Sunday, July 21, 2019

Last CallTrump's Race To The Bottom, Con't

Rep. Elijah Cummings made it clear just how racist Donald Trump is talking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week, and it's something Democrats need to be saying on a daily basis.

Rep. Elijah Cummings on Sunday said the events of the week since President Donald Trump’s “go back” tweet aimed at four progressive congresswomen of color reminded him of being a 12-year-old growing up in 1962 Baltimore.

“We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” the Maryland Democrat told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week.” “As we tried to March to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me. And the interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. ‘Go home, you don't belong here.’ And they called us the ‘N‘ word over and over again.”

Cummings’ anecdote came days after a Trump rally in North Carolina during which some of the crowd chanted “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), an American citizen who was born in Somalia. Trump on Friday said that crowd was filled with “incredible patriots.”

“What it does, when Trump does these things it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50-some years ago and it's very, very painful,” the House oversight chairman said. “It's extremely divisive and I don't think this is becoming of the president of the United States of America.”

Cummings said though he has been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, he believes Trump is a racist, “no doubt about it.”

He also said he took issue with Trump’s tweet Sunday morning, which was along the same lines of the rhetoric the president has been doubling down on since last Sunday.

“I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country,” Trump tweeted. “They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!”

Cummings rebuked Trump’s tweet and called the four progressive congresswomen — Omar, Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — “some of the most brilliant young people” he’s met.

“When you disagree with the president, suddenly you're a bad person,” Cummings said. “Our allegiance is not to the president, our allegiance is to the constitution of the United States of America and the American people."

It was bad enough in 2002 when dissent was enough to cost you a career.  When we get into that inevitable shooting war with Iran, what I'm afraid of is that dissent is going to be enough to cost you everything up to and including your life.

Some 82% of Republicans agree with Trump's "send her back" tweets.

They're all terrible people.

Coming Up Dry

It's a good thing 2020 Democrats taking on Trump are pulling in major fundraising hauls individually, collectively outraising Trump by two to one, because Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee are doing an abysmal job of it at the national level, and that's a massive problem heading into House, Senate, and state races that will decide redistricting for the next decade.

The Democratic National Committee is getting smoked by its GOP counterpart in fundraising — and some major Democrats are panicked it could hurt their chances at defeating President Trump next year.

The DNC brought in just $22.9 million over the last three months including $9.5 million in June, according to a campaign finance report filed Saturday night with the Federal Election Commission. That’s less than half the Republican National Committee’s haul over the same time period: $51 million.

The DNC had just $9.3 million in the bank at the end of June, less than a quarter the $44 million RNC had — and that doesn’t even factor in the DNC’s $5.7 million in debt. The RNC and President Trump’s campaign had a combined $100 million in the bank.

The huge cash disparity puts Democrats behind the eight-ball in the time-and money-consuming process of building out strong voter contact programs in the states that will determine whether Trump gets reelected.

“They need to get their shit together. Now,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a Hillary Clinton campaign alumna who served as the DNC’s national field director for the final few months of the 2016 campaign.

READ: House Republicans are pressuring Amazon to carry books on gay conversion therapy

“When Hillary became the nominee in 2016 she was handed nothing, the DNC was nothing and there was nothing to build on,” he said. “You’d think we would have spent the last few years making sure this would never happen again, and it has.”

Trump’s campaign and the RNC are already using their massive cash advantage to sow the ground for next year’s election, spending more than $60 million this year alone on digital operations including $10 million on ads and building out a ground game infrastructure that takes months if not years to develop.

Democrats can’t keep up

Tom Perez isn't the right person for the job.  Ironically, for all her other faults, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a much better fundraiser, but overall the Dems have been outraised in every election this decade.

While their top presidential candidates are raising big money, the tedious years-long work of building out party voter files, identifying voters’ top concerns, and turning them out to vote is the purview of the national party, the DNC. The party’s current lack of cash could hamstring their eventual nominee and hurt down-ticket candidates, especially in states that aren’t presidential battlegrounds and are especially cash-strapped.

“This is a real problem that our party and the major donors are not facing,” said Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb, who said her party hasn’t “received a dime yet” of money the DNC promised to them earlier in the year and hasn’t been able to hire field staff she’d planned on.

The party’s fundraising woes began long before DNC Chairman Tom Perez took over in early 2017. The DNC has been outraised by the RNC in every two-year campaign cycle since 2010, following a disastrous move by President Obama to spin off his own campaign into a separate operation, starving the party of resources for years.

“Under President Obama we completely ignored our state and DNC infrastructure and now we’re paying a major price,” said Kleeb.

Other hurdles face the DNC. The GOP always has a natural advantage with big donors as the party of big business and billionaires. Small-dollar donors are rarely eager to give to a committee instead of a candidate — and the DNC’s perceived bias towards Clinton in the 2016 primaries badly damaged the DNC’s image. Democrats don’t have the White House, so they don’t have a fundraiser-in-chief, and a crowded presidential field is sucking up most donor attention and resources.

Democrats credit Perez for cleaning up some of the mess he inherited. The party has grown from 30 to 200 employees as fundraising has improved, and the DNC recently hired 1,000 rising college seniors to be full-time organizers after graduation.

The committee parted ways with longtime finance chairman Henry Muñoz in early May and replaced him with Chris Korge, a major Democratic Party donor. Under Korge, the DNC raised $3.2 million more in June than May. But with the Democratic National Convention just a year away, Perez is running out of time to right the ship.

“The one thing that has been changed is they replaced their finance chair with a guy who’s a very good money-raiser,” said former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell.

Korge argued the DNC is hitting its internal fundraising marks and promised it would raise more than it did during the 2016 cycle. While he admitted the GOP would vastly outraise them, he pointed out that the DNC and Clinton outspent the RNC and Trump by a wide margin in 2016 and Trump still won.

Dems continue to flub the farm team aspect of this and have for ten years.  It's how we lost the decade to Trump and the GOP, and unless a miracle happens, we will lose it to them again for another decade. 

The country won't survive that.  Not as a democracy.

Sunday Long Read: Membership Has Its Privileges

This week's Sunday Long Read comes to us from NY Times Magazine and Yale poetry professor Claudia Rankine, who unpacks white male privilege by asking white men what they knew they could do in society that other groups could not.

In the early days of the run-up to the 2016 election, I was just beginning to prepare a class on whiteness to teach at Yale University, where I had been newly hired. Over the years, I had come to realize that I often did not share historical knowledge with the persons to whom I was speaking. “What’s redlining?” someone would ask. “George Washington freed his slaves?” someone else would inquire. But as I listened to Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric during the campaign that spring, the class took on a new dimension. Would my students understand the long history that informed a comment like one Trump made when he announced his presidential candidacy? “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” When I heard those words, I wanted my students to track immigration laws in the United States. Would they connect the treatment of the undocumented with the treatment of Irish, Italian and Asian people over the centuries?

In preparation, I needed to slowly unpack and understand how whiteness was created. How did the Naturalization Act of 1790, which restricted citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person,” develop over the years into our various immigration acts? What has it taken to cleave citizenship from “free white person”? What was the trajectory of the Ku Klux Klan after its formation at the end of the Civil War, and what was its relationship to the Black Codes, those laws subsequently passed in Southern states to restrict black people’s freedoms? Did the United States government bomb the black community in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921? How did Italians, Irish and Slavic peoples become white? Why do people believe abolitionists could not be racist?

I wanted my students to gain an awareness of a growing body of work by sociologists, theorists, historians and literary scholars in a field known as “whiteness studies,” the cornerstones of which include Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,” David Roediger’s “The Wages of Whiteness,” Matthew Frye Jacobson’s “Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race,” Richard Dyer’s “White” and more recently Nell Irvin Painter’s “The History of White People.” Roediger, a historian, had explained the development of the field, one that my class would engage with, saying, “The 1980s and early ’90s saw the publication of major works on white identity’s intricacies and costs by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, alongside new works by white writers and activists asking similar questions historically. Given the seeming novelty of such white writing and the urgency of understanding white support for Ronald Reagan, ‘critical whiteness studies’ gained media attention and a small foothold in universities.” This area of study aimed to make visible a history of whiteness that through its association with “normalcy” and “universality” masked its omnipresent institutional power.

My class eventually became Constructions of Whiteness, and over the two years that I have taught it, many of my students (who have included just about every race, gender identity and sexual orientation) interviewed white people on campus or in their families about their understanding of American history and how it relates to whiteness
. Some students simply wanted to know how others around them would define their own whiteness. Others were troubled by their own family members’ racism and wanted to understand how and why certain prejudices formed. Still others wanted to show the impact of white expectations on their lives.

Perhaps this is why one day in New Haven, staring into the semicircle of oak trees in my backyard, I wondered what it would mean to ask random white men how they understood their privilege. I imagined myself — a middle-aged black woman — walking up to strangers and doing so. Would they react as the police captain in Plainfield, Ind., did when his female colleague told him during a diversity-training session that he benefited from “white male privilege”? He became angry and accused her of using a racialized slur against him. (She was placed on paid administrative leave, and a reprimand was placed permanently in her file.) Would I, too, be accused? Would I hear myself asking about white male privilege and then watch white man after white man walk away as if I were mute? Would they think I worked for Trevor Noah or Stephen Colbert and just forgot my camera crew? The running comment in our current political climate is that we all need to converse with people we don’t normally speak to, and though my husband is white, I found myself falling into easy banter with all kinds of strangers except white men. They rarely sought me out to shoot the breeze, and I did not seek them out. Maybe it was time to engage, even if my fantasies of these encounters seemed outlandish. I wanted to try.

Weeks later, it occurred to me that I tend to be surrounded by white men I don’t know when I’m traveling, caught in places that are essentially nowhere: in between, en route, up in the air. As I crisscrossed the United States, Europe and Africa giving talks about my work, I found myself considering these white men who passed hours with me in airport lounges, at gates, on planes. They seemed to me to make up the largest percentage of business travelers in the liminal spaces where we waited. That I was among them in airport lounges and in first-class cabins spoke in part to my own relative economic privilege, but the price of my ticket, of course, does not translate into social capital. I was always aware that my value in our culture’s eyes is determined by my skin color first and foremost. Maybe these other male travelers could answer my questions about white privilege. I felt certain that as a black woman, there had to be something I didn’t understand.

And so Rankine sets about to try to understand it, and it's one of the best reads I've had the pleasure of absorbing so far this year.

Hack The Planet, Con't

Somebody figured out that if the US intelligence community uses relatively hackable contractors that could be weak information security leaks, the same scenario applies to our Russian friends as well.

Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia's Federal Security Service, making off with 7.5 terabytes of data which exposed secret projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media, and help the state split its internet off from the rest of the world. The data was passed to mainstream media outlets for publishing.

A week ago, on July 13, hackers under the name 0v1ru$ reportedly breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor working on a range of live and exploratory internet projects. With the data stolen, 0v1ru$ left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech's homepage alongside pictures purporting to showcase the breach. 0v1ru$ then passed the data itself to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution, which shared the files with various media outlets and the headlines with Twitter—taunting FSB that the agency should maybe rename one of its breached activities "Project Collander."

Digital Revolution has targeted FSB before. It is unknown how tightly the two hacking groups are linked.

BBC Russia broke the news that 0v1ru$ had breached SyTech's servers and shared details of contentious cyber projects, projects that included social media scraping (including Facebook and LinkedIn), targeted collection and the "de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser." The BBC described the breach as possibly "the largest data leak in the history of Russian intelligence services."

As well as defacing SyTech's homepage with the Yoba Face, 0v1ru$ also detailed the project names exposed: "Arion", "Relation", "Hryvnia," alongside the names of the SyTech project managers. The BBC report claims that no actual state secrets were exposed.

The projects themselves appear to be a mix of social media scraping (Nautilus), targeted collection against internet users seeking to anonymize their activities (Nautilus-S), data collection targeting Russian enterprises (Mentor), and projects that seem to relate to Russia's ongoing initiative to build an option to separate the internal internet from the world wide web (Hope and Tax-3). The BBC claims that SyTech's projects were mostly contracted with Military Unit 71330, part of FSB's 16th Directorate which handles signals intelligence, the same group accused of emailing spyware to Ukranian intelligence officers in 2015.

Nautilus-S, the Tor de-anonymization project, was actually launched in 2012 under the remit of Russia's Kvant Research Institute, which comes under FSB's remit. Russia has been looking for ways to compromise nodes within Tor's structure to either prevent off-grid communications or intercept those communications. None of which is new news. It is believed that some progress has been made under this project. Digital Revolution claims to have hacked the Kvant Research Institute before

The preparatory activities for splitting off a "Russian internet," follow Russian President Vladimir Putin signing into law provisions for "the stable operation of the Russian Internet (Runet) in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web." The law set in train plans for an alternative domain name system (DNS) for Russia in the event that it is disconnected from the World Wide Web, or, one assumes, in the event that its politicians deem disconnection to be beneficial. Internet service providers would be compelled to disconnect from any foreign servers, relying on Russia's DNS instead.

There is nothing newsworthy in the projects exposed here, everything was known or expected. The fact of the breach itself, its scale and apparent ease is of more note. Contractors remain the weak link in the chain for intelligence agencies worldwide—to emphasize the point, just last week, a former NSA contractor was jailed in the U.S. for stealing secrets over two decades. And the fallout from Edward Snowden continues to this day.

As anyone who works in the information security field can tell you, the biggest problem is people slipping up and putting data where it can be accessed, not getting around firewalls and security measures. Doesn't take much to break into your house if you leave the key under the mat.

Shame though that the Russians got hit by their own game.  Just a crying shame.
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