Cancel Bots and Trolls, Not People: A Cancel-Culture Update

 

When the US Supreme Court announces major earth-shaking decisions, as they did several times last month, not much attention is focused on the attorneys who argued and won their cases. But there may be one exception this year: Paul Clement and his law partner, Erin Murphy.

Paul Clement is arguably the most effective appellant lawyer in modern times. He served as Solicitor General – the government’s chief litigator before SCOTUS – during the Bush 43 Administration. As Clement was preparing to leave the Bush administration following the 2008 election, he was referred to as “The LeBron James of law firm recruiting,” referencing the best professional basketball player of that era.

“Paul Clement is the Holy Grail of law firm recruiting,’“ Evan Tager, an appellate partner at Mayer Brown’s Washington office, told the NLJ. He added: “The buzz in the legal world about Clement is like the buzz in basketball when LeBron James was coming out of high school and turning pro. It will be interesting to see where the market will go.” Clement declined to comment to the NLJ.

Firms are reportedly interested in founding an appellate practice around Clement, explains Tager, the same way Mayer Brown launched its practice in 1954 when the late Robert Stern, a veteran of 13 years in the SG’s Office, joined as partner.

Clement, 56, would land at King & Spaulding before finding his way to Kirkland & Ellis, former home to Ken Starr and former Attorney General William Barr. You may recall Starr as the independent counsel who investigated the Clinton-Whitewater-Lewinsky scandal. Clement’s departure from King & Spaulding was promoted by his agreeing to represent the US House of Representatives in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (US vs. Windsor), which wasn’t popular with his colleagues. Wikipedia: “King & Spalding withdrew from the case on April 25, 2011, and Clement resigned from the firm to continue his representation, arguing that “representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.”

It would be a sign of things to come.

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement speaks to reporters in front of the US Supreme Court.

Fast forward to last month. A Wall Street Journal editorial from June 23 sums it up:

A 6-3 victory at the Supreme Court vindicating a constitutional right is usually cause for congratulations, but not these days at Kirkland & Ellis, the giant white-shoe law firm. The firm has rewarded partner Paul Clement for his triumph Thursday in the big New York gun-rights case (see nearby) by telling him to drop his gun clients or leave the firm.

As Mr. Clement and his litigation partner, Erin Murphy, explain nearby, they’re leaving the firm rather than dump their clients. That’s the honorable and ethical decision.

Clement isn’t the first attorney to be “canceled” by a law firm. He may be the first one to experience it twice. Given his remarkable track record in arguing over 100 cases before the Supreme Court, we need not worry too much about Clement’s future employment. But the cancelation attempts will no doubt continue, given who his clients are or may likely be.

Cleta Mitchell

It’s not unlike what former Trump campaign counsel and acquaintance Cleta Mitchell experienced after the 2020 election. A highly successful and respected GOP election attorney, the former Democratic State Representative from Oklahoma left her “prestigious” law firm, Foley & Lardner. She was targeted as part of a broader campaign to cancel every attorney representing the Trump campaign or sympathetic entities questioning the 2020 election in some states.

Mitchell, like Clement, has landed well. She started the national Election Integrity Network via the Conservative Partnership Institute, launched a podcast, and now trains attorneys and private citizens across the nation. Some people refuse to be canceled. But the left-wing 65 Group that targeted Mitchell continues its work in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

“It is despicable that Democrat-supported organizations are raising millions of dollars to falsely attack Republican attorneys in the hope that this will discourage us from representing Republican candidates in the future,” (former GOP State Senator Bruce) Marks said in a statement. “Our judicial system is founded on the right of Americans to have attorneys zealously represent them. This baseless complaint — the “cancel culture” at its worst — is a direct assault on that cherished right.”

Alan Dershowitz addresses the Senate during President Trump’s first impeachment trial in January 2020 (AP photo)

Alan Dershowitz

Does “cancel culture” include shunning neighbors who express unpopular views or once represented a “controversial” client in a specific impeachment trial? Apparently so. Just ask Alan Dershowitz, the well-known former Harvard law professor. Justthenews.com:

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said “sticking to principle refusing to become a partisan” has cost him and his family “tremendously,” reflecting the divided state of America.

People in tony Martha’s Vineyard “essentially won’t talk to me,” Dershowitz told “Just the News, Not Noise” on Thusday as he discussed his upcoming book, “The Price of Principle: Why Integrity is Worth the Consequences.”

Dershowitz said he has a friend who hosts an annual concert that he attended every year. “This year, he didn’t invite me,” recounted the constitutional law scholar, a member of former President Trump’s legal team during his first impeachment trial.

“He said, ‘I would have loved to invite you,’” Dershowitz recalled. “‘But if you were to come, a lot of the people would have left, and the concert would have been empty.”

He offers another bizarre example.

Dershowitz was invited to the White House for the signing of the Abraham Accords and he sat behind his former student, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom he patted on the back.

People on the left attacked him for being there.

“‘Oh, my God, you patted Pompeo on the back!’” he paraphrased the indignant response. “‘You’re disgusting. You’re beneath contempt.’”

“Larry David screamed at me,” he recalled. “How could I ever ever pat on the back somebody as terrible as Mike Pompeo who was my former student? And obviously, I’m going to congratulate him for bringing about one of the great peace efforts in the Middle East’s history, but that’s the world we live in today, and that’s the book I’ve written.”

The “My Pillow Guy”

But the nation’s largest retailer has joined the cancel culture brigades: Walmart. Just ask the “My Pillow Guy,” Mike Lindell.

Epoch Times: “In a phone conversation, the executive vice president of Walmart told Lindell that the product’s removal is due to ratings being under four stars.

“‘Well, we’ve got to be honest,’ the retailer’s vice president said, according to 100 Percent Fed Up. ‘We have a rating system, and MyPillow is under 4 [stars], and we don’t accept products under 4 [stars].’”

Walmart is hardly the first company to “cancel” My Pillow sales inside their stories, but unlike the others, it wasn’t based on sales but ratings. “Bed Bath & Beyond also stopped selling the brand, also claiming the product was not selling enough. Other big-box stores that pulled down the product include Costco, Kohl’s, H-E-B, and Wayfair. You can still buy My Pillow via Amazon and, of course, directly. Don’t forget your promo code! For the record, he’s sold 76 million pillows.

“Most of the listed companies pulled the products from their stores in the days and weeks after the January 6 breach of the Capitol last year,” reported Epoch Times, even though Lindell wasn’t there (he’s almost begging to testify before the illegitimate US January 6th inquisition, but they’re not interested). He also claims two banks have severed ties with him and his company.

It’s not hard to believe that Lindell’s controversial outspokenness on the efficacy of the 2020 elections is behind much of this. Retailers and consumer product companies typically eschew controversy, especially political ones. Unless, of course, they are politically correct. But the ability of bots, botnets, and trolls to manipulate product and book ratings is legendary.

I remember when President Trump’s media and political opponents fomented the 2017 “Charlottesville Hoax,” when his words were twisted and excluded to suggest that he called white supremacist demonstrators “very fine people.” Among the hoax perpetrators were bots and botnets who sent thousands of emails to every company whose CEO served on President Trump’s “Jobs Council.” One of them was my CEO. We received some 19,000 emails. My random sample check demonstrated a similar style and syntax, a short sentence or two, and no salutation – a dead giveaway. Most weren’t real, I surmised. No matter. CEOs quickly canceled their membership, led by Moderna CEO Ken Frazier, and Trump promptly terminated the Council.

Bot and troll campaigns can be very effective, and most are focused not on politics. “No, the majority of bots are commercial bot accounts, meaning that they are run by groups and individuals who amplify whatever content they are paid to promote,” reports this study by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and republished by the International Journalists Network. Consumer Reports has also done yeoman’s work on the challenges and pitfalls of many major consumer product and service ratings, including those by Angi’s List and Yelp.

It’s also not hard to believe that gullible marketing executives make decisions driven more by bots – an automated social media account run by an algorithm – than by real people. And maybe that’s the genius of Elon Musk’s now-aborted attempt to purchase the world’s most infamous sewer of bots and trolls, Twitter. His exposure of millions of phony accounts on that notoriously censorious social media network may help expose what – and who – is being used to drive much cancel culture activity, especially by activist groups.

Does your right to free speech include the ability to generate hundreds if not thousands of phony bot accounts? I don’t think so. And there’s nothing to stop Facebook, LinkedIn, and especially Twitter from taking matters into their own hands. If they only would.

Cornell University and Wheaton and Hillsdale Colleges

But when it comes to the cavalcade of spineless educational institutions, it can take just one person to blow a snowflake administrator off course. Unfortunately, bots don’t seem to be behind what’s happening on college campuses. Instead, tails are wagging the dogs.

Abraham Lincoln’s bust and a copy of his Gettysburg Address were removed from Cornell University’s Krach Library in late June over a single complaint. In a classic case of “presentism,” Wheaton College – known as a classical Christian college – is yielding to a naval-gazing task force into the college’s third president’s failure to accept black students during his 14-year tenure some 100 years ago. Apparently, you can be canceled decades, even centuries after your departure from this mortal coil. But given other attempts to cancel our founders, this is not news.

Fortunately, efforts to cancel Hillsdale’s current president, Dr. Larry Arne, are proving less successful, at least in Tennessee. With one exception. Hillsdale’s phenomenal success and growth are largely due to its mission and stubborn refusal to accept any federal dollars, nor the strings attached to them. And Hillsdale is helping Tennessee GOP Gov. Bill Lee create 50 new charter schools in the state.

Arne’s sin, at least according to the Tennesseean newspaper and one partisan television media outlet in the Volunteer State? He was secretly recorded at a reception with Gov. Lee as saying this: “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country, and they are taught that they are going to go and do something to those kids,” Arnn said. “My wife is English, and she’s a gardener, and she doesn’t talk about what she is going to do to these plants. She talks about what they need, because if you give them what they need, they will grow. It’s not a manufacturing operation.”

Who disagrees with Dr. Arne? Not most teachers. The Federalist: “Teachers themselves agree that teachers’ colleges are of low quality, as Arnn said. In 2006, 62 percent of teachers told researchers their training didn’t prepare them well for their jobs. In general, education colleges not only do not prepare teachers to succeed in the classroom, they have been so thoroughly corrupted by cultural Marxism that what teachers learn in the typical preparation program actually degrades their skills.”

There is one encouraging theme in most of these recent cancel-culture attempts. They’re not working like they used to. People are pushing back, even segueing into more influential and consequential roles. But we still have a lot of work to do to defeat ideological intolerance and tyranny. Bots and all.

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  1. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    • #1
  2. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Great post. 

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The left believes only in power for themselves and the squelching of all voices and energy that stand against that power. What is amazing to me is how half of the country supports that. 

    • #3
  4. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    To many in the blue-bubble media and their fellow travelers in Congress, Twitter IS the real world (to them). That is why the Democrats have become so off the rails, and why the GOP, with the support of Independents, is likely to send a massive wake-up call in November. 

    • #4
  5. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    • #5
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think that they think that twitter, et. al. are cheap and easy to get clear data from and so use that data in the hopes that it reflects the real world. 

    It doesn’t, but it is noisy and hard to ignore. 

    • #6
  7. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it. 

    • #7
  8. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it.

    I did that once.  Ended up dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans, Paul Prudhomme’s place.

    • #8
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

       How could the entire upper class have gone so left so rapidly? They’re just limited, specialized, easily stampeded and don’t know what the end result will be.  It’s the reason why the US ground up decentralized system worked and is ceasing to work, like every country that ever existed.  Without the US to compete with the world will go the same way, eventually even China,  much faster than anyone thinks.   In the past, countries didn’t have a massive middle class to disintegrate or fight back, nor massive infinitely complex economic, technological apparatus that interacts and adjusts at every level and cannot be understood and managed from above.

    • #9
  10. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it.

    I did that once. Ended up dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans, Paul Prudhomme’s place.

    Then again you might have wound up seeing a Rue Paul show. 

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I really like Mike Lindell, and I admire the company he started. And I agree with this post completely–the cancel culture is destroying people and organizations. But there’s a small possibility that My Pillow really didn’t meet these companies’ standards for customer satisfaction, that the problem wasn’t in the politics but rather, in the products. Perhaps it’s an “and” thing–they were quick to stop selling the product because they saw an opportunity to do so.

    We got two of the pillows, and after trying them for a couple of nights, we decided that they weren’t for everyone. They have a unique lumpiness that’s impossible to describe, and neither I nor my husband liked them. We’ve consigned them to the guestroom as an extra pillow for sitting up, not lying down. A couple of weeks ago, I was at our transfer station, and as I was throwing out my trash, I saw two My Pillows on top of the pile. I laughed. (And, needless to say, my assumption that other people didn’t like the pillows may have been wrong–perhaps some Democrats bought them by accident and were given them as gifts and were getting rid of them for one of those reasons. But I laughed anyway.)

    • #11
  12. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it.

    I did that once. Ended up dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans, Paul Prudhomme’s place.

    I hope you had your credit card.

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I love my My Pillow.

    • #13
  14. Barry Jones Thatcher
    Barry Jones
    @BarryJones

    It is an open secret that the lowest average SAT and MRE scores are in the College of Education on almost all University campuses. As a general rule the requrirements for a an Education degree (Batchelor’s or Master’s) lack academic rigor. That does not mean that there are not some exceptionally intelligent and informed teachers, but I would submit that it is in spite of their education not because of it.

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I love my My Pillow.

    I love the company. And we have towels and slippers from the company too, which are great. 

    I was just making a suggestion under the category of “things aren’t always the way they seem.” :)

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I love my My Pillow.

    I love the company. And we have towels and slippers from the company too, which are great.

    I was just making a suggestion under the category of “things aren’t always the way they seem.” :)

    I am no longer willing to give any critic of anyone on the right the benefit of the doubt. At this point, the default is that they are lying and it is part of a smear campaign. Strong evidence has to be brought otherwise. 

    • #16
  17. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it.

    I did that once. Ended up dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans, Paul Prudhomme’s place.

    Then again you might have wound up seeing a Rue Paul show.

    I did ask what we were standing in line for.  :)

    • #17
  18. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    cdor (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    genferei (View Comment):

    Do politicians really believe that the media and twitter are the real world, or do they believe donors believe this? I can believe that liberal law firm partners and corporate executives pretend to believe this so they can impose their beliefs on dissidents, but…

    I think it’s so much perception.

    We all know about the madness of crowds and herd mentality. It takes very unique people to move against a tide. Create the perception of a herd moving in one direction by utilizing bots and it influences real people to join the herd and move with it, creating in reality what was initially simulated.

    Its psy-ops level stuff. Without the bots creating the initial herd, would there be enough true believers to create a herd mentality in that direction? Or would the influence have gone in a different direction?

    In the days of the USSR when people saw a line, they would join it. Sometimes not knowing for sure why the people ahead of them were standing in it.

    I did that once. Ended up dining at K-Paul’s in New Orleans, Paul Prudhomme’s place.

    I hope you had your credit card.

    They didn’t take credit cards.  We had to dine on what we had in our pockets, so we had to limit our menus.  That was the sad part.  But the food was really delicious.

    • #18
  19. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Barry Jones (View Comment):

    It is an open secret that the lowest average SAT and MRE scores are in the College of Education on almost all University campuses. As a general rule the requrirements for a an Education degree (Batchelor’s or Master’s) lack academic rigor. That does not mean that there are not some exceptionally intelligent and informed teachers, but I would submit that it is in spite of their education not because of it.

    So statistically speaking, those who can’t, teach.

    • #19
  20. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I love my My Pillow.

    Very, very brave of you to say so.

    • #20
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