Nutty Digital Ideas from GOP Candidates

Nutty Digital Claims from GOP Candidates: To paraphrase ‘The Great Communicator’ Ronald Reagan, “It isn’t so much that our GOP candidates are ignorant about digital tech. It’s just that they know so many things that just aren’t so.”

Although his status as a sage is hotly contested, when speaking of digital tech, candidates would do well to remember Rumsfeld’s discussions of ‘unknowns’ and recall that the first ‘unknown’ Rumsfeld examines is the ‘known unknown’ — that we know the things we do not know — and senior GOP politicians are notoriously weak on digital tech. They know that. So why put their ignorance on such open display?

So let’s look at the nutty things the candidates said about digital in the previous Tuesday’s debate.

Trump: ‘closing parts of the internet’ to terrorists. Not possible, and stupid besides. Not only would such futile attempts drive terrorist communications into other dark channels where they would have to hunted again and re-discovered, simply watching covertly and monitoring communications would allow us to discover the entire terrorist network if done quietly. By the way, the press asked this question explicitly of Trump, so they are no more ‘educated’ on digital tech than the candidates are.

Fiorina: tech industry will volunteer to help counter-terrorism efforts, ‘if government asks’ To some extent, they will. But the tech industry has been extensively and roughly ‘asked’ — and subpoenaed, compelled, hacked and badgered to supply meta-data and communications content. Enough so that consumers and some of the tech firms themselves are now more inclined to err on the side of consumer privacy.

Cruz: defended passage of the USA Freedom Act (just prior to the insertion of CISA in the omnibus spending bill that passed the same week). While the USA Freedom Act does limit the NSA widespread ‘content’ collection somewhat, the fact is that the Act authorizes the NSA and other agencies to access more, not less, of consumer meta-data.

Kasich: DHS could not monitor the San Bernardino terrorists’ communications ‘because their phone was encrypted’. Forget all about meta-data, John?? There are a lot of scholarly and political and technical pundits writing today who reveal that meta-data often revels far more useful intelligence information than the actual contents of the communications.

In digital tech, shooting from the hip with ill-conceived ideas always turns out to be a poor practice.

Gray’s Book

Excellent Education: Gray Delany’s insightful How to Bag a RHINO: The Whiz Kids Who Brought Down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — I met Gray on the campaign to Draft (and then elect) Dr. Ben Carson and was excited when I learned that Gray had joined the team to advance Dr. Carson toward the nomination.

Gray’s political work reflects a wisdom and commitment that we rarely see in GOP activism.

Gray and his co-author relate the story of how they elected David Brat, a congressional first-timer who decided to take on the apex of the GOP establishment: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

I simply was not able to put this book down, and finished it at 5am. If you ever worked, or intend to work, for a candidate who may be a bit of a ‘long shot’ then Gray’s book is a must-read for you.

Buy it. Read it. Apply what you learn.

…and finally, the finest season’s greetings to all of you! Merry Christmas!

Cross-Posted at GOP Tech Week