The Smoke Eater For February 6, 2020

Mitten's votes his conscience, 2020 leaves Iowa, and rules for disinfo.

Good morning, this is The Smoke Eater for Thursday, February 6, 2020, and justice is done.

Quick Hit

* Republican's find Trump too fat to crucify * DJTJ calls Romney a "pussy" * 21st Century Blue Water vets * The dust settles in Iowa * Social media decides to fight disinfo * And "I Believe!"

NOTE: Patreon subscribers can check out more photos from the Iowa caucuses that include the SEIU protest, the despair of Biden and Yang supporters, and a story about caucus night. Later today I'll upload additional photos from an acquittal protest in Chicago last night. The Smoker Eater is ad-free and supported by readers. If you want to be super awesome, tip me on Ko-Fi, or subscribe to my Patreon!

"Dang It! A Mormon Just Believes!"

Trump is expected to take a victory lap later today after the Senate voted to acquit him of both charges in the impeachment trial. The conservative echochamber is now trashing Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney as a "pussy," and labeling him a, "Judas, Brutus, [and] Benedict Arnold forever" for making an impassioned speech on the Senate floor about his faith compelling him to vote guilty on the abuse of power charge. This morning the gang at Fox and Friends joined the dog pile in ridiculing Romney's faith. Conversely, Democrats and sane people are hailing Romney as their new God-fearing savior as if they never saw The Book of Mormon.

The House impeachment managers penned an op-ed in The Washington Post blasting Senate Republicans for being afraid to hear witnesses and/or additional evidence. "The president’s defenders resorted to a radical theory," the op-ed rails, "They argued that a president cannot abuse his power, no matter how corrupt his conduct, if he believes it will benefit his reelection ... Even some of the president’s lawyers were ultimately forced to back away from it."

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown also has an op-ed blasting his Republican colleagues as feckless cowards too afraid of mean tweets and brainwashed cultists.

Agent Orange In Our Time

The Pentagon has acknowledged its "black goo" problem at the Karshi-Khanabad base (K2) in Uzbekistan. McClatchy initially reported the military knew toxic waste was present at the site. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is asking soldiers who were told toxic sludge is good for you to come forward, saying, "Be it those who have been exposed to something at K2, be it Blue Water Navy veterans, be it those who still suffer the impacts of Agent Orange, come see us. File the claims. Come speak to us. This is not your grandfather’s VA where the paperwork Is going to last 10 years. We have people ready to help. That’s the message that I give to K2."


ProPublica reports the Iowa Democrats' caucusing app was so vulnerable to a breach that vote totals could have been hacked had a poll worker using The App submitted data via public WiFi as opposed to a cell tower. Shadow, the company responsible for this forehead slapping mess, says, "As with all software, sometimes vulnerabilities are discovered after they are released."

In related stories, CNN reports a caucus chair in Des Moines forgot the password to their tablet computer, and couldn't use The App. Adding to the clusterfuck, Bloomberg quotes Iowa Democratic party officials as saying Trump World began flooding phone lines intended as a back-up for caucus reporting. When asked about the attack, a Trump campaign spox said, "Don’t know anything about that but maybe Democrats should consider using an app of some kind next time."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has put a contract with Shadow on ice after the idiocy in Iowa, The Daily Beast reports. The contract would have established a peer-to-peer communication system.

Even though the final totals for Iowa aren't in, 2020 Candidates are trying to move on from Iowa as if it didn't count. Joe Biden has now cast himself as an aviator-clad underdog who can win from behind (even though he just lost -- badly), while Pete Buttigieg claims Washington needs new blood if it wants to win (despite potentially tying Sen. Bernie Sanders).

Live Free, Or Cry Hard

Over in New Hampshire Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the field, followed by Pete Buttigieg, but there's a number of voters who remain uncommitted. Nate Silver guesses that because there was no definitive winner in Iowa, Sanders is the odds-on front-runner, with Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren climbing at the expense of Biden. "The chance of there being no delegate majority has increased substantially, to 27 percent from 17 percent before Iowa," Silver writes, "The no-majority scenario isn’t quite the same thing as a contested convention, but the two concepts are closely related."

Tom Steyer is dragging everyone into piles of expensive shit after his campaign was found to be paying a South Carolina surrogate who heads the state's Legislative Black Caucus for "community building services." This prompted Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a surrogate for Joe Biden, to make really shitty comments on Twitter. Harpootlian later doubled down by saying, "He told me he was with Joe Biden until Mr. Moneybags showed up." Black lawmakers are now demanding Biden disavow Harpootlian, arguing the comments were racist. A spox for the Biden camp tried to put distance between themselves and Harpootlian, but Harpootlian dug his hole deeper saying, "I am not racially motivated in any of this,” adding, "I will not be silenced by those who use race as a shield from criticism ... This is an effort to shield themselves by saying this is racist."

Writing for The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Torey Van Oot reports Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (likely) fifth place finish in Iowa is fueling calls for her to drop out of the 2020 race. Klobuchar responded by throwing staplers and salad combs as aides maintain the race is now wide open.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is taking advantage of the chaos; spending almost $300 million to fly around the country, drop ads in 27 states, and hire an additional 2,000 staffers. All that spending has made it more expensive for presidential candidates to run their own ads. The strategy is pretty simple: Bloomberg buys up ad time in North Carolina, which pushes up ad rates nationwide. La Toya Evans, a Bloomberg spox, tells McClatchy, "Mike Bloomberg is focused on making sure we reach voters throughout the state, as North Carolina is vital to his campaign to beat Donald Trump." Evans adds, “We’re also working hard to invest in local independently and minority-owned news outlets, which are important to North Carolina’s economy." I'd wager the "Bloomberg Effect" will force candidates up and down the ballot off the idiot boxes of Middle America and onto digital platforms where ads are cheaper. 

Elizabeth Warren says her campaign's going to be "careful" with how they spend their money after their (likely) third-place finish in Iowa. The campaign has pulled $375,000 in ads set to run in Nevada and South Carolina, and invested in digital ads instead.

The Charleston Post and Courier reports South Carolina Republicans want to encourage people to vote for Bernie Sanders in an effort to sow chaos in the Democratic primary, and win Democratic support for a closed primary system in the state legislature. "I think we can easily affect the outcome," Greenville GOP chairman Nate Leupp brags to the Post and Courier, "This is going to catch on like wildfire." South Carolina GOP Executive Director Hope Walker says the state party has nothing to do with dredging up this 12 year-old Rush Limbaugh scheme, adding, "We do not like Democrats meddling in our primaries and we certainly do not encourage the same thing from Republican voters."

The Frayed Ends Of Sanity

Rudy Giuliani has dried out and is plotting a return to the cable news circuit where he'll continue beating Joe Biden like a dead horse with his conspiracy theories while Republicans sharpen the butter knives in the hopes of pulling a Benghazi on Biden.

Social media platforms might not ban neo-Nazis, trolls, and other horrible people abusing technology to destroy modern society for a giggle, but they're at least drawing a line on deepfakes. YouTube has released it's policy on disinfo and it it includes, "content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users (beyond clips taken out of context) and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm," and videos whose intent is to suppress voting by spreading misinformation.

Twitter has also updated its rules on content, saying users "may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm," adding that it might label posts with misinformation "to provide additional context." This balancing act between parody and propaganda is being championed by some in the tech world, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm waiting for Twitter to label Trump a troll.

One More Thing...

I can't be the only one who wasn't surprised by Romney. The man considers chocolate milk a vice! Honestly, did you all just forget "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon?

OK, now here's a warm and fuzzy critter video! It's Prince Michael!

In this short film Michael befriends Bob, a pug, and the two get into some hijinks on their way to Colorado that include hitchhiking and some catnip brownies. Make sure to turn on the captions!

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