Complexification is everywhere!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2022

Charlie Savage (almost) gets it right: Increasingly, the gong-show quality of our discourse is its distinguishing characteristic.

In this morning's New York Times, Charlie Savage makes a very wise statement about certain Trump-based narratives. His news report starts like this:

SAVAGE (2/15/22): When John H. Durham, the Trump-era special counsel investigating the inquiry into Russia’s 2016 election interference, filed a pretrial motion on Friday night, he slipped in a few extra sentences that set off a furor among right-wing outlets about purported spying on former President Donald J. Trump.

But the entire narrative appeared to be mostly wrong or old news—the latest example of the challenge created by a barrage of similar conspiracy theories from Mr. Trump and his allies.

Upon close inspection, these narratives are often based on a misleading presentation of the facts or outright misinformation. They also tend to involve dense and obscure issues, so dissecting them requires asking readers to expend significant mental energy and time—raising the question of whether news outlets should even cover such claims. Yet Trump allies portray the news media as engaged in a cover-up if they don’t.

Savage identifies two basic problems with these convoluted Trumpian narratives: 

They're often based on outright misinformation, or on misleading presentations. Also, the bogus claims are built upon so much complexity—involve so many "dense and obscure issues"—that they're intrinsically hard for anyone except a specialist to follow. 

Basically, these balls of confusion can't be explained. Sagaciously, Savage says it isn't obvious that news orgs should even try.

We'll offer two points about that:

For starters, alas! Our own liberal tribe also churns highly complex narratives which may be full of erroneous or misleading claims. TrumpWorld churns such bullshit in its sleep, but our tribe is involved in such foolishness too.

Here's our second point:

Even when journalists try to explain these "dense and obscure" Trump narratives, they may not possess sufficient skill to untangle the confusion. Consider Savage's own news report.

Savage is reporting on a new filing by special counsel John Durham. We won't even try to tell you what it is that Durham is claiming. However, when Savage tries to present a clear account of this murky matter, we're soon given this account of a key technical term:

SAVAGE: The conservative media also skewed what [Durham's] filing said. For example, Mr. Durham’s filing never used the word “infiltrate.” And it never claimed that Mr. Joffe’s company was being paid by the Clinton campaign.

Most important, contrary to the reporting, the filing never said the White House data that came under scrutiny was from the Trump era. According to lawyers for David Dagon, a Georgia Institute of Technology data scientist who helped develop the Yota analysis, the data—so-called DNS logs, which are records of when computers or smartphones have prepared to communicate with servers over the internet—came from Barack Obama’s presidency.

According to Savage, DNC logs "are records of when computers or smartphones have prepared to communicate with servers over the internet."

Do you have any idea what that means? Let's just tell the truth this time: 

Almost surely, no, you don't!

Let's simplify matters a bit:

Do you know what it means to say that a computer has communicated with a server over the Internet? Could you explain that to someone else?

We'll guess that the answer is no. But according to Savage's attempt at clarification, that isn't what a "DNS log" records! 

According to Savage, "DNS logs" are records of when a computer has prepared to communicate with a server over the Internet! Go ahead! Sit your next-door neighbors down and explain to them what that means!

This morning, Marcy Wheeler appeared on Morning Joe for a (roughly) five-minute segment on this Durham filing. Wheeler is deeply informed about these matters. Almost surely, that was the problem.

Joe and Mika, along with Willie and four other stooges, sat around pretending to understand what Wheeler was talking about. At some point, we'll create a transcript of her remarks just to show you what can happen when a person who is highly informed tries to explain one of these convoluted, deeply obscure affairs in five minutes or less.

Our discourse constantly runs on such complexified Storylines. No one knows how to explain the events in question, but because of our highly tribalized news arrangements, everyone knows who the heroes and villains are.

Savage's initial assessment was very much on target. These narratives are so dense and so complicated that they basically can't be explained, not even by well-intentioned journalists who will routinely lack key clarification skills. 

No one is able to untangle these balls of confusion. Tribally scripted talking-points pretty much take over from there.

The result? Nobody knows what they're talking about, but everyone knows what to say! So it goes as our failing discourse continues to run on its trademark fuel—on imitations of life.

To watch Wheeler's segment, click here.


61 comments:

  1. When a dog plays dead it's cute, when a Harvard grad plays dumb it's obnoxious.

    Remember that kid in school that would try to run out the clock by asking the teacher to explain everything completely, society would grind to a halt if that was required, but it is not. Society functions on incomplete knowledge; reliance on experts; using context, inference and intuition to make mental leaps that gain us enough understanding of a circumstance for it to add value or meaning to our lives.

    Kids catch onto this when they are quite young. When I go to a doctor or a mechanic, and they explain the issue, I broadly understand without knowing every technical detail. Yes we, broadly-speaking, understand enough of computers and phones to get the gist.

    But Somerby doesn't like where this is going so he says shush, you don't need to know about his team's corruption. Hush now and run along.

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    1. Bob’s agreeing with the NYT and their formulation.

      The most salient thing to keep in mind is that Trump was illegally spied upon.

      We know for sure that a FISA warrant application was obtained via false information and was used to spy upon Carter Page and therefore all the people that Page communicated with via phone, text, email and all the people with whom those people communicated.

      Page spoke with Steve Bannon and Bannon was direct to the president.

      The media will never spell out those dynamics, let alone vaguely reference what happened with the warrant.

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    2. Cecelia,
      The media will cover this up, just like they did that the government put antennas in your teeth.

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    3. The government didn’t do it, the space aliens did.

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    4. LOL, Cecelia is explaining why Donald J Chickenshit is a victim again. And if he is a victim, that means all you Magats out there are also victims. So much aggrievement, so little time.

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    5. mm, with focus like that, you could be a media member.

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    6. The most salient thing to keep in mind is that Trump was illegally spied upon.

      You're a liar, Cecelia. But I will leave you to the confort of your victimization.


      DOJ’s Inspector General Report: Myths and Facts on Russia Inquiry Origins

      One of the President’s main strategies in avoiding accountability in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been to question its origins with tales of so-called “deep state” operatives engaged in an international campaign to block his nomination and undermine his presidency. The President continues to promote this conspiracy theory despite the fact that Mueller’s investigation resulted in 34 indictments of individuals and companies; 7 guilty pleas; the conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on federal criminal counts including conspiracy to defraud the United States, tax fraud, bank fraud, lying to federal agents, and other serious charges; and the conviction of Trump associate Roger Stone on federal criminal counts including obstruction of a proceeding, false statements, and witness tampering.

      Nothing in the findings of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Justice’s report titled “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation” (the “OIG review”)[1] calls into question that the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the FBI uncovered crimes when they investigated Russian attacks on our election system, nor do these findings mitigate any of these criminal acts. The findings also do not alter the conclusions of the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee and the OSC that Russia conducted a far-reaching attack on our election system to favor candidate Donald Trump.

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    7. Oh, great! Nothing in false info on Carter Page’s FISA warrant makes question the fact that Russians were making mischief.

      Duly noted,

      The FISA court saw fit to chastise the FBI for THEIR actions in obtaining the warrants.

      Paul Manafort was nailed on his actions prior to his appointment by Trump.

      “ Nothing in the findings of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Justice’s report titled “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation” (the “OIG review”)[1] calls into question that the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the FBI uncovered crimes when they investigated Russian attacks on our election system, nor do these findings mitigate any of these criminal acts. The findings also do not alter the conclusions of the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee and the OSC that Russia conducted a far-reaching attack on our election system to favor candidate Donald Trump.”

      Duh. Why would it?

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    8. Poor poor Donald J Chickenshit.

      Myth #4: FBI FISA applications on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page are evidence of a political conspiracy against the Trump campaign.


      Facts: The FBI’s surveillance was conducted after Page stopped working for the campaign. The OIG review found that certain factual assertions relied upon in the FISA applications were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed, and the review uncovered unprofessional conduct by a low-level FBI lawyer. However, the DOJ did not determine that leadership or the FISA court would have reached a different decision had they known all relevant information and did not find that the conduct affected the overall validity of the applications.

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    9. The above came from https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-reports/myths-and-facts-on-russia-inquiry-origins/


      http//www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/475053-fisa-courts-rebuke-of-the-fbi-it-broke-or-ignored-the-rules-and-our%3famp

      “In the FISC's assessment, the derelictions in the Page surveillance warrants are so serious, the court's judges cannot be confident that any warrant applications the FBI has submitted are accurate and complete - i.e., that the bureau's assertions have been true and, even if true, were not misleading because of the omission of relevant information.

      Consequently, in an extraordinary public order on Tuesday, the secret court's presiding judge, Rosemary Collyer, directed the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a thorough review of all submissions the bureau has made to the FISC. They have about three weeks (until Jan. 10, 2020) to explain what steps have been taken to assure the candor of each submission.

      Given that there have been many submissions, this seems like a great burden in such a crunched time frame. The FISC, however, is simply demanding to be satisfied that the FBI has done what it has led the court to believe it has been doing all along. Justice Department and FBI procedures, along with FISC rules, require that every factual assertion in an application to the FISC be verified and accurate. The bureau is supposed to go through this process of validating every fact alleged in every foreign intelligence surveillance case as a matter of routine.

      The Page surveillance warrants demonstrate that the process either is broken or has been ignored.”

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    10. You're still a liar, Cecelia.

      You said, Trump was illegally spied upon

      That makes you a fucking liar.

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    11. He was illegally spied upon via a fraudulently obtained FISA warrant against a man who was an FBI asset.

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    12. You're still a damn liar, Cecelia. BTW, he had been an FBI source in the past.

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  2. Has there ever been an accusation against the Clintons that wasn’t called a rehash of “old news”?

    It sure wasn’t too complex and dubious a story for the media to go ape over when they reported a link between the Trump Tower server and Russian via the Alpha Bank “scandal”.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/us/politics/trump-alfa-bank-indictment.amp.html

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  3. No police were killed on 1/6.

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  4. This post is such bull shit.

    The Durham thing is just too difficult for Somerby to understand, poor thing. And heaven forbid he should try. He was a Harvard graduate.

    The shit narrative spun by right wingers like Patel is a densely packed pile of bullshit, but Somerby complains that the media and Marcy Wheeler don’t have the skills to unpack the lunacy.

    So, both sides, right?

    And I won’t comment on Somerby’s willful obtuseness when he says “Do you know what it means to say that a computer has communicated with a server over the Internet? Could you explain that to someone else?
    We'll guess that the answer is no. But according to Savage's attempt at clarification, that isn't what a "DNS log" records! “

    In fact, it’s a fairly simple concept, and yes, some of Somerby’s readers, myself included, are computer programmers.

    Somerby’s willful ignorance is essential to maintaining his both-sides criticism. The

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    1. I get scared sometimes too.

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    2. Sussman also accused pre-oath-of-office Trump of communication with Russians via his Trump Tower server and their untraceable cell phones.

      Yeah, Obama was still the president, but that wasn’t the point.

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    3. mh, how is it bothsideism for Somerby to call it sagacious for the media not to report the points of contention in Durham’s case to my dumb self?

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    4. Durham ought to put some of those charges against Clinton and the Democrats in his report. Instead we get Fox News, making baseless claims, as usual.
      The nonsense some people won't believe in order to support fascism.

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    5. What charges? It's an indictment not a report. Why don't you read it?

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    6. The filing on 2/11/2022 was just a Motion, not an indictment. The one count indictment of Sussman happened last September.

      DONALD TRUMP SUGGESTED MICHAEL SUSSMANN SHOULD BE KILLED BECAUSE RODNEY JOFFE “SPIED” ON BARACK OBAMA

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/02/15/donald-trump-suggested-michael-sussmann-should-be-killed-because-rodney-joffe-spied-on-barack-obama/

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    7. This formulation alone ought to give you pause as to the “independence” of Wheeler.

      ‘U.S. attorneys think that Robert Hanssen ought to be killed!’

      Heres’s Trump’s statement.

      "This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death,"




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    8. Yes you should read the original indictment from last fall. It's incredible. It's pretty much the same thing Cheney did with the Iraq war. Planting false stories in the press. Read the indictment from last fall. If the emails and texts in the indictment of the Clinton operatives plotting and planting a false story turned out to be false or doctored, then that will all come out in court. If they are actual emails and texts between the operatives, it shows you some very very sleazy political maneuvering by the Clinton campaign. Which may not have ever even been illegal in the first place.

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    9. It's a one count dogshit indictment of Sussman for lying to the FBI and which Sussman has plead not guilty to.

      Durham has now protracted this "investigation" almost twice as the original Mueller investigation. LOL

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    10. So, you read it or not?

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    11. Bob should go after Wheeler for her insane, irresponsible claim "Trump was threatening to kill people". That is complete hackery.

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    12. That has to be one of the worst irresponsible BS paraphrases in a long time.

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    13. Magats who support a criminal megalomaniac who plotted a coup and incited an attack on the nation's Capitol in order to overturn an election are so amusing in their sensitivity to a journalist paraphrasing the orange abomination who lies with every breath he takes.

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    14. I can't stand Trump and that is still a completely crazy paraphrase by that blogger. If Trump is as bad as you say he is why would anyone need to overstate what he said so recklessly? Maybe you believe all those statements you've made now based on similar overstatements and reckless, disingenuous paraphrases by compromised hacks like Wheeler.

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    15. "If" Trump is as bad.....

      BWAHAHAHA

      You don't even get the joke, do you, asshole?

      Here is what the orange abomination said:

      “This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”

      Not too fucking reckless for you, huh?

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    16. It's quoted above dipshit. Quite clearly he was not threatening to kill people, dumb child.

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    17. Tell me, asshole, what crime would have been "punishable by death"?

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    18. Quite clearly, Wheeler never said he was "threatening to kill people". Can't you read, sonny?

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    19. She used those exact words on the Morning Joe show.

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    20. The paraphrase from the headline is also just as crazy and reckless.

      You idiots do understand that you live in a world where Trump can be and abomination and Clinton campaign operatives can get caught trying to lie about him to the FBI and the media? Do you monkeys understand that?

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    21. Both are capable of happening at the same time. We don't live in a comic book universe although I know the news you consume presents it as such.

      The hacks who turn you into such complete idiots live in a world where a quote about an act being punishable by death in another time turns into threatening to kill people. It's pretty crazy man. You people are acting really really crazy.

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    22. I get it though, this is like a football game to you. It's like a comic book.

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    23. In another time? You mean when we were stronger, or dare I say it, "greater"? Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

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    24. You're acting really really stupid and really really crazy.

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    25. Again.

      Tell me asshole, what crime would have been "punishable by death"?

      Do you have a fucking answer or do you just want to kiss trump's fat ass some more?

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    26. "Tell me asshole, what crime would have been "punishable by death"?"

      The issue is that Wheeler's claim "Trump was threatening to kill people" is false and really, really crazy. Are you claiming Trump was threatening to kill people? Don't make a darn lick of sense.

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    27. Oh, stop it, please.

      For over a week now Crazytowne USA has been going apeshit and spreading a completely false story in order to divert attention from the Jan 6 investigation and the mounting evidence of a carefully plotted coup to overturn the election.

      John Durham is responsible for this in that he filed a motion in the Sussman case on 2/11/2022 in which he deliberately and maliciously misrepresented facts in his superfluous narrative. Ken Starr redux.

      Tech Executive-1 and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic and other data for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.)

      Notice the sleight of hand there where he connects the EOP DNS data with "Donald Trump"?

      Poor Eric Trump was almost in tears sitting in Sean Hannity's lap crying about his daddy being so mistreated by the bitch Hillary and insisting that the NY AG has to arrest her immediately, as Sean looked on in sympathy.

      Meanwhile, Marcy Wheeler has been doing extraordinary work trying to cover this farce of an endless investigation of an investigation that has already lasted longer than the original Mueller probe. She did not write "Trump was threatening to kill people".

      She wrote one little tongue in cheek exaggeration of the moronic ex-president crazy rant that nobody took literally, and this is what you want to focus on.

      Give me a fucking break.

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  5. "Savage's initial assessment was very much on target."

    Thanks for the laughs, dear Bob. We didn't expect anything different from you.

    Yes, we do know what DNS is, and even you, presumably an educated person, should know what logs are.

    The crux of the matter is that your liberal cult spied on the opposing candidate -- and then on the sitting president. And no amount of bullshit obscurantism on your and your tribe's part is going to change it.


    ...and by the way: what about that cognitive test of the Great Liberal Father? Are you upset that your media dembots don't forcefully demand it? We remember you used to be upset...

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    1. Hell… They want Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life for revealing that the DNC screwed the hell out of Bernie Sanders.

      Who didn’t already know that?

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    2. Magats who support a criminal megalomaniac who plotted a coup and incited an attack on the nation's Capitol in order to overturn an election are so amusing in their heartfelt sympathy for Senator Sanders. Or course the DNC had fuck all to do with the voters who overwhelming and convincingly chose Secretary Clinton.

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    3. 6:22
      I guess that’s why the Trump justice department pursued charges against Assange and demanded his extradition, and why Trump didn’t pardon him.

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    4. Because Mitch McConnell threatened to support impeachment and Trump backed down.

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    5. Impeachment for what Cecelia? A perfect act of extortion of a foreign govt president in order to smear his opponent? Or inciting an insurrection? He's so fucking corrupt I can't keep his various corrupt acts straight.

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    6. Anonymouse 8:22am, I didn’t express sympathy for Bernie just the dynamics of what happened to Assange.

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    7. Oh, you didn't express sympathy for Bernie, just your deranged hatred of Hillary. Got it.

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    8. For asking the Ukrainian president to look into the business dealings of Biden and his son.

      For prefacing aid upon that action which went thru before the impeachment case anyway.

      The FBI admitted later that they already had Hunter’s dealings on their radar.

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    9. Anonymouse 10:21am, everyone knows the DNC screwed Bernie for Hillary.

      That you call that understanding a “deranged hatred of Hillary” illustrates how you’re incapable of any level of rationality in this.

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    10. By having more people to vote for her in primaries. Oh, the horror...

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    11. Isn’t the horror supposed to be that we’re a republic?

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    12. ..everyone knows the DNC screwed Bernie for Hillary.

      Oh. How, Cecelia? How did the DNC screw Bernie?

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    13. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/24/debbie-wasserman-schultz-resigns-dnc-chair-emails-sanders

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    14. In your own words, Cecelia. Give us the short version.
      We already know why Schultz was railroaded.

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  6. Antifa means "anti the Republican Party".

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