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Michigan’s Fake Electors’ Transcripts Limn Black Holes into January 6

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Back in January this year I looked at Michigan’s fake electors who signed a false certification of election claiming Trump won in November 2020.

All of the signatories were key members of the Michigan GOP. Two in particular were subpoenaed by the House January 6 Committee for documents and testimony: Kathy Berden, who at the time was MIGOP’s national committee person to the Republican National Committee, and Mayra Rodriguez, then MIGOP’s 14th District chair for Grosse Pointe Farms.

Among the documents the J6 Committee released earlier this week were the transcripts for these two individuals’ testimony.

Rodriguez took the Fifth Amendment more than 20 times, refusing to answer questions put to her.

Berden pled the Fifth Amendment more than 70 times.

While pleading the Fifth Amendment means only that one does not wish to incriminate themselves, refusing to provide answers in any way related to rather simple questions which might be answered by others or by other evidence can only cast doubt on one’s credibility.

The number of times each witness pled the Fifth may not be indicative of a specific problem with one witness over the other, but one might wonder if Rodriguez’s earlier testimony affected questioning of Berden a few weeks later.

The transcript for Rodriguez’s testimony was 31 pages. Berden’s testimony came in at 28 pages.

Pleading the Fifth more often may have shortened the volume of material transcribed for Berden.

Here’s a comparison of the two MIGOP fake electors’ testimony — limited to and focusing on one question in particular — which may hint at directions in which the J6 Committee was headed.

Witness: Mayra Rodriguez

Witness: Kathy Berden

Subpoenaed January 28, 2022

Subpoenaed January 28, 2022

Testified February 22, 2022 – total 28 pages

Testified March 11, 2022 – total 31 pages

Question regarding compliance with subpoena for documents

Q: Okay. So did you search for documents? Did you look in your email, for example, for any documents that are responsive to the select committee’s subpoena?

A: Yes. I looked through my emails. I couldn’t find anything.

Q: Okay. And did you look through text messages that you may have had to look for documents responsive to the subpoena?

A: I would not have received a text. So did not look through my texts.

Q: Okay. Not even a text about, like, planning or organizing or showing up at a certain date or time?

A: I don’t believe that I received a text.

Q: Okay. What about saved documents, hard copy documents, if you had any, did you look for those?

A: Yeah. I received nothing.

Question regarding compliance with subpoena for documents

Q: Okay. Part of the subpoena asks you to produce documents to the select committee that were responsive to a schedule, a number of requests that accompanied the subpoena. Did you search for documents or provide documents to your attorneys to search and produce to the select committee?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. And did that include documents, if any, that would’ve come from your email accounts?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. I understand you have an email account that involves your name as well as [email protected] Was that one of the email accounts you provided your attorneys with access or searched for responsive documents?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. And I understand you have a phone number ending in [redacted]?

A: I do.

Q: Okay.

A: I’m sorry.

Q: Did you — that’s quite all right. Nope. Thank you, Ms. Berden.

Did you look at the phone that uses that number for any responsive documents or messages to provide to the select committee?

A: Hmmm?

Mr. Columbo: May we take a moment for just a second, [redacted]

[redacted] Yes, of course.

Mr. Columbo: Ms. Berden is about to explain that, you know, we conducted a forensic examination on her behalf. So you can go ahead, but, you know, you’re getting into maybe things that are technical that happened with her permission and on her behalf.

BY [REDACTED]

Q: Okay. Understood. Was the phone that uses that phone number, did you provide that or allow this examination that Mr. Columbo just mentioned?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Very well. And how about any hard copy documents? Did you review or look for any hard copy documents that you may have that could be responsive to the select committee’s subpoena?

A: I can’t think of what a hard copy is.

Mr. Columbo: Thing like papers.

The Witness: Oh, I — yes.

Mr. Columbo: I guess, do you want to ask for clarification?

The Witness: Clarification, please.

[redacted] Yeah, of course.

Mr. Columbo: She wants to know what you meant by hard copy.

BY [REDACTED]

Q: Yeah, sure. I guess, I’ll — the best way to do this would be by providing an example. So we’re going to be talking about several electoral college vote certificates that you signed. I imagine a hard copy of that, of actual paper, physical copy exists somewhere in the world. So did you look to see whether you had any physical copies of documents or physical documents that would be responsive to the select committee’s subpoena?

A: I provided whatever they asked.

Q: Okay. Excellent. And we did receive one audio voicemail and one image of an address label from your attorneys, and I’ll plan to go over those with you today.

There are two things in this brief partial comparison which stand out to me.

— Rodriguez was direct and concise; she is an attorney, which may have helped her form her responses. She was interviewed before Berden, which may have shaped Berden’s later interview, but not by much.

— Berden was far from direct and concise; it’s not clear if she was deliberately waffling or if she was truly as unclear about the nature of the materials the subpoena requested. The format of the hearing over Webex may have contributed to the sense she wasn’t responding directly. A lack of instruction and guidance by her attorney may have been another factor, as it makes no sense she did not understand what she was supposed have furnished since the attorney’s office did the forensic examination of her devices and other materials for her.

— Rodriguez was asked about Berden specifically, where Berden was asked about Rodriguez in the aggregate along with other electors (transcript p. 10, 18). Rodriguez didn’t take the Fifth in relation to questions asked about Berden, but did plead the Fifth about other persons.

The big takeaway for me from these transcripts was an email address. Rodriguez wasn’t asked about a specific email address, understandably since she wasn’t the MIGOP’s national committee woman.

However, Berden had an [email protected] account based on the inquiry by the committee.

Why was Berden using a Gmail address instead of an RNC.com domain email address?

~ ~ ~

One other topic which caught my eye was the difference in communications. Some of this difference could be related to their different roles in the MIGOP, could also be related to age and expectations of how they communicate, or it could reflect a difference in what investigators already knew about communications within the conspiracy and these fake electors.

The investigators asked Rodriguez about text messages.

Q: Okay. And did you look through text messages that you may have had to look for documents responsive to the subpoena?

A: I would not have received a text. So I did not look through my texts.

Q: Okay. Not even a text about, like, planning or organizing or showing up at a certain date or time?

A: I don’t believe that I received a text.

Q: Okay. What about saved documents, hard copy documents, if you had any, did you look for those?

A: Yeah. I received nothing.

Q: All right. And as we go through this, I’ll ask you certain planning or organizing that happened. And if you do think of anything, like you have an email or a text message that you can recall as we’re going through this, I would just ask that you let us know about that. And then we can work with Mr. Blake to get any responsive documents that you end up having.

And I would ask, to the extent that you haven’t already looked through your text messages for any responsive documents, that you do so there as well.

The certainty with which Rodriguez answers is odd and interesting since the investigators asked Berden about all documents but not about text messages in the way they did Rodriguez.

Further, there’s an immaculate handoff of the fake election certificate.

Investigators didn’t nail down in her deposition how Rodriguez was notified and by whom that a fake slate of electors would sign a fake certification. She had nothing in her documents, nothing by text. She doesn’t need plead the Fifth about how she came to be involved; she only pleads when it comes to the reason she was supposed to participate. She doesn’t know any key persons and doesn’t have to take the Fifth as to whether she knows them, but she was still somehow in the loop to participate in the fake slate.

Rodriguez knows there are no-shows for the fake elector slate, but knows nothing of why — we don’t learn from her why two intended electors including the former secretary of state Terri Lynn Land aren’t part of the fake slate. She does plead the Fifth when it comes to who arranged for their replacements though she knows nothing of who organized the December 14 meeting place and time for the meeting of fake electors.

Rodriguez pled the Fifth when asked if she had “any paperwork that you brought with you, namely electoral college vote certificates or affidavits?” The implication is that she has papers at this point, but she had nothing responsive later to the committee’s subpoena whether hard copy or digital.

Again, this is an implication since she refused to confirm this, but it looks as if Rodriguez had documents at the signing on December 14. Was her problem with this question that she doesn’t want to reveal she had them on arrival, or that she received them from others for her signature that day, or something else?

On page 14 Rodriguez says she didn’t “didn’t speak with anyone from out of state.” Yet on page 15 she says she was told to leave her phone in her car on December 14, she says when asked who instructed her, “It would have been a MIGOP staff member.” She volunteers the name Tony Zammit when asked which MIGOP staffer it might have been. This person may have been MIGOP’s Communications Director at the time. (Their identity needs to be solidified because there is a Tony Zammit who ran for a Wisconsin state assembly seat in 2016.)*

Rodriguez then takes the Fifth when asked if Zammit had the documents for the fake electors’ certification.

Okay, then.

There was a consciousness about phones in relation to the day the electors both fake and genuine signed their respective fake and real certification of election. As indicated above, Rodriguez had to leave her phone in the car.

Berden, however, isn’t asked about her phone’s location on December 14. She’s asked instead about a photograph of a mailing address which was found on her phone, produced and submitted to the committee the day before her testimony; Berden takes the Fifth as to why she took the photo.

The context of this question about the photo followed questions about the fake certification mailed to the National Archivist with Berden’s mailing address on it. She’d taken the Fifth about that as well.

Berden’s memory goes fuzzy about a voicemail she received from her sister-in-law who’d called to say, “I have a couple that’s very interested in going to the meeting in Washington, D.C, on January 6th.” She doesn’t recall what that was about but she recalls she didn’t “didn’t answer — re-answer her phone message.” And of course she takes the Fifth as to whether she knew about anything going on in D.C. on January 6.

Berden’s attorney mentions the investigators have the information as to when Berden received that call from her sister-in-law because they’d furnished metadata to the committee “via the electronic vendor.”

It felt like Berden’s attorney was trying to dig his client out of a hole at that point. It was pretty deep after she knew so little, pled the Fifth so much, with the little nits like the voicemail and photo proving she knew far more.

~ ~ ~

In spite of the immaculate handoff and all the stringent avoidance of self incrimination, these two witnesses and likely targets did offer up some details about the conspiracy, while the transcript gives us a peek at a bread crumb trail to find and follow the documents.

Does an [email protected] account explain consistencies and inconsistencies between the states which attempted to field fake electors, and why there are few responsive documents in hard or digital copy?

Does the same [email protected] account suggest communications between conspirators may have been conducted through foldering in a shared account?

Did the MIGOP’s office itself play a larger role — in other words this was not a rogue program run by crackpot party members but the entirety of the state party was involved in some way with only a few lone holdouts?

__________

* Sentence in parentheses added after publication; it had been dropped during editing.

Mid-Term Election 2022: August 2 Primary Elections and Ballot Initiatives [UPDATE-3]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Though we’re deep into the primaries already, tonight’s a pretty big night as the following states all held primary elections today including ballot initiatives:

Arizona — August 2 (head to bmaz’s post for this state’s results)

Kansas — August 2

Michigan — August 2

Missouri — August 2

Ohio — August 2

Washington — August 2

Counting may not be complete for races but there’s already a doozy of a political wind indicator out of red state Kansas. An initiative to amend the state’s constitution was on the ballot and it hasn’t gone the direction anti-abortion activists wanted.

Here’s an explainer from Ballotpedia:

The Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment is on the ballot in Kansas as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on August 2, 2022.

A “yes” vote supported amending the Kansas Constitution to:

  • state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and
  • state that the legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.

A “no” vote opposed amending the Kansas Constitution, thereby maintaining the legal precedent established in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019) that the Kansas Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion.

As of 9:16 p.m. ET the results looked like this:


And by 9:26 p.m. ET, Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman was calling it for reproductive rights:


There had been an attempt to ratfuck the vote for this initiative:


Voters were sent text messages without attribution providing the wrong instructions about the initiative. It’s not clear whether this violates any federal law but Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission responded to complaints about this ratfucking attempt with a Twitter thread explaining that under Kansas’s current state law attribution for political advertisements wasn’t required for ballot initiatives though it is required for candidates’ campaign ads.

Sounds like this should be on the next ballot.

~ ~ ~

In my home state, things went about as expected:

– Trump’s endorsed candidate, Tudor Dixon, won the MIGOP primary. She’s not as wretched as a couple other MIGOP candidates but she’s still absolutely awful.

How nice of you to want to force your personal choice on all Michiganders, Dixon.

– MAGA candidate Kevin Gibbs had the lead early over Rep. Peter Meijer. The race has tightened substantially and is too narrow to call at this point.


You’ll recall the DCCC through money behind Gibbs so they could run against a Trumpy candidate in a newly configured district. Meijer, who was one of only 10 GOP reps to vote for Trump’s impeachment, currently holds the seat once held by Justin Amash.

~ ~ ~

Trump’s attempt to split the baby by endorsing “Eric” in the Missouri GOP Senate primary race didn’t go to plan, exactly. Eric won, but not Eric Greitens.


Trump will claim victory through Eric Schmitt anyhow, you can be sure. His narcissism wouldn’t have it any other way.

~ ~ ~

What do you see in the other primary races and ballot initiatives tonight? Let us know in comments.

Let’s stay on topic here because there’s plenty of primary election material to discuss without dragging in other topics.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:35 PM ET — 03-AUG-2022 —

DCCC’S money paid off and defeated incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer:

Grrr…sure hope DCCC pulls out the stops and gets behind Scholten because the western part of this district and the DeVos/Van Andel/Prince crowd may not take this lying down even if a Trumpy MAGAt is the GOP candidate.

I’ve experienced supporting a state legislative candidate who was targeted by DeVos money. It can get fucking ugly.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 1:00 AM ET — 03-AUG-2022 —

Can you not do better than this hack, KSGOP? This is the best you’ve got, a lawyer who needed remedial law classes?

Anyhow, here’s Democratic opponent Chris Mann’s campaign website.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-3 — 9:15 PM ET — 03-AUG-2022 —

Another too-little-discussed bellwether was Missouri’s 1st Congressional District primary race. Incumbent progressive Rep. Cori Bush beat out four other Democrats taking more than 69% of the vote. Her strongest opponent, Steve Roberts, is and remains a Missouri state senator for District 5; he ran to the right of Bush.

The GOP primary in that district was won by Andrew Jones Jr. with 6,927 out of 16,328 total GOP votes. Even Roberts took more votes than the total GOP primary votes.

Clearly MO-01, home to 714,746 citizens, wants a progressive representative.

Three Things: Dial M for Michigan

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It was a big week for the Mitten State which I call home — big ups and equally big downs, like a roller coaster.

Must admit the low points which made the high points possible made me nauseous and sick with dread.

~ 3 ~

High point: Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow had a breakout week with a kick-ass-and-take-names speech on the senate floor this past Tuesday.

The wretched low point: state senator Lana Theis’ hateful fundraising email which I won’t share; the 22nd state senate district which includes Livingston County and smaller portions of Genesee, Shiawasee, and Ingham counties have a lot to answer for having elected this hater.

McMorrow how every Democrat should do it: cede not one inch to the right-wing and its unrestrained hate when Democrats are doing everything which makes our cities, states, nation livable. Push back hard against the corrupting, toxic hate.

GOP voters in Michigan need to snap the hell out of their hate spiral and take a good look around them — as the motto says, Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice. These peninsulas aren’t just theirs alone and they’re pleasant because we occupy it together, cooperatively and collaboratively. Hate did not make this state great.

~ 2 ~

Another high point: Michigan state senator Erika Geiss also blew the doors out of the state senate chambers with her heartbreaking appeal on Wednesday:

The sickening low point: yet another Black person’s life was lost to excessive police force on April 4, when a routine traffic stop ended with a Grand Rapids officer shooting a 26-year-old driver at point blank range in the head. It is absolutely unacceptable that a traffic stop results in a driver’s death, even when the driver attempts to grab an officer’s taser. If the officer could manage to pull his gun and shoot he had enough control of the situation to restrain the driver.

This abuse by police cannot continue. Citizens deserve far better public safety. How many times do we have to demand this before change happens?

Senator Geiss and every BIPOC resident in this state and nation should not have to fear for their family members’ safety in public or private from the very people they employ to keep the public safe.

~ 1 ~

Sickened by Senator Lana Theis’ hateful rhetoric against people who don’t fit her personal model, sickened further by the shooting death of an unarmed driver, the Michigan GOP served up another dose of noxiousness with its convention this weekend.

You may already have seen Rudy Giuliani sliming his way out of the Grand Rapids airport via retweet by Marcy, but in case you haven’t:

The MIGOP convention was an event important enough to warrant Giuliani sliding into Michigan, perhaps to network with his fellow co-conspirators about the attempt to fraudulently foist different electors on the state, or a future attempt to do so. They would have been easy to meet in one location considering their respective roles in the MIGOP apparatus.

Perhaps it was important for Giuliani to see how other efforts to enable an illegitimate GOP stranglehold on power — like the selection of Big Lie

A loop-de-loop: it’d be nice to know if former MIGOP Randy Bishop attended the MIGOP convention. He’s suddenly flipped parties and is now running as a Democrat for the state’s 37th senate district. He’d run in 2010 as a Republican in the same district, which includes Antrim County now as it did before redistricting. The Detroit News ran an article about Bishop’s filing to run (paywalled); unlike most of the state legislature candidate filings, Bishop’s was noteworthy because he’d said on his “Trucker Randy” radio show last month that “A family should be a white mom, white dad and white kids.

Why he thinks that will win over even the few Democrats in his majority white district isn’t obvious; it’s not just overt racism but a rejection of cities down state like Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, and Muskegon which have larger percentages of BIPOC residents and provide substantial amounts of state tax revenues. The 37th district, while 88% white, is home to a substantive number of Michigan’s Native Americans including Bay Mills Indian Community (Chippewa), Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians. The tribes bring in a lot of tourism dollars to a very rural district.

Bishop’s rhetoric is just plain hateful and has no place in the Democratic Party in any state, and certainly not in Michigan’s 37th senate district. He must surely know this, which makes his candidacy look like a ratfucking operation of some sort.

Remember that Antrim County, home to roughly 23,000 Michigan residents, was at the center of the attempted election fraud in November 2020, when human error led to false claims the voting tabulators counted votes incorrectly. A judge dismissed claims of fraud by the GOP last May.

MIGOP’s canvasser Aaron Van Langevelde certified the election for Biden, refusing to cooperate with the conspiracy theory that the Dominion tabulators flipped votes. In January 2021 when Langevelde’s term expired, he was not re-nominated as canvasser by his party.

During the lawsuit filed by Antrim County resident Bill Bailey over the alleged ballot tabulation fraud, his attorney Matthew DePerno questioned the legitimacy of all future elections.

Which makes DePerno’s Trump-supported nomination as MIGOP’s candidate for Michigan’s secretary of state quite the joke: if the elections can’t be trusted, could this election be trusted if he should win?

Such ridiculously bad faith by MIGOP to nominate a Big Lie proponent who would have supported the fraudulent electors’ conspiracy to overturn Michigan’s election.

~ 0 ~

Finally, a high point — some of the diversity which makes Michigan great.

Treat this as an open thread.

A Look at Michigan’s “Alternate” Electors [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Update(s) will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

David Waldman (a.k.a. @KagroX) made an interesting point on Twitter:

If you’re active in a political party this may seem obvious. Having been a party committee member and a delegate, I took for granted most folks would intuit this. A political party won’t have any Average Joe off the street attest to the party’s business; they’ll encourage and/or pick someone they trust who’s an insider.

And in the case of my home state, that’s exactly what happened. The MIGOP picked electors who are active in the party either on committees and/or public officials either elected or appointed.

Which means all these folks who signed the false certification attesting fraudulently to Trump’s win of a majority of Michigan’s votes are highly relevant to the party. They are:

Kathy Berden – Michigan Republican Party national committeewoman

Mayra Rodriguez – Wayne County Public Administrator, former MIGOP candidate for MI state house district 2, Michigan Republican Party 14th District chair for Grosse Pointe Farms

Meshawn Maddock – Co-Chair, Michigan Republican Party

John Haggard – Charlevoix County Republican chair

Kent Vanderwood – Wyoming City Council member

Marian Sheridan – Michigan Republican Party Grassroots vice chair

James Renner – Republican Delegate to County Convention (Watertown Twp, 2020) (replaced Gerald Wall)

Amy Facchinello – Grand Blanc Board of Education member, QAnon supporter

Rose Rook – Van Buren County Republican executive committee member

Hank Choate – Michigan Republican Party 7th District chair

Mari-Ann Henry – Greater Oakland Republican Club member

Clifford Frost – Michigan Republican Party State Committee and Macomb County Republican Party board member

Stanley Grot – Shelby Township Clerk, Michigan Republican Party 10th District chair

Timothy King – Washtenaw County Republican Party executive committee member, Michigan Republican Party 12th District committee member

Michele Lundgren – Wayne County Republican Party precinct delegate

Ken Thompson – TBD (replaced Terri Lynn Land, former MI Secretary of State)

These aren’t exotic fruit bats out in the far right-wing hinterlands; they’re the heart of the Michigan Republican Party.

There are several interesting tidbits about this roster. The first is that two of these folks were replaced by others even though they had been elected in November to their role as electors.

Gerald Wall is the Roscommon County Republican Party Chair. Granted, it’s a less populous county in northern central Michigan, but removing the county chair is a bit of a statement to a fairly red county.

The second replacement raised my eyebrows because Terri Lynn Land was Michigan’s Secretary of State for eight years. She’s had the support of the DeVos family — yes, including Erik Prince’s sister Betsey DeVos nee Prince — receiving campaign donations over multiple terms and candidacies for other public office.

Why were these two elected electors removed and replaced with “alternate” electors James Renner and Ken Thompson — the latter for whom I can find little information.

The slate of candidates running for the legitimate post of Republican electors — assuming a Republican won Michigan’s popular vote — had been contacted for profiles by the Detroit Free Press ahead of the November 2020 election. Several did not respond or refused to be interviewed; what’s indicated here was collected from the internet.

But there’s nothing about the swap of two electors for these new “alternate” electors. One might wonder if either Gerald Wall or Terri Lynn Land refused to serve as electors once a false certification was prepared.

The doozy out of this group is the Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock, wife of state representative Matt Maddock, by whom it has been said the MIGOP had been radicalized.

You’ll want to read this thread by Karen Piper, who profiles Meshawn while connecting more than a few dots:

Maddock’s relationship with Amy Kremer — she of the three-burner-phones and the Willard Hotel — and multiple right-wing protests at Michigan’s state capitol building is particularly interesting. It’s as if the April 15, 2020 drive-in gridlock protest rally and the armed militia protest rally inside the capitol on April 30 were practice runs for the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

If I thought I had standing and a reasonable chance at winning I’d sue each one of these “alt-electors” for attempting to steal the 2020 Michigan presidential election from me and every Michigander who voted for a candidate other than Trump. I’d sue because so many volunteers who are neighbors, friends, and family members honorably worked to ensure a safe and secure election, and these radical right-wing members of the MIGOP tainted their efforts, cast aspersions on our state, and nearly stole our civil rights after we had to put up with weeks of harassment to get to certification.

As former MIGOP leader and Project Lincoln senior advisor Jeff Timmer described Meshawn,

“She is nuts. Her husband is nuts. They are crazy, stupid, and mean,” Timmer tells Metro Times. “They think they are saving the world.”

Um, nope. Not saved, far from it.

Hope Meshawn has a good lawyer; for some reason I don’t think she’ll get much assistance from some of the old school MIGOP.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:30 P.M. 13-JAN-2022 —

Long-time community member WilliamOckham shared in comments last night some pointers about the false certification documents:

First, let me give a shout out to the folks over at AmericanOversight[.]org for liberating the fake electoral vote documents via a FOIA to the National Archives. Several folks have noticed the similarities between the documents. I believe we can make some reasonable judgments about the provenance of these documents that will contribute to our understanding of the overall election conspiracy. Even though all we have is a scanned images pdf, if we analyze the documents with attention to the similarities and differences, we can deduce something about how those documents were produced. If you want to follow along, head over to the American Oversight website and grab a copy of the pdf I’m referencing at /american-oversight-obtains-seven-phony-certificates-of-pro-trump-electors

TL;DR version: These fake electoral certifications all came from a single source and there’s a way to prove it.

First, note that for every state there is a page (pages 7, 17, 21, 25, 28, 30, 32, and 45) that begins with three centered and bolded lines that read:
CERTIFICATE OF THE VOTES OF THE
2020 ELECTORS FROM [STATE]
**********

The first thing to note is that each of those pages is using the same font (with one slight twist that’s very revealing): Baskerville Old Face. That’s a good choice if you want to give your documents a 1776 feel. You see, it’s a digital font based on a lead type design that was first appeared in 1766.

When you start looking closely, you’ll notice that each state’s wording following the title is slightly different. However, they’re all set in Baskerville. In particular, note the “For President” and “For Vice President”. Those are formatted as small caps (the lowercase letters are replaced with smaller versions of the uppercase letters). Do you suppose seven or eight different people all managed to correctly use small caps formatting? Me, neither.

Someone created a digital file (almost certainly a Microsoft Word document) and sent it to the fake electors to fill in. There’s no other explanation for the similarities in the documents. And it’s not just that page. There was even a template for filling vacancies (caused by some electors having, you know, integrity).

One more interesting thing. Look at the first page (page 7 of the pdf). Notice the asterisks. Count the “petals”. There are five. That’s just like the Baskerville Old Face that Microsoft ships with Office and some versions of Windows. Now, look at Wisconsin’s page (page 45). There are six “petals” on the asterisks. Looks like the same font. Except what’s up with the different asterisks? Looks very much like Microsoft Word performing a font substitution. Maybe Wisconsin used the Mac version of Word. Or OpenOffice. Or Google Docs.

Now, here’s how to prove my suppositions. If you have subpoena power or a team of people to do some investigating, start tracking down the people who signed these documents. Ask them for the Word document (or other digital template) that was sent to them. Ask them who sent them and what instructions did they give them.

Hello, conspiracy.

Michigan’s Militia-Like Morons Can’t Math [UPDATE]

[Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

They didn’t look very smart, the armed motley mess which staged a protest last Thursday on Michigan’s capitol steps culminating in a tantrum in the rotunda.

The protest reminded me of GOP representatives storming of a closed-door House hearing on the Ukraine quid pro quo — a staged protest meant to interfere and interrupt official governmental proceedings while providing a photo op for media and distracting the public from the underlying problem.

But last week’s armed protesters looked bad even if they were merely a distracting photo op. How does this serve their interests? They’ve undermined any credibility their right-wing ‘Blue Lives Matter’ brethren pushed since Ferguson protests in 2014.

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky, AFP-Getty Images. Shared here under Fair Use.
They’re an embarrassment to this state just as their whiny predecessors were during their Gridlock protest on April 15, violating the executive Stay Home order to rally on the capitol building’s steps, waving their Confederate flags and talking smack about the governor while puling about their lawns not getting cut and their roots not getting colored. Both protests two weeks apart violated the state’s laws related to the governor’s executive powers under a state of emergency.

But the embarrassment doesn’t end at the sight of the right-wing monkey horde barking like mad dogs at public servants who are only doing what they’re paid to do. It’s the horde’s inability to do basic math which makes them look deeply stupid.

The math:

Key:

Pink: 21 days from exposure at Easter to likely recovery.

Blue: 21 days from exposure at Gridlock protest to likely recovery.

Yellow: 21 days from exposure at Armed protest to likely recovery.

Lavender: 21 days from latest likely secondary exposure via Armed protest to likely recovery.

The period from exposure to COVID-19 carriers to average date clear of virus is about 21 days. The two protest rallies are marked off, Easter included since at least one church planned to hold service in spite of Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home order.

(Note a boo-boo on my part, should have marked April 30 as the first of 21 days ending on June 10.)

If Michiganders hadn’t had their little Gridlock tantrum on April 15, we’d have been done with Stay Home and more Michiganders would be alive today.

If all Michiganders stayed home uniformly as ordered and scrupulously obeyed the Stay Home order instead of a few hundred protesters having an armed conniption fit last Thursday, had they rigorously used masks whenever venturing into public spaces for essential business only, we’d have been done with the Stay Home order on the very day these rabid cretins protested in Lansing.

But no.

It’s bad enough that Easter observations in violation of the Stay Home order may have caused a spike in deaths 9-10 days later. But a protest which was supposed to be confined to cars?

Deaths were trending downward until the idiots’ Gridlock protest. It would be nice to know how many of the spike in deaths were people who attended the protest, or who broke the Stay Home order because they were inspired by Gridlock to do so. We may never know how many deaths were because of asymptomatic carriers exposed on that date unless researchers conduct a forensic genetic examination some time in the future.

To ignore this calculus and show up in the capitol without masks, ranting and exhaling in a confined space where law enforcement and lawmakers work is just plain moronic, risking personal health and life in a manner which also threatened others.

Or it’s something far worse — a deliberate attempt not only to interfere with the deliberative process in which all Michiganders have a stake and are represented by their democratically elected officials, but a terror attack intended to hurt and possibly kill the targets of protesters’ ire.

How many of the Michigan State Police, capitol police, lawmakers and staff will come down with COVID-19 as a direct result of this protest?

How many will represent minority majority regions of the state, disproportionately affected by COVID-19?

And how long will the rest of Michigan put up with the death cultists who threaten others, waving guns around inside our representatives’ workplace while blowing contagious viral material at others?

At this rate we’ll be under some form of quarantine all damned summer because these spoiled, stupid wretches can’t make the connection between their bad behavior and Michiganders’ deaths.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE — 05-MAY-2020 2:45 PM EST —

It doesn’t seem obvious to some people why Stay Home/shelter-in-place/lockdown is necessary in the absence of either proven pharmaceutical interventions to treat COVID-19 or a proven safe and effective vaccine targeting the underlying virus SARS-CoV-2. This tweet sums up the primary reason why Stay Home orders are necessary:

Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals in the Detroit area experienced a month ago what happens to our health care system when people aren’t restricted from their former normal behavior. ICU beds are swamped, overflow capacity is likewise exceeded, ventilators and other respiratory aids are in short supply, painkiller and other drug inventory is decimated. Health care workers are overwhelmed and more likely to become sick themselves from a combination of stress, too many hours exposed to massive viral loads especially after personal protective gear has been depleted.

Lockdown to slow down the rate of contagion buys time for the health care system to handle the additional demand COVID-19 places on it — not to mention easing the pressure on other peripheral systems like refrigerated trucking and mortuary services.

It’s as if these armed cretins have already forgotten bodies piled up in hallways in at least on Michigan hospital.

But one additional benefit from a firm, well-enforced, and rigorously-observed lockdown: a change in citizens’ perspective. A societal reset, a reboot of our expectations.

There will be no return to what we once called normal. It’s done, gone, like poodle skirts and Brylcreem, rotary-dial phones and Betamax video, along with home parties hawking baby shit gold Tupperware.

These assholes spraying saliva as they scream at police — some of them out-of-state provocateurs — aren’t saving anything with their assault weapon intimidation. They are hanging onto a past by their fingernails while the virus has its mindless and predictable way with our population.

As contributor Peterr wrote, a virus doesn’t care. Those of us staying at home do. We don’t want to excessively burden our health care workers and system, we don’t want to hurt our friends and families by infecting them or causing them sorrow.

We want our state to get through this protracted period of discomfort and come out on the other side healthy and alive.

We’ll observe the lockdown orders long enough to break the growth of contagion. We’ll learn how to make and wear masks, and our lawmakers will learn how to ensure our law enforcement have the framework they need to maintain the break in contagion. If confirmed cases and deaths increase again, we’ll go back into another lockdown until we break it again.

This will be our new normal, our new social compact, until drug therapy and/or vaccines are ready in a year or two if we are lucky.

Lastly, we’ll observe the lockdowns because this isn’t the end of it. COVID-19 is only our here and now. Something else is out there waiting for us in the future once our new normal has been built.

These saliva-speckled jackasses screaming about their freedom while interfering with our democracy demonstrate our society isn’t ready if another pathogen like SARS-CoV-2 emerged as the climate crisis worsens.

Stay home. Wear a mask when you can’t. Keep your distance. Wash your hands.

COVID-19 Tick-Tock Redux — Gridlocked Edition

[Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

On March 25 I published a post in which I counted out the anticipated time required from a surge of new COVID-19 exposures to the date when the exposed persons would likely be recovered, dead, or free of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

At that time the last big public event at which people would have gathered closely and ignored social distancing was St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Several states issued shelter-in-place/Stay Home orders after the last of the green beer was served, among them Michigan on March 23.

See Marcy’s post for a list of other states’ lockdown orders.

Of course Trump’s malignant narcissism, megalomania, and oppositional defiant disorder kicked in several times during his near-daily coronavirus briefing cum re-election campaign rally. He has champed at restraints on business, in part because Trump organization businesses have been shut down and cut into whatever their revenue streams may be, and in part because his good-old-boy network has been prodding him about the market and their businesses’ lack of revenue.

Which in turn has been used by the right-wing and white nationalists to foment unease and dissension among the Tea Party-ish types.

Like these embarrassments to my state.

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

While the DeVos family denies having any ties to the Michigan Freedom Fund and the Michigan Conservative Coalition which organized the “Operation Gridlock” protest for this Wednesday in Lansing, somebody surely funded the groups behind these racist feckwits.

And somebody organized these mouthbreathing zombies in Ohio so they would protest in Ohio’s capital city Columbus at the same time.

Photo: Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch

And somebody organized these sheep-dip-for-brains in Kentucky as well, also protesting in Kentucky’s capital city.

Sure feels like Tea Party 2.0, just missing the tea bags.

But it’s possible there’s some other entity behind this neatly coordinated multi-state tantrum. Let’s not forget that in 2016 a foreign influence operation persuaded Floridians to hold rally-like pro-Trump events via Facebook.

Somebody knows exactly who the easily motivated Trumpists are who would jump in their car on relatively short notice. It’s just not clear yet whether this was homegrown or if there was help from abroad. Such effort could explain the number of Trump flags and other pro-Trump paraphernalia present at these protests. It would also explain the presence of the far right Proud Boys.

Whatever the case, these whiny morons protesting the lockdowns in their respective states as incursions against their freedoms have likely spread COVID-19 amongst themselves due to their lack of adequate social distancing.

That photo of the mouthbreathers in Columbus fogging up the glass is a perfect example of the aerosolized exhalation humans give off and other humans breath in when there is poor air circulation and a lack of distance between humans. It’s highly possible this photo captured the moment of exposure between individuals. I do hope some well-masked journalist asked these people their names so they could follow up with them:

— in 5 days time when infection has likely set in and earliest symptoms begin;
— in 10-14 days when mild cases will have symptoms and severe to critical cases will seek medical treatment or hospitalization; and again
— in 21-28 days when the exposed have been hospitalized, treated, begun to recover, or died leaving their loved ones behind to answer questions.

We’ll be watching the calendar for the wave of new cases which will likely start this weekend.

Calendar: days until primary and secondary exposures post-Gridlock have cleared

Thanks to these thoughtless morons demanding their freedom to buy lawn fertilizer and visit their hair colorist right the fuck now, the rest of us could be looking at lockdown extended to Memorial Day.

Yes, it will be nearly the end of May until the secondary exposures and infections die out after the primary wave of new exposures recover or fade.

It was bad enough that we will likely have a small wave of new cases because of resistance from evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches which insisted on holding services for Easter. Those exposures would result in new cases from a primary exposure requiring recovery through the first week of May.

Freedom for the rest of us is sadly dependent on waiting out the illness and death of the persuadable and stupid.

This is an open thread.

Trump’s Death Panel Comes for Detroit [UPDATE-1]

[Update at bottom of post, thanks. /~Rayne]

Ordinarily I wouldn’t step on Marcy’s posts by putting another one up so soon and one so short, but I am both FURIOUS and scared sick about this.

Since last night, Detroit Free Press confirmed yesterday’s rumors about the number of ventilators at one chain of Detroit hospitals — that area hospitals had run out of ventilators and patients were notified on arrival they may not have access to a ventilator if needed.

Without ventilators, those suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome in critical need may die.

Trump decided to kill Detroiters by withholding essential equipment. He’s chosen not to act in a timely fashion and interfered with the state’s ability to obtain equipment, while trash talking about Michigan’s governor in the process.

Welcome to Trump’s death panel.

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer couldn’t make it any more plain how urgent the situation was, just as Governor Cuomo has.

Trump’s gross negligence isn’t hurting just black Detroiters, either — yeah, I went there, you know damned well Trump doesn’t care about the woman who is our governor or the black people who are the majority in Detroit.

Trump is hurting rural white Michiganders in areas that voted for him in 2016.

If this is how he’s setting out to win swing states, I hate to see what more harm he’ll cause to solidly blue states.

UPDATE — 1:10 P.M. ET —

You need to watch this video produced by an ER nurse in Oakland County, Michigan. The county straddles four congressional districts, two of which recently flipped blue. This is where white flight settled pre-2000, leaving Detroit behind.

They don’t even have acetaminophen to give patients when they put the ventilator tube down their throats — assuming they still have ventilators right now.

Trump’s death panel won’t just kill you. It will make sure you suffer along the way.

 

Something in the Water: GOP Rep. Mitchell Bows out in Michigan

[Please check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan’s 10th congressional district announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election.

He explained to Politico, “You look at the rhetoric and vitriol, it overwhelms policy, politics becomes the norm. Everything’s about politics. Everything’s about an election. And at some point of time, that’s not why I came here.”

Mitchell also said “A career in Washington was never my objective,” wanting to focus on issues while in office. He had also criticized the racist remarks made about the House Democrats’ freshman “squad” which includes fellow Michigander Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib’s 13th congressional district is on the other side of Detroit from Mitchell’s.

In Mitchell’s case more time with family is a key reason for leaving; he has a child with special needs at home in Michigan.

~ ~ ~

Here’s where it gets interesting. Really can’t blame Mitchell for wanting to get out of the cesspool before it gets any worse, especially when his family needs him at home.

But were there other reasons for him leaving? Recall that The New York Times ran a piece on Monday, These Michigan Voters Show How Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Attack May Help Him.

It was a crappy piece in that it only spoke with white people, and most appeared to be in MI-10. Granted, MI-10 is very rural, very Republican (R+13) , and very white (like 93% white), but the article painted an image of a district which was very racist.

Mitchell had been asked for his opinion about Trump’s ‘Go Back’ remarks:

Even so, Representative Paul Mitchell, the conservative Republican who represents the Port Huron area, struck a note of caution. “I do believe this strategy will be damaging to this election,” Mr. Mitchell said in a telephone interview. He has asked for a meeting with the president, hoping to add his voice to other Republicans who have urged Mr. Trump to restrain himself.

All of the women whom Mr. Trump told to “go back” to their countries — Ms. Tlaib and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — are United States citizens, and only one, Ms. Omar, was born outside the country, in Somalia.

“I was appalled by the chanting ‘send her back,’” Mr. Mitchell said of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s rally Wednesday in North Carolina, where the chant was directed at Ms. Omar. For Mr. Mitchell, the message struck close to home. “My youngest son was born in Russia,” he said. “We adopted him. He’s an American.”

Mitchell also felt Trump’s racist remarks would spur minority voter turnout, which seems like an odd thing to worry about in a district that’s so very white.

Did the NYT get this wrong, perhaps talking to an insufficiency of MI-10 voters only to come away with the sentiment that Trump’s xenophobia could be a winner?

Or did Mitchell feel he was unable to reconcile his personal beliefs with that of his constituents?

There’s one other darker possibility. Did the GOP ask Mitchell to step down and let a pro-Trump white nationalist run for MI-10 in order to assure Trump carries the district in 2020?

Stranger things have happened.

~ ~ ~

A couple more things to keep in mind about MI-10:

The district is extremely rural — it has approximately 705,000 residents but one of the largest areas of Michigan’s districts. It’s also inside the reach of a Sinclair TV station, received more reliably than internet across the district.

The city of Flint’s new water pipeline runs through the middle of the district from Flint to Lake Huron. Two drivers pushing the pipeline’s development and subsequently forcing Flint off Detroit’s water system were the bank(s) funding the pipeline and development of fracking near the water pipeline in MI-10. Fracking needs more water than can be obtained by simply drilling wells.

Enbridge’s Line 5 also runs through the district. Michiganders want the pipeline shut down because it runs under water through the straits between lakes Michigan and Huron, posing a massive risk to these Great Lakes should the aged pipe fail.

How these factors feature in Mitchell’s decision and the 2020 race is anybody’s guess at this point but they shouldn’t be disregarded.

Adder: Ran across this article in MetroTimes published here in Michigan. Seems John James, black candidate running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Gary Peters, has removed all references to Trump from his social media sites.

Hmm.

Thursday: Alien Occupation

Since I missed a Monday post with a movie clip I think I’ll whip out a golden oldie for today’s post.

This movie — especially this particular scene — still gets to me 37 years after it was first released. The ‘chestburster’ as scene is commonly known is the culmination of a body horror trope in Ridley Scott’s science fiction epic, Alien. The horror arises from knowing something happened to the spacecraft Nostromo’s executive officer Kane when a ‘facehugger’ leapt from a pod in an alien ship, eating through his space helmet, leaving him unresponsive as long as the facehugger remained attached to his face. There is a brief sense of relief once the facehugger detaches and Kane returns to consciousness and normal daily functions. But something isn’t right as the subtle extra scrutiny of the science officer Ash foreshadows at the beginning of this scene.

Director Ridley Scott employed a different variant of body horror in his second contribution to the Alien franchise, this time by way of a xenomorph implanted in her mimicking pregnancy in scientist Shaw. She is sterile, and she knows whatever this is growing inside her must be removed and destroyed or it will kill both her and the remaining crew. The clip shared here and others available in YouTube actually don’t convey the complete body horror — immediately before Shaw enters this AI-operated surgical pod she is thwarted by the pod’s programming for a default male patient. In spite of her mounting panic and growing pain she must flail at the program to enter alternative commands which will remove the thing growing inside her.

I suspect the clips available in YouTube were uploaded by men, or they would understand how integral to Shaw’s body horror is the inability to simply and quickly tell this surgical pod GET THIS FUCKING THING OUT OF ME RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

I don’t know if any man (by which I mean cis-man) can really understand this horror. Oh sure, men can realistically find themselves host to things like tapeworms and ticks and other creatures which they can have removed. But the horror of frustration, being occupied by something that isn’t right, not normal, shouldn’t continue, putting its host at mortal risk — and not being able to simply demand it should be removed, or expect resources to avoid its implantation and occupation in one’s self? No. Cis-men do not know this terror.

Now imagine the dull background terror of young women in this country who must listen to white straight male legislators demand ridiculous and offensive hurdles before they will consider funding birth control to prevent sexual transmission of Zika, or fund abortions of Zika-infected fetuses which put their mothers at risk of maternal mortality while the fetuses may not be viable or result in deformed infants who’ll live short painful lives. Imagine the horror experienced by 84 pregnant women in Florida alone who’ve tested positive for Zika and are now being monitored, who don’t know the long-term outcomes for themselves or their infants should their fetuses be affected by the virus.

Body horror, daily, due to occupation not only by infectious agents alien to a woman’s body, but occupation by patriarchy.

I expect to get pooh-poohed by men in comments to which I preemptively say fuck off. I’ve had a conversation this week about Zika risks with my 20-something daughter; she turned down an invitation this past week to vacation with friends in Miami. It’s a realistic problem for her should she accidentally get pregnant before/during/immediately following her trip there.

We also talked about one of her college-age friend’s experiences with Guillain–Barré syndrome. It’s taken that young woman nearly three years to recover and resume normal function. She didn’t acquire the syndrome from Zika, but Guillain–Barré’s a risk with Zika infections. There’s too little research yet about the magnitude of the risk — this vacation is not worth the gamble.

But imagine those who live there and can’t take adequate precautions against exposure for economic reasons — imagine the low-level dread. Imagine, too, the employment decisions people are beginning to make should job offers pop up in areas with local Zika transmission.

What’s it going to take to get through to legislators — their own experience of body horror? Movies depicting body horror don’t seem to be enough.

Wheels
Put these two stories together — the next question is, “Who at VW ordered the emissions cheat device from Bosch before 2008?”

Pretty strong incentives for Volkswagen to destroy email evidence. I wonder what Bosch did with their emails?

Self-driving electric cars are incredibly close to full commercialization based on these two stories:

  • Michigan’s state senate bill seeks approval of driverless cars (ReadWrite) — Bill would change state’s code to permit “the motor vehicle to be operated without any control or monitoring by a human operator.” Hope a final version ensures human intervention as necessary by brakes and/or steering wheel. I wonder which manufacturer or association helped write this code revision?
  • California now committed to dramatic changes in greenhouse gas emissions (Los Angeles Times) — State had already been on target to achieve serious reductions in emissions by 2020; the new law enacts an even steeper reduction by 2030 in order to slow climate change effects and improve air quality.

I don’t know if I’m ready to see these on the road in Michigan. Hope the closed test track manufacturers are using here will offer realistic snow/sleet/ice experience; if self-driving cars can’t navigate that, I don’t want to be near them. And if Michigan legislators are ready to sign off on self-driving cars, I hope like hell the NHTSAA is way ahead of them — especially since emissions reductions laws like California’s are banking heavily on self-driving electric cars.

Google-y-do

  • Google’s parent Alphabet-ting on burritos from the sky (Bloomberg) — No. No. NO. Not chocolate, not doughnuts, not wine or beer, but Alphabet subsidiary Project Wing is testing drone delivery of Chipotle burritos to Virginia Tech students? Ugh. This has fail all over it. Watch out anyhow, pizza delivery persons, your jobs could be on the bubble if hot burritos by drone succeed.
  • API company Apigee to join Google’s fold (Fortune) — This is part of a big business model shift at Google. My guess is this acquisition was driven by antitrust suits, slowing Google account growth, and fallout from Oracle’s suit against Google over Java APIs. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are discrete programming subroutines which, in a manner of speaking, act like glue between different programs, allowing programmers to obtain resources from one system for use in a different function without requiring the programmer to have more than passing understanding of the resource. An API producer would allow Google’s other systems to access or be used by non-Google systems.
  • Google to facilitate storage of Drive content at cloud service Box (PC World) — Here’s where an API is necessary: a Google Drive user selects Box instead of Drive for storage, and the API routes the Drive documents to Box instead of Drive. Next: imagine other Google services, like YouTube-created/edited videos or Google Photo-edited images, allowing storage or use by other businesses outside of Google.

Longread: Digitalization and its panopticonic effect on society
Columbia’s Edward Mendelson, Lionel Trilling Professor in Humanities and a contributor at PC Magazine, takes a non-technical look at the effect our ever-on, ever-observing, ever-connected technology has on us.

Catch you later!

Monday Morning: Brittle

The Emperor’s Palace was the most splendid in the world, all made of priceless porcelain, but so brittle and delicate that you had to take great care how you touched it. …

— excerpt, The Nightingale from The Yellow Fair Book by Andrew Lang

Last week I’d observed that Apple’s stock value had fallen by ~7% after its financial report was released. The conventional wisdom is that the devaluation was driven by Apple’s first under-performing quarter of iPhone sales, indicating weaker demand for iPhones going forward. Commenter Ian remarked that Apple’s business model is “brittle.” This perspective ignores the meltdown across the entire stock global market caused by China’s currency devaluation, disproportionately impacting China’s consumption habits. It also ignores great untapped or under-served markets across other continents yet to be developed.

But more importantly, this “wisdom” misses a much bigger story, which chip and PC manufacturers have also reflected in their sales. The video above, now already two years old, explains very neatly that we have fully turned a corner on devices: our smartphones are and have been replacing our desktops.

Granted, most folks don’t go through the hassle of purchasing HDMI+USB connectors to attach larger displays along with keyboards. They continue to work on their phones as much as possible, passing content to and from cloud storage when they need to work from a keyboard attached to a PC. But as desktops and their attached monitors age, they are replaced in a way that supports smartphones as our main computing devices — flatscreen monitors, USB keyboards and mice, more powerful small-footprint external storage.

And ever increasing software-as-a-service (SaaS) combined with cloud storage.

Apple’s business model isn’t and hasn’t been just iPhones. Not since the debut of the iPod in October 2001 has Apple’s business model been solely focused on devices and the operating system required to drive them. Heck, not since the debut of iTunes in January 2001 has that been true.

Is there a finite limit to iPhones’ market? Yeah. Same for competing Android-driven devices. But is Apple’s business just iPhones? Not if iTunes — a SaaS application — is an indicator. As of 2014, there were ~66 million iPhones in the U.S., compared to ~800 million iTunes users. And Apple’s current SaaS offerings have exploded over time; the Apple store offers millions of apps created by more than nine million registered developers.

At least nine million registered developers. That number alone should tell you something about the real business model.

iPhones are a delivery mechanism, as are Android-based phones. The video embedded above shows just how powerful Android mobile devices can be, and the shift long underway is not based on Apple’s platform alone. If any business model is brittle right now, it’s desktop computing and any software businesses that rely solely on desktops. How does that change your worldview about the economy and cybersecurity? Did anyone even notice how little news was generated about the FBI accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s PCs? Was that simply because of the locked Apple iOS account, or was it in part because the case mirrored society’s shift to computing and communications on mobile devices?

File under ‘Stupid Michigan Legislators‘: Life sentences for automotive hackers?
Hey. Maybe you jackasses in Michigan’s state senate ought to deal with the permanent poisoning of nearly 8000 children in Flint before doing something really stupid like making one specific kind of hacking a felony worthy of a life sentence. And maybe you ought to do a little more homework on hacking — it’s incredibly stupid to charge a criminal with a life sentence for a crime as simple as entry permitted by wide-open unlocked doors. Are we going to allocate state money to chase hackers who may not even be in this country? Are we going to pony up funds for social media monitoring to catch hackers talking about breaching wide-open cars? Will this law deter citizen white hats who identify automakers’ vulnerabilities? File this mess, too, under ‘Idiotic Wastes of Taxpayers’ Money Along with Bathroom Legislation by Bigots‘. This kind of stuff makes me wonder why any smart people still live in this state.

File this, too, under ‘Stupid Michigan Legislators‘: Lansing Board of Water and Light hit by ransomware
Guess where the first ransomware attack on a U.S. utility happened? Do I need to spell it out how ridiculous it looks for the electric and water utility for the state’s capitol city to be attacked by ransomware while the state’s legislature is worrying about who’s using the right bathroom? Maybe you jackasses in Lansing ought to look at funding assessment and security improvements for ALL the state’s utilities, including both water safety and electricity continuity.

Venezuela changes clocks to reduce electricity consumption
Drought-stricken Venezuela already reduced its work week a month ago to reduce electricity demand. Now the country has bumped its clocks forward by 30 minutes to make more use of cooler early hour during daylight. The country has also instituted rolling blackouts to cutback on electricity. Cue the right-wing pundits claiming socialism has failed — except that socialism has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of rainfall to fill reservoirs.

Coca Cola suing for water as India’s drought deepens
This is a strong piece, worth a read: Whose Water Is It Anyway?

After a long battle, the UN declared in 2010 that clean water was a fundamental right of all citizens. Easier said than done. The essential, alarming question has become, ‘Who does the groundwater belong to?’ Coca Cola is still fighting a case in Kerala where the farmers rebelled against them for using groundwater for their bottling plants. The paddy fields for miles around dried up as water for Coke or the company’s branded bottled water was extracted and transported to richer urban consumers.

Who did that groundwater belong to? Who do our rivers belong to? To the rich and powerful who can afford the resources to draw water in huge quantities for their industries. Or pollute the rivers with effluent from their industries. Or transport water over huge distances at huge expense to turn it into profit in urban areas.

Justus Rosenberg: One of Hannah Arendt’s rescuers
Ed Walker brought this piece to my attention, a profile of 95-year-old Justus Rosenberg featured in this weekend’s New York Times. I love the last two grafs especially; Miriam Davenport characterized Rosenberg as “a nice, intelligent youngster with no family, no money, no influence, no hope, no fascinating past,” yet he was among those who “…were a symbol of sorts, to me, in those days […] Everyone was moving Heaven and earth to save famous men, anti-fascist intellectuals, etc.” Rosenberg was a superhero without a cape.

That’s our week started. See you tomorrow morning!

See you tomorrow morning!