Category Archives: Politics

Chart of the day II: Voters rank the three debates

And when they did, partisan divides prevailed.

From Gallup:


Ma Bell sells spooky data; Internet attack probed

Two major stories on the cybersecurity front to report.

AT&T sells your data, for a fortune

The first item comes from Ma Bell, who’s been helping folks spy on you and pocketing a fortune for doing.

From the Guardian:

Telecommunications giant AT&T is selling access to customer data to local law enforcement in secret, new documents released on Monday reveal.

The program, called Hemisphere, was previously known only as a “partnership” between the company and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the purposes of counter-narcotics operations.

It accesses the trove of telephone metadata available to AT&T, who control a large proportion of America’s landline and cellphone infrastructure. Unlike other providers, who delete their stored metadata after a certain time, AT&T keeps information like call time, duration, and even location data on file for years, with records dating back to 2008.

But according to internal company documents revealed Monday by the Daily Beast, Hemisphere is being sold to local police departments and used to investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars every year even while riding roughshod over privacy concerns.

Internet of things becomes a federal priority

After last week’s massive attackj on online services, carried out through baby monitors, security cameras, and other devices connected to the Internet of Things, Uncle Sam is getting busy.

From Reuters:

Obama administration officials sought on Monday to reassure the public that it was taking steps to counter new types of cyber attacks such as the one Friday that rendered Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and dozens of other major websites unavailable.

The Department of Homeland Security said it had held a conference call with 18 major communication service providers shortly after the attack began and was working to develop a new set of “strategic principles” for securing internet-connected devices.

DHS said its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was working with companies, law enforcement and researchers to cope with attacks made possible by the rapidly expanding number of smart gadgets that make up the “internet of Things.”

Such devices, including web-connected cameras, appliances and toys, have little in the way of security. More than a million of them have been commandeered by hackers, who can direct them to take down a target site by flooding it with junk traffic.

You have to wonder if another federal agency, the NSA, is busy exploiting these same devices to pry into our lives.

Just a thought. . .

Headline of the day: Gee, ya really think so?

It was, as Peter Thiel might describe it, one of those “seductions that are later regretted.”

From El País:

Mexican president admits Donald Trump visit was a mistake

  • Mexico’s President Enrique Peña has admitted he made a mistake when he invited Donald Trump to visit his country in August, describing the decision as “hasty.”
  • In an interview with Mexican daily La Razón, the president, whose popularity ratings continue to fall as he approaches his final two years in office, hitting a new low in September of 23%, says that in hindsight, he would have “done things differently.”

Chart of the day: Mixed social media report card

How do folks interested in Campaign 2016  view political discussions in the highly charged social media environment?

Here are the answers given when the Pew Research Center asked the question:


Trrump’s brand problems: Hotel woes reported

And what problems might those be?

We’ll let the editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic offer one key example:

Steve Benson: What Trump really said in Gettysburg


Trump hotel rates slashed

While once the Trump brand brought up images of glamor and glitz, Trump’s bluster and bigotry as revealed in recent months have shifted the Trump brand’s identity.

Now, instead of folks from Beverly Hills and the Hamptons. Brand Trump now appeals more to folks from sagging suburbs and trailer parks, having a severe impact on Trump-branded hotels and resorts.

From the Associated Press:

Rates for rooms at Trump’s new D.C. hotel are being slashed as travelers weigh their options, and smartphone data suggest fewer people are visiting his properties compared to rival venues nearby.

The Republican nominee for president is in danger of losing not just the election, but something dear to a man who claims the marketing value of his name alone is worth $3 billion: the many customers, mostly wealthy, who have stayed at his hotels, played a round at his golf courses or held galas at his oceanside resorts.

Experts say the Trump brand is tarnished and at a tricky crossroads as his appeal shifts from the well-heeled, high-income people he has long courted to a more middle-class base, including the fervent fans he cultivated during the campaign.

There is speculation that he could start a Trump media network as a right-wing alternative to major news outlets, drawing money from advertisers to make up for any weakness in his empire elsewhere. But he may have to pivot fast.

“The current trajectory is very harmful to his businesses,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University. “Right now his brands cater to the affluent, who are disproportionately turned off by his activities.”

And then there’s another problem.

Missing money and a failed Trump

Investors in a planned Mexican resort are furious at The Donald after a losing $32 million on a much-touted Trump resort never rose from the Baja shores. Also missing is their money.

From teleSUR English:

Donald Trump, the man who launched his campaign to reach the White House by accusing Mexicans of being criminals, is facing accusations of major fraud concerning a luxury resort development in Mexico that bilked investors out of US$32 million, a report from La Jornada revealed Sunday.

Between 2008 and 2009, Trump — together with Irongate and PB Impulsores firms — lured investors into paying 20 percent deposits for an exclusive oceanfront luxury resort in the Mexican state of Baja California.

However, according to records, the builders never even bothered initiating the necessary procedures to start the project.

When asked, the relevant authorities in Tijuana said, “After performing an exhaustive search of the physical and digital files, no procedure that corresponds to the name Trump Ocean Resort Baja could be located.”

Furthermore, according to the La Jornada’s investigation, as of this month, the issue remained unresolved and investors who initiated legal action in 2009 have not yet been compensated. Builders had previously claimed that there simply wasn’t any money left to pay back to those who placed a deposit, despite the fact that the builders collected US$32 million.

In response, Trump — now the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency — said that he merely licensed his name to the project, as he has in many other real estate projects. When the project was first advertised, promotional materials prominently featured his name and image.

The newspaper reported that it was the Trump name that sold many investors on the resort.

Hey, with Trump losing luster so rapidly, maybe the Next Big Trump Thing will be a trailer park.

Another rich Trumpie walks it back

Trump isn’t the only plutocrat in trouble for saying things inappropriate.

Consider the Silicon Valley billionaire who’s been suing media right and left who now finds himself in a spot of a difficulty.

From the Guardian:

Facebook board member and Trump donor Peter Thiel has apologised for a book he co-wrote in 1995 that argued the definition of rape had been expanded to include “seductions that are later regretted”.

Thiel’s co-author, David Sacks, a Stanford and Paypal alumnus along with Thiel, also apologised after the Guardian reported on the book’s contents on Friday.

Thiel gave a statement to Forbes magazine, which said: “More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements. As I’ve said before, I wish I’d never written those things. I’m sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise.” Thiel had not responded to a request for comment to the Guardian.

Thiel made his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal, which increased markedly after an early investment in Facebook. He now sits on the board of the company, and has attracted notoriety after donating $1.25m (£1m) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It was Thiel who sued Gawker Media into bankruptcy after one of the company’s websites outed him.

Graphic Representation: Campaign 2016, worst ever

Or such is the opinion of the creators of today’s offerings.

We begin with The Donald, epitomized by the editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic:

Benson: Donald Trump’s ‘change agent’


Next, equal time for his opponent from the Kansas City Star:

Lee Judge: Makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice


And the Indianapolis Star offers some assistance:

Gary Varvel: Voters need help


While the creator of the best campaign sign ever proposes a third candidate,  captured by Atul Gawnde:


Charts of the day: Call it opposition polling

In the world of the political operative, opposition polling tracks rival candidates, but in Campaign 2016 the term could take on a whole new meaning, given that the largest single factor driving voters in the camps of the two major party presidential candidates is opposition to the rival candidates rather than support of their own.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos polls make the motivation quite clear.

CLick on the images to embiggen.

First, a look at the motives of likely Clinton voters:


And then the Trump voters:


Yeah, the system is rigged, and people clearly know it.

The problem is, it’s rigged to give us candidates who don’t represent our interests.