Categories
Pinboard

Reading: trump failing be an actual authoritarian

From trump failing be an actual authoritarian

Not exactly reassuring but this observation strikes a note that’s been subtonal for a while: he’s about looking big, and we’re his toys. A feckless, flailing president.

Trump has never been shy about his authoritarian impulses. He regularly voices admiration for dictators and has expressed his belief that Article II of the Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want.” Yet that authoritarianism has not manifested with as much force as some might have feared (or desired). Trump has exerted power aggressively in the realms where he is least restrained, most notably immigration enforcement, but he has not pushed far beyond that: There have been no jackboots deployed against dissidents, no shipping off of presidential enemies to Guantánamo Bay. And in some instances, such as the ongoing pandemic, Trump has largely declined to exert federal power at all—instead shrugging his shoulders and leaving the work of actually governing to the states.

All of which makes this past week an important cautionary tale for the election itself if Trump does, in fact, lose. The authoritarian instinct will still be there, of course. So will the flailing weakness, we suspect, and the effort to get his administration to take wildly inappropriate, even illegal steps. His degree of panic will presumably be even higher then than it is now, as will the stakes—which will be nothing less than the peaceful transition of power. We can only hope that, once again, the weakness will overwhelm the authoritarianism, the ineffectuality will triumph over the menace, and the president will emerge as a figure of contempt and ridicule, rather than of fear and consolidated power.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: The fall of Colston’s statue: ‘It didn’t take long – about four tugs of the ropes’

From The fall of Colston’s statue: ‘It didn’t take long – about four tugs of the ropes’

Rees said on Monday that Colston’s vexed legacy would be noted instead by placing his statue in a museum, along with some of the banners and signs left behind by those who tore it down. Meanwhile, with calls for similar monuments in Oxford, Cardiff, Derbyshire and London to face a reckoning of their own, the implications of the statue’s removal may spread far beyond Bristol itself.

What connects where I was born and raised with where my wife was born and raised? Teleology. Ha.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: How to protect your identity while protesting police brutality

From How to protect your identity while protesting police brutality

Hoffman’s “Steal This Book” returns for 2020.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: The Science and Politics of Masks in the Covid-19 Pandemic

From The Science and Politics of Masks in the Covid-19 Pandemic

It’s for you, not for me.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: White House: Trump to use ‘federal assets’ in response to violent protests | TheHill

From White House: Trump to use ‘federal assets’ in response to violent protests | TheHill

An appeal to studies when the General’s authority as a military advisor should be enough?

What studies have shown, as Gen. Milley noted — he was in the governor’s call, his points all pertained to the National Guard — and he noted that there are several studies that when there’s an overwhelming National Guard presence it actually deescalates the situation and causes less civil unrest,” McEnany said.

Oh, and Milley: Miley Cyrus = virus.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: How Facebook’s Ad Technology Helps Trump Win – The Atlantic

From How Facebook’s Ad Technology Helps Trump Win – The Atlantic

Bogost and Madrigal in The Atlantic, from 18 April 2020. A digital rhetorician looks at how Facebook’s AI handles trump’s branding. A look at how the FB algorithm operates meets and the changes in Advertising and Marketing 101. Rhetoric mechanized.

His campaign did so via pure, blunt constancy, using Facebook in exactly the way the tech giant intended: pouring heaps of money and data into Facebook’s automated advertising system.

This is tech used as it was designed: to make pots of money by offering constant exposure.

A “Facebook ad” is less an ad and more a machine for producing ads. Instead of paying to put particular media in front of a specific audience, an advertiser now pays Facebook to deliver a selected outcome from a certain stripe of people.

Trump’s interest in FB is the same as any other advertiser on FB. He’s in the FB ad-machine. His ads feed into the algorithm that targets viewers: and once your’e in, you can’t get out.

This is a look at both how the FB ad machine works, and how trump’s campaign interacts with it. As in

People have marveled that Trump never stopped running Facebook-ad campaigns. And the reason is, he couldn’t. The whole point is that the campaign has to keep fresh data flowing through the system. Most of the time, it can optimize for the cost of acquisitions, hoovering up money and data from the Facebook users it targets. Then, at strategic moments, the team reverses the machine, spending whatever money is required to get the highest penetration and the widest reach among their people.

It’s a matter of a campaign ceding control to the FB AI. On both ends.

Users—who are also citizens—similarly have no way out. Letting Facebook do its thing has become a requirement for electoral politics, and democracy’s future is entwined with the results.

The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over

From Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over

Robert Reich, in The Guardian, on trump’s lack of action:

He tweets bogus threats that he has no power to carry out – withholding funds from states that expand absentee voting, “overruling” governors who don’t allow places of worship to reopen “right away”, and punishing Twitter for factchecking him.

And he lies incessantly.

In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States. He doesn’t manage anything. He doesn’t organize anyone. He doesn’t administer or oversee or supervise. He doesn’t read memos. He hates meetings. He has no patience for briefings. His White House is in perpetual chaos.

Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.

He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: Let’s go through Trump’s terrible internet censorship order, line by line – The Verge

From Let’s go through Trump’s terrible internet censorship order, line by line – The Verge

Over at The Verge, Adi Robertson does a close read of trump’s executive order. Even if it is rejected by the Supreme Court, the order is unnecessary and scary. Roberson’s analysis is a lesson in First Amendment law.

It’s hard to capture just how badly this order mangles free speech and the entire legislative process. But one of its worst flaws is a common one: making rules that assume every website is Facebook. We’ve said over and over that Section 230 is not “a gift to big tech companies.” It’s a gift to the internet. Trump’s order makes that clearer than ever — because unlike even a fairly similar proposal from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), its “online platform” definition explicitly targets all websites, not just the biggest by users or revenue.

I wasn’t kidding about the birdwatching forum.

If you take this order seriously, every website with a comment section — and possibly even cloud storage services or online creative tools — is going to be covered by a convoluted set of probably unconstitutional regulations designed to stop Donald Trump from getting fact-checked on Twitter.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: Made-up murder claims, threats to kill Twitter, rants about NSA spying – anything but mention 100,000 US virus deaths, right, Mr President?

From Made-up murder claims, threats to kill Twitter, rants about NSA spying – anything but mention 100,000 US virus deaths, right, Mr President?

A visit to the monkey house.

Categories
Pinboard

Reading: White House organizes harassment of Twitter employee as Trump threatens company – The Verge

From White House organizes harassment of Twitter employee as Trump threatens company – The Verge

Frightening tactic: harassment.