Cambridge Analytica data-raid: the number is "much greater than 87 million"

Brittany Kaiser is an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee who gave written testimony and answered questions at the UK Parliament this week in which she revealed that the Facebook apps that Cambridge Analytica used to covertly gain access to millions of users' data went far beyond the ones disclosed to date, and that the number of total users implicated is "much greater than 87 million." Read the rest

Trump will never, ever be impeached and removed from office

For Trump to be impeached and removed from office, 67 Senators would have to vote in favor of impeachment; assuming no Democrats voted against impeachment, the only way Trump could be impeached is if every single 2018 Senate election was won by a Democrat, and nine Republican Senators voted in favor of impeachment. Read the rest

Analysis of all the elections since Trump produces no clear answers on the class and suburban/urban correlates of flippability

Fivethirtyeight studied every election since Trump -- 99 special elections plus regular state elections in NJ and Virginia -- and checked whether there were any strong predictors of whether Trump voters would support a Democratic candidate. Read the rest

On the junk science and excellent PR of Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica claimed that it could sway elections thanks to the devastating power of psychometric profiling, and they may have even believed it, but those claims should be read with a critical eye, because they're marketing hype aimed at people whom Cambridge Analytica was pitching as client; and because Cambridge Analytica is not a scientific enterprise, but a secretive corporation whose researchers never had to subject their experiments and results to critical, peer-reviewed scrutiny, opening up endless possibilities for self-deception and truth-shading. Read the rest

Referendums and low-engagement voters produce catastrophic outcomes (but what about corruption?)

The idea of representative democracy is that we pay lawmakers to give serious attention to the nuances of policy questions and cast votes on our behalf in accord with their understanding of our preferences, applied to those nuanced understandings. Read the rest

The Rich and the Normal

A few weeks ago, the Italian people finally broke the political framework that dates to the end of World War II. The M5S Five Stars Movement, a party without a heritage, won the most popular votes. The M5S has been on a wave of growth since winning mayoral control of some Italian cities.

Swing district poll suggests that progressive policies could deliver a 2018 "blue tsunami"

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake surveyed 600 likely voters in 30 "swing" districts (districts that are considered too close to call in the 2018 midterms), along with 300 "surge" voters (who are less likely to turn out for the 2018 midterms), and found that a platform that advances policies like "Medicare for all," cheaper prescription drugs, and cracking down on Wall Street would deliver these swing districts for the Democrats. Read the rest

In Chicago primaries, a string of defeats for the Democratic establishment at the hands of progressive Democrats

Four Democratic challengers backed by United Working Families (linked with the progressive Working Families Party) have successfully challenged establishment Dems backed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable "Democratic machine," effectively winning their offices at the same time, because the Democrat candidate always gets elected to those offices, thanks to Republicans not bothering to field candidates (leaving a vacuum that is sometimes filled by Holocaust-denying Illinois Nazis). Read the rest

White House Chief of Staff in a rage after leak reveals that Trump congratulated Putin against Cabinet advice

After Vladimir Putin stole another Russian election, Trump placed an official call to the Kremlin; his national security advisors' briefing notes for the call included the all-caps instruction "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" -- naturally, Trump congratulated Putin. Read the rest

Just because Cambridge Analytica tells its customers it can sway elections, it doesn't follow that they're any good at it

Unilever founder John Wanamaker famously said, "I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half." It's an odd testament to the power of advertising, an industry whose executives are incredibly effective at selling their services to other executives, even if they can't prove they're any good at selling their customers' products to the public. Read the rest

Facebook once boasted of its ability to sway elections, now it has buried those pages

Facebook maintains a repository of success stories trumpeting the advertisers who have attained greatness by buying Facebook ads; most of these are businesses, but until recently, Facebook also trumpeted Florida Governor Rick Scott's use of Facebook ads to "boost Hispanic voter turnout in their candidate’s successful bid for a second term, resulting in a 22% increase in Hispanic support and the majority of the Cuban vote." Read the rest

Democrats, citing Hayek, introduce Net Neutrality bill to force lawmakers to take an on-record position prior to the midterms

Calling the FCC's decision to kill Net Neutrality the "road to serfdom" Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR] introduced the legislation he'd co-sponsored with Senator Ed Markey [D-MA] to restore Neutrality. Read the rest

Surveillance-happy authoritarian "Democratic" California senator Dianne Feinstein loses California Democratic Party endorsement

Dianne Feinstein has represented California in the US senate for 28 years, garnering the California Democratic Party endorsement every year despite her far-right positions on mass surveillance, military adventurism, and authoritarian rule (she's trumpeted these policies as evidence of her "independence"). Read the rest

Why the voting age should be lowered to 16

Every American 16-year-old enrolled in high-school has to learn civics, with extensive instruction on the more confusing aspects of the American electoral system, such as the Electoral College; they are also required to study current affairs -- so why not let them vote? Read the rest

Trump and the weird attention economy of Facebook

When you try to buy online ads from Facebook's self-serve ad-auctioning platform, merely being the highest bidder isn't enough to guarantee that your ads will get through: Facebook multiplies your bid by a software-generated prediction about how responsive the audience will be to it, so the clickbaitier your ad is, the less it costs to place it. Read the rest

Before standing for the Democratic nomination in a NY congressional race, Patrick Ryan was in business spying on union organizers and left-wing activists

Patrick Ryan wants to be the Democratic nominee for New York's 19th district in the Hudson Valley, a Republican seat that Dems hope to flip; he's gone on record stating that he can do the job because of his entrepreneurial success -- but he didn't mention that he built his career at Berico Technologies by pitching a product to help businesses spy on union organizers and left-wing activists, a plan that included spying on left-wing Democrats and planting fake documents in order to discredit labor unions. Read the rest

A census of leading Italian politicians' Twitter followings finds a horde of zombies and bots

As Italy heads into a national election in which mass inequality and food poverty have disrupted Italy's always-shaky political equilibrium, La Republica publishes its analysis (Google Translate) of the Twitter followers associated with each of Italy's political superstars and finds some pretty intense inflation in the numbers. Read the rest

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