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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 26, 2016

 
On Debate Night Your Tweet Matters

by Spocko

When the debates are on, my comedian friends and I are trying to come up with funny tweets. We'll comment on the zingers and if they landed or not. We retweet the ones we think are the funniest. Getting a like for a funny tweet is nice, but getting a retweet really hits the ol' dopamine centers. ( Frank Conniff is my favorite. The HRC camp should classify him as a national treasure and put him in charge of strategic zingers.)

While I'm trying to craft 140 character zingers, my political friends are trying to fill out their debate bingo drinking cards.
"When Hillary's opponent says, 'I'm going to build a wall!' take a drink. If he says, 'Mexico will pay for it,' take a shot of tequila.' If the moderator, asks 'How will that work?' or cites comments from the Mexican President about paying for the wall, eat the worm. (Don't worry, you won't have to eat a worm!)"

When I watched the first GOP debate I knew I was no longer watching a political debate but the TV show Who Wants to be President? which morphed into Last Comic Standing. It was all about the zingers, insults and nicknames. I expect a lot of the same in tonight's debate.

I'll admit it, it's great fun to make fun of the debates, but, as we used to say in the shop, "It's all fun and games until someone launches a nuke."

Like most sentient beings, I don't want to help the short-fingered vulgarian get into power. You might not either. Beyond screaming at the TV during one of his lies, what can you do now? it turns out that you should also Tweet smart, because the media is dumb.
Tweeting Smart example for sane people: Because some analysis only counts keyword use, Tweet Hillary Clinton's full name vs. The Talking Yam's. "Hillary won. #imwithher You heard me, Hillary Clinton won the #debatetonight and we are #strongertogether

The mainstream media covering the Presidential election has an over reliance on social media to replace their "man on the street" pieces. Every word we say, or don't say, is counted, sorted and analyzed by the media then presented as "the public's reaction." So, if you don't use the right keywords you might get missed by the dumb tools in the media. As far as the media is concerned, my funny-pithy tweet doesn't count because their tool didn't see I was commenting about the debate.
Credit, Shout: Wired TwitterBots Eagle

But you know whose tweets will get picked up? The millions of TwitterBots controlled by a handful of people. They know how the keywords, counting and sorting tools of the media work. This means that when the media talks about "the public's reaction" It's not totally the public's reaction. This is a problem. How big is it?

One estimate from Twitter Audit is that 1 out of every 4 followers of Big Orange Hair are fake. And yes, both sides do it, Hillary Clinton has the same percentage of fake twitter followers as her opponent. You can be outraged or see it as "Bot Parity" for those accounts.

However, simply looking at fake followers of one candidate isn't enough. Think about all the dark money spent on the election. Millions of fake followers from the 11 GOP presidential candidates can be endorsing Mr. "Issued Two Death Threats To Hillary In a Month" with a few keystrokes.

Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard wrote a very enlightening piece for Wired this May, Bots Unite to Automate the Presidential Election

Social media bots exist and they are being used. Fake Twitter accounts are a great way for corporations and rich people to push a trend. They can even order up positive tweets about the Mr. "My Ex-Wife Testified I Raped Her" from millions of hispanics, women and black tweeters. Plus, the tweets can't be traced back to them.

How much do these fake tweets influence people? Does the media understand them and factor them out before talking about "public perceptions?" (Have you ever heard anyone in the news media even mentioning them when they read off Twitter stats?)

I would say, 'Buyer Beware." but we are the ones being sold. In the world of social media there is no regulation, no Federal Election Commission pushing for transparency.

Social media manipulation tools exist, they are being used all the time and we know nothing about them. If the mainstream media doesn't understand how they are being played, we the people need to understand this, so we can act appropriately.

Let the #debatenight tweets begin. And may the best real Tweets from actual individuals win.
 
There Is Only One Candidate Part 6

by tristero

Huffington Post main page at September 26, 2016 3:19 PM EST:

31 mentions of "Trump"
7 mentions of "Donald"
Total Trumps: 38

4 mentions of "Clinton"
2 mentions of "Hillary"
Total Clintons: 6

Put another way, today the Huffington Post believes that Trump is more than 6 times as important as Clinton.

Sigh.

Adding, I was speaking to my smart daughter about this and she said, "Yeah but most of the headlines are negative. Doesn't that matter, that he's being trashed?"

It would if this were seen as a political campaign, but that's not how Americans perceive this election. Sorry, fellow liberals and wonks. There are no big ideas at stake here. It's just marketing exposure doing what marketing exposure does.

Suppose you make decent organic peanut butter. And you decide to advertise it by creating an ad campaign in which you trash Jif more often than you tout your own good qualities. Suppose every commentator everywhere agrees with you, and chooses to emphasize how lousy Jif is more than they mention your product. They're reasoning is, "Once Americans realize how unhealthy Jif is, they'll know they have to eat organic peanut butter!"

Suppose in addition, because the makers of Jif are such cunning marketing people, that the name "Jif" is ubiquitous - on fancy buildings, on major highways, on huge casinos, on every magazine cover, on TV, social media, in the schools, and there are even books and TV movies about the greatness of Jif.

So even though your organic peanut butter is a demonstrably healthier product on so many levels, Jif appears to be pretty tempting, what with that added sugar and all. And besides, Jif''s being mentioned more than 6 times as often as any other nut spread - can't remember exactly what they said...it's all too technical and a blur...There's gotta be something there, maybe it's good!

So seriously, what's the big deal about Jif being bad? Besides, what's the alternative?  I mean, how bad can Jif be? 

Gimme!

And that is what is going on right now.

(With apologies to Jif: consuming 1 mg of Trump is way more dangerous than eating an entire case of Jif in one sitting.)
 
Letting the freak flag fly

by digby












A vendor at the Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania advertised his wares by displaying a large Nazi flag next to a Donald Trump banner, according to The Citizens' Voice, a local Pennsylvania paper. 
The flag was taken down Monday after it was initially spotted and a fairgoer posted a picture of it on social media Sunday night. 
“Security and the directors and other people did take care of it,” concessions clerk Barbara Belles told The Citizens’ Voice. Belles also said the vendor was apparently displaying the flag for political purposes.
In case you were wondering, it wasn't some ironic anti-Trump protest. Here's a sample of his other Trumpish "politically incorrect" wares:



And this:


They also found a bunch of Nazi paraphernalia at his home. No need to worry though. He wasn't a Muslim.



 
Trainwreck America

by digby







 
Now where on earth do they get this idea?

by digby

Justin Wolfers in the NYT has a story about the betting markets and tonight's debate. Obviously it doesn't really tell us anything real but it's illustrative of what these people know about the presidential race:
They don’t seem to expect much substance on issues, judging from the under-over bets on how many times various issues or words will be mentioned. The top three terms are “email” (you can bet on whether there will be over 7.5 mentions, or under 7.5 mentions), “deport” (the line is 6.5 mentions) and “liar” (5.5 mentions). Expect less discussions of “racism” (an over-under of 2.5 mentions), Wall Street (3.5 mentions) or each candidate’s “foundation” (4.5 mentions). If you’re wondering how there can be half a mention, there obviously can’t; this is how Las Vegas breaks a tie.
This is what people have "heard" and expect to hear more of. Because these are all words they've heard over and over again and which have determined for many Americans what this campaign is about.

Can you see the problem?  I knew that you could:




.



 
Turning their backs

by digby

... to take a selfie:




Andrea Mitchell says that this illustrates the fact that millennials hate her.

.
 
I gotcher false equivalency for ya

by digby












This from Think Progress shows just how insane this need to provide "balance" really is:
Over the weekend, various major media outlets discovered that Donald Trump lies a lot. 
“Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has,” the LA Times reported.

“Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive,” wrote the New York Times.

Politico had a worthy plan to evaluate Trump’s truthfulness. It decided to track the public statements of both candidates for one week and compare them.
That exercise found that Trump says something false every 3 minutes and 15 seconds while Clinton utters a falsehood every 12 minutes.

“Compared with Trump’s machine-gun style of spewing falsehoods, Clinton’s detours from the truth were rarer and more targeted,” Politico concluded.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Politico went to extreme lengths to create even this level of equivalency between Trump and Clinton.


One of Clinton’s eight “lies” is her claim that Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax would be a $4 billion tax cut for his family. Politico argues that this is a lie because it is based on Donald Trump’s own estimate of his net worth.

In other words, Clinton is guilty of lying because she took Trump at his word about his own net worth. It’s not enough for Clinton to tell the truth and to accurately describe the impact of his estate tax plan. She also has to identify and correct Trump’s lies. 
Trump’s actual net worth cannot be independently determined because, among other things, Trump has not released his tax returns.

 
Word salad a la Trump

by digby












I wrote about Trump's debating style for Salon today:

What a long strange trip it’s been since I wrote about the first GOP debate in August 2015. The stage was so crowded with Republican all-stars they couldn’t fit them on the same stage. The anticipation of seeing amateurs like Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump face off with seasoned pols like Gov. Chris Christie and former governor Jeb Bush, and the fringier Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Trump got off to a great start and set the tone for the rest of the debates when he responded to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly quoting him saying women are “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” by replying, to the great amusement of the crowd, that he had said that only about Rosie O’Donnell. It’s doubtful there were more than a handful of people in the country that night who dreamed that a little over a year later he would be standing on the stage facing Hillary Clinton.

There were 12 debates and seven candidate forums during the Republican primaries. Trump participated in all but one of the debates and three of the forums, and he dominated all of them. After Trump was asked a tough question early on about the nuclear triad and looked like a deer caught in headlights, he learned to take advantage of the time constraints by volleying insults and crude zingers to avoid answering difficult questions. He found that he could deflect and distract by being outrageous.

But the final debate between the last four standing, Trump, Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich, was different. It may be the template for what we’re going to see tonight. Trump wasn’t his usual garrulous self. He was “serious” in that debate, no name-calling, no acting out. And he made absolutely no sense.

Take just this one question as an example:



Moderator: Mr. Trump, you don’t want to raise the retirement age, and you also don’t want to cut benefits, even for wealthier Americans. But according to the Social Security Administration, unless adjustments are made, Social Security is projected to run out of money within 20 years. So specifically, what would you do to stop that from happening?

Donald Trump: Well, first of all, I want you to understand that the Democrats, and I’ve watched them very intensely, even though it’s a very, very boring thing to watch, that the Democrats are doing nothing with Social Security. They’re leaving it the way it is. In fact, they want to increase it. They want to actually give more.

And that’s what we’re up against. And whether we like it or not, that is what we’re up against.

I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is; to make this country rich again; to bring back our jobs; to get rid of deficits; to get rid of waste, fraud and abuse, which is rampant in this country, rampant, totally rampant.

He babbled on for some time about how he would get rid of deficits and how China is ruining everything and how he will cut all the fat and make America great again. It was a simple bold promise to “fix everything” and voters don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about the details.

But you’ll notice where he also said, “the Democrats are doing nothing with Social Security. They’re leaving it the way it is” and “that is what we’re up against” but then immediately said, “I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is.” It’s a bizarre, contradictory statement that allows him to have it both ways, to criticize the Democrats while taking exactly the same position.


The confused moderator let that go but followed up with facts and figures suggesting that “waste, fraud and abuse” would only amount to about 2 percent of the money needed. Trump replied that there’s plenty of money if we stop being the policeman of the world — and said in the same breath that we must spend whatever it takes to build up our military. He ended with:


We are going to be in a different world. We’re going to negotiate real deals now, and we’re going to bring the wealth back to our country. We owe $19 trillion. We’re going to bring wealth back to our country.

If you wrap all that up, what Trump was apparently saying is that we’re going to “negotiate deals” to “bring back” wealth and make other countries pay for the massive costs of building up our military, shoring up Social Security and everything else. This is inane twaddle, but it isn’t name-calling. He soundedserious.

When Trump’s numbers were challenged by Marco Rubio, this was how he responded:


Look, I’m just saying very simply we have a country that I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve been going over budgets and looking at budgets. We don’t bid things out. We don’t bid out, as an example, the drug industry, pharmaceutical industry. They don’t go out to bid. They just pay almost as if you walk into a drugstore. That’s what they’re paying.

I’m self-funding my campaign. Nobody is going to be taking care of me. I don’t want anybody’s money. I will tell you something. We’re going to go out to bid in virtually every different facet of our government. We’re going to save a fortune.

That is nonsense word salad worthy of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. (He’s going to “bid out” the pharmaceutical industry? Even in Trump’s fantasy universe, what does that mean?) Word salad is very difficult to rebut, particularly if it is delivered with a confident attitude. Sure, it’s incoherent gibberish, but because it’s all over the place it’s difficult to nail down specifically what’s wrong with it without getting lost in the weeds. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is a skilled and seasoned debater, but she’s never dealt with anything like this.

It’s possible that Trump will lose his cool on Monday night and demonstrate to the world that he is temperamentally unfit for the presidency. But it’s unlikely. He’s already proved that he is capable of keeping it together if he has to. What he has not been able to do is demonstrate that he knows what he’s talking about. The question is whether a majority of the American people can see that, or perhaps more important, whether they even think that matters.
 
"As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox"

by Gaius Publius


I couldn't help circling back to this.


Roger Ailes with his wife, Elizabeth Tilson, on July 19 in New York City. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images (source)


Thanks to a great heads-up by digby, I took time to read Gabriel Sherman's excellent New York Magazine piece, "The Revenge of Roger’s Angels: How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media," from start to finish in one sitting. I strongly recommend you do the same — it's an excellent example of investigative journalism as well as investigative writing. The piece is a page-turner, and it's very well written.

There's too much information in it to capture here, but near the end there's a section that discusses what Fox becomes post-Ailes, and I'd like to focus on that. If Sherman is right on both of his counts — about the changes at Fox, about the emergence of Trump TV — the media landscape will drastically change post-election.

Will that change be for the better? That's a consideration for another time.

Fox After Ailes

On what Fox is about to become, Sherman writes:
Ailes’s ouster has created a leadership vacuum at Fox News. Several staffers have described feeling like being part of a totalitarian regime whose dictator has just been toppled. “No one knows what to do. No one knows who to report to. It’s just mayhem,” said a Fox host. As details of the Paul, Weiss [a law firm] investigation have filtered through the offices, staffers are expressing a mixture of shock and disgust. The scope of Ailes’s alleged abuse far exceeds what employees could have imagined. “People are so devastated,” one senior executive said. Those I spoke with have also been unnerved by [senior executive VP Bill] Shine and [Fox general counsel Dianne] Brandi’s roles in covering up Ailes’s behavior.

Despite revelations of how Ailes’s management team enabled his harassment, Murdoch has so far rejected calls — including from [Murdoch's son] James, according to ­sources — to conduct a wholesale housecleaning. On August 12, Murdoch promoted Shine and another Ailes loyalist, Jack Abernethy, to become co-presidents of Fox News. He named Scott executive vice-president and kept Brandi and [PR department executive Irena] Briganti in their jobs. Fox News’s chief financial officer, Mark Kranz, is the only senior executive to have been pushed out (officially he retired), along with [Ailes’s longtime executive assistant Judy] Laterza and a handful of assistants, contributors, and consultants. “Of course, they are trying to isolate this to just a few bad actors,” a 21st Century Fox executive told me.

Many people I spoke with believe that the current management arrangement is just a stopgap until the election. “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” predicts one host. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated. O’Reilly’s been talking about retirement. Megyn could go to another network. And Hannity will go to Trump TV.” ...

Meanwhile, the Murdochs are looking for a permanent CEO to navigate these post-Ailes, Trump-roiled waters. According to sources, James’s preferred candidates include CBS president David Rhodes (though he is under contract with CBS through 2019); Jesse Angelo, the New York Post publisher and James’s Harvard roommate; and perhaps a television executive from London. Sources say [Murdoch's son] Lachlan, who politically is more conservative than James, wants to bring in an outsider. Rupert was seen giving Rebekah Brooks a tour of the Fox offices several months ago, creating speculation that she could be brought in to run Fox. Another contender is Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy.
You may remember the name Rebekah Brooks from the U.K. phone-tapping scandal (emphasis added):
Brooks was a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal, having been the editor of the News of the World when illegal phone hacking was carried out by the newspaper. Following a criminal trial in 2014 she was cleared of all charges by a jury at the Old Bailey, which accepted her defence of incompetence: that she had no knowledge of the illegal acts carried out by the newspaper she edited.[8]

In September 2015, Brooks was confirmed as CEO of News UK, the renamed News International, re-establishing the working relationship with News Corp founder and chairman Rupert Murdoch.
O"Reilly, Hannity, Megyn Kelly and more, all could be gone from Fox News after the election. It will be interesting to watch Fox reinvent itself as the competitor to what may be a network to its right, Trump TV, a network perhaps run by the attack dog, Roger Ailes, who turned Fox into what it used to be.

Trump TV

Trump TV, if it emerges after the election, will throw a spanner into the workings of a once unified right-wing (and alt-right) messaging ecosystem:
The prospect of Trump TV is a source of real anxiety for some inside Fox. The candidate took the wedge issues that Ailes used [in order] to build a loyal audience at Fox News — especially race and class — and used them to stoke barely containable outrage among a downtrodden faction of conservatives. Where that outrage is channeled after the election — assuming, as polls now suggest, Trump doesn’t make it to the White House — is a big question for the Republican Party and for Fox News.
As right-wing as they are, both Trump and Murdoch care about the money that goes to the most-watched media outlets. They're about to become competitors for it:
Trump had a complicated relationship with Fox even when his good friend Ailes was in charge; without Ailes, it’s plausible that he will try to monetize the movement he has galvanized in competition with the network rather than in concert with it. Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart, the digital-media upstart that has by some measures already surpassed Fox News as the locus of conservative energy, to run his campaign suggests a new right-wing news network of some kind is a real possibility.
And notice this tidbit, a hint of the infighting to come:
One prominent media executive told me that if Trump loses, Fox will need to try to damage him in the eyes of its viewers by blaming him for the defeat.
A battle for the eyes of the "deplorables" (an unfortunate, though interesting word) between Fox News and Trump TV — as well as for eyes and minds of the non-deplorable segment of the Trump-supporting world — should be fascinating to watch. One hopes they split the pie as they knife-fight to own it. I'd rather see an electorally divided "deplorables" than to see that group united, no matter how weakened their numbers.

As to the non-deplorable portion of Trump supporters — those suffering from the economic ravages of both pro-wealth Democratic rule and pro-wealth Republican rule — perhaps a newly populist Democratic Party can attract them for a change.

Again, if you can spare the time, do read the whole thing. It's fascinating, incredibly lurid, and very well documented. If sexual office politics is your cup of tea, you'll drown in it. Fox News was a pit of predatory males, office women retained and passed around for sex, and mid-to-upper-level executives (of both sexes) who acted as procurers — "talent scouts" — to feed one toxic man's toxic need, along with the needs of those around him. Some of those needs were simply to survive in that kind of environment.

And Ailes? He's still at it, reportedly advising Trump as we speak. Lord help us.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP
 


.
 

Aw, sh#t... here we go.

by Tom Sullivan

I was just about to comment on a post at Raw Story when another headline there grabbed my attention. And what an appropriate lead-in:

If you want to avoid the new Dark Ages: Get out and vote
But the first headline at Raw Story was about Donald Trump advisor Gen. Michael Flynn on Meet the Press yesterday taking issue with Mark Cuban being invited to tonight's presidential debate:
In response [to] the news that Cuban will attend the first presidential debate of the 2016 general election, Trump tweeted over the weekend that he may invite Gennifer Flowers, who allegedly had an affair with Hillary Clinton’s husband decades ago.

On Sunday, Flynn deflected questions from NBC’s Chuck Todd about the invitation to Flowers.

“I would just go with what you have seen,” Flynn said. “And we’ll wait to see what happens tomorrow night.”

“Was it appropriate to invite Mark Cuban?” the Trump adviser continued. “I mean, he’s not a legitimate person. Why is he invited?”
First they came for Mark Cuban, etc.

Donald Trump's political career grew out of his deciding Barack Obama was "not a legitimate person." That mindset seems to have filtered down to his mouthpieces. Imagine a Trump administration populated with Trumps, Trumpettes, and Michael Flynns empowered to decide on a whim which Americans are illegitimate.

It wasn't that long ago conservatives joked about bringing back the Dark Ages:
Conservatives have invited 3,000 right-leaning luminaries to a New Year's retreat in Florida intended to rival the annual Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head, S.C., attended by friends of President Clinton. The conservatives, those wags, are calling theirs the Dark Ages Weekend.

The letter of invitation, topped by a black dragon logo, seeks to rally conservatives at the posh Doral Golf Resort in Miami to sharpen their blades for the fight to slay that common enemy of all Americans -- the "big, fat and unaccountable" federal government.
Other common enemies would come later, one supposes. Except back then, the conservative elite felt they got to decide who was or was not illegitimate. Now, with Bravehair off script and leading commoners in revolt, the conservative elite are not so glib. They are Illegitimati. And Mark Cuban. And you're next.

Michael Flynn may unwittingly have given the game away. As Tom Arnold said in True Lies, "Aw, sh#t... here we go."




Sunday, September 25, 2016

 
If They Don't Compare, Don't Compare Them

by tristero

Today, Nicholas Kristof said something very true:
Frankly, we should be discomfited that many Americans have absorbed the idea that Hillary Clinton is less honest than Donald Trump, giving Trump an edge in polls of trustworthiness. 
Hello? There is no comparison.
And then he proceeded to compare the two:
One commonly cited example of Clinton’s lying is her false claim in 2008 that when she was first lady she came under sniper fire after her plane landed in Bosnia. In contrast, with Trump, you don’t need to go back eight years: One examination found he averages a lie or an inaccuracy in every five minutes of speaking.
EEEEEAAAAAGH (pounding head on desk)!!!!!!!

Well, let's give him some credit for improving. In a recent earlier column, he wrote:
Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.
And then he compared Clinton to Trump seven times.

Why does this matter? Because this construction creates a rhetorical equality. It doesn't matter who is the more egregious liar. What people take away is the comparison, not the details. Add together the fact that Trump is getting literally double the headline and photo coverage of Clinton with the fact that despite what he says, Kristof behaves as if they actually are comparable (like nearly everyone else in the media) and you've got a recipe that all but guarantees a dangerously close election.

And it's coming.
 
Who IS this white guy?

by digby















Just this. I know everyone wants to vote for someone for whom they feel great affinity. I hope that happens for everyone at least once in their life. It's kind of a rare thing. But when someone like Trump comes along it's important to take a stand against what he stands for. This guy says it well:




.

 
Equality isn't here yet

by digby







He forgot to note that Obama lost white millennials by 7 in 2012. But hey, who needs perspective, amirite?

This raises an issue I think people need to be a little bit more aware of. When we talk about millennials becoming less racist, which is true, it's important to be aware of the fact that it's mostly because they're becoming less white.


I know baby boomers are the worst people in the history of mankind, but when it comes to race, you have no idea what it was like dealing with our parents. The generation gap was real and it was vicious.

And there's this, too which probably has to do with the deeply embedded primal nature of sexism, I'm sorry to say:

Men aged 16-29 are more likely to hold traditional attitudes towards gender roles than older men, a new study has found.

35 per cent of young men were shown to believe that the man should assume the role of primary earner whilst the woman should remain home – shouldering the responsibilities of childcare, cooking and cleaning.

In comparison, only 26% of men aged 30-44, and 21% of men aged 45 and over, shared these views.
And this, from Harvard Business review:
Millennials, those Americans now between 16 and 36 years old, are often spoken of as if they’re ushering in a new era of enlightened interpersonal relations. For example, in 2013 Time predicted Millennials would “save us all” because they are “more accepting of differences…in everyone.” That same year, The Atlantic stated that Millennials hold the “historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society.” And in 2015 the Huffington Post wrote that Millennial men are “likely to see women as equals.”

If these characterizations are even close to accurate, we should expect the pervasive, damaging biases against women leaders to diminish substantially, if not end entirely, once Millennials assume positions of economic, academic, and political power. But before we start celebrating a coming age of gender parity, we need to ask whether there is any truth to these characterizations. Do Millennials really believe there are no inherently male or female roles in society? Do Millennial men really “see women as equals”? Unfortunately, the best information we have indicates the answer to both questions is no.

In February 2016 researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study on how college biology students view their classmates’ intelligence and achievements. The researchers found that male students systematically overestimated the knowledge of the men in their classes in comparison with the women. Moreover, as the academic term progressed, the men’s faulty appraisal of their classmates’ abilities increased despite clear evidence of the women’s superior class performance. In every biology class examined, a man was considered the most renowned student — even when a woman had far better grades. In contrast, the female students surveyed did not show bias, accurately evaluating their fellow students based on performance. After studying the attitudes of these future scientists, the researchers concluded, “The chilly environment for women [in the sciences] may not be going away anytime soon.”

Millennial men’s views of women’s intelligence and ability even extend to women in senior leadership positions. In a 2014 survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, Harris Poll found that young men were less open to accepting women leaders than older men were. Only 41% of Millennial men were comfortable with women engineers, compared to 65% of men 65 or older. Likewise, only 43% of Millennial men were comfortable with women being U.S. senators, compared to 64% of Americans overall. (The numbers were 39% versus 61% for women being CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and 35% versus 57% for president of the United States.)

Moreover, according to a 2013 Pew survey of Americans, Millennial women are significantly more likely than older women to say that the country needs to continue making changes to bring about equality in the workplace, but Millennial men are the group most likely to say that all necessary changes have been made.

A glimmer of hope was found in the huge survey of Harvard Business School MBAs in a 2014 HBR article, which found that Millennial men were more likely than Gen X and Boomer men to predict that their wives would have equal careers, and less likely to do the majority of the child care. But that hope vanished when the researchers found the gap between what Millennial men and Millennial women believed was still wide: “Whereas three-quarters of Millennial women anticipate that their careers will be at least as important as their partners,” they reported, “half the men in their generation expect that their own careers will take priority.” The gap was similar when it came to child care responsibilities. Fewer than half of Millennial women believed they would handle most of the child care, but two-thirds of their male peers believed their wives would do so.
I'm not picking on millennials. My generation was way worse. My parents generation was way way worse.. Things are getting better. But these issues still exist and pretending otherwise is as old as the hills. When I was young men said they believed in equality too.

All this stuff runs deep and it's important that all of us do a gut check once in a while. I know I have to, anyway.

.
 
Sunday Funnies

by digby






(By the way, it was 3 emails in an email chain that she may not have seen. All the others were classified after the fact for ridiculous reasons. Just saying. The "lie" is pretty venial. But anyway ...)






 
Politics and Reality Radio: Roy Edroso on the Right-bloggers’ Election

by digby

























This week, we'll speak to OG blogger and Village Voice right-wingologist Roy Edroso about the 2016 election as seen through the prism of the conservative blogosphere.

Then Heather "Digby" Parton will join us to preview Monday's first presidential debate.

And last but not least, David Turnbull, campaign director for Oil Change International, will tell us about his group's new study showing that fully exploiting the fossil fuel projects that are already online will force global temperatures above the target agreed to in Paris last year.



Playlist: 
PowerSolo: "Knucklehead"
Edith Piaf: "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien"
Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine"
Talking Heads: "My Love Is You"

As always, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes or Podbean.


.

 
96 years and counting

by digby












From Roger Angel in the New Yorker:
I'm late weighing in on this election—late in more ways than one. Monday brought my ninety-sixth birthday, and, come November, I will be casting my nineteenth ballot in a Presidential election. My first came in 1944, when I voted for a fourth term for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my Commander-in-Chief, with a mail-in ballot from the Central Pacific, where I was a sergeant in the Army Air Force. It was a thrilling moment for me, but not as significant as my vote on November 8th this year, the most important one of my lifetime. My country faces a danger unmatched in our history since the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, or perhaps since 1943, when the Axis powers held most of Continental Europe, and Imperial Japan controlled the Pacific rim, from the Aleutians to the Solomon Islands, with the outcome of that war still unknown.

The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. I have wished at times that she would be less impatient or distant when questions arrive about her past actions and mistakes, but I see no evidence to support the deep-rooted suspicions that often surround her. I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me. Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.

The Trump campaign has been like no other—a tumultuous and near-irresistible reality TV, in which Mr. Trump plays the pouty, despicable, but riveting central character. “I can’t stand him,” people are saying, “but you know, wow, he never stops.”

We know Mr. Trump’s early transgressions by heart: the female reporter who had “blood coming out of her whatever”; the mocking of a physically impaired reporter; the maligning of a judge because of his Mexican parents; the insulting dismissal of the grieving, Gold Star-parent Khans; the promised mass deportation of eleven million—or two million—undocumented immigrants, and more. Each of these remains a disqualifier for a candidate who will represent every one of us, should he win, but we now are almost willing to turn them into colorful little impairments. “Oh, that’s ol’ Donald—that’s the way he is.”

But I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.
[...]
Reservations like this are predictable coming from someone my age, but I will persist, hoping to catch the attention of a few much younger voters, and of those who have not yet made up their minds about this election. I do so by inviting them to share an everyday experience—the middle-of-the-night or caught-in-traffic moment when we find our hovering second thoughts still at hand and waiting: Why did I ever?… What if?… Now I can see… and come to that pause, the unwelcome reconsideration that quiets us and makes us mature. It’s the same thought that Judge Learned Hand wanted posted in every school and church and courthouse in the land: “I beseech ye … think that we may be mistaken.”
[...]
Mr. Trump is endlessly on record as someone who will not back down, who cannot appear to pause or lose. He is a man who must win, stay on the attack, and who thinks, first and last, “How will I look?” This is central, and what comes after it, for me, at times, is concern for what it must be like for anyone who, facing an imperative as dark and unforgiving as this, finds only the narcissist’s mirror for reassurance.

If Donald Trump wins this election, his nights in the White House will very soon resemble those of President Obama. After he bids an early goodnight to his family, he sits alone while he receives and tries to take in floods of information from almost innumerable national and international sources, much of it classified or top secret. His surroundings are stately, but the room is shadowed and silent. There are bits of promising news here and there, but always more bloodshed, sudden alarms, and unexpected lurking dangers. The import of the news is often veiled or contradictory, or simply impenetrable. The night wears on, and may contain brief hours of sleep. There’s time to tweet. A new day is arriving, and with it the latest rush of bad news—another police shooting out West, another suicide bomber in Yemen, and other urgent briefings from a world already caught up in the morning’s difficult events. He needs to respond, but the beginning of this President’s response is always reliably at hand: How will I look?
The real question is why he looks so much better to to so many Americans. But then we know, don't we? He is their voice.

.
 
Mr. Robot goes to Washington: Snowden ***½

By Dennis Hartley













“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” 
-from “1984”, by George Orwell


Reality can be a tough act to follow. As I noted in my 2008 review of the biopic, W:

No one has ever accused Oliver Stone of being subtle. However, once audiences view his highly anticipated film concerning the life and times of George W. Bush, I think the popular perception about the director, which is that he is a rabid conspiracy theorist who rewrites history via Grand Guignol-fueled cinematic polemics, could begin to diminish.
If the Bush administration had never really happened, and this was a completely fictional creation, I would be describing Stone’s film by throwing out one-sheet ready superlatives […] But you see, when it comes to the life and legacy of one George W. Bush and the Strangelovian nightmare that he and his cohorts have plunged this once great nation into for the last eight years, all you have to do is tell the truth…and pass the popcorn.
Such is the conundrum for Snowden, writer-director Oliver Stone’s new biopic about Edgar Snowden, the former National Security Agency subcontractor who ignited an international political firestorm (and became a wanted fugitive) when he leaked top secret information to The Guardian back in 2013 regarding certain NSA surveillance practices.

The “tough act of follow” is Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning 2014 documentary, Citizenfour. In 2013, Snowden invited Poitras, along with Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, for a meet at the Hong Kong hotel he was holed up in. This was the culmination of months of email exchanges between Snowden (sending encrypted text under the pseudonym of “Citizenfour”) and Poitras. Poitras found herself in the unique position of being a (circumstantial) “co-conspirator” in the story she was filming. The result was a gripping documentary that played like a paranoia-fueled thriller.

Now we have Oliver Stone, a filmmaker often accused by detractors of infusing his own politically charged, paranoia-fueled conspiracy theories into historical dramas like JFK and Nixon, diving head first into one of the most polarizing public debates of recent years: is Edgar Snowden a hero…or a traitor? It seems to be a marriage made in heaven. Surely, this should be a perfect impetus for the return of that fearless, rabble-rousing Oliver Stone of old…speaking truth to power through his art, consequences be damned.

This is actually a surprisingly restrained dramatization by Stone, which is not to say it is a weak one. In fact, quite the contrary-this time out, Stone had no need to take a magical trip to the wrong side of the wardrobe. That’s because the Orwellian machinations (casually conducted on a daily basis by our government) that came to light after Snowden lifted up the rock are beyond even the most feverish imaginings of the tin foil hat society.

In other words, you couldn’t make this shit up, either.

After opening with a cloak-and-dagger vignette set in 2013 on the streets of Hong Kong, Stone flashes back to 2004, where we see a younger, gung-ho Edgar Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) humping it through a grueling Special Forces training course. His Army reservist career is cut short after he breaks both legs in an accident. A few years later, still determined to serve his country, he finds a more ideal fit working at the CIA, where his (apparently) sharp computer hacking skills land him a position as an info tech. Stone follows Snowden’s various job relocations, from D.C. to Japan; eventually ending up at the NSA subcontracting firm Booz Allen in Hawaii (where he famously “did the deed”).

Stone alternates between the personal bio, which includes Snowden’s longtime relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) and the increasingly furtive interview sessions with Snowden in the Hong Kong hotel room in 2013 by Guardian journalists Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), while Poitras (Melissa Leo) dutifully continues filming. Gordon-Levitt uncannily captures Snowden’s vibe; although by the time credits roll, he remains a cypher. Then again, Snowden has said, “This really isn’t about me […] It’s about our right to dissent.”

Stylistically, the film felt to me like a throwback to cerebral cold war thrillers from the 1960s like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Defector, Funeral in Berlin, and The Deadly Affair. This may not be by accident; because one of the core themes of the screenplay (adapted by Stone with Kieran Fitzgerald from Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, and Anatoly Kucherena’s Time of the Octopus) is that we are, in fact, in the midst of a new “cold war”…in cyberspace.

As Snowden’s (fictional) mentor “Corbin O’Brien” (one of the more interesting creations in the film, especially as played by a scene-stealing Rhys Ifans) tells him, “The new battlefield is everywhere.” True that. It’s happening every day, all around us. It used to be a novelty, but it seems like my bank is issuing me a new credit card about every 6 months anymore, due to some nebulous “security breach”. Or how about the “DC Leaks” story…hacktivists with alleged Russian ties breaking into White House accounts at will?

But the question becomes, of course, how much of our privacy should we, as tax-paying citizens, be willing to sacrifice in the name of national security? As Greg Lake once sang:

Knowledge is a deadly friend
If no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind, I see
Is in the hands of fools

Luckily, we have filmmakers like Stone and Poitras, journalists like Greenwald and MacAskill, and whistleblowers like Edgar Snowden, who do not suffer such fools gladly. Big Brother is watching us, but now we feel emboldened to ask: What are you lookin’ at?

Previous posts with related themes:

Kill the Messenger
State of Play
Breach
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


More reviews at Den of Cinema


--Dennis Hartley
 

"A monkey with a machine gun"

by Tom Sullivan


Still from viral video promoting Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley may have lost the Democratic primary this year, but he may have won the Internet. When James Fallows asked him how he might prepare to debate Donald Trump if he had won the nomination, he said, “I’d start by thinking of him as a monkey with a machine gun.” Meaning you don't know where he'll be pointing it when it goes off. That is why tomorrow's debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most-watched presidential debate in history.

Fallows looks at tomorrow's debate for the Atlantic and, referencing the famous 160 debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, noted that those who merely heard the debate on the radio called it a tie, but those who saw it on television felt the poised, handsome Kennedy had won. Thus, as the saying goes, "the most accurate way to predict reaction to a debate is to watch it with the sound turned off."

That is why Trump's focus on his primary opponents' high or low energy is significant. Trump is a showman and does best when he can put on a show. Whether what he says is factual or whether he breaks rules is unimportant to the spectacle, or to his fans. Judd Legum observed at Think Progress how Trump's experience in professional wrestling informs how he approaches his "performances." Legum references the late French philosopher Roland Barthe's take on wrestling and passion:

It is obvious that at such a pitch, it no longer matters whether the passion is genuine or not. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in wrestling than in the theater.
This analogy reveals why the attacks on Trump are so ineffective. Recently, Rand Paul and others have taken to calling out Trump as an “entertainer,” rather than a legitimate candidate. This is as effective to running into the middle of the ring during Wrestlemania and yelling: “This is all fake!” You are correct, but you will not be received well.
Legum writes:
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.

Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.
Fallows considers the kind of spectacle we might see tomorrow night. He writes:
These debates would be must-watch TV because they would be the most extreme contrast of personal, intellectual, and political styles in America’s democratic history. Right brain versus left brain; gut versus any portion of the brain at all; impulse versus calculation; id versus superego; and of course man versus woman. The two parties’ conventions this summer were stark contrasts in tone, stagecraft, and lineup of speakers. But they took place in different cities at different times. The first debate will be a matter-meets-antimatter conjunction at a single point. Live sports, from the Olympics to the Kentucky Derby, differ from other TV programming and compel live viewership because no one knows beforehand how things will turn out. The same is true of live presidential debates, above all any including Donald Trump.
Fallows' review of this season's GOP debate lowlights and what features to watch for tomorrow is better debate prep for the reader than Donald Trump will give himself. Simplicity. Ignorance. Dominance (humiliation). Gender. Trump's limited range works for him. And makes it easy breezy for him to lie convincingly.

How might this go down tomorrow night and how might Clinton play it?
Donald Trump will almost certainly insult her directly, about her own crookedness and about the sins of her husband. This was the heart of his strategy during the primary debates—“I call him ‘Little Marco’ ”; “More energy tonight. I like that” to Bush—and is his instinct. She will answer those quickly and firmly—“My husband and I have been through a lot, as the world well knows. But after 41 years, we are still together”—and then move back to whatever policy point she wants to make. One way to describe this strategy is Martin O’Malley’s. “She has to be direct and tough right back to him, but then quickly pivot to what matters for the country,” he said. “It’s not enough just to disqualify this guy, since he’s survived remarks that in other times have been automatically disqualifying. She also needs to say what the election is about.”

Another way to describe this strategy is to use a phrase from Michelle Obama’s convention speech: When they go low, we go high.
With Trump, there's no way to go but down. The task for Clinton will be to not let Trump drag her down to his level.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

 
Monday's Debate Is Not An Episode Of 'America's Got Presidential Talent

by Spocko

My friend Joel Silberman was on MSNBC talking about what to expect at the debates. He talked about how important it is for the media to not lower the bar for Trump.



This isn't Dancing With the Stars, or The Voice or America's Got Presidential Talent. We're talking about the leader of the free world so let's ask some real questions and hold them accountable.

Monday's debate should be a place where both candidates get asked serious questions and are expected to give serious answers. The performance should be judged by how well each answers those questions. But that is so BORING! The mainstream media knows that, so they do everything they can to make the debates more dramatic and exciting. "Live questions from social media! Live audiences to cheer and boo! Gotcha questions!"

Trump won his debates partly because he's been running for Entertainer in Chief and has delivered. (The last funny Republican was Bob Dole, so the media knows Trump is a rare bird.)

The media played along with Trump as Entertainer in Chief because it's more fun. Serious policy answers are boring and don't get ratings.

Trump knows he isn't going to win a debate based on having good policy answers, he'll win because he has the best zingers and "In your face, liberals!" one-liner positions on everything. People remember, "Well, there you go again." from Reagan, which makes sense because as an actor he knew how to deliver a well-timed line. This is Debate Theater not a debate.

My question for Monday is, "Will Trump pay any price for not having deeper answers to serious questions?"

Some people in his camp might think he needs to show knowledge about the issues, they will be ignored. That stuff is for liberal nerds and policy wonks who read blogs and know the names of Supreme Court Justices. His voters just want to hear zingers and see swagger.

Roger Ailes, the un-incarcerated serial sexual harasser, is advising Trump. He's not going to tell him to bone up on Aleppo. He'll advise him on how to say the things his Fox audience loves. He'll remind him, "You don't need to satisfy Holt and the liberal media, they are already in the tank for Hillary. You need to satisfy your base. Show them you are the alpha and are in control."

I see where Trump has already suggested inviting Gennifer Flowers to the debate, So now I expect Holt to bring up the Lewinsky affair.  Holt might use the "some people say..." formula because "it's out there" and will define it as a "character" issue.  If he doesn't, Trump might bring it up via the Clinton Foundation then wondering, "What role will Bill play if elected? Then ending with a, "Well, if you can't control your husband... how are you going to be able to control anything?" comment.

This is classic right wing projection attack model. Trump's the one with problems with his foundation and with relinquishing control of his business, but she will be the one having to defend her's.

In general the idea is to position Hillary as the Cuckolded President. If questioned about what he means with his "If you can't control your husband" comment he will say, "I was talking about control of the Clinton FOUNDATION, not about what your husband did while in the White House!"

If Trump brings up the Lewinsky affair, and I think he will, he will do it by defending and forgiving her. He will acknowledge he's no saint, people have a right to privacy, etc. BUT, his point will be made. This interaction will be seen as a "character" debate about her. Not about the thrice married man who cheated on his wife.  

It will be a big "OMG, HE WENT THERE!"moment. How she responds will be all the media will want to talk about, as well as the audacity of Trump bringing it up.
(I've watched a bunch of clips of Trump on The Apprentice. He knew how to control the moment. Now some of that is editing, but his confidence in the setting is what comes across. Even if his reasoning, when you look at it later, is clearly capricious and loopy, he still "wins the interaction" especially if there is no one there to follow up and question him. )

Karl Rove and Karen Hughes believed, and showed time after time with Bush, that "It's better to look and sound strong than to actually BE strong." When they didn't want to talk about a plan, they classified it. When it didn't work, they changed what the goals were. Details are for underlings. It's about the look and the attitude. You want policies and positions? Sure, if they can fit on a tweet. That, Trump can do.


Which Media will show up?

When Tamron Hall asked what to expect from Trump, Joel responded. "That's the wild card, isn't it? Which Donald shows up?" That will depend on which Media shows up. Will it be the media that don't feel it's their job to point out lies and errors, as Chris Wallace of Fox News said? Or will it be the media that understands the winners' policies will mean life or death to millions? And when the Media gets their answers will they accept them without follow up or demand more?

In the distant past, the metric for success by the journalist moderator were good questions that let people see the knowledge, competence and character of the candidates so voters can decide. I think the last time we saw that was when the League of Women Voters were in charge. If we have a moderator who sees the job like that, then Hillary will nail the debate with knowledge and competence.

If that is how Holt approaches the debate, Trump will try to move to be light and funny. He'll kick the policy details down the road. If Holt then doesn't ask for more detail or accepts vagaries, Trump wins because Holt has let Trump set the rules.

Hillary understands Debate Theater, she knows how to play the zinger game. Zingers actually can be very powerful. I hope someone is writing some new ones for her. She's come up with a few good ones in the past. "A man who can be baited by a tweet" and "Delete your account."

Here's the deal, we need the media that shows up to hold each candidate to the same, "Millions of lives are in the balance" standard. Because that is the reality. If they don't, and let him control the moment and the depth of the debate, Trump will have a real shot at winning the debate, and perhaps the election--and that's not entertaining at all.

Cross posted to Crooks and Liars and Spocko's Brain
 
Nothing more to say

by digby














 
There is Only One Presidential Candidate Part Five 

by tristero

The NY Times endorsed Clinton but actually they're heavily promoting Trump for president. How heavily? Literally by a 2:1 margin.

Put another way, the Times believes that what Trump says and does is twice as important as what his closest rival says and does.

Think I'm kidding? If you go now (now being September 24, 2016 at 2:18 EST) to the NY Times Web site and do a word search, you will come up with

Trump: 16 mentions
Clinton: 8 mentions

2 Pictures of Trump
1 picture of Clinton

It's no wonder he's pulled even.
 
Yes, it was torture, Part XXIV

by digby





























This video of a petrified 15 year old girl being pepper sprayed in the back of a police car has been making the rounds. It's a complicated story. The girl hit a car with her bicycle. The cops showed and tried to talk to her, she got scared and tried to ride away and when they stopped and detained her she got hysterical and non-compliant. The cops handcuffed her and put her to the ground, finally decided to take her to the station and wrestled her in the back of their cruiser. She was screaming and crying and as they were trying to close the door on the car as she writhed in the back, one of the officers who had arrived late to the scene put his hand through the window and said if she didn't "get in the car" she was going to get sprayed. And then he sprayed her with pepper spray right in the face. While she was handcuffed and could not wipe her eyes.

They had her in the car. She was not a danger to anyone. She was emotionally overwrought and needed to be calmed and soothed not further agitated. Indeed, she might have even been injured for all they knew.

Pepper spraying her was a punitive act of torture.

And the police department says it was all good police work.

This episode reminds me of this post from long ago which continues to haunt me whenever I see pepper spray being used up-close by police:

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Yes of course pepper spray is a torture device

by digby

The hideous pepper spraying of college students at UC Davis yesterday reminds me of a similar case in the 90s, which I've written about several times before.

In 1997, environmentalists were staging a sit-in against the cutting of old forest in Humboldt county. The police sprayed pepper spray directly into the protesters eyes in similar fashion to what happened in UC yesterday and then used liquified pepper spray and applied it directly to the protesters eyes with q-tips. I'm not kidding. There's video:




I was writing about the use of tasers when I wrote this piece back in 2009:

Why is it that the taser videos always show a bunch of cops sauntering around, three or four of them bent over a prone person in handcuffs, blithely administering the taser as if they are merely wiping a speck of dust off the suspects shirt? I think that's the part I find so chilling --- it's so methodical, so cold, so completely inhuman --- that it seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel featuring robots or aliens.

I'll never forget the horror of seeing the video of those environmental protesters having their eyes calmly swabbed with Q tips soaked in liquid pepper spray, by the Humboldt County sheriffs dept. In searching for the video I came across this San Francisco Examiner editorial from 1997, that could be written today about tasers:

Justifying Torture

Law enforcement arguments in a federal lawsuit are malarkey - pepper spray used senselessly hurts cops as much as protesters

San Francisco Examiner
Monday, Nov. 17, 1997 Page A 18

It's almost farcical for law enforcement officials to continue defending pepper spray as a weapon to get protesters to follow orders. A videotape of officers applying pepper spray in liquid form to demonstrators' eyes shows the technique to be a form of torture.

Yet, attorneys for the Humboldt County Sheriff and the Eureka Police Department argue in federal court that this use of pepper spray is legitimate and unobjectionable. In court papers filed in a protesters' suit against the cops, police training expert Joseph J. Callahan Jr. says, implausibly, that the videotape could be used as a training film "illustrating modern police practices delivered in a calm, deliberate manner." (Remind us not to volunteer as guinea pigs for Mr. Callahan.)

The videotape was shot by Humboldt sheriff's deputies at an Oct. 16 demonstration, against logging in the Headwaters Forest, that took place in the Eureka office of Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor. Four women who had chained themselves together with heavy metal "black bears" got liquid pepper spray rubbed into their eyes with cotton swabs, and one woman who refused even then to move had the pepper mist sprayed into her face.

This hurts, as the videotaped reactions make clear. But it broke up the demonstration pronto, and that's what counted for the law enforcers.

"At stake," attorneys for the cops argue, "is whether professionally trained police officers are to be deprived of the use of pepper spray, a substance carried by millions of private citizens in this country."

But this is really not the issue. Most people don't object to police using pepper spray the way it's designed to be used: To subdue a suspect who threatens officers or threatens to flee. Neither occurred in the case of the Eureka protesters.

Police shouldn't use pepper spray, or any other weapon, to dish out punishment to suspects. Just because cops are in a hurry doesn't make it OK for them to take shortcuts, or inflict pain to get things done.

The argument doesn't wash that no lasting damage was done by the pepper spray. By the same logic, police could use branding irons, sharp knives or psychological abuse on recalcitrant protesters as long as "no lasting damage was done."

Other police legal arguments are similarly shallow. An attorney for the cops said the use of heavy metal sleeves linked with chains that made protesters virtually immovable amounted to "active resistance," justifying the use of pepper spray.

In the past, police used metal grinders to cut through the heavy metal in order to oust demonstrators. That takes longer and is inconvenient, but it doesn't violate anyone's civil rights or threaten their physical well-being.

No one wants to live in a society where police are free to do whatever they wish in order to punish suspected law breakers. Cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Constitution. And anyway, punishment is up to the courts to determine and the penal system to administer.

What cops risk through indiscriminate use of pepper spray, and its indiscriminate defense in court, is losing it altogether. If police are too dense to distinguish between legitimate use and torture, the Legislature should eliminate any confusion and outlaw pepper spray, period.


That holds true for all weapons that can be used for torture.

It took three tries and eight years, but the protesters finally won their case against the police in federal court. They were awarded a dollar.
An article called "Pepper Spray, Pain and Justice" from the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project in northern California on the use of pepper stray as a torture device gives all the details of this famous case.

It tells the harrowing story that you see in that video up top, including the chilling statement by the police after they were done pepper spraying one of the girls directly in the face: "We're not torturing you anymore." 

It asks the question:

Are these valid tactics for the DA's office to use? May the Sheriff and the DA single out forest activists for "special treatment" when they are arrested and charged? The argument for this would be that the protests are costly to the county, and in an effort to contain those costs by reducing the number of protesters, or to prevent nonviolent civil disobedience which is expensive to the government, the government may use its discretionary powers to make the experience these activists have with the criminal justice system as unpleasant and costly as possible. The use of pepper spray to torment activists who are nonviolently sitting-in can be seen as the latest and most extreme step in this campaign.

The difficulty with this approach is that it puts the Sheriff and the DA into the position of the judge. It metes out punishment -- pain, days in jail, costly trips to court, disruption of normal life -- without the bother of proving guilt. Did the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say, "First the sentence, then the trial"? Even children can see that this is backwards.