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Cheers and Jeers: Thursday


Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, October 22, 2020

Note: Today is National Nut Day. So help yourself to the bowl of pistachios, almonds, walnuts, filberts, and Giulianis.

By the Numbers:

8 days…

Days ’til the next “blue moon”: 8

Percent chance that Trump’s campaign is floundering so badly that he’s sending Mike Pence to shore up support in Indiana: 100%

Percent of U.S. voters who favor a government health insurance plan anyone can buy (i.e. a “public option,” according to a new NYT/Siena College poll: 65%

Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) approval rating, per PPP polling: 42%

Iowans polled by PPP who believe the Senate should and should not, respectively, prioritize covid relief over the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation: 55%-32%

Estimated number of North Carolinians who have voted: 2 million

Years Tab was around before the diet soda was discontinued this year: 57

Major League World Series Championship

Tampa Bay Rays 6    Los Angeles Dodgers 4  

(Series is tied 1 game to 1)

Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Without fear of contradiction, I can say that George W. Bush has turned out to be a divider, not a uniter, for the past four years.

Sheesh, if we get any madder at each other there will be fisticuffs, brethren, I say fisticuffs.

Molly Ivins

Liberals, normally gentle as little kittens—usually you can go right up to ’em and touch their soft, curly fur, they don’t mind a bit – are in an alarming state of righteous anger. This time, they devoutly believe, jackbooted fascism is just around the corner. Not only do they think the Bill of Rights is being quietly dismantled, they are sentient enough to notice that our reputation around the world has gone from the instant support of Sept. 11 to disgust and fear.

Meanwhile, many evangelical Christians are convinced gay marriage is upon us and will be the end of civilization. How they convinced themselves George W. Bush is the Lord’s anointed is beyond me. I’ve known him since high school and watched him closely as a public official for 10 years, and I have yet to see the first sign of it.

October 2004

Puppy Pic of the Day: Mask Fail…

CHEERS to the final test of endurance. With a mere dozen days ’til voting ends, the final debate of 2020 happens tonight at Belmont University in Nashville starting at 9 ET. To prevent Trump’s obnoxious outbursts while Joe’s talking, moderator Kirsten Welker will mute one candidate while the other is talking. The topics: “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security” and “Leadership.” I think we know how this plays out: Joe will be cool, calm, informed and empathetic. Trump will…not.

CHEERS to nailing us some bad guys. Holy smokes, Bill Barr’s Justice Department actually did something useful. Six Russian military intelligence officers have been charged (though they’ll never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom) in connection with major hacking operation operations…

…from damaging Ukraine’s electrical grid to interfering in France’s election to spying on European investigations and more. The men work for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU—which also led Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Justice Department officials said Moscow has only sustained or heightened its intensity of effort since then.

The first clue that convinced the feds they were up to no good: the being Russian intelligence officers part.

JEERS to another hold-your-breath-moment in American history. Okay, now this was a real crisis: on October 22, 1962 President Kennedy informed the world that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba:

He ordered our military to quarantine Cuba until Soviet premier Khrushchev agreed to shut ’em down. Kennedy negotiated his way through the melee without establishing a color-coded terror alert system, telling us to go shopping, abandoning our allies, or invading a country that had nothing to do with the crisis at hand.  And to think he called himself a leader.

BRIEF SANITY BREAK

END BRIEF SANITY BREAK

CHEERS and JEERS to Ma Nature’s 2020/2021 playbook. We’ve heard from the Farmer’s Almanac, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the New Farmer’s Almanac, and the Almanac of Farmers Neither Old Nor New But Stuck In A Mid-Life Crisis. Now it’s time for the NOAA to guess what winter will bring to the US-of-A this season. Their Climate Prediction Center’s latest forecast, based on a months-long analyses of moss on trees, fuzz on wooly worms, and sweaters on local TV morning show meteorologists, is shaping up to be a mild one: 

Wetter-than-average conditions: Across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska.

Drier-than-average conditions: In the Southwest, across Texas along the Gulf Coast, and in Florida.

NOAAwinter2020oct15.png
Temp forecast. My brain believes global warming is a bad thing. My fingers and toes disagree.

Above-average temperatures: Hawaii and most of Alaska, with more modest probabilities for above-average temperatures spanning large parts of the remaining lower 48 from the West across the South and up the eastern seaboard.

Below-average temperatures: Southern Alaska and from the northern Pacific Northwest into the Northern Plains. 

As usual, some predictions are harder to make than others.  For example, there’s a zero-percent chance of knowing actual snowfall amounts this far out, but there’s a 100 percent chance of knowing that climate-change deniers will scream “Global cooling!” every time a flake sticks to the pavement. C&J recommends you start assembling your winter management kit now: shovel, ice-melt pellets, blankets, candles, and earplugs.

CHEERS to Great Moments in Saying Stuff. 159 years ago this week, in 1861, the first coast-to-coast telegram was sent from Chief Justice Stephen Field in California to President Lincoln in Washington, D.C.  Field’s Message: “Could you find the whereabouts of Amanda Hugginkiss?” Lincoln‘s reply: “Nice try.”

Ten years ago in C&J: October 22, 2010

JEERS to Tales of the Batty Spouse.  The rich and privileged wife of the first Supreme Court Justice to have his porn collection inducted into the T&A Hall of Fame calls up one of her husband’s former female employees to demand she apologize and make it raaaaht!!!  The former employee’s offense: telling the truth under oath.  And in a related story, researchers in North Carolina have discovered a “tipsy gene” that, among other things, could lead to a cure for drunk-dialing.  Film at 11.

And just one more…

CHEERS to the world’s most lovable knucklehead.  Moe and Larry had their pluses, but The Three Stooges weren’t worth a poke in the eyes without Curly, aka Jerome Howard. He was hilarious while interacting with his co-stooges, but I think he was funniest during his more intimate solo comic moments, where he focused like a laser on getting a Moe-assigned task, like, say, stuffing a turkey, done perfectly…wrong.  Enjoy:

Happy 118th birthday, Curly, wherever you are.  And N’yuck N’yuck to Moe and Larry.

Have a nice Thursday. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?

Today’s Shameless C&J Testimonial

Trump can’t land a glove on a real man like Bill in Portland Maine

The Daily Beast





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Joe Biden’s Tax Plan Will Put The Middle Class In Peril (VIDEO)


Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone was on the FOX Business Network this week to discuss the election, specifically Joe Biden’s tax plan.

Biden keeps claiming he is only going to tax the rich, in an obvious effort to appeal to the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat party, but the truth is that his plan will impact the middle class negatively.

Langone explained how.

From FOX Business:

TRENDING: Mysterious “Donald Trump Watch” Website — With Offices in China — Reveals Addresses of Local Trump Donors for Antifa and BLM Terrorist Targeting

Joe Biden’s tax plan will put middle class in ‘peril,’ Home Depot’s Langone says

Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone blasted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s tax plan on Wednesday, saying that “the middle class will be in peril.”

Langone told “Mornings with Maria” on Wednesday that the middle class will feel the effects of Biden’s tax plan even though the former vice president has said the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and that the tax code should be more progressive and equitable. That includes eliminating loopholes that favor the rich and large corporations.

“I don’t know if there’s any of us that have done well that will have a problem with paying more taxes, but it’s a ruse to think that hitting us and us alone is going to get the job done,” Langone said.

“It won’t and the middle class will be in peril and when you take money out of the hands of the middle class, you do a dramatic impact negatively on the economy.”

“The middle class will not be exempt,” he added. “Tragically, it will punish them. It isn’t going to punish us.”

Watch the video below:

Langone makes some excellent points here but one really stands out.

Why would you raise any taxes when we’re still trying to recover from the hit the economy took under the pandemic?

We should be looking at tax cuts, not increases.

(Image:Source)

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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Jaime Harrison Mocks “Sad” Lindsey Graham for Ducking Latest Debate


There are a lot of things going wrong for Lindsey Graham right now. The South Carolina senator has been getting crushed fundraising wise and has taken to regularly begging for donations on Fox News.

Graham is also up against a really tough challenger in Jaime Harrison. And Harrison has been getting under the senator’s skin in the worst way.  The democratic challenger when viral during their first debate when he brought his own plexiglass divider.

The men were set to debate again tonight. Graham decided not to participate. The incumbent senator has decided that it is more important to be in Washington DC to concentrate on the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination process.

Harrison wasn’t about the let Graham live the decision down. He told SiriusXM’s Laura Coates:

“This is probably the most historic Senate race in the history of this state, and to have Sen. Graham ducking and dodging [the debate] is really sad, but it’s a testament to who he is. He believes that he represents the interest in Washington, D.C., instead of representing the interests of the people in South Carolina. And that’s why he’s on the verge of getting that one-way ticket back home.”

The challenger continued, “We are building something because we are focusing like a laser on the people in the state. As I said so many times on this campaign trail, we’re about to close the chapter on the old South and write a brand new book called the new South, one that is bold, that is inclusive and diverse.”



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Around Atlanta, Many White Suburbanites Are Sticking With Trump


Democrats could still chip away at Mr. Trump’s margins with such voters, Mr. Thurmond argued, in part by dispelling the notion that supporting racial justice and opposing “rioting and looting” are somehow at odds.

“You don’t have to choose,” he said. “But Republicans know that you can sell fear at a very low price. And they’ve taken the defund-the-police message to mean we don’t want any police, which is ridiculous.”

At the same time, Mr. Thurmond said, “we haven’t done a very good job in defining what it does mean.”

Mr. Thurmond pointed to Ms. McBath as someone trying to wrest the issue back from Republicans. She once more faces Ms. Handel in her re-election bid in Georgia’s Sixth District, among the best-educated congressional districts in the country, and has repeatedly emphasized that she does not want to defund the police. “That has never come out of my mouth,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week.

That Mr. Biden’s own insistence against defunding the police hasn’t resonated as deeply with white degree-holders in Georgia is in part a function of resources. With multiple true battleground states up for grabs, from Florida to Pennsylvania, Democratic strategists acknowledged that there’s only a moderate incentive to divert cash and time to places like Georgia and Texas, tight as the polling may be. Ultimately, Mr. Biden has a number of paths to 270 electorate votes should he lose Georgia; Mr. Trump, however, has a much narrower path.

Mr. Trump has visited the state multiple times since taking office, including a rally on Friday in Macon. September alone saw campaign swings from Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. On Sept. 25, the president appeared in Atlanta as part of his Black Voices for Trump initiative, which he launched in the state last fall. During the Republican National Convention, the campaign featured Vernon Jones, a Black Democratic state representative supporting Mr. Trump. Following the convention, Mr. Jones called on his party to “condemn Black Lives Matter and then Antifa.”

Brian Robinson, a Republican strategist in Georgia, is hopeful that the new Supreme Court vacancy will allow Mr. Trump to solidify any incremental gains he has made through his law-and-order message.

“You’re hearing people now saying that they don’t like Trump, but that the Supreme Court opening has reminded them why it’s important to have a Republican in the White House,” he said. “It’s another example of people who were wavering before, but are now back firmly with Trump.”



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These ballot measures will shape voting rights—and whether elections are fair—for years to come


Gerrymandering and Redistricting Reform

Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia are all voting on measures that affect redistricting. In Missouri, Republicans placed a misleading amendment on the ballot that would effectively gut a reform that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2018 to make legislative redistricting fairer, trying to trick voters into repealing the reform by attaching token ethics reforms.

In New Jersey, Democrats have put an amendment on the ballot to delay legislative redistricting until the 2023 elections if the release of census data is delayed. The move is intended to protect incumbents from having to run in new districts for an extra two years to the detriment of New Jersey’s growing Asian and Latino populations, whose rightful share of representation would be delayed if the amendment passes.

In an extremely unusual move in Virginia, the state’s Democratic legislature allowed an amendment to pass with GOP support that would see Democrats surrender their own power to gerrymander and instead create a bipartisan commission appointed half by legislators from both parties and the other half chosen by retired judges. This reform was a compromise with Republican legislators and includes some flaws, but on the whole it should lead to relatively nonpartisan districts for Congress and the state legislature after 2020 if it becomes law.

Electoral System Reform

Efforts to replace the existing electoral system with something that more faithfully implements voters’ preferences are on the ballot in several jurisdictions. These measures take aim at the existing system of plurality-winner elections that can see a third candidate play “spoiler” and cost the runner-up a victory. They all aim to ensure majority rule, but not all may end up having a positive effect.

In Alaska and Massachusetts, voters could adopt variants of instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting) in congressional and state elections. This system, which Maine adopted in 2016 and expanded in 2019, lets voters rank their preferences and sequentially eliminates the last-place finisher by reassigning their votes to each voter’s subsequent preference until one candidate attains a majority. Such systems cut down on the spoiler problem and help to protect majority rule. Alaska’s measure would use a variant where the top four finishers in an all-party primary would advance to an instant-runoff general election. (It would use a regular instant-runoff for the presidency.)

A more novel reform to plurality-winner elections is going before voters in St. Louis, Missouri. This approach would adopt a variation of so-called “approval voting,” letting voters cast up to one vote for each candidate and having whichever two candidates receive the most votes in the first round advance to the general election. This system aims to avoid some of the complications of instant-runoff voting but is largely untested in real elections, unlike instant-runoff voting, which has a long history both domestically at the local level and abroad.

A Florida initiative that would implement a top two “primary” for state-level elections could have disastrous effects for partisan fairness and Black and Latino representation. This system is in use in California and Washington and has seen major parties get shut out of winnable general elections solely because their vote was split between too many candidates in the primary. It could also make it much harder for Black voters especially to elect their chosen candidates and is facing a lawsuit that could invalidate it for that reason.

Finally, Mississippi’s GOP-led legislature, in the face of a lawsuit, has placed an amendment on the ballot to repeal part of its 1890 Jim Crow constitution that created an Electoral College-esque system for determining the winner in elections for governor and other statewide executive offices. This system has been further strained by GOP gerrymandering, such that it would be impossible for Democrats and the Black voters who support them to ever win statewide. This reform would require majority support to avoid a runoff, a method that is not ideal but is nevertheless fairer than the status quo.

Restrictions on the Ballot Initiative Process

Republicans across the country have gerrymandered their maps and passed widespread restrictions on voting, leaving direct democracy as a critical tool for fighting back against these efforts to entrench GOP minority rule. Republicans have responded by trying to restrict the initiative process to preserve their power and have advanced measures in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota that would make it harder for reformers to place new measures of their own on the ballot in the future.

Bans on Noncitizen Voting

Republicans in Alabama, Colorado, and Florida are supporting amendments that would rewrite their constitutions to emphasize that only citizens may vote. While these measures would have no effect on the status quo, they would prevent local governments from experimenting with letting legal permanent residents who lack citizenship still vote in local elections, something a handful of small localities in the U.S. and many European democracies already allow.

Efforts to Lower the Voting Age

Lowering the voting age to 16 is an idea that has quietly grown in popularity in recent years. A handful of small localities already allow the practice in local elections, and a majority of the House Democratic caucus voted in favor of doing so federally last year. A number of foreign democracies such as Austria and Brazil already allow 16-year-olds to vote, and San Francisco could become the first major city in America to lower the voting age to 16 in local elections. Just to the east, the city of Oakland could lower the voting age for school board elections, and all of California could join a growing number of states letting 17-year-olds vote in primaries if they’ll turn 18 by the general election.

Other Measures

Puerto Rico will once again vote on whether to become a state, and while the measure is not legally binding, it could spur Congress to act on passing an admission bill if Democrats retake the Senate and eliminate the filibuster. Statehood would mean that more than 3 million American citizens would gain representation in the House and Senate. It would also modestly mitigate the upper chamber’s bias against voters of color and potentially lessen its partisan bias toward the GOP, too.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would assign a state’s votes in the Electoral College to the national popular vote winner if states with a majority of electoral votes sign on, has gained steam since Trump’s election in 2016 and saw Colorado become the first swing state to join in 2019. However, Colorado Republicans have fought back by putting an initiative on the ballot to repeal the law joining the compact. The outcome of the vote could encourage Democrats in other swing states to follow Colorado’s lead, or deter them.

While nearly every state constitution protects the right to vote in some form, Nevada could go even further by enshrining the right to vote in its constitution using modernized language to protect certain methods of voting access. California, meanwhile, could expand voting rights to tens of thousands of citizens on parole for a felony conviction, joining 18 other states that don’t disenfranchise anyone not in prison.

Finally, Oregon is one of the last states that allows individuals to donate unlimited sums of money directly to candidates in state elections, but that may soon change. A state Supreme Court ruling earlier this year overturned a precedent that had barred limits on campaign contributions, and now Democrats have placed an amendment on the ballot to codify lawmakers’ ability to regulate campaign donations and ensure that the existence of such limits and disclosure requirements isn’t dependent upon the ever-changing composition of the courts.

Below you can find a table summarizing all 24 ballot measures we’re tracking, and you can find a spreadsheet version of it here.

JurisdictionTitleSubjectImpact on Fair ElectionsDescription
AlabamaAmendment 1Noncitizen votingNegativeBans noncitizens from voting in local elections by requiring citizenship for voting
AlaskaMeasure 2Electoral system reformPositive or NeutralAdopts a top-four primary with instant-runoff general election; adds campaign finance disclosure requirements
ArkansasIssue 3Ballot initiative processNegativeTightens geographic distribution restrictions for ballot initiative signature requirements in order to make liberal-supported initiatives harder
ArkansasIssue 2Term limitsNeutralLoosens lifetime term limits for legislators
CaliforniaProposition 18Voting agePositiveLets 17-year-olds vote in primaries if they turn 18 by the general election
CaliforniaProposition 17Felony disenfranchisementPositiveEliminates disenfranchisement of voters on parole for a felony conviction
ColoradoAmendment 76Noncitizen votingNegativeBans noncitizens from voting in local elections by requiring citizenship for voting
ColoradoProposition 113Electoral CollegeNegativeReferendum to repeal law joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact for the Electoral College
FloridaAmendment 4Ballot initiative processNegativeRequires ballot initiatives to win (at least 60%) voter support in two consecutive general elections instead of one
FloridaAmendment 3Electoral system reformNegativeAdopts a top-two primary (aka two-round system) in state-level races
FloridaAmendment 1Noncitizen votingNegativeBans noncitizens from voting in local elections by requiring citizenship for voting
IowaConstitutional ConventionConstitutional conventionNeutralDecides whether to call a state constitutional convention
MassachusettsQuestion 2Electoral system reformPositiveAdopts instant-runoff voting (aka ranked-choice) in congressional, state, and countywide elections
MississippiMeasure 2Electoral system reformPositiveRepeals Jim Crow-era “electoral college” law in statewide elections and replaces it with provision for a separate runoff election if no candidate wins a majority
MissouriAmendment 3Legislative redistrictingNegativeEffectively repeals a voter-approved 2018 ballot measure that made legislative redistricting treat both parties more fairly
MissouriAmendment 1Term limitsNeutralSets a two-term limit for statewide executive offices below the governorship, which is already subject to that limit
NevadaQuestion 4Right to votePositiveGuarantees the right to vote via certain methods
New JerseyQuestion 3Legislative redistrictingNegativePostpones 2021 legislative redistricting until the 2023 election cycle if census data release is delayed to after Feb. 15, 2021
North DakotaMeasure 2Ballot initiative processNegativeRequires a ballot initiative to win voter support in two consecutive general elections instead of one if the legislature doesn’t approve it
OregonMeasure 107Campaign financePositiveAllows the legislature to set campaign donation limits and disclosure requirements in state and local elections
VirginiaRedistricting Commission AmendmentRedistricting reformPositiveCreates a bipartisan commission to draw congressional and legislative districts
Oakland, CAMeasure QQVoting agePositiveLowers the voting age to 16 in school board election
San Francisco, CAProposition GVoting agePositiveLowers the voting age to 16 in local elections
St. Louis, MOProposition DElectoral system reformPositiveAdopts approval voting primary where the top-two finishers advance to the general election for local elections





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Survey Finds President Trump Has Far More Support From Muslim Voters Than Joe Biden


A new survey has found that Muslim voters are backing President Trump over Joe Biden, and by a large margin.

Democrats and the media have spent years falsely describing Trump’s temporary travel ban as a “Muslim ban” in an obvious effort to portray him as anti-Muslim. This has obviously failed.

Trump’s approval among Muslim’s is even higher than Obama’s was in 2012, according to the survey.

The Washington Examiner reports:

TRENDING: BREAKING: Giuliani Gives Hunter Biden’s Hard Drive to Delaware State Police Over Photos of Underage Girls, Inappropriate Texts

‘Trump does what he says’: Muslims abandon Biden, back president

President Trump, whose Middle East plan is winning support from Arab nations, is gaining strong support from Muslim leaders and their followers who believe that the Democrats haven’t delivered on years of promises, according to a new survey of Islamic leaders.

In a shocking turnaround, 61.48% of the 109 Muslim leaders who “represent two million voters” plan to vote for Trump. That is a slight edge over their 2012 vote for Barack Obama.

The survey of the leaders was done by the Washington correspondent for Aksam Gazetesi, a Turkish news site. It suggested that the Muslim leaders’ support for former Vice President Joe Biden was 30.27%.

Those results represent a dramatic flip of the Muslim vote, which for years has sided with the Democrats.

Aksam’s Washington correspondent Yavuz Atalay shared his results with Secrets and said, “It’s about the trustworthy. Obama, Clinton said good words, but they did not do what they said. Biden is doing same things. Good words but no action. Trump does what he says.”

This is a remarkable development which is being largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Here’s an interesting theory about the support:

It will be fascinating to revisit this after the election to analyze the results.

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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Trump Accidentally Stumbles Into The Truth During Pennsylvania Rally


During a bizarre rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, Donald Trump momentarily stumbled into the truth as he came to the realization that “nobody” really likes him.

As the president was ticking through a short list of people that he says don’t want him to be reelected, he concluded by saying, “Nobody wants me. Nobody.”

For a brief moment in time, Trump appeared to do something that’s almost unheard of at his MAGA rallies: Tell the truth.

“What I’ve gone through – the drug companies, they’re spending a fortune on fake ads. They don’t want me. They don’t want me. China doesn’t want me. Iran doesn’t want me. Nobody wants me. Nobody,” he said.

Fact check: True.

Of course, Trump quickly snapped out of it when his cult-like crowd of supporters cheered that they, in fact, want him, to which Trump responded, “Erie wants me. Erie wants me.”

Video:

Trump is the president America never wanted

Donald Trump may have eked out an Electoral College victory four years ago, but a majority of the American people didn’t choose him as their preferred candidate to lead the country.

Since taking office, Trump hasn’t spent a single day trying to appeal to those who didn’t support him in 2016. It’s been four years of riling up the MAGA base with hateful rhetoric and inhumane policies.

It’s no surprise then that Trump is the first president in the modern polling era to not achieve a single day of majority approval throughout his first term.

So when the president briefly admitted that “nobody wants” him during a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, he was actually telling the truth.

Donald Trump is the president that America never wanted.

Follow Sean Colarossi on Facebook and Twitter





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U.S. Government and Tech Firms Push Back on Russia (and Trump)


Over the past two weeks, United States Cyber Command and a group of companies led by Microsoft have engaged in an aggressive campaign against a suspected Russian network that they feared could hold election systems hostage come November.

Then, on Monday, the Justice Department indicted members of the same elite Russian military unit that hacked the 2016 election for hacking the French elections, cutting power to Ukraine and sabotaging the opening ceremony at the 2018 Olympics. And in Silicon Valley, tech giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google have been sending out statements every few days advertising how many foreign influence operations they have blocked, all while banning forms of disinformation in ways they never imagined even a year ago.

It is all intended to send a clear message that whatever Russia is up to in the last weeks before Election Day, it is no hoax. The goal, both federal officials and corporate executives say, is to disrupt Russia’s well-honed information-warfare systems, whether they are poised to hack election systems, amplify America’s political fissures or get inside the minds of voters.

But behind the scenes is a careful dance by members of the Trump administration to counter the president’s own disinformation campaign, one that says the outcome on Nov. 3 will be “rigged” unless he wins.

So while President Trump continues to dismiss the idea of Russian intervention, a combination of administration and industry officials are pushing a different narrative: that U.S. intelligence agencies, Facebook, Twitter, Google and others are avoiding the mistakes of four years ago, when they all had their radars off.

But there is also no assurance it will work.

“We don’t like to admit it, but the Russians may not be deterrable,” said James A. Lewis, the director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “How far do we have to go? Is this far enough? We are still scoping that out.”

Keep up with Election 2020

No one will be able to assess the effectiveness of the counteroffensive until after Election Day, when Washington circulates the cyberequivalent of battle-damage reports. But even now there are reasons to question whether the efforts to take on Russia, some of which began in the 2018 midterm elections, have been too timid.

It is hardly a coincidence that the indictments announced on Monday against hackers with Russia’s G.R.U. were unsealed 15 days before the election. But it is unclear what deterrent effect indictments can have when the G.R.U.’s officers are unlikely to ever see the inside of an American courtroom.

One of the hackers named in the indictment was previously charged with hacking U.S. election administrators four years ago. That did not stop him from a brazen hack on the country of Georgia last year. Likewise, even after Russia was outed for hacking the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, that apparently did nothing to dissuade it from hacking the postponed 2020 Tokyo games, British officials revealed Monday.

John P. Carlin, the former assistant attorney general for national security who developed much of the Justice Department’s strategy for indicting foreign hackers, and later wrote about it in the book “Dawn of the Code War,” said Mr. Trump’s denial of what happened four years ago gave Russia lots of leeway.

“The details in the indictment are stunning and reveal Russian operatives at the direction of the state attacking the whole world,” he said, adding that “the conspicuous absence of leadership from President Trump” on the issue was all the more striking given the efforts “to expose and disrupt this activity.”

“These attacks on countries and civilian behavior won’t stop until the commander-in-chief calls it out and works with the rest of the victimized world to deter future indiscriminate attacks,” Mr. Carlin said.

If the indictments are the public face of the offensive against the Russians, the effort to dismantle Trickbot — a vast network of infected computers used by ransomware groups — is the more covert element.

Late last month, the military’s Cyber Command started neutralizing Trickbot with a series of attacks. Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit secured federal court orders to shut down Trickbot’s infrastructure around the world.

On Tuesday, Microsoft said the operation had been largely successful. It has taken down over 90 percent of Trickbot’s command-and-control servers. The idea is to keep the Russians on the run, so distracted that they are unable to use those systems for ransomware attacks that could hold the election hostage.

“These guys are really good and really move fast, and we knew they would react to rebuild their systems,” said Tom Burt, the Microsoft executive who is running the team. “We were prepared to follow them, and tear down whatever they build up.”

But as Cyber Command and Microsoft were taking aim at Trickbot, a new hacking threat emerged.

Over the past two months, a different group of Russian hackers — known as “Energetic Bear” or “Dragonfly,” and believed to be operating within the country’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B. — has been targeting American state and local networks, according to government and private security researchers.

Their goal is still unclear, but the timing — so close to the election — and the actor, which was previously caught hacking American nuclear, water, and electric plants, has sent alarm bells ringing at Cyber Command and at security firms like FireEye. CyberScoop earlier published details of a leaked FireEye report on the campaign on Tuesday.

Officials worry that even if those hacks do not amount to much, the Russians’ very presence inside U.S. state and local systems could be used to support the president’s baseless allegations that the election is “rigged.”

That was part of the motivation behind an unusual nine-minute video posted online this month — titled “Safeguarding Your Vote”— featuring senior American law enforcement, intelligence and cybersecurity officials.

“We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, assured voters.

Mr. Wray and his counterparts have been contradicted at every turn by the president, who continues to assail mail-in voting as an avenue for fraud, for which there is no evidence. Mr. Trump’s claims are often amplified by the Russians, whose main interest is to cast doubt about the credibility of free elections.

“Trump has been a godsend to Russia,” Mr. Lewis said.

In Silicon Valley, executives believe a “perception hack” may pose the greatest threat to the election and have been mounting their own counternarrative.

Facebook, Twitter and Google have all talked up coordination with one another and the government. The companies were credited, with Cisco’s Talos cybersecurity unit, as having played a role in the indictments of the six G.R.U. officers announced on Monday.

Twitter has talked up its takedown of state-backed influence campaigns from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Cuba and Iran, and has slapped more overt warning messages on tweets that violate its policies, including those from the president.

Facebook has advertised its takedowns of foreign influence campaigns from China and the Philippines and 300 Russian assets. It has also lowered its tolerance for disinformation.

After years of allowing Holocaust deniers a place on its platform, Facebook started censoring that content this month and stepping up its crackdown of QAnon, which promotes a conspiracy that the world is run by Satan-worshiping pedophiles plotting against Mr. Trump.

The question is whether these efforts, so late in the election cycle, will have the intended effect, since the president has already primed his supporters, and others, to distrust the “fake news,” the “deep state” and now, the election.



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Trump’s lost his edge on the economy and trails Biden on every other major issue


Overall, the poll gives Biden a 9-point lead among likely voters nationally, 50%-41%, but the strength of Biden’s position is built upon the issues voters care about. 

Likely voter preferences on the issues
BidenTrump
Economy47%48%
Coronavirus52%40%
Unifying America55%36%
law and order50%44%
Choosing a Scotus justice49%43%

Trump has been effectively neutralized on the two issues he has deliberately pushed most over the closing months of the election: the economy and law and order. The poll also found that voters broadly support passage of a new $2 trillion stimulus deal to boost the economy, 72%-21%, but Trump hasn’t had the juice to get that done amid a revolt by Senate Republicans (who would sooner die than do anything to help struggling Americans).  

But Trump’s fall on the economy could be an indication that at least half of voters now view the national economic outlook as inherently linked to how well the country is handling the pandemic. Michael Zemaitis, an independent voter in Minnesota who is supporting Biden, said he clearly believed a Democratic administration would better tackle the coronavirus than Trump has. “Once that is dealt with, the economy will fall back into line,” he said. 

Additionally, most voters reject Trump’s assertion that we’ve “turned the corner” on the pandemic, with 51% saying the worst is yet to come while just 37% believe the worst is behind us.

Trump is also losing important demographics in the poll, with 56% of women holding a “very unfavorable” view of him along with 53% of white college-educated voters. In 2016, Trump lost women by 13 points while the Times poll shows him losing them by 23 points, 35%-58%. Likewise, Trump won white college-educated voters by 3 points last cycle while he is losing them by 19 points now, 37%-56%. 

Trump won his strongest demographic—non-college whites—by 37 points in ’16. The Times poll shows him winning that bloc by just 23 points now, 36%-59%.





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Whoopi Goldberg Says She’s In a Depression Over Trump And The Election (VIDEO)


Something strange is going on. People in the media are convinced that Joe Biden is going to win the election. They point to all the polls that were wrong in 2016 and cling to the belief that Trump will lose.

Yet they don’t behave like people who believe they are winning.

Take Whoopi Goldberg of The View.

She recently claimed that she’s in a depression over Trump.

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The Washington Examiner reports:

Whoopi Goldberg says she’s fallen into a ‘depression’ because of Trump: ‘Everything he says is pissing me off’

The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg said President Trump’s words on the campaign trail has caused her to sink into a “depression.”

“What is he talking about? I’m in a depression now, because of him. Every time I see him, he depresses me. Everything he says is pissing me off and depressing me,” Goldberg said on Monday on The View.

Goldberg was venting frustrations with Trump after showing a clip of him at a rally on Sunday, where he criticized the effect a Joe Biden presidency would have on America.

“If you vote for Biden, he will surrender your jobs to China. He will surrender your future to the virus,” Trump said in the clip. “He’s going to lock down, he’s gonna want us to lock down. He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would, right now, have a country that would be in a massive depression, instead of, well, like a rocketship.”

Watch the video below:

Why is Whoopi so depressed?

Could it be because in her heart she knows that the polls are off just like they were four years ago and that there’s a very good chance that Trump is going to win again?

The left is not acting like Biden is going to win.

It’s very telling, isn’t it?

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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