Did Cambridge Analytica Pull Your Puppet Strings?

Microtargeting is an approach to political campaign messaging that British company Cambridge Analytica appears to have honed into an effective, scientific means for politicians to deliver their messages in the ideal words, images, and media for each individual citizen. The most Draconian view of this capability is that the firm helped Donald Trump’s campaign to use psychological – or at least psychographic – manipulation to win the U.S. presidential election.

A reader comment is revealing:

Trump voters, you were duped. Consider this thought, contained within the article: “Trump’s conspicuous contradictions and his oft-criticized habit of staking out multiple positions on a single issue result in a gigantic number of resulting messaging options…” Know what that means? He says whatever you’ll respond to. Warn France. Warn Germany. And for goodness’ sake, stop giving these jerks so much information about yourself.

Fair warning. Italy, Holland – listen up!

The full article, available in English at the link below, is a translation of the original investigative article published in German by Zurich-based Das Magazin.

Source: Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself | aNtiDoTe Zine

The REINS Act: There is Still Time to Stop It

U.S. Capitol Building. Photo by Jay Mallin.
Photo courtesy of Jay Mallin via flickr (Creative Commons).

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively block standard-setting for every environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law. No major regulation could take effect under the REINS Act unless it is approved by both houses of Congress within a limited period of time.

What’s more, Congress doesn’t even need to vote on a new regulation. All they have to do is to take no action whatsoever for 70 days after which time the new regulation is automatically neutered. No need for congressional representatives to reveal to constituents their position on the issues at hand.

Any EPA action to weaken clean air protections or block action on climate change, for example, likely would trigger mandatory congressional review under the REINS Act. Congress simply may not want to go on record voting for Trump’s agenda and against these popular programs.

Congress recognizes that passing the bill may make it difficult for the Trump Administration to repeal regulations. So the bill provides for a one year delay for the bill to go into effect.

The current version of the REINS Act likely to pass in the House has one noteworthy difference than versions that passed the House previously: it delays the effective date by one year. One can easily speculate why. President-elect Donald Trump and his industry-friendly Cabinet nominees have promised to attack a range of environmental and public health protections, as well as other important safeguards.

On January 4, a number of public interest organizations wrote a joint letter to the House letting representatives know that they understand the nefariousness of the bill and urging them to vote against it. That letter provides a good summary of the key issues and can be found at the League of Women Voters website.

The bill must still be passed by the Senate. It’s time to write or call your Senator. And remind your fellow citizens that THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

Source: The REINS Act: Handing the reins of public health and safety over to big corporations – Medium

Canadians Traveling to Women’s March Turned Away at Border

Canadian Flags
Photo courtesy of Valerie from Flickr.com – Creative Commons

We can’t know for certain if the rejection of the Canadian and French citizens was ordered by the Trump Administration or if it was done solely at the discretion of border agents who may be Trump supporters. They gave no explanation for turning them away and for collecting personal information from the travelers.

What followed was a two-hour ordeal. Their cars were searched and their mobile phones examined. Each member of the group was fingerprinted and had their photo taken.

Source: Canadians traveling to Women’s March denied US entry after sharing plans | World news | The Guardian

We can’t know

Live Stream of Women’s March on Washington

There are plenty of sites on the web purporting to provide live streams of the Women’s March on Washington which is taking place right now. Meantime, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News all are transfixed on the boring and same-old-same-old sermons proceedings at thereligious services at the National Cathedral, only occasionally and briefly switching to the stirring speeches being delivered at the huge march.

Here is the link to the official feed of The Women’s March on Washington:
https://youtu.be/XC9hTrX9oNk  – The Chromecast experience of this live stream is high quality.

Trevor Noah Reviews the Betsy DeVos Confirmation Hearings

The Senate confirmation hearings for US Cabinet positions are rife with examples of lying, misdirected responses, dodging questions and, notably, nominee points of view on key issues that are the exact opposite of the stated positions of Donald Trump. Watching video of congressional hearings provide the next best experience to actually being present at the hearings. But few have the time and inclination to watch the full proceedings. Most of us depend upon the clips made available by major media.

A few of us gain some insights through video clips shown on alternative media or links to YouTube from alternative media websites. Then there are comedians like Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver through whom we have the opportunity to see video clips that might make us grimace were we not first put in a “laugh at the ridiculousness” mindset. Political comedy often makes it possible for the public to see revealing aspects of politics, policy, and government that major media ignores. And truly good political comedy reaches a lot of people. NOTNORMAL.INFO aims to extend that reach. We begin with Betsy DeVoss, the nominee for Secretary of Education.

Here’s a look at troubling moments from her confirmation hearing, through the eye of Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show”:



John Oliver’s “This Is Not Normal” Video Inspired Us

John Oliver was not the first media figure to point out that the situation in which we find ourselves in “Not Normal”. But, as is so often the case with Mr. Oliver, it’s the WAY that he said it that is so memorable and so instructive. In fact his rant on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, broadcast on HBO November 13, was the inspiration for the creation of NOTNORMAL.INFO and our sticker campaign. 

The entire video is super and should be viewed if you have not done so already. The segment that gave us the “aha!” moment starts at marker 22:20 (22 minutes, 20 seconds into the video). We recognized how easy it will be, as time passes, to become anesthetized by what we expect to be a constant onslaught of sound bytes from Trump, echoed and amplified incessantly by popular mass media. It will be so easy to allow our sense of right and wrong – of decency, of justice – dulled so that we cease to be outraged; so that we cease to speak out.  

Oliver’s plea that we paste on our refrigerators a Post-It Note inscribed with the words “This Is Not Normal!” led to our decision to do what we can to turn that reminder into a meme and to help it go viral. We reasoned that we should do what others might not – to go offline with the meme in the way that Post-It Notes are “offline”, and to enlist as many Americans as possible to do the same. Thus was born the Not Normal Sticker Campaign.  We hope you will join the campaign.