Monday, February 19, 2018

Illegitimacy and Bots

"Whatever Trump’s specific awareness at the time of the facts alleged in the indictment, we know Trump and his most senior aides knew that the Russian government was involving itself in the campaign on his behalf, and endeavored to encourage and conceal the meddling.

The fact that the election turned out to be so close is perhaps the crowning achievement of the conspiracy. With a budget of over $1 million a month to target swing state voters with disinformation on social media, multiple troves containing thousands of stolen emails, “news” outlets at your fingertips, the complicity of a major party political nominee, and impunity from American law, could you move 80,000 votes in three states?

It’s clearly not crazy to believe the answer is yes, and thus that the crimes that made the election unfair also determined its outcome. In an election so close that many individual factors were decisive, a major foreign espionage attack surely could have been as well. The difference is that the other factors were seemingly legal, and internal to American politics.

There is no mechanism in American politics to annul a corrupted election, and a congressional majority determined to prop up a president who cheated his way to power can assure he serves out his term. But a question mark like the one that now hangs over Trump’s victory is a potent political fact unto itself, and acknowledging it is perhaps our best means of stigmatizing the bad deeds Trump engaged in to win the presidency. We can’t ignore it because it feels uncouth, or even because those who want to undermine American democracy are surely thrilled that an argument over whether the election was stolen for Trump is now inevitable."
Brian Beutler, "Reckoning with Trump's Illegitimacy"

Meanwhile, more info out on how an alt-right bot network helped derail Sen. Al Franken

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