Cambridge Analytica and the Russian prostitute connection

Remember how, this past weekend, I was telling you about how Facebook had confirmed that, back in 2014, Cambridge Analytica, the political analytics firm owned by far-right hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and managed at the time by Steve Bannon, had harvested the Facebook profiles of approximately 50 million unwitting American voters using the platform, allowing the company to build a “psychological warfare weapon” that, according to one of the men involved, could exploit the “inner demons” of Americans in a highly targeted fashion for political and economic gain? Well, the Cambridge Analytica story apparently doesn’t end there. Judging from undercover video released by BBC4 this afternoon, it would appear that, in order to accomplish their nefarious objectives, Cambridge Alanytica has also both bribed opposition candidates across the globe, and employed the services of prostitutes, in hopes of gaining leverage over those who stand between their clients and electoral victory. Here’s video of Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix telling a man posing as the representative of a wealthy Sri Lankan family looking to influence a national election, about how opposition politicians can be taken down with Ukrainian sex workers and hidden video cameras. “They are very beautiful,” Nix says of the prostitutes. “I find that works very well.”

Funny that, out of all the prostitutes in the world, Nix should mention a preference for the ones from Russia, isn’t it? If I were a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I’d want to ask him about that, and what he might know of the claim in the Steele dossier that a very similar trap had been set for our President in Moscow… Oh, but that’s right, Devin Nunes and the other Republicans on the committee shut it down, saying that there wasn’t any reason to continue the investigation, in spite of the fact that, among other things, they hadn’t even called a single person from Cambridge Analytica to testify.

But, yes, it looks as though Robert Mercer’s company, Cambridge Analytica, a division of SCL Elections, is every bit as evil as we’d thought… Here, with more on how the company uses micro-targeted false news stories to sway elections, is an excerpt from today’s New York Times.

…In a series of meetings at London hotels between November and January, all of which were secretly filmed, Mr. Nix and other executives boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients.

The information that is uncovered through such clandestine work is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive, in an encounter in December 2015 at the Berkeley hotel in London.

“Then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again, over time, to watch it take shape,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’ Because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is, ‘Who’s put that out?’”…

Here’s Turnbull in another clip from the BBC4 undercover report.

If you’d like to watch the whole report, you can do so on Youtube… There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching evil men talking caught on hidden cameras, talking about how they use hidden cameras to destroy the lives of others, knowing that they’re going to enjoy the same miserable fate.

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  1. Meta
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Gizmodo: “Authorities Seek Warrant to Raid Offices of Cambridge Analytica Amid Facebook Data Showdown”

    After the segment aired, Britain’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, appeared for an interview with Channel 4’s Jon Snow. Denham said that her office “has been carrying out an investigation into data analytics and political profiling and micro-targeting for several months now. And we have heard similar allegations during our investigation.”

    The commissioner emphasized that Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are only one part of their investigation, which involves 30 organizations and was started with the intent of explaining to the public what happens to their personal data during political campaigning. Denham said that she issued a demand for access to Cambridge Analytica on March 7th and that she was not satisfied with its response. She said that her office will formally request the warrant tomorrow, and she is seeking access to the computers and property of the firm.

    Facebook’s own forensic investigators will soon begin an independent review of Cambridge Analytica’s systems, according to an announcement today. Denham said that “Facebook has been cooperative with us and has provided a great deal of information about the 50 million profiles. We’re waiting on more information, but it’s Cambridge Analytica that has been uncooperative with our investigation.”

    We’ve reached out to Cambridge Analytica for comment but did not receive an immediate reply. Considering how much emphasis the man identified as Nix in the video puts on client privacy, we’re going to go out on a limb and guess that the company isn’t very pleased.

    The Washington Post reported on Monday that “Cambridge Analytica earned more than $16 million from 2014 to 2016 from nearly 20 Republican candidates and political committees.” The campaign to elect Donald Trump for president accounted for $5.9 million of that in 2016, according to FEC filings.

    Read more:

  2. Hyperian Warlock
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    “about how opposition politicians can be taken down with Ukrainian sex workers”

    “Funny that, out of all the prostitutes in the world, Nix should mention a preference for the ones from Russia, isn’t it?”

    Ukraine and Russia are two different countries.

  3. Dave Morris
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Oleg Deripaska and Sergei Prikhodko prefer Belarusians…and apparently 3 mystery americans.

    Is anyone else dying to know what the girl in the Thai prison waiting to be sent back to Russia has to say? The FBI sure wants to know.

  4. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    “Ukraine and Russia are two different countries.”

    Part of the argument for the annexation for Crimea was the presence of a large ethnically Russian population there. Ukraine is not uniformly populated with people who would identify as Ukrainian.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Ukraine was part of the USSR until declaring independence in 1992.

  6. Hyperian Warlock
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “Part of the argument for the annexation for Crimea was the presence of a large ethnically Russian population there. Ukraine is not uniformly populated with people who would identify as Ukrainian.”

    “Ukraine was part of the USSR until declaring independence in 1992.”

    Is here American kindergarten blog? Of course, I know this. Very well, yes. Is known to every schoolboy, even Trump. Does Maynard teacher know? Blat.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure why anyone is surprised about any of this. Prostitutes and politicians? Facebook data harvested to influence elections? Is it really surprising? What’s surprising is that Cambridge Amalyrica was successful. We were the dupes. Why does anyone think it’s shocking that politicians and their agents will try to dupe us?
    I’m all for holding Trump and co accountable for whatever their relationship with Russia was/is. I’m just interested that we aren’t more self-reflective. Cambraudge Analytica did not only dupe Conservatives. They played to leftist outrage as well. They knew just how many exposures you would need to an anti-HRC story to believe it and for it to affect your view of her. They even planted anti-GOP posts to rope you in.

    We can sink politicians for cavorting with prostitutes, but how do we stop ourselves from being vulnerable to manipulation. No one even offered us sex.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I apologize again that my thumbs, bad eyesight, poor spelling and autocorrect create such a word salad. It is what it is… or, rather, not.

  9. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    “how do we stop ourselves from being vulnerable to manipulation. No one even offered us sex.”

    2016 was a grand experiment in manipulating public opinion through social media. And it worked.

    I wonder, though, how many people are willing to admit that they were manipulated. I am guessing none at all, since few felt manipulated, which is a testament to how effective it was and will be far into the future.

  10. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I know most liberals think that we poor working folk are stupid and easily manipulated. If you look at the polling information from 2015 on, it was obvious that Clinton was the weakest of all Democratic candidates. That information was available to anyone who cared to look. It is why Sanders launched his campaign. It did not take social media manipulation or the Russians or even the Comey debacle prior to the election to cause Clinton to lose. We might get a Democratic landslide this November, but unless they do some real change once in office we will end up with Trump for another 4.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    WOBBLIE— Why was the most qualified candidate for president ever considered the weakest?
    And for the record, I think All voters are subject to manipulation. This new strategy targets populists though, clearly.

    Everyone else, who can imagine that their political positions are less than ordained from a place of righteous political omniscience, and still bothers with FB —

  12. EOS
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with Wobblie on this. There was a hatred of Clinton rather than any real endorsement of Trump. Being married to a former President doesn’t qualify her to be President. She did nothing of importance as a Senator and made enormous mistakes at the State department. Bottom line – she was the most untrustworthy candidate of them all. And her lust for power scared the hell out of us. Didn’t need any Russian fake news to manipulate me, my mind was made up at the Rose law firm.

  13. anonymous
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    And what, exactly, do you think happened at the Rose law firm?

  14. HRC
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    “The Kenya election was just overturned and really what’s interesting about that is (it) was also a project of Cambridge Analytica, the data company owned by the Mercer family that was instrumental in the Brexit vote.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton, September 2017

  15. EOS
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Clinton certainly thought that we poor working folk are stupid and easily manipulated. Remember how she tried to spin the debacle in Benghazi as being caused by a You Tube video? And when the public refused to be led astray by such a ridiculous premise she came back with an angry, “What difference does it make?” People died because of her arrogance. It makes a big difference.

  16. M
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    There were several Behgnazi investigations. They found no evidence of wrongdoing. Please try again.

  17. EOS
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    M –

    Sure. Believe what ever spin you desire. I read plenty of evidence of wrongdoing. Guns were shipped to Syria after Khadafi was eliminated. More turmoil in the Mid East instigated by the U.S. We are not the “good guys”.

  18. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Latest Fox News talking point is a false equivalence between Obama’s use of data harvesting via voter surveys and Cambridge Analytical paying a bunch of Facebook users a couple bucks to engage in ‘personality tests’ an installing malware to surreptitiously collect the information of everyone they ‘friended.’ “Obama was called a genius and Trump is called a crook.”
    Just end-running that one.
    But Facebook really needs to do some better self-policing if they want to retain the other utility their massive data farm. We all have to do some better self-policing.

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    EOS– You pivoted to a different subject. No one here is suggesting the US is without blame in the Middle East. Some of us do not claim we are the only bad actors there. The question is what should the US do now that we messed the area up so egregiously.
    PS, While, for sure, the state department under Clinton armed Syrian rebels, many of whom, without the other US support promised, then switched sides to ISIL, the question is not whether that strategy was a failure but what strategy would have been better, more engagement in support of Syrian rebels or the Kerry/Obama laissez-faire approach that followed. People with different agendas will come to different conclusions.

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I think Clinton thought, correctly, that people *as a whole* are often stupid and easily manipulated. She failed in not trying harder to manipulate. Her husband excelled at it. She is not her husband and did not run on his record but her own, which, just on experience and expertise, made her the most qualified person to run for President in this century. What you think of her policies is irrelevant in this assessment. She knows her stuff. Your attempt to diminish her to ‘wifey’ status is noted as the blatant sexism that motivated many voters. It was the more widespread less blatant sexism that lost her the race though.

  21. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Yes, Clinton’s campaign suffered because she tried to run her campaign in a standard manner.

    Trump and to a less extent Bernard Sanders recognized that campaigning in 2016 was not like campaigning in the past. The entire media landscape had changed and they recognized it.

  22. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I wonder how guys like wobblie think the Democrats should choose candidates. Because obviously, although it is true that a lot of people don’t like Hillary Clinton, it is just as obvious that a LOT of people really do like her and thought she was the best candidate to represent them in the general election. Around 3 million more people than who thought the same of Sanders in fact.

  23. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Lynn, the first thing the Democratic Party should do is stop cheating and fixing elections so that the “chosen one” is elected. For example, are you aware of the thousands of voters who were purged from the election roles in New York prior to the primary? (New York’s Attorney General, an establishment Democrat just reached a settlement that despite the law breaking, ensures that no one will be held accountable). Did you read any of the Podesta emails, or the DNC emails that contain the ways in which they fixed the primary elections for Clinton? The second thing they should do is get rid of “super” delegates. Cleaning up their selection process would truly make it a Democratic Party, rather than a party run by consultants and insiders. For example currently the Democratic Congressional Committee will not provide any funding to a Democratic candidate who does not agree to spend at least 60% of their fund raising on TV utilizing “approved” consultants. It is a classic kick back scheme and has nothing to do with getting Democrats elected, only ensuring that the consultant class gets their money.

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    IL— my two bit theory about that is not that she didn’t understand the game or populism. Her husband was expert at both and his advice re the WWC and the rust belt was ignored. My impression is that she just hates that part of it, was victim to it for a long time and bridled at what it asked of women candidates and, critically, she thought she could win without it.

    The irony of it all now is that, in the wake of her loss and Trump’s win, and the reckoning that flowed, social awareness has shifted dramatically, and I think she could win now running like she did then— if she hadn’t already tried twice.

    I have concerns about the moralistic tone of the new awareness, but over all, I think the goal is greater equity which pretty much always leads to greater openness, not moralizing.

  25. M
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Whether or not you perceived “plenty of evidence of wrongdoing,” EOS, the fact remains that the Mueller investigation has yielded multiple indictments and guilty pleas, whereas the Benghazi investigation did not. Most people would take that as an indication of the relative seriousness of the two probes.

  26. M
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “Clinton’s campaign suffered because she tried to run her campaign in a standard manner.”

    I would disagree. She didn’t visit Wisconsin at all, and only visited Michigan once, for a fundraising event. She didn’t visit any universities. She didn’t visit any union halls. Granted, her surrogates did come here. Both Obama and Sanders campaigned for her here. I would argue, however, that she took the state for granted, and it cost her these close races. By contrast, both Obama and Bill Clinton visited Michigan during their campaigns.

    To your point, though, yes, I would agree that she didn’t understand what she was up against on the social media front.

  27. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I definitely agree with your point about the Midwest and unions. That was a major mistake.

  28. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Everyone does… But. let’s be clear: those states mattered strategically. They have an impact out of scale with the segment of the population they represent.
    What was required to run well there was not HRC’s strong suit. I think she didn’t have a taste for it, despite a working class midwest background. And that wasn’t about classism but the plays to racism and sexism needed to run well with white men and many white women. Bill did that.HRC did that in 2o08 and regretted it.
    What amuses me about those on the left is how they are SO acute in their assessment of the need for the ‘neglected’ WWC to be acknowledged, and SO unwilling to acknowledge what plays well there, and WHY those votes mattered so much (privilege). Even after Trump’s election. That criticism, and more what it neglects, sounds to me like you are saying she wasn’t willing to be racist or sexist enough to win over the rustbelt. Sanders sure was… Trump was… Yes, she should have had a good ground game here and worked the unions, but her foreign policy position was globalist, and, at the time, they DID NOT want to hear that. Maybe now that we’re giving tariffs a shot, they will be willing to hear a message that’s not total bullshit.

    That whole Michael Moore thing still goes down to me as the most blatant bullshit ever. Mark saw it as prescient. Whatever. Perspective matters. He wouldn’t get away with it now. I sure as hell hope the Dems dont go chasing the fickle WWC now and risk further alienating the base of POC and queers that has consistently been shown to be loyal and committed and well organized, and are growing segments of the population AND simply need to be more encouraged that their voices and votes matter.
    The WWC should be begging with humility to be allowed back into the fold. They have fucked over unions, the country and the entirety of the working class multiple times with their bullshit. Buyer beware.

  29. M
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “Sounds to me like you are saying she wasn’t willing to be racist or sexist enough to win over the rustbelt.”

    All I said what that she didn’t visit a single university or union hall in Michigan and ask people for their votes.

  30. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    She should have done that, but you again fail to be willing to dissect what those voters really wanted to hear v what she had to offer them. She had programs that would have served them. but they wanted to hear her push for protectionism. The whole separation of WWC needs from just plain working class needs was a Sanders thing. following in along history of populist appeals to the same on the left and the right. She should have gone after him for that. But Sen Sanders was untouchable. The blowback would have been ridiculous. She was in a double bind with the WWC. POC could see it. White people can not.

  31. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    wobblie, I think that the issue is that a lot of white men have dehumanized women and POC to such a degree that when they just cannot believe that Sanders lost because most people voting in the primaries genuinely felt that Hillary Clinton was the better candidate. But then, I guess if you don’t think women or POC are real people, it makes sense.

    And just so we are clear. I do not condone what happened in NY with the voter purges but there is simply no way that a purge of 120,000 voters affected the outcome of a primary election Clinton won by over 300,000 votes. Whatever happened there (and I am hesitant to put motives onto people without having enough information), it is not evidence that Sanders lost because of cheating.

    I didn’t read EVERY email but did make an effort to read the ones that people were posting as evidence of cheating. I didn’t see it. I just saw normal strategy. I think it would be interesting if Sanders had released all of the campaign emails too. There is a real one sided view here about campaign emails and I suspect that you would see similar emails from the Sanders camp. IIRC, in at least one case, the emails that were posted were about possible strategies for the general election which were sent before Clinton officially got the nomination but after it was pretty clear that she would unless Sanders got some unusual high win in the last states. Seems weird to call that cheating but again, people seemed to just not believe that the reason Clinton won the nomination is that most Democrats thought she was the better candidate.

    The super delegates were also not put in place to ensure a Clinton win. They are a bit of a red herring too. The super delegates have never voted to oppose a candidate who wasn’t chosen by the primary voters. Not even this year when so many Sanders supporters lobbied for that. Personally, I think they are necessary if the party is going to have the open Michigan style primaries that I favor as a hedge against cross over voting but I am not going to oppose efforts to remove them either.

    Yes, Clinton made some strategic errors in her campaigning that were a factor in her loss. But it bothers me when Sanders people harp on her too much about it because it feels as if they don’t think that Sanders lost the primary due to his own campaigning mistakes. No campaign is perfect and they all will make some mistakes here and there. I can even accept that we focus more on those mistakes when the candidate loses. Still, when you lose a primary election to the better candidate, you simply are not in a position to shake the “should have run a better campaign” stick at anyone.

  32. EOS
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


    I can’t agree with your analysis. Hilliary was such a flawed candidate the majority of white women would not vote for her. She would have hurt their cause.

  33. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Jh, you truly live in an alternative universe. ” I think she didn’t have a taste for it, despite a working class midwest background”. Her father was the owner/boss of a textile company. Her own home page says, “Her dad, Hugh, was a World War II Navy veteran and a small-business owner who designed, printed, and sold drapes.” That is not a working class background. If you have the power to hire and fire, you are not working class, you are part of the employing class.

  34. Jcp2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Nix has been suspended as CEO.

  35. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie- small business owners are working class. Ask a plumber. They actually make more than the average small business owner. Mr Rodham did not start life with Money and HRC was not raised with it.

  36. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s ibteresting that so many anti-capitalist and corporate leftists have an idea of work and the working class that is completely invested in large corporate structures v smaller independent ones.

  37. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    EOS— what do you imagine is ‘the cause’ of the 53% of white women who voted forTrump? And how many do you suppose would repeat that vote?

  38. Demetrius
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, one result of the Cambridge Analytica revelations is that they seem to provide some people with “proof” that anyone – especially anyone on the left – who was less than 1000% enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was merely taken in by clever propaganda, or somehow duped by trolls or bots …

    While I’m sure a small number of relatively “low information” voters may have been swayed by these despicable tactics – many of us already had strong negative opinions about both Clintons – long before social media was central to political campaigns, and indeed before it even existed.

    If Hillary Clinton had been a better candidate, if she had run a better campaign – if she had, as Wobblie points out above, spent more time visiting union halls and universities, and more states like Michigan and Wisconsin – the election would almost certainly would NOT have been so close, and therefore, the impact of any social media manipulation would have been relatively negligible.

    The bottom line is that HC was a terrible candidate, who ran a terrible campaign. If some Russian trolling and targeted Facebook ads were enough to cause her to lose an election to Donald Trump (!), they clearly these weren’t the only, or even the major, problem.

  39. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Have you checked Demetrius to see how many posts you read and liked and shared that were generated by bots? That information is searchable via social media. I know many good reasons to object to HRC’s candidacy. I don’t remember you articulating too many of them. Part of how the misinformation social media campaign worked was that it built on the previous misinformation of the right and he existing criticisms of the left and Just doubled down on those with a lot of false claims and accusations. This sentiment was validated by the major media who at least have reviewed the record and admitted their bias. The Sanders campaign freely peddled lies about HRC (often through surrogates) and her tevord and platform despite his early promise to run a clean campaign. Know one likes the idea that their opinion was influenced by propaganda. In the case of 2016, it almost certainly was. Misinformation doesn’t change your opinion, it re-enforces existing biases. That’s how it works.

  40. Demetrius
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    “Have you checked Demetrius to see how many posts you read and liked and shared that were generated by bots?”

    Exactly zero.

    I don’t participate in social media, since I long ago decided the risks to my personal data and privacy far outweighed any benefit from being able to see the latest recipes or watch cat videos.

    ” I know many good reasons to object to HRC’s candidacy. I don’t remember you articulating too many of them.”

    Like many others, I did exactly that many times early in the campaign cycle – but soon became dissuaded when it became clear that legions of mainstream (corporate) Democrats had already chosen their candidate, and that the coronation (I mean nomination) was already a done deal …

  41. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    JH, I’m sorry if you have the power to hire and fire others, you are part of the employing class and not part of the working class. Class is not defined by income. Class is defined by your power relationship to and over other people.

    Lynn, it is not just the cheating, but the manner in which the Clinton campaign took over the finances of the Democratic National Committee (long before she was the nominee ie 2015). They is essence starved down ballot candidates in order feed the professional consultants who made up her campaign. It is a major contributing cause to the debacle that resulted in Democrats loosing over 1000 seats throughout the country. Everyone wants to focus on the top of the ticket, but the Clinton campaign wrecked Democrat’s up and down the ticket.

  42. Kim
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Suspended doesn’t mean fired.

  43. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie— class is actually defined by income. If you think business owners and tradespeople don’t work for others, you clearly have never done service Work. So since you are currently unemployed and are seeking disability, if I remember correctly, you are no longer working class, right?

  44. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Sorry wobblie, that is straight up bullshit. If anything the opposite is true. Clinton is a good fund raiser and while I think giving her so much control was not a good idea, she didnt starve down ticket candidates of money.

  45. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Wobblie seems to like simplistic categorization. Many people do.

  46. Jean Henry
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Mr. Wobblie’s definition of ‘working class’ and everything is based on Marx. I’m guessing Mr Wobblie has not spent much time in truly socialist places. (Not social democracies or other hybrids) It was shocking for me to discover how depressed people become without access to aspiration. Apparently Mr Wobblie does not understand that the State oppresses and degrades just as surely if not better than private industry. I’m all for collective bargaining. I’m all for lots of forms of little fishes forming schools to take on the sharks. I’d like to see progressive-minded, small business owners do that too.

  47. Sad
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Yes IL there are very few of us who are able to understand the complexities of the world.

    It’s sad .

  48. Sad
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    If someone inherits a million dollars and house but only makes $19000 a year are they still ELI?

    Wealth and income determine class, no?

    Gentrification isn’t funny folx!

  49. Jcp2
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I think people confuse economic class with tribe and/caste. That’s what the issue really is, isn’t it?

  50. Sara Danner Dukic by proxy
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    -Cambridge Analytica is a subsidiary of SCL group

    -SCL group was immediately given a huge contract with US Department of State following the inauguration. Contract was reportedly to fight ISIS via propaganda.

  51. Sara Danner Dukic by proxy
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    They were running ads disguised as news stories, linked to fake news sites + stories, and targeting along the lines of “this person is located in this key voting district, has $17 in their bank account, is paranoid, has used the word n***er in their private FB messages, has talked about violence towards women in their comments, and hasn’t worked in 2 years”.

    If they also had access to health data (which I think they did), they could target people with mental illness.

    Microtargeting is achieved by uploading a custom audience to the Facebook ad manager – meaning, after they’ve found all the ppl in say, Pennsylvania who’ve used the word n***er in their private messages, they separate these people from everyone else.

    Then they run ads targeting these people and only these people. They don’t have to waste money casting a wide net and seeing what sticks. They already know what will stick.

    Then, with a pixel (basically, a tracker placed on a website), they can see if the person has visited the sites they’ve linked to. They could see if these people were sharing stories, liking, clicking, or commenting.

    And they could target these people over and over and over and over: because you can then create ANOTHER custom audience based on behaviors from your FIRST custom audience.
    They could have Trump coordinate his messaging in speeches with what was being run in these ads, and what was being covered on the news – all the news, not just Fox – 24/7 because, ratings.

  52. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    “I think people confuse economic class with tribe and/caste.”

    This is true. Back when all people did was either work in factories or on farms or on none of the above, class made sense, but that’s not the case anymore.

    In my opinion, it is a mistake to view the United States through the same lens that was used back in 1955. It is worth noting that for all the talk of the noble “working class,” i.e. people with union jobs in factories, there were a lot of people who couldn’t get into those jobs, i.e. people who were systematically excluded from job opportunities by “workers” using policy to protect their own interests. Unions did a lot of good for a lot of people (particularly my grandparents), but also excluded a lot of people who couldn’t even be called “working class” because they lacked those opportunities.

    I do not come from a working class family. I come from a no class family. As in, too far gone to be wanted by anyone. The unions shit on people like us. We wanted nothing to do with them anyway. I am pro-union, but I’m also aware.

    Sticking to a simplistic worldview where people only fall into two categories seems backward to me. The world has never been so simple, but that simple model worked for a while for a few people. It no longer works in my opinion.

    What we have now is not something that can be dropped nearly into a Marxist model of class and class struggle. What we do have now is tribalism and, as Mr. jcp2 notes, caste (which we’ve always had but still…).

    And it’s rotting us from the inside.

  53. Demetrius
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Yes, of course, differences based on gender, race, ethnicity, etc., are real and make a difference. So do class differences – a small business owner likely has some unique concerns vs. a factory worker, farmer, or someone who’s unemployed.

    Still, in reality these differences pale in comparison to what we all share in common with regard to how we’re all being manipulated and screwed over by the billionaires who actually run America, and much of the world.

    The more we obsess over these minute differences, the easier we are to control. I’m sure many of these plutocrats are laughing their asses off, seeing how easy we are to divide and conquer …

  54. Jean Henry
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Farmers are small business owners. Most of them own land however, which gives them advantage. Consider for a moment if, instead of shelling out your savings and borrowing to own a home after years of working, you bought or started a business. Guess how much equity you have to borrow on? Guess how much that business is likely to be worth, even if it survives the first 5 years, which few do. The person who owns property and Just lives in it is privileged in the economy over the person who owns a business and employs people. In the current economy Marx would be pointing his angry finger at single family home owners.

    Wobblie, you definition of working class denies your own privilege.

  55. nattybooboo
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure that I see a nuanced discussion of class amongst anyone here. God bless y’all’s hearts xoxo

  56. Sad
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    They love to talk around it.

  57. Sad
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s the elephant in the comments section.

  58. anonymous
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    From Twitter: BOOM! Alexander Nix and the Mercers have created a new data company, EMERDATA LIMITED. Just yesterday Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer were named directors. The address on the business is identical to SCL Group (Cambridge Analytica).

  59. Jcp2
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

  60. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Hard to have a nuanced discussion about class when there’s disagreement about the basis of classification. Hard to have a nuanced discussion when people show up to snipe from the sidelines without putting forward a position that could be addressed. /nuance and blunt instruments do not mix.
    God bless your condescending heart, Nattibooboo

    What has been brought up so far:
    Class as a function of caste or income or employment status.
    Unions historic role in serving some workers while excluding others.
    Passive property ownership v Employer status as defining characteristic of class.

    Here’s is what you offered: Nothing.

    Here’s what I would expect, should you contribute:
    Something pulled straight from Marxist ideology, incorporating his critiques, using his definitions (which are doctrine, no?) and not addressing contemporary historical manifestations unless they confirm that ideological perspective.

    You have no inherent authority on class because of your political perspective, Nattybooboo. Certainly no more so than anyone here. I can assure you, you don’t care about it more. So go ahead and throw in some n-u-a-n-c-e. But don’t expect appeals to your own authority based on doctrine to insulate you from counter.

    Also, who expects nuance in the comments section of a local blog?

  61. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Demetrius is in denial of the reality to implementing the social democratic reforms he advocates would require more than just taxing the 1%.
    In Scandinavia, these programs are funded with substantial VAT’s on every purchase, lower corporate taxes than in the US and income taxes of around 50% for families making over 72 grand.
    I’m ok with all of those. But solving economic inequality would not pay for the needed and desired social programs. They are two separate issues. Social Democracies actually have relatively high levels of economic inequality. They do not have flattened class hierarchies.

    They mistreat those not of the dominant ethnicity. They are committed globalists in industry. They simply take care of themselves and their immediate environment well.

    I agree that economic inequality is a huge area of concern in America, and debilitating economically. But it’s not the only issue. And fixing it won’t fix racism or classism or the absence of an adequate and functional social support network. It for sure won’t solve rising health care costs and increasing inequity in delivery of care in the US.

  62. nattybooboo
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink


  63. stupid hick
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    “implementing the social democratic reforms he advocates would require more than just taxing the 1%.
    In Scandinavia, these programs are funded with substantial VAT’s on every purchase, lower corporate taxes than in the US and income taxes of around 50% for families making over 72 grand.”

    This is nonsense although it’s a myth most people believe. The reality is at a federal level taxes don’t fund anything. I thought we covered this ground a couple years ago.

  64. Sad
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    ” I agree that economic inequality is a huge area of concern in America, and debilitating economically. But it’s not the only issue. And fixing it won’t fix racism or classism or the absence of an adequate and functional social support network. It for sure won’t solve rising health care costs and increasing inequity in delivery of care in the US. ”

    How do you think Obamacare was funded? Raising taxes.

    P.S. Sniping is an old Midwest tradition passed down through scouting.

  65. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “How do you think Obamacare was funded? Raising taxes.”
    Obamacare did not solve increasing health care costs and inequality of care. They both continued to worsen under it. For-profit insurance companies and health care companies designed Obamacare. They could redesign the system to be more efficient and equitable; they chose not to.

    Try again.

  66. Sad
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    So all of us who got coverage under the Medicaid expansion didn’t really benefit ?

    I would think going from uninsuranced to having insurance would be a step towards solving the issue of inequality in care. But maybe it’s just too complex for me to understand.

    You must have been really happy with the Trump tax cuts, probably took some of the burden off those wealthy folx.

  67. Sad
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    And yeah, Obamacare isn’t perfect. But it was progress, and it came about because we had a leader who was willing to compromise. Isn’t that what is needed for progress?

    Or should we cling to some ideology?

  68. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Sad— that was not what I meant. I meant Obamacare did not address the core structural issues of rising health care costs and inequity of treatment, especially along lines of race. And those issues can not be addressed by a simple transfer of wealth. Sometimes structural issues are about more than class inequity. The reason we pay more for health care with much worse results is about more than single payer. And I don’t expect us to fix the issue for a long time. But at some point we will have to address it. Our population is aging. As for the issue of racial bias in health care delivery and outcomes, I really don’t expect us to face that any time soon, but I’m going to keep talking about it. And when I do you can tell yourself I’m ignoring issues of class inequity… keep telling yourself that. It seems to comfort you somehow.

  69. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Sad— It’s not ideological to point up issues that need to be addressed. I was not offering a solution. There are many models, none politically possible right now, as you say. My only point is the leftist fantasy of a silver bullet answer to all problems by addressing economic inequality is a fantasy and one that ignores other structural issues. I appreciate my Obamacare. It should have been just the start, as intended.

  70. nattybooboo
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Jean has the makings of a decent worldview and regularly has good insights, but argues too much against strawmen to be taken too seriously. Jean fails to apply her insights with any consistency, thoughtfulness, or open-heartedness.

  71. nick
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    carl marx is cool as hell i love visiting to learn about his ideas

  72. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    JH, remember your statement, “class is actually defined by income”.
    Apologist for ruling class wealth will always say that eliminating income inequality , “is the leftist fantasy of a silver bullet answer to all problems by addressing economic inequality is a fantasy and one that ignores other structural issues.” No one on the left maintains that eliminating income inequality will be the answer “to all problems”. Straw men is the stock in trade of apologist.

    Putting all folks on a more equal economic plan would go along way towards making it possible to address many of the other “structural issues” that prevent and subvert equality. And as you say JH, you don’t expect any solution to these problems. And of course given your world view, why would you think a different future is possible.

  73. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Nick, I’ve always been a Harpo Marxist myself .

  74. Lynne
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Ok, I am going to say it. A Universal Basic Income would help with income inequality especially if it were funded primarily with a tax on the 1%

  75. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Quick someone talk about the robot future!
    Or blame Ann Arbor!
    Then we will have fufilled the MM trifecta. triple word bonus! .All MM paths lead to UBI and the robot future and it’s all because of A2.

    Wobblie— I’m not an apologist for classism. I think you simply can not bear criticism of your POV and feel a need to place any other perspective in Done ideological box wherein it can be dismissed, which tells me your POV is not structurally sound.

  76. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Nattybooboo— that’s accurate critique. I contribute regularly and at great speed. I’m thinking out loud. I’m ok with sloppy thinking, spelling etc in the comments section of a local blog. Stirring the pot, seeing what comes up. I have no interest in either being taken seriously or having a ‘decent world view;’ I super duper have no interest in having a bulleti-proof political belief system; I’m here to learn.

    So what about our discussion of class here do you find lacking nuance? Please provide what perspective you believe is lacking. Thanks.

  77. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’
    As for open-heartedness—it has it’s downside— See the Cambridge analytics scam. I’m all about bring open to ideas via discourse and to other people IRL. That’s pretty much how I’ve structured my life. It’s not a bad one. I would not suggest the inverse. You’d probably find me less critical than most, IRL.

  78. Iron Lung 2
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Speaking to EOS’ point, the problem here was

    1) that people were duped into participating in surveys where there was little indication as to how the information was to be used. If CA had said “We are conducting a survey to gather information to help the Donald Trump campaign” it might have been a different matter. People can then make an informed choice of whether to participate or not.

    2) that CA grabbed data on people outside the person who responded to the surveys, that is, their friends, which amounts to data gathering without consent. Some information on Facebook is displayed (like one’s name), but other information might not be (like one’s age or relationship status) but is still available to applications like this. Basically, someone might have chosen not to display their age publicly, but CA through their app was able to mine it anyway. Basically, a person said “I don’t want people to see (use) this data” but it was used anyway.

    It’s like having your number unlisted, but CA was able to ask your friends to show their phones to them and then copy down your number in the phone call history. You didn’t consent to that.

    Certainly, we can blame the victim here. If we want privacy, we shouldn’t use Facebook, but I think that Facebook is intentionally cagey about what information they actually do, and less than transparent about what privacy settings in Facebook do or don’t do.

    Journalists, when gathering information, must follow a set of norms to protect their sources. People who collect data on humans must follow certain protocols to prevent abuse and protect their subjects. Doctors must protect patient privacy.

    Facebook operates like the wild west. Laws on private information need to catch up and reign them in just like they have in other sectors.

  79. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know if what CA did was really any different than what the Obama campaign had done. Seems like the Republicans are finally catching up on the social networking curve.

  80. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    It is not just Facebook, why do you think that the preferred corporate method of payment is using a card, and that they want your telephone number. Capitalism wants to commodify and sell everything. You are the product that is being sold. The more information about you that can be sold, the more lucrative you are as a product. Late stage capitalism at it’s best. No surprises here.
    If you want “privacy” use cash, it is still king.

  81. Demetrius
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    @ Wobblie

    The way I understand it, the Obama campaign approached Facebook and requested data related to certain demographic characteristics, which Facebook then agreed to sell.

    I’m not saying that’s necessarily “great” … (plenty of questions related to notification, consent, etc.) but what they did IS substantially different from what Cambridge Analytica did – basically creating a fake personality test, coaxing users into participating, then using the app as a tool to steal participants’ personal information (PLUS that belonging to members of their extended network) without letting either the subjects, their friends, or Facebook, know. (And then, when caught, failing to destroy the misbegotten data.

    I think the CA situation, and the dozen or so data hacking situations that have occurred recently involving big banks, retail chains, Experian, etc., all point to the need for much stricter data privacy laws all across the board. As the impact/potential of “big data” keeps growing exponentially, laws to protect consumers are still in their infancy, if they exist at all.

    In that regard, we might want to look to Europe, which already has much stricter protocols, and which has already taken a much stricter stance against companies who violate them.

  82. Demetrius
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some information regarding the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will begin to be enforced in May of this year.

    While certainly not perfect, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Among the most interesting parts are sections devoted to “The Right to Be Forgotten” (i.e. to have the right to ask that personal data hidden or removed) and “Privacy By Design” (a requirement that online networks/systems, etc., have built-in safeguards to protect people’s personal information.)

  83. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I guess the big difference between CA and the Obama campaign was your Obama supporting friend giving up your Facebook info without your knowledge rather than Facebook giving up your info without your knowledge.

  84. Lynne
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I have issues with the right to be forgotten actually especially in light of things like sexual harassment and other such things which absolutely should be public record and available on google searches. But perhaps those kinds of things are exempt from such laws?

  85. nattybooboo
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    So class is messy. Class is neither reducable to income, relation to capital, occuption, or culture. Critiquing Marx is low hanging fruit because it’s pretty clear to pretty much everyone who thinks about class that Marx is woefully inadequate when it comes to capturing 21st century class dynamics and the various intersecting forms of oppression. Marx is useful and I think offers helpful analyses of the how exploitation works vis-a-vis relations to capital, but I don’t think that being an employer means that one is automatically an oppressor. There’s a lot more to say, but I dunno woulda been nice if someome at least namedropped Bourdieu or intersectional theory.

  86. nattybooboo
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I think Jean and wobblie make a lot of good points and I would also say that classism is one of liberals’ chief weak spots. I don’t think that liberals’ problem is that they need to be better at manipulating poor and working folx (they shouldn’t be thinking of working folx as a population to be manipulated in the first place). They need to get better at respecting and understanding working folks. Saying that you have good policy solutions isn’t enough: you have to interrogate how one’s own thinking about policy is itself classed. There’s a gulf between those who make policy and those policy is intended to help. We gotta bridge that gap, and that comes not from valorzing wonks or the intentions of wonks, but by engaging people in public participation and continually bridging gaps between policy knowledge and experiential knowledge of precarity and systemic oppression.

  87. Sad
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Uh-oh Natty is raising the bar.

  88. Lynne
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Very thought provoking.

  89. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Nattybooboo— A big chunk of my turn from Sanders to HRC early on was based on the experience with each confidante over years with grass roots advocates whom Ive also known for years in the areas of disabilities rights and racial justice, specificly around incarceration. In each case they told me that Sanders could not give them the time of day, while HRC actively sought out their wonkish but also subjective experience in developing her policies. It’s not inherent to the idea of wonkishness that it is removed from direct experience or grass roots activism. Most often, in areas of progressive donestic political issues, they are combined. The idea that radicals speak for (rather than over) the marginalized is one I’d question on the basis of experience and the testimony of others. The idea that white and white passing and male and male passing radicals are listening more closely to the voices of the marginalized rather than using them to try to implement their political agenda is worth giving deep consideration. It turns out that the issues attributed to white liberals, self-centering, over-talking, etc etc are pretty much prevailing issues with people who are using their privilege in any context.
    There is good and bad policy and a whole lot in the middle. ‘wonkishness’ is not inherently more or less informed than grass roots movements. Just differently informed. The best policy is informed by both. Your critique of technocrats is dull and predictable. It’s not without a core ifctruth, but just selectively applied… again.
    Nattybooboo- you consistently exclude yourself and your political affiliates from the same scrutiny you apply to others. That shows tremendous conceit and a lack of open-heartedness, don’t you think??? Otherwise your worldview is somewhat evolved.

    I trust the testimony of individuals in all their variety. I distrust ideology and all belief systems and those who value agenda over pursuit of the truth. I welcome critique. That’s liberalism. What’s your concern with it again?

  90. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Candidate not confidant*

  91. nattybooboo
    Posted March 23, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    okay back to sniping

  92. Jean Henry
    Posted March 23, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    It seems to be the nature of DAY folk & compadres to take offense at having their rhetorical tone reflected back to them.
    Their anger is legitimate but not anyone else’s.
    Their perspective is worth shouting but not anyone else’s.
    They can attack legitimately but faced with any counter, they will hide behind marginalization and accuse of ‘punching down.’
    They distrust liberalism because it offers the best critique of their approach, not because they are actually threatened by liberalism. Liberalism failed to adequately address their issues of concern, true. And failed to live up to its own principles. But radicalism failed on that count too.
    And then there’s the other half of the country who are pulling hard, and in unison, against progress.
    But hey, it’s liberalism at fault. And it’s liberals that DAY & co attack, and not especially effectively. I’m all for attacking liberalism or any political belief system; I’m not ok with any political belief system that can not bear critique and counter. I’m especially suspicious of those who feel ‘violated’ by such.

  93. nattybooboo
    Posted March 23, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    God bless Jean. I’m gonna do some work on housong policy before I have to head off to work. No time to engage. Keep on rockin Jean

  94. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2018 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Natty thanks for the introduction to Bourdieu . I’ll put that on my summer reading list.

    Sorry it’s such a rough neighborhood, we’re hoping the quality of discourse will eventually gentrify.

  95. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2018 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Why doesn’t have to be on day light savings time like the rest of us?

  96. M
    Posted May 2, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I guess it’s harder to question people if they no longer work together.

    “Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd., announced in a press release Wednesday that it was ceasing operations.”

  97. CNN
    Posted May 17, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    From CNN today……

    Cambridge Analytica ran voter suppression campaigns, whistleblower claims

    The whistleblower whose disclosures about Cambridge Analytica shook the tech world over questions about users’ data privacy told Congress on Wednesday that the company engaged in efforts to discourage or suppress voting from targeted sections of the American population.

    Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, said that Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon used the company in an effort to suppress the black vote in 2016.

    “Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s parent company), a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population,” Wylie claimed.

  98. Iron Lung 2
    Posted May 17, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Cambridge Analytica has been suspected to have helped rig elections in Kenya.

  99. Mary
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    The Mercer family is connect to Cambridge Analytica. The Mercer family put key people into the Trump election campaign and into the Trump White House.

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