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    • Those Who Fall with Steve Bannon
      One interesting note about the Cambridge Analytica story was on Bannon’s role: A few months later, in autumn 2013, Wylie met Steve Bannon. At the time, he was editor-in-chief of Breitbart, which he had brought to Britain to support his friend Nigel Farage in his mission to take Britain out of the European Union. What […]
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They mined you.

The Guardian has a long article about how Cambridge Analytica acquired data on Facebook users and then used it to help get Trump elected. I figured as much. If you took a personality test on Facebook, which millions of users did, 40% of you allowed Facebook to use that information in order to target ads to you. In 2016, Steve Bannon teamed up with Cambridge Analytica to change your mind about Trump. Here’s what Cambridge’s Christopher Wylie says Brannon’s philosophy and goal:

“[Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. And fashion trends are a useful proxy for that. Trump is like a pair of Uggs, or Crocs, basically. So how do you get from people thinking ‘Ugh. Totally ugly’ to the moment when everyone is wearing them? That was the inflection point he was looking for.”

How do they do it? How did they target Facebook ads, and probably the whole Trump message directly to you, their targets? It’s all psychology and statistical analysis:

“at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre, two psychologists, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, were experimenting with a way of studying personality – by quantifying it.

Starting in 2007, Stillwell, while a student, had devised various apps for Facebook, one of which, a personality quiz called myPersonality, had gone viral. Users were scored on “big five” personality traits – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism – and in exchange, 40% of them consented to give him access to their Facebook profiles. Suddenly, there was a way of measuring personality traits across the population and correlating scores against Facebook “likes” across millions of people.

The research was original, groundbreaking and had obvious possibilities. “They had a lot of approaches from the security services,” a member of the centre told me. “There was one called You Are What You Like and it was demonstrated to the intelligence services. And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked ‘I hate Israel’ on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.

So, if you are a Nike shoe buyer who likes KitKats, you probably didn’t get a pro-Israel message. On the other hand, if you were a mom who likes designer fashion and buys a status car, you probably got a lot of warm and fuzzy stories about Ivanka.

It was all very well designed to target you. I think the difference in what Cambridge did compared to what other political data and marketing companies did was that they were able to target people very specifically as well as all their Facebook friends. Most marketing companies go after just the neighborhoods or regions based on income etc. But who knows who will be scrutinized next? Maybe the info that you give Giant Eagle every time you buy a certain kind of apple or avoid the steaks can be used as well. That information is very important to people who want to influence you.

Well, at least Cambridge Analytica knew that Trump was an Ugg and they were going to have to push people to vote for him anyway. The question is, why were they trying to force this uniquely unfit man down our throats in order to ruin the country? Was it in service of Brannon’s chaos theory or was it in order to help the Russians? Or are we seeing a convergence of two efforts to get Trump elected that just happened to be reinforcing and synergistic?

Put that into your PLS model and spit out some principle components.


Happy Paddy’s Day.

Don’t think I forgot. I’m watching a live performance of Corned Beef and Curry and drinking more Guinness than is good for me


They just played this song. Scottish not Irish, still one of my favorites:

John O. Brennan speaks for me

Former CIA Director, John O Brennan, replies to Trump’s disturbing and unpresidential tweet about Andy McCabe’s firing:

Here’s Trump’s tweet this morning:

This is so outside the norms of common decency it’s shocking. This creature is taunting a man who put in 21 years of exemplary service to the government. He’s triumphing that he is depriving Andrew McCabe of the pension he earned. The truth will come out about the IG report and recommendation and when it does, watch out.

To those of us who knew that Donald Trump lacked all sense of self-restraint and ethical behavior, this is precisely why we did not vote for him. He’s not normal, he has no sense of fairness and he’s not responsible. He’s a menace to hard working, dedicated civil servants and he’s a danger to us and the world. I only wish I were exaggerating.

We were told again and again that he is unfit for office. He has proven it again and again. Now, we need to hold our legislative branch accountable for not reining him in.

This fall, I get redistricted from Mike Doyle’s district to Keith Rothfus’ district. He’s a Republican. He’ll be running against Conor Lamb. Now I was planning to vote for Lamb anyway but you can bet I’m going to do everything in my power to persuade my friends in the district to make Keith Rothfus know that we EXPECT him to stand up for US over his party and certainly not Donald Trump.

He owes his constituents that much before we vote him the f*ck out of office in PA 17.

We could use a wizard right about now.

Trump just tipped the outrage meter

And the generals are starting to say that the country can’t go seven more years with Trump. General Barry McCaffrey says Trump appears to be under the control of Putin.

And we have no one manning the State department. Tillerson is gone. He wasn’t very good anyway. And the last under secretary was fired when he told the press exactly how Tillerson was fired. So, yeah. Nobody manning the phones. No ambassador to South Korea. 60% of the career diplomats up and gone.

This is very very bad.


It is time to take away his nuclear football.

Well THAT’s not good- National Security Edition

Ok, ok, did you hear about the alert that went out yesterday to nuclear power plants, water authorities, electric companies, pipeline owners etc? It turns out that Russians hacked our systems last year and now they’ve gotten all the way in. They control the vertical and horizontal.

Is THAT why Donald is treating Vlad and the Russkis with kid gloves? He’s afraid Putin will turn the lights off?

Ok, let’s assume that this is the primary reason why Trump hasn’t enforced the sanctions that congress passed overwhelmingly last year. We thought it might be because the Trump organization was a part of some vast global corporate criminal enterprise but work with me here. If the Russians really do have that capacity to make us into Mainland Puerto Rico, would the first thing you would do is fire your national security advisor?

What am I missing here?

And why does Trump sleep behind a reinforced locked door at the White House and change his own sheets every morning? And why does he prefer fast food because he says no one knows who it’s for?

Normally, I’m not a fear monger. Goodness knows, I’m already wracked with anxiety on a daily basis in my own personal microcosm. No need to acquire Fox News generated fear. But I have to admit that this week has me a bit rattled and maybe the survivalists have a point. (Note to self: get more propane)

In 2016 when this cartoon first appeared, I thought it was referring to Trump. Oh, he’s still got to go. He’s a danger to our safety and he and his cabinet members are treating the Treasury like they hit the Powerball. But I think it might just as easily have applied to Vlad.

Tweet du Jour

The right’s worst nightmare:


Don’t get giddy about Conor Lamb winning PA 18 or the #NationalWalkoutDay. There is still a long way to go, many hills to climb (literally for Pittsburgh canvassers), and a lot of money that will be spent. This is what it will take. So, have a happy day today and make a plan for tomorrow.


Someone needs to do an updated cover version, FWIW: