Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Last Call For A Leaking Ship, Sinking

Can we finally stop pretending that WikiLeaks hasn't somehow become the very monster it supposedly set out to slay, and that Assange and company need to be shut down?

WikiLeaks' global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found. 
In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom. 
"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," said a Saudi man who told AP he was bewildered that WikiLeaks had revealed the details of a paternity dispute with a former partner. "If the family of my wife saw this ... Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people."

WikiLeaks' mass publication of personal data is at odds with the site's claim to have championed privacy even as it laid bare the workings of international statecraft, and has drawn criticism from the site's allies.

Attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were unsuccessful; a set of questions left with his site wasn't immediately answered Tuesday. WikiLeaks' stated mission is to bring censored or restricted material "involving war, spying and corruption" into the public eye, describing the trove amassed thus far as a "giant library of the world's most persecuted documents." 
The library is growing quickly, with half a million files from the U.S. Democratic National Committee, Turkey's governing party and the Saudi Foreign Ministry added in the last year or so. But the library is also filling with rogue data, including computer viruses, spam, and a compendium of personal records. 
The Saudi diplomatic cables alone hold at least 124 medical files, according to a sample analyzed by AP. Some described patients with psychiatric conditions, seriously ill children or refugees. 
"This has nothing to do with politics or corruption," said Dr. Nayef al-Fayez, a consultant in the Jordanian capital of Amman who confirmed that a brain cancer patient of his was among those whose details were published to the web. Dr. Adnan Salhab, a retired practitioner in Jordan who also had a patient named in the files, expressed anger when shown the document. 
"This is illegal what has happened," he said in a telephone interview. "It is illegal!"

Even if you still don't buy the reams of information pointing to the group as being a front to launder Russian intelligence interests against the West, the fact that they leak government information that sometimes turns out to be the very privacy violations that Assange and his friends are screaming about should be enough to turn the world against them.

I've never trusted the man, and the evidence against WikiLeaks has proven that to be a good assumption when dealing with Assange again and again.  It's awful.

And it needs to be stopped.

Worst Kasich Scenario, Con't

Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich takes to the NY Times in an op-ed where he complains that his own chief legislative accomplishment from his time in the House, the 1996 Welform Reform Bill, was a failure.  It's just not his fault, he'll tell you, even though his claim to fame as a fiscal conservative was writing this bill 20 years ago.

TWO decades ago, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to make historic changes to our nation’s welfare program, working to strike the right balance between helping people in need while setting standards for personal responsibility. Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed their bill into law, famously declaring, “Today, we are ending welfare as we know it.” 
Many people in both parties will look at this anniversary as a reason to celebrate one of the greatest legislative achievements of the 1990s. But I’m here to tell you that it didn’t work — our welfare system still isn’t doing what it’s supposed to. 
I should know. In 1996, as a Republican representative from Ohio and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, I was proud to be part of the bipartisan team that overhauled our federal welfare system. These reforms, for the first time, introduced personal accountability into the welfare equation and began moving America down a better path by imposing lifetime limits on cash benefits, requiring recipients to work or get training and giving flexibility to states in shaping their own welfare programs to meet their particular needs. 
But today, it’s clear that our welfare system is still deeply flawed, thanks in part to later changes from Washington. In 2005, Congress pulled power back from the states, reducing local flexibility by enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach that sets arbitrary time limits on education and training for people seeking sustainable employment. As a result, too many lives are thrown away by a rigid and counterproductive system that treats an individual as a number, not as a person who is desperate to gain new skills and opportunities in life.

Let's break this down: first of all, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich would have been (and was) the numbers guy on the Welfare Reform bill.  Second, who controlled Congress and the White House in 2005?  That would be the Republican party itself that made the very changes Kasich is complaining about.

Kasich goes on to detail the workarounds and waivers he wants in Ohio, but let's not forget that in his recent presidential campaign Kasich ran chiefly on a balanced budget amendment, which would have drastically cut federal spending on the very same welfare programs he's complaining about not working for Ohio.

So it's hard to take Kasich's complaints seriously when he was a major author of the legislation he's moaning about, even more so when his own party made the situation worse by his own admission, and triply so when as President he was calling for making the situation of states like Ohio even more awful with a federal balanced budget amendment.

But that's Kasich for you.

The Coming Av-Hill-Lanche, Con't.

Joe Crespino at the NY Times makes the case that Georgia is truly in play for Hillary Clinton, just as it was for her husband when he won the Peach State in 1992, and argues that it may become the new key swing state going forward as Trump may have blown his chances there to lock the state down by using the Southern Strategy.

Richard M. Nixon pulled it off artfully in his two successful campaigns, appearing mostly in Southern cities and suburbs and letting Thurmond work the Deep South circuit. Ronald Reagan folded in religious conservatives in the 1980s to replace the generation of Dixiecrats dying off, thus consolidating the powerful mix of cultural reaction and economic conservatism that is modern Republicanism. 
Yet this year that mixture may not work. Mr. Trump’s extreme language and divisive policies are alienating moderate Republicans in places like the Atlanta exurbs — where Mrs. Clinton is running nearly even with Mr. Trump. And across the state, polls show a significantly low number of Republicans saying they’ll support their party’s candidate. 
Mr. Trump’s campaign most closely resembles the presidential campaigns of George C. Wallace, the arch-segregationist Alabama governor. Indeed, Wallace’s legacy is telling. An economic progressive, he remained a Democrat his entire life. True, he galvanized white working-class disenchantment and pioneered a populist, anti-liberal rhetoric that Ronald Reagan and subsequent Republicans would use to devastating effect. Yet he never had much appeal among the new class of suburban whites; the two were like oil and water. So, too, it would seem, are Donald Trump and moderate Southern Republicans today.

Whether or not Republicans hold on to Georgia and South Carolina this year, the lessons they are likely to take away are predictable. Democrats will assume that these states, like Virginia and North Carolina, are part of a long-term liberal trend and push traditional liberal ideas harder in future elections. Republicans will most likely write off Mr. Trump as a one-time phenomenon and not do anything. In doing so, both parties will ignore lessons from the history of the Southern conservative majority. 
What might be happening instead is something new in the South: true two-party politics, in which an urban liberal-moderate Democratic Party fights for votes in the increasingly multiethnic metropolitan South against an increasingly rural, nationalistic Republican Party. If that happens, it will transform not only the politics of the American South, but those of America itself.

Another thing to note is that Georgia now has 16 electoral votes, up from 13 when Bill Clinton won the state in 1992.  The new swing state axis in the future may not be Ohio-Pennsylvania-Florida anymore, but GA-NC-FL, especially given the fact Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, like Michigan and its 16 electoral votes, have been reliably Democratic since Bill Clinton's first term.

The country's new purple state battleground might be these states and maybe even the entire East Coast Southern region (including Virginia and even South Carolina) one day soon.

Speaking of Virginia, Clinton is up by a whopping 16 points, 48-32%, over Trump in that state in the latest Roanoke College poll.

We'll see how that holds up in the next few weeks.


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