Democrats Only Have Themselves to Blame—Not Millennial Women

Feminist philosopher Susan Bordo blames millennial women for “the destruction of Hillary Clinton” in a newly-published extract from her book. Our historical naiveté is contrasted with Bordo’s apparent “lived history,” which actually reads more as historical amnesia. Yes, we ‘millennial feminists’ might not have been around when the GOP was trying to take Bill Clinton down in “a series of witchhunts,” but we were around when Hillary was shilling for the Saudis, calling for a regime change in Libya in 2011, and raking in millions for speeches given to Goldman Sachs.

We were also alive when Hillary was still against gay marriage—one of the many causes for which she is now suddenly the vanguard. Democrats ostensibly care about women's rights and LGBTQ rights, yet they backed someone who's BFFs with some of the most sexist, tyrannical, homophobic dictators in the world—Hillary is very close with the Saudis (and receives a lot of money from them). Cultural historian Susan Bordo, however, chooses to forget all these facts.

She claims this last election season was “dominated by versions of Hillary Clinton constructed by her political opponents,” all the while failing to mention how Hillary’s campaign and the media portrayed Bernie Sanders as a crazy, old grandpa perpetually wagging his finger—as if that didn’t further minimize him as a candidate.

Clinton supporters and pundits also painted Bernie as wholly unelectable, despite polls showing that Sanders had a greater chance than Hillary of beating Trump in the general election. These liberals love data so much, yet they cast aside these poll numbers and instead took the risk of putting forth an extremely unpopular and unrelatable candidate against Trump. But, according to Bordo, we 'millennial feminists' are at fault for Trump winning the election, certainly not the older bourgeois white feminist elite to which Bordo belongs or the Democrats.

The Clinton campaign also constructed and polluted the media with the false narrative of the “Bernie Bros” in what is now a classic example of neoliberals co-opting the language and rhetoric of the left to paint themselves as victims and to distract from the bad policies of their failed candidate. When faced with any type of critique, Clinton supporters rushed to appropriate social justice language and cry ‘misogyny.’

Liberal talking heads believed that all Bernie supporters were men, and the only reason for their opposition to Hillary must be due to their sexism. No one could possibly be opposed to Hillary’s hawkish views or her intimate ties with Wall Street or her support of drones. If men supported Bernie, it was obviously because they were sexist. If women supported Bernie, it was because they were self-hating, or, as ‘feminist icon’ Gloria Steinem put it, just following the boys. And Madeleine Albright, the future slumlord of Hell, let us millennial women know that a special place was designated for us there if we failed to support Hillary.

Somehow it is so difficult for some people to understand—especially those who probably haven’t had to worry about their job security in decades—that many millennial women supported Bernie Sanders because of his coherent economic message. This isn’t about a new culture war. This is much more concrete than the politics of the ‘60s. People want public works, they want socialism. These aren’t new ideas by a longshot.

Bordo writes that Bernie was “taking advantage of justified frustration with politics as usual (a frustration more appropriately aimed at GOP stonewalling of Democratic legislation),” yet millennials don’t equate politics or business as usual with such an oversimplification—especially one that frees the Democratic Party from all blame while simultaneously casting it as the Ultimate Good (or rather the Lawful Good in the alignment meme). Young women recognized that Sanders’ economic policies would actually benefit marginalized and low-income groups far more than Hillary’s politically expedient rhetoric.

Yet Bordo stresses that Bernie’s “list didn’t include the struggle for reproductive rights or affordable child care. Nor, at the beginning of his campaign, was there much emphasis on racial justice.” She fails to recognize how these first order issues are tied directly to economics, and the consequences of Bernie’s economic policies would not only protect but redistribute power and capital to the poor and racial minorities, groups which Bordo and other liberals purport to care so much about.

Young Bernie-supporting feminists played “a big role,” Bordo writes, “in the thin edge...that gave Trump the election.” This past election season, Bordo and other Democrats seemed to have chosen to forget that primaries are often contested in a democracy. How dare anyone run against Hillary? The narrative was that the nomination was hers, and everyone should accept that and rally behind her—or be seen as a divisive, corrosive force soon to be discarded.

With the way the establishment Democrats were supporting Hillary in the primaries, she might as well have been running as an incumbent. Despite having all of these advantages, Hillary still lost. Now ‘millennial feminists’ who supported Bernie are the source of blame for getting in the way of DNC operatives’ wet dreams of anointing Hillary as president. We are the ones who damaged Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s undemocratic inside campaign to hand Hillary the nominee on a silver platter.

For Democrats, Hillary’s loss can’t possibly have anything to do with the way she ran her campaign or her record. Nor could it possibly have anything to do with young people not connecting with a robotic, war-loving establishment hack. Hillary’s loss becomes attributed to everyone but her and the Democratic Party—everyone else, including the people who voted for Jill Stein (even though the math doesn’t add up) and the people who stayed home, are to blame for Trump winning the election.

Democrats like Bordo never take blame and refuse to be even the slightest bit self-critical. They’ll blame everyone but themselves instead of thinking about why they ran such an unpopular candidate in an election season in which the stakes were so high. They’ll make the same mistakes over and over again—the voting members of the DNC in February earlier this year elected Tom Perez over lifelong progressive Congressman Keith Ellison. Bordo argues that “Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party,” as if they weren’t already doing a good job of that themselves.

Knowledge Journalism Final

Image Analysis Can Help Detect Fake News

By Aqsa Ahmad

As anxiety about the spread of fake news rises among the news media and the public, researchers argue that images can be analyzed to verify the truthfulness of news stories.

Based on data from various news events shared on popular Chinese website Sina Weibo, a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, researchers developed a model that counts the number of images per news event to distinguish between real and fake news.

“Apart from their popularity and great impact on news diffusion, images also have distinctive distribution patterns for real and fake news visually and statistically,” write Zhiwei Jin and Juan Cao, the study’s authors.

With an accuracy rate of 83.6 percent, the adoption of this model might have helped prevent the spread of many false stories that emerged during the election, including one about Hillary Clinton and her campaign running a child sex trafficking ring in a pizzeria.

This past weekend, a 28-year-old man from North Carolina drove to the Washington D.C pizzeria to investigate the alleged conspiracy and ended up shooting the floor after failing to find any evidence of child abuse. No one got hurt and police arrested the man in question, Edgar Welch, but such a conflict comes amid growing concerns many members of the media and public have over the influence of fake news on the election.

In their study, Jin and Cao looked at the number of tweets and the number of images for each news event in their data set and found that fake news stories tend to have lower image-to-tweet ratios (meaning fewer images per news event) compared to real news stories.

Along with quantity, the researchers also took into account the diversity of images accompanying news events and observed that images in fake news stories are less diverse—in other words, fake news stories lack a variety of images taken by different sources and are limited in amount.

“People tend to report news with images taken by themselves at the event scene. If the event is real, then various images taken by different witnesses would be posted on microblogs. If the event is fake, there are very few images or repeatedly posted images,” explain Jin and Cao.

A microblog is another term used to describe a social media platform (such as Sina Weibo, Twitter, or Tumblr) where users can make short posts frequently. According to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, a majority of adults in the U.S.—62 percent—get their news from social media platforms, with nearly six-in-ten Twitter users getting their news from Twitter.

“However, the convenience of publishing news also fosters the emergence of various fake news. Without verifying the truthfulness of news, fake news would spread promptly through social networks and result in serious consequences,” warn Jin and Cao.

Existing approaches to news verification focus mainly on the text content of news tweets, relying on statistical features such as tweet length, word count, and the use of URLS or hashtag topics.

Jin and Cao state that not all of these textual features are effective for news verification and instead argue that images play a crucial role for news verification. 

The researchers claim that tweets with images are more popular and have greater influence in propagating news due to their ability to convey information more vividly than text-only tweets. Moreover, as tweets have a 140-character limit, many users include images along with their news stories in an attempt to fit in more information.

“In our real-world data set collected from Sina Weibo, the ratio of image to tweet is more than 0.516. This indicates more than half of tweets come along with images on average,” write Jin and Cao.

Their own image-focused method boasts a verification accuracy rate 7 percent higher than that of existing text-focused approaches.

However, Jin and Cao’s method relies on “authoritative sources to form a convincing ground truth of the truth value of news events in the data set”—including Xinhua News Agency, a media organization that is subordinate to the Chinese central government.

In other words, the researchers’ method uses a state-run news agency, which might not be the most reliable or truthful source, to determine which news events in their data set constitute real or fake news. While Xinhua, as the official press agency of China, might be ‘authoritative,’ it has often been accused of spreading disinformation and propaganda itself. 

Given the recent rise and influence of fake news, the researchers’ model sounds promising in preventing the spread of false stories. However, the use of such a program by a state actor could lead to the suppression of free speech and dissenting political views. Instead of detecting and eliminating fake news, it could be used to identify and then neuter real news stories, leaving only the approved fake ones.

In response to a question about fake news at Monday’s Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary John Earnest said, “Given the First Amendment questions that are raised, the role of the government to play in all of this is going to be necessarily limited by that.”

While the government censoring fake news might raise some First Amendment issues, it could also help prevent the spread of false stories that not only affect public opinion and politics but also incite misinformed people, such as the armed man in the D.C. pizzeria, to act in ways that might endanger others.

Even after the confrontation, many still continue to push the fake news story that the pizzeria is harboring child sex slaves including: Twitter user Jeffrey Marty, who has 24,000 followers and poses as a representative of a made-up district in Georgia, and Michael G. Flynn, the son of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the incoming National Security Adviser. Michael G. Flynn was subsequently fired from President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team.

If used properly, image analysis as a means for automatic news verification may be effective in preventing false conspiracy theories that have real life consequences.


The devil you don’t know: Clinton’s response to the Brussels attacks


Liberals and conservatives alike are raking Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over the coals for their responses to the Brussels attacks — Trump for advocating torture and the deportation of Muslims, and Cruz for advocating increased police surveillance of Muslims. Of particular note was the NYPD’s criticism of Cruz, despite the fact that his plan is based off of former NYPD tactics.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s response, playing up US “values” and “humanitarian obligations,” has been described as “smart, substantive” by The New York Times. At a speech to Stanford University students, Clinton said, “We face an adversary that is constantly adapting and operating across multiple theaters so our response must be just as nimble and far-reaching.”

But the editorial board glossed over the tension between Clinton’s plan and her rhetoric. A plan that involves increased electronic surveillance is necessarily at odds with her rhetorical position against “demonizing Muslim Americans.” As the NSA disclosures in 2011 demonstrated, Muslims are disproportionately and indiscriminately targeted with surveillance.

The center-left media is doing all it can to cement Clinton as The Only Alternative, despite polls indicating that Bernie Sanders has a better chance of beating Trump in the general election. Sanders’ awkward performance on the PBS Newshour last night will give ammunition to hawkish Democrats. But Clinton had an equally awkward night on Twitter, unveiling a three-point plan “to defeat ISIS that was widely mocked.

If Cruz’s and Clinton’s responses are looked at, side-by-side, there are interesting similarities. Cruz advocates increased police surveillance of Muslim communities, while Clinton advocates unspecific, though ostensibly unbiased, electronic surveillance.

Clinton relies on common misunderstandings about the efficacy of electronic surveillance to hold her policy and rhetorical positions in concert. The efficacy of both police and electronic surveillance is constrained by human bias and error in the application of imperfect technologies. Once the image of electronic surveillance as an objective, all-seeing-eye falls apart, the distinction between police and electronic surveillance becomes less clear.

To be sure, both forms of surveillance “demonize” Muslims, and both Cruz and Clinton are implicated. Nor is Sanders immune to criticism. His plan to defeat ISIS by building a coalition with Saudi Arabia demonstrates that the Brussels attacks have moved everyone to the right. In a week of tragedy and bitter primary fights, not a single US presidential candidate escaped intact.

My Art Final

For my final in my art class, ARTV 10100 Visual Language: On Images, I had choose an article in the newspaper and then make a project in response to it. The article I chose was on the ongoing fight between FBI and Apple, as the FBI continues to demand Apple for access to the iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter.

I chose this article because it not only explores the ideas of privacy and security but also the extent of authority and power the U.S. government can exercise. This case is extremely important because it has the potential to set a dangerous, broad precedent in which the U.S. government can legally demand technology companies to create backdoors to essentially undermine their own existing security measures. This article delves into the question of how much authority the government can have and what the far-reaching consequences of that could be.

When thinking about what I wanted to do for my project, I was really intrigued by the concept of the back door. To be clear, I find it extremely concerning that the government is asking Apple to basically write new, intentionally corrupt code in order to create a back door. Although a back door is a method of bypassing security in relation to technology, I wanted to think of it as a tangible object—instead of a method—that could take on a physical form.

My project had to installed somewhere in the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts building in which I have class. I wanted it to be in a location that was by a door and somewhat hidden in order to physically manifest the idea of the back door as much as possible, so I chose the back door entrance to the screening room that is located in the corner of the second floor.

For the project, we had to make something out of the 2-D scraps that we were supposed to have been collecting all throughout the quarter. Luckily, I had the business cards of two FBI agents in my bag of scraps, which were perfect for my project given the subject choice. I was not in trouble with the FBI, surprisingly, and was actually just questioned by them about a month earlier as part of a background investigation on a former colleague of mine trying to get a security clearance at the White House, where she now works.

I got really ill during finals week and had to complete this project in two hours, and I somehow pulled it together within that time right before final critique started. I had a broken mirror sitting outside my room for the longest time and thought I would try to finally make some use of it. I further broke down the mirror into small and large pieces and taped those pieces onto the door of the screening room. I was not careful enough when breaking down the pieces because I got cuts all over my hand and started bleeding everywhere! I cut out some scraps from two magazines I had lying around in my room, Jacobin and Dissent, and glued images and text from them onto some of the broken mirror pieces. I also had a bunch of empty cigarette boxes collected in my bag of scraps, but I decided to use the shiny paper that comes with the boxes instead and glued it onto a couple of the broken mirror pieces, as well.

I projected the title and image of an article written by Micah Lee for The Intercept, because I thought the article itself was really informative and helpful, as well as relevant to the subject choice of my work. Also, I am a huge fan of The Intercept and take any opportunity I can get to plug that news site into my schoolwork. Anyway, I thought the projection of that article looked good with the rest of the installation, and it added an element to the project that I thought was important to include. The article reflects this idea that we are responsible for our own privacy and security—that we must take measures into our own hands—because the government will not protect either.

I wish there was less light in the location of my installation, but I was, overall, okay with the way that it turned out!