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Elon Musk Is Cleared in Lawsuit Over His ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet

Westlake Legal Group 06musk-facebookJumbo Elon Musk Is Cleared in Lawsuit Over His ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet Unsworth, Vern twitter Tesla Motors Inc Rescues Musk, Elon Caves and Caverns

Elon Musk did not defame a British cave explorer by calling him a “pedo guy” on Twitter, a jury concluded on Friday in Los Angeles. The verdict ended a short trial based on an acrid dispute between the men over the high-profile rescue of a group of children trapped in Thailand in the summer of 2018.

“My faith in humanity is restored,” Mr. Musk told reporters after hearing the verdict.

The explorer, Vernon Unsworth, sued Mr. Musk in September last year, arguing that the billionaire had used the tweet to insinuate that Mr. Unsworth was a pedophile and damage his reputation. Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, and his lawyers countered that “pedo guy” was a generic insult borrowed from his youth in South Africa.

Both men had become involved in the rescue shortly after rising waters trapped a boys’ soccer team in a cave in June 2018. Mr. Unsworth had firsthand knowledge of the cave system, while Mr. Musk flew in a team of engineers and proposed an unorthodox rescue plan using a minisubmarine.

After Mr. Unsworth slammed the idea in a televised interview, suggesting that Mr. Musk “stick his submarine where it hurts,” the billionaire lashed out on Twitter, describing Mr. Unsworth as a “pedo guy” in a post to his 22 million followers at the time.

“I felt it to be disgusting,” Mr. Unsworth testified on Wednesday, the second day of the trial. “I was effectively given a life sentence without parole.”

Mr. Musk and his lawyers argued that Mr. Unsworth was not appreciably harmed by the post, which Mr. Musk deleted shortly afterward with an explanation that it had been written “in anger.” Specifically, a lawyer for Mr. Musk pointed in court to a photograph of Mr. Unsworth standing next to the British prime minister at a ceremony, as well as video of the explorer smiling and celebrating the rescue.

It was not the only time that Mr. Musk’s posts on Twitter have created problems for him. Also last year, he was replaced as chairman of Tesla’s board as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet in which he said the company had “funding secured” to take the company private. He later explained in a blog post that he had mistakenly believed such a deal to be closer to completion than was really the case.

Even after deleting the tweet about Mr. Unsworth, Mr. Musk did not let the dispute go, later telling BuzzFeed News in an email that Mr. Unsworth was a “child rapist,” an assertion offered without evidence. The accusation was based on information from a man he had hired who claimed to be a private investigator and, it turned out, had been convicted of fraud in Britain.

While that story was brought up in the trial, the judge overseeing the case, Stephen Wilson, instructed the jury that it was not the subject of the case.

On the witness stand this week, Mr. Musk apologized for using the term in the first place and drawing attention away from the ultimately successful effort to save the children.

“It should’ve just been, ‘Here’s a rescue, and that’s great,’” he testified.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Elon Musk Is Cleared in Lawsuit Over His ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet

Westlake Legal Group 06musk-facebookJumbo Elon Musk Is Cleared in Lawsuit Over His ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet Unsworth, Vern twitter Tesla Motors Inc Rescues Musk, Elon Caves and Caverns

Elon Musk did not defame a British cave explorer by calling him a “pedo guy” on Twitter, a jury concluded on Friday in Los Angeles. The verdict ended a short trial based on an acrid dispute between the men over the high-profile rescue of a group of children trapped in Thailand in the summer of 2018.

“My faith in humanity is restored,” Mr. Musk told reporters after hearing the verdict.

The explorer, Vernon Unsworth, sued Mr. Musk in September last year, arguing that the billionaire had used the tweet to insinuate that Mr. Unsworth was a pedophile and damage his reputation. Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, and his lawyers countered that “pedo guy” was a generic insult borrowed from his youth in South Africa.

Both men had become involved in the rescue shortly after rising waters trapped a boys’ soccer team in a cave in June 2018. Mr. Unsworth had firsthand knowledge of the cave system, while Mr. Musk flew in a team of engineers and proposed an unorthodox rescue plan using a minisubmarine.

After Mr. Unsworth slammed the idea in a televised interview, suggesting that Mr. Musk “stick his submarine where it hurts,” the billionaire lashed out on Twitter, describing Mr. Unsworth as a “pedo guy” in a post to his 22 million followers at the time.

“I felt it to be disgusting,” Mr. Unsworth testified on Wednesday, the second day of the trial. “I was effectively given a life sentence without parole.”

Mr. Musk and his lawyers argued that Mr. Unsworth was not appreciably harmed by the post, which Mr. Musk deleted shortly afterward with an explanation that it had been written “in anger.” Specifically, a lawyer for Mr. Musk pointed in court to a photograph of Mr. Unsworth standing next to the British prime minister at a ceremony, as well as video of the explorer smiling and celebrating the rescue.

It was not the only time that Mr. Musk’s posts on Twitter have created problems for him. Also last year, he was replaced as chairman of Tesla’s board as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet in which he said the company had “funding secured” to take the company private. He later explained in a blog post that he had mistakenly believed such a deal to be closer to completion than was really the case.

Even after deleting the tweet about Mr. Unsworth, Mr. Musk did not let the dispute go, later telling BuzzFeed News in an email that Mr. Unsworth was a “child rapist,” an assertion offered without evidence. The accusation was based on information from a man he had hired who claimed to be a private investigator and, it turned out, had been convicted of fraud in Britain.

While that story was brought up in the trial, the judge overseeing the case, Stephen Wilson, instructed the jury that it was not the subject of the case.

On the witness stand this week, Mr. Musk apologized for using the term in the first place and drawing attention away from the ultimately successful effort to save the children.

“It should’ve just been, ‘Here’s a rescue, and that’s great,’” he testified.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone.

On April 27, a woman in eastern Brooklyn called the police. She told them that just before sunrise, at 5:50 a.m., her ex, John, confronted her on the street with a gun.

The two were scheduled to appear at a court hearing over who would get possession of an apartment they once shared. The woman told police that John had said, “Shut the [expletive] up. You better not go to court,” pushed her to the ground and repeatedly punched her legs.

The woman already had a protective order in place against John. The next day, the police arrested him and charged him with assault, witness intimidation and other crimes.

John told his lawyer, a public defender, that he was innocent. He said that at the time in question, he’d been on his way to work in a different neighborhood in Brooklyn. But he hadn’t arrived there until 6:40 a.m. It was possible that he’d committed the assault and then made his way across the borough.

John was scared. Without proof of his whereabouts, he’d be fighting an uphill battle against the state. Innocent people often take plea deals because it’s easier than proving they’re innocent. He thought about losing his home and going to prison.

John’s lawyer, Jeffrey Sugarman of the Legal Aid Society of New York City, asked his client a deceptively simple question: Do you have a smartphone?

ImageWestlake Legal Group 22FORENSICS-02-articleLarge Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone. twitter Social Media Smartphones Public Defenders and Court-Appointed Lawyers (Criminal) Privacy Legal Aid Society Legal Aid for the Poor (Civil) Harris Corporation Guidance Software Inc Google Inc Facebook Inc Electronic Communications Privacy Act Computers and the Internet

A Tableau device is one of many tools that help prosecutors make precise copies of drives in a format that holds up in court. Public defenders often can’t afford such technology.Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

In America, citizens accused of crimes are supposed to have an advantage. The burden of proof is on prosecutors, and the government must turn over all its evidence to defendants, who have no reciprocal obligation.

In practice, of course — and especially when defendants don’t have a lot of money — the government has the edge. Investigators can issue subpoenas, compel testimony and pressure defendants into pleas. Today, one way in which the deck is stacked against defendants involves technology.

This tech gap has two basic forms. First, law enforcement agencies can use warrants and court orders to compel companies to turn over emails, photos and other communications, but defense lawyers have no such power. And second, the government has access to forensic technology that makes digital investigations easier. Over the last two decades, the machines and software designed to extract data from computers and smartphones were primarily made for and sold to law enforcement.

Initially, investigators and prosecutors used such technology mostly to gather evidence about computer crime and child pornography. But now digital forensics can play a role in virtually any case, because the data inside our Facebook accounts, smartphones and devices we wear on our bodies contains so much of our day-to-day movements and communications.

To successfully defend its clients, the Legal Aid Society, New York City’s largest public defender office, realized in 2013 that it needed to buy the same tools the police had: forensic devices and software from companies including Cellebrite, Magnet Forensics and Guidance Software. Not only does the expensive technology unearth digital evidence that is otherwise hard or impossible to find, it captures it in a format that can hold up in court, as opposed to evidence that could have been tampered with or forged. A properly processed device can yield emails, text messages, call logs, location history, photos, metadata and more — even material that has been deleted.

The Legal Aid Society’s New York forensic lab is a rarity in the world of public defenders, because most tightly budgeted offices simply can’t afford it. The bill for the equipment was approximately $100,000 — a fortune in a public defender’s budget, but a small amount by the standards of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which in 2016 built a forensics lab for $10 million.

On a Wednesday in May, John — whose lawyer asked that his last name be withheld — went to the Legal Aid Society’s TriBeCa office, stuck between Gap’s headquarters and a preschool. He handed his Android phone to one of the organization’s six forensic analysts, Brandon Reim.

Mr. Reim wanted to reconstruct John’s movements on the morning of April 27. He plugged the phone into a hand-held tablet, called the Touch2, made by the Israeli company Cellebrite. Known as a universal forensic extraction device, the Touch2 is able to pull data from almost any gadget and preserve it in a format that courts will accept as evidence. Mr. Reim also used a Cellebrite software program called Cloud Analyzer to reach John’s data on Google’s servers. After a few hours, Mr. Reim found what he was looking for: Google had logged more than 100 location points, with latitude and longitude, for John’s phone during the period when he had supposedly threatened his ex.

A spokesman for Cellebrite, Christopher Bacey, said the company does not disclose its prices. But government budgets offer up some transparency. The Touch2 can cost $10,500 with a $3,100 annual maintenance fee, while Cloud Analyzer can go for $7,999, with an annual fee of $2,625.

At the Legal Aid Society, Mr. Reim and his fellow analysts are searching for data to support clients’ claims of innocence. But if the data instead implicates the client, that’s valuable, too — it helps public defenders understand the strengths or weaknesses of their cases and decide whether to negotiate a plea.

Google’s minute-by-minute accounting of John’s whereabouts, which might seem dystopian in a different context, proved beneficial because it confirmed his story. He left his house at 5:10 a.m. to take the subway to work. At the time of the supposed assault in eastern Brooklyn, he was five miles away.

Mr. Reim plotted John’s movements on a Google map. Mr. Sugarman showed it to the assistant district attorney, who quickly dismissed the case.

As forensic technology has advanced, many constituencies beyond law enforcement have come to enjoy its power — the armed services, intelligence agencies, even corporate investigative outfits. Public defenders and citizens accused of crimes remain an afterthought. When I sent an inquiry to Cellebrite about how its products “get used by the defense instead of by law enforcement,” its spokesman assumed I was talking about the military.

There are dozens of forensic devices on the market. The Department of Homeland Security has tested many of them to report how well they do what they claim. Cellebrite, which has promoted its ability to break into locked phones, is one of the industry’s biggest names. Grayshift, founded by a former Apple engineer, makes a product called GrayKey that has allowed law enforcement agencies to break into and extract data even from encrypted iPhones. There’s also Magnet Forensics, which has offices in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Singapore; Black Swan Digital Forensics, based in Memphis, which advertises a “remote extraction” service for around $500 a pop; and OpenText, which recently acquired the California-based Guidance Software, which was one of the first to start making forensic software, back in 2002.

Cables for connecting any phone to the Cellebrite Touch2 device.Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times Digital forensics can play a role in virtually any case, because our devices capture so much of our day-to-day movements and communications.Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Though public defenders aren’t their typical customers, most forensics companies are willing to sell to them. Not Grayshift. A public defender who contacted the company this year with a sales inquiry was told that Grayshift “is tightly controlling the sales and distribution to local, state, and federal government law enforcement end-users only.” (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)

At least public defenders know that GrayKey exists. For years, that wasn’t the case with so-called I.M.S.I. catchers (for international mobile subscriber identity), better known as StingRays. These devices, made by the Harris Corporation, impersonate cell towers to intercept texts, calls, emails and other data; they can also locate cellphones and thus the people using them. Harris has required law enforcement agencies to sign nondisclosure agreements when they buy the devices, and for years, police and prosecutors hid their existence from defense attorneys. The secret wasn’t exposed until one tech-savvy California tax defrauder became obsessed with finding out how the police had found him.

Forensics experts have helped law enforcement acquire even the most daunting digital evidence. After a December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the F.B.I. asked Apple to help it get into a locked iPhone. Apple refused, on the grounds that it would undermine the security of their products. The F.B.I. ended up paying an unnamed third party to break into the device.

“It’s definitely an uneven playing field,” said Jennifer Mnookin, the dean of the law school at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Law enforcement has an understandable desire to extricate data from the digital world to solve cases, but there hasn’t been adequate scrutiny of these new techniques.”

Ms. Mnookin described a recurring pattern: Law enforcement agencies get a new investigative technique — fingerprinting, DNA analysis, breathalyzer tests — and those representing the accused struggle to play catch-up. Developing the new technical expertise necessary to adequately defend their clients is a challenge. Not only do public defenders tend to be underfunded, law enforcement can monopolize the experts in the field and forbid them from working for the defense.

Jim Kouril, a forensic analyst who worked as a police officer in Idaho for 24 years before joining the public defender’s office, said his former colleagues viewed his career move as going to work “for the dark side.” But his new position was hardly glamorous. “The big discrepancy between law enforcement and public defense is resources,” Mr. Kouril said. “I had everything I wanted in law enforcement: high-powered computers and equipment. Now, it’s like pulling teeth.”

In a review of public defender offices across the country, The New York Times found no other organization with a forensics operation comparable to the one in Manhattan. A handful of offices — in Pima County, Ariz.; Cook County, Ill.; and Canyon County, Idaho — recently bought one extraction device or have an internal expert. The public defender’s office in Philadelphia has started building a dedicated lab. But most public defenders have to hire private consultants to conduct forensic examinations of the evidence in their cases. This is a costly exercise that requires people to give up their phones for at least a week — an impossible request in some cases, particularly when it’s a third party involved in a case and not the defendant.

Otherwise, public defenders can get this digital evidence only if law enforcement chooses to examine a device. (Most agencies have no trouble getting access to the technology. A police force or prosecutor’s office that lacks internal resources can reach out to the nearly 350 shared cybercrime labs across the country for help.) If a case goes to trial — a vanishingly rare occurrence, as the vast majority of defendants in federal and state cases alike take plea bargains — a public defender might get a forensic report turned over. But these reports can be thousands of pages long, easily navigable only if you have a forensic company’s proprietary software.

Jerome Greco, a New York public defender who came to specialize in technological evidence partly because of an interest in hacking as a teenager in New Jersey, runs the Legal Aid Society’s forensic lab. He says the unit has proved invaluable in the early weeks of new cases, preventing clients from being formally charged or getting them out of jail when digital evidence makes their innocence clear.

“Americans spend so much more time on their phones now. And the amount of information and value of digital information has dramatically increased as a result,” said Mr. Greco. “Law enforcement is onto that. But so are we.” He added, “Our goal is to push back against law enforcement’s technological advantage.”

Geoff Burkhart, who oversees the public defender system in Texas, said that his colleagues barely have case-management software, let alone forensic equipment, and that the budget to hire outside forensic experts is minimal. “All the tough-on-crime years, all the funding went into prosecution and policing, while funding for public defense stayed stagnant,” said Mr. Burkhart. “So public defenders’ caseloads went up, but their funding didn’t.”

Public defenders are also at a disadvantage to prosecutors when it comes to interacting with big tech companies. A 1986 law, the Stored Communications Act, requires that law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant to get access to emails, private messages and other data kept on companies’ servers. Public defenders are held to the same standard, even though they can’t get warrants; they can only issue subpoenas, which limit them to asking for information about users, not the content of their digital activity.

Facebook and Google “are terrible to work with,” said Joel Simberg, a public defender in Cook County. “The state’s attorney and police get great information, but we get turned down all the time. They tell us we need to get a warrant. We can’t get warrants. We have subpoenas, and often they ignore them.”

Facebook, Google and Twitter have special online portals for law enforcement agencies, which make it easier for them to request information from users’ accounts. But there are no equivalent portals for public defenders. When Mr. Greco, in New York, wants to send a subpoena to Facebook, he has to get a judge to sign off on it in California and hire a server to deliver it in person to the company’s office in Menlo Park.

“They make it supereasy for law enforcement and superhard for everyone else,” said Mr. Greco. “They should make portals for public defenders.”

“People expect us to keep their information private, and we believe strongly that federal law requires us to do so,” said a Facebook spokeswoman, Rochelle Nadhiri, by email. “That’s why we have strict guidelines for sharing information in response to requests for their information.”

In a forthcoming article for the U.C.L.A. Law Review, Rebecca Wexler, an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that “exceptions to privacy laws that enable law enforcement to access sensitive information should also apply to criminal defense investigators.”

Ms. Wexler cites the case of Lee Sullivan and Derrick Hunter, two California men accused of murder. “Sullivan tried to subpoena Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for private messages that would show that the sole witness who placed him at the scene was lying, but the companies refused to comply, arguing that a federal privacy law from 1986 prevented it,” Ms. Wexler writes. “That left Sullivan and co-defendant Derrick Hunter in jail six years awaiting trial without key evidence to test the credibility of the witnesses against them.”

A judge ordered the companies to hand over the data earlier this year, but they resisted; he held them in contempt in July. “Facebook and Twitter have made it clear that they are unwilling to alter their behavior, regardless of the harm to others — or the rulings of this court,” the judge, Charles Crompton, wrote.

Giovanna Falbo, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said, “We have taken a stand against the state court’s order in this case because we believe that it violates the federal Stored Communications Act and undermines a key purpose of that law — to protect individuals’ privacy rights in electronic communications.”

Al Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School, said that the Stored Communications Act prevents defense lawyers from using subpoenas to harass witnesses, victims or police officers by obtaining their personal information. He has long pushed for a federal rule change that would allow judges to force prosecutors to write warrants on behalf of defense lawyers who have proved certain evidence is vital to collect.

Jeffrey D. Stein, a public defender in Washington, D.C., recently wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post on the subject of exculpatory evidence remaining trapped online. “Innocent people will continue to be vulnerable to conviction, not because evidence of their innocence doesn’t exist, but because the law doesn’t permit them to reach it,” he argued.

“Funding is always the obstacle, [but] this should be mainstream across the country,” said Tina Luongo, the lawyer who founded the Legal Aid Society of New York City’s forensic lab. “It’s the clients’ constitutional right. It exonerates our clients and helps us bring them justice.”

Aaron Krolik contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation

Westlake Legal Group 21googleads-facebookJumbo Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation twitter Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Google Inc Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Campaign Finance

Google’s new restrictions on political advertising, following an outright ban on such ads by Twitter, amount to a one-two punch on 2020 campaigns: The online platforms are creating a big new headache for them, while failing to address a different problem they fear most.

The decision to limit campaigns from targeting users based on political affiliation or voter record, which Google announced Wednesday night, was aimed at addressing concerns about invasion of privacy and the exploitation of voters through hyperspecific targeting.

But the policy will most likely have little impact on the thornier challenge of disinformation, which campaigns and cybersecurity experts say will be the more urgent problem facing the major social media platforms during the 2020 election.

Google’s new policy restricts a tactic — microtargeting of voters — that campaigns heavily rely on, while not aggressively addressing misinformation.

Modern disinformation campaigns that have plagued other global elections like those in the Philippines have not relied heavily on using targeted advertising. Instead, they have focused on creating so-called organic content — trolls posing as ordinary users on sites like Facebook initiate charged discussions, then amplify them through both human and automated networks to sow division and spread falsehoods.

These posts draw far more views than ads on sites like Google and Twitter. Restricting targeted ads, campaigns and experts say, eliminates a crucial tool candidates use to reach voters, but retains a system that hackers and trolls have proved adept at exploiting and that social media sites struggle to adequately police.

“It’s outrageous,” said Tara McGowan, the chief executive and founder of Acronym, a new Democratic super PAC. “Instead of monitoring and taking responsibility for the spread of misinformation on their platforms, Google has chosen to pursue a disingenuous and frankly dangerous shift in their policies so they can claim publicly to be serious about the problem.

“This change won’t curb disinformation,” she added in a text message, “but it will hinder campaigns and (others) who are already working against the tide against bad actors to reach voters with facts.”

On Thursday, two separate groups of digital strategists — a bipartisan coalition from the University of Chicago, and a group of roughly 40 Democratic and progressive strategists — released letters criticizing Google’s new policy. The letters, which were obtained by The New York Times, both fault Google for not adequately addressing disinformation.

“Policy changes by Google, other platforms, and regulators should focus on curtailing bad actors and stopping disinformation,” wrote the digital group from the University of Chicago. “Policy changes designed to limit legitimate political communications and dialogue are not the right approach for a democratic society.”

Google does have policies designed to combat misinformation, and in February it published an extensive white paper on the subject. The policy announced on Wednesday did also state that Google was willing to take down false ads, something Facebook has not been willing to do.

Officials at Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There are numerous examples of how difficult it is to enforce misinformation policies on such a massive platform. Political operatives and campaigns have maintained that the announcement by Google is a halfhearted attempt to address the underlying issues plaguing political discourse on social media, an issue that has made tech companies a target of withering criticism from Congress, advocacy groups and some Democratic 2020 candidates.

A quick search on YouTube for Senator Kamala Harris, for instance, turns up dozens of videos that are spreading the lie that Ms. Harris isn’t an American citizen, including some with more than 100,000 views. None of these videos are ads.

“Tech companies have a responsibility to combat disinformation, and when their platforms are being abused to promote demonstrable lies, fabrications and racist attacks — some of which could lead to violence — it requires more than Band-Aids,” said Ian Sams, the communications director for Ms. Harris. “This is a fundamental problem that threatens our democracy, and what we’ve seen so far isn’t enough.”

Though Google had sent signals that important changes were coming to the platform, the announcement still sent shock waves through the presidential campaigns. Five Democratic and Republican campaigns all said they were taken aback, especially since employees from Google had been visiting the headquarters of multiple presidential campaigns in recent months, pitching them on their suite of advertising packages and targeting tools.

In 2019 alone, political campaigns and outside groups have spent $44.8 million on Google’s suite of ad platforms, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Search ads on Google and other platforms are an essential tool for building and increasing small-dollar donations, an important cash source in a year when reaching voters digitally has become more important than ever. The ads are also an increasingly vital tool to remaining on the debate stage, as the Democratic National Committee continues to raise the threshold of individual donors to qualify for future debates.

“Broad targeting kills fund-raising efficiency,” said Rob Flaherty, former digital director for Beto O’Rourke.

“If you can’t use ads to target potential donors based on your own donor data, it’s going to hurt the ability to build a list,” Mr. Flaherty added. “And if you hurt the ability to build a list, you hurt the efficiency of email fund-raising. Everyone thinks about this as a solution to fix scary persuasion ads, but most of digital ad spend is about raising money.”

The decision will also most likely make advertising on Google more expensive and less efficient, a change critics argued would hurt smaller campaigns and down-ballot candidates who do not have the war chests of large Democratic presidential campaigns.

It also removes the ability of campaigns to “re-market” ads, meaning advertising to people who had previously visited their website, an important feature to campaigns. That change is intended to address the privacy concerns that emerged after the 2016 election, most dramatically with Facebook.

Indeed, looming over the announcement from Google is a pending decision from Facebook on whether it, too, would begin to restrict political campaigns from certain aspects of its advertising platform. Facebook is by far the most popular advertising platform in politics, and presidential campaigns have spent more than $60 million during this cycle alone.

The mere hint of changes was enough to ignite the Trump campaign to an aggressive public response on Wednesday night, accusing Facebook’s decision of being more rooted in the company’s financial bottom line.

The policy announcement was praised, however, by Ellen L. Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission.

“@Google’s plan to eliminate #microtargeting is a move that – if done right – could help make internet political advertising a force that informs and inspires us, rather than isolating and inflaming us,” Ms. Weintraub wrote in a series of Tweets on Thursday.

Some digital strategists also welcomed the policy changes from Google, noting that restricting the microtargeting would cause more ads to be seen by more people, therefore most likely diluting the effect of the more insidious types of messaging.

“What they’re getting at is a lot of the shadiest stuff goes unnoticed because it’s hard to see what’s happening,” said Michael Slaby, a Democratic digital strategist. “Because now you have to buy in larger groups, it’s less easy for someone to just say, ‘Let’s put these voter suppression ads in front of all the African-American voters in Milwaukee.’”

“I think their hope is that with more visibility, people will be less bad actors,” he said.

But David Goldstein, the chief executive of Tovo Labs, a Democratic digital consulting firm in New York, said Google had simply created a new problem. The company, he said, now faces the question of “how will it discern a political versus nonpolitical advertisers?”

“Unless they’re absolutely ruthless, it’ll be a cinch to get around,” he added.

Identifying a campaign ad and restricting how it is targeted will not be a problem. “But PACs? Is that political or ‘issue-based’? And what if I just use an LLC to push political content?” Mr. Goldstein asked. “Are they going to start aggressively regulating content? That’s almost impossible to imagine.”

Nonetheless, those who have been looking for platforms to take a proactive approach considered the policy from Google to be a good opening policy, so long as it wasn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a good first step,” Mr. Slaby said. “I think if there’s no second step, I’m going to be pretty disappointed that they thought this was the magical switch they could flip.”

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164463414_5b38f580-0e53-49fb-abd6-4fccb348e8e0-facebookJumbo With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations twitter Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

Ms. Yovanovitch had just begun to recount, in powerful and personal terms, the devastation and fear she felt when she learned Mr. Trump had attacked her during a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that,” she said.

It was just the kind of human moment that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had anticipated — a political trap they were determined not to fall into. But they apparently didn’t anticipate how Mr. Trump would react.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, sneering at her to his 66 million followers while recounting an earlier posting in her diplomatic career. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

The president’s tweet was at once surprising and entirely predictable.

Mr. Trump has used Twitter to attack his adversaries nearly 6,000 times since becoming president. He has repeatedly tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and has lashed out at diplomats and national security officials calling them “never Trumpers” who are out to undermine his agenda. For weeks, he and his allies have obsessed about the identity of the whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine jump-started the impeachment inquiry.

But his decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

But his inability to hold his fire on Friday raised fresh doubts among his allies and White House advisers about what he will do next week, when eight witnesses are scheduled to testify in public hearings over the course of three days.

Mr. Trump did not clear his Friday tweet with top White House aides before putting it out, leaving some of his advisers deeply dispirited. Privately, they acknowledged he had done himself damage.

Not long after Mr. Trump’s tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. fired off his own broadside, tweeting, “America hired ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more.”

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies had largely held back from those kinds of direct attacks on Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. They had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC-215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

One thing they were clear about: They intended to use the same care grilling Ms. Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during last year’s testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school, according to one person close to the House Republican leadership.

Mr. Trump didn’t get the message — and Democrats seized on the political opportunity he handed them. Not long after the president tweeted his thoughts on Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Schiff read it aloud, to Ms. Yovanovitch and the cameras.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you,” Mr. Schiff told her. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

Her answer was succinct: “It’s very intimidating.”

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, used his five minutes of questioning at the hearing to decry what he called the president’s “disgusting” tweet.

“He smeared you when you were in Ukraine,” Mr. Swalwell told Ms. Yovanovitch. “He smeared you on that phone call with President Zelensky on July 25. He is smearing you right now as you are testifying. Ambassador Yovanovitch, are the president’s smears going to stop you from fighting corruption?”

“Well,” she answered, clearly not wanting to take the bait of a direct confrontation with the president, “I will continue my work.”

Following the hearing, some Republican lawmakers defended the president’s decision to tweet at Ms. Yovanovitch even as others grudgingly acknowledged that it wasn’t the kind of message they had hoped to highlight.

“We’re not here to talk about tweets,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, told reporters. “This is not the first or last tweet they are going to complain about.”

But under repeated questioning, she added: “I said I disagree with the tone of the tweet.”

Ms. Stefanik and other Republican members struggled to focus on the message they had hoped to deliver throughout the day: that Democrats had put in place an unfair impeachment process that denied Mr. Trump’s defenders their rights. Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said Mr. Trump was just “fighting back.”

But that was not how the week was supposed to go, especially at the White House, where Mr. Trump had scheduled a series of events to highlight what he said he was doing while the Democrats were focused on impeachment.

The idea was to embrace the strategy that former president Bill Clinton used during his own impeachment fight. Mr. Clinton described that strategy on CNN on Thursday. “I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it,’” Mr. Clinton said. “‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.’ That’s what I would do.”

Early Friday morning, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee. She added, “but the rest of the day, he will be working hard for the American people.”

To illustrate that, the White House had scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon on new rules to promote “honesty and transparency” in health care prices. But as soon as the event was over, reporters deluged the president with questions — about his Yovanovitch tweet.

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What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition

Westlake Legal Group 15twitter01-facebookJumbo What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition United States Politics and Government twitter Social Media Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Dorsey, Jack Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The Alzheimer’s Association, a health care advocacy group, recently spent $84,000 on ad campaigns on Twitter. One campaign had a singular purpose: to persuade people to ask Congress for larger investments in medical research for the disease.

Now the nonprofit is worried about whether those messages will still fly. That’s because Twitter announced last month that it would soon prohibit all political ads from its platform — and, depending on whom you ask, pushing lawmakers for money for medical research could be seen as a political cause.

The Alzheimer’s Association was so concerned that it contacted Twitter this month to express misgivings about the political ads ban. “We’re not really sure how it’s going to impact us,” said Mike Lynch, a spokesman for the group. “A lot of what we do is issue advertising, so it really depends on how they define political advertising.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is one of many nonprofits and organizations that have put pressure on Twitter over its prohibition of political ads, which is set to start next Friday. The problem is that while campaign ads from candidates are clearly political, other messages that deal with hot-button issues such as abortion, school choice and climate change may or may not cross that line.

That has set off a scramble within Twitter to define what constitutes a political ad. Twitter’s advertising executives have held meetings in Washington with public relations and free speech groups to debate the situation. And the company has fended off public criticism about the ban, including from Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is running for president. Last week, Ms. Warren said Twitter’s new ad policy would prevent climate advocacy groups from holding corporations accountable.

On Friday, after weeks of discussions, Twitter rolled out a formal definition of what it considers to be a political ad. Under the official policy, Twitter said ads that discuss elections, candidates, parties and other overtly political content would be prohibited. For ads that refer to causes generally and that are placed by organizations and not politicians or political candidates, Twitter said it would place restrictions on them but not ban them outright.

The restrictions included removing advertisers’ ability to target specific audiences, a practice known as “micro targeting.” The ads also cannot mention specific legislation, Twitter said.

“It’s a big change for us as a company but one we believe is going to make our service, and political advertising in the world, better,” Vijaya Gadde, who leads Twitter’s legal, policy, trust and safety divisions, said in a call on Friday to introduce the policy.

Twitter’s unveiling of its political ads policy did little to mollify its critics, such as conservatives who have said the barring of such ads is an attempt to suppress right-wing voices.

“Whatever they come up with, we fully expect Twitter to continue to censor, block, or to incur ‘bugs’ that will unfairly silence President Trump and conservatives,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Some super PACs and political groups said Twitter’s decision disrupted the political advertising strategy and budget they had already mapped out for the 2020 election.

“Changing the rules halfway through is really dangerous,” said Danielle Butterfield, the director of paid media for Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs. “A lot of organizations are going to have to look back at their strategy and figure out how to adjust, especially in the middle of the cycle.”

She said her group had used ads on Twitter to flag stories about the economy under the Trump administration to local reporters in swing states, a key part of its in-state strategy.

Twitter finds itself in a delicate situation because its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, decided last month that the social media service would no longer host political ads. In a series of tweets on Oct. 30, Mr. Dorsey said political ads presented challenges to civic discourse and added that he believed the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

His declaration contrasted with that of Twitter’s rival, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last month that he planned to allow political ads on the social network — even if they are inaccurate or contain lies — because such ads are newsworthy and should remain for free speech reasons. Ms. Warren and others have pilloried Mr. Zuckerberg for his stance, saying he is running a “disinformation-for-profit machine.”

Mr. Dorsey, though, was immediately praised by politicians — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York — for taking a stand against political ads.

At the time, Mr. Dorsey defined political ads as those sponsored by candidates or that discussed political issues. He said some ads, such as those promoting voter registration, would be permitted as exceptions. Mr. Dorsey, who has since been traveling in Africa, was unavailable for comment on Friday.

His pronouncements quickly kicked up a ruckus among nonprofits, lobbyists and others, who said they feared they would no longer be able to run issue-based ads on Twitter because it was unclear if their messages would be considered political.

“The policy would tilt the playing field,” said Eric Pooley, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group. “Nonprofit organizations need to be able to communicate to the public. That’s what we do.”

The American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, said that Mr. Dorsey’s announcement had created uncertainties and that it was being unfairly swept up in Twitter’s efforts to clean up its platform. Affiliates of Planned Parenthood added that they already struggled to get ads approved on social media and worried about a ban.

“Digital advertisement is a cost-effective way for small nonprofits to reach their audience. The question becomes, where do we turn next?” said Emma Corbett, the communications director of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, which represents Planned Parenthood in New York State.

Twitter said it held discussions about the policy with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Affairs Council, a nonpartisan organization that advises companies on their lobbying and digital advocacy efforts, last week.

Nick DeSarno, the director of digital and policy communications at the Public Affairs Council, said Twitter was trying to split the difference between limiting politicians from placing ads while allowing advocacy organizations to continue raising awareness about political topics.

“While Twitter’s potential new issues ads policy is more permissive than a total ban, it’s still going to be a challenge for groups who are trying to drive political or legislative change using the platform,” he said.

Twitter’s limitations on targeted ads will prevent advertisers from sending political messages to residents of specific ZIP codes or cities; instead, they can broadcast their content only at a state level. The company said it would also prevent advertisers from targeting their messages based on political leanings or interests of users such as “conservative,” “liberal” or “political elections.”

“We very much believe that cause-based advertising has value, and can help drive public conversation around important topics,” said Del Harvey, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter. “But we still don’t think it should be used with the sort of primary goal of driving political or judicial or legislative or regulatory outcomes.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

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With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164463414_5b38f580-0e53-49fb-abd6-4fccb348e8e0-facebookJumbo With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations twitter Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

Ms. Yovanovitch had just begun to recount, in powerful and personal terms, the devastation and fear she felt when she learned Mr. Trump had attacked her during a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that,” she said.

It was just the kind of human moment that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had anticipated — a political trap they were determined not to fall into. But they apparently didn’t anticipate how Mr. Trump would react.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, sneering at her to his 66 million followers while recounting an earlier posting in her diplomatic career. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

The president’s tweet was at once surprising and entirely predictable.

Mr. Trump has used Twitter to attack his adversaries nearly 6,000 times since becoming president. He has repeatedly tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and has lashed out at diplomats and national security officials calling them “never Trumpers” who are out to undermine his agenda. For weeks, he and his allies have obsessed about the identity of the whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine jump-started the impeachment inquiry.

But his decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

But his inability to hold his fire on Friday raised fresh doubts among his allies and White House advisers about what he will do next week, when eight witnesses are scheduled to testify in public hearings over the course of three days.

Mr. Trump did not clear his Friday tweet with top White House aides before putting it out, leaving some of his advisers deeply dispirited. Privately, they acknowledged he had done himself damage.

Not long after Mr. Trump’s tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. fired off his own broadside, tweeting, “America hired ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more.”

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies had largely held back from those kinds of direct attacks on Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. They had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC-215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

One thing they were clear about: They intended to use the same care grilling Ms. Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during last year’s testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school, according to one person close to the House Republican leadership.

Mr. Trump didn’t get the message — and Democrats seized on the political opportunity he handed them. Not long after the president tweeted his thoughts on Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Schiff read it aloud, to Ms. Yovanovitch and the cameras.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you,” Mr. Schiff told her. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

Her answer was succinct: “It’s very intimidating.”

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, used his five minutes of questioning at the hearing to decry what he called the president’s “disgusting” tweet.

“He smeared you when you were in Ukraine,” Mr. Swalwell told Ms. Yovanovitch. “He smeared you on that phone call with President Zelensky on July 25. He is smearing you right now as you are testifying. Ambassador Yovanovitch, are the president’s smears going to stop you from fighting corruption?”

“Well,” she answered, clearly not wanting to take the bait of a direct confrontation with the president, “I will continue my work.”

Following the hearing, some Republican lawmakers defended the president’s decision to tweet at Ms. Yovanovitch even as others grudgingly acknowledged that it wasn’t the kind of message they had hoped to highlight.

“We’re not here to talk about tweets,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, told reporters. “This is not the first or last tweet they are going to complain about.”

But under repeated questioning, she added: “I said I disagree with the tone of the tweet.”

Ms. Stefanik and other Republican members struggled to focus on the message they had hoped to deliver throughout the day: that Democrats had put in place an unfair impeachment process that denied Mr. Trump’s defenders their rights. Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said Mr. Trump was just “fighting back.”

But that was not how the week was supposed to go, especially at the White House, where Mr. Trump had scheduled a series of events to highlight what he said he was doing while the Democrats were focused on impeachment.

The idea was to embrace the strategy that former president Bill Clinton used during his own impeachment fight. Mr. Clinton described that strategy on CNN on Thursday. “I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it,’” Mr. Clinton said. “‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.’ That’s what I would do.”

Early Friday morning, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee. She added, “but the rest of the day, he will be working hard for the American people.”

To illustrate that, the White House had scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon on new rules to promote “honesty and transparency” in health care prices. But as soon as the event was over, reporters deluged the president with questions — about his Yovanovitch tweet.

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Twitter Lampoons WaPo’s Absurd Characterization of ISIS Leader Abu with Hilarious Submissions for #WaPoDeathNotices

Westlake Legal Group animals-3901900_1280-620x465 Twitter Lampoons WaPo’s Absurd Characterization of ISIS Leader Abu with Hilarious Submissions for #WaPoDeathNotices Uncategorized twitter Terrorism Social Media Middle East Media Islamic State ISIS Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Culture Allow Media Exception Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

 

 

 

As covered earlier by RedState’s cool Elizabeth Vaughn, The Washington Post noted the passing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by calling him an “austere religious scholar.”

That was after the initial label of the “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief” was lamented by communications manager Kristine Coratti Kelly:

Nice save.

The internet wasn’t impressed, and Twitterers rose to the occasion with their own sarcastic tributes to the tune of the #5 hashtag: #WaPoDeathNotices.

Some of the submissions are pretty hilarious.

Here’s one for the austere cannibal, Jeffrey:

And one for all you Wicked fans:

And of course:

More:

And there was this:

WaPo eventually settled on the description, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State.”

If you’re wondering, he went to Paradise by detonating his suicide vest.

He took three of his children with him.

As for the hashtag, I’m sure you have your own contributions.

And I look forward to reading them in the Comments section.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Pro-Communist ‘Revolution Club’ Protests Trump’s Visit By Burning An American Flag In Front Of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Why?

MSNBC Panelist Says He Constantly Fantasizes About Crashing His Car Into Trump Plaza. Maybe He’s Waiting For The 1,000-Year Reich

High School Teacher In Georgia Instructs Students: The Confederate Flag Is A Marry-Your-Sister ‘Save The Date’ Card

Find all my RedState work here.

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Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

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“Journalist” Gets Torched After Demanding Republican SCIF “Invaders” Be Investigated for Foreign Allegiances

Westlake Legal Group Journalism-620x413 “Journalist” Gets Torched After Demanding Republican SCIF “Invaders” Be Investigated for Foreign Allegiances washington D.C. twitter Social Media republicans Politics North Carolina Media journalism Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post Culture Congress Allow Media Exception

CREDIT: Brandon Morse, copyright RedState.com.

Nick wrote yesterday about how House Republicans who are frustrated by the secretive nature of the so-called “impeachment inquiry” process decided to stop talking about it and took action, storming the SCIF room where Schiff was conducting his show trial witness tampering witness questioning.

High drama, of course, ensued, with Schiff and Co. scurrying away with the witness while the fed up Republicans staged a sit-in, hoping to negotiate with Schiff for full access to witnesses and transcripts. Unfortunately they weren’t successful, but they did eat pretty good while in the midst of the stand-off.

One of the biggest “concerns” for Democrats and reporters who were present for the goings-on yesterday was whether or not any Republicans/Republican staffers who stormed the highly-secured area had taken any audio or video, which would be a no-no since cell phones are not allowed in the room:

One former CBS journalist in particular was enraged, and demanded serious action be take against the Republican “invaders”, including questioning them for possible foreign allegiances:

Leavitt, an “award-winning multimedia journalist” according to his Twitter bio and whose credits include CBS (though he was never an employee), got read the riot act by Twitter users:

CNN national security/legal analyst Susan Hennessey, who is no fan of Republicans, wrote a Twitter thread noting that in the scheme of things, Republicans bringing their phones into the SCIF was not really much of a “security compromise.” That probably won’t be enough for the David Leavitt types, but then again really nothing would be.

——-
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –

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Foul balls? MLB umpire’s pro-Trump tweets under investigation

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It’s World Series time and while we wait to see if the Houston Astros bounce back or if the Washington Nationals sweep the series, politics has reared its ugly head. In an unusual turn of events, a Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire is under investigation for tweeting support for President Trump.

Rob Drake is a 50-year-old full-time MLB umpire and he has some strong opinions about impeachment. On Tuesday he tweeted about his concerns about a potential upcoming civil war in America if President Trump is impeached. He’s triggered the anti-gun mob by declaring he will purchase a semi-automatic rifle ahead of time.

“I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL [sic] WAR!!! #MAGA2020” is what he tweeted. That tweet has been deleted and his Twitter account has been deactivated. Earlier Tuesday he tweeted out his frustration with the impeachment process underway in the House at the hands of Democrats.

Earlier Tuesday, Drake reacted to the Democratic-led House closed-door impeachment proceedings in an initial tweet writing: “You can’t do an impeachment inquiry from the basement of Capital [sic] Hill without even a vote! What is going on in this country?”

“We have a political party trying to overthrow a president by lying, hiding, creating and manufacturing crimes. Where do we live? This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! This isn’t Russia, Venezuela, Cuba,” Drake also wrote, according to separate unverified screenshots of his account activity posted by a Twitter user. The screenshots also showed that Drake retweeted messages promoting the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.

Clearly, Drake is a Trump supporter. Supporting the president is his right but things get tricky on social media. He added to the fire by including his intention of purchasing a weapon and QAnon. Speaking to the press before Game 2 in Houston, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said an investigation is ongoing. Drake isn’t working the post-season games this year.

The president of the MLB hasn’t commented.

Joe West, the president of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association, declined comment when reached by phone.

Drake, 50, made his major league debut in 1999 and has been a full-time major league umpire since 2010. He worked postseason games in 2010 and 2012 through ’15, and was on the crew at the All-Star Game in 2013.

There are ten prohibitions listed in the official MLB social media policy. Reading through the list, it seems the only rule Drake’s tweets would violate has to do with “threat of violence”, though I’d argue that Drake didn’t make a specific threat. His tweet was more about self-protection, which is why people purchase guns. Take a look at the list:

Players can’t make what can be construed as official club or league statements without permission;
Players can’t use copyrighted team logos and stuff without permission or tweet confidential or private information about teams or players, their families, etc.;
Players can’t link to any MLB website or platform from social media without permission;
No tweets condoning or appearing to condone the use of substances on the MLB banned drug list (which is everything but booze, right?);
No ripping umpires or questioning their integrity;
No racial, sexist, homophobic, anti-religious, etc. etc. content;
No harassment or threats of violence;
Nothing sexually explicit;
Nothing otherwise illegal.

That is all pretty basic stuff, right? There isn’t anything about inserting personal political opinions into a Twitter timeline. If we use the guideline above, Drake should be in the clear unless the main problem comes from the AR-15 reference. He didn’t tweet any threats, though. I’m assuming he doesn’t even own one if he’s tweeting about going to buy one if Trump’s impeached. I guess we’ll find out if the MLB organization caves to the delicate gun-grabbers who are triggered by the mere mention of a weapon. The leftists are already describing Drake’s tweets as a call for violence.

I enjoyed this tweet, which lightheartedly mocks all the idiocy of today’s hyper-polarized political atmosphere:

To be perfectly clear, I don’t want politics to seep into sports. I love watching my Houston Astros and the team is loved in Houston. The team won its first ever World Series just two months after Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the lift to everyone’s morale provided by that win will never be forgotten. I know I’ll never forget it. I don’t even want to know the political opinions of the umpires working the games. I just want them to call balls and strikes. That’s their job. Though I think I have watched at least some of every televised game of the Astros this season, I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the umpires.

I’ll end with a little video clip of superstar Olympic gymnast, Houstonian Simone Biles throwing out the first pitch Tuesday night. The Astro player who receives the pitch is Jake Marisnick.

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