ON TWITTER: Congress Must Forbid Bots, Trolls fake followers and Spying


Doug Chayka

After last year’s election, Facebook came in for a drubbing for its role in propagating misinformation — or “fake news,” as we called it back then, before the term became a catchall designation for any news you don’t like. The criticism was well placed: Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, and millions of people look to it daily for news.

But the focus on Facebook let another social network off the hook. I speak of my daily addiction, Twitter.

Though the 140-character network favored by President Trump is far smaller than Facebook, it is used heavily by people in media and thus exerts perhaps an even greater sway on the news business.

That’s an issue because Twitter is making the news dumber. The service is insidery and clubby. It exacerbates groupthink. It prizes pundit-ready quips over substantive debate, and it tends to elevate the silly over the serious — for several sleepless hours this week it was captivated by “covfefe,” which was essentially a brouhaha over a typo.

But the biggest problem with Twitter’s place in the news is its role in the production and dissemination of propaganda and misinformation. It keeps pushing conspiracy theories — and because lots of people in the media, not to mention many news consumers, don’t quite understand how it works, the precise mechanism is worth digging into.

Continue reading the main storSTATE OF THE ART

Here’s how.

The guts of the news business.

One way to think of today’s disinformation ecosystem is to picture it as a kind of gastrointestinal tract.

At the top end — the mouth, let’s call it — enter the raw materials of propaganda: the memes cooked up by anyone who wants to manipulate what the media covers, whether political campaigns, terrorist groups, state-sponsored trolls or the homegrown provocateurs who hang out at extremist online communities.

Then, way down at what we will politely call the “other end,” emerge the packaged narratives primed for widespread dissemination to you and everyone you know. These are the hot takes that dominate talk radio and prime-time cable news, as well as the viral Facebook posts warning you about this or that latest outrage committed by Hillary Clinton.

How do the raw materials become the culturewide narratives and conspiracy theories? The path is variegated and flexible and often stretches across multiple media platforms. Yet in many of the biggest misinformation campaigns of the past year, Twitter played a key role.

Specifically, Twitter often acts as the small bowel of digital news. It’s where political messaging and disinformation get digested, packaged and widely picked up for mass distribution to cable, Facebook and the rest of the world.

This role for Twitter has seemed to grow more intense during (and since) the 2016 campaign. Twitter now functions as a clubhouse for much of the news. It’s where journalists pick up stories, meet sources, promote their work, criticize competitors’ work and workshop takes. In a more subtle way, Twitter has become a place where many journalists unconsciously build and gut-check a worldview — where they develop a sense of what’s important and merits coverage, and what doesn’t.

This makes Twitter a prime target for manipulators: If you can get something big on Twitter, you’re almost guaranteed coverage everywhere.

“When journalists see a story getting big on Twitter, they consider it a kind of responsibility to cover it, even if the story may be an alternate frame or a conspiracy theory,” said Alice Marwick, who was co-author of a recent report on the mechanics of media manipulation for the Data & Society Research Institute. “That’s because if they don’t, they may get accused of bias.”


Twitter is where political messaging and disinformation get digested, packaged and picked up for distribution to cable, Facebook and the rest of the world. CreditAli Asaei

Twitter is clogged with fake people.

For determined media manipulators, getting something big on Twitter isn’t all that difficult. Unlike Facebook, which requires people to use their real names, Twitter offers users essentially full anonymity, and it makes many of its functions accessible to outside programmers, allowing people to automate their actions on the service.

As a result, numerous cheap and easy-to-use online tools let people quickly create thousands of Twitter bots — accounts that look real, but that are controlled by a puppet master.

Twitter’s design also promotes a slavish devotion to metrics: Every tweet comes with a counter of Likes and Retweets, and users come to internalize these metrics as proxies for real-world popularity.

Yet these metrics can be gamed. Because a single Twitter user can create lots of accounts and run them all in a coordinated way, Twitter lets relatively small groups masquerade as far larger ones. If Facebook’s primary danger is its dissemination of fake stories, then Twitter’s is a ginning up of fake people.

“Bots allow groups to speak much more loudly than they would be able to on any other social media platforms — it lets them use Twitter as a megaphone,” said Samuel Woolley, the director for research at Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project. “It’s doing something that I call ‘manufacturing consensus,’ or building the illusion of popularity for a candidate or a particular idea.”

How this works for conspiracy theories is relatively straightforward. Outside of Twitter — in message boards or Facebook groups — a group will decide on a particular message to push. Then the deluge begins. Bots flood the network, tweeting and retweeting thousands or hundreds of thousands of messages in support of the story, often accompanied by a branding hashtag — #pizzagate, or, a few weeks ago, #sethrich.

The initial aim isn’t to convince or persuade, but simply to overwhelm — to so completely saturate the network that it seems as if people are talking about a particular story. The biggest prize is to get on Twitter’s Trending Topics list, which is often used as an assignment sheet for the rest of the internet.

I witnessed this in mid-May, just after the Fox affiliate in Washington reported that a private investigator for Mr. Rich’s family had bombshell evidence in the case. The story later fell apart, but that night, Twitter bots went with it.

Hundreds of accounts with few or no followers began tweeting links to the story. By the next morning, #SethRich was trending nationally on Twitter — and the conspiracy theory was getting wide coverage across the right, including, in time, Mr. Hannity.

They may ruin democracy.

A Twitter spokesman said the company took bots seriously; it has a dedicated spam-detection team that looks out for bot-based manipulation, and it is constantly improving its tools to spot and shut down bots.

What’s more, because the media is large and chaotic, it is often unclear what role, exactly, bots play in ginning up interest in a story. Conspiracy theories went big long before Twitter was around. If you removed Twitter from the equation, wouldn’t Sean Hannity have picked up the Seth Rich rumor anyway?

Yet the more I spoke to experts, the more convinced I became that propaganda bots on Twitter might be a growing and terrifying scourge on democracy. Research suggests that bots are ubiquitous on Twitter. Emilio Ferrara and Alessandro Bessi, researchers at the University of Southern California, found that about a fifth of the election-related conversation on Twitter last year was generated by bots. Most users were blind to them; they treated the bots the same way they treated other users.

“Human users didn’t do a good job of separating bots from other humans,” Mr. Ferrara said.

Because they operate unseen, bots catalyze the news: They speed up the process of discovery and dissemination of particular stories, turning an unknown hashtag into the next big thing. A trending hashtag creates a trap for journalists who cover the internet: Even if they cover a conspiracy theory only to debunk it, they’re most likely playing into what the propagandists’ want.

Finally, in a more pernicious way, bots give us an easy way to doubt everything we see online. In the same way that the rise of “fake news” gives the president cover to label everything “fake news,” the rise of bots might soon allow us to dismiss any online enthusiasm as driven by automation. Anyone you don’t like could be a bot; any highly retweeted post could be puffed up by bots.

“If you can make something trend, you can almost make it come true,” said Renee DiResta, a technologist who studies bots.

And if that’s the case, why believe anything?

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Trump-Russian Fraud and the Coherence of Categories

The following is written by a “white” male non-partisan political centrist, not a Clinton supporter or Democratic party member.

   In addition to what is publicly being considered evidence, there are a number of fundamental categories or topics which cohere in a comprehensive picture to demonstrate Trump-Russian election fraud in the 2016 Presidential election. In a comprehensive picture or scenario, according to which the U. S. election was stolen, these categories cohere, making error in the general hypothesis extremely improbable.

   These categories, when one compares them with one another, and considers them together as a whole, are mutually confirming. They include:

Personnel: Every member of the Trump campaign has produced highly questionable ties with Russia.

Emoluments: There are some very interesting financial connections between the Trump organization and Russia.

Rewards, such as the initial weakening of NATO and the lifting of sanctions

Overt or known Russian hacking, such as that of the DNC, openly invited by Trump.

The Trump character, aiming at winning, and using all else, including justice, as a means. He would do it, commit election fraud, and this is significant evidence. Most significant is the Trump admiration for tyrants including Putin and Duterte, sometimes seeming to be the one stable plank in his platform. He had not read the constitution at all when he was running, though he had aimed at the presidency for years. It is not featured on the curriculum of Trump University, which rather featured real estate deals. The Americans no longer know the difference.

The Russian character and the tyranny of Putin. The present U.S. generation is forgetful of what Russian tyranny means, or, for example, that Putin rose within the KGB. It means things like bombing hospitals to cover for Syrian chemical attacks, attacking the moderate opposition to Assad rather than ISIS, and such like things.

The Internet, which has led to new circumstances and consequences difficult or impossible to foresee.

Temporary Russian computer superiority, if only by our being unable to imagine perfidious purposes we could not foresee. Kaspersky, for example, has just been publicly admitted to be a likely problem.

The condition of our nation has prepared us for a conspiracy. Democracies decline into tyrannies, and our own corruption leaves us susceptible. For example:

  a) Distracted by Islamic terrorism, we allowed the suspension of privacy, the guarantee of security in our persons, houses, papers and effects, included in the Fourth Amendment of our Bill of Rights.

  b) Congress has been persuaded by campaign contributions to allow information to be collected without limit.

 c) An Oxy epidemic has delivered many to the heroin dealer, revealing a deep corruption of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. The fact that it is a win-win circumstance for Putin raises the question of the involvement of the Russian Mob in U.S. medicine. The natural connection to heroin suggests a conspiracy, the “Oxy-heroin scam.”

Fake News: A traditional Russian method used and targeted with domestic assistance, and different from partisan exaggeration. It is very intentional, that is, the source knows it is a lie. Breitbart and the report that the Pope supports Trump are fine examples. The amount of money spent to defame Hillary is a new thing in American politics, including “Pizzagate,” the accusation of a child sex ring in a pizza shop connected to Mrs. Clinton.

Election irregularities: Polls, which have suddenly become untrustworthy, as in the Brexit, the primaries, the Philippine and U.S. elections. The disproportion between the electoral and popular vote.

Mirror: The character of the Trump lies such as his accusation of election fraud to distract from election fraud, or the accusation of Russian -Clinton ties publicized the week before the election in the National Enquirer. The mirror as a way of discerning lies is a deep topic of psychology, but is here an entire category

 Interference, such as with the press, the internet, intimidation, obstruction. The Obstruction of Justice regarding the FBI is impeachable offence, as is the intimidation of the  press. I received a death threat while working on Supreme Court Case #16-907. Like the mirror, interference demonstrates guilt, and can be deciphered. The obstruction committed by Nixon may be the best example.

   We say that Trump-Russian collusion is evident just from what has been done to a single internet account, and is surely visible in a broad view if one would look. We think that the primary method is through data collection and targeted interference, including intimidation, technical interference and continuing some accounts, for example on Twitter, while promoting other accounts, such as Trump on Twitter. The FBI may have attempted to gain computer assistance against Islamic terrorism, only to be betrayed by an enemy even more dangerous. It is likely that executive agencies are currently being used for partisan political purposes and to suppress speech and press. ICE may be the best example. It is also likely that Russian interference to suppress the attempt to address this crisis in American politics and for other purposes, especially through the internet, is continuing.

  Epistemology is the account of how we know. It considers things such as “Justified true belief” and “coherence” as definitions of knowledge, none of which are sufficient, but point in the right direction.  “Rubbing them together like sticks,” as Socrates says, inquiry proceeds, amid our mortal limitations. We ascend toward a comprehensive truth like a rock climber, by hand and toeholds, as are each category. by Events are matters of probability, and so criminal trials aim for “beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are errors and corruptions. Civil suits aim for “preponderance of evidence,” and Supreme Court cases are simply decided one way or the other. The Senate, too, in the trial of impeachment, is not bound to criminal court procedures, but looking with the mind determines whether to convict and remove the one impeached, and the vote requires 2/3, or 67 of the 100, not a unanimous jury, so that some might be partisan, and still the truth come out. Aristotle, opening his Politics, explains the difference between mathematical certainty and that in politics, regarding human events. Math, like logic, is certain based on assumptions. We try to make the assumptions as likely as possible, so that the conclusions are sure. We can know for sure, for example, that a given statement is a contradiction, but what that means is based upon our seeing of the principles. The foreign turning of the U. S. election is a constitutional violation, as well as a criminal and foreign policy matter. Conspiracy is of course difficult to prove, as the Don, of course, keeps his hands clean, orchestrating the deed. That is why he was simply told that the election would be turned for him, and that the method would be undetectable. That the primary method is intended to be undetectable is the biggest clue.

   Logic, such as the impossibility of saying both that Flynn’s contacts with the Russians is “fake news” and yet a genuine leak is a contradiction, due to a duplicity, and may reveal treason-we have said we are not sure this man is intellectually capable of treason. He has not read the constitution (though may have since had it read to him). That is why he is continually tripping over it.

   These categories are just some, but considered together, in thought turning them over and comparing one with another, leads to a whole of great consistency. Russia turned the election, and is responsible for cultivating the worldwide rise of fascism. According to this scenario, as we have it at present, Putin has used Trump, who was told the election would be turned for him, so he would know who to reward, but Trump may not be capable of treason. Putin wanted to elect for us one who literally does not know what he is doing, so that Putin might direct U. S. affairs enough to lead to our destruction and his own aggrandizement. Foreign war against all of Islam and domestic war as a result of the rising fascism are two examples of such results, and ICE is a category and topic all its own, doing everything legal , or using the law it has begun to seize, to hurt non-“whites.”

Hence, we here at the Centrist Libertarian Constitutionalist* party advocate immediate impeachment and the ordering of a Re-vote or Redo of the Electoral College by the Supreme Court. These measures are obvious, and postponing them will only increase the harm to our nation.

Against this argument, and the scenario of Trump-Russian collusion in the 2016 election, the arguments are:

I. Ad hominem: Such a person could not say anything true or worth hearing.

II. If it did occur it could not be known.

III. We assume it could not have effected the result.

IV. Let’s forget the past and go on.

V. Accusation by projection, and other diversions

VI. The nation will be harmed if you pursue legal and constitutional remedies.

VII. We will hurt you if you pursue legal and constitutional remedies.

Note* The CLC is “The smallest political party in America,”  and would be a coalition of centrist independent voting citizens. In a word, we especially follow Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln, and are honored to have the same letters as the Christian Leadership conference, which included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As centrists, we “Like” Barack Obama and we “Like” John McCain.

Amicus Brief: On Supreme Court Case #16-1464

The Supreme Court                                                                                       July 5, 2017

1 First St. NE                                                                                                   Case #16-1464

Washington, D.C.  20543

To the honorable justices of the Supreme Court of the United States: greetings.

   I would like to submit my whole website of arguments and my whole internet experience as evidence in a letter as a friend of the Supreme Court in deciding case #16-1464 to void the 2016 election due to Russian interference. After briefly presenting reasons that I believe the Court can and should void the 2016 election, I will add to the evidence presented things I have seen with my own eyes, so to speak, which might not otherwise be considered.

   As indicated in Ex Parte Yarbrough (1885), the Constitution assumes elections that are fair and not thrown, as by “violence, corruption, or fraud” such as bribery or indeed by foreign interference. As stated in Yarbrough, the idea that Congress has no power to pass laws to secure elections is “Startling.” We say that it is alike unthinkable that a presidential election be thrown and the Supreme Court have nothing to say about it. As stated in Marbury v. Madison, The Supreme Court is, among the branches of government, the interpreter of the Constitution. “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” “A law repugnant to the Constitution is null and void.” We suggest that it is also the province and duty of the Court to say what a legal election is, and a corrupt election can indeed be similarly declared void, with all effects and appointments following from it nullified. Even if the Court is disobeyed, as Justice Marshall later was in his Worcester v. Georgia decision, legitimacy is conferred by constitutional election.

   Before turning to things peculiar to my own circumstance and perspective, I will only add to the case as written by Mr. Small that General Hayden said that the Russian interference with this election is “The greatest covert operation in history.” He said this the same day that President Obama said that at the approval of the tyrant Vladimir Putin by the Republican party- then some 37%- “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.” Indeed, Hillsdale college has printed a praise of this tyrant, and has a luxury cruise headed for St. Petersburg as this case is being decided.

  Two days following the 2016 election, I contacted my Senator, saying that from an “actuarial” sense, of probabilities given the natures of things, the popular vote and the swing state vote appeared to show that the election result was fraudulent, and that I was getting a sense of a “White guy” conspiracy between the American racist elements and Vladimir Putin of Russia. Computer scientist J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan wrote a famous essay based on the topic, as he saw the same thing, even before the popular vote had been counted. I wrote him asking him to consider the spy-tech marketing system and targeted interference as the primary means by which this election was turned. (I am, in full disclosure, a fourth Amendment activist, and had predicted dire consequences of the suspension of the Fourth Amendment, directly to the FBI, even reporting a particular which later proved to be the case.) My attempts to contact Mr. Halderman, to the point of annoyance of the U. of M Computer science department, were unsuccessful, whether by his choice alone, his choice with comments from a third party, or by interference, I do not know. I also sent him a letter through the U. S. mail, so the complete lack of response is a bit unusual. I wanted him to help too, along with the U. of M law school, with finding a lawyer to pursue a case for the fact that I am spied upon in my living room without a shred of consent on three different tech instruments, and found that Microsoft, after “persuading” or compelling me to install Windows 10, had the Toshiba computer spying on me by camera and recording microphone and other unknown means, until a few weeks passed, I figured to suspect it, went into the settings, and turned it off. It was indeed on. Today, the Fifth of January 2017, I found and turned off camera and microphone from Twitter. What these companies are doing is public knowledge. A camera came on late one night and snapped a picture of me. Microsoft was accused (as on my blog), and publicly blamed the FBI (NPR). Information gathered from my Twitter account and my drugstore was lately used to knock me off the computer February 4, when I received a long string, in a message disguised as being from Brooklyn Dad, of many things I had said that angered Russia and the U.S. KKK. (This may be due to a separate threat made by Trump supporters on my Twitter account January 28, which I took to be not serious enough to file an ignored report, though I did ask the man for an apology, which I have yet to receive). The phone rang simultaneously, with what purported to be a marketer or a scam, telling me to “stop doing what I was now doing,” and go to a computer site to get 10,000$. (A later version of this message is recorded on my Assurance Wireless account, which goes through Manila.) Mr. Halderman was, as reported on WWJ (CBS radio news), framed by a foreign actor (perhaps Romanian or Eastern European) on Valentines Day. They hacked his e-mail and sent racist Valentines about the U of M campus as though these were sent by Mr. Halderman, according to the report. I called the Washtenaw police, who have partial jurisdiction in the case, but as usual was completely ignored.

   My internet security is, like 400,000,000 other accounts, handled by Kaspersky, a company centered in Moscow. Ostensibly Russian interference with me personally on the internet has also been noted on two instances involving the leopard, and one apparently Russian incident involving a Bear. I also received an invitation to study Black Magic in Spanish from a Satanic site that is likely unrelated, but was allowed to visit my website and, uniquely, to comment without their visit being registered in the statistics.

   Turning to points not likely to be in the public view, I believe I saw conclusively that Donald Trump had committed election fraud in the 2016 presidential election. When Mr. Trump said, in public media, that if the election were turned, it could not be detected- I believe I saw that Mr. Trump was told that the election would be turned for him, and that this would be done in a way that could not be detected. I believe this because I also believe that Mr. Trump does not know that if the election were turned, it could not be detected. Yet he said this with assurance, just as though he had been told this very phrase by someone he believed. This sense is corroborated by the assertion of Mr. Trump that if he did not win, it would be due to fraud on the part of Mrs. Clinton, though he was then behind in the polls. Exhibiting overconfidence, their campaign spent very little money on television advertising in the “swing” states. He further accused Mrs. Clinton, in the national Enquirer the week before the election, of ties to Russia, and has strangely accused the Democrats of election fraud using fake voters. The judgement I make is from a consideration of characters and circumstances, from long study, and is of course not “certain” knowledge, which may be impossible on either side in human matters. In psychology, accusations often reflect something about the accuser. Most people do this involuntarily. But we, or rather, I, believe these are characteristic methods of lying used intentionally by both the team of Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin, having seen the same on numerous occasions. We hold that these apprehensions are subtle but true, and while less than conclusive courtroom proof, plenty of reason to initiate some old fashioned detective work. We call the assertion that the means cannot be detected a “techie error,” and consider the assertion to be a great clue as to where one might look: Precisely at means thought by Putin and Russian computer scientists to be undetectable. How can this be done if the methods are “undetectable?” Covert operations are of course difficult to discern. One method is by observing what does appear, and trying to account for the appearances. One such method, that would be thought by “techies” to be undetectable, would be interference with the voters themselves, just as current marketing methods would do this, by passively collecting information and then targeting interference to where it is most effective and least detectable. This could be discerned, again, by old fashioned detective work: by approaching with an hypothesis what does appear, and checking to see if the hypothesis  is true, or, by looking for it.

   When I saw Donald Trump say that the method of turning the election could not be detected, I believed I saw for sure that someone told him this, as it is not within the bounds of his computer understanding. This seemed quite confirmed by the assertion of Mr. Trump that if he did not win the election, it would be due to fraud, though he was then behind in the polls and also confirmed by his counter-accusation of his opponent, Mrs. Clinton, of election fraud (See my blogs on the use of the mirror, both in general and in discerning the Trump-Russian-Breitbart method of dis-information). One Item of fake news, too, appeared in the National Enquirer, accusing Ms. Clinton of Russian ties in the week before the election, and my sister too confirms that this article had an impact on voters she has met. When I called the proper offices of the Federal Government, even before inauguration day, to ask about the law regarding election fraud, I was told to go read Tik Nat Han, and another time told that someone had told the receptionist not to speak to me. Another office told me that they only investigate election fraud by money received, or campaign finance fraud. I published a citizen’s arrest of Donald Trump for election Fraud, prior to inauguration day.

   It was similarly evident from particulars that Mr. Trump had not read the Constitution at all, and I guessed this and published it about two weeks before the Democratic party presented the Muslim man whose son had died in service to his country, the United States.

   While, according to our scenario or hypotheses, Russia worked to turn the election in every way they thought might be safe for them and effective, we believe the primary means was through what we call the “spy-tech marketing system.” As everyone knows but few appreciate properly, the Fourth Amendment has come just lately to be ignored, so that our government no longer seeks to uphold the security of citizens in their houses, persons, papers and effects, but allows all information to be collected and sold, ostensibly for “marketing” purposes. We believe, again from what does appear, that the FBI or a similar agency has used this information, that the FBI/etc. has also sought Russian assistance in spying to protect us from terrorism, and believe that one Russian security company handles four hundred million accounts while centered in Moscow (as is publicly acknowledge and even advertised). We do not consider it to be a great mystery how this election was turned, but rather to be obvious that it would have been turned given the coalescence of these circumstances: Russian intent, Russian computer superiority or temporary control of cyberspace, Trump priorities, our disregard for privacy and the new spy marketing tech, spying now on every citizen through camera and audio and other unknown means, right in the living room of each citizen. It would then remain only to run some algorithms and target some interference to turn an election. That is how Facebook would do it, and according to one report on NPR, that is how it was done recently in the Philippines. We consider it then to be obvious from deductive reasoning that Russia turned the 2016 election, and that for the security of our nation and for liberty, the 2016 election can and should be declared void.

   The fact of interference with our efforts is further confirmation, and an indication of the guilt of Russia and those assisting the Russian efforts for partisan reasons. I received what I understood to be a death threat while working to publicize case #16-907. While commenting on the letter of a collaborator to the President of the United States, I was removed to a screen of apparently Russian pornography, followed quickly by a scary face and four words, two of which were “assassin” and “assassinate.” This was reported to the proper police, and I was stopped from working. There was in fact a great deal of interference with that case, and that fact further corroborates our contention.  That is, Trump Russian collusion in the suppression of the press and the right of peaceable assembly is evidence of guilt, just as obstruction is evidence of guilt in what is being obstructed. I reported this threat to the Sheriff when it occurred. The case was denied without giving a reason. I learned it was remanded to the appeals court by calling a news radio station, which never did report on the case. Cut off from the internet after another attack on February 4, I learned that the case was denied when I was in the back of a police car, seized for mere speech, on the perjurous complaint, of relatives who are Trump supporters, and one who is influenced by others in the Trump organization. The accusation was filed “under penalty of perjury,” saying that I was a “danger.” There is of course no evidence that that is true, but I was arrested and served 20 days for speech and mere political speech, having violated the rights of no one, nor done a single thing that I do not have a perfect right to do. A principle article of the perjurous complaint was that I imagined I was “working on” a Supreme Court case, which happens to be true. I was then working to publicize case #16-907, and would have submitted an Amicus Brief, which every citizen has a perfect right to do. For this accusation, charges of perjury have been filed. While held for 20 days without ever speaking to a judge, I repeatedly stated that I was held for mere speech, and had neither said nor done a single thing that I do not have a perfect right to say and do. From phone text message conversations with these relatives, the truth can be demonstrated in court. Charges have been filed, but not a single thing done to address an accusation of perjury in such a matter. After about ten days, I was evaluated by an independent psychologist, confirmed by two other psychologists, and released by a judge, because indeed they had no reason to seize me twenty days prior. I have not even said a single thing that is false, let alone violated the rights of any fellow citizen. The fact that I can ague the same, while they cannot, is presented as indeed proof of my sanity. But the stigma generated by such an experience is indeed quite effective in preventing a citizen from political action.

   In the mean time, this second revote case was presented April 12, and due to the lack of press, I only learned of it during the present month, which is June. The stigma resulting remains, along with almost unbelievable poverty, and effects the reader even now, so that the substance of what one says will be discredited. Vladimir Putin himself is quoted on Public Radio saying that those asserting Trump-Russian collusion are “Crazy'” and “dangerous,” the very words he used. This is an old, well known Russian method, and the stigma is very convenient. As Leo Strauss writes , even the philosopher can appear to the people as mad (On Tyranny, p. 208), and hence can always be presented as mad- people cannot understand what he says without inquiry, and will not inquire. Neither the people nor our “psychiatry” are able to tell the difference, as both lack a theoretical distinction between even genius and madness, between which there is proverbially a “fine line.” A fine example is the accusation that I think the T.V. is watching us, and therefore am mad. When the truth is demonstrated, no one apologizes). But for the reason of such interference alone, #16-1464 ought be considered, and the recourse requested reconsidered. Citizens have been prevented from working to publicize a Supreme Court case, and prevented from assembly and writing an Amicus Brief, by unknown Russian and Trump supporting actors. No executive agency will inquire into the truth of this matter or provide the protection needed for free political action. Liberty itself is drawing to a close due to the Russian interference in the U. S. election.

   We believe that since the U. S. constitution assumes elections free of foreign and domestic interference, and indeed suggests recourse as described in Article II and in Federalist 68 and Article IV section 4 should the national government fail to protect the states from foreign interference, as may have been impossible due to our dependence upon Russian computer superiority and the betrayal of this trust in opposing a supposedly common enemy, and the failure of the Electoral College to provide the remedy suggested in Federalist 68, likely by similar means of surveillance and targeted interference, and the difficulty of impeachment due to the corruption of the races for key Congressional offices required for impeachment to work properly, the Court should declare the election of 2016 to be null and void, or else declare the winner of the popular vote to be the winner of an hypothetical Electoral vote. A Re-vote can be ordered. Failing this remedy, we ask that the Electoral College reconsider, as intimidation is reported to have occurred, and the Electors were told falsely and contrary to the Constitution that they were not free to vote as they thought best regardless of the most extreme revelations regarding a candidate between the voting and the meeting of the college, as is false, an unconstitutional deception, and contrary to the explicit intention of the purpose of the college as described in Federalist 68.


                                                         Mark A. McDonald, PhD



The Second Sentence of the Declaration

   We hold these Truths to be self evident: that all Men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain  unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness- that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

There are four clauses of this second sentence of the Declaration. These are:

1) We hold these Truths to be self evident: that all Men are created equal;

2) that they are endowed by their Creator with certain  unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-

3) that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed;

4) that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


  1. We hold these Truths to be self evident: that all Men are created equal;…

   A self evident truth is, as my teacher told me (from Boethius), one in which the truth of the predicate is inherent in the definition of the subject. The whole is larger than any one of its parts, for example. So, if one knows what it means to be a “man, one knows these four things, 1 that they are created equal: They are, as Lincoln explains, not equal in every respect- how could that be?, but equal in this sense, that, 2) they are endowed by their Creator with certain  unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” that is, equally endowed by their creator with unalienable rights. The Founders are thinking a lot out of John Locke, whose second treatise is worth reading here, as is said of Harrington. equally endowed with Rights, examples of which are the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. But something very interesting is going on in this principle, for as is said, “equality is not a right but a principle.” They are referencing the rational essence, (classical tradition), or the image of God in man, (Biblical tradition), that is the basis of or reason for the Law. without saying it. This is what it means to say that man as such is endowed with rights. It is not contrary to law to kill a chicken, nor are the adulteries of chickens contrary to the male and female of the image of God in man (Genesis 1:26; 9:6). Jefferson, who wrote the draft, does not even say “Creator”, but that was added, I think by Franklin and the committee. Equality means that all men, evidenced in the ability to speak (Aristotle, Politics, I) have and partake of a rational essence. So in American law, murder is not wrong because contrary to the law of Noah and Moses, but because it violated the right to life of a human, whether citizen of foreigner. Franklin added “Self evident,” replacing Jefferson’s “sacred and undeniable.” But Jefferson did say “Happiness,” as, famously, John Locke does not: Jefferson and Franklin both join the modern political theorists who talk of “rights” with the classical tradition, for whom the talk of rights” in this modern sense is extremely rare or non-existent. The Lockean formulation replaces happiness as the end, from Aristotle’s Ethics, with property as the politically relevant end toward which our lives and liberties are directed.

  The primary meaning of equality is contrary to, or the contrary of, the British assertion of inherited privilege due to noble birth. We Americans say that a right to rule by superior birth is hooey: One man is not born to be saddled, and another booted and spurred to ride him, as Jefferson famously writes. This of course includes racial equality, but that thought had barely begun to occur to men like Franklin and Jefferson, at just this time. In his draft of the Declaration, edited out to get the document approved by all states including the south, in the list of the crimes of King George evincing him to to be a tyrant, was this sentence:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain, determined to keep an open market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this excrable commerce, and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

…Ja, I think ole Jeffie knew he was going to get some editing here, but wanted to make sure he got his two cents in.

In class here we would pause while some corker invariably pipes in “But Jefferson owned slaves!” That is the only thing the Oxy-stupor-ed Americans know about Jefferson or the better half of their history. For Brevity’s sake, I will simply say to the most sophisticated of scholars: Find a more stunning, more potent, or even an earlier statement of racial equality from the Eighteenth Century. But on the question of the Jefferson household, see the concluding section of my Jefferson essay, there in the Menu affront the apple tree on the web page!

III. that – that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed;

The purpose of government is to secure rights Where no ones rights are being violated, government has no concern. Of religion, Jefferson famously says that what another man believes, “neither beaks my leg, no picks my pocket.” In his letter to Francis Gilmer, Jeffie writes, to paraphrase, : “Our legislators are not sufficiently appraised of the limits of their powers. It is to secure our natural rights, and to take none of them from us.” One has no right to violate the rights of another, as the right to life, in murder, or the right to property, in theft. Beyond the duty of taxation, this is all the government may require of him. This, “to secure these rights,” is the seventh purpose, lacking in the Preamble of the Constitution, that required the addition of a Bill of Rights.

   Consent is of course secured by legitimate elections, and these confer the legitimacy of offices. There is no finer example of the Lockean founding than the Mayflower Compact, signed off the coast just before they landed. The founders have a developed form of the social contact theory other forms of which occur in Locke and Rousseau, whose “Will of the people” holds the place held by our “We the people, though ours has more to do with consent.  Our two party system is finely balanced so long as free elections work: one party or the other might take up issues in the competition of parties, as the people develop and discover the concerns that are the various platform issues. Because of this fine balance, modern marketing techniques can be used to turn the vote in a series of elections from the primaries through the election, electoral college, appeals processes of impeachment and Supreme Court cases, even by a foreign power, and in combination with Gangsterism and intimidation could indeed control and direct U. S. politics in direction disregarding all but its own imagined interests. That could happen.

IV. that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

   Safety and Happiness are the ends or purposes for which a people institutes a form of government, and when they do not like it, Consent requires that they change it., but “these ends” refers to the Rights which it is the purpose of government to secure.

  “Whenever” means of course not the daily soft despotism that we incur through the normal ignorance of human government, our own failure to elect a Congress not dependent on campaign contributions, and such, but rather, real tyranny: circumstances such as that of the tyranny of this George kid over the colonies. It was not nice, as is well demonstrated in that Mel Gibson movie, perhaps for the first time. Our constitution has an Amendment procedure that pre-empts the need to do for example what France keeps doing, and is why our Constitution is- Surprise!- the oldest in the world. Rome amended its unwritten Constitution at great peril, as the addition of the tribunes of the plebs brought the “many” into a share in the government with the “few” is Shown in Plutarch and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, if I recall. It is not easy to change the Constitution, requiring 2/3 majorities to propose and 3/4 majorities to ratify a proposed Amendment. But when the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are as if suspended, with no powers exercised at all to secure the six clauses of the First Amendment (Establishment, Expression, (Speech Press, Assembly and Petition), security in our homes, persons, papers and effects, and liberty to proceed without impediment so long as we violate the right s of no man, and the equal protection of laws, required of both State and Federal governments, when the channels of free politics are controlled, collected and blocked, political circumstances and characters might develop which approach “Whenever.”


Becker, Carl. The Declaration of Independence. Vantage, 1922, 1942, 1970.

John Denver: Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

The lyrics are copied from Somgmeanings.com

   “Leaving on a Jet plane” is a metaphor for every leaving of every love, including life. It is often thought, or noted, that this song is prophetic of his death in a plane crash. It is surely the song that he refers to in Rock Mountain High, “On the road hangin’ by a song.” The Chantel Kreviazuk version, which is on the Sound Track from a movie called Armageddon, with Aerosmyth, is the best/ On U-tube, she is drop dead beautiful, and the guy leaving her would indeed have every reason to return with a ring! Ok, John himself and Cass Elliot in 1972 is almost that good! It is amusing too as heard by a loser who has no hope of return, when he says “Now the time has come to leave you.” Think of the haunted sorrow of the Jefferson Airplane song I Saw You,” as an permanent monastic dwelling, like Romeo pining for Rosalind among the grove trees! Better become a philosopher to pass the Time, as Romeo’s Friar advises him! Ms. Chantel begins the song with the divine name, saying twice “I Am,” almost as a note of music rather than a word.

   But he will bring her wedding ring because, like a knight sent off to slay his lady a dragon, his love will overwhelm any appetite on the road. The feminine shift to I’ll wear your wedding ring,” in the Peter, Paul and Mary version, I think, would then be possible. Together with RMH, I have this as one of the thirty greatest lyrics of all time. “My Sweet Lady” is that good too, no doubt sung because he was able to return. That, though it sounds deep and sad, is, strangely, an example of a happy song that can be played at weddings, of which there are surprisingly few.

All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’
It’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’
He’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Every place I go, I’ll think of you
Every song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
I’ll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Musings on the Preamble to the Constitution

Inspired by Theodora Anne Merry

   Goldflame* has presented an argument from the preamble to the constitution that Trump is violating the oath of office by not upholding the constitution, in a comprehensive way, and we think that is true. That is, tyranny of course does not fulfill any of the six stated purposes in the preamble. But there is reflection on the preamble that it worth considering, and we base our assertion that Trump has violated his oath of office on more particular points, such as his intimidation of the press, which, when done by the executive, violates the First Amendment protection of Free Speech. The Trumpsters will of course say that fascism makes for a more perfect union, by destroying the share in sovereignty of the states, That tyranny such as that of Duterte in the Philippines and ICE in the United states woks to enforce justice, establish domestic tranquility, etc, and that their racist foreign wars provide for the common defense, all to the general welfare, and tyranny is what they call Liberty,” especially the liberty to oppress and the free speech to intimidate.

  The preamble of the Constitution is very strange in that, though implicit in the last purpose, it does not mention the purpose of government stated in the Declaration “to secure these rights,” nor does the word equality appear in the constitution until after the Civil War. The preamble was written by Gouveneur Morris of Pennsylvania, while Jefferson was away in France. Mr. Morris sets out the purposes for which a people establish a constitution, but leaves something out that is uniquely in the American Constitution. Hence, Jefferson is present in the Constitutional Convention only as he is present in his friend James Madison. But Jefferson is a good half of the constitution of American Liberty, and after the addition of a Bill of Rights was promised, signed it.

    As stated by an old teacher, “Equality is not a right, it is a principle.” As Lincoln states, in his speech on the Dred Scott case, explains, all men are created equal in this sense: that they are equally endowed with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The “equal protection of the laws” as a statement of a right did not enter the Constitution until the Fourteenth Amendment, after the Civil War. The repetition of the Declaration’s “Life, liberty and the pursuit of and the Fifth Amendment’s “…property” binds the states to observe the principles of the Bill of Rights, which had, prior to the Civil War, applied by this constitution only to the national government. (The pursuit of happiness is secured in part by the religion clauses of the First Amendment, and can be spelled out by the other rights, such as the Fourth and Fifth, protecting privacy and liberty). Hence, despite the fine statement of the six symmetrical purposes of this particular Constitution,** when Madison consulted Jefferson about the need for a bill of rights, the answer was that some constitutions do not need a bill of rights, but this one does (Letter). Though the national government is delegated no power to violate these rights, history has proven that the national government is inclined to just not get it. And so, indeed as Madison was persuaded, the rights needed to be spelled out. The articulation of the Jeffersonian Second Sentence of the Declaration in the text of the Constitution is in the Bill of Rights. The purpose of Government is to secure rights, and tyranny violates this, though it claim to unify us, arbitrate fur us, pacify or tranquilize, protect, defend, “help”and free us. The Declaration, like the Constitution, is fundamental law in the United States, though it must be spelled out by reference to the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment in combination with the Fourteenth applying the Ninth to the states (and the Tenth of course, retaining undelegated powers by the states,) provides a permanent and universal, or nationwide, invitation to do so. Lincoln, drawing on the proverb, set a well spoken word when he described the relation between the two as

“apples of gold in a filigree of silver,”

the Constitution being the filigree.

   As seems unbelievable to the students today, just after The Civil War, and for about 10 years, from 1865 until about 1884, the South was occupied by federal troops, and politics in the United States was much like it is today, now that the principles have been re-attained. Blacks were allowed to vote, there were Black men in the Senate, and Apartheid or segregation was forbidden in public accommodations. What the 13th though 15th Amendments did was was to insert equality into the text of the Constitution itself, with the equal protection clause …nor deny to any person in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” XIV). What on earth happened, then?

   According to an account of Morris Fiorina, after the Civil War, elections were highly competitive. But once the Democrats were no longer competitive in the North and West, the black voting block was no longer needed, and “the Republicans abandoned the South to the Democrats, who completed their disenfranchisement of black Americans.”*** Black voters as a block were needed by the Republican party, then the party of Lincoln, but as soon as the voting block was no longer needed, the South was allowed to roll back Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was overturned, in 1883. Through segregation, Jim Cow laws and strange unconstitutional voting restrictions, By the time Harry Truman reached back again for the black vote, about 1948, only ten percent of African Americans were registered to vote. The Yarbrough case happened, just as Reconstruction came to a close, and just prior to the Plessy v. Ferguson case (1896). In a word, the KKK was told they could not prevent Blacks from voting, even in primaries. This had little effect, as tyranny can make the Constitutional limits mere parchment barriers.

Note* Goldflame, presented by the DNC in Daily Kos, Tuesday May 16 2017.

Note ** The symmetry, noted by students of Leo Strauss and George Anastaplo in his Commentary The Constitution of 1787, is most evident in the central pairing of policing and soldiering in the third and fourth purposes, but is also evident pairing 2 with 5 and 1 with 6.

These are, 1) To form a more perfect union;

2) To establish justice

3) insure domestic tranquility

4) provide for the common defense

5) promote the general welfare (Common good)

6) secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity


Note *** Morris Fiorina and Paul E. Peterson, The New American Democacy, 2001, p. 174

Off Twitter for a While

How cool! I lose functions and communications one piece at a time, a bit like the constrictor tactic in Juitsu. This one is mostly my fault, as I accidentally hoverclicked some button, and up came a list of the “cookies” on my WordPress account, and there was a new one from Twitter, so I removed it. The result is, I no longer have access to my own twitter account. Working in combination with poverty, it has been quite easy to silence me. I tried to put it back, but no its irreversible, (so far). Guess I did not know, but just found out, a bit about what a “cookie” is. They will not allow a certain function at all unless one agrees to live in a Nation that has no Bill of Rights. That can be said to be how I lost my phone and e-mail as well.

   That is quite alight, perhaps soon I will find buried the book that has me password written down, was it something like James Otis 1774? Something of which no one would ever think.