Thursday, February 06, 2020

I dare call it conspiracy!



Let's begin with this important piece by Jonathan Chait:
At that point, the victory scenario would involve a long, bloody struggle all the way to the convention, with the Sanders movement claiming at every step of the way that the party is rigging the race against them, culminating in a convention where his enraged supporters will again try to shout down the proceedings. Unless one of the non-Bloombergs can somehow get off the mat and defeat Sanders, this is probably the best-case scenario for liberals at this point. It seems more probable that Sanders crushes the field and brings his historically unique suite of liabilities to the ticket.
He's right. But being a mainstream writer, Chait won't say what I can say: In all likelihood, Team Trump helped to engineer this situation.

All the respeckable pundits keep telling us that hacking and trickery played no role in the Great Iowa Fiasco. Leave the paranoia to the right, say the respeckable ones. To all such voices, I say pooh on you. If I used emojis, I'd insert a pooh emoji here.

From the AP:
With 97% of precincts reporting from Monday’s caucuses, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by three state delegate equivalents out of 2,098 counted. That is a margin of 0.14 percentage points.
This hasn't stopped Bernie from declaring victory (perhaps prematurely). Bernie tweeted:
We won in Iowa because of the unprecedented grassroots effort of our campaign.
Dare anyone suggest that Bernie received help from the very same Russians who aided him in 2016? Well, I dare. If you want to know why, see here and here.

Has Bernie ever addressed the fact that he received Russian help in 2016 (and is probably receiving it right freakin' now)? Nope. Have his brainwashed bros ever addressed that issue? Nope. Am I supposed to trust a candidate who refuses to talk about this very salient fact? Hell nope.

From the New York Times:
The results released by the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday were riddled with inconsistencies and other flaws. According to a New York Times analysis, more than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses.

In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts.

Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous, and they do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result.
I haven't seen any evidence against rigging. If one is allowed to reason from outcome to cause, we have five big clues which lead one to favor the theory that pro-Trump outsiders screwed with Iowa.

Clue one: The Trumpers gleefully pounced on the disarray in Iowa, and the rapidity of their response led me to believe that none of this took them by surprise. Hundreds of tweets instantly conveyed the same subtext: I got the memo, and I'm saying what I was instructed to say.

Clue two: The technology certainly makes a hacking scenario plausible.
The IowaReporterApp was so insecure that vote totals, passwords and other sensitive information could have been intercepted or even changed, according to officials at Massachusetts-based Veracode, a security firm that reviewed the software at ProPublica’s request. Because of a lack of safeguards, transmissions to and from the phone were left largely unprotected.
Clue three: The trolls knew what to do, and they knew ahead of time.
The phone number to report Iowa caucus results was posted on a fringe internet message board on Monday night along with encouragement to “clog the lines,” an indication that jammed phone lines that left some caucus managers on hold for hours may have in part been due to prank calls.

An Iowa Democratic Party official said the influx of calls to the reporting hotline included “supporters of President Trump who called to express their displeasure with the Democratic Party.”
The "fringe" site was 4chan, and this "prank" was obviously no mere prank.

Clue four: The results favored Bernie Sanders (Trump's preferred foe) and Pete Buttigieg. I like Pete and I wish him well. Many factors make him a strong candidate. But several factors work against him: He has little experience, he has no demonstrable black support, and he's gay.

Whoops. Did I just step on the toes of easily offended progressives? Sorry, but y'ain't gettin' no apologies from me.

Personally, I have no problem voting for a gay man. Hell, I'll vote for a furry or a chicken-lover or a necrophile if his political stances make me smile. (Well, maybe a reformed necrophile.) But right now, electability is the key criterion. Gallup says that only 76 percent of the populace would vote for a gay candidate, which means that nearly a quarter of the populace doesn't like the idea of voting for a homosexual. That's a pretty big anchor chained around Mayor Pete's neck -- and just because the anchor is unfair doesn't mean we should pretend that the anchor doesn't exist.

("But he won an election in a very conservative state!" Yeah, but could he win a state-wide election? No, he could not. So what makes you think he can win nationwide?)

Nearly a quarter of the electorate is biased against gays, and only 47 percent of the American populace would consider voting for a socialist. So naturally, Dems in Iowa went for the socialist and the gay guy. (Hilariously, these same voters told pollsters that electability was a key concern.)

And people wonder why I'm such a pessimist about November!

When will the D crowd learn? General elections are a popularity contest, not a purity contest. Iowa turned out exactly as the Trumpers wanted.

Clue five: The Bernie Bros -- or Russians/Alt Righters posing as Bernie Bros -- instantly flooded Twitter with theories that Wicked Pete tried to steal the Iowa election from Saint Bernie the Pure. They argued that the app was part of an Evil Clinton conspiracy. (Here's the factual basis, such as it is, underlying that accusation.)

Does this claim hold up under scrutiny? Of course not. Logic tells us that, if the Evil Clinton Conspirators were trying to rig the election, they would have helped Biden or Klobuchar instead of Mayor Pete. But logic goes out the window when the Clinton-haters set to a-theorizin'.

Then the Twittermonsters howled that Shadow, the firm behind the app in question, received money from Wicked Pete. The amount varies from theorist to theorist: I've seen tweets tossing out figures in the $20,000 range, while Fox News -- obviously hoping to ignite D-against-D conflict -- has mentioned the sum of $40,000.

C'mon. Think about it. Would Shadow destroy their reputation -- maybe put themselves out of business -- for a mere $40,000? The idea is absurd. Of course, if you're a committed Bernie Bro, you'll find a way to convince yourself that such a thing is possible: A committed Bernie Bro could convince himself that Bernie farts Shalimar.

Am I positing that hackers disrupted the the Iowa caucuses because they intended to skew the final results? No. Iowa is a "paper trail" state; the official results are verifiable.

I think that the hackers wanted to increase the level of paranoia and internecine conflict.

In particular, the Trumpists want the Bernie Bros to become so paranoid, so resentful, so rage-fueled that they will refuse to vote for any other candidate in November, assuming Saint Sanders doesn't get the nomination.

Ever see the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"? I've embedded the finale above. The clip ends with a rather nifty special effects shot, considering the era and the budget. When you see the long shot of that suburban neighborhood, think "Iowa."

In my view, that's what's going on here. That's why Iowa turned out so disastrously.

What to do now? In my view, Biden has to stop playing Mr. Nice Guy. His only chance is to smash the "electability" button. He has to make the point I made above: A socialist cannot win in November. Making such an argument is tantamount to a declaration of war against the Bernie Bros, but there's no choice. The Bros will have it no other way. They are fanatics and fanatics demand confrontation, fangs bared and claws out.

Problem: Polls indicate that the folks in Iowa made electability a priority -- and those voters went against Biden.

Why? Probably because the Hunter Biden/Burisma smear has taken hold. We've been living with Ukraine-gate for quite a few months now, and nobody can say just what it was that Hunter supposedly did wrong. And yet, for some reason, Dems have become afraid to utter the truth: Hunter did nothing wrong.

The worst that can be said of him is that he lent his famous name to a firm struggling to regain respectability two years after it had gotten rid of a corrupt CEO. And that's it.

Hell, that sort of thing goes on all the damned time. It's no sin.

(This practice used to be very common in the world of magazine publishing. Traditionally, magazines would list "contributing editors" who did no actual editing but whose famous names bestowed credibility on the publication.)  

The rightwing bastards are doing to Biden what they did to the Clintons. They have created an aura of corruption where no corruption exists. We've just begun to see the hackers and dirty tricksters at work. Team Trump is choosing their preferred opponent, and they are dividing the Democratic party.

Nothing can stop 'em. Trump's gonna win. We're doomed!
Comments:
Couldn't agree more.
 
Well, I think we already knew Trump was going to win, legally or otherwise. I don't think it matters who he runs against, assuming your theory of Iowa is true, the hackers have shown they can sow chaos quite easily. I suspect the election in November will be so fraught with problems that Trump will be "forced" to declare a national emergency. Antifa (or your ostensible Liberal organization of choice) will probably be accused of burning down the capitol building (or some government building) and Trump will be "forced" to make himself American's first God Emperor. I'm only half joking, obviously.
 
So do our intelligence agencies and our military have no recourse against such a president and a sell out party?

 
What amazes me about the Sanders's supporters' drive to fuck this election totally by spewing all sorts of idiotic conspiracy bullshit (and it's certainly not been just Bernie bots but a number of reasonably respectable figures -- plus some RFs like Krystal Ball) is that it's based on an entirely, incontrovertibly impossible premise. The caucus is an entirely OPEN vote -- and even more open now, thanks to changes implemented largely to get Bernie to STFU about how it was [also impossibly] rigged in 2016. To rig the [Democratic] caucuses, you would need the cooperation of every voter, campaign worker, journalist, and observer present -- it can't be done.

But try bringing that up online. Even Daniel Hopsicker refused to explain how the results of a vote that's held by PEOPLE STANDING IN VARIOUS CORNERS OF A ROOM could possibly be reported incorrectly. His response was that Buttigieg had the app corrupted so he could ride a few-day bump of uncertainty doesn't even pass the "don't laugh like a loon" test.

The insane insistence of Sanders's supporters that the app failure was all part of an evil DNC plan is even more ridiculous when you realize the changes made after 2016 actually proved Sanders was *correct* -- in fact, if not degree: His state delegate equivalents (the proxy for delegate count) did *not* reflect the popular vote. This, of course, surprised no one: Sanders had long been expected to poll better in urban areas, while more centrist candidates were expected to do better in more conservative rural areas. Unfortunately, thanks to the quantum nature of human beings -- they are either 1.0 human or 0.0 human -- any method of allocating votes at less than a state-sized granularity is going to over-represent less-populous areas.

The only surprise was Biden's poor showing -- which, I must disagree, likely had far more to do with his weird gaffes and general crankiness than the Burisma foolishness. I've been vocal in that past that, as far as I was concerned, Biden's appropriation of Neil Kinnock's life story in '88 pretty much ruled him out as a viable candidate. I know Joseph disagrees, preferring to accept the Biden camp's story of a flubbed acknowledgement -- but the facts don't bear out that story in the least: It was a truly bizarre performance, almost Trumpian in its surreality. Now, I might accept the explanation that Biden, after a hugely grueling campaign slog, had to be pumped to the gills with prescription amphetamines (nowadays he'd just pop a Modafinil and keep humming along) to remain upright and experienced a performance glitch of a sort unlikely to occur in office -- but that wasn't what was claimed. So all I can assume instead is that he either has a personality disorder that emerges under extreme stress, or he's nuts. Neither looks good on a presidential resume.

In any case, Sanders and Warren polled close to predictions, Buttigieg did better than expected, and Biden bit the big one. From the latest first and final alignment counts I saw -- which I think was around 70% reporting; I really don't care enough about what a tiny number of old, white, midwestern farmers think to stay glued to this story -- the alignment shifts consisted largely of shuffling support among the centrists: far fewer votes were added to Sanders's column than to the others'.

So, in the end, the new procedures proved what everyone expected. The Sanders's supporters' claim of a massive popular vote to delegate count mismatch didn't emerge (unsurprisingly). And the tendency for people who know little about tech to trust the extreme claims of people who know a little about tech but who've never actually worked in anything *other* than a tech-creation role once again proved near-fatal.
 
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