Sunday, July 29, 2018

Both Sides Against The Middle, Georgia Edition

Kevin Sack and Alan Blinder at the NY Times preview the Georgia Governor's race, and apparently the state being governed by a white guy who has a big truck so he can haul illegals away is just as awful for the state as having...a black woman in charge.  What's a centrist to do?

The Republican won the nomination Tuesday after branding himself a politically incorrect conservative who would “round up criminal illegals” and haul them to the border in his very own pickup. The Democrat all but opened her campaign by demanding that the iconic carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be sandblasted off Stone Mountain.

Almost overnight, Georgia’s captivating governor’s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams has taken on the dimensions of a defining moment, one that will, regardless of outcome, determine what the state represents and how it is perceived. That voters chose these two candidates reflects how Americans are embracing politicians on the basis of culture and identity, and how Georgia’s politics are catching up with its rapid demographic change: The nonwhite population has grown to 40 percent from 29 percent since 1990.

But Georgia’s political middle, long the dominant force behind the state’s thriving commerce and pragmatic leadership, suddenly finds itself all but abandoned

More starkly than in most midterm campaigns, the contest between Mr. Kemp, the two-term Republican secretary of state, and Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the State Legislature, has come to mirror the disorienting polarization of the Trump era and expose the consequences of a primary system that increasingly rewards those who appeal to the fringes.

So it's not a story about who will win, it's a story about who will lose: Georgia's white moderate center, who is under assault by the racist Trump right who nominated an immigrant-hating bigot and the equally awful "identity politics" left who nominated a Confederate-hating black woman.  Whoever wins, the state's "thriving commerce and pragmatic leadership" will be eliminated apparently.

Was this written by Third Way?

In Georgia, perhaps the Deep South’s most essential economy, the 2018 campaign is a point of demarcation. In the five decades since the death of legal segregation, the image-conscious state has been led by a succession of white male centrist governors — first moderate Democrats, then, for the last 16 years, right-leaning Republicans. They have more often than not been steady and bland, focused on improving education, corporate recruitment and job growth. The unemployment rate has declined by more than 6 percentage points since the current governor, Nathan Deal, took office in 2011.

But to date, neither Ms. Abrams nor Mr. Kemp has rushed to occupy that political space. With both candidates bolstered by huge wins in their primaries, there is no clear indication that either plans to abandon their base-driven strategies for a wholesale pivot toward the center. The race has come to be seen, in the words of Mr. Kemp at a Republican unity rally near Atlanta on Thursday night, as a battle for “literally the soul of our state.

"WHY WON'T THEY PIVOT TO THE MIDDLE?" they screamed into the abyss.

Ms. Abrams, 44, a brainy Yale Law graduate from Atlanta, has leveraged the prospect of becoming the country’s first female African-American governor to nationalize her campaign and its fund-raising. By contrast, Mr. Kemp, 54, is a drawling agri-businessman from Athens who has revived a populist style that has lain dormant in Georgia since the late 1960s. Both campaigns say they are committed to maximizing turnout by their most rabid supporters rather than moderating in order to broaden their appeal to centrists and independents.

Each side frames the election of the other in doomsday terms. Mr. Kemp, the Democrats fear, will take Georgia the way of North Carolina and Indiana, which were tarnished by recent legislative battles over issues like gay rights and the use of public restrooms by transgender people. Republicans warn that Ms. Abrams, who hopes to expand Medicaid health coverage for the poor and disabled, will raise taxes they have cut, reverse the state’s job growth, deplete its rainy-day surplus and threaten its superior bond ratings.

The "most rabid supporters" on Kemp's side are actual white supremacists.The "most rabid supporters" on Abrams's side are "people who think a giant monument to slavery is bad."

The story then goes on to quote several "moderates" and former Georgia politicians who think both candidates are terrible and that they don't think moderates in the state will vote at all because of the "partisanship".

Most of all, they worry about the state's "business climate" if either one is elected.

This is what passes for a politics story in the NY Times in 2018.

Ahh, but the much bigger problem that "moderates" and everybody in Georgia need to worry about is the fact that the Kemp is the Republican Secretary of State and believes Russian interference in the 2016 election was all but a hoax, and that he's taking no action to secure the state's voting systems against attack because he doesn't believe one is possible.

In August, 2016, when the scope of the Russian hacking effort was becoming clear to President Obama—and as he and his advisers struggled to find a response that would not undermine the legitimacy of the upcoming elections, or provoke the Russians to do more damage, or appear to confirm Trump’s assertion that the election was rigged—Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, suggested designating the American election system as “critical infrastructure,” a category that includes bridges and the power grid. This designation would enable D.H.S. to offer cybersecurity support to individual states. And this inflamed Brian Kemp.

Labelling elections as critical infrastructure, Kemp declared, opened the door for the federal government to “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Georgia is one of only five states that uses voting machines that create no paper record, and thus cannot be audited, and the Center for American Progress has given it a D grade for election security. But, when D.H.S. offered cybersecurity assistance, Kemp spoke out against it. (Georgia has since accepted some help from D.H.S.)

“It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the D.N.C. getting hacked—they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system,” Kemp said at the time. “And that’s just not—I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.”

And yet, as it turned out, that was exactly the way the system in Georgia was set up. We know this because, a few days before Kemp blasted the D.H.S. and dismissed the D.N.C. hack, a young security researcher in Georgia named Logan Lamb began poking around the Web site of Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems, looking for vulnerabilities. The Center was under contract with the Georgia secretary of state’s office—Kemp’s office—to program and test all the voting machines in the state, train state election workers, and distribute the state’s electronic voter-registration database to the counties. With the entire state election system housed in one place, the Center was a high-value, potentially vulnerable target. Lamb, who worked for an Internet-security company called Bastille, wanted to find out how vulnerable.

On the Center’s Web site, Lamb quickly discovered a trove of unsecured files—fifteen gigabytes’ worth. Among the files were lists of passwords that would allow election workers to sign into a central server on Election Day, and the systems that prepared ballots and tabulated votes. He also found software for the state’s “poll books,” electronic databases that are often used to verify people’s eligibility to vote, as well as a security hole through which he could download the entire database of the state’s 6.7 million registered voters. The files had been publicly exposed for so long that they were cached on Google. He also saw that the Center had failed to fix a well-known glitch in its content-management system through which hackers could take control of the site. A patch for this issue had been publicly available for two years.

Kemp's office will count the votes in November and will determine who is eligible to vote, by the way.  But the real problem is the divisive black lady is mean to Georgia's history, right?

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