Thursday, December 15, 2016

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

Donald Trump continues to be petty and vindictive, using the presidency to settle scores...or at least the transition period to do so.

Twitter was told it was "bounced" from Wednesday's meeting between tech executives and President-elect Donald Trump in retribution for refusing during the campaign to allow an emoji version of the hashtag #CrookedHillary, according to a source close to the situation. 
Twitter is one of the few major U.S. tech companies not represented at Wednesday afternoon's Trump Tower meeting attended by, among others, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla's Elon Musk — an omission all the more striking because of Trump's heavy dependence on the Twitter platform. With some 17.3 million followers of his account, the president-elect has made Twitter into the de facto press channel of his transition operation.

Trump has had public beefs with other tech execs at the sit-down. He's criticized Cook over Apple's refusal to decrypt a cellphone whose owner was implicated in a terrorist incident, for example, and Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post. But, it seems, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's role in what the Trump operation saw as the breaching of a deal was a step too far for those close to Trump. 
The incident at issue was detailed in a Medium post last month by Gary Coby, director of digital advertising and fundraising for the Trump campaign. According to Coby, Dorsey personally intervened to block the Trump operation from deploying — as part of a $5 million deal between the social media company and the campaign — an emoji showing, in various renderings, small bags of money being given away or stolen. That emoji would have been offered to users as a replacement for the hashtag #CrookedHillary, a preferred Trump insult for his Democratic opponent.

The message to tech companies is clear: do what Trump wants, or else the power of the government will be used against you. Twitter wouldn't take money as a social media platform to officially insult Trump's opponent, so now it will be locked out of White House access.

Actually, that message is to everyone on the planet.  Better play Trump's game, because it's the only game in town, losers.  You have no choice...

...or you could resist.

How To Steal An Election, Con't

I've talked about NC Republicans actively trying to steal the election of Democratic AG Roy Cooper to the Governor's seat several times, and when I thought current NC GOP Gov. Pat "Bathroom Bill" McCrory conceded ten days ago that Cooper would be able to take office and move the state towards the light again.

How absolutely wrong I was.

Expanding beyond the disaster recovery legislation the General Assembly approved Wednesday, Republican lawmakers quickly proposed sweeping changes to state government, including proposals that would diminish the governor’s authority to make appointments. 
Lawmakers want to hobble the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, before he takes office Jan. 1 by making his Cabinet appointments subject to approval by the state Senate and cutting his ability to appoint members to UNC schools’ boards of trustees and the state Board of Education. 
Another proposal in the mix would equally divide election boards between the two major political parties, ending control by the governor’s party. 
Yet another provision would cut the number of employees who serve at the governor’s pleasure from 1,500 to 300, reversing an expansion approved for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory at the start of his term. 
Of the two dozen bills filed by both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday night, only a handful are likely to be voted on during this special session. Those that are likely to move forward represent a significant shakeup by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Rick Hasen reads the fine print and discovers that the GOP, having been thwarted in stealing the election, are now trying to steal the office of governor itself.

It is much, much worse than it looks now that the bill is posted. The Democratic party appointees to the election board would chair in odd numbered years, and the Republican party appointees would chair in even numbered years (see page 4 of the bill), meaning that they would chair in each of the years in which there are legislative, congressional, and presidential elections
The state supreme court would be limited in reviewing state constitutional and federal challenges, giving the power instead first to an en banc panel of intermediate appellate court judges (who of course are Republican majority) and limiting appeals as of right (see from pages 20 on in the bill). 
If the bill passes in this form, I could see potential Voting Rights Act and federal constitutional challenges here, in part because the legislature would potentially be diluting minority voting power and making minority voters worse off, just at the time that their candidate of choice (Gov. Cooper) is poised to assume power.

Guess how far such a challenge would go in Trump's Supreme Court or Justice Department voting rights or civil rights divisions?

Folks, NC Republicans are essentially transferring all the governor's power to the GOP controlled assembly in an attempt to completely neuter Democrats, for the sole reason that a Democrat dared to win the race.

This is how America works now.

Read more here:

Russian To Judgment, Con't

With the Russian DNC hack exposing the party's secrets to both the Russians and the GOP, it's important to remember that Hillary Clinton wasn't the only victim that leaks were used against in the 2016 elections.  Several House Democrats were done in by Putin and friends as well.

South Florida has long been a laboratory for some of the nation’s roughest politics, with techniques like phantom candidates created by political rivals to siphon off votes from their opponents, or so-called boleteras hired to illegally fill out stacks of absentee ballots on behalf of elderly or disabled voters.

But there was never anything quite like the 2016 election campaign, when a handful of Democratic House candidates became targets of a Russian influence operation that made thousands of pages of documents stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington available to Florida reporters and bloggers.

“It was like I was standing out there naked,” said Annette Taddeo, a Democrat who lost her primary race after secret campaign documents were made public. “I just can’t describe it any other way. Our entire internal strategy plan was made public, and suddenly all this material was out there and could be used against me.”

The impact of the information released by the hackers on candidates like Ms. Taddeo in Florida and others in nearly a dozen House races around the country was largely lost in the focus on what was done to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But this untold story underscores the effect the Russian operation had on the American electoral system.

“This is not a traditional tit-for-tat on a partisan political campaign, where one side hits the other and then you respond,” said Kelly Ward, executive director of the D.C.C.C. “This is an attack by a foreign actor that had the intent to disrupt our election, and we were the victims of it.”

Democrats in state races were also victims of WikiLeaks.

The intrusions in House races in states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina can be traced to tens of thousands of pages of documents taken from the D.C.C.C., which shares a Capitol Hill office building with the Democratic National Committee.

The document dump’s effectiveness was due in part to a de facto alliance that formed between the Russian hackers and political bloggers and newspapers across the United States. The hackers, working under the made-up name of Guccifer 2.0, used social media tools to invite individual reporters to request specific caches of documents, handing them out the way political operatives distribute scoops. It was an arrangement that proved irresistible to many news outlets — and amplified the consequences of the cyberattack.

“It’s time for new revelations now,” the Guccifer 2.0 website proclaimed, as it began to pass out the D.C.C.C. documents, trying to entice reporters to look at them on their own. “All of you may have heard about the D.C.C.C. hack. As you see I wasn’t wasting my time! It was even easier than in the case of the D.N.C. breach.”

Cybersecurity consultants believe the hacking of the D.C.C.C. took place around March or April of 2016 after a staffer clicked on a so-called phishing email. The D.C.C.C. shut down its computer system for a week — from the moment it learned of the attack in June. But it was already too late to close the door. The consequences started to become clear in August when the hackers released the home addresses, cellphone numbers and personal email addresses of Democratic House members.

Internal Democratic party documents, including strategies and research, were used against Democrats in multiple close House races.  Those races were won by Republicans in nearly every case.

The Russians didn't just "damage our democracy".  They went after Democrats to keep Republicans in power.  They did that for a reason. And guess who was behind it?

Why, ol' Vlad himself.

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin's objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a "vendetta" against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore," the official said.

And of course, Trump knew.  So now we have a major, major problem.

What will President Obama's response be?


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