Donald Trump: Still Not Convinced?

This morning’s headline: Code associated with Russia hacking found on Vermont utility computer.

Russian (and any others) hacking is a national security risk that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As I have posted previously the incoming Congress should work towards strengthening American cyber-defenses across the board.

A code associated with a broad Russian hacking campaign dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected on a laptop associated with a Vermont electric utility but not connected to the grid, the utility said on Friday.

“We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding,” the Burlington Electric Department said in a statement.

“Our team is working with federal officials to trace this malware and prevent any other attempts to infiltrate utility systems. We have briefed state officials and will support the investigation fully.”

The Department of Homeland Security alerted utilities on Thursday night about a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the Burlington Electric Department said.

The article goes on to mention that his might not be a direct attempt to access the Vermont grid. That the laptop may have been infected by visiting a rogue site of some sort. But considering Ukraine has accused Russia of accessing their electrical grid and shutting parts of it down, this isn’t a laughing matter.

btw: Now I have to wonder if I may be hacked…when researching yesterday’s posts: Trump Shrugs Over Russian Hacking Accusations and Oh Cripes: Twitter Diplomacy!, I at two points ended up on a website of the Russian embassy UK and after that my laptop crashed…hmmm.

Oh Cripes: Twitter Diplomacy!

And no, this time I am not talking about President-elect Donald Trump. It’s the Russian Embassy!

President Obama expels 35 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm.

I guess we don’t need diplomats anymore or ambassadors for that matter. We can essentially shut down the state department and hire a bunch of people with Twitter accounts and off we go…negotiating trade deals and cease fires or declaring war in 140 characters or less! How charming!

It will get really scary if Twitter starts to allow edits post publication, aina?

Late add (12/30/16 14:17): Mr. Trump’s reply:

Trump Shrugs Over Russian Hacking Accusations

President-elect Donald Trump continues to pooh pooh the accusations against Russia for hacking the Democratic National Committee and prominent American politicians and elected officials:

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”

This isn’t a casual issue Mr. Trump. Just because it primarily targeted Democrats doesn’t make it any less serious. It is a security threat pure and simple and the government in both the executive and legislative branches need to take is seriously.

If this is the cavalier attitude about national security that Mr. Trump is taking into the White House, this nation is at serious risk in the future.

How the GOP Really Should Be Reacting to the Russian Hack

There seems to be a lot of shoulder shrugging and nonchalance across the GOPsphere about the Russian hacking of the DNC, RNC and Senator Lindsey Graham. It should be garnering a little more attention and some hearings on the hill. And it probably will but whether it will be as energetic as the hearings about emails and Benghazi remains to be seen.

But what should be happening are hearings on how and what needs to be done to prevent something like this from ever happening again not matter who the actor. I bet that gets nary a mention. Prove me wrong Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell.

The Future Of American Manufacturing Under a Trump Regime!

President-elect Donald Trump has continued his threats against American manufacturers who move their plants and the related jobs out of the country with 35% tariffs on the manufactured goods that they import back to the states. The lure of low wages in countries like Mexico and China and Viet Nam may be too overwhelming to prevent those job migrations despite those threats. And here is just what might happen (and there is a hint of this in some of the press around the Carrier plant and a rumored American iPhone plant).

We might very well see new small highly automated American plants building cell phones, TVs, washers, dryers, lawnmowers, microwaves, textiles, etc…plants that stay or come back. Plants that employ 120 people instead of 800 like 15 or 20 years ago. And their productivity will be huge! Just huge! And their output will be sold in the American market and the American market only…cause it’s gonna cost 30, 50, 80% more than products made overseas.

And American plants and American jobs will continue to move overseas but their output will be sold overseas in Europe, Japan, China, India and emerging markets worldwide. They won’t be re-imported…they won’t incur the 35% tax…and the American economy will suffer. Suffer bigly. Suffer from higher prices and a loss of jobs for exported goods when those foreign markets retaliate by not purchasing American manufactured goods or agricultural products or American services.

It’s All About Trump’s Ego

Everyone keeps putting forth reasons why President-elect Donald Trump disbelieves the CIA report that Russia is behind hacking the DNC emails and servers. Mr. Trump continually denies placing the onus on Moscow. Some attribute to his lack of experience. Or his lack of understanding how hacking works. Or not understanding how computer security tracks this stuff. Or his coziness with Mr. Putin or the various ties his appointees have with the Russian government. Shrug, maybe so.

But it may be simpler than that…it just might be his big fat ego not wanting to give anyone else credit for influencing the race or affecting its outcome other than ~ Donald Trump!

[and yes his inability to accept the conclusions of our intelligence agencies is particularly troubling]

Bolton Disqualified For State Department Gig

On Sunday, John Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W Bush, totally disqualified himself for a state department gig. While President-elect Donald Trump is personally in denial over the reported Russian responsibility for the DNC hacks, Mr. Bolton decided he had to be the fringiest of the fringe in his view on the matter.

Mr. Bolton thinks Obama did it. No, I am not kidding:

The man reported to be Donald Trump’s pick for the number two job in the State Department says the election hacks could have been a false flag operation.

John Bolton told Fox News on Sunday that the hacks may not have been carried out by Russia, as the intelligence community believes, but implied the Obama administration itself could’ve been secretly responsible.

“It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation,” Bolton told reporter Eric Shawn.

“False flag” is a term that refers to covert activities undertaken by a government or other entity to advance its own political agenda by making it look as if someone else did it.

Mr. Bolton is a hack. There is no way in hell that the Senate should confirm this guy. Just no way.

Democratic Senators Side With Trump?

The Washington Post reports that six Democratic senators from states that went for Donald Trump are supporting punishing corporations that outsource labor.

Six Democratic senators from Rust Belt states won by President-elect Donald Trump called Tuesday for a swift congressional crackdown on U.S. companies that send manufacturing jobs abroad, claiming common cause with Trump’s crusade against outsourcing.

Trump on Sunday tweeted that “any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!” He threatened to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods those companies seek to import.

I don’t think that this is sound economic policy…whether Mr. Trump is saying it or my senator is saying it…and what I find troubling is…my senator is saying it.

The Democratic senators from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin stopped short of calling for a protectionist tariff regime. But in a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday, they applauded “the recent attention President-elect Trump has brought to the issue of outsourcing and its impact on middle-class families” and called for legislation that would penalize companies that send jobs abroad.

Those penalties, they say, should include taking into consideration any history of outsourcing while awarding federal contracts and potentially keeping outsourcers from receiving tax breaks and other federal incentives, and “clawing back” those incentives if companies later ship jobs out of the country.

“The loss of manufacturing jobs in our states has contributed to the decades-long trend of the declining middle class,” the letter reads. “We believe these principles — which we intend to introduce as legislation — are critical to our shared commitment to encourage companies to invest in the United States and in American workers.”

Yes it is time to have a national discussion on economic issues in this country…a discussion on trade…on tariffs…on sanctions…on inducements. But there needs to be sound discussions. Educational discussions. Not shoot from the hip emotional reactions. There is far more going on in corporate decisions that deserve to be examined and discussed.

But I have to wonder if the six senators are serious? Or calling Mr. Trump’s bluff? Or patronizing their local constituency who voted for Mr. Trump? All three possibilities make me even more uneasy about the future relationships between Congress and the White House.

The lead signer of the letter was Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who praised the decision last month by Carrier Corp., under pressure from Trump, to reverse its decision to send hundreds of Indianapolis manufacturing jobs to Mexico. Also signing the letter were Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

And When Congress Finally Does Something…they prove Incompetent!

Congress was all full speed ahead damn the torpedoes in passing their Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, known as JASTA, that would allow Americans who suffered a loss on 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia. Despite the stern warnings from the White House and President Obama’s veto…they went ahead and for the first time in Pres. Obama’s Presidency, overrode his veto.

But then buyer’s remorse set in:

U.S. lawmakers expressed doubts on Thursday about Sept. 11 legislation they forced on President Barack Obama, saying the new law allowing lawsuits against Saudi Arabia could be narrowed to ease concerns about its effect on Americans abroad.

A day after a rare overwhelming rejection of a presidential veto, the first during Obama’s eight years in the White House, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives opened the door to fixing the law as they blamed the Democratic president for not consulting them adequately.

“I do think it is worth further discussing,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, acknowledging that there could be “potential consequences” of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, known as JASTA.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress might have to “fix” the legislation to protect U.S. troops in particular.

And of course whose at fault here? As quoted above:

…they blamed the Democratic president for not consulting them adequately.

Out of the 535 members of the House and Senate…there aren’t any policy wonks that know what all this entails? Who know what the risks and benefits might be? How can you pass legislation when you don’t know the ramifications?

So after 7+ years of basically doing nothing and working the fewest days this year in nearly 60 years…when they finally get off their posteriors…they pass a heinous bill and within 24 hours regret it.

And all of us suckers are pretty much going to send them all back to Washington in November.

Report: Donald Trump Jr. stole the photo in that infamous “Skittles tweet”

By now you’ve no doubt seen the infamous “Skittles tweet” sent out by Donald Trump Jr., who used the tweet to compare refugees of the violence in Syria to Skittles.

As reprehensible as Trump Jr.’s tweet was, it appears the image used in the tweet to make his point was used by Trump without the permission of the man who created the image, according to a report by NPR.

When Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles, the condemnation was swift — critics called the tweet glib, dehumanizing, inaccurate, cruel.

Turns out they could have called it something else: copyright infringement.

The photo featured in the tweet was taken, without permission or credit, from a man named David Kittos.

And Kittos tells the BBC he was once a refugee himself.

The photo in question — a striking shot of a white bowl of Skittles against a white background — was posted on Flickr more than six years ago. Kittos said he was experimenting with a DIY macro photography setup when he took the shot. It’s marked with a copyright note: “All rights reserved.”

Kittos says in his Flickr profile that he’s a database developer in Guildford, U.K., who’s interested in high-speed, macro and underwater photography, among other things. He also says, in bold: “Please do not use my images for any purpose, commercial or otherwise (this includes linking from your blog or website), unless you have my written permission. Sending me a flickrmail to ask me first, isn’t exactly painful, is it now?”

Apparently, Donald Trump’s son missed the message.

“This image says it all,” Trump Jr. tweeted on Monday. “Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.” Below was Kittos’ photo — and the Trump/Pence campaign logo — with the caption, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. [sic] Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

Kittos tells the BBC he didn’t give permission for his photo to be used in that way — or at all.

“I have never put this image up for sale,” he told the broadcaster. “I don’t support Trump’s politics and I would never take his money to use it.”

The BBC reports that Kittos is “particularly dismayed” that the image was used to suggest refugees are dangerous — because as a child, he was a refugee himself.

In response to Donald Trump Jr.’s reprehensible tweet, Skittles responded with an absolutely pitch-perfect tweet of their own: