Episode 278 – Porter’s Hypocrisy and Aussie Trumpsters

In this episode, we discuss Christian Porter’s alleged adultery, the fallout of the US election, Islam in Europe and a Covid-19 vaccine.

Christian Porter

Do we care?

It must be tough for extortionists.

In the days of celebrity porn, is there a security risk?

Putin didn’t disclose Trump’s antics with Russian hookers because it would’ve only added to the Trump legend.

Meanwhile … Mr Porter’s proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission, in the public sector division, will not be able to investigate supposed corruption, won’t discover any corruption, and will certainly not expose any.

US Election

The Sam Harris Revelation

Vote for Trump because he doesn’t insult us.

It doesn’t explain Aussie Trump supporters unless … they are really obsessed and personally affronted by allegations of racism and identity.

Surely they can’t be falling for the socialism line … can they?

Four Seasons

DONALD TRUMP LAWYER RUDY GIULIANI SPEAKS DURING A NEWS CONFERENCE AT FOUR SEASONS TOTAL LANDSCAPING (all squeezed between a sex shop and a crematorium)

Senate Runoff

Both Georgia Senate races (one a by-election) have been called as going to runoffs on January 5. Republican David Perdue’s vote fell to 49.8%, below the majority required to avoid a runoff. Republicans are likely to win the two final uncalled races, in Alaska and North Carolina, for a 50-48 Senate lead. Democrats would need to win both runoffs to make it a 50-50 tied Senate, with Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote.

What Did he say?

From The Guardian

Donald Trump has unleashed a torrent of misinformation in a White House speech that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the US election.

One allegation after another had no basis in fact, including claims that election officials in Pennsylvania and Detroit tried to ban election observers from polling stations. The president left without taking questions.

Here’s what the president claimed, and what’s actually true:

‘We have so much evidence’

Trump: “We’re hearing stories that are horror stories … We think there is going to be a lot of litigation because we have so much evidence and so much proof.”

The facts: Trump has produced no evidence of systemic problems in voting or counting. In fact the ballot-counting process across the country has been running smoothly for the most part, even with the US in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of his main complaints – that counting spilled over past election day – is meritless. No presidential election has had all the votes counted the same day, and there is no law or even expectation that it should be the case. The surge in mailed ballots and the high turnout have made the process slower than usual in some, but not all, cases.

Pennsylvania

Trump: “In Pennsylvania partisan Democrats have allowed ballots in the state to be received three days after the election and we think much more than that and they are counting those without any postmarks or any identification whatsoever.”

The facts: The state supreme court, not “partisan Democrats”, ordered that ballots filled out before the end of election day could be received up to three days later and still be counted. The US supreme court examined the case and did not stand in the way of the three-day timeframe but may review the matter later. A number of other states have also made accommodations for the additional mailed ballots.

Trump: “Pennsylvania Democrats have gone to the state supreme court to try and ban our election observers … They don’t want anybody in there. They don’t want anybody watching them while they are counting the ballots.”

The facts: That is false. The president is wholly misrepresenting the court case. No one tried to ban poll watchers representing each side and Democrats did not try to stop Republican representatives from being able to observe the process.

The main issue was how close observers representing the parties could get to election workers who are processing mail-in ballots. The Trump campaign sued to let observers to get closer than the guidelines had allowed. A court ruled in favour of that request.

Michigan

Trump: “Our campaign has been denied access to observe any counting in Detroit.”

The facts: That is false. Absentee ballots were counted at a downtown convention centre where 134 counting boards were set up. Each party was allowed one poll watcher per board, said the city clerk, Janice Winfrey. She was not aware of any Republican poll watchers being removed but noted some had been “very aggressive, trying to intimidate the poll workers and processors”.

Mark Brewer, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic party, said he was inside the convention centre and access was cut off to some people from both sides at one point because of capacity restrictions related to the pandemic.

Georgia

Trump: “The election apparatus in Georgia is run by Democrats.”

The facts: False. The state’s elections are overseen by a Republican – the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.

Trump: “The 11th Circuit ruled that in Georgia the votes have to be in by election day, that they should be in by election day. And they weren’t. Votes are coming in after election day.”

The facts: Although the court ruled that votes must be in by 7pm election day for them to count, an exception was made for ballots from US military forces serving overseas. Those can be received until 5pm on Friday and still count. Election officials in Georgia are still counting votes but they are votes that have been lawfully received.

Legality of votes

Trump: “If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”

The facts: This is baseless. Neither Trump’s campaign aides nor election officials have identified substantial numbers of “illegal” votes, much less the big numbers it would take to ruin an easy win by Trump. He frequently speaks as if mail-in voting is illegitimate. But it has been done in accordance with state voting rules, in some cases adapted by officials to help voters get through the pandemic safely.

Trump: “We were winning all the key locations, by a lot actually.” (Complaining that underhanded activity sapped his leads in important races.)

The facts: The change in fortunes he speaks about is explained by the nature of vote counting in the states – not by any sudden surge of malfeasance.

Often, big cities are slower to report their numbers, and those big-city votes tend to skew Democratic. Likewise, states tend to count mail-in ballots at the end of the process. That portion of the vote has tended to favour Biden, because Trump had told his supporters to avoid mail-in voting, and to vote in person either early or on election day. This explains why Trump finished election night with leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia, among the states most in play, then saw his advantage begin to fray by Wednesday and afterwards.

 

Stop the Steal

From the ABC

Facebook has removed a fast-growing group in which supporters of US President Donald Trump posted violent rhetoric, as it and other companies tackle baseless claims and potential violence after a contentious election.

The Stop the Steal group, which called for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote,” was adding 1,000 new members every 10 seconds and had grown to 365,000 members in a day.

“The group was organised around the de-legitimisation of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Group backers said they were organising peaceful protests, had been working hard to police the comments and that Facebook had given no warning.

… Philadelphia police said they were investigating an alleged plot to attack the city’s Pennsylvania Convention Centre, where votes from the hotly contested presidential election are being counted.

Local police received a tip about a Hummer with armed people driving up from Virginia with plans to attack the convention centre, a police representative said.

But social media companies have been signalling less patience with disinformation and calls for violence.

Eleven of the President’s 32 tweets since election day have been placed behind a warning label saying they are disputed, prompting him to use email and other media to voice his claims, researchers said.

“Social media platforms can’t allow themselves to be used to foment anti-democratic and potentially violent activity,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Centre for Business and Human Rights.

Snapchat removed a video of Mr Biden saying he had an extensive “voter fraud organisation” from Mr Trump’s account.

Mr Biden’s statement came during an interview in which he was discussing his team fighting voter suppression efforts, and Snapchat determined that Mr Trump’s use of it out of context violated its policy against undermining the integrity of civic processes.

Mr Trump’s campaign social media manager Ryann McEnany decried Snapchat’s action in a tweet, saying in capital letters: “Why won’t they let the American people see this!?”

 

Free Speech Dilemmas

Ideally, we should encourage free speech. The exchange of ideas progresses society. It is what we do as humans.

The starting point is that speech should be free unless there is a good reason to restrict it.

But free speech is not sacred. Some speech may need to be restricted if on balance it is harmful to society.

There are lots of existing restrictions:

  • Fraud
  • Misleading and deceptive conduct in business
  • Negligent misrepresentations
  • Defamation
  • Inciting violence
  • Confidentiality (Government and Private)
  • Employment contracts (cannot promote a competing product, cannot sully a role model image)
  • Financial Advice (lack of expertise)

You can publish, but you may be punished by the legal system.

If you say something stupid, cruel, offensive or fake but not legally sanctionable you may be punished by social ridicule and ostracization.

 

Previous topics

  • Attacking Islam or ridiculing religion – should there be a criminal penalty?

No because the attack could be true and yet subjectively offensive. It’s easy to draw the line at inciting violence. Sticks and stones. Harden up.

Employment law adds an extra element. The Fist and 12th disagree. For the Fist it’s easy to look at the substance of why someone is being paid and ask whether their speech interfered with their ability to do their job.

  • Israel Falou – should he be protected from an employment penalty
  • Tasmanian PR lady – employment
  • Public servant who was critical of immigration policies (anonymously on Facebook) – employment

In all of these, the focus was on consequences for the individual after publication had occurred.

More recently, our problem is when big powerful organisations refuse to publish.

Publishers – you can submit but they will decide whether to publish. There is no guarantee. You are lucky to get published. Except Public notices and advertisements which you pay for. These forms of “Paid Speech” as opposed to “Free Speech” are virtually guaranteed. Publishers are subject to defamation laws.

Platforms – they will publish automatically. You will only be removed in certain limited circumstances. They say they don’t control content so shouldn’t be subject to defamation laws.

But platforms are increasingly active in controlling content. Previously they acted retrospectively to complaints that breached traditional laws such as fraudulent conduct or defamation or inciting violence.

Now, they are acting pro-actively. See Twitter and Facebook re Hunter Biden’s laptop or Trump’s rants over the vote counting process.

Should a platform pro-actively interfere?

It depends. If it’s business model is a 4chan or 8chan wild west libertarian wet dream then the answer is “no”.

If it’s business model is to provide a sanitised platform where the worst excesses of the wild west are removed then the answer is “yes” but if you move beyond compliance with existing laws and start curating for subjective reasons that are not applied consistently then you cross over into being a publisher.

Donald Trump on voting – arguably complying with existing laws regarding incitement.

Hunter Biden on laptop – arguably subjective curation

I used to have a problem with the monopoly power of Facebook and Twitter.

I used to think we must force Facebook and Twitter to publish everything otherwise the big guys will win at the expense of the little guys.

Less so now. There is always the web.

Here is a solution. Trump could tell his followers. I say stuff that doesn’t get published. Please visit my web page.

He wants to use Twitter? Too bad. If Twitter discriminates against him but applies the same rule to him as to others then too bad.

How to approach platforms.

Are you an 8chan or www on the one hand or a filtered platform on the other.

For 8chan or www its ok to do nothing until we hand you a court injunction (Christchurch video)

For filtered platforms you are essentially publishers but because of the automatic nature of the publishing you will be exempt from publisher responsibilities provided:

  1. You have a well-resourced complaints department ready to retrospectively take down illegal material and
  2. maybe … if you choose to accept high risk, high reach individuals like Trump or Alex Jones then have well resourced live monitoring.

So I think we have 3 types.

Unfiltered Platforms – 8 chan, www web hosting companies

Filtered platforms – Facebook and Twitter

Publishers – Mainstream media

 

Are you confident that Australians are better than this?

Rowan Dean

Says the election was stolen.

Andrew Bolt

From Sky News Facebook

Sky News host Andrew Bolt says he hopes Donald Trump will stop “recklessly claiming” he’s been beaten out of a win, because “I can’t see any evidence of fraud” and Democracy must win.

The Comments section is frightening

 

A Vaccine

From Crikey

Drug company Pfizer has announced that early trials of its vaccine candidate suggest it may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, although this is based on 94 confirmed cases in a study that has enrolled 43,538 participants across the US and five other countries.

AP explains that Pfizer, which developed the drug with German partner BioNTech, has cautioned that the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends.

While the US Food and Drug Administration has warned it is unlikely any vaccine will arrive before the end of the year, and that limited initial supplies will be rationed, Pfizer is nonetheless on track to submit an emergency use authorisation application later this month.

PS: While the Trump administration has already tried to take credit for the development, Pfizer head of vaccine development Dr Kathrin Jansen has told The New York Times the company did not take part in the public-private “Operation Warp Speed” or take money from the US government.

What would it take for 12th to eat humble pie?

What would it take for The Fist to eat humble pie?

It’s very difficult to measure human suffering and flourishing. We can’t accurately measure our current loss of well being let alone guess our loss of well being if we had the covid-19 virus but without a lock-down. But Queenslanders are making that assessment sub-consciously all the time. If in 2 or 4 or 6 years time, Queenslanders are surveyed and a majority say “You know what, that lockdown in 2020 was a mistake. I wish we didn’t do it” then I would probably eat some pie.

But, if they said the opposite, would Paul eat humble pie?

People would of course be reflecting on their own lived experience. A hotel owner on the Gold Coast might regret the lockdown. A public servant in St Lucia might applaud it. A survey would in a sense add up those well-being calculations better than any scientific survey could.


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