Sunday, October 17, 2021

Last Call For The Big Lie, Con't

Former President Donald Trump dropped yet another absolutely bonkers statement about the 2020 results in Arizona, demanding an election redo or that he be declared the winner.

Trump has continued to cling to the big lie, and has embraced the widely-mocked Republican push for auditing the 2020 election results.

A Pima County, Arizona official said after the Maricopa County audit, “it has done a lot of damage to voter confidence across the state and across the country.”

Trump is now glomming onto claims of election fraud in Pima County, declaring falsely once again that “the election was Rigged and Stolen from the Republican Party in 2020, and in particular, its Presidential Candidate.”

He claimed that the Justice Department had this information since last November and didn’t act. You may remember that in December, Attorney General Bill Barr unequivocally stated, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”

Trump concluded his statement by declaring, “Either a new Election should immediately take place or the past Election should be decertified and the Republican candidate declared the winner.
It's ridiculous, and before you say "It's Trump, it's not our problem" understand that as long as he commands an entire political party and tens of millions of voters, he very much is our problem.

If he's now demanding elections to be overturned, flat out, either Arizona's GOP will do so, or they will at least try.

Eventually, somebody in a red state is going to actually do it.

School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Con't

I know that like in California's recall election where the Democratic governor was "doomed", it seems to me that Terry McAuliffe is suffering from the same level of "doom" in next month's gubernatorial race, likely because Virginia Republicans keep "helping" Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin like this.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) encouraged a group of students to go against their school’s policy and not wear masks.

“If nobody in Rappahannock complies [with the mask mandate], they can’t stop everyone,” Good said to a government class of 20 students Thursday, Rappahannock News reported. “If I was ya'll, I’d say none of ya'll wear a mask. What are they gonna do? They’re still going to have school.”

The state of Virginia mandates that every school must require masks regardless of students' vaccination status. The meeting between the class and Good had to take place outside because Good refused to wear a mask in the school.

Along with discouraging masks, Good claimed that masks are ineffective and that coronavirus vaccines are more dangerous for teenagers than the virus itself.

The Food and Drug Administration has deemed the vaccine safe for those above the age of 12.

“Being able to expose students to different world views is important on both sides,” Rappahannock County High School Principal Carlos Seward, who was at the event, said, according to the local outlet. “We don’t endorse one way or the other.”

Other topics discussed were Good’s anti-abortion stance, his thoughts about colleges being taken over by “the left,” his anti-critical race theory position and his support for video cameras in classrooms.

Superintendent Shannon Grimsley told the local outlet she believes the students will not listen to Good’s remarks regarding violating the face mask policy.

“Our students and families are very smart, competent individuals who have seen in real time the impact of increasing chances of being quarantined or causing others to be quarantined, as well as the potential of losing privileges, such as the ability to host events and fun activities should numbers increase too much,” she said.

However, the school previously had trouble with compliance and said events would get canceled if coronavirus cases didn’t go down. There are currently 54 students and staff in quarantine.
The conventional wisdom bleats are all about how "concerned, angry parents" are going to tip the election -- and the country in 2022 -- to the Republicans. Several dozen students in quarantine, but an elected official is telling kids don't wear masks when there's a potentially lethal disease going around.

That seems like the party that cares about kids, right? 
Parents should totally vote for them.

Sunday Long Read: The Man Who Hated Hillary

Tech guru and self-proclaimed "ethical hacker" Robert Willis has revealed himself to be "Hacker X" in our Sunday Long Read from Ars Technica's Ax Sharma, the man behind the domestic disinformation empire on Facebook and other social media to destroy Hillary Clinton in 2016.
This is the story of the mastermind behind one of the largest "fake news" operations in the US.

For two years, he ran websites and Facebook groups that spread bogus stories, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Under him was a dedicated team of writers and editors paid to produce deceptive content—from outright hoaxes to political propaganda—with the supreme goal of tipping the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

Through extensive efforts, he built a secret network of self-reinforcing sites from the ground up. He devised a strategy that got prominent personalities—including Trump—to retweet misleading claims to their followers. And he fooled unwary American citizens, including the hacker's own father, into regarding fake news sources more highly than the mainstream media.

Pundits and governments just might have given Russia too much credit, he says, when a whole system of manipulating people's perception and psychology was engineered and operated from within the US.

"Russia played such a minor role that they weren't even a blip on the radar," the hacker told me recently. "This was normal for politicians, though… if you say a lie enough times, everyone will believe it."

Previously dubbed "Hacker X," he's now ready to reveal who he is—and how he did it.

The fake news impresario who has now decided to break his silence is "ethical hacker" Robert Willis.

Some in the information security community might know "Rob" today as an active member who speaks at conferences and works with the Sakura Samurai ethical hacking group. (The Sakura Samurai have, on many occasions, responsibly disclosed vulnerabilities in the computer systems of government and private entities. I have previously interacted with Rob on about two occasions, minimally, when I had questions regarding Sakura Samurai's vulnerability writeups.)

But back in 2015, Willis was just another hacker looking for an IT job. He had already received one job offer—but still had an interview scheduled at one final company.

"I was thinking of not showing up to the interview," he told me. "I had, after all, just committed to another company."

That final company was opaque—it would not reveal either its name or the actual job duties until Willis showed up in person. But the opacity was itself intriguing. Willis decided to do the interview.

"I showed up at the location, which was a large corporate building. I was given directions to wait downstairs until I was collected. The secretiveness was intriguing. It may have turned some people off, but I love an adventure. I had not been given any information on the job other than that they were very excited, because to find someone like me was very rare—I had tons of random, overlapping, highly technical skills from years of wearing multiple hats at smaller private companies."

Even before his ethical hacking days at Sakura Samurai, Willis had gained an extensive technical skill set in networking, web applications, hacking, security, search engine optimization (SEO), graphic design, entrepreneurship, and management. He knew how to take advantage of search engine algorithms, once, he said, getting a random phrase to the No. 1 spot on one engine within 24 hours. "Many will say this is/was impossible, but I have the receipts," he said, "and so do other credible people."

At the interview site, a man came down to get him, and they rode the elevator to a floor with a nearly empty office. Inside waited a woman beside three chairs. They all sat. His hosts finally revealed the name of their company: Koala Media. The moment felt like an orchestrated Big Reveal.

"I wasn't scared but excited at how crazy this was already turning out [to be]," Willis told me. "I listened. I was told that there were big plans for the office I was sitting in and that they had already hired the initial writers and editor for the new operation."

The interviewers at the company told Willis that "everything was to be built with security in mind—at extreme levels."

Should he get the job, his primary role would be to rapidly expand a single, popular website already owned by Koala Media. For this, they needed someone with Willis' diverse skill set.

Then the interview took a political turn. "They told me that they were against big companies and big government because they are basically the same thing," Willis said. They said they had readers on the right and the left. They said they were about "freedom." That sounded OK to Willis, who describes himself as a social liberal and fiscal conservative—"very punk rock, borderline anarchist."

Then the interviewers told him, "If you work for us, you can help stop Hillary Clinton."

"I hated the establishment, Republicans, and Democrats, and Hillary was the target because she was as establishment as it got and was the only candidate that was all but guaranteed to be running on the main ticket in the future 2016 cycle," said Willis. "If I were to choose a lesser evil at the time, it would have, without a doubt, been the Republican Party, since I had moved to the new city due to the Democrats literally destroying my previous home state. It felt like good revenge."

Willis says he had no indication that the company that was about to recruit him was extreme or would become so in the future. In his perception, the company was just "investigative" with regard to its journalism.

When Koala offered him the job, he took it.


My issues are of course manifold: perhaps an avowed master of disinformation, gleefully taking credit for the operation against Hillary in 2015 and 2016 and doing everything he can in the article to downplay the documented Russian Fancy Bear operation and refusing to cleanly identify his employers?

He may not be telling the full truth as recounted here.

The one thing I do believe is his incandescent hatred of Hillary Clinton. That part I don't question.

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