Monday, January 15, 2018

Noah Smith on Twitter Nazis & Others

Noah Smith‏

1/So, as someone who writes approvingly of immigration and diversity, I get mobbed by Twitter Nazis occasionally.

I thought I'd share what I've learned.

2/A Nazi attack will begin when a reasonably well-followed Nazi account quote-tweets one of your tweets.

In the old days (and still occasionally) this was a screenshot or manual RT.

3/I call this account the "screamer". As near as I can tell, screamer accounts go around all day looking for targets and quote-tweeting them. It's either a passionate hobby for them or a full-time job.

4/In the old days, there were a few very well-followed Nazi screamers, like Genophilia. Now, thanks to banning, there are a bunch of smaller screamers with maybe 3-4k followers.

5/The screamer will usually not have a lot of Nazi memes and keywords in their profile. Thus, scrolling through your mentions, you may mistake it for a normal account quote-tweeting your tweet approvingly.

6/Once the screamer flags your tweet, you will be attacked by a bunch of throwaway accounts with 0 to 200 followers, often with lots of Nazi memes and styling.

I call these the "soldiers".

7/The soldiers will insult you, threaten you, call you a liar, spit various memes at you, etc. The usual Twitter stuff.

I doubt their specific tactics actually matter much.

8/The soldiers' goal is not to scare you or shut you up or rebut you or discredit you.

The soldiers' goal is to *appear numerous* to people reading your tweets.

9/By appearing numerous, the Twitter Nazis create the general impression that their movement and their ideas are mainstream. A big popular grassroots movement, rather than a fringe of a few thousand internet assholes and their pet bots.

10/The screamer/soldier strategy allows Twitter Nazis to create the false impression of a bunch of normal people who just stumbled across your tweet and became outraged.

11/By hopping from person to person and keeping up this shtick all day long, they can make normal people think half of America has gone Nazi. It's a force multiplier.

12/This was an old tactic of the Mongols and other horse nomad armies, who would use clouds of dust or extra campfires to create the illusion of superior numbers.

13/So how do you defend against these tactics? If you're like me and enjoy blocking Nazis, just block all the soldiers and giggle.

But if you want to stop the attack, you must find and block the screamer.

14/This can be difficult, especially if your tweet was very popular, and especially if you don't constantly monitor your mentions.

The soldiers rarely include the screamer in their replies, in order to prevent you finding and blocking them.

15/You can also just block Nazis en masse with apps like Twitter Block Chain, or by using block lists.

16/Sooner or later Twitter will tweak their interface to make this tactic less effective - for example, by letting you see a list of only quote-tweets, making it easy to find and block screamers.

The Nazis will then think of a new tactic.

17/Remember, you're dealing with a small but fanatic fringe with a lot of time and passion. Such a group will always find a way to cause destruction and chaos disproportionate to their numbers.

Bad guys work full time.

18/But the most important thing is to remember: The Nazis are few in number, and despite all their best efforts they are going to lose.


Oh, random note: Mobs other than the Nazis, like the MAGA people (who are actually quite distinct from the Nazis) or the "dirtbag" leftists, feel much more organic. You can tell they have a lot more people than the Nazis, and their mobs are born from honest outrage.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg View columnist. 
He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

McLaughlin Twitter Thread on Fusion GPS

Curated here for easier reading.
First draft. Curating Tweets for a blog post is clumsy business, especially for an old guy in retirement. There may be mistakes in my work, but the thrust of her points is clear.


THREAD ON FUSION GPS. I spent the afternoon reading the transcript that Senator Feinstein released today. Here are the salient points, with citations. I am a lawyer and CEO. I was a securities fraud and human rights litigator in DC/NY for over 15 years. Read on for takeaways.

1/ First, thanks today for the bravery of @SenFeinstein. You're a heroine of the #Resistance.

2/ As I process the Fusion GPS transcript, I'll post significant points here in individual tweets. For starters: NO, Fusion GPS doesn't do hatchet jobs to try to get government agencies to start investigations against people. (Tr. 25

3/ As well, Fusion GPS knows WTF it's doing. The descriptions of the investigation in the Prevezon case are deep and powerful and detailed and serious, and they do not mess around. (Tr. 38-49)

4/ Other items of note from the Fusion GPS background: Fusion has a deep background in understanding Russian money laundering. The Prevezon case got the into investigations of Russian organized crime, Cypriot banking, and the tax system in Russia. Serious business. (Tr. 38-49)

5/ On the Fusion GPS retention on Trump: "it evolved somewhat quickly into issues of his relationships to organized crime figures . . ." (Tr. 61-62)

6/ Fusion GPS concluded early in their investigation that Trump has serious ties to Russian organized crime, including money in his companies from "Kazakhstan, among other places, and that some of it you just couldn't account for." (Tr. 67-70)

7/ Fusion GPS hired Steele as a part of "drilling down" on specific areas of concern about Trump's business dealings internationally, and Steele was not the only subcontractor hired. (Tr. 76-78)

8/ Asked about Christopher Steele as an investigator, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS described him as a "quality" investigator in high profile situations and "a boy scout." (Tr. 81-82)

9/ Fusion sent Steele into Russia with a broad assignment to look into Trump's dealings in Russia. And what they found was that "it wasn't a giant secret" that "Donald Trump had a relationship with the Kremlin." “People were talking about it freely.” (Tr. 87-88)

10/ Now would be a good time to ask yourself why it is that @ChuckGrassley and others didn't want this transcript released. But keep going.

11/ Christopher Steele was trained as the lead Russianist in MI6 to spot disinformation from Russian intelligence. So what he found was not bullshit. What he found was real. (Tr. 88-89)

12/ What is clear in the questioning of Simpson from the Republican side of the fence is that they they were trying to set up a claim that Rinat Akhmetshin, who was present at the Trump Tower June 2016 meeting was an agent of Fusion and thereby HRC. (Tr. 109-110)

13/ This is plainly an attempt to try to claim that any Trump/Russia interactions were a democratic set-up—one that Simpson shot down hard. (Tr. 109-110)

14/ Glenn Simpson had dinner with Vesilnitskaya in New York the night before the Trump Tower meeting. Fusion was doing work on the Prevezon case, and it was a client dinner with the lawyers, of whom Vesiltnitskaya was one. This shit just gets weirder and weirder. (Tr.130-131)

15/ Asked by the Republicans whether he believes the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 was an effort by the Russian government to make contact with the Trump campaign, Simpson responded "I think that's a reasonable interpretation." (Tr. 134-135)

15/ Fusion sent Steele into Russia to learn more about Trump's business dealings. What they found was "very different and obviously more alarming, which had to do with . . . a political conspiracy . . . the government of Russia or someone was doing some hacking. . ."(Tr. 133-134)

16/ "there were rumblings at that time about whether there had been lot of hacking and there was going to be -- political digital espionage was going to be a co

17/ And so they set out to determine if what they were learning was credible. (I mean, Jesus. If he isn't impeached after this, America is toast.)

18/ Fusion evaluated the credibility of the information they received that the Trump campaign may be involved in digital espionage to throw the election. Steele is credible. The methods described are consistent with Russian intelligence. Nothing appears to be false. (Tr. 148-150 More

18/ The very first memo within the dossier discusses that Trump and his inner circle accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin. (Tr. 154-155)

19/ In response to a question about election interference, Simpson stated "If you're getting help from a foreign government and your help is intelligence, then the foreign government's interfering," and that the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting is consistent with that. (Tr. 154-155)

20/ Only two memos in to the memos that make up the dossier, Fusion knew that what they were dealing with was a criminal attempt to influence the election, a conspiracy to violate campaign laws, and potentially the blackmailing of the @GOP candidate for President. (Tr. 158-160)

21/ "it's 26 July. So by this time Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been the subject of a very aggressive hacking campaign, weaponized hack, the likes of which, you know, have never really been seen." (Tr. 158)

22/ "We've seen hacking in politics before, but this kind of, you know, mass theft of e-mail and then to dump it all into, you know, the public sphere was extraordinary and it was criminal." (Tr. 158)

23/ "In [Steele's] mind this is already a criminal matter, there's already a potential national security matter here." (Tr. 159)

24/ "Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to -- he said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information." (Tr. 159)

25/ "He thought from his perspective there was an issue -- a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed.” (Tr. 159)

26/ "From my perspective there was a law enforcement issue about whether there was an illegal conspiracy to violate the campaign laws, and then somewhere in this time the whole issue of hacking has also surfaced." (Tr. 159-160)

27/ So why did they go to the FBI? "[L]et's be clear, this was not considered by me to be part of the work that we were doing. This was -- to me this was like, you know, you're driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911, right.” (Tr. 164)

28/ 25/ It wasn't part of the -- it wasn't like we were trying to figure out who should do it. He said he was professionally obligated to do it. Like if you're a lawyer and, you know, you find out about a crime, in a lot of countries you must report that." (Tr. 164-165; 167-168)

29: "So it was like that. So I just said if that's your obligation, then you should fulfill your obligation." (Tr. 164-165; 167-168)

26/ What we can take from this is that the reporting of the dossier to the FBI was ETHICAL, HONEST, and NOT A HATCHET JOB. (Tr. 164-165; 167-168)

31/ (sorry for the screwy numbering of thread tweets, folks. this is a lot.)

32/ Simpson flagged how serious it got within the Fusion investigation when, post-reporting to the FBI, the hacking of the Democrats continued, the RNC platform as to Ukraine changed, and Trump continued to say bizarrely favorable

33/ And then Steele went to Rome, and met with the FBI, and gave them everything he had so far on Trump. Simpson says Steele's work was "really serious and really credible," and when he asked to go meet with the FBI and give them everything he had, Fusion said yes. (Tr. 171-172)

34/ And there is no question in the minds of Simpson or Steele that what they are dealing with is criminal espionage, a "crime in progress" by the Russians aga

35/ And then Simpson dropped a bomb: Steele went to Rome, gets debriefed by the FBI, and learns in the debriefing that the FBI, in September 2016, has a "voluntary" source inside the Trump campaign. (Tr. 175-176). READ THAT AGAIN.

36/ NOTE: that means this is not Papadopoulos. He was flipped when he lied to the FBI. This was also someone who was NOT also a source for Steele.

37/ @JamesComey sent the letter to the Hill concerning Hillary's emails after Fusion has reported espionage, election interference and the potential compromise of Trump to the FBI. (Tr. 178-179)

38/ Then the @nytimes reported that the FBI looked into Trump/Russia and found nothing. Simpson calls this cluster "a real Halloween special." (Tr. 178-

39/ And as a result, Steele stopped cooperating with the FBI. (Tr. 178-179)

40/ The FBI considered paying Steele to continue his work after the election, but did not. So all of this work by Steele was not on behalf of any US intelligence agency. (Tr. 214)

41/ And again, it's worth noting that this was not a hatchet job. No compensation to Fusion was conditioned on the FBI starting an investigation into Trump/Russia. (Tr. 217)

42/ After the election, Fusion was "obviously . . . as surprised as everyone else and Chris and I were mutually concerned about whether the United States had just elected someone who was compromised by a hostile foreign power . . ." (Tr.

43/ " . . . more in my case whether the election had been tainted by an intervention by the Russian intelligence services, and we were, you know, unsure what to do.” (Tr. 219).

44/ They went to John McCain in the hope that McCain would share it with the highest levels of the FBI. (Tr. 219-221

45/ And then there is this explosive bit: Steele and Simpson weren't sure that @Comey EVEN KNEW ABOUT THE ALLEGATIONS. Which would explain a lot. An awful lot. (Tr. 220-221)

46/ Just so there's no mistake about it, Simpson stated: "I was aware at the time (mid-2016) that the Russian mafia and Russian cyber crime was a subcontractor to the Russian intelligence services." (Tr. 233)

47/ Disinformation was a part of Steele's business training at MI6. He did not believe anything given to him that became a part of the dossier was disinformation. (Tr. 239)

48/ Carter Page lost money with the Russians, was really mad about sanctions, and apparently had been an espionage suspect under investigation by the FBI FOR YEARS preceding the election. Jesus. (Tr. 240-242)

49/ And add to that: Fusion had reason to believe that Page had been offered business deals in exchange for being compromised. (Tr. 240-242)

50/ Simpson was a solid witness generally. Asked about claims by SHS that the dossier was phony and Fusion took money from the Russians, he gave a scathing defense of his work and the work of Steele, concluding with he dossier "is not a fabrication." (Tr. 256-257)

51/ And then the really crazy stuff came out. Simpson was handed Manafort's contemporaneous notes from the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. (Tr. 261-264)

52/ In those notes is a reference to a Cypriot holding company to engage in inward investment into Russia, the note "active sponsors of the RNC," Dick Cheney's press secretary, and finally, adoptions. (Tr. 261-264)

53/ But Cypriot holding companies, and "active sponsors of the RNC?" WTAF. There is something so deep and so corrupt here in the @GOP I'm nearly speechless. (Tr. 261-264)

54/ Fusion's conclusions were not influenced by the person paying them for their Trump research. (But Simpson did conclude on a personal level that Trump was unqualified for the job.) (Tr. 290-293)

55/ Fusion concluded that Trump had a long history of engagement in illegal activity with organized crime. (Tr. 293-294)

56/ More evidence of how good Simpson is as a witness. Asked about Fusion's investigations into the Trump Org in NYC, he denies direct criminal evidence of DJT the person being involved in crimes. The Trump Org of whom, of course, DJT is the head, is in deep. (Tr. 295-298)

57/ 49/ This is careful, careful testimony by this witness to preserve his credibility while still making his point, though Fox News will leap all over this as proof that DJT is not a criminal. The prior 295 pages of this transcript prove otherwise. (Tr. 295-298)

58/ Trump's golf courses are broke. (Tr. 299-300)

59/ And lastly, just in case you thought this wasn't as serious as it gets, one of Fusion GPS's sources has already been murdered by the Russians. (Tr. 279)

60/ Ok, people, that’s it. It's a bombshell of a day in America. And if Trump isn’t impeached after this, along with complicit members of the @GOP who have known this and tried to discredit Fusion and Steele and this dossier, there is no hope for our democracy. Period.

61/ @ChuckGrassley @TGowdySC @DevinNunes @Jim_Jordan @LindseyGrahamSC there is jail time in your futures, I suspect. #RESIST /end of thread

Described as a “celebrated career coach” and “fearless entrepreneur,” Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin is the CEO of Gaia Project Consulting, LLC, and the Founder of The Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership. Her work has earned the support and recognition of women such as Arianna Huffington, Ali Brown, DailyWorth and WorthFM Founder Amanda Steinberg, and Emerging Women Live Founder Chantal Pierrat, among many others.

Elizabeth has a storied track record of success as a Wall Street lawyer, serial CEO and entrepreneur, and high-powered executive coach. After a fifteen year career as a full-time Wall Street securities litigator and trial lawyer, Elizabeth founded Gaia Project Consulting, LLC, an executive consulting and coaching firm that serves senior executives across tech, finance, banking, law, fashion, healthcare, non-profit and consulting, propelling its clients to new heights of growth and professional alignment.

Five years later, she founded The Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership, offering virtual and live programming to grow New Paradigm Women’s Leadership worldwide.
(More at the link.)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Twitter Treasure -- The Night Before Christmas, 2017

Chris Sampson‏ @TAPSTRIMEDIA

Twas the night before Christmas, when through the White House
Not a Kushner was resting, not even his spouse;
The documents were hung by the shredder with care,
In fears that Bob Mueller soon would be there;

The staffers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of subpoenas danced in their heads;
And Melania in her babushka, and Trump in his cap,
Flew to Mar-a-Lago for a long winter's nap,

When on the TV there remained such a matter,
There was Brennan, Podesta and man named Jim Clapper.
With bribes fresh in hand, they flew like the flash,
The greedy corporations did suck up the cash.

The Congress rejoiced the records will show
Feigned promises of riches to the peasants below,
When, what to amazement FoxNews should appear,
Took aim at Bob Mueller, with permission to smear,

With disinfo flying, so rapid and thick,
I knew in a moment it must be Bolshevik.
More rapid than vultures his hackers they came,
And they posted and trolled, as they sought to defame;

"Now, Fancy! now, Cozy! now, Seaduke and BlackEnergy!
On, Havex! on Sandworm! on, Skipper and CrouchingYeti!
To the DNC server! Past the paper's firewall!
Now exfiltrate, exfiltrate, exfiltrate all!"

Then the Kremlin called Julian, their reliable guy,
To leak to the world, the docs that they plied,
And the Stone who was named Roger bragged on it too,
With the dirty tricks methods that Vladi knew.

And they carried on lying that there was never the proof,
They fogged and distracted and acted aloof.
But their plan would unravel, spin wild to the ground,
And the FBI went digging and looking all around.

Then came the big man, he was Special Counsel to be,
And he hired top lawyers, and then empaneled grand jury;
There were interviews and hearings, this man would not slack,
And he pressed forward justly, with a determined knack.

His eyes were like eagles, they missed not a thing,
His presence was heavy, his targets would sing!
His sleuthing was famous, if you must know,
And his integrity was solid, like the ground below;

The facts that were surfaced he held tight in his teeth,
And as he dug for truth morsels that were buried beneath;
He was focused on the crooked, the wretched and smelly,
They did shake full of fear as we watched on the tele.

He questioned each of them from the son to the elf,
And I rejoiced at the justice, then I thought to myself;
Under orange little man with weird hair on his head,
The great justice of America was certainly not dead,

He did push and did pull but it just would not work,
And did hit Twitter daily, to act like a jerk,
And he threw little tizzy fits, like a toddler in chief,
But we saw he was crooked, though no ordinary thief;

Though it took time, and labor we could would no longer bristle,
As we finally saw Congress call for his dismissal.
And as justice was served, he was hauled out of sight,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Remembering the JFK Assasination

I noted these memories of November 22, 1963 at my old blog in 2004 and 2005.

It was about this time in the afternoon. I was in one of those lecture hall classes, a core curriculum survey of world history. The professor was so far away that I couldn't make out the details of his facial expression, but we could hear clearly because he used a microphone. Someone walked in from the right of the room, interrupted the lecture and spoke with the teacher. He then turned to the class and said, "We have just received word that the President has been shot in Dallas. We don't know whether he was killed, but he has been shot."

He paused for a few seconds. Nobody said anything. He then said, "Anyone who thinks that by killing the president they will stop his policies does not understand history. Shooting him will do nothing to stop what he was trying to do."

The place was Tallahassee, Florida and the campus had at that point been polarized over the picketing of two off-campus eating establishments because they refused to serve Negroes, as they were then respectfully called. In 1962 the graduate school at Florida State Uiversity had accepted its first black student. And that year, 1963, the first undergraduate student was attending classes.

I was only nineteen at the time, but something in me felt that if those restaurants, which only existed because the students and faculty of that school were there, refused to allow a black student to be served, something was badly out of balance. As a Southern Baptist I had already been struck by a contradiction of the same sort when an African student who came to America was not able to stay at a Baptist school because the dormitory was reserved for white students only. That had struck me wrong also.

Acting on a blind and unreasonable impulse that makes young people sometimes hard to endure because they can't understand why wrong things can't just change for the better, I allied myself with a group of students meeting weekly at a Unitarian Church at the edge of the campus, calling itself -- and it sounds so corny now -- The Liberal Forum. We had contributed to the closing of one of three restaurants, and were picketing the second. I was kicked out of my cheap off-campus room because of my activities and had put up with an even cheaper space, a garage apartment, shared with one of my radical peers.

The news of John Kennedy's assasination was devastating. The days which followed were among the saddest I can remember. The university arranged for continuous television coverage of the news and funeral, which of course included the subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. I still remember the endless playing of Chopin's funeral dirge and the funeral procession. It was the beginning of a turbulent chapter in modern history.

The teacher was right. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed the following year and the Public Accommodations section validated the reason that we were picketing.

Anyone old enough to remember will recall that time stood still. Those memories are frozen with every detail -- when and where we were, how the word was passed and how people around reacted. Later, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and M.L. King would have a similar impact, but it was the death of Jack Kennedy that shook the nation to its roots.

I sometimes think that the Sixties in all their madness were a visceral response to that event. Children who have lost parents are known to internalize that trauma as guilt. At least that was the theory a few years back and the basis of trauma counseling for kids. I have seen it expressed both in movies and real life so there must be something to it. It's an irrational reaction, of course. There is no reason that a child whose parent has died as the result of an accident or medical condition should feel personally responsible, but that is how it is perceived. It was my fault. I was not good enough. I should have done more to protect him or her. I must have done something wrong.

There are cases, though, where the child really did do something to bring about the loss of the parent. Playing with fire, distracting a driver, handling a loaded firearm... In these cases the guilt is earned. The parent really is lost because of the actions of the child. Forgiveness and release does not come as easily in these cases, but "life goes on," such as it is, as the pain of loss fades but never quite disappears. Such was the case of the Sixties.

Some of us glimpsed a better way. We knew there were social habits that had to change. We knew that a war was underway somewhere in South Asia that should not have been started. We knew that conscripting young men for that war was not the same as doing so for World War II. We knew that the government was not being faithful to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And we knew that if we didn't correct these wrongs then we would have to live with the results. Like the child whose horseplay in the back seat caused the death of a parent in a car wreck, we looked at life with exaggerated seriousness. We sought to correct problems in a generation that later we would learn are endemic to the human condition.

In the process we lost our innocence. And like the young person who has smoked the first pack of cigarettes, finished the first bottle of alcohol with his buddies, or waked up after that first night of lovemaking, a whole generation embarked on a decade or so of boundary-testing. We learned the hard way that boundaries serve a practical purpose. We learned that without boundaries there is no order. We learned that role-modeling good behavior is more important to generational development as saying Do as I say, not as I do.

Unfortunately, and this is the legacy of the Clinton years, we learned too late. It took nearly three decades for the Sixties to work its way through the system to become manifest at the highest office in government. Bill Clinton's presidency represents in many ways the culmination of what began in the Sixties, with all the excitement and hopes for the future, but also with its dark underside of moral turpitude. Having been there and done that I now hope that the lessons of that time have been learned and internalized. Unfortunately, it seems politically impossible for anyone to change his mind or behavior without being called a hypocrite. We saw that plainly in the last election with the pathetic and failed attempt of John Kerry to reconcile the contradictions of his past with mandates of the present.

For many of us the last year or two have been deja vu. I know that Iraq is not Vietnam and the attack on the WTC is not the same as Kennedy's assassination. White phosphorus is not the same as napalm and Abu Ghraib is not My Lai. But our behavior as a nation strikes me as inappropriate and irrational as that of the Sixties. I almost said the "children" of the Sixties, but it was not all done by young people. Many of those whom we followed, who guided our behavior, were adults. They were mature, solid, wholesome, responsible adults. Some were already old and would never live to see the results of what they were encouraging, not because they were killed or sacrificed, but simply because they were too old to live that long.

To the degree that adults can make the same mistakes as children, that happened to us as a nation in the Sixties. And in many ways, the same thing is happening again today.

Tribalism In America: a Case Study

I'm grabbing this Tweet and thread for the file for future reference. No way to know if it marks an end or beginning of big changes. Either way it's like a flash mob, a happening, a sign of the times. Decades from now this may seem quaint or faddish but at the moment it strikes me as just amusing.
America is once again experiencing a retrograde period in our young history as a nation. Many writers are describing the current administration and Congress as one of the most corrupt on record, perhaps even the worst. In any case, the retraction of "net neutrality" (and the improving skill sets of hackers, leakers and armies of robots) means the web, like some wild animal, is being captured and tamed by forces beyond the reach of democratic oversight. 
Most people, distracted by bread and circuses, are oblivious. But this development is hugely important. 
It challenges my optimism. 
But just as I'm grateful to have seen first-hand two terms of a black president, I know we are living in the historic aftermath of those eight years. 
A year ago whoever we elected president was called Leader of the Free World. During the following months that title lost meaning. Germany, Russia and China, like sports teams competing for a World Series or Super Bowl, are now challengers for that title. 
Here is the Propublica link inspiring these reactions. 
Meantime, enjoy the clown show between featured attractions...