Nel's New Day

March 19, 2018

Data Mining Elected DDT, ‘Corrected’ the Stock Market

Stock markets have been drastically dropping during the past six weeks although sometimes crawling upward only to drop again. Today, the closing Dow Jones as over 2,000 points below February 5 with “corrections by Facebook and tech investments. While investors try to guess why stocks lose ground, today’s loss in Facebook—as much as seven percent at times—was clearly from the problems in a company working to control the win of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the presidential election.

With the help of Russian oligarchs and officials, multi-billionaire Robert Mercer bought the presidency for DDT, and Mercer’s political-data firm Cambridge Analytica was instrumental in this success by targeting people’s emotional needs with information from social media. Last Friday night at the same time that AG Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, Facebook admitted that Cambridge lied about deleting Facebook user data obtained from Facebook in violation of the social network’s policies.

A detailed Facebook post stated that Russian-American psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, obtained 50 million Facebook users’ information in 2014 with his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan collected data from people and their friends who took that quiz. Only 270,000 people took the quiz, but Kogan gathered data on another 50 million people from network connections. He promised that the data was exclusively for research purposes and then sent the data to Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. The company funded his app for $800,000, and the Russian government also paid Kogan for his research into the psychology of specific Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the Leave.EU leading to the success of the Brexit vote for separating Britain from the European Union.

Cambridge’s control over voters comes from its “psychographic” targeting that creates psychological profiles to “effectively engage and persuade voters using specially tailored language and visual ad combinations” that appeal to each person on an emotional level. Kogan claimed that his data predicted individual neuroticism, political views, agreeableness, and interests in subjects such as militarism, horoscopes, and the environment that could be used for targeting voters. Cambridge built profiles by maximizing the use of “up to 5,000 data points on over 230 million American voters,” according to the company’s website.

In August 2016 when Cambridge was targeting voters without their knowledge for DDT’s campaign, Facebook said it was deleting the collected data but didn’t tell Facebook users that GOP operatives were in possession of their data. Kogan’s company Global Science Research had paid people $1 or $2 in 2014 to complete its quiz and required that they download an app and share data about themselves and their social network. Facebook let app developers access data, such as their friends’ names and personal information about both themselves and their network. In 2015, Facebook claimed to receive certification that Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and founder of Cambridge Christopher Wylie had destroyed all data collected by the quiz. They didn’t.

Wylie, a data analyst for Cambridge, shared the company’s activities with The New York Times and London’s The Observer in addition with UK cybercrime investigators. Former employees and contractors of Cambridge maintain that the company still possesses all or most of the data. In an interview on Today this morning, Wylie said that Cambridge worked with Corey Lewandowski, DDT’s first campaign manager, and Steve Bannon in 2015. Wylie described the method that Cambridge used:

“This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.”

Facebook blocked Wylie, and he retorted:

“Suspended by Facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for two years.”

Tracking responses to social media messages in real time showed the locations where DDT should go and the words that his audience would want to hear. Bannon said just before DDT’s election:

“I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine. Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.”

Theresa Hong, an IT member of DDT’s campaign, told BBC in an interview last year, “Without Facebook, we wouldn’t have won.” She explained how a working mother could be targeted with information about child care instead of war with a more “warm and fuzzy” ad without DDT’s voice. She said, “It wasn’t uncommon to have about 35 to 45 thousand iterations of these types of ads everyday.”

Cambridge emerged in Robert Mueller’s investigation last December through its employee emails that revealed the FEC violations about non-U.S. people working on political campaigns. Cambridge’s CEO, Nix, is British, and many of the company’s employees are European or Canadian. In its Russian connections, Cambridge contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in June 2016, and the DDT campaign started paying Cambridge in July–almost $9 million by the end of the campaign.

In now-deleted tweets, Facebook’s head of security, Alex Stamos, tried to justify Kogan’s actions by stating that he “didn’t break into any systems, bypass technical controls, or use a flaw in our system to gather more data than allowed.” Yet Facebook did not permit Kogan to give data to a voter-targeting operation.

An undercover reporter has video of  Cambridge CEO Nix who suggested that his company could use honey traps and bribery to discredit politicians. In defining “deep digging,” Nix said that a way to target someone is to “offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that’s video recorded” and “send some girls around to the candidate’s house…” He added that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.” Nix said, “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done.”

Mercer has largely stayed out of the limelight while he funds Cambridge Analytica, which keeps a shell company in the United States, and he pours his money into electing nationalist candidates. Former CEO of the investment firm Renaissance Technologies, Mercer was also a main funder of Breitbart News and the biggest donor to DDT-supporting Super PACs. Steve Bannon was VP of Cambridge Analytica while he chaired Breitbart News but quit to join DDT’s campaign. Bannon is gone from the White House, but Kellyanne Conway, close friend of Mercer’s daughter Rebecca and creator of the term “alternative news,” stayed.

Some of Mercer’s beliefs:

  • During the 1990s, Hillary Clinton used the CIA for drug trafficking.
  • Blacks were better off economically before the civil rights movement.
  • The only racists in the U.S. now are black, not white.
  • The U.S. should have stripped Iraq of oil.
  • Radiation outside the immediate blast zones of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Japanese people healthier.
  • Nuclear accidents aren’t any big deal.
  • Climate change would cause future generations to “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life,” as Art Robinson wrote.
  • The U.S. should return to the gold standard.
  • (And many more wacky, radially far-right conspiracy theories.)

Mercer used Breitbart.com as a weapon to promote negative stories about Hillary Clinton that got the most clicks and likes. He put his daughter, Rebekah, on DDT’s transition team where she picked people for top government jobs including Cabinet positions. Her push for John Bolton as Secretary of State failed, but now he’s being considered for national security adviser. She was also behind Michael Flynn’s selection for that job. On the board of Cambridge, Rebekah Mercer plans to stay there.

Elizabeth Denham, Britain’s information commissioner, plans to apply for a warrant to access Cambridge’s servers because the company has not cooperated with her investigation into its illegal activities. The EU and Democrat officials in the U.S. have joined her in demands for further investigation. Republicans, some of whom used Cambridge in their elections such as Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Thom Tillis (NC), are mostly staying quiet about the problem.

Cambridge Analytica wasn’t totally responsible for the loss in investment value today: under a new chairman, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates with another two increases planned before the midterm elections. Rational influences on DDT from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and economic adviser Gary Cohn are gone, replaced by Mike Pompeo who wants to go to war and Larry Kudlow who is usually wrong about economics. Add to that DDT’s rabid tweets against special investigator Robert Mueller last weekend, and the nation has plunged into an uncertainty that frightens investors.

As for data mining, the future may bring regulations.

November 5, 2016

FBI Needs to Investigate Trump

The supposedly wealthy, jobs guy, Donald Trump, has been found to violate his employees’ federal labor rights by illegally refusing to bargain with his 500+ workers at the Last Vegas Trump International Hotel, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The board has ordered Trump to post notices in the hotel to admit the violation as well as immediately bargain a contract with them. He has actually broken the law while he incites his crowds regarding calls to jail Hillary Clinton—when she hasn’t violated any laws.

Yet the media continues to concentrate on the non-story of Clinton’s email, although Fox network’s  Bret Baier found himself having to make a correction on his “reporting.” After he falsely reported that investigators had determined Clinton’s private email server was hacked “by five foreign intelligence agencies,” leading to an indictment after the election, Baier admitted that “there is no evidence” for his statements. That didn’t stop Trump from constantly repeating these lies on the campaign trail.

No one has any evidence that Clinton’s emails were in any way illegal, but Clinton-hating—white, male, and conservative—FBI agents are rigging the election by spreading false information. The agents leaked so much information to the Trump campaign that the feckless FBI director, James Comey felt compelled to release information a week ago about searching for emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer—emails that were neither sent by nor sent to Clinton.

Two days before Comey sent a damning letter to members of the Congress about the emails, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani bragged about knowing a “big surprise” and then crowed about his knowledge of a revolution inside the FBI that he had learned from active agents. Yesterday, Giuliani said that he knew about the release of information before knowledge because public; today he backed down and denied that FBI agents told him about reviewing newly discovered emails before Comey made the information public. Reps. Elijah Cummings (MD-D) and John Conyers, Jr. (MI-D), the ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, have called on the Inspector General of the Justice Department to investigate “the source of multiple unauthorized—and often inaccurate—leaks from within the FBI to benefit the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

Giuliani is heavily linked to the FBI’s New York City office with his law firm’s ongoing business, concerning 13,000 agents, and the Trump campaign has an open pipeline with the New York City FBI bureau. FBI agents leaking information break their oaths of office, and intentionally interfering with elections violate the federal Hatch Act. Their actions are bringing up memories of Edgar J. Hoover, the first FBI director, who kept extensive files on thousands of people and blackmailed to get his way.

Trump’s super-PAC “Make America Number 1,” financed by Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, also paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year. Trump’s campaign leader Kellyanne Conway headed up the super-PAC and was replaced by David Bossie, head of Citizens United before he was put on Trump’s campaign. Breitbart owners, Robert and Rebehak Mercer, moved former head Steve Bannon to Trump’s campaign. leading part of the super-PAC. In addition, the Mercers funds the Bannon-led non-profit Government Accountability Institute and the video producer “Glittering Steel, a front for Bannon. GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, wrote the smear-filled book, Clinton Cash, that FBI agents used for documentation in its Clinton investigation. Even Schweizer, the author, admits that he has no proof for many of his claims. “Follow the money” shows that the Mercers control both Trump and many FBI agents, using their billions to control the upcoming presidential election.

Their opposition to Clinton is keeping FBI agents mum about an investigation into Trump’s connection on a private server with the largest private commercial bank in Russia. Computer scientists have been following this secretive connection since last July, but the connection disappeared hours after the New York Times asked Alpha Bank about the communication. Within four days, the Trump Organization used a new host name for communication to the same private server. Although scientists were not able to obtain emails, they noted that the conversations paralleled political occurrences in the U.S., with peaks during the two conventions.

In the lengthy Newsweek cover story, Kurt Eichenwald trailed Trump’s destruction of business documents and emails over the past four decades during lawsuits. For example, investors lost a fortune in 2011 when Trump claimed that he had no liability insurance for a failed project in Florida only to have a lawyer reveal two years later that he had a $5 million policy. This is just one of thousands of times when Trump cheated people through his destruction of records. He also destroyed documents when he was the person suing, for example a suit against Cordish Cos., regarding two Native American casinos in 2000.

How crazy is this election getting? In 2000, Ralph Nadar said he preferred George W. Bush to Al Gore. The past 16 years shows where that preference led the nation. Now Jill Stein, Green Party candidate, supports Donald Trump—who thinks that climate change is a hoax from China—to Hillary Clinton. Greens are also defending Stein for her investments in palm oil plantations, the biggest cause of deforestation in the world.

On the other hand, major conservative pundits have wholeheartedly rejected Trump. Charles Krauthammer writes: “[As] final evidence of how bad are our choices in 2016, Trump’s liabilities, especially on foreign policy, outweigh hers.” He continues to discuss the dangers of Russia, China, and Iran seeing a Trump presidency as a way  “to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, American influence.”

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson: “Most options are better than Clinton. But not all. And not this. The GOP has largely accommodated itself to a candidate with no respect for, or knowledge of, the constitutional order… Those who are complicit have adopted a particularly dangerous form of power-loving hypocrisy. It is almost beyond belief that Americans should bless and normalize Trump’s appeal. Normalize vindictiveness and prejudice. Normalize conspiracy theories and the abandonment of reason. Normalize every shouted epithet, every cruel ethnic and religious stereotype, every act of bullying in the cause of American ‘greatness.’”

David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, voted for Hillary Clinton and explained:

“To vote for Trump as a protest against Clinton’s faults would be like amputating a leg because of a sliver in the toe; cutting one’s throat to lower one’s blood pressure.”

Peggy Noonan defined the GOP problem in her column for the Wall Street Journal: “The split in the party happened in the past 15 years. When you give a party two unwon wars, one a true foreign-policy catastrophe, and a great recession, it will begin to break because its members lose confidence in its leaders. When the top of the party believes in things that the bottom of the party doesn’t want (on immigration, entitlements and trade), things will break further. The bottom will begin to feel the top no longer cares about it. That will end their loyalty. Mr. Trump’s Republican foes are wrong in thinking his followers are just sticking with the party. They’re not, they’ve broken from the party.” Yet Republicans think that re-electing a GOP president and Congress will save them.

Trump hates “illegal aliens,” but it’s highly possible that his wife is one. He denied that Melania Trump came to the U.S. on a tourist visa but then worked as a professional model. Documentation has appeared that he lied about Melania Trump’s illegal status. Yet Trump supporters love their candidate in spite—or because—of his lying and illegal activities while they find Clinton, the most truthful of all this year’s candidates—to be “untrustworthy.”

August 27, 2016

Trump: ‘Make American Hate Again’

 

The two presidential candidates dueled this past week about bigotry and hatred. Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton, and Clinton gave a speech composed greatly out of quotes from Donald Trump, his campaign leader, and his surrogates. Instead of lambasting the entire GOP, Clinton isolated him from the establishment party members by graphically describing his strong white-supremacist connections. With Breitbart’s former leader, Steve Bannon, moving over to be Trump’s new campaign CEO, the field of Trump’s offensive comments has vastly expanded—for example, Breitbart’s headline, “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”

Other issues that Clinton brought up are Trump’s praise of Alex Jones who claimed that “the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.” She evoked Trump’s long-term birtherism when he refused to accept that President Obama’s long form of his birth certificate was authentic. There was also the attack on a judge, calling him a “Mexican” when he was born in Illinois, and his connection between Ted Cruz’s father and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Clinton gave House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) a pass when she distanced him from Trump, and she cited anti-racist behavior of past Republicans, for example when George W. Bush went to a mosque the week after 9/11 and said that “[Muslims] love America just as much as I do.” She could have attacked other Republicans, for example Ronald Reagan’s comment about “strapping young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. By making Trump a freaky aberration, however, she makes it easier for Republicans to reject him.

No media outlet even did a fact check on Clinton’s speech except for Breitbart.com, and their defense was filled with lies—for example, their belief that Trump wasn’t racist before his candidacy despite his history of keeping blacks out of his housing development in the 1970s. Everything she said in her speech was true because they were quotes and bringing together all this outrageousness required great skill. Trump’s response thus far is that it was the same old weak technique of Democrats. He also said that he’s never heard of “alt-right,” the white supremacists merged with his campaign. “We’re bringing love,” he said.

Conservative critics said that she shouldn’t have brought the white supremacists into the open, that it was better to leave them alone. Media and internet studies scholar Whitney Phillips wrote, “Sometimes silence isn’t enough, and in fact isn’t appropriate.” People who cross the ethical line continue to go farther and farther without messages that their oppressive aggression and bigotry cannot be tolerated.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, Republicans—formerly Southern Democrats—developed the “Southern Strategy” to encourage racial resentments and anxieties as a method of gathering votes. Trump’s strategy puts this movement on steroids as he energizes white nationalists and supremacists and allowed them back into the mainstream of the conservative political party. Normalizing their behavior has resulted in the “Trump effect” that increases open bullying in schools, violence toward marginalized populations, and threatening the safety of everyone who opposes white supremacy.

The thundering response from GOP leaders to Clinton’s speech was silence. Asked about the lack of response, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said that “Congress is in recess.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and RNC Chair Reince Priebus all have at least one Twitter account, but nothing posted on any of these about Clinton’s speech or on the GOP.com website and blog.

GOP pundits are not as quiet about Trump. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote:

 “Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption. In Trump’s view, leaders elevate themselves by belittling others. They yell and abuse and bully. And their most important quality is absolute loyalty to the great leader, the star of the show. … Trump, more than most, needs to surround himself with people who compensate for his alarming weaknesses. Instead, his choices demonstrate and amplify those weaknesses, becoming one more reason to utterly reject his leadership.”

Trump recently appointed Steven Bannon, former head of extreme right Breitbart.com, for the new campaign CEO. The media found serious problems with Bannon:

  • He was charged for an appalling act of domestic violence against his then-wife in 1996. The case was dismissed after she left town because Bannon threatened her if she stayed.
  • He may be guilty of voter fraud, a problem that the GOP and Trump attribute to minorities. Bannon is registered to vote in swing state Florida at an empty house emptied for demolition. Willfully submitting false information on a Florida voter registration is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. From the 1980s until 2014, Bannon was registered to vote in California from the 1980s until 2014 when he cancelled that registration and then registered in Miami. Residency in Florida is attractive because the state has no income tax. As recently as last week, Bannon was reportedly a resident of Laguna Beach Orange County, CA) where he owns a house although he hosted a talkshow live seven mornings a week from Washington, D.C. or New York City.
  • He may have exchanged money for favorable articles on Breitbart.com. The $2.4 million townhouse in Washington, D.C. that he describes as “his” is actually owned by Egyptian businessman, Mostafa E.-Gindy. Bannon refuses to disclose the financial ties between Gindy and Breitbart.
  • He refused to send his daughters to a private school because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.” In a 2007 court filing, Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard reported that Bannon “said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats.'”

Also on Trump’s payroll is Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s daughter, Lauren. LePage is well-known for his extreme racist statements, but a recent expletive-filled voicemail threatened a state legislator. Earlier this week, he said that he keeps a binder of mugshots for all drug dealers arrested in Maine. He claims that 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic; Maine is 95 percent white. He then declared that people of color in Maine are “the enemy.” About LePage, conservative RedState wrote:

“Donald Trump collects idiots the way Velcro collects lint. That is who he hires…. He has attracted racists and bigots to his campaign in a way I would never have thought possible. He encourages them. He validates them. He inspires them.”

With Trump sinking in the polls, Republicans in Western states fear that he will sink the GOP in their region of increasing numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and younger voters. Trump is also unpopular with educated white professionals who have resettled in Denver, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. Once the deep blue state of California was staunchly red; the same thing can happen in Colorado and Nevada. Trump is rapidly losing “friends” among Republicans. Sean D. Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, called Trump’s campaign to register discontent after Trump referred to people from the Philippines as “animals.” Reyes is part Filipino.

Arizona may have the biggest problem as Clinton has almost tied Trump, and senior senator John McCain faces a difficult election this year. Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, whose sister is a close friend of Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, is donating big money to defeat McCain. The incumbent will probably defeat his extremist right-wing opponent, Kelli Ward, in Tuesday’s primary, but Democratic Ann Fitzpatrick will give him a strong run in the general election. Although Arizona still has more Republicans than Democrats, the latter are registering people at a faster rate. Junior Sen. Jeff Flake, also a Republican, gave this advice: “Distance yourself from Donald Trump.” Even Alaska may not stay red for long: people of color will be 40 percent of voters by 2032.

Yesterday, Trump’s Arizona director said that the candidate had canceled an event this next week in downtown Phoenix, but two hours later, Trump tweeted that the event was on—and would be really big. Earlier this week Trump canceled a Las Vegas rally and called off other scheduled events, including in Colorado.

If John McCain wants to get the vote of people of color, he might want to quit lamenting that “one of the sad things in American politics today is that you can’t tell any ethnic jokes except Irish jokes.” Or at least keep his disappointment about not ridiculing people of color to himself.

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