Jan. 5th, 2017

ljfrostfire: ($#@%&!)
I see a trend. Parts have been popping up on twitter and noticed by the media. There is, at present, no clearly defined connection between all the disparate parts. And yet, I am concerned.

Starting with what is perhaps the most innocuous datum, I look to LiveJournal.
  - Two days ago, I read a post (locked, so I won't link it here) that remarked on the following: LiveJournal's servers have moved to Russia. Furthermore, it appears that encrypted connections (https) are no longer possible. The second tidbit raises legitimate concerns over security that I am not competant to comment on. I encourage anyone interested to Google it. The move to Russia, however, is very concerning to me. For one thing, I've seen no mention of this in any official capacity, which suggests the possibility that somebody hopes nobody will notice. More significantly, this has serious ramifications in terms of jurisdiction, law enforcement, and privacy.
  - What does this mean? It's difficult to say with any certainty. However, given the various commentary on Russian dissidents abandoning the platform in droves, I would surmise that the simplest answer to that question is, "nothing good." I've been on LiveJournal since sometime in 2000, which actually makes me something of an early adopter. I was here when people still needed invite codes to join. I was here when it was bought by Six Apart in 2005 and half the communities I followed were convinced it was ruin the platform. I was here when it was subsequently sold off in 2007 to SUP Media, a Russian company. I remember amount of paranoia that generated, and the reassurances that were offered in light of the fact that the servers, and thus the physical jurisdiction over the site, was remaining in California as they had always been. This was reinforced by the creation of "LiveJournal Inc" to actually run the site and which was based in San Francisco. Moving the servers to Russia sounds innocuous, but go back to that second link in the previous paragraph. Now imagine you're Russian and some form of dissident. Maybe you're a political opponent. Maybe you're LGBT and have to avoid Russia's virulently anti-LGBT "propoganda" laws. Maybe you're not Russian, but rather one of Russia's baltic neighbors, and they're encroaching on your yard. And now, all the information you've put into your journal? Your American-hosted journal? The one that's political, and tells Putin to fuck off? Now on Russian soil. Under Russian jurisdiction.
  - But I'm not a Russian! Uh huh. Do you really think that will be protection enough from Russia's cyber-intelligence? Have you paid any attention to politics over the last year or so? I'm not just talking American politics, althought I'll get to that. What about Brexit? What about the various ethno-nationalist parties all over Europe? You know the ones I mean. The one's that seem to have a surprising amount of support from Putin. The ones that threaten the politics of European unity, which just so happen to threaten Putin's goals. And what about all that questionable "information" that WikiLeaks decided to dump all over those least likely to be amenable to Putin's ambitions? The emails that everybody was talking about, the ones that everybody conveniently forgot were stolen. And of questionable validity in some cases. Where has WikiLeaks gone lately, you might wonder? Oh, they're focusing in on Angela Merkel now. And wouldn't you know, Germany is gearing up for an election in 2017. What a coincidence.

So, there's that angle of concern, all by itself. What's next, you ask? So glad you did.
  - Today, I read a different sort of story. It's one where the House Republicans can now slash individual salaries of federal employees to $1. Again. Yeah, again. As with so many things lately, they did not make this shit up all by themselves. They reached all the way back to 1876 to find the Holman Rule. Please note that, while the headline focuses on the individual, this rule works just fine on programs. Personally, I find the monicur of the "Armageddon Rule" to be far more descriptive. And intellectually honest, if we take seriously for the threat that it is. How'd we collectively miss this bit of bullshit, you wonder? We were up in arms over the gutting of the Independent Ethics office overseeing Congress. So up in arms, in fact, that they backed down. So hurray on that point, at least. But back to this Armageddon Rule. To quote WaPo: "The rule changes the process of passing spending bills by allowing any rank-and-file House member to propose an amendment that would cut a specific federal program or the jobs of specific federal employees, by slashing their salaries or eliminating their positions altogether." For one thing, I can easily envision a free-for-all of fucking nonsense spawing from this.
  - Putting that aside, this does a complete end run around the civil service employment protections that WERE a fundamental aspect of the job. Remember they dug this up from 1876. Here's the biggest takeaway on what that means. "The rule was devised before the advent of a nonpolitical, career civil service and was rarely invoked in the modern era." Non-political positions (ie, those which are not political appointments) are afforded these protections precisely to protect our civil servants, the bedrock of fundamental administration of ANY government, from political shenanigans. It's meant to provide stability of personnel, service, and function. This shit? Has the very real possibility of throwing "continuity of government" right out the damn window.
  - Well, okay, fine. But it's like they're gonna go down a list. I'm sorry, have you not been paying attention again? Seriously?

I present to you, point three. The Trumpster HAS been making a list. More than one. Or trying to, at the very least. Don't believe me? Fine, I'll give you a list of my own.So, yeah. Climate change, women's issues and gender equality, and LGBT 'activists' are very clearly on his shit list. Just to start with.
  - Combine point three, Trumpster's lists, with point two, the Armageddon Rule. Are you seeing it yet? Now, this isn't all happening at the same time. And there's so much verbal diarrhea flowing from the Trumpster's team, supporters, and his very own twitter feed, that many folks, drowning in the overwhelming flood of bullshit, have probably forgotten his lists. Because, of course, that was, what, a few weeks ago? And he's said HOW MUCH garbage since then? By the way, if you're exhausted just reading all this, I feel ya. Oh, do I feel ya.
  - So, he's taking a stab at making lists of employees, and their programs. And House Republicans just gave themselves the perfect tool to simply scoop out anything and anyone that anyone disapproves of. Sure, it still has to survive a vote. Pfft. Like that'll be any sort of impediment. ARE YOU KIDDING?! This shit is a recipe. What's it make? A fucking PURGE of government employees. And government programs. Outside the usual budgetary & agency proceedures. With individuals having no recourse or remedy.

So, anybody still remember all that hacking and leaked emails nonsense? That pesky little Russian interance with free election stuff that all the American Intelligence agencies have been vaguely talking about? You know, the bullshit that got us the Trumpster?
  - The DNC hacking mess should be a way bigger scandal than it has been. Not for the emails, because is there actually anybody with two marbles rolling in the same direction who was the least bit surprised by anything in there? Really? Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait. Insert Jeapordy theme here! Didn't think so. Of course the Democratic Party prefered a lifelong party member with a long history of service and involvement over the Johnny-come-lately of longtime Independent relative obscurity. Duh. Yes, he's been in the Senate for a good long while. And I still hadn't heard of him before he decided to jump on the DNC bandwagon to run for President. I cannot have been the only one. The real scandal should have been how easy it was to hack the DNC, how fucking lackadaisicle the FBI seemed to be about it, and more importantly, the fact that the Trumpster fucking encouraged it. On television!
  - The DNC servers were hacked, here in the states. All the private server fiasco about Clinton's time at the State Department? Also here in the states, and apparently unhacked. Imagine what would happen to servers hosted in Russia.

And this brings me back around to point number one. LiveJournal's servers are now hosted in Russia. Suppose it wasn't LiveJournal, which is probably about 10 years past its prime here in America. Although it's very big in Russia and other baltic countries, I gather. Hence all the concern about Russian dissidents, but I digress. Suppose instead that it were Facebook suddenly moved to Russia. Or Twitter. Anyone starting to get uncomfortable yet?

I find myself reminded of the era of McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. The two were not, strictly speaking, related. McCarthy was, after all, a member of the Senate and thus not a member of HUAC. And yet, the two are linked in time, place, and anti-communist hysteria. For those of us who have been active on LiveJournal these last however many years, our thoughts and words are now, potentially, an open book for Russian authorities if they so chose. Where those words would end up is an open question. Certainly, in the hands of WikiLeaks is an option. For a great many of us, the likeliest scenario is, well, nowhere. Unless someone decides that they WANT to go digging, that is.

Some of this, of course, should go without saying. Nothing posted on the internet can ever really be considered gone. Unless you're the one looking for that one thing you posted that one time like, five years ago, talking about that thing. You know, that cool thing, with the great idea, or the best photo of the longlost loved one, or that bit that shows you really made the thing so-and-so is getting all the credit for. Then? Yeah, it's gone forever, never to be seen again. But the shit you want to go away? That shit stays around forever. It's what makes revenge porn so awful. And doxxing. Now imagine it's all burried in Russia somewhere, and you work for the civil service.

I'm not saying that the Trumpster or Congress is going to troll LiveJournal in a witch hunt to purge the country of those they deem unworthy. But we're also talking about a man who has professed a desire to deport illigals, suggested that Japanesse internment is a precedent for dealing with Muslims, has announced virulently anti-LGBT folks for the vast majority of his cabinet positions, and appears to be on the hunt for supporters of climate change, gender equality, and LGBT rights. So I'm not exactly comfortable dismissing the notion entirely.

Which brings me, finally, to this.

I'll be investigating finding a new space for my blog. Such as it is. I know I don't post often. I know it's usually not even that interesting when I do. But at this juncture, that's not really the point. Should the horrors on the horrizon become more than a paranoid fever dream (hey, I am sick right now, that is an option) I don't want to scramble for other options. I want to be able to say, "whew, glad I had that back up plan."

I'm not sure what will become of this space. I've had this journal a long while and it's seen me through some seriously hard times. I imagine I'll leave it here, for a while at least. Catch you on the flip side.

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Formerly Frostfire

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