Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Where to Put Your Campaign Money?, A Modest Proposal

A number of times over recent weeks I’ve had people write in and ask me who they should contribute money to for the 2018 midterm. In most cases, it’s not really a matter of particular candidates but both a bigger and smaller picture: Should I be contributing to particular candidates? The party committees (DCCC, DSCC, DNC, etc.)? The state parties? Various activist groups who in turn support candidates either directly or indirectly. All of these channels of funding play a critical role in a complex ecosystem of funding. But just where can you have the most effect?

This refocused my attention on a project that I put a lot of time into planning and then discarded late last year. The idea was a new publication that would be entirely dedicated to answering this question: where to put your money if you want to elect Democrats. Period. In this case, I mean this in the broadest sense. You may be focused solely on electing as many Democrats as possible. Or maybe you want to shift the Democratic party to the left or a more social democratic direction. Or perhaps your focus is global warming or unions or making the Democratic party look more like it’s voting base or a slew of other issues, which is disproportionately made up of ethnic minorities and women. Whatever your goal – and most people probably have some mix of these goals – if you want to help fund campaigns you still have the same basic need for information about where – quite apart from individual candidates or ideology – your money can have the greatest impact.

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Facebook’s Experiments Abroad

I mentioned yesterday the practice of Cambridge Analytica to field test tools and strategies in the developing world which they could not in North America and Europe because of more robust privacy protections, legal and otherwise, as well as a more robust free press. I’ve done some more digging on this front which has confirmed my assumption, particularly with regards to Facebook, which appears to uniquely exploit this path for experimentation.

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Cambridge Analytica's Trial Runs in the Developing World

One of the most telling and interesting threads of the Cambridge Analytica story is something that gets mentioned in most of the big pieces but is seldom a focus of attention. Most of the algorthms, techniques and strategies the company eventually deployed against the UK and the US were first used for elections operations in developing countries, what we once called the Third World. The reason is key: these countries had far less legal and technical infrastructure to defend themselves against these kinds of attacks. It was basically anything goes. And if someone got upset it didn’t matter all that much since these countries are off the main arteries of global news flows and have little capacity to uncover or hold to account a shadowy British company which is actually a subsidiary of a company wedded to the British defense establishment.

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Scott Walker Aims To Change Law To Avoid Holding Elections GOP Might Lose

It looks like Scott Walker doesn’t have a ton of confidence in the GOP’s ability to win elections in the Trump era.

On Thursday a court ruled that Walker has to hold two special elections, which he was trying to avoid doing. Now, Allegra Kirkland reports, Walker is working with the Republican state legislature to change state law governing special elections, rendering the court ruling moot. In other words, he’s changing the law to avoid holding elections he’s afraid the GOP might lose.

Democrats are calling the move a “clear attack on democracy.” Hard to argue with that.

Facebook Acts Like a Law Unto Itself

I have thought for some time that Facebook is essentially a bad actor in the tech and platform spaces. There aren’t good companies and bad companies of course. All the tech behemoths play in the space that has now landed Facebook in so much trouble. In some ways, Google does even more, certainly when it comes to collecting, mining and monetizing almost limitless amounts of personal information, largely for the purposes of targeting advertising. But Facebook has again and again shown a more nefarious side – it shows up in the indifferent manner in which they deal with people’s personal information. It shows up in the very different realm of how they deal with business partners – creating whole business ecosystems and then pulling the rug from under them when it suits their purposes. There are lots of problems with Google, which I’ve discussed. But they don’t act like that. Not like Facebook.

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Configure Your Email

This is a unique and unorthodox post going out to a single reader, Barbara A., who’s written a number of emails over the last few weeks about the podcast and now the Editors’ Blog. Barbara, you’re writing from a dead or misconfigured email address. So all my replies bounce back. (Seems to be a misconfigured MS outlook app. TMI, I know.)

I try to respond personally to as many emails as I can, though inevitably a small minority of the emails we now get. But for everyone please be sure you’re writing from an email which is properly configured with a reply address. In some cases the issue may be a disconnect between your app and clicking one of our email links. In that case, type in our email manually: talk (at) talkingpointsmemo dot com.

Dowd Out

President Trump’s lead personal attorney in the Russia probe has quit the case, according to reports. John Dowd’s decision comes shortly after Trump added former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova to his legal team.

Episode #5 Of The Josh Marshall Podcast Is Out

Episode #5 of The Josh Marshall Podcast is out. This week, we talk to former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa. It’s a fascinating discussion about how counter intelligence investigations operate and why Paul Manafort is a key part of the Trump-Russia story. We also discuss the ongoing Stormy Daniels saga. Listen to the episode here or on iTunes or Google Play. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review.  

Will Congress Blow Its Best Chance?

An omnibus package needs to pass by Friday to keep the government open. That omnibus is also Congress’ last, best chance to stabilize Obamacare’s individual markets. But Republicans have attached an expansion of the Hyde Amendment into the stabilization legislation, a poison pill for Democrats. Alice Ollstein has that story — and all the other health care news of the week — in our latest sum-up (Prime access).