Opinion | ‘Riling Up the Crazies’ – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“WASHINGTON — As long as I’ve covered politics, Republicans have been trying to scare me.

Sometimes, it has been about gays and transgender people and uppity women looming, but usually it has been about people with darker skin looming.

They’re coming, always coming, to take things and change things and hurt people.

A Democratic president coined the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But it was Republicans who flipped the sentiment and turned it into a powerful and remorseless campaign ethos: Make voters fear fear itself.

President Trump was relieved when the F.B.I. arrested a bomb suspect — a racist, homophobic, roid-raging, strip-club-loving, MAGA-worshiping Florida man who was living in a van that looked like a decoupage of Fox News propaganda.

The real fear that Cesar Sayoc Jr. is accused of spreading was distracting from the fake fear Trump was spreading to spur Republicans to the polls. And the president didn’t like it. Before Sayoc was caught, Trump implied that the terrorism was a Democratic setup to deflect from his midterms roadshow. Pipe bombs getting in the way of pipe dreams.”

David Lindsay:  Three stars for Maureen Dowd, for hitting one out of the ballpark. She has come along way, since she bragged about smoozing with Trump, and cattily cut up Hillary Clinton.

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Will Mark Zuckerberg ‘Like’ This Column? – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“Finally on Thursday, speaking on Facebook Live, Zuckerberg said he would give Congress more than 3,000 ads linked to Russia. As one Facebooker posted: “Why did it take EIGHT MONTHS to get here?”

Hillary is right that this $500 billion company has a lot to answer for in allowing the baby-photo-sharing site to be turned into what, with Twitter, The Times’s Scott Shane called “engines of deception and propaganda.” ”

“As Vanity Fair pointed out, Mueller’s focus on social media during the campaign could spell trouble for Jared Kushner, who once bragged that he had called his Silicon Valley friends to get a tutorial in Facebook microtargeting and brought in Cambridge Analytica — Robert Mercer is a big investor — to help build a $400 million operation for his father-in-law’s campaign.

Some lawmakers suspect that the Russians had help in figuring out which women and blacks to target in precincts in Wisconsin and Michigan.”

“The Sandberg admission was also game, set and match for Elon Musk, who has been sounding the alarm for years about the danger of Silicon Valley’s creations and A.I. mind children getting out of control and hurting humanity. His pleas for safeguards and regulations have been mocked as “hysterical” and “pretty irresponsible” by Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg, whose project last year was building a Jarvis-style A.I. butler for his home, likes to paint himself as an optimist and Musk as a doomsday prophet. But Sandberg’s comment shows that Musk is right: The digerati at Facebook and Google are either being naïve or cynical and greedy in thinking that it’s enough just to have a vague code of conduct that says “Don’t be evil,” as Google does.”

Nice work Maureen Dowd. Here is a comment I support.

Paul Wortman

East Setauket, NY 1 day ago

Yes Maureen, Facebook was used by the Russians. Unfortunately, they exploited a major gap in our campaign laws that do not regulate social media. That, and not just Mark Zuckerberg, is what needs to change. We desperately need to end the money in politics that has bought most of both political parties leaving many angry at the “establishment.” That is why we have Donald Trump in the White House. And don’t forget, The Donald continues to take advantage of Twitter to run a 24/7 political campaign. So, what we’ve learned is that social media can be “weaponized” not just by the Russians, but also by the man now occupying the Oval Office. We need to have “regulation,” but with an anti-regulatory Republican Congress and Supreme Court that is unlikely. Prepare yourself for the battle of the bots in 2020! You can even tweet that if you like.

Bobby Sticks It to Trump – by Maureen Down – NYT

“We are in for an epic clash between two septuagenarians who both came from wealthy New York families and attended Ivy League schools but couldn’t be more different — the flamboyant flimflam man and the buttoned-down, buttoned-up boy scout. (And we know the president has no idea how to talk to scouts appropriately.)

One has been called America’s straightest arrow. One disdains self-promotion and avoids the press. One married his sweetheart from school days. One was a decorated Marine in Vietnam. One counts patience, humility and honesty as the virtues he lives by and likes to say “You’re only as good as your word.” ”

Here is a comment I endorse.
Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 1 day ago
Epic clash? Only if Trump stays as stupid as he has been. The worst thing that happened to Trump was that the Access Hollywood tape didn’t do him in.

Up to that point, he’d pretty much skated above all his usual garbage, from the attacks on Gold Star parents and to the low blow to McCain.

But hubris–which Lord knows Trump has in spades– has a tendency to metastasize. As Maureen points out, even now Donald thinks he can intimidate Mr. Clean.

He actually feels he can set “red lines” across which Mueller won’t dare cross out of fear of …. Hum. Fear of what, Mr. Trump?

Now I can’t speak for Russia, but here in the United States there is a quaint custom we have called the rule of law. And as far as I know, a person or team leader being investigated has to be pretty brazen to think he’s above it. Especially a president of the United States under investigation for collusion with a foreign power to win an election.

Yes, there are tributaries and rivulets of criminality that Trump may think out of bounds, but aren’t. Former FBI chiefs know the Russians are notorious for setting financial traps to coopt US citizens years before they need them for nefarious plots.

And if anyone acts coopted, it’s Donald J. Trump–an ideal “useful idiot” Putin has right where he wants him, to use as a poster boy for how easy it is to sew chaos inside an effete American democracy.

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