The Smoke Eater for Sept. 9, 2020

Old ghosts, a communist party, and watching the watchers.

President Donald Trump exits Air Force One during a trip to Kenosha, WI. Sept. 1, 2020.

Good afternoon, this is The Smoke Eater for Wednesday, September 9, 2020, and I'll go down gamblin'.


Quick Hit

* Scary bullshit * An socialist plot to takeover the world * It’s called “sousveillance.”

NOTE: Remember how I said things might get shorter and come out every other day? Long story short, everyone on the planet is (still) going through some shit, but some of journalists are really leaning on each other hard right now.

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You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

On Sunday, Ashley Parker detailed how the Trump campaign has been purposely spreading disinformation about the 2020 election in the form of selectively edited videos that make it appear as though a person has said something they have never said, nor believe. The article cites three recent incidents that included a prominent disabled person, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and a naturalization ceremony played during the Republican National Convention. The Trump campaign defended itself by complaining about "triggered journalists who can’t take a joke," while White House spox Judd Deere said the press takes Trump "out of context."

Yesterday Jeremy Peters wrote about how Republicans are using the same fear-based tactics they used during the 2018 election, but "instead of MS-13 gang members and migrant caravans," Peters writes, "now there are rioters and looters." GOP ad wizards, according to Peters, are hoping that they can tip suburbia in their favor this fall by calling every Democrat a cop-hating communist (as usual).

It doesn't matter that Democrats up and down the ticket have spent the summer running away from anyone tweeting "defund the police." The GOP's strategy is to say it enough times that people believe it. At that point, there's no amount of fact checking that can correct the record. A Democratic candidate like Joe Biden could hold a dozen teleconferences and say, "Rioting is not protesting...and those who do it should be prosecuted," but the damage will have already been done.

The tactic seems to be paying early dividends in Florida after an NBC/Marrist poll showed Biden and Trump running neck even with 48 percent of the vote. This tracks with an earlier poll out of Quinnipiac that some initially felt was an outlier. Political dorks and mathletes think Trumpland may be gaining some ground in Florida among older Cuban refugees by screaming about socialism more than Richard Nixon with a pocket full of methamphetamine, but he's simultaneously damaging his popularity among suburban white voters in other key swing states, like Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania where people like healthcare, and dislike watching their kids get beaten by the police. The take away here is that nobody knows what the hell is going on, and you should always take polls as a guide, not a given.

One More Thing...

The Verge has a well reported series, "Capturing the Police," that goes into great detail about what many activists and journalists have been going through to record police violence. Stories range from how videos go viral, how those videos can lead to real change, how people can protect themselves from unlawful searches, why police can use hemical weapons on civilians despite being banned under the Geneva Convention, and the lingering physical and psychological trauma activists and journalists experience.

OK, here's a cute critter video: IT'S GRANDMA BELLA!

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