

A bit of reality (not mentioned in either of the above articles) from Vice:

Democrats do not have many tools at their disposal other than delays. Even if Democrats embraced a strategy of unified resistance, the 52 Republicans don’t need any of the 48 Democratic votes to confirm all of Trump’s nominees. In 2013, Democrats changed the rules requiring a 60-vote majority for such confirmations to only needing a simple majority.

The article goes on to say how much many liberal activists love Kirsten Gillibrand for not bending to the will of Trump. Of course liberals should vote for her in 2020 if she’s the candidate. If left-leaning people want to take back the government, though, they need to vote for the most liberal candidate who can get elected, even if that’s someone they don’t agree with 100% (which, face it, isn’t possible). Moreover, they should focus their criticisms on that person’s opponent rather than on the candidate (at least until that candidate is elected).

From Elizabeth Warren on why she voted to confirm Ben Carson: 

Can we count on Dr. Carson to keep [his] promises? I don’t know. People are right to be skeptical; I am. But a man who makes written promises gives us a toehold on accountability. If President Trump goes to his second choice, I don’t think we will get another HUD nominee who will even make these promises – much less follow through on them.

From Vox:

There’s also the strong institutional pull for Democrats to follow historical precedent and let the president choose his Cabinet nominees. In its history, the Senate has only voted down nine presidential Cabinet nominees, according to Josh Huder, a congressional scholar at Georgetown. Almost all of President Obama’s picks sailed through in 2009 without much resistance. And that was at a time when Republicans in the minority could still filibuster them — meaning they could have blocked them, but didn’t.

It may be helpful to revisit a bit more of the Intercept/Common Dreams thinking that helped elect Trump. Here’s Jill Stein on October 12th last year:

It is now Hillary Clinton that wants to start an air war with Russia over Syria by calling for a no fly zone. We have 2000 nuclear missiles on hairtrigger alert. They are saying we are closer to a nuclear war than we have ever been. Under Hillary Clinton, we could slide into nuclear war very quickly from her declared policy in Syria. I sure won’t sleep well at night if Donald Trump is elected, but I sure won’t sleep well at night if Hillary Clinton elected. We have another choice other than these two candidates who are both promoting lethal policies. On the issue of war and nuclear weapons, it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump who does not want to go to war with Russia.

As a reminder, if everyone who voted for Stein had instead voted for Hillary, Hillary would have won the election:

Yes, it’s possible (probable?) that those Stein voters would have stayed home and not voted at all, but this doesn’t change the fact that they still failed to vote for the most liberal candidate who actually had a chance of winning.

By allowing differing degrees of ideological commitment to divide them, left-leaning people helped invite in a president who hopes to do everything in his power to undo or undermine decades of global diplomatic progress as well as environmental and energy progress.

Hillary advocated for a no-fly zone to help ameliorate what António Guterres, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees called, “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

Why do you think Stein left that part out? Yeah, I don’t know either. And where on earth would she have gotten that terrifying idea? Tough to say for sure, but maybe it came from Russian ultra-nationalist and Putin ally Vladimir Zhirinovsky who said the same thing she said the same day she said it.

Just to sum that message up briefly: “Don’t elect the candidate who wants to stop us from killing thousands of children and other civilians and displacing millions of people. If you do, you’re going to start a nuclear war with us.”

Sounds like something a bully would say, right? Well, it convinced Jill Stein apparently. Stein, being extraordinarily highly ideologically aligned with Bernie could have recognized the stakes of the election as Bernie did:

Perhaps the worst offense that one can level at Obama was his use of drones. Obama used drones a lot. And civilians were killed. Drones will probably continue to be used. Is this justified? It’s difficult to say. The individual cases appear to be classified. So it must come down to whether or not we trust Obama. Is he the type of person who would sign off on drone strikes likely to kill civilians just for the hell of it? I would submit that no sane person would do so.

So I’m inclined to take him at his word:

As commander-in-chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties—not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places — like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu — where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.

Ten Steps to Government Gridlock

1. Have vague political leanings
2. Consume media that generally agree with these leanings
3. Become more convinced of political views
4. Read/watch only news sources that agree with own opinions/Refuse to entertain opposing arguments
5. Vote for ideologically extreme politicians
6. Fail to notice common ground gradually seeping out of government
7. Do notice that government eventually stops functioning
8. Fail to connect this to polarized electorate of which you are a part
9. Blame government for ever-worsening gridlock
10. Confine involvement in government to emphatic shaking of fist in general direction of Washington once every 4 years

Turnout POTUS 2016

Updated March 3rd, 2017

I keep hearing this claim repeated by even usually well-informed people that voter turnout for 2016 was historically low. I think the claim is still prevalent because of a lot of premature reporting immediately following the election.

It also seems attractive to people to accept this and to conclude, “Well, yes, both presidential candidates were very unpopular, so no one voted.” However, as Stanford’s Jon Krosnick has pointed out, high unfavorability often drives more people to the poles.

When I google “2016 voter turnout US president,” the first result I get is a CNN article from Gregory Wallace and Robert Yoon titled “Voter turnout at 20-year low in 2016.” The article goes on to say, “While election officials are still tabulating ballots, the 126 million votes already counted means about 55% of voting age citizens cast ballots this year.”

There’s even a chart that shows just how badly the two candidates did compared to past elections. A little note below the chart, though, says that the numbers are going to change as more votes come in through December (the totals given are from November 10th).

So, what changed? Well, as Mother Jones pointed out on December 15th, this election actually had the third-highest turnout rate out of the past ten elections:

Actually, although this doesn’t change the ranking, this still isn’t accurate as they give a figure for turnout rate of 59.5%; it was actually 59.3%.

Also, at 136,665,420 total votes, this election had the highest total votes for president of any in history. (Perhaps less impressive when you account for normal population growth.)

CNN appears to be talking about total turnout rather than just votes for president. Their figures for total turnout are also wrong, though:

Patrick Scott at The Telegraph wrote the following on November 14th:

[I]t is possible to calculate an estimate of these figures by making projections based on the most recent population figures. This is exactly what Michael McDonald, associate professor at the University of Florida and who runs the US Elections Project website, has done.

He estimates that 57.9 per cent of eligible voters voted in this year’s election, down from 58.6 per cent in 2012 and from 61.6 per cent in 2008.

He then continues on using these projections that Michael McDonald later corrected. Why continue on? Well, he had to write something, right? Maybe so, but why not update it after the correct information comes out? Why just leave loads of wrong information floating around?

 

The Weekly Standard

Facebook headline: Michigan Recount Exposes Possible Electoral Fraud in Detroit

 
Headline after clicking link: Michigan Recount Exposes Electoral Discrepancies in Detroit

 
New headline: Half-asleep Facebook User Exposes Shameless News Misrepresentation at The Weekly Standard

Body of new article: Decades of right-wing leadership at The Weekly Standard have destroyed the faith of even die-hard conservatives in the reliability of the Standard’s reportage.

In a recent article, the publication regurgitated two thoroughly-discredited claims: one, voter fraud is rampant and, two, Democratic leadership led to Detroit’s current state of disrepair.

On top of this, the article’s writer, Mark “Lie-in-Every-Sentence” Hemingway, leaves out this part of the article he quotes: “Of the data available, though, machines tallied at least 388 more ballots, according to a Detroit News analysis of the records. That’s 0.16 percent of the 248,000 ballots cast in the city that voted for Clinton 95 percent to 3 percent over Trump.”

Realizing that, like all conservative publications, it could only continue to stay afloat through subsidy and by constantly appealing to discredited arguments, the Standard promptly shuttered its sole “office” (Bill Kristol’s bedroom). The fifteen rich white guys who occasionally glanced at the Standard failed to notice its absence.

In the NOW (Russia Today)

If you think Russia Today is a trustworthy source of information, you should take a look at this video by their offshoot In the NOW.


“These are activists.”

RT shows an image from the Twitter account of a person who calls himself a teacher and an activist. None of the other people in the other Twitter accounts call themselves activists.


“Some of them just recently joined Twitter.”

The “some of them” refers to the same person’s Twitter account. Why is it significant that this person started this account in October? One of the other accounts mentioned was started in 2010. Another was started in 2012. What does this prove?


“Some of them … clearly support the revolution.”

Again, as evidence of “some,” we’re shown a single example (@Linashamy). This person’s account dates to September 2012. This person must surely be quite credible then, right?


“They have thousands of followers.”

We’re now shown an example of one Twitter user with 27,000 followers. This user, as mentioned above, has been using Twitter since September 2012. Exactly what does having thousands of followers prove?


“Some call themselves journalists and are verified on Facebook, like Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American who has no trouble pushing Al-Nusra propaganda.”

Once again, “some” is used to refer to a single person. Also, what’s the evidence that this person “has no trouble pushing Al-Nusra propaganda”? No evidence is presented. This account was started in January 2010. Therefore, this person is above reproach, right?


“This guy is a member of The White Helmets who were founded by a British ex-military officer and have been funded with millions by the US and UK.”

The White Helmets are, according to CNN, “plumbers, postmen, teachers and other civilians … training and joining forces to become a medical and rescue team” in Syria.

On top of that, RT presents no evidence that ishmael12345611 is affiliated with The White Helmets outside of a single mention in a Tweet.

Responding to Hillary-Related Misinformation

“Hillary denied hundreds of security requests prior to the Benghazi attack.”

False. There are “requests” and “concerns.” We don’t know how many of those requests got elevated to the level of concerns. And, some requested security updates to the compound were made the same year as the attack. Also, here are all of the Bush embassy attacks that you don’t know about because the GOP hasn’t thrown millions of taxpayer dollars into investigating them ad nauseum. Could it be because not one of them involved a Clinton?


“She has taken millions from countries that allow for the abuse of women and gays.”

False. The Clinton Foundation, not Hillary, took that money that might otherwise have gone to oppressing women and gays and then used it to, among other things, help get AIDS medication to millions of people all over the world.


“In 2014, The Clinton Foundation gave 6% to charity.”

False. About 87% of its expenses go toward services it provides directly. Which is standard for public charities.


“The FBI hasn’t dropped the investigation into The Clinton Foundation.”

Well, if this one turns out like the previous two, what we can expect to find is, at worst, no indictable offense. And, please don’t go asking yourself why the FBI isn’t investigating the Trump Foundation or Trump’s ties to Russia, who we know worked with WikiLeaks to damage Hillary in the polls. It is unnecessary for us to know such things. However, it was always in everyone’s best interest to investigate the minutia of Hillary down to the atom.


“She deleted thousands of emails.”

Sort of true. Number one, she didn’t personally delete them. Number two, “The FBI found no evidence that the emails were deleted deliberately to avoid the subpoena or other requests. Clinton’s team requested for the emails to be deleted months before the subpoena came.”


“She lied about the classification of many emails and was careless with national security.”

False. Straight from PolitiFact: “Clinton frequently dealt with sensitive and classified information as secretary of state, and the amount that the FBI found in her email server is minuscule in comparison. It appears that she generally dealt with classified information in an appropriate way.”


“She lied about the cause of Benghazi.”

False. Again from PolitiFact: “There simply is not enough concrete information in the public domain for Rubio or anyone to claim as fact that Clinton did or did not lie to the Benghazi families.”


“She colluded with the DNC to steal the primary.”

Sort of true. Yeah, the DNC was supposed to be impartial, but we also knew that Hillary already had more superdelegates than any Democratic candidate in the past 30 years prior to the start of the primaries. So, uh, impartial? Nah. But, Bernie and every other Democrat knew that going in.


“She colluded with Donna Brazile.”

True. Brazile gave Clinton a single question in advance. I’m sure that made all the difference, eh?


“She prefers open borders.”

Nope: Again from PolitiFact:

Clinton has praised work already done to secure the border, and she said she supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions more in border security while creating a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Her plan calls for protecting the border and targeting deportation to criminals and security threats. Her plan would make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, but that’s not the same as ending all enforcement.


“She was complicit in disrupting Trump rallies.”

False. This claim appears to stem from heavily-edited anti-Hillary propaganda videos created by James O’Keefe of Project Veritas. From Wikipedia:

When his videos of ACORN workers allegedly aiding a couple in criminal planning hit the 24-hour cable news cycle, the U.S. Congress quickly voted to freeze funds for the non-profit. The national controversy resulted in the non-profit also losing most private funding before investigations of the videos were conducted. In March 2010, ACORN was close to bankruptcy and had to close or rename most of its offices. Shortly after, the California State Attorney General’s Office and the US Government Accountability Office released their related investigative reports. The Attorney General’s Office found that O’Keefe had misrepresented the actions of ACORN workers and that the workers had not committed illegal actions. A preliminary probe by the GAO found that ACORN had managed its federal funds appropriately. One of the fired ACORN workers sued O’Keefe for invasion of privacy; O’Keefe issued an apology and agreed to pay $100,000 in a settlement.


“She gave weapons to morocco in exchange for money.”

False. The money went to the Clinton Foundation which, as stated previously, used the money for, among other things, helping millions of people get easier access to AIDS medicines. The weapons sales have been going on since before Clinton and Obama and are an attempt to fight terrorists. The Clintons don’t draw a salary from the foundation.


“She was keen on rigging the Palestinian election.”

False: This is an obscure one and rightly so. I think you’re referring to some “leaked” audio where she says of the 2006 Palestinian election, “if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”

Focus on the word “determine” here. Notice that she doesn’t say that we should’ve tried to influence (aka rig) the election’s outcome; she’s saying that, before we pushed for an election, we should have done more research to try to figure out (aka determine) who was likely to win so as to avoid the victory for Hamas. This is an example of the logical fallacy of equivocation.


“She colluded with the DOJ regarding her investigation.”

False. The “collusion” occurred two months prior to the investigation.


“She prays that shooters are white in order to boost her campaign position.”

I don’t know what she prays about.


“She rigged the primaries against Bernie.”

This may refer to Hillary’s supposed voting machine rigging.
One, if she could rig voting machines, how’d she still lose the general election? Did Trump just rig better?
Two, there’s no actual evidence of rigging.


“This was an anti-establishment election cycle but the DNC chose to go with the ultimate DC insider in Clinton. That backfired on them.”

Yes, Bernie was the ultimate outsider even though he voted with the establishment nearly 100% of the time:

He was handled with kid gloves throughout the primaries.  And, I’m sure that the first nonreligious, socialist president would’ve fared great when the GOP stopped supporting him and actually started doing everything they possibly could to destroy him.


“Clinton has decades of baggage attached to her.”

Sure, like Whitewater, which, like the Benghazi and email investigations, were both designed, not to actually pursue truth but as political tools to negatively impact both Clintons.

And, despite this, before the start of the Democratic primaries, Hillary was one of the most well-known and well-liked politicians in the country:


March, 2015


“She made speeches at Goldman Sachs.”

Or, put another way, she took money from rich Republicans that might otherwise have been spent on Republican things like conversion therapybathroom billsconcealing factory farm conditions, and doing anything possible to help degrade the environment.


“She has an ongoing FBI investigation that her and her people thought they could handle.”

An investigation that ended with Comey concluding, unequivocally, that she not only should not have been indicted, but that her case was wildly different from Petraeus’s and that no average American, having done what she did, would have been indicted.


“She had extreme unfavorability numbers.”

The numbers always averaged 10 percentage points more favorable than Trump’s. And, her numbers were dragged down, in no small part, by Bernie supporters:


“She let Trump and his campaign dominate media coverage.”

Uhhhh. You can let your opponent do that?


“She also failed to easily explain her policies and how they could benefit working class voters.”

A close family member of mine is a working-class voter. My entire life, their top concern has not been deporting all the “fucking job-stealing spics” (and their “little spic babies”), but eradicating the “cockroaches.” Can you guess why that person voted Trump? I’m sure Bernie could’ve better appealed to that person.


“When she openly condemned Trump supporters throughout the summer/fall, she was further enraging a voting bloc she did not want to turn out in big numbers.”

Are you talking about the “basket of deplorables”? No one knows what that means. You think bigots know what a “basket of deplorables” is? It may have confused them, but there’s no way it “enraged” them. (Incidentally, I don’t believe that all Trump supporters are bigots; I do, however, believe that all or nearly all bigots are Trump supporters.)

 

 

Updated 1/20/2016

Fake News Case Study: The Defecating Democrat

Updated April 23rd, 2017

Take a look at this screenshot of a page from pamelageller.com:

Take a closer look at the views on that video shared on Facebook:

Now take a gander at this tweeted image:

Now note that, at present, this has been viewed 6 million times. Isn’t it amazing how disgusting and depraved all liberals are? In fact, is that … is that Hillary Clinton defecating on that photo of Trump?! Who would put it past her? She is, after all, a disgusting, depraved monster. And, let’s be honest, obviously also the Antichrist.

Now take a look at this screenshot uploaded to YouTube July 10th, 2012:

I know what you’re thinking: how did Hillary Clinton travel back in time to go number two all over that picture that … uh … now that I look at it, may or may not even be of a human being….

Well, it turns out that this is actually a Mexican performance artist named Rocío Boliver (aka, The Frozen Grape) and it was filmed in Zócalo, Ciudad de México on July 7th, 2012. Hmm. What was Trump doing at that time? If you said, “grabbin’ someone by the pussy,” give yourself a pat on the back. And, what wasn’t he doing? Yep: he wasn’t winning a presidential election (via the electoral college alone).

Over 2,000 people have shared this Tweet which includes a link that takes you to pamelageller.com where you can watch the video along with this message: “This is evil. Pure evil and that is what we are dealing with and that is what we are up against – the hatred of the good for being the good.”

Besides the fact that Geller’s Tweet is pure fantasy, there’s the fact that this could actually happen. Somewhere in New York or California, there probably are some people defecating on pictures of Trump right this very moment. Maybe somebody will even snap a video of it and share it. But, guess what? That will still not have become “what we’re dealing with.” You see, that will be a single, isolated example of this one thing that we maybe dealt with one time if we chose to watch that thing happen. And, what if it happens a second time? Well, that will be two isolated examples. “Surely,” you say, “two examples must be sufficient for me to now say that this is ‘what we’re dealing with,’ right?” No. No, it won’t.

So, what is the threshold for “what we’re dealing with”? I’d argue that once or twice a year might be sufficient. Not “once or twice every time the least impressive human specimen in the history of the world gets elected to public office.”


UPDATE

I’ve been tracking the YouTube spread of this viral lie as best I can. Over 200,000 views and counting.

2016-11-29-allsidebyside

“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.”
—Jonathan Swift