Thursday, October 4, 2018

Last Call For Supreme Misgivings, Con't

Martin "BooMan" Longman argues that confirming Kavanaugh after all this, the accusations, the wrenching testimony, the sham FBI investigation and all of it, will rend the country.  He's not wrong.

To be sure, there would be costs on the other side if he were to be denied confirmation, and I don’t dispute that this has been one of the nastiest and no holds barred spectacles in the history of the country. But another Justice would eventually take this place on the Court and the wounds would slowly heal over time. That’s not going to happen with Kavanaugh sitting on the bench after he promised payback to the Clinton conspiracists he falsely claims have been behind the allegations against him.

I suppose it’s possible that Kavanaugh may one day be impeached, but that would be a rending national debacle all on its own, and absent that remedy this is a sore that is going to weep without end. It’s a mistake to confirm this man because his rulings will not be accepted and his mere presence will destroy the credibility of the Court.

The Republicans are thinking very short term right now, looking at a temporary uptick in the Senate race polls and thinking they’re on the right track. But I can tell, just by observing the women in my life, that this has set off a determined revolt and activated formerly apathetic people into a lifetime of activism and an absolutely unshakable thirst for payback.

Sen. Grassley says we’re at “rock bottom” and he wants “a future of mending things,” but if he actually interacted with the people he’s bullying he’d find out that he hasn’t seen rock bottom and their idea of mending things will not be to his liking.

Trump's election was a storm.  Kvanaugh's confirmation is a hurricane.  I know that history tells us that for all the anger and rage on our side, our side will not choose to vote.  We failed in 2010, we failed in 2014.  The other side has waited for this moment, where they cut out throats and leave liberalism to bleed out one Kavanaugh decision at a time, for decades.  Nothing will stop them.  Nothing can stop them.

Nothing can stop them, except us voting in numbers too big for them to ignore.  Because the next stage past that, history tells us, is where the metaphorical war becomes very, very real.

Hack The Planet, China Edition

Bloomberg Businessweek blows the lid off a massive Chinese intel operation to attach microchips to the data centers of basically every major US company (and more than a few government agencies) giving them 100% complete access to every network that machine can get to.

In 2015, Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Based in Portland, Ore., Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Elemental’s national security contracts weren’t the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon’s government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the CIA.

To help with due diligence, AWS, which was overseeing the prospective acquisition, hired a third-party company to scrutinize Elemental’s security, according to one person familiar with the process. The first pass uncovered troubling issues, prompting AWS to take a closer look at Elemental’s main product: the expensive servers that customers installed in their networks to handle the video compression. These servers were assembled for Elemental by Super Micro Computer Inc., a San Jose-based company (commonly known as Supermicro) that’s also one of the world’s biggest suppliers of server motherboards, the fiberglass-mounted clusters of chips and capacitors that act as the neurons of data centers large and small. In late spring of 2015, Elemental’s staff boxed up several servers and sent them to Ontario, Canada, for the third-party security company to test, the person says. 
Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.
During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get.
There are two ways for spies to alter the guts of computer equipment. One, known as interdiction, consists of manipulating devices as they’re in transit from manufacturer to customer. This approach is favored by U.S. spy agencies, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The other method involves seeding changes from the very beginning. 
One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world’s mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs. Still, to actually accomplish a seeding attack would mean developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location—a feat akin to throwing a stick in the Yangtze River upstream from Shanghai and ensuring that it washes ashore in Seattle. “Having a well-done, nation-state-level hardware implant surface would be like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow,” says Joe Grand, a hardware hacker and the founder of Grand Idea Studio Inc. “Hardware is just so far off the radar, it’s almost treated like black magic.” 
But that’s just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies. 
One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.

So, yeah.  Massive, massive data breach on the nation-state level, for years, with China having complete access to American corporate networks as well as government ones.

But remember, we don't need to be worried about cybersecurity, according to the Trump regime.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Five weeks out and while Republicans are expecting white anger over the Kavanaugh confirmation to save, if not increase their Senate majority, the House is looking more and more like a bloodbath for the GOP as the latest Cook Political Report House chart finds multiple GOP toss-up races moving into the Democratic column.

Five weeks out, several personally popular Republicans who appeared to be defying the "blue wave" in Clinton-won districts are beginning to see their leads erode. GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), John Katko (NY-24) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) led most surveys over the summer but are now prime targets as their well-funded Democratic challengers become better-known and the Kavanaugh debate further polarizes voters into red and blue corners. 
It's becoming harder and harder to see Republicans' path to holding the majority. In the past few days, multiple Democrats challengers have announced staggering fundraising totals of more than $3 million during the third quarter of the year, exceeding what many predecessors have raised for an entire cycle. One high-ranking Republican worries his party could be "buried under an avalanche" of Democratic money that GOP outside groups can't match. 
After today's ratings changes, there are 15 GOP-held seats in Lean or Likely Democratic (including seven incumbents) and Democrats would only need to win 11 of the 31 races in the Toss Up column to flip the majority. There's still time for political conditions to change, but today the likeliest outcome appears to be a Democratic gain of between 25 and 40 seats (they need 23 for House control).

And you'll never guess who appears to be in real trouble but our old friend, Ron Paul Junior (Junior) himself, Michigan's favorite Glibertarian con man, Justin Amash.

West central: Grand Rapids, Battle Creek
Likely Republican. Amash, a Freedom Caucus member and heir to Ron Paul's libertarian mantle in the House, has been presumed to be safe thanks to his vocal criticism of President Trump (Amash cited Trump's "dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity" at one point in June). But Democrat Gretchen Whitmer appears to be running away with the governor's race and is giving several Michigan Republicans down-ballot jitters. 
This increasingly professional Grand Rapids seat is a Democratic recruitment failure: Cathy Albro, a pro-single-payer former teacher who won the August primary with 68 percent, had raised just $61,000 at the end of July. However, Amash had just $277,000 on hand and doesn't appear to be running a vigorous campaign either. There's also no guarantee his Trump criticism will earn him as many votes from Democrats as he loses from Trump supporters. 
Despite the parties' utter lack of activity here, the potential for a horrible night for Michigan Republicans makes overlooked districts like this one watching. Trump only won this seat 52 percent to 42 percent, in line with plenty of other districts that are competitive.

See if we can't help out Cathy Albro, eh?

In addition to Amash, Mia Love is in trouble in Utah again, and so is Keith Yoder in KC.  These are seats that could very well fall if the national mood is as bad as it seems to be for the GOP.

Stay tuned.


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