Monday, January 25, 2021

Last Call For The Great Former Trumpist Job Hunt

 Donald Trump is political cancer these days, but he's also resume cancer, and his close aides and confidants are now unemployed and remain unemployable.

“There’s a lot of resumé passing and people just wanting to help people land on their feet,” said a former Trump White House official.

It’s not been easy. Tainted by Trump’s reputation, several Trump aides described an increasingly bleak job market with virtually no chance of landing jobs in corporate America and some even having seen promising leads disappear after the rampage at the U.S. Capitol. A second former White House official said they knew of “people who got jobs rescinded because of Jan. 6.” A Republican strategist was blunter.

“They are really f---ed,” the strategist said, pointing to some top officials who stuck with Trump until the bitter end. “The Hill scramble, one of the few places where they’d be welcomed, already happened a month or so ago… They were told over and over to take their hand off the hot stove, and they didn’t want to listen.”

It’s not just the lower- and mid-level staffers getting pinched. Two people familiar with his thinking said Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who spent seven years in the House of Representatives before joining the White House, was even considering a position at the Trump Organization because of a lack of options.

Faced with these employment hurdles, staffers have circulated an informal directory of plausible job openings among each other. Other Trump officials decided to start their own businesses or transitioned back to Republican offices on Capitol Hill or hired their former colleagues. Former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah, for example, recently tapped a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence to join her new consulting operation, according to a person familiar with the move.

It’s a far different reality from where Trump and his aides had envisioned they would be. A month ago, everything seemed crystal clear: He had lost the 2020 election but would soon launch a juggernaut campaign for the presidency in 2024, and his allies and inner circle would be there to help. Now, the former president’s team is scampering away — willing to leave Washington, in some cases for red states like Texas and Florida, to increase their job prospects — while his own second act is clouded by uncertainty.

One former senior administration official noted that many inside the White House were waiting until after the Electoral College votes were counted to begin their job search in earnest, so as not to step on messaging about Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. But then, the riots on Capitol Hill upended their plans.

“They looked to that [Jan. 6] as the end of the limbo state people were operating in so they could start moving on to the next thing” the former official said. “But the 6th put a shock to that.”

Crying shame that sticking with your seditionist coup-coup bird of a boss has wrecked your job prospects, huh.

Maybe that $600 will help, yeah?

Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump’s former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, announced Monday she’s running for Arkansas governor, vying for political office even as the former president’s legacy is clouded by an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

The former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, launched the bid less than a week after the end of Trump’s time in office and as the ex-president faces an impeachment trial.

But her announcement reflected how much she expected voters in solidly red Arkansas to embrace the former president, if not his rhetoric.

“With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense,” Sanders said in a video announcing her bid. “In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas.”

The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders had been widely expected to run for the office after leaving the White House — and Trump publicly encouraged her to make a go. She’s been laying the groundwork for a candidacy, speaking to GOP groups around the state.

Sanders joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed current Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat.
Doesn't matter that a state's governor has no executive experience in a party that elected Trump, right? Not only do I expect Sanders to win the primary, I expect her to win the governor's race and take her rage out on the Little Rock press corps while lining up regular interview spots on MAGA TV.

She's in the perfect spot to win, still a hardcore Trumpist but far enough away from the failed coup and COVID disaster that she won't be blamed for either when running.

Keep an eye on her. She's going to be dangerous in the years ahead.

The Coup-Coup Birds Come Home To Roost, Con't

Federal law enforcement sources are investigating threats against Congress over Trump's upcoming impeachment trial, stoked by Trump himself no doubt. I do so very hate being right about this.

Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.

The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump’s trial, the official said.

The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden’s inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump’s trial exemplified the continued potential for danger.

Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official.

The official was not authorized to not discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation’s capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president.

Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off-guard despite intelligence the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said.

The Guard Bureau said that the number of Guard members in D.C. is less than 20,000 as of Sunday. All but about 7,000 of those will go home in the coming days. The Guard Bureau said that the number of troops in D.C. would then continue to decline in the coming weeks to about 5,000. They are expected to stay in D.C. until mid-March

So DC will remain an armed Green Zone trying to deal with terrorist attacks for at least the next six weeks, during a pandemic that now has new strains of the virus, and Republican lawmakers themselves egging on the terrorists. Still. Again.

Open threats against lawmakers may be the strongest evidence yet that Trump has to be convicted and barred from ever holding public office again (and that Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley need to be expelled from the Senate) because if the Senate GOP refuses to do so now, there will be more coup attempts, and eventually they will be successful.

We've already had one Trump-fueled terrorist attack, where the deaths of dozens of members of Congress, and maybe the loss of the country, were only narrowly averted. More attacks are already being planned openly.

Swift justice has to be delivered to this army of seditionists, guys.

Or we will be under terrorist assault for a very long time.

Location, Location, Location!

The New York Times's Kate Murphy warns of yet another piece of critical infrastructure that the US government has been ignoring for decades: the Global Positioning System. Updates and security precautions need to be taken now, and the US needs to decide on a system to replace it, or America could suffer a devastating outage.

Time was when nobody knew, or even cared, exactly what time it was. The movement of the sun, phases of the moon and changing seasons were sufficient indicators. But since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve become increasingly dependent on knowing the time, and with increasing accuracy. Not only does the time tell us when to sleep, wake, eat, work and play; it tells automated systems when to execute financial transactions, bounce data between cellular towers and throttle power on the electrical grid.

Coordinated Universal Time, or U.T.C., the global reference for timekeeping, is beamed down to us from extremely precise atomic clocks aboard Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. The time it takes for GPS signals to reach receivers is also used to calculate location for air, land and sea navigation.

Owned and operated by the U.S. government, GPS is likely the least recognized, and least appreciated, part of our critical infrastructure. Indeed, most of our critical infrastructure would cease to function without it.

The problem is that GPS signals are incredibly weak, due to the distance they have to travel from space, making them subject to interference and vulnerable to jamming and what is known as spoofing, in which another signal is passed off as the original. And the satellites themselves could easily be taken out by hurtling space junk or the sun coughing up a fireball. As intentional and unintentional GPS disruptions are on the rise, experts warn that our overreliance on the technology is courting disaster, but they are divided on what to do about it.

“If we don’t get good backups on line, then GPS is just a soft rib of ours, and we could be punched here very quickly,” said Todd Humphreys, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. If GPS was knocked out, he said, you’d notice. Think widespread power outages, financial markets seizing up and the transportation system grinding to a halt. Grocers would be unable to stock their shelves, and Amazon would go dark. Emergency responders wouldn’t be able to find you, and forget about using your cellphone.

Mr. Humphreys got the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration about this issue back in 2008 when he published a paper showing he could spoof GPS receivers. At the time, he said he thought the threat came mainly from hackers with something to prove: “I didn’t even imagine that the level of interference that we’ve been seeing recently would be attributable to state actors.”

More than 10,000 incidents of GPS interference have been linked to China and Russia in the past five years. Ship captains have reported GPS errors showing them 20-120 miles inland when they were actually sailing off the coast of Russia in the Black Sea. Also well documented are ships suddenly disappearing from navigation screens while maneuvering in the Port of Shanghai. After GPS disruptions at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in 2019, Israeli officials pointed to Syria, where Russia has been involved in the nation’s long-running civil war. And last summer, the United States Space Command accused Russia of testing antisatellite weaponry.

But it’s not just nation-states messing with GPS. Spoofing and jamming devices have gotten so inexpensive and easy to use that delivery drivers use them so their dispatchers won’t know they’re taking long lunch breaks or having trysts at Motel 6. Teenagers use them to foil their parents’ tracking apps and to cheat at Pokémon Go. More nefariously, drug cartels and human traffickers have spoofed border control drones. Dodgy freight forwarders may use GPS jammers or spoofers to cloak or change the time stamps on arriving cargo.

These disruptions not only affect their targets; they can also affect anyone using GPS in the vicinity.

“You might not think you’re a target, but you don’t have to be,” said Guy Buesnel, a position, navigation and timing specialist with the British network and cybersecurity firm Spirent. “We’re seeing widespread collateral or incidental effects.” In 2013 a New Jersey truck driver interfered with Newark Liberty International Airport’s satellite-based tracking system when he plugged a GPS jamming device into his vehicle’s cigarette lighter to hide his location from his employer.

The risk posed by our overdependency on GPS has been raised repeatedly at least since 2000, when its signals were fully opened to civilian use. Launched in 1978, GPS was initially reserved for military purposes, but after the signals became freely available, the commercial sector quickly realized their utility, leading to widespread adoption and innovation. Nowadays, most people carry a GPS receiver everywhere they go — embedded in a mobile phone, tablet, watch or fitness tracker.
Now here's the kicker:

An emergency backup for GPS was mandated by the 2018 National Timing and Resilience Security Act. The legislation said a reliable alternate system needed to be operational within two years, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Part of the reason for the holdup, aside from a pandemic, is disagreement between government agencies and industry groups on what is the best technology to use, who should be responsible for it, which GPS capabilities must be backed up and with what degree of precision
Congress has passed a fix. And then the GOP punted it to this Congress.  The yearly cost of maintaining the GPS constellation of satellites is $1.7 billion, and gosh, we don't have the money for it, according to Republicans, even though I'm pretty sure we could find some Pentagon money for it.

No, what Republicans really want to do is monetize yet another piece of public infrastructure so they can exploit it for lobbyist cash.

Here's hoping Democrats get this fixed.

I know, I know, it's a long list.

But it needs doing.


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