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Pwned

According to the web site, ‘;–have i been pwned? my personal email and poorly encrypted password was hacked in the largest data breach of all time, that of Adobe.com back in October of 2013 when almost 153 million user accounts were download by a hacker. Also my account at Forbes.com was hacked in 2014 including my Dr. Conspiracy email address, password, username and website URL according to have i been pwned? That breach netted about 1 million records. I was also burned by the 2013 Target hack, and the 2012 data breach at the South Carolina Department of Revenue (3.8 million tax records).

I checked my email with the pwned site today because there was another big data breach sometime last year that has just come to light. We don’t know where the data comes from (allegedly some dating service, but none admits to it), but it contains 52.5 million emails, MD5 hashed passwords, and usernames. Since this data is going for cheap ($400) on the Darknet, this is a big deal. You can read the story on ZDNet, “One of the biggest hacks happened last year, but nobody noticed.” That comes a day after  it was disclosed that most of the users of mail.ru (57 million) had their account credentials hacked. I don’t have an account there!

While I do all I can (within reason) to protect this site, I learned today that I was running a vulnerable plug-in, not that this particular vulnerability would have compromised anyone’s account information. Updates to the plug-in become available today, and have been installed.

I won’t have Ted Cruz birthers to kick around any more

This is a bit of a crisis for this blog. With Ted Cruz officially out of the race for president, the tangential issue of what constitutes a natural born citizen drops out of the news and while the frontrunner Donald Trump is a birther, it hardly seems likely we’ll see it much about it in the news.

The Melendres v. Arpaio lawsuit isn’t generating any news right now. The last birther joke (unless Trump gets elected) has been told at at White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

I was talking to Foggy yesterday, and he said that interest in birthers at The Fogbow had waned at and that they are now more interested in sovereign citizens.

I may have to get a life.

Ted Cruz: My father was a US citizen

Just when you thought that the US 2016 Republican presidential primary couldn’t fall any lower on the rationality scale, Donald Trump resets expectations with new charges that Ted Cruz’s father was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the Kennedy assassination. Trump to Fox News:

I mean, what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s just horrible.

But what followed clearly rocked my sense of reality. Cruz responded:

Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo Mississippi and was a natural born citizen of the United States.

A National Enquirer article indeed claims that a photo of Lee Harvey Oswald handing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cub a Committee includes Raphael Cruz, but that was August 17, 1963, more than three months before the Kennedy assassination. An article in the Miami Herald examined the claim and reports that the photo identification is subjective.

In other election news, I got an answer to a question I’ve been wondering about, whether Hillary Clinton would make Trump’s birtherism an issue in the election: She has. In a May 1 address to the NAACP in Detroit, Clinton said:

The leading Republican contender is the man who led the insidious birther movement to discredit the President’ citizenship. And when he was asked in a national television interview to disavow David Duke and other white supremacists who are supporting his campaign, he played coy. We cannot let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into Donald Trump’s hands.

Progress

This week I have been on a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando. A persistent theme at the Magic Kingdom and particularly at EPCOT is progress. A rather optimistic future is portrayed. I was personally reminded of my trip to Disneyland in 1963, a time when the General Electric Company proclaimed that “Progress is our most important product.” That was the era of mankind’s first trip to the moon. We believed that science and technology held the solution to all of our problems one day.

I am still an optimistic person, although with a greater appreciation for the complexity of our problems; however, I do not see optimism among the birthers. Rather than looking to progress, birthers hearken to the “good old days” that really never existed. They want to smash the status quo and set up some fundamentalist constitutional theocracy. I really don’t know what to call what they want to do, and I’m not sure they know themselves. I think the success of Donald Trump is emblematic of their desire to have someone chase these spooks1 away and excuse them from entering the brave new world.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

— Walt Disney

Sorry birthers. For good or ill, there is no exit at the left side of the auditorium if you want to leave before the show is over.


1 “Chase these spooks away” is a quote from the Firesign Theater comedy recording, “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” (1970). In the 1970’s the word “spook” was a derogatory term for an African American.

Pat Boone: He has seen Mike Zullo’s data

Old photo of Pat BoonePat Boone was on the Alan Colmes show on Fox News Radio yesterday. The breaking news takeaway is that Boone thinks the FCC should punish blasphemy (you don’t mess with Mother Nature). However, he’s still a birtherin’. Boone said:

It’s interesting, Detective Mike Zullo in Arizona, who is part of Sheriff Arpaio’s posse, was sent to Hawaii…I have seen all the data he came back with. It is documented, it is in a sworn 15-20 page affidavit, and a lawman does not swear on the authenticity of what he has presented without knowing that it is accurate. And he has all the accurate proof, and when he presents in a press conference in Arizona, the press just yawns and turns away.

I assume that the document is the 57-page unsigned (at least the copies I have seen) Zullo affidavit that was filed with an amicus brief in the McInnish case before the Alabama Supreme Court. That document is a compilation of hearsay from the Internet, plus an anonymous shout out to Reed Hayes.

Birther (sic) Report

I’m not sure quite what’s up. Just now when I tried to access BirtherReport.com, I got a message: “This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later.” I was able to access later. Commenter Lupin says that typing “birther report” into Google doesn’t return the site, and I confirmed that BR isn’t on the first page of results for its name (although this site is on the first page for it 😳 ).

Any time one writes about BR, the difficulty centers on its lack of editorial content. Most articles are just a photo and a headline, or a reprint of what someone else says. But we all struggle to come up with something to write about.

BR’s technical problems aren’t terribly interesting, but their factual problems are meat and potatoes for birther debunkers. Here was one very confusing headline:

NBC News Justice Correspondent Reports Canadian-Born Ted Cruz Became A Naturalized U.S. Citizen In 2014

No, you didn’t miss a major editorial shift at NBC News towards nuttiness. Pete Williams, pictured above, is indeed the justice correspondent at NBC News. BR then cites Williams’ report:

Williams, who teaches at the Catholic University law school, has registered to run as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination in nine states for the sole purpose of challenging the credentials of the man he calls “Canadian Cruz.”

He claims Cruz “has fraudulently represented himself as constitutionally qualified for the office of president…”

One has to figure out on their own, and perhaps it’s not that hard, that the report by Pete Williams is about Victor Williams. So NBC News didn’t report that Ted Cruz became a naturalized citizen in 2014, but rather that Victor Williams made this claim.

Speaking of law professor Victor Williams, BR has another headline:

Professor Victor Williams Enters Presidential Race To Challenge Canadian-Born Cruz Ineligibility In 8 States

BR has no content of its own, but rather republishes a press release by Williams from April 8 (prior to his loss in New Jersey) where Williams  says that Cruz risks disqualification. The press release doesn’t actually say that Williams plans to challenge Cruz in 8 states, but it links to Williams’ write-in campaign web site, where he does: California, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. (Yes, I know that’s nine.)

Not satisfied challenging the eligibility of Ted Cruz to be president, Williams is also challenging the appointment of “Judge” (quotes from Williams) Masin. According to Williams, Jeff Masin was especially appointed to hear the Cruz case, rather than a random judge. Williams said:

Mr. Masin began the hearing acknowledging that he had “been recalled” and appointed to the case because of his past experience with the natural-born citizen issue.

Williams objects to the title of “judge” as applied to Masin because he is an administrative law judge (a member of the executive branch of the state) rather than the judiciary; however, the New Jersey statute that creates the administrative law authority calls them “judges.” Interested readers can read Williams’s claim of impropriety and bias here.

Read more on Victor Williams:

Birther Report has a third article with little content:

Obama to Trump: In 10 Months, I Will No Longer Be President. But In 10 Months, I will still be a citizen

What struck me about this is that BR never picked up on the quote by President Obama last November where he said in a speech to Organizing for Action: “I may hold this office for another 14 months. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m gonna keep on going as long as you’ll have me.” That audio clip was rebroadcast by National Public Radio yesterday. Surely BR could have spun that hay into birther gold.

Obama’s quote in the BR article is verified in an Associated Press report:

He noted that he will no longer be president in 10 months. “But in 10 months I will, contrary to Mr. Trump’s opinion, still be a citizen of the United States,” Obama said, recalling Trump’s past attempts to cast doubt on Obama’s citizenship because the president’s father was Kenyan.