US democratic dysfunction continues

Facebook says it has identified further attempts to use social media to interfere with US elections, while Robert Mueller has referred three investigations into possible illicit foreign lobbying by Washington insiders to federal prosecutors in New York – as this involves people associated with Democrats as well as Republicans President Trump should at least be partially supportive of legally confronting the swamp.

NY Times: Facebook Identifies an Active Political Influence Campaign Using Fake Accounts

Facebook said on Tuesday that it had identified a political influence campaign that was potentially built to disrupt the midterm elections, with the company detecting and removing 32 pages and fake accounts that had engaged in activity around divisive social issues.

The company did not definitively link the campaign to Russia. But Facebook officials said some of the tools and techniques used by the accounts were similar to those used by the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked group that was at the center of an indictment this year alleging interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook said it had discovered coordinated activity around issues like a sequel to last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Activity was also detected around #AbolishICE, a left-wing campaign on social media that seeks to end the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The dream of the Internet enabling a revolution in ordinary people involvement in democracy has become an electoral nightmare in the US.

And we are not immune from it in New Zealand, but the greatest risk here is probably self inflicted wounds by ‘social justice warriors’ and political activists trying to impose their views and policies on everyone else, and trying to shut down speech they don’t like or they disagree with.

Also in the US, illicit foreign lobbying is in the spotlight with the trial of Paul Manafort under way – Manafort on trial: A scorched-earth prosecutor and not a mention of Trump

The nation’s inaugural look at special counsel Mueller’s team in action started with a bang. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, brought onto the special counsel’s staff from the Alexandria federal prosecutor’s office for this case, faced the jury and declared: “A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him.”

With more than a dozen of his colleagues from the federal investigation alongside and behind him, Asonye recovered quickly, keeping jurors riveted through a 26-minute opening statement that portrayed Manafort as someone who lied about his taxes, his income, his business, and a litany of other topics.

Only once, toward the end of the first day, did anyone mention the words “special counsel.” Zehnle said it, casually, in passing, with no reference to Trump or Russia or any of the political firestorm that has dominated the news for all of this presidency.

Yet the reason the courtroom was packed, the reason an overflow courtroom three stories below was also full, the reason the lawn in front of the building was given over to TV crews in their ritual encampment awaiting news, the reason for all of this was the cases yet to come, the deeper layers of the onion.

And three more lobbyists are also under investigation – Mueller Passes 3 Cases Focused on Illicit Foreign Lobbying to Prosecutors

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has referred three investigations into possible illicit foreign lobbying by Washington insiders to federal prosecutors in New York who are already handling the case against President Trump’s former lawyer, according to multiple people familiar with the cases.

The cases cut across party lines, focusing on both powerful Democratic and Republican players in Washington, including one whom Mr. Trump has repeatedly targeted — the Democratic superlobbyist Tony Podesta. The cases are unlikely to provoke an outburst from Mr. Trump similar to the one he unleashed in April after prosecutors raided the home and office of Michael D. Cohen, then the president’s lawyer. But these cases do represent a challenge to Washington’s elite, many of whom have earned rich paydays lobbying for foreign interests.

They also tie into the special counsel investigation of Mr. Trump: All three cases are linked to Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, whose trial on financial fraud charges began Tuesday in Alexandria, Va.

Under American law, anyone who lobbies or conducts public relations on behalf of a foreign interest in the United States must register with the Justice Department. The law carries stiff penalties, including up to five years in prison. But it had rarely been enforced, and thus widely ignored, until recently.

Trump should be happy that the political swamp of Washington is at least under scrutiny, albeit a long way from being drained.

Image result for monster swamp washington

The jury is still out on whether Trump is going to monster the swamp, or if he is a monster of the swamp.

But it is obvious that dysfunction in US democracy is a long way from being rectified, if that is at all possible.

 

10 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 2, 2018

    Since those three cases were supposedly referred many months ago and no charges have been laid what is going on?

  2. NOEL

     /  August 2, 2018

    When Trump came out with draining the swamp I thought it might relate to Regans aims.
    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/19/trump-drain-swamp-promises-243924

  3. Democracy here is as good as it ever was. I am not saying that is a very high bar to meet. Just read some US history to find out how corruption can really be. As Churchill said – well you know the rest.

    • If you mean the saying that ‘Power tends to corrupt…absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ that wasn’t Churchill, it was someone called Acton in the c.19.
      It’s usually misquoted to make it sound as if all power corrupts.

      • Oops. The italics were meant to end after the ‘to’ of ‘tends to’.

        • No, not that. This one:
          Democracy is a Terri le form of government. It is the worst type of government there is, except for all the other firms of government that have ever been tried in the history of man”

          That one.

          Democracy is terribly dysfunctional. But it is wiring g best when it is at its most dysfunctional because that means growth and change is occurring in a non-violently way. No growth or change occurs without argument, disagreement, and change followed by discarding the old and adapting to the new. That is never pleasant or orderly.

          • Oh, that one….

            • Flawed as it is, it does beat the other forms, and I will never understand the people who can’t be bothered to vote. Even 100 years ago, all adults didn’t have the vote in the UK, and it’s much more recent in the US. As I understand it, it was the 1960s before all Black Americans had the vote.

              Yet there are people who are too lazy to get off their bums and go to a booth to vote. What would the people who had to fight for the vote think of these people ?

            • Gezza

               /  August 2, 2018

              Probably they’d think they were prats, I reckon.

  1. US democratic dysfunction continues — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition