Thursday, April 26, 2018

Joy Reid, hacking, and the goddamned BernieBros

Not too many hours ago, I suggested that the Ronny Jackson controversy was a set-up, and that he would confront his accusers during hearings. Looks like I had it wrong. Trump has vowed revenge on Jon Tester of Montana, who took point on compiling the charges against Jackson.

Was it a good idea to let Tester lead the charge? He's a Democrat running for re-election in a red state. He had strong approval ratings as of last November, but things change; a March poll him had trailing against a generic Republican.

Let's turn to the main topic of this post, Joy Reid. I'm more convinced than ever that Joy Reid is innocent and that she truly was hacked.

You want evidence? I'll give you six pieces of evidence:

1. No comment. Those old allegedly "homophobic" posts had no comments, even though Reid's writings (even then)  usually attracted large responses. This fact is damning. It's more than a tell -- it's a yell.

As I can tell you from personal experience, a "politically incorrect" post from a liberal writer is much more likely to stir up an argument -- yet in this instance, such remarks aroused no interest whatseover. If Reid had said anything truly anti-Semitic or anti-gay, she would have been flooded with messages -- especially in 2006/7, a time before so much of the action moved over to Twitter and Facebook.

Added note: They just created a fake Reid tweet from 2011. How do we know that it's fake? Because all of the comments were posted within the past couple of days. No comments from the time period. 

2. Memory hole. No-one can recall reading those old posts in real time. 2006/7 was not very long ago. Example:
I used to read Joy’s blog back in the day. I do not recall any sort of homophobic or anti-semitic content similar to what she’s accused of writing. The writing doesn’t even sound like her.
Joan Walsh:
Our editors monitored "The Reid Report" to see if she posted anything we wanted; sometimes we'd nudge her to cross-post, and she did. Obviously, none of us ever saw the kinds of homophobic posts she's now accused of. If we had, we'd have stopped publishing her. Interestingly, no one has come forward and said that they read any of this garbage in real time: "Oh hey, that Joy Reid was a real nightmare, can't believe she got published."
3. Joy Reid called in the FBI. She's smart -- smart enough to know better than to call in the Bureau under false pretenses. The Bureau can determine the truth of such a situation very rapidly.

4. Cambridge Analytica. C-Anal has used similar tactics to smear figures in other countries, as detailed in the preceding post.

5. The Bernie Factor. The viciousness of the BernieBro response has all the earmarks of a coordinated cyber campaign. Remember: Other leaders of the Bernie brigade include the vile H.A. Goodman (a Trump supporter posing as a progressive), Cassandra Fairbanks (ditto; friend to Roger Stone) and Randy Credico (ditto -- and ditto.)

Never trust the BernieBros. If the BernieBros say "the sky is blue," you may fairly presume that the sky has turned some other color.

You'll want to read this eye-opening piece in Medium: "The lynching of Joy Ann Reid by the Bernie left." (The offensive imagery reproduced in this post originated with Bernie supporters. They often trade these memes.)
For almost a year now, a very vocal segment of Bernie Sanders supporters have harassed and stalked black activists, journalists and contributors on Twitter and other social media sites. Behind this campaign was the fact that a lot of black voters didn’t vote for Bernie, which was met with incredible anger by a part of the Bernie left.

Instead of analyzing why POC were critical of Bernie, or why Bernie refused to campaign among POC, they started to harass and intimidate black Twitter users.

The list of victims to this aggressive crowd of Bernie supporters is long by now: Joy Ann Reid, Donna Brazile, Jehmu Greene, Neera Tanden, Kamala Harris, Maxine Waters, Yamiche Alcindor, Zerlina Maxwell, and less known Twitter users: Angry Black Lady (Imani Gandy), T_FisherKing, Mr Dane/ Mr Weeks, Sir James, Ange_Amene, Bravenak and many, many more.
The harassment of POC and LGTB activists by Bernie Sanders supporters has been documented on Medium in this blogpost:

“When GamerGate became BernieGate”, by Investigator:
I strongly urge you to hit that last link.
They are a tight group of fanatic Bernie supporters, they identify usually as members of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), they all proudly proclaim to have voted for Jill Stein and they have (unfortunately) a large group of Bernie followers who copy their behavior and who add to the harassment.

They also proudly produce, tweet and retweet purely racist pictures of among others Kamala Harris, Joy Ann Reid and other prominent POC.
See the lovely message to your left? In 2017, Bernie supporters posted that flier all over Temple University in Philadelphia.

The Bernie Sanders movement is explicitly racist -- through and through. Nothing Sanders can say will change that basic fact; he cannot distance himself from his own movement. You judge a tree by its fruits. As the afore-linked article demonstrates, the racism of the Bernie movement can not be dismissed as the work of an easily-dismissed fringe. The rot goes right to the top -- to Bernie Sanders himself.

There are those who think that Sanders has already sewn up the Democratic nomination. If so, I will not vote for the Democrat, not even if Trump starts wearing an "I love to rape children" t-shirt.
Glenn Greenwald, Breitbart, and any Bernie supporter possible are now cooperating.
Let’s be clear: if Joy Reid loses her job, she loses it because of the deep hatred of the Bernie crowd for any POC who speaks out against Sanders.

She will lose her job (and POC will lose an important voice in the media) because racism and targeted harassment campaigns are normal to the Bernie crowd.
6. Technical support. Cybersecurity expert Jonathan Nichols has offered technical arguments in Reid's favor.
The expert, Jonathan Nichols, said Wednesday that time stamps indicated the posts were written at a time Reid was on the radio and would not have had time to write them. He said they are inconsistent with the way that she wrote and triggered no reaction from the blog’s comments section, which he believes would have surely happened if they had been legitimate posts.

Meanwhile, the company Internet Archives, whose Wayback Machine collects copies of Internet postings, said that after being contacted by Reid’s lawyers, it had investigated and found no evidence that any of its versions of Reid’s original posts had been altered. Nichols said that this doesn’t contradict Reid’s story, since they believe it was the original blog posts — not the Wayback Machine versions — that were hacked.

The Wayback Machine had found evidence that the posts with the homophobic language had been erased due to an automated process that can be installed to wipe out the specific archives. Nichols said the posts — potentially very embarrassing for a personality for a network with commentary that leans left — had been erased at Reid’s behest.

Nichols said that Reid’s blog posts were altered in an attempt to smear and embarrass her.
Nichols said he has collected “a preponderance of evidence” to indicate that someone with a grudge against Reid planted the material to embarrass her. But he said he would not identify the person because his research isn’t done. “I’m not going to throw someone under the bus unless I’m certain,” he said.
Rumor has it that an "IT" guy affiliated with Reid's site has links to the Alt Right. I can't confirm that claim. However, it seems very possible that someone affiliated with the old site might have segued in Bernie-ism. At this point, there is no real difference between the Alt Right and the BernieBros: They are both racist movements, and both are working with the Russians to destroy democracy.

A few hours ago, HuffPo offers several arguments against the idea that Reid was hacked. None of them hold up.
Why would someone hack Joy Reid’s blog repeatedly for years, at a time when she had a much lower profile?
She was big enough to have an enemy in 2006/7/8. How do I know? Because I had enemies in that time period. (As some of you know, my email was hacked.) Even back then, when this humble blog was more popular, I never had the readership that Joy Reid had. If I was considered worthy of a hack, Reid was even worthier.

Frankly, I scoff at the notion that the Internet Archive is un-hackable.
Why didn’t Reid notice that someone else was posting content under her name on her own blog?
A hacker could change my old posts and I would not know.
Are the bigoted statements really such a departure from the statements Reid has already owned up to?
I don't think that what she said about Charlie Crist was so bad. Reid has proven her basic honesty. One thing we know for sure: If you own up to any shortcoming or failing, the right will find some way to use that admission against you. That's what they do. And they cackle as they do it.
Are the screenshots fake, or was the blog was hacked?
HuffPo accuses Nichols of being "unclear" -- an accusation that would hold more weight if HuffPo's grammar were less confusing. At no point does the Huffington Post offer a technical argument explaining why any of the archival sites should be considered inviolate.

I believe that hackers specializing in political work have found ways to compromise those archives. In 1984, the archives are Target Numero Uno. As Orwell said: He who controls the past controls the future.

Why would hackers manipulate the archives? Think about it. Imagine the fun a dirty trickster can have during the elections of 2018 and 2020, if said trickster can change the historical record. Future October Surprises may include revelations along these lines: "Candidate X wrote 'Kill all Jews' back in 2005! Says so right there in the Wayback Machine. It has to be true!"

What's happening to Reid right now falls under the category "proof of concept." The next target will be someone of greater importance -- probably someone who stands between Bernie Sanders and the Democratic nomination.
Spot on. The campaign to remove Joy Reid blatantly looked like an op from the beginning. There's no doubt in my mind.

But I did want to comment on Bernie's 2020 chances. He has no chance. I know it's absurdly early, but the few polls that have come have Bernie barely cracking 20% and some even have him under that. He's lost over half his support even though he has gotten almost nonstop positive coverage since the election. And it will drop even lower when the primary officially begins since he won't be treated with kid gloves this time. He's toast. The problem, though, is how much damage he will do on his way out. I'm not going out on a limb to say it will not be insignificant.
Not sure where people got the idea that her posts regularly attracted comments. In these archives, for example, you'd be hard pressed if you found any post with a single comment on it:

It was about as obscure a blog as ever existed, judging by the audience interaction.
Help me out. Point me to the blog post where you gave serious consideration to the theory that those "goddamned BernieBros" might actually be a false flag operation. I must have missed that post.
Joy Ann Reid was a favorite of Russian Internet Research Agency kremlebots, including 13 social media "shills"/hackers arrested by Mueller in Feb. They were also major Bernie boosters: .

"The indictment revealed that the efforts included “operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

"Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them.),’” the indictment continued. It said that message was sent around Feb. 10, 2016, the day after both Sanders and Trump won their respective parties’ all-important New Hampshire primary contest."

Sanders refused to make statements on whether Russians backed him in 2016.

Stein refused to turn over "communications" with Russians, claiming 1st Amendment rights and that the Congressional investigation was "overly broad". Methinks the lady protest too much: if there is nothing there, why act like Trump?

There are kremlebot posts on Reddit from 2015 and more recently, but take it all with a grain of salt.

Flush from huge donations from Russian banker Torshin, the NRA doubled down on spending campaigns but also on anti-Hillary ads, social media posts, fake news, e-mail marketing, newsletters, etc. Expenses for online content managers, ads, e-marketing doesn't require Federal election spending disclosure. Negative promos aren't supporting a candidate. Online media isn't counted like TV, radio, print.

In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump—and another $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race.

Jay, interesting. However, could the comments have been removed by a hacker after this "no comment" defense started? I don't really know the answer, other than to say it certain is possible. Still seems like stretching though.
What Jay said.

> Frankly, I scoff at the notion that the Internet Archive is un-hackable.

OK, so maybe not un-hackable. How about 'far too difficult to hack for something as near-pointless as to smear Joy Reid.' And that's before taking into consideration identical posts stored in other archives -- which, presuming the supposed hack took place after the posts were first placed online, would have had to be made exactly identically in each of the other archives -- not to mention each of the IA's own mirrors. (Even if the IA does build, for instance, the LoC archives, my understanding is they are maintained as entirely separate copies of the data. Thanks to the Wayback Machine's architecture, having located and [theoretically] hacked the IA's copy of the archived blog would do nothing to assist you in locating and hacking that same page in a different archive.) In addition, in order to make such posts appear contemporaneously, they likely would have had to be made as multiple hacks trailing the IA's fluid 6-to-24-month delay in posting new crawls. (Oh, and then in the *other* archives, as well.)

And should I even mention further potential complications as hacking multiple snapshots taken of the same page, or hacking the same page even when archived under a different domain name?

The claim the posts are fraudulent because they were posted at times she was on the air simply proves Nichols has no idea how radio stations operate. Reviewing his LinkedIn page, I also see no indication of his being qualified to analyze text for consistent authorial voice. (Hey, Jonathan, how about this idea: The posts in question appear different from her other blog posts *because* she was writing while on the air and thus had less chance to rework them.)

Frankly, I don't see much there that suggests he's qualified to comment on security issues, period. (Or, rather, what evidence he provides is more than outweighed by his overall tone: Somehow, despite rarely being able to hold a job more than a handful of months, he somehow pulls off amazing coups, becomes indispensable to senior management, assembles and trains crack response teams -- and *still* never manages to stick around long enough for his options to vest or to need a new one-a-day calendar. There's also absolutely no possibility Reid would have chosen him to evaluate her security or investigate whether she had been hacked: There are probably 50,000 people in the DC area who does what he does, of which 500 to 1,000 are available for hire at any given time, including hundreds with a far more extensive, professional, and verifiable web presence. Undoubtedly what happened is Nichols, laboring under the delusion he's a whiz at self-promotion, contacted Reid, claiming to possess incontrovertible proof she'd been hacked -- and she fell for it.

And don't get me started on his panty-sniffing of Weev and other neo-Nazi figures (even if he can't manage to get their affiliations straight).

I don't think Occam needs a Triple-Trac to figure out this one. Which is more likely: A decades-long conspiracy to besmear an obscure morning drive-time radio personality from, let's face it, Florida, politically significant for 6 weeks of the past 242 years, or that same radio personality, at 38 years old doing morning drive-time on an underperforming, soon-to-be-dumped, AM station catering to a Southern African-American market, never imagining she'd be of national importance (for a certain meaning of 'importance') in a dozen or so years, posted some insensitive thoughts no doubt well within the mainstream of her listeners' beliefs and opinions, and, once they become public, years later, makes the stupid decision to Trump it out?

Let's face it: Just last December, she gave no indication she had any doubts about the provenance of said quotes, saying, "Re-reading those old blog posts, I am disappointed in myself. I apologize to those who also are disappointed in me. Life can be humbling. It often is. But I hope that you know where my heart is, and that I will always strive to use my words for good. I know better and I will do better."

This isn't worth going to the mat.
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"How about 'far too difficult to hack for something as near-pointless as to smear Joy Reid.'"

Are you sure that it's difficult? Let's presume that all of these systems use Windows. Do a little Googling on the topic of changing time stamps of files and file folders in Windows, and you'll be a little shocked.

If smearing Joy Reid is "pointless," then why are so many rightwingers and BernieBros devoted to destroying Reid?

And even if it WERE "pointless," you have not addressed my final argument: That smearing Ried provides proof-of-concept. Once we establish the quote "fact" unquote that Internet Archive is unhackable, then we can use that "fact" to create an ever-increasing degree of mischief. Today, Reid. Tomorrow, any Democratic frontrunner not named Bernie Sanders.

This situation resembles my theory (mentioned in a few previous posts) about the bogus UFO documents which made the rounds in the early 1990s. I think that the claims made in those documents were unimportant in and of themselves, just as the UFO buff subculture is unimportant. The value of those documents is that they demonstrated how disinformation and "fake news" can affect the thinking of large numbers of people. In the 1990s, a test was conducted on a "fringe" segment of the American population. That kind of testing eventually led to operational measures.

In other words, I'm positing that Pizzagate was the offspring of MJ12.

Similarly, a future smear involving Internet Archive may arise if the current attempt to smear Joy Reid proves successful.

The posts for which Reid apologized were, in my view, relatively inoffensive. At that time, a lot of people had a bit of fun with Charlie Crist after Radar online published a piece strongly implying that he was gay. At the time, Crist was Republican, and the Republicans were against gay marriage. The jokes made at that time -- and I made one or two myself -- were really about hypocrisy, not about homosexuality per se. Those remarks were similar to the jokes which quite a few people (including no small number people of gay people) have made about Tom Cruise or Lindsey Graham.

I don't think that Reid needed to apologize for the remarks she made about Crist, but she did. (I'm not going to apologize for my own column, which focused primarily on Crist's possible link to Mel Sembler's operations.) That incident does not mean that we have to believe that current claims.

Your argument is no different from saying "Monica Lewinski means we have to believe Juanita Broaddrick." NO. That does NOT follow. The only people who make such arguments are people who have never taken an introductory course in logic.
> Let's presume that all of these systems use Windows

Per whois request, servers use nginx/1.4.6 (Ubuntu). Likewise, use nginx/1.9.2

I doubt either Google or Hostmonster use windows servers either. Apache and nginx are more robust and less vulnerable since they are open source.
Jay, I decided NOT to pursue the technical side of the question very far. Anyone doing so will eventually have to make certain inquiries, and that could lead to difficulties. It's a bit like calling up a bank and saying: "Excuse me, but I"m writing a book about a bank robbery. If I were to rob your bank, what would be the best way of going about it?"
Vox writes up the Joy Reid thing:

Just fyi, Unix/Linux/Ubuntu etc. have security vulnerabilities. They are identified fairly quickly normally and remedied very quickly, but they do exist and can be exploited. If one is determined enough. Whether or not someone would go to such lengths to do what Joseph is suggesting is anyone's guess. However, it doesn't seem to be beyond the realm of possibility that someone who works for the Internet Archive (or hosts their servers, or whatever) might have a much easier time of making the kinds of changes Joseph mentioned. Of course, if we can come up with ways this could be possible, than so can anyone else. NO SYSTEM is unhackable. There is no such thing.
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