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soleil
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« on: Feb 08, 2020, 11:19 PM »

Hi Rad,

On the EA Zoom channel, Kim Marie Weimer gave an interesting analysis of Trump's 2020 chart. She mentioned that he has a lunar return on Oct. 29, 2020, just days before the election, which might prove beneficial to his being re-elected. Do you have an opinion on how it might affect his chances?

Also, Mercury will be retrograde from October 14 to November 3, the actual day of the election. From my observation and correlation of past Merc retros, I've noticed that the day Merc goes direct, technology and communications are often extra vulnerable to fluctuations.

Given that Russia will attack our election again in one way or another, plus the fact that apps may be used by the Democrats which could malfunction, do you see anything in the U.S. chart for 2020 or for the election day which could signal election result malfunctions?  It's especially worrisome because 8 or 10 states still don't have paper ballot backups---any Democratic candidate should be screaming at the top of their lungs about this.

Re the candidates, things seem so fluid at the moment. Trump is going to viciously attack whoever the candidate is and will create and distribute disinformation about them. Whoever the candidate is has to be a street fighter like Trump, willing to stand up to him and attack back.

Sanders seems to be the one most capable of doing this, but I don't know how he would fare in the general election. Do you think any of the candidates have what it takes to counter Trump's attacks and his evil cheating and disinformation tricks? I have to say, the current crop of candidates concerns me.....I really really hope one of them is capable of standing up to him and defeating him.

And I hope the Democrats turn out to vote. The Iowa caucus had fewer people voting than in 2008 and 2016. That concerns me as well.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks.

Soleil
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dollydaydream
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 09, 2020, 08:28 AM »

Hey Soleil, just a couple of thoughts....I have been completely bummed out and disillusioned by Trump's actions  and the Republicans' power grab culminating in them acquitting the evil one of all wrongdoing.  I have been further disillusioned by family and some friends being apathetic and really unconcerned with what is going on.  They are simply not paying attention.  As a result I am concerned that such apathy will infect the nation and negatively impact 2020 turnout.  I personally have been supportive of Elizabeth Warren, but much to my horror I am starting to feel attracted to Mike Bloomberg for the simple reason I think he has the best chance of beating Trump.  DDD
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Rad
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 09, 2020, 09:07 AM »

Hi Soleil,

What I have said in that thread 'Trump's impeachment' about the next election in America is pretty much all's I have to say. The essence of that is that, in my view, he will loose the popular vote by anywhere between 3 to 5 million votes, and that again the Electoral College may keep him in power anyway. Even it does not, should he loose both the popular and Electoral College vote, he will do anything, whatever, to keep himself in power. Remember, again, the Neptune transit at that time will be in opposition to the USA's natal Neptune in Virgo, from the 10th the the 5th Houses, that Neptune transit will be squaring the USA's natal Mars in Gemini which is exactly Trump's N.Node, Sun, and Uranus in his 10th House, and that same Neptune transit will be squaring his S.Node and Moon in his 4th. The transiting Uranus will be square the Lunar Nodes in the USA's chart.

All of this, to me, correlates to an election in which massive chaos, crisis, and confusion will be created which can include the voting systems themselves: the technology that you are referring too. Virgo.

When Lucifer installed Trump into power in 2016 with the help of his mentor, Putin, the transiting Neptune then was around 8  Pisces which is the N.Node of Lucifer in Trumps chart. The transiting N.Node of Lucifer was on top of the USA's Pluto. During this upcoming election the same transiting N.Node of Lucifer will be in exactly the same place but in conjunction with the transiting Saturn. In 2016 the transiting Mars was on the USA's Pluto.

Trumps natal Mars is at 26 Leo in his 12th. Thus, the natal Pluto for the USA is inconjunct that Mars. During the 2016 election the transiting Mars and N.Node of Lucifer were inconjuncting that Mars. In 2020 the Saturn and N.Node of Lucifer will be inconjucting it, and both are in opposition to his natal Venus and Saturn.  He will do anything to keep himself in power including any crisis necessary in order to do so. The transiting Lucifer will be in Virgo with it's own S.Node.

Remember, long ago, there was a ruler in Rome who burnt down an entire city in order to keep himself in power, creating the necessary scapegoats to blame for that in order to do so.

The Democrats will need to nominate someone whose voice can be as acerbic as Trump's, and whose voice speaks to the issues that the actual majority of Americans stand for, and need. Someone who represents 'normalcy' where normalcy is the reality of that country before Trump, and who can represent traditional Democratic policies that benefit the majority of normal Americans and their needs. Things like health care, the climate emergency, social programs of all kinds, etc.

God Bless, Rad

« Last Edit: Feb 13, 2020, 08:48 AM by Rad » Logged
soleil
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 09, 2020, 02:55 PM »

Hi Rad,

Thanks a lot for your reply. Even though Trump has some heavy transits coming up this year, he somehow always seems to skate through them without a scratch. I too see a chaotic confusing election. It's just a shame Democrats aren't taking enough action to shore up the weak spots.

I totally agree with you that the Democratic candidate needs to be someone who can be as ascerbic as Trump is---that's a good way of putting it---while at the same time talking about the important issues. I just hope whoever the Democratic candidate is consistently points out the terrible damage Trump has done to our environment, to access to health care, to the courts, etc.

All the best,

Soleil
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soleil
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 09, 2020, 02:56 PM »

Hi DDD,

Thanks for your comments. I feel the same way you do. It's worrisome to see people apathetic to the extreme danger that Trump is. He is truly evil and has already done an incredible amount of damage to this country. I'm baffled as to how people can't see that.

I've been a Warren supporter so far myself but, for several reasons, her viability seems to be slipping. Part of it is the fault of mainstream media. The media is owned by corporations, which always favor Republicans and conservatives, and definitely not women.

But Warren is also making a mistake by sticking too much to rote talking points, know what I mean? The ability to communicate spontaneously is so important---it's one of the reasons people gravitate to Trump. She needs to get off her talking points and stop repeating them over and over. It's not working.  I hope she makes a comeback but at this point I'm not sure she can.

Up to this point I've had zero interest in Bernie or Bloomberg but I would happily vote for either one.

What the Democrats have to do in order to win is to register more people to vote, especially African Americans, as they are the heart of the Democratic base, and I think right now they're being ignored.

Let's hope for the best!

Soleil


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Rad
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 13, 2020, 08:42 AM »

This is what the Lucifer In Chief, Trump, is doing .. conscious, purposeful, lying ..... propaganda ..

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

The Atlantic
2/13/2020
Story by McKay Coppins

One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers.

The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside.

The story that unfurled in my Facebook feed over the next several weeks was, at times, disorienting. There were days when I would watch, live on TV, an impeachment hearing filled with damning testimony about the president’s conduct, only to look at my phone later and find a slickly edited video—served up by the Trump campaign—that used out-of-context clips to recast the same testimony as an exoneration. Wait, I caught myself wondering more than once, is that what happened today?

As I swiped at my phone, a stream of pro-Trump propaganda filled the screen: “That’s right, the whistleblower’s own lawyer said, ‘The coup has started …’ ” Swipe. “Democrats are doing Putin’s bidding …” Swipe. “The only message these radical socialists and extremists will understand is a crushing …” Swipe. “Only one man can stop this chaos …” Swipe, swipe, swipe.

I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I’d assumed that my skepticism and media literacy would inoculate me against such distortions. But I soon found myself reflexively questioning every headline. It wasn’t that I believed Trump and his boosters were telling the truth. It was that, in this state of heightened suspicion, truth itself—about Ukraine, impeachment, or anything else—felt more and more difficult to locate. With each swipe, the notion of observable reality drifted further out of reach.

What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world. Rather than shutting down dissenting voices, these leaders have learned to harness the democratizing power of social media for their own purposes—jamming the signals, sowing confusion. They no longer need to silence the dissident shouting in the streets; they can use a megaphone to drown him out. Scholars have a name for this: censorship through noise.

After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world’s demagogues and strongmen in power.

Every presidential campaign sees its share of spin and misdirection, but this year’s contest promises to be different. In conversations with political strategists and other experts, a dystopian picture of the general election comes into view—one shaped by coordinated bot attacks, Potemkin local-news sites, micro-targeted fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting. Both parties will have these tools at their disposal. But in the hands of a president who lies constantly, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and who readily manipulates the levers of government for his own gain, their potential to wreak havoc is enormous.

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.

THE DEATH STAR

The campaign is run from the 14th floor of a gleaming, modern office tower in Rosslyn, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Glass-walled conference rooms look out on the Potomac River. Rows of sleek monitors line the main office space. Unlike the bootstrap operation that first got Trump elected—with its motley band of B-teamers toiling in an unfinished space in Trump Tower—his 2020 enterprise is heavily funded, technologically sophisticated, and staffed with dozens of experienced operatives. One Republican strategist referred to it, admiringly, as “the Death Star.”

Presiding over this effort is Brad Parscale, a 6-foot-8 Viking of a man with a shaved head and a triangular beard. As the digital director of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Parscale didn’t become a household name like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. But he played a crucial role in delivering Trump to the Oval Office—and his efforts will shape this year’s election.

In speeches and interviews, Parscale likes to tell his life story as a tidy rags-to-riches tale, embroidered with Trumpian embellishments. He grew up a simple “farm boy from Kansas” (read: son of an affluent lawyer from suburban Topeka) who managed to graduate from an “Ivy League” school (Trinity University, in San Antonio). After college, he went to work for a software company in California, only to watch the business collapse in the economic aftermath of 9/11 (not to mention allegations in a lawsuit that he and his parents, who owned the business, had illegally transferred company funds—claims that they disputed). Broke and desperate, Parscale took his “last $500” (not counting the value of three rental properties he owned) and used it to start a one-man web-design business in Texas.

Parscale Media was, by most accounts, a scrappy endeavor at the outset. Hustling to drum up clients, Parscale cold-pitched shoppers in the tech aisle of a Borders bookstore. Over time, he built enough websites for plumbers and gun shops that bigger clients took notice—including the Trump Organization. In 2011, Parscale was invited to bid on designing a website for Trump International Realty. An ardent fan of The Apprentice, he offered to do the job for $10,000, a fraction of the actual cost. “I just made up a price,” he later told The Washington Post. “I recognized that I was a nobody in San Antonio, but working for the Trumps would be everything.” The contract was his, and a lucrative relationship was born.

Over the next four years, he was hired to design websites for a range of Trump ventures—a winery, a skin-care line, and then a presidential campaign. By late 2015, Parscale—a man with no discernible politics, let alone campaign experience—was running the Republican front-runner’s digital operation from his personal laptop.

Parscale slid comfortably into Trump’s orbit. Not only was he cheap and unpretentious—with no hint of the savvier-than-thou smugness that characterized other political operatives—but he seemed to carry a chip on his shoulder that matched the candidate’s. “Brad was one of those people who wanted to prove the establishment wrong and show the world what he was made of,” says a former colleague from the campaign.

Perhaps most important, he seemed to have no reservations about the kind of campaign Trump wanted to run. The race-baiting, the immigrant-bashing, the truth-bending—none of it seemed to bother Parscale. While some Republicans wrung their hands over Trump’s inflammatory messages, Parscale came up with ideas to more effectively disseminate them.

The campaign had little interest at first in cutting-edge ad technology, and for a while, Parscale’s most valued contribution was the merchandise page he built to sell MAGA hats. But that changed in the general election. Outgunned on the airwaves and lagging badly in fundraising, campaign officials turned to Google and Facebook, where ads were inexpensive and shock value was rewarded. As the campaign poured tens of millions into online advertising—amplifying themes such as Hillary Clinton’s criminality and the threat of radical Islamic terrorism—Parscale’s team, which was christened Project Alamo, grew to 100.

Parscale was generally well liked by his colleagues, who recall him as competent and intensely focused. “He was a get-shit-done type of person,” says A. J. Delgado, who worked with him. Perhaps just as important, he had a talent for ingratiating himself with the Trump family. “He was probably better at managing up,” Kurt Luidhardt, a consultant for the campaign, told me. He made sure to share credit for his work with the candidate’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and he excelled at using Trump’s digital ignorance to flatter him. “Parscale would come in and tell Trump he didn’t need to listen to the polls, because he’d crunched his data and they were going to win by six points,” one former campaign staffer told me. “I was like, ‘Come on, man, don’t bullshit a bullshitter.’ ” But Trump seemed to buy it. (Parscale declined to be interviewed for this story.)

James Barnes, a Facebook employee who was dispatched to work closely with the campaign, told me Parscale’s political inexperience made him open to experimenting with the platform’s new tools. “Whereas some grizzled campaign strategist who’d been around the block a few times might say, ‘Oh, that will never work,’ Brad’s predisposition was to say, ‘Yeah, let’s try it.’ ” From June to November, Trump’s campaign ran 5.9 million ads on Facebook, while Clinton’s ran just 66,000. A Facebook executive would later write in a leaked memo that Trump “got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser.”

Though some strategists questioned how much these ads actually mattered, Parscale was hailed for Trump’s surprise victory. Stories appeared in the press calling him a “genius” and the campaign’s “secret weapon,” and in 2018 he was tapped to lead the entire reelection effort. The promotion was widely viewed as a sign that the president’s 2020 strategy would hinge on the digital tactics that Parscale had mastered.

Through it all, the strategist has continued to show a preference for narrative over truth. Last May, Parscale regaled a crowd of donors and activists in Miami with the story of his ascent. When a ProPublica reporter confronted him about the many misleading details in his account, he shrugged off the fact-check. “When I give a speech, I tell it like a story,” he said. “My story is my story.”

DISINFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

In his book This Is Not Propaganda, Peter Pomerantsev, a researcher at the London School of Economics, writes about a young Filipino political consultant he calls “P.” In college, P had studied the “Little Albert experiment,” in which scientists conditioned a young child to fear furry animals by exposing him to loud noises every time he encountered a white lab rat. The experiment gave P an idea. He created a series of Facebook groups for Filipinos to discuss what was going on in their communities. Once the groups got big enough—about 100,000 members—he began posting local crime stories, and instructed his employees to leave comments falsely tying the grisly headlines to drug cartels. The pages lit up with frightened chatter. Rumors swirled; conspiracy theories metastasized. To many, all crimes became drug crimes.

Unbeknownst to their members, the Facebook groups were designed to boost Rodrigo Duterte, then a long-shot presidential candidate running on a pledge to brutally crack down on drug criminals. (Duterte once boasted that, as mayor of Davao City, he rode through the streets on his motorcycle and personally executed drug dealers.) P’s experiment was one plank in a larger “disinformation architecture”—which also included social-media influencers paid to mock opposing candidates, and mercenary trolls working out of former call centers—that experts say aided Duterte’s rise to power. Since assuming office in 2016, Duterte has reportedly ramped up these efforts while presiding over thousands of extrajudicial killings.

The campaign in the Philippines was emblematic of an emerging propaganda playbook, one that uses new tools for the age-old ends of autocracy. The Kremlin has long been an innovator in this area. (A 2011 manual for Russian civil servants favorably compared their methods of disinformation to “an invisible radiation” that takes effect while “the population doesn’t even feel it is being acted upon.”) But with the technological advances of the past decade, and the global proliferation of smartphones, governments around the world have found success deploying Kremlin-honed techniques against their own people.

In the United States, we tend to view such tools of oppression as the faraway problems of more fragile democracies. But the people working to reelect Trump understand the power of these tactics. They may use gentler terminology—muddy the waters; alternative facts—but they’re building a machine designed to exploit their own sprawling disinformation architecture.

Central to that effort is the campaign’s use of micro-targeting—the process of slicing up the electorate into distinct niches and then appealing to them with precisely tailored digital messages. The advantages of this approach are obvious: An ad that calls for defunding Planned Parenthood might get a mixed response from a large national audience, but serve it directly via Facebook to 800 Roman Catholic women in Dubuque, Iowa, and its reception will be much more positive. If candidates once had to shout their campaign promises from a soapbox, micro-targeting allows them to sidle up to millions of voters and whisper personalized messages in their ear.

Parscale didn’t invent this practice—Barack Obama’s campaign famously used it in 2012, and Clinton’s followed suit. But Trump’s effort in 2016 was unprecedented, in both its scale and its brazenness. In the final days of the 2016 race, for example, Trump’s team tried to suppress turnout among black voters in Florida by slipping ads into their News Feeds that read, “Hillary Thinks African-Americans Are Super Predators.” An unnamed campaign official boasted to Bloomberg Businessweek that it was one of “three major voter suppression operations underway.” (The other two targeted young women and white liberals.)

The weaponization of micro-targeting was pioneered in large part by the data scientists at Cambridge Analytica. The firm began as part of a nonpartisan military contractor that used digital psyops to target terrorist groups and drug cartels. In Pakistan, it worked to thwart jihadist recruitment efforts; in South America, it circulated disinformation to turn drug dealers against their bosses.

The emphasis shifted once the conservative billionaire Robert Mercer became a major investor and installed Steve Bannon as his point man. Using a massive trove of data it had gathered from Facebook and other sources—without users’ consent—Cambridge Analytica worked to develop detailed “psychographic profiles” for every voter in the U.S., and began experimenting with ways to stoke paranoia and bigotry by exploiting certain personality traits. In one exercise, the firm asked white men whether they would approve of their daughter marrying a Mexican immigrant; those who said yes were asked a follow-up question designed to provoke irritation at the constraints of political correctness: “Did you feel like you had to say that?”

Christopher Wylie, who was the director of research at Cambridge Analytica and later testified about the company to Congress, told me that “with the right kind of nudges,” people who exhibited certain psychological characteristics could be pushed into ever more extreme beliefs and conspiratorial thinking. “Rather than using data to interfere with the process of radicalization, Steve Bannon was able to invert that,” Wylie said. “We were essentially seeding an insurgency in the United States.”

Cambridge Analytica was dissolved in 2018, shortly after its CEO was caught on tape bragging about using bribery and sexual “honey traps” on behalf of clients. (The firm denied that it actually used such tactics.) Since then, some political scientists have questioned how much effect its “psychographic” targeting really had. But Wylie—who spoke with me from London, where he now works for H&M, as a fashion-trend forecaster—said the firm’s work in 2016 was a modest test run compared with what could come.

“What happens if North Korea or Iran picks up where Cambridge Analytica left off?” he said, noting that plenty of foreign actors will be looking for ways to interfere in this year’s election. “There are countless hostile states that have more than enough capacity to quickly replicate what we were able to do … and make it much more sophisticated.” These efforts may not come only from abroad: A group of former Cambridge Analytica employees have formed a new firm that, according to the Associated Press, is working with the Trump campaign. (The firm has denied this, and a campaign spokesperson declined to comment.)

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook was excoriated for its mishandling of user data and complicity in the viral spread of fake news. Mark Zuckerberg promised to do better, and rolled out a flurry of reforms. But then, last fall, he handed a major victory to lying politicians: Candidates, he said, would be allowed to continue running false ads on Facebook. (Commercial advertisers, by contrast, are subject to fact-checking.) In a speech at Georgetown University, the CEO argued that his company shouldn’t be responsible for arbitrating political speech, and that because political ads already receive so much scrutiny, candidates who choose to lie will be held accountable by journalists and watchdogs.
Shady political actors are discovering how easy it is to wage an untraceable whisper campaign by text message.

To bolster his case, Zuckerberg pointed to the recently launched—and publicly accessible—“library” where Facebook archives every political ad it publishes. The project has a certain democratic appeal: Why censor false or toxic content when a little sunlight can have the same effect? But spend some time scrolling through the archive of Trump reelection ads, and you quickly see the limits of this transparency.

The campaign doesn’t run just one ad at a time on a given theme. It runs hundreds of iterations—adjusting the language, the music, even the colors of the “Donate” buttons. In the 10 weeks after the House of Representatives began its impeachment inquiry, the Trump campaign ran roughly 14,000 different ads containing the word impeachment. Sifting through all of them is virtually impossible.

Both parties will rely on micro-targeted ads this year, but the president is likely to have a distinct advantage. The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have reportedly compiled an average of 3,000 data points on every voter in America. They have spent years experimenting with ways to tweak their messages based not just on gender and geography, but on whether the recipient owns a gun or watches the Golf Channel.

While these ads can be used to try to win over undecided voters, they’re most often deployed for fundraising and for firing up the faithful—and Trump’s advisers believe this election will be decided by mobilization, not persuasion. To turn out the base, the campaign has signaled that it will return to familiar themes: the threat of “illegal aliens”—a term Parscale has reportedly encouraged Trump to use—and the corruption of the “swamp.”

Beyond Facebook, the campaign is also investing in a texting platform that could allow it to send anonymous messages directly to millions of voters’ phones without their permission. Until recently, people had to opt in before a campaign could include them in a mass text. But with new “peer to peer” texting apps—including one developed by Gary Coby, a senior Trump adviser—a single volunteer can send hundreds of messages an hour, skirting federal regulations by clicking “Send” one message at a time. Notably, these messages aren’t required to disclose who’s behind them, thanks to a 2002 ruling by the Federal Election Commission that cited the limited number of characters available in a text.

Most experts assume that these regulations will be overhauled sometime after the 2020 election. For now, campaigns from both parties are hoovering up as many cellphone numbers as possible, and Parscale has said texting will be at the center of Trump’s reelection strategy. The medium’s ability to reach voters is unparalleled: While robocalls get sent to voicemail and email blasts get trapped in spam folders, peer-to-peer texting companies say that at least 90 percent of their messages are opened.

The Trump campaign’s texts so far this cycle have focused on shouty fundraising pleas (“They have NOTHING! IMPEACHMENT IS OVER! Now let’s CRUSH our End of Month Goal”). But the potential for misuse by outside groups is clear—and shady political actors are already discovering how easy it is to wage an untraceable whisper campaign by text.

In 2018, as early voting got under way in Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary, voters began receiving text messages attacking two of the candidates’ conservative credentials. The texts—written in a conversational style, as if they’d been sent from a friend—were unsigned, and people who tried calling the numbers received a busy signal. The local press covered the smear campaign. Law enforcement was notified. But the source of the texts was never discovered.

WAR ON THE PRESS

One afternoon last March, I was on the phone with a Republican operative close to the Trump family when he casually mentioned that a reporter at Business Insider was about to have a very bad day. The journalist, John Haltiwanger, had tweeted something that annoyed Donald Trump Jr., prompting the coterie of friends and allies surrounding the president’s son to drum up a hit piece. The story they had coming, the operative suggested to me, would demolish the reporter’s credibility.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this gloating—people in Trump’s circle have a tendency toward bluster. But a few hours later, the operative sent me a link to a Breitbart News article documenting Haltiwanger’s “history of intense Trump hatred.” The story was based on a series of Instagram posts—all of them from before Haltiwanger started working at Business Insider—in which he made fun of the president and expressed solidarity with liberal protesters.

The next morning, Don Jr. tweeted the story to his 3 million followers, denouncing Haltiwanger as a “raging lib.” Other conservatives piled on, and the reporter was bombarded with abusive messages and calls for him to be fired. His employer issued a statement conceding that the Instagram posts were “not appropriate.” Haltiwanger kept his job, but the experience, he told me later, “was bizarre and unsettling.”

The Breitbart story was part of a coordinated effort by a coalition of Trump allies to air embarrassing information about reporters who produce critical coverage of the president. (The New York Times first reported on this project last summer; since then, it’s been described to me in greater detail.) According to people with knowledge of the effort, pro-Trump operatives have scraped social-media accounts belonging to hundreds of political journalists and compiled years’ worth of posts into a dossier.

Often when a particular news story is deemed especially unfair—or politically damaging—to the president, Don Jr. will flag it in a text thread that he uses for this purpose. (Among those who text regularly with the president’s eldest son, someone close to him told me, are the conservative activist Charlie Kirk; two GOP strategists, Sergio Gor and Arthur Schwartz; Matthew Boyle, a Breitbart editor; and U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell.) Once a story has been marked for attack, someone searches the dossier for material on the journalists involved. If something useful turns up—a problematic old joke; evidence of liberal political views—Boyle turns it into a Breitbart headline, which White House officials and campaign surrogates can then share on social media. (The White House has denied any involvement in this effort.)

Descriptions of the dossier vary. One source I spoke with said that a programmer in India had been paid to organize it into a searchable database, making posts that contain offensive keywords easier to find. Another told me the dossier had expanded to at least 2,000 people, including not just journalists but high-profile academics, politicians, celebrities, and other potential Trump foes. Some of this, of course, may be hyperbolic boasting—but the effort has yielded fruit.

Parscale has said the campaign intends to train “swarms of surrogates” to undermine coverage from local TV stations and newspapers.

In the past year, the operatives involved have gone after journalists at CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. They exposed one reporter for using the word fag in college, and another for posting anti-Semitic and racist jokes a decade ago. These may not have been career-ending revelations, but people close to the project said they’re planning to unleash much more opposition research as the campaign intensifies. “This is innovative shit,” said Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist with a history of trolling. “They’re appropriating call-out culture.”

What’s notable about this effort is not that it aims to expose media bias. Conservatives have been complaining—with some merit—about a liberal slant in the press for decades. But in the Trump era, an important shift has taken place. Instead of trying to reform the press, or critique its coverage, today’s most influential conservatives want to destroy the mainstream media altogether. “Journalistic integrity is dead,” Boyle declared in a 2017 speech at the Heritage Foundation. “There is no such thing anymore. So everything is about weaponization of information.”

It’s a lesson drawn from demagogues around the world: When the press as an institution is weakened, fact-based journalism becomes just one more drop in the daily deluge of content—no more or less credible than partisan propaganda. Relativism is the real goal of Trump’s assault on the press, and the more “enemies of the people” his allies can take out along the way, the better. “A culture war is a war,” Steve Bannon told the Times last year. “There are casualties in war.”

This attitude has permeated the president’s base. At rallies, people wear T-shirts that read rope. tree. journalist. some assembly required. A CBS News/YouGov poll has found that just 11 percent of strong Trump supporters trust the mainstream media—while 91 percent turn to the president for “accurate information.” This dynamic makes it all but impossible for the press to hold the president accountable, something Trump himself seems to understand. “Remember,” he told a crowd in 2018, “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Bryan Lanza, who worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and remains a White House surrogate, told me flatly that he sees no possibility of Americans establishing a common set of facts from which to conduct the big debates of this year’s election. Nor is that his goal. “It’s our job to sell our narrative louder than the media,” Lanza said. “They’re clearly advocating for a liberal-socialist position, and we’re never going to be in concert. So the war continues.”

From December 2019: The dark psychology of social networks

Parscale has indicated that he plans to open up a new front in this war: local news. Last year, he said the campaign intends to train “swarms of surrogates” to undermine negative coverage from local TV stations and newspapers. Polls have long found that Americans across the political spectrum trust local news more than national media. If the campaign has its way, that trust will be eroded by November. “We can actually build up and fight with the local newspapers,” Parscale told donors, according to a recording provided by The Palm Beach Post. “So we’re not just fighting on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC with the same 700,000 people watching every day.”

Running parallel to this effort, some conservatives have been experimenting with a scheme to exploit the credibility of local journalism. Over the past few years, hundreds of websites with innocuous-sounding names like the Arizona Monitor and The Kalamazoo Times have begun popping up. At first glance, they look like regular publications, complete with community notices and coverage of schools. But look closer and you’ll find that there are often no mastheads, few if any bylines, and no addresses for local offices. Many of them are organs of Republican lobbying groups; others belong to a mysterious company called Locality Labs, which is run by a conservative activist in Illinois. Readers are given no indication that these sites have political agendas—which is precisely what makes them valuable.

According to one longtime strategist, candidates looking to plant a negative story about an opponent can pay to have their desired headlines posted on some of these Potemkin news sites. By working through a third-party consulting firm—instead of paying the sites directly—candidates are able to obscure their involvement in the scheme when they file expenditures to the Federal Election Commission. Even if the stories don’t fool savvy readers, the headlines are convincing enough to be flashed across the screen in a campaign commercial or slipped into fundraising emails.

DIGITAL DIRTY TRICKS

Shortly after polls closed in Kentucky’s gubernatorial election last November, an anonymous Twitter user named @Overlordkraken1 announced to his 19 followers that he had “just shredded a box of Republican mail in ballots” in Louisville.

There was little reason to take this claim at face value, and plenty of reason to doubt it (beginning with the fact that he’d misspelled Louisville). But the race was tight, and as incumbent Governor Matt Bevin began to fall behind in the vote total, an army of Twitter bots began spreading the election-rigging claim.

The original post was removed by Twitter, but by then thousands of automated accounts were circulating screenshots of it with the hashtag #StoptheSteal. Popular right-wing internet personalities jumped on the narrative, and soon the Bevin campaign was making noise about unspecified voting “irregularities.” When the race was called for his opponent, the governor refused to concede, and asked for a statewide review of the vote. (No evidence of ballot-shredding was found, and he finally admitted defeat nine days later.)

The Election Night disinformation blitz had all the markings of a foreign influence operation. In 2016, Russian trolls had worked in similar ways to contaminate U.S. political discourse—posing as Black Lives Matter activists in an attempt to inflame racial divisions, and fanning pro-Trump conspiracy theories. (They even used Facebook to organize rallies, including one for Muslim supporters of Clinton in Washington, D.C., where they got someone to hold up a sign attributing a fictional quote to the candidate: “I think Sharia law will be a powerful new direction of freedom.”)

But when Twitter employees later reviewed the activity surrounding Kentucky’s election, they concluded that the bots were largely based in America—a sign that political operatives here were learning to mimic Russian trolling tactics.

Of course, dirty tricks aren’t new to American politics. From Lee Atwater and Roger Stone to the crooked machine Democrats of Chicago, the country has a long history of underhanded operatives smearing opponents and meddling in elections. And, in fact, Samuel Woolley, a scholar who studies digital propaganda, told me that the first documented deployment of politicized Twitter bots was in the U.S. In 2010, an Iowa-based conservative group set up a small network of automated accounts with names like @BrianD82 to promote the idea that Martha Coakley, a Democrat running for Senate in Massachusetts, was anti-Catholic.

Since then, the tactics of Twitter warfare have grown more sophisticated, as regimes around the world experiment with new ways to deploy their cybermilitias. In Mexico, supporters of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto created “sock puppet” accounts to pose as protesters and sabotage the opposition movement. In Azerbaijan, a pro-government youth group waged coordinated harassment campaigns against journalists, flooding their Twitter feeds with graphic threats and insults. When these techniques prove successful, Woolley told me, Americans improve upon them. “It’s almost as if there’s a Columbian exchange between developing-world authoritarian regimes and the West,” he said.

Parscale has denied that the campaign uses bots, saying in a 60 Minutes interview, “I don’t think [they] work.” He may be right—it’s unlikely that these nebulous networks of trolls and bots could swing a national election. But they do have their uses. They can simulate false consensus, derail sincere debate, and hound people out of the public square.

According to one study, bots accounted for roughly 20 percent of all the tweets posted about the 2016 election during one five-week period that year. And Twitter is already infested with bots that seem designed to boost Trump’s reelection prospects. Regardless of where they’re coming from, they have tremendous potential to divide, radicalize, and stoke hatred that lasts long after the votes are cast.

Rob Flaherty, who served as the digital director for Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign, told me that Twitter in 2020 is a “hall of mirrors.” He said one mysterious account started a viral rumor that the gunman who killed seven people in Odessa, Texas, last summer had a beto bumper sticker on his car. Another masqueraded as an O’Rourke supporter and hurled racist invective at a journalist. Some of these tactics echoed 2016, when Russian agitators posed as Bernie Sanders supporters and stirred up anger toward Hillary Clinton.

Flaherty said he didn’t know who was behind the efforts targeting O’Rourke, and the candidate dropped out before they could make a real difference. “But you can’t watch this landscape and not get the feeling that someone’s fucking with something,” he told me. Flaherty has since joined Joe Biden’s campaign, which has had to contend with similar distortions: Last year, a website resembling an official Biden campaign page appeared on the internet. It emphasized elements of the candidate’s legislative record likely to hurt him in the Democratic primary—opposition to same-sex marriage, support for the Iraq War—and featured video clips of his awkward encounters with women. The site quickly became one of the most-visited Biden-related sites on the web. It was designed by a Trump consultant.

FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

As the president’s reelection machine ramps up, Democratic strategists have found themselves debating an urgent question: Can they defeat the Trump coalition without adopting its tactics?

On one side of this argument is Dmitri Mehlhorn, a consultant notorious for his willingness to experiment with digital subterfuge. During Alabama’s special election in 2017, Mehlhorn helped fund at least two “false flag” operations against the Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore. For one scheme, faux Russian Twitter bots followed the candidate’s account to make it look like the Kremlin was backing Moore. For another, a fake social-media campaign, dubbed “Dry Alabama,” was designed to link Moore to fictional Baptist teetotalers trying to ban alcohol. (Mehlhorn has claimed that he unaware of the Russian bot effort and does not support the use of misinformation.)

When The New York Times uncovered the second plot, one of the activists involved, Matt Osborne, contended that Democrats had no choice but to employ such unscrupulous techniques. “If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back,” Osborne said. “You have a moral imperative to do this—to do whatever it takes.”

Others have argued that this is precisely the wrong moment for Democrats to start abandoning ideals of honesty and fairness. “It’s just not in my values to go out there making shit up and tricking voters,” Flaherty told me. “I know there’s this whole fight-fire-with-fire contingent, but generally when you ask them what they mean, they’re like, ‘Lie!’ ” Some also note that the president has already handed them plenty of ammunition. “I don’t think the Democratic campaign is going to need to make stuff up about Trump,” Judd Legum, the author of a progressive newsletter about digital politics, told me. “They can stick to things that are true.”

Eventually, the fear of covert propaganda inflicts as much damage as the propaganda itself.

One Democrat straddling these two camps is a young, tech-savvy strategist named Tara McGowan. Last fall, she and the former Obama adviser David Plouffe launched a political-action committee with a pledge to spend $75 million attacking Trump online. At the time, the president’s campaign was running more ads on Facebook and Google than the top four Democratic candidates combined. McGowan’s plans to return fire included such ads, but she also had more creative—and controversial—measures in mind.

For example, she established a media organization with a staff of writers to produce left-leaning “hometown news” stories that can be micro-targeted to persuadable voters on Facebook without any indication that they’re paid for by a political group. Though she insists that the reporting is strictly factual, some see the enterprise as a too-close-for-comfort co-opting of right-wing tactics.

When I spoke with McGowan, she was open about her willingness to push boundaries that might make some Democrats queasy. As far as she was concerned, the “super-predator” ads Trump ran to depress black turnout in 2016 were “fair game” because they had some basis in fact. (Clinton did use the term in 1996, to refer to gang members.) McGowan suggested that a similar approach could be taken with conservatives. She ruled out attempts to misinform Republicans about when and where to vote—a tactic Mehlhorn reportedly considered, though he later said he was joking—but said she would pursue any strategy that was “in the bounds of the law.”

“We are in a radically disruptive moment right now,” McGowan told me. “We have a president that lies every day, unabashedly … I think Trump is so desperate to win this election that he will do anything. There will be no bar too low for him.”

This intraparty split was highlighted last year when state officials urged the Democratic National Committee to formally disavow the use of bots, troll farms, and “deepfakes” (digitally manipulated videos that can, with alarming precision, make a person appear to do or say anything). Supporters saw the proposed pledge as a way of contrasting their party’s values with those of the GOP. But after months of lobbying, the committee refused to adopt the pledge.

From May 2018: The era of fake video begins

Meanwhile, experts worried about domestic disinformation are looking to other countries for lessons. The most successful recent example may be Indonesia, which cracked down on the problem after a wave of viral lies and conspiracy theories pushed by hard-line Islamists led to the defeat of a popular Christian Chinese candidate for governor in 2016. To prevent a similar disruption in last year’s presidential election, a coalition of journalists from more than two dozen top Indonesian news outlets worked together to identify and debunk hoaxes before they gained traction online. But while that may sound like a promising model, it was paired with aggressive efforts by the state to monitor and arrest purveyors of fake news—an approach that would run afoul of the First Amendment if attempted in the U.S.

Richard Stengel, who served as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy under President Obama, spent almost three years trying to counter digital propaganda from the Islamic State and Russia. By the time he left office, he told me, he was convinced that disinformation would continue to thrive until big tech companies were forced to take responsibility for it. Stengel has proposed amending the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from liability for messages posted by third parties. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter, he believes, should be required by law to police their platforms for disinformation and abusive trolling. “It’s not going to solve the whole problem,” he told me, “but it’s going to help with volume.”

There is one other case study to consider. During the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, pro-democracy activists found that they could defang much of the false information about their movement by repeatedly exposing its Russian origins. But this kind of transparency comes with a cost, Stengel observed. Over time, alertness to the prevalence of propaganda can curdle into paranoia. Russian operatives have been known to encourage such anxiety by spreading rumors that exaggerate their own influence. Eventually, the fear of covert propaganda inflicts as much damage as the propaganda itself.

Once you internalize the possibility that you’re being manipulated by some hidden hand, nothing can be trusted. Every dissenting voice on Twitter becomes a Russian bot, every uncomfortable headline a false flag, every political development part of an ever-deepening conspiracy. By the time the information ecosystem collapses under the weight of all this cynicism, you’re too vigilant to notice that the disinformationists have won.

POWERS OF INCUMBENCY

If there’s one thing that can be said for Brad Parscale, it’s that he runs a tight ship. Unauthorized leaks from inside the campaign are rare; press stories on palace intrigue are virtually nonexistent. When the staff first moved into its new offices last year, journalists were periodically invited to tour the facility—but Parscale put an end to the practice: He didn’t want them glimpsing a scrap of paper or a whiteboard scribble that they weren’t supposed to see.

Notably, while the Trump White House has endured a seemingly endless procession of shake-ups, the Trump reelection campaign has seen very little turnover since Parscale took charge. His staying power is one reason many Republicans—inside the organization or out—hesitate to talk about him on the record. But among allies of the president, there appears to be a growing skepticism.

Former colleagues began noticing a change in Parscale after his promotion. Suddenly, the quiet guy with his face buried in a laptop was wearing designer suits, tossing out MAGA hats at campaign rallies, and traveling to Europe to speak at a political-marketing conference. In the past few years, Parscale has bought a BMW, a Range Rover, a condo, and a $2.4 million waterfront house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “He knows he has the confidence of the family,” one former colleague told me, “which gives him more swagger.” When the U.K.’s Daily Mail ran a story spotlighting Parscale’s spending spree, he attempted deflection through flattery. “The president is an excellent businessman,” he told the tabloid, “and being associated with him for years has been extremely beneficial to my family.”

But according to a former White House official with knowledge of the incident, Trump was irritated by the coverage, and the impression it created that his campaign manager was getting rich off him. For a moment, Parscale’s standing appeared to be in peril, but then Trump’s attention was diverted by the G7 summit in France, and he never returned to the issue. (A spokesperson for the campaign disputed this account.)

Some Republicans worry that for all Parscale’s digital expertise, he doesn’t have the vision to guide Trump to reelection. The president is historically unpopular, and even in red states, he has struggled to mobilize his base for special elections. If Trump’s message is growing stale with voters, is Parscale the man to help overhaul it? “People start to ask the question—you’re building this apparatus, and that’s great, but what’s the overarching narrative?” said a former campaign staffer.

But whether Trump finds a new narrative or not, he has something this time around that he didn’t have in 2016—the powers of the presidency. While every commander in chief looks for ways to leverage his incumbency for reelection, Trump has shown that he’s willing to go much further than most. In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, he seized on reports of a migrant caravan traveling to the U.S. from Central America to claim that the southern border was facing a national-security crisis. Trump warned of a coming “invasion” and claimed, without evidence, that the caravan had been infiltrated by gang members.

Parscale aided this effort by creating a 30-second commercial that interspersed footage of Hispanic migrants with clips of a convicted cop-killer. The ad ended with an urgent call to action: stop the caravan. vote republican. In a final maneuver before the election, Trump dispatched U.S. troops to the border. The president insisted that the operation was necessary to keep America safe—but within weeks the troops were quietly called back, the “crisis” having apparently ended once votes were cast. Skeptics were left to wonder: If Trump is willing to militarize the border to pick up a few extra seats in the midterms, what will he and his supporters do when his reelection is on the line?

It doesn’t require an overactive imagination to envision a worst-case scenario: On Election Day, anonymous text messages direct voters to the wrong polling locations, or maybe even circulate rumors of security threats. Deepfakes of the Democratic nominee using racial slurs crop up faster than social-media platforms can remove them. As news outlets scramble to correct the inaccuracies, hordes of Twitter bots respond by smearing and threatening reporters. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has spent the final days of the race pumping out Facebook ads at such a high rate that no one can keep track of what they’re injecting into the bloodstream.

After the first round of exit polls is released, a mysteriously sourced video surfaces purporting to show undocumented immigrants at the ballot box. Trump begins retweeting rumors of voter fraud and suggests that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers should be dispatched to polling stations. are illegals stealing the election? reads the Fox News chyron. are russians behind false videos? demands MSNBC.

The votes haven’t even been counted yet, and much of the country is ready to throw out the result.

NOTHING IS TRUE

There is perhaps no better place to witness what the culture of disinformation has already wrought in America than a Trump campaign rally. One night in November, I navigated through a parking-lot maze of folding tables covered in MAGA merch and entered the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi. The election was still a year away, but thousands of sign-waving supporters had crowded into the venue to cheer on the president in person.

Once Trump took the stage, he let loose a familiar flurry of lies, half-lies, hyperbole, and nonsense. He spun his revisionist history of the Ukraine scandal—the one in which Joe Biden is the villain—and claimed, falsely, that the Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams wanted to “give illegal aliens the right to vote.” At one point, during a riff on abortion, Trump casually asserted that “the governor of Virginia executed a baby”—prompting a woman in the crowd to scream, “Murderer!”

This incendiary fabrication didn’t seem to register with my companions in the press pen, who were busy writing stories and shooting B-roll. I opened Twitter, expecting to see a torrent of fact-checks laying out the truth of the case—that the governor had been answering a hypothetical question about late-term abortion; that a national firestorm had ensued; that there were certainly different ways to interpret his comments but that not even the most ardent anti-abortion activist thought the governor of Virginia had personally “executed a baby.”

But Twitter was uncharacteristically quiet (apparently the president had said this before), and the most widely shared tweet I found on the subject was from his own campaign, which had blasted out a context-free clip of the governor’s abortion comments to back up Trump’s smear.

After the rally, I loitered near one of the exits, chatting with people as they filed out of the arena. Among liberals, there is a comforting caricature of Trump supporters as gullible personality cultists who have been hypnotized into believing whatever their leader says. The appeal of this theory is the implication that the spell can be broken, that truth can still triumph over lies, that someday everything could go back to normal—if only these voters were exposed to the facts. But the people I spoke with in Tupelo seemed to treat matters of fact as beside the point.

One woman told me that, given the president’s accomplishments, she didn’t care if he “fabricates a little bit.” A man responded to my questions about Trump’s dishonest attacks on the press with a shrug and a suggestion that the media “ought to try telling the truth once in a while.” Tony Willnow, a 34-year-old maintenance worker who had an American flag wrapped around his head, observed that Trump had won because he said things no other politician would say. When I asked him if it mattered whether those things were true, he thought for a moment before answering. “He tells you what you want to hear,” Willnow said. “And I don’t know if it’s true or not—but it sounds good, so fuck it.”

The political theorist Hannah Arendt once wrote that the most successful totalitarian leaders of the 20th century instilled in their followers “a mixture of gullibility and cynicism.” When they were lied to, they chose to believe it. When a lie was debunked, they claimed they’d known all along—and would then “admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” Over time, Arendt wrote, the onslaught of propaganda conditioned people to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”

Leaving the rally, I thought about Arendt, and the swaths of the country that are already gripped by the ethos she described. Should it prevail in 2020, the election’s legacy will be clear—not a choice between parties or candidates or policy platforms, but a referendum on reality itself.

This article appears in the March 2020 print edition with the headline “The 2020 Disinformation War.”
McKay Coppins is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The Wilderness, a book about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.


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soleil
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 13, 2020, 07:20 PM »

Hi Rad,

That's a great article. Thanks for posting it. Very chilling, though, especially the fact that Trump is going to spend $1 billion spreading his lies and propaganda.

The Democratic nominee is going to end up having a ton of lies made up about them in the 2 weeks prior to the election and those lies will be spread with pinpoint accuracy to those most likely to believe them.

Facebook was complicit in the past election and will be again in this one. The mainstream media---run by Republican corporations---will also spread these lies, as they did with the "Hillary's emails" issue in 2016, and, once again, they will pretend they're just covering the facts.

I just hope enough of us voters don't believe the lies and I hope enough of us see the emergency that is Trump and vote in record numbers for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

All the best,

Soleil
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Sunyata
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 14, 2020, 02:23 PM »

I can't wait until we delve deeper into the chart of Bernie Sanders
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 15, 2020, 07:14 AM »


Can we stop tiptoeing around the fact that Trump is behaving like a dictator?

on February 15, 2020
By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon
- Commentary

There will come a time when we look back on this week as the moment in our history when we finally understood that we have a man as president who is acting like a fascist dictator. Just look at the headlines from one day’s New York Times alone: “Alarm in Capital as Axes Swing in Growing Post-Acquittal Purge,” “Justice Dept. Acts to Ease Sentence for a Trump Ally.” If either one of those headlines had run on the front page of a major American newspaper before now, not to mention both of them at once, we would have believed as a people, as a citizenry, that we were facing a national crisis. But this week? Wednesday was just another day in Donald Trump’s America.

The day before that, in what became known as the “Tuesday night massacre,” all four prosecutors in the case against Trump’s longtime friend and political bad boy Roger Stone had resigned in protest of the intervention by Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, to reduce the sentence recommended by the Department of Justice in Stone’s conviction for lying to congressional committees and tampering with witnesses.

All of this followed closely the “Friday night massacre” of last week, when Trump fired two of the impeachment witnesses against him, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union.

But two “massacres” in a row was just the beginning. By mid-week, Trump was suggesting that Army officials with court-martial authority over Vindman should “take a look at” punishing him for testifying at the impeachment hearing. On Thursday, the New York Times front page trumpeted, “U,S. Lawyers Fear Removal of a Guardrail: Sone Case Stirs Worry of What’s to Come.” And by Friday morning, a panel of legal pundits on MSNBC were worrying about what would happen when Trump didn’t merely step in to help allies like Stone but actually began prosecuting his political foes.

Folks, let’s not mince words: This is the kind of stuff we read about happening in dictatorships like Russia and North Korea and Iran. And yes, it’s the kind of rule by strong-arm fiat that was practiced by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Before this week, I would have thought it an exaggeration to compare Trump’s frequent rallies to the infamous Nuremberg rallies Hitler held during the1930s. No longer. Trump’s rallies are unnervingly close to those held in Nuremberg. The MAGA hat has become a kind of Trumpian Nazi helmet. The denunciations of hated minorities are the same. As is his insane bellowing before a crowd screaming its slavish obeisance.

Let’s just stop for a moment and consider the angry chants of “Lock her up,” first directed at Hillary Clinton, now at Nancy Pelosi. What do Trump’s cheering crowds want his Democratic opponents locked up for? Neither of those women has faced criminal charges, much less been convicted of any crime. Neither is even under investigation for corruption or alleged criminal behavior. But that doesn’t matter to Trump and his rally crowds. This stuff has been going on for so long, it’s clear that they actually do want them locked up. When Trump stands before his screaming fans, raising his arms and smiling, it’s obvious he does, too. To call for the imprisonment of political opponents without trial is not playing with rhetoric for effect. It’s not political gimmickry. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s not clever. Let’s say out loud what it is: It’s pure fascism, plain and simple.

The man who stands before those rallies and encourages such idolatry isn’t merely running for president. He is calling, directly and without apology, for the kind of obedience and loyalty demanded by dictators. He is commanding worship and submission. It must be why he attracts so completely the support of evangelical Christians. He truly is the false idol their Bible warned them against. They have fallen for him in the same way the most conspicuously devout worshipers commit sins. The inevitability of Trump and his evangelical masses is jaw-dropping, and yes, biblical.

By the end of the week, we had the practically comic spectacle of Attorney General Barr scolding Trump publicly for his tweets in an interview with ABC News, saying they “make it impossible for me to do my job.” Within hours, Trump replied — by tweet, naturally enough — that he has the “legal right” to tell Barr what to do in a criminal case, “but I have so far chosen not to!”

Which given the events of the rest of the week is a little bit like reassuring the “Lock her up” minions at his rallies, “Just wait.”

It’s hard to put a finger on the worst thing Trump has done since taking office, but right up there is the complete destruction of the idea that the person in the Oval Office is the president of all the people. He isn’t. He doesn’t want to be. If you didn’t vote for him, if you’re not out there wearing a MAGA hat and screaming at his rallies, you’re a non-person. If your state didn’t go for him in the 2016 election, forget about it. Just ask California, or Puerto Rico, still waiting for federal assistance after natural disasters. Or ask New York, which Trump is now extorting like a domestic Ukraine, by denying New Yorkers access to the “Trusted Traveler” program unless the state “stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment” [sic].

To divide the country into those Trump approves of and those he does not is inherently fascistic. That way lies the singling out of non-supporters and minorities for special treatment. With anti-abortion laws being contemplated around the country — almost entirely in red states that supported Trump — that would actually “lock up” women who get abortions, the day when we can sit back and review Trump’s “latest outrage” calmly is over.

Donald Trump is an existential threat to the virtues of the democracy we have enjoyed for more than two centuries. He is a real threat to the things we have thought we shared as Americans: the love of variety and dissent, and a belief in the consent of the governed. The capacity of all citizens to respect each other’s opposing positions, even amid vigorous disagreement. A respect for the disadvantaged and a scorn for the absolutism of the strong. A universal contempt for the public lie. Trump stands in outright opposition to all of this, and he is a threat to us all.

The feeling in the air by the end of the week was one of powerlessness. How could it not be, having watched Trump take a blowtorch to the Department of Justice and the rule of law, firing his enemies, rewarding his friends, making a mockery of the Constitution and everything it stands for?

I remember the last time the feeling of powerlessness was this strong. It was back in 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House. On the day he took office, 34,000 young Americans had been killed in the war in Vietnam. By that fall, another 9,000 had died. It seemed as if everyone opposed that war, even those in the military being made to fight it. Nixon was bombing North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The war had become a massive trench filled with blood and bodies. Nothing anyone did could stop it.

The answer came on Oct. 15, 1969, with the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. It was organized the old fashioned way, by word-of-mouth in bars and college dorms and offices and on the phone. The result was millions marching in the United States and around the world, with a quarter of a million people marching on the White House in protest. Two weeks later, Nixon gave his famous “silent majority” speech, widely seen as an answer to the Moratorium. But two weeks after that, Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre, and three days later, on Nov. 15, another Moratorium March took place in Washington, with half a million marching against the war. A quarter million marched in San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands marched elsewhere. Nixon was forced into the Paris Peace Accords. By August 1973, the Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment, ending direct U.S. military involvement in the war.

We’re there again. It’s time for another Moratorium march, this time against Donald Trump. It’s not enough to vote against him in November. We’re sliding into a fascist dictatorship. The time to act is now.
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soleil
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 15, 2020, 10:12 PM »

Hi Rad,

Thanks for posting this. It's spot-on.

Yes, Trump is frighteningly similar to Hitler in many ways. What's frustrating is how the media keeps giving him the benefit of the doubt, while whitewashing his tyrannical and authoritarian behavior and downplaying the seriousness of the danger he represents. Whether we like it or not, the way the media covers the president drives the narrative.

As Sarah Kendzior (a writer and scholar on authoritarian regimes, who has a great podcast called Gaslit Nation) tweeted recently:

"The pattern is that the pundits cover our transition into an authoritarian mafia state every few months, after a particularly egregious offense occurs, and then develop collective amnesia and proclaim they are "shocked"."
https://twitter.com/sarahkendzior?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

I agree with what the piece you posted said---that we need to protest in the streets, because, yes, a sense of powerlessness and anxiety has seeped into the atmosphere. This is exactly what tyrants and authoritarians want and we have to rise up and counter that. Unfortunately, it seems as if a collective fatigue has also taken hold, so maybe that's why we don't see mass protests in the streets?

The most important thing is to get this evil sociopath removed from office asap. Let's just hope we can do that soon.

Peace + blessings,

Soleil
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ari moshe
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 19, 2020, 01:19 AM »

Rad, the only known birth time of Sanders is from a second hand memory, but in my correlations looking at transits over several years and just observing the evolutionary trajectory of his life, the proposed 12:27 pm seems fairly accurate. Do you have any insight on this?
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Rad
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 19, 2020, 05:50 AM »

Hi Ari,

I just don't know his birth time Ari. If you would like to post the chart you have based on the second hand source for his birth time go ahead so that others can check it out, and make observations about it.

God Bless, Rad
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ari moshe
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 20, 2020, 11:03 PM »

Here's the chart:
This particular birth time feels really aligned - though it's always important to remember that the mind can make logical sense out of anything.

For now a basic observation: The Virgo stellium in Virgo in the 10th: a lifetime of serving through a political career. And his focus is of course Neptunian in the sense of wanting to create a structural reality (10th house) that fixes (Virgo) a corrupt system (10th house) to serve those in society who are in greatest need (Neptune in the 10th, also Virgo: inferior conditions). And his main focus is on universal healthcare as a government system.

There's a lot more and especially very strong trasit correlations which I don't have the time to go into right now. If anyone has any observations and correlations go for it!

Edit: here's where I got the speculative 12:27 pm birth time:

https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Sanders,_Bernie
Quote
Source Notes
Isaac Starkman quoted Donald Clayton's blog: "The birth of Bernard Sanders occurs in New York City, Borough of Brooklyn, New York. He is born at 00:00 A./P.M. on September 8, 1941. His mother is Dorothy Glassburg (married name Dorothy Sanders). His father is Eli Sanders. Certification of Live Birth – State of New York – No information or document appears to publicly exist". Kanon McAfee reports per email: Donald Clayton, on whose Qala bist blog appears the 0:00 a./p.m. time has told me directly via twitter, "... the 0:00 is a space-saver entry for information that is not known ..."

Starkman quotes astro-charts.com: "Bernie Sanders' birth time is not entirely certain. I talked with a man who campaigned with Bernie Sanders in the Burlington, Vermont races 35 years ago, and was also an astrology enthusiast. According to him, working off of his memory, Bernie's birth time was 12:27 PM EDT"

Sy Scholfield quotes an interview in which Sanders says he does not know his rising sign: "Jessica Pels: I know you’re a Virgo, just like me, which explains a lot. But do you know your Rising sign? Bernie Sanders: No. Sam Feher, assistant to the editor-in-chief [of Cosmopolitan magazine]: Scorpio! BS: Oh, Scorpio!" ("Cosmo Asks Bernie Sanders the Questions Young Women Want Answered," by Jessica Pels, Cosmopolitan, 27 Sept 2019 [1]).

* Bernie Sanders.pdf (136.2 KB - downloaded 86 times.)
« Last Edit: Feb 22, 2020, 12:32 PM by ari moshe » Logged
Rad
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 21, 2020, 05:50 AM »

Hi Ari,

Thanks for posting his chart. Do you know the source of this 2nd hand birth time ? In any case the Saturn transit forming a grand trine in his chart now to his natal Saturn and Neptune will also be in place on the election day in November: right now this correlates with him being on top in the Democrats polling. If he becomes the nominee for the Democrats the transiting N.Node will be on top of his natal Jupiter. 

Like Ari suggests if any one else would like to comment on his chart please feel free to do so.

God Bless, Rad
« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2020, 08:28 AM by Rad » Logged
soleil
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 21, 2020, 01:06 PM »

Hi Rad,

The mainstream media is relentlessly putting out the message that Bernie Sanders absolutely can't beat Trump in the general election because the voters won't vote for a "socialist". I think he can beat Trump but, as we've discussed before, it all comes down to who wins Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Still, the fact that the media is against him doesn't help.

What concerns me is Bloomberg, who is not really a Democrat. He's a Republican. He seems to exhibit some authoritarian tendencies and he has enough money to buy people off and, in some cases, to silence them. Yet the media loves him and is pushing him while bashing Sanders and ignoring Elizabeth Warren.

Is there anything you see astrologically or intuitively re Bloomberg?

Thanks.

Soleil
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