Saturday, February 25, 2017

Russia's Hacked DNC, How Did it Influence the Election

Secrecy versus democracy collide in our modern, interconnected era. During our recent presidential election, it was revealed Russia was at the heart of a directed attack on the DNC. Schneier wrote in January:
The constellation of evidence attributing the attacks against the DNC, and subsequent release of information, is comprehensive. It's possible that there was more than one attack. It's possible that someone not associated with Russia leaked the information to WikiLeaks, although we have no idea where that someone else would have obtained the information. We know that the Russian actors who hacked the DNC -- both the FSB, Russia's principal security agency, and the GRU, Russia's military intelligence unit -- are also attacking other political networks around the world.
Beside the electronic trespassing, what did Russia do that swayed the election Trumps way? About all that has been said is that Putin did not like Clinton mainly due to her Secretary of State positions, and that he has had some business dealings with Trump, perhaps liking his chances with him over her. There's talk of fake news created by the Russians, which apparently is different than fake news created by the USA's main stream media.

There is no real evidence that the DNC hack by the Russian government contributed in any decisive way to Trump’s win over Clinton. The election did show us a number of things:

  1. We do a crappy jobs a information security; attackers can get into any system, not just the DNCs.
  2. Whatever the DNC lost from a hacked server was more than compensated for for the internal fake news and Democratic biased reporting by most of the media.
  3. The polls missed the voter dislike for Clinton, preferring to take a chance on a political outsider.
  4. When a favorite loses, those behind the scene try everything they can to assign blame, from campaign staff to the MSM.
  5. If the America people felt that Trump was in collusion with the Russian, he would have lost in a landslide. The evidence must not have been that compelling because Obama elected to hold off reporting it until after the election. He was not taking the "higher ground" -- if he thought it would have pushed Clinton ahead or discredited Trump, he would have done it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Elections Have Consequences: Travel Ban on Seven Nations

Wow, what a decisive issue we have seen with the 27 January Executive Order:  Protecting the Nation from Foreign terrorist Entry into the United States. It orders a temporary halt on all refugee admissions (120 days); visa suspensions (90 days) of individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen; an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees; and introduces a cap of 50,000 refugees to be accepted in 2017 (versus a limit of 110,000 set by Obama.)

The travel ban was a sensible idea hobbled by flaws, especially regarding green card holders and dual citizens. The roll-out was clumsy; the communication terrible. It temporarily inconvenienced hundreds of foreign nationals (versus Obamacare that impacted millions of Americans.)

For two weeks, there were some protests, from peaceful to mildly violent. The Washington (and Minnesota) law suit against the ban placed a temporary stoppage to the Order. On a 3-0 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons.

The federal government; i.e., President Trump, believes it is not a Muslim ban, as the opponents claim. The seven countries sited lack normal governments and are weak on assisting with thorough vetting processes. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.

The opponents claim they are making a Constitutional check against a President. Perhaps. But this reeks of political maneuvering by the traditional left's tactic of losing at the ballot box but winning in court.

What is the president’s authority in the matter of protecting the borders and keeping out those he sees as potentially dangerous? Do non-citizens' rights trump citizens'? Will a wall on our southern border be similarly viewed?

America has an illegal immigration problem. It has a national security problem. Trump's presidential victory was based on this to a great degree. We clearly see the left and MSM vitriolic tactics, believing their opinions are the only ones that matter. It is only going to get worse. The public discourse is beyond cordial; this is pre-civil war language.

Friday, January 20, 2017

America First Is A Win-Win

President Trump's inauguration speech was everything those that voted for him hoped for, everything contrary to Obama and Clinton.

The Left's has always been pro-special interest; and has decades of failed policies from education, war of poverty, and economic development. Trump's message has always been pro-America. It is the core of his plan.
  • "We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People."
  • "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people."
  • "A nation exists to serve its citizens."
  • "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
  • "We’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay."
  • "It’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families."
  • "Protect our borders."
  • "Get our people off of welfare and back to work."
  • "Buy American and Hire American."
This is populism at its finest. This does not mean we embark on xenophobia policies. All lasting agreements, contracts, and treaties need to benefit both parties. For too long, Americas policies have been weighed in favor of "the other guy." Democrats and Republicans too often are apologetic for America's leadership and wealth. Obama's policies tended to provided virtual and economic reparation for what he believed was unwarranted imperialism.

Like him or not, Trump's focus on the "we" is a welcome reprise from eight years of Obama's self-aggrandizing "I."
  • Trump mentioned himself just three times in is inauguration speech while referring to “we” the American people 45 times.
  • Obama referred to himself 75 times in his farewell speech.
This changing of the guard is the most significant in most Americans' lifetimes. The demarcations could not be more obvious. "It's still 'We the people', right?"...
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Politics of Hate: Fringe vs Core

For a couple of years, I worked for a web content filtering company. The nature of this business is to categorize web sites and to allow administrators to use the software and set policies to allow or not allow access to certain sites. The most common is to prohibit access to "pornography" sites. But there are plenty of organizations that will disallow access to "hate" sites.

Hate sites are mainly defined as extremists sites such as groups espousing racial supremacy and separation, anti-LGBT groups, anti-Muslim groups, Holocaust denial groups, anti-Semitic groups, black supremacy groups. Extremists exist on the political right and left. For the most part, these are fringe groups. These groups are not espoused by Republicans or Democrats, at least outwardly.

Lately, the politics of hate has morphed to take on more main stream opinions. The election of Trump has brought this to the forefront.

Ever since Trump was declared the winner over Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, the left cannot leave it it alone -- before he's began to govern. When Obama won in 2008 and again in 2012, those opposed to him behaved civilly. The right does not necessarily hate Obama, they merely disagree with his policies. That is the beauty of American politics and our two-party political system. We agree to disagree. Hopefully we meet somewhere in the middle and America is better-off. Unfortunately, today's middle is significantly left than it was 20-40 years ago.

The extremists left are becoming more mainstream Democrat. Most have hate at the core of their beliefs -- hate of Christianity, capitalism, and freedom of speech, regardless of the point of view.

If Clinton won, Republicans would not be planning aggressive presidential inauguration protests. Let's hope cooler heads prevail. Let's agree to disagree. Congress is elected every 2 years, president every four and senators every six. Nothing is permanent.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Russia External Enemy; MSM Internal Enemy

For months, the FBI has suspected the Russians were behind the hacking of the DNC.  The 13-page joint FBI and GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity, provides their confirmation and it details the why and how.
DHS report: 

Russia certainly favored Trump over Clinton. The reasons might deal with bribery and extortion potential on one hand or pro-energy and pro-business policies on the other. Putin may just not like the Clinton's and wanted to be done with them finally. Regardless, state-sponsored hacking of governments including elections is not a good thing.

Information security defenses are never good enough, down right bad in many cases. State-sponsored hacking is done by all, including the USA. Russia got caught.

The MSM only cares about this because its candidate lost. If it would have happen in Clinton's favor, we all know what the reaction would have been.

The fact that the MSM spent its efforts digging up as much dirt as it could against Trump during the election cycle and ever since is okay because a) the MSM has not been caught and b) the MSM is comprised of Americans. The Russian hacking incident is the MSM's way of helping to push blame and to continue its constant attack against Trump.

What's worse:  the external enemy (Russia or any other country) or the enemy within (US citizen under the guise of the MSM, elected politicians from both parties, government bureaucrats, and lobbyists for hire?)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Trump's First News Conference, A Breadth of Fresh Air

Not a Republican (I did not vote for Trump), definitely not a Democrat (definitely did not vote for Clinton), I certainly appreciated President-Elect Trump's first new conference -- the on-point messages, the tone, and the theater, especially involving the main-stream media (MSM.)

For as long as I can remember, presidential news conferences, especially when the president is a Democrat, has been a tea party. The questions are underhand softball tosses. The normal cast of MSM outlets are present, at the exclusion of those that might be less favorable to the president. A gathering like-minded, self-aggrandizing "professionals."

The good 'ol boys are now viewed unfavorably by the President-Elect. Many may have lost their standing invitation and must bid their turns with the "less-important others" in what should be a media rotation. Can you blame Trump? It is one thing to hammer him, which they should (they should hammer all politicians regardless of party), but their one-sided biased has forced him to react sternly.

Fake news has all but ended any credibility the MSM may have had. Only the elderly and half-wits listen to and watch the MSM. The nightly national news is a bygone era; the local news isn't too far behind. And I even question who watches CNN, Fox News or MSNBC. Who even has paid-TV? (I cannot even receive the free, over-the-air networks because of their poorly designed digital networks.)

Hate rules the left and the the MSM. One way to fight them is to ignore them and to not give them a seat at the table. They hate Trump so why should he engage them in a favorable manner? From the press conference transcript:
  • BuzzFeed:  "...a failing pile of garbage..."
  • CNN:  "...your organization is are fake news."
Rude? Certainly. Fitting? Most definitely.

Trump won because of the arrogance of the left including its communication outlets -- the MSM. The MSM did Clinton's bidding. Perhaps Russia did some of his. What's worse: the enemy within or the enemy abroad? Both are bad.

The next four years are going to be different, hopefully entertaining and damaging to the ridiculous left.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Professional Sport Teams Moving to Two Team Areas

The San Diego Chargers NFL franchise has elected to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 football season. For the next two years, they will play as the Los Angeles Chargers in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center (a soccer stadium) on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA. After years of trying to get a taxpayer-supported stadium, Chargers owner Dean Spanos, other investors and the NFL feel there is a better chance of business success in LA than San Diego. The Chargers will share the 80,000 seat Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park with the LA Rams starting in 2019.

For twenty years, LA did fine without an NFL team; now it has two.

Where is the Charger fan base going to come from? Its fan base is weak as it is. A few years ago, I attended a game between the Chargers and Vikings in Qualcomm Stadium. About 1/3 of the fans were in purple, not baby blue and gold. Many, if not most, of the spurned Charger fans will quit the team; plenty will quit the NFL. Couple this with the general consensus that San Diego inhabitants have negative feelings about LA. The only thing the Chargers have going for them is that the Rams, although it started in LA, just returned after a twenty year stint in Saint Louis. Its fans base is in its own infancy. So younger people that may not have an NFL team will have a chance to pick "its team."

I wonder why the powers-that-be believe large metro areas -- Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Bay Area -- should accommodate two or more teams? The LA Clippers (who moved from San Diego) is subservient to the Lakers; the White Sox second to the Cubs; the Angels second to the Dodgers, the Nets second to the Knicks; the Islanders second to the Rangers; and the Raiders (who may move to Las Vegas) second to the 49ers (who recently moved to the San Jose area.)

I'd rather see consolidation or elimination of teams rather than adding a second team to a currently served metro area.

Taxpayer-funded stadiums primarily benefit the team owner(s) and some politicians; only secondary benefits are realized by others. For many, especially those who care nothing about sports, receive little. Even though I am a huge sports fans, I support those communities, like those in San Diego, that vote down bonds to build sports stadiums or complexes. It is a rip-off and poor investment.

Professional sports need to stand on their own, without massive taxpayer subsidizing.