Crashdown

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by Jeff Fecke • So the Coleman campaign put up a list of people whose absentee ballots have been rejected, so that the people who committed ballot fraud can find out that their ballots were rejected due to the ballot fraud. And amazingly and shockingly, the traffic is just so incredibly huge that it totally crashes the site! Because, you know, after pornography the most exciting thing on all the internets is seeing if your vote for Dean Barkley was rejected.

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

What? You say that seems a bit unlikely? You say that a web site designed to take hundreds of thousands of hits a day should be able to deal with the mild increase in views a trip to Hannity should add? You think that Coleman faked the “crash” in an ill-conceived plot to generate traffic? Well, yeah — that is, in fact, exactly what they did:

1. colemanforsenate.com has handled much, much more traffic before. (Note that each “visitor” generates numerous “hits.”) Why is it a problem now?

2. Their website has been configured to point at the IP address “1.1.1.1,” which goes nowhere. This isn’t a mistake. They also set the “time to live” on that for only 600 seconds, which means when they choose to switch it back, most servers should only take 10 minutes to refresh. It’s an intentional move so they can manage their timing of the switchover. Most records like this have a much longer time to live. In short, they have configured their website to intentionally point at nothing. This does not happen by mistake and it is clear what they are doing. Reporters: ask any IT professional.

Yep! It turns out that Team Coleman actually altered their site’s DNS address to make it appear that the demand for their site was just so incredibly big that the internet itself quaked in terror, its tubes clogged with justice. Or some other substance.

Upon hearing this, I said to myself, “Self, this sounds awfully familiar. Like at some point in the past, the Minnesota GOP tried similar shenanigans with their websites in a Senate campaign.” But when? When indeed….

But the breathless hyperventilating from the right has reached its apex, with the downing of Mark Kennedy’s website for security purposes:

“We were informed last evening of a serious security breach of sensitive Kennedy campaign information by a senior member of Amy Klobuchar’s campaign. Due to the fact this information was accessed via the internet, we are taking precautionary measures to protect our campaign information. We apologize for the inconvenience. The full features of our website will be restored once this matter has been resolved.”

Well, except for his contributions page. That’s too important to take down.

And Pat Shortridge’s blog.

And except for the fact that the site isn’t actually down at all.

Note: I doubt all those links still link anywhere, but the story’s the thing — in 2006, in response to a breach of the Mark Kennedy for Senate web site by a liberal blogger, the Kennedy campaign shut down their site, “for security reasons.” Except they didn’t. They just plugged in some generic code that made the website look closed — but they left the contributions page up.

The Coleman campaign tried to take a page out of the Mark Kennedy playbook, because hey, when you think losing Senate candidates, you think Mark Kennedy. And they would have succeeded, except their ruse was only slightly less transparent than Kennedy’s.

Why are they doing this? I’m really not sure. I suppose when your legal strategy isn’t panning out too well, you try to play on public sympathy.

In a final irony, the Coleman gambit left donor information available for several hours on Wednesday night. Yes, the stupid, transparently false attempt at garnering sympathy didn’t just backfire, but it put donor information out onto the internet in world-readable format. At some point, the recount will end. But I hope not too soon — this is too hilarious right now.
Originally published 1/29/09

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