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Do Not Despair, America- Our Last Words From Senator John McCain.

R.I.P. Senator John McCain- a good and decent man.

America lost one of its very best recently, in the passing of John McCain. We lost a man with convictions, a man of courage.

A man who sat for nearly six years in a North Vietnamese P.O.W. camp, shot down in his Skyhawk and taken prisoner by the Vietnamese with four fractured limbs and yet still had the inner resources to come back from that so spectacularly that he was an elected American official within the next eleven months. We lost a man who voted with his conscience, instead of his unconscionable party. He will be sorely missed.

McCain was perhaps the last of a dying breed, a Republican with principles and decency. They called him the maverick, which pretty much meant that he cared about America. He was one of Trump’s most outspoken critics all the while that this was going on. At Millennial Democrats, we have looked at him as an ally. He was not among our number, but he was fighting for a lot of the same things.

He sure was worth about fifty billion of the malignant narcissist in the White House now.

McCain asked Presidents Barack Obama and George. W. Bush to deliver eulogies at his funeral, while Trump will stay away. He’s spent the whole event grousing about how McCain’s funeral coverage in the media is “over the top“, and wouldn’t even lower the flags to half-mast until the Pentagon got ahold of him ringing his bell.

He was probably thinking about his ratings, as if the death of one of the best Americans who ever lived would have come in second best, compared to the Apprentice.

Trump sent a cursory tweet on Saturday -“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” but mostly he just pulled childish garbage and turned the whole thing into a commentary about him.

He did not spare one word for the man himself. What a worthless piece of trash.

I try and leave these types of observations to myself, at the very least for decorum’s sake, but sometimes there’s just nothing else to say. Our president is worthless. Worse than worthless. He is actively corrosive. We would be better off pulling presidents at random as if it were jury duty, than we are with this thief who stole our 2016 election. It just kills me some days.

Good thing there’s a nice strong Blue Wave coming along to smash this debauchery of a man right into the ocean, and scour the White House clean again. On November 6th, when we Democrats retake at least the House of Representatives, we will have you in mind, Senator.

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” the Republican senator and former GOP presidential nominee wrote in a letter read by advisor Rick Davis on Monday.

“Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Farewell fellow Americans, God bless you, and God bless America.”

God bless you as well, sir. Thank you for all you did for us.

R.I.P. Senator John Sidney McCain III(R-AZ). August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018.

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Trump Gets Rough Treatment from Pecker- How Deep Is He In?

Trump Is In Deep!

A week that started out with the news that White House counsel Don McGahn had cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, sitting down for more than 30 hours of interviews, did not improve for our nation’s 45th president, although he did manage to yet again make the cover of his beloved Time Magazine- most of him, anyway.

Image result for trump is in deep time magazine

By now everyone knows that in addition to the Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort bombshells, all kinds of different people have been turning on Trump as well.

News came out Friday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan struck a deal earlier this summer with Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. He too was granted immunity for his upcoming grand jury testimony regarding those hush payments.

Time Politics correspondent Philip Elliott spoke of hearing “fear” in the voices of Trump staffers. “They can’t even agree on what ocean they’re in,” he said.

Earlier this week, the big news was that David Pecker, the head of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, American Media Inc, was granted immunity in the federal investigation that is going on around Michael Cohen in exchange for providing information on hush money deals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pecker told prosecutors that Trump knew all about Cohen’s payments to the women who claimed to have had sex with Trump, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Pecker also provided investigators with details about payments Cohen made to the women, the sources said.
Prosecutors also granted immunity to A.M.I.’s chief content officer, Australian journalist Dylan Howard, so that he would describe Trump’s involvement in the matter.
All week long, it just kept rolling in. Friday night saw Trump World Tower doorman Dino Sajudin is claiming he’s got the scoop on an affair President Donald Trump had with an ex-housekeeper, one that resulted in a child born out of wedlock.
Legally speaking, he is now able to talk about a contract that he entered with AMI that had prohibited him from discussing the matter with anyone, according to his attorney.
That’s also what happened earlier this year, both with Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougal, the latter of whom made it a point to claim she would never have sold her story to the National Enquirer in the first place, if she would have known they weren’t going to publish it. A “catch-and-kill” contract, they called it.
Earlier this year, a judge ruled that she, like Sajudin, could tell her story anyway.
Get ’em, Dino Sajudin and Karen MacDougal. I hope you take Pecker and jam him right up Donald’s assets.
Jerry George, who worked for the National Enquirer for 28 years, told CNN’s Erica Hill he thinks Pecker would turn on Trump to “save his own skin,” and that’s what they all seem to be doing. What a surprise.
Going forward, our usual task of raising awareness will not be very hard. All the world is aware that Donald Trump is a sinking ship, and we all know what sort of animals jump off them. This is a deeply corrupt and foolish man, a silly and arrogant man, one who really believed he could hide all this and still be the president. He’s getting what he deserves in Biblical proportions.  Good.
Presidents in generations to come will look to him as an abject model, and his name will become a spiteful slight to cast at other despots.
Obscene jokes and references abound, and the whole development has a bizarre air of perverted humor that somehow says a lot about the state of things today. If our president wasn’t a pervert, we wouldn’t be writing this now. But for Trump they’re not funny at all. Because David Pecker knows a lot that can hurt Donald Trump.

It took him all of two seconds to flip over, which has hit Trump where it hurts, penetrating deep into the core of the network of friends and allies he’s come to rely on over the years. For Pecker to come out with all he knows will be very messy for Trump.

He’s been buying up stories on Trump, only to suppress them, for many years now.

“They’ve got a safe full,” says Jerry George, a former senior editor at A.M.I.

We bet they do.

There is a clear moral to this story, and in it is a lesson to stand for all time. Corruption, in the end, is always its own reward. And the truth is always stronger than mere lies.

The Worst Day Yet For Donald Trump- Manafort and Cohen Guilty.

Licking lips like a lizard, Michael Cohen turns on Trump completely. Manafort guilty on 8 counts! Great day for US.

When America saw that Paul Manafort was found guilty yesterday, many of us shouted for literal joy. One lone holdout juror refused to vote to find him guilty on all eighteen counts, so ten of them ended up being a mistrial. He’ll have to go to court again on those.

On eight counts, however, he was guilty then and there. It’s enough to make sure he goes to prison.

“I won’t be this happy on Christmas, unless they find some other, even bigger, Trump crony to throw in the can,” said one of our senior contributors on the subject.

Manafort is said to have held out and went to trial believing he would get a pardon from Trump, who refused to deny he was considering it, even though bipartisan condemnation would surely follow.

Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio tells the story loud and clear, though. This “president” is not at all above subverting the judicial system to reward those who commit crimes he likes. Manafort may get his pardon- but even if he did, he would have to rot in jail until he finishes his other cases. He’s going to do years under any circumstances.

There can be no doubt. After two years of brazen lies, insults, and claims that all we say is fake news, finally. The slobs who watch Fox News can willfully deny no longer, and neither can their Republican masters.

They can gripe, they can whine, they can get ready to start obstructing again after we take back all power from the Republicans and never give any of it back to them. They had better adjust to that reality quick, for their own sakes.

Because Robert Mueller- whose public approval rating has jumped 11 points in the last 24 hours- absolutely blasted Trump yesterday.

Big as a deal as the Manafort conviction was- on any other day, I can’t even imagine another topic taking precedence- it was actually overshadowed by the court appearance and subsequent plea deal taken by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney.

Cohen’s admission that he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels at Trump’s behest makes Trump the uncharged conspirator in a major felony case.

To understate the case all but absurdly, it’s a big deal. For the first time since he got elected, talk of his impending impeachment may not be far from reality-although if it is, the Republicans should be the ones to do it. We don’t want to split the country like they did with Bill Clinton. They can clean up their own mess, while we raise awareness about their incapacity to do it.

At any rate, Trump has been caught with his pants down, both with Stormy and with former Playboy centerfold Karen MacDougal. He paid her off too.

The question now on everybody’s mind is what comes next.

For all the talk about Robert Mueller and his investigation getting ready to wrap up this fall, we really have no idea. Mueller’s team has been completely immune to the sort of leaks that haunt the White House. There is no person in Mueller’s life analogous to Omarosa Manigault.

Justice Department policy regarding the indictment of a sitting president in the past suggests Mueller won’t charge him directly. But there’s never been a president this crooked before either, so we really don’t know. It is our opinion that at this point, the possibility should not be ruled out.

Indictment or no, the damage this will do to our unpleasant 45th president is almost impossible to overstate.

Between Cohen and Manafort, it’s been the hardest day for Trump since the day of him boasting about other sex offenses he committed on the “Grab ’em” tape recorded by Access Hollywood. It was a one-two punch of epic proportions. Trump is reeling.

What direction the finishing blow comes from is going to depend on Robert Mueller’s report and what’s in it. By this point, it seems likely that it won’t be anything good for Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump himself is said to be calm for the moment, which to this Millennial Democrats contributor seems like the effects of shock. It is said that in the White House, they are bracing for a storm- a storm Trump himself has perceived he is caught out in.

Democrats are likewise preparing for the storm. Our leaders have drafted a wide-ranging contingency plan that will go into immediate effect should Trump try and fire Mueller. It will also happen if he takes any other steps to kill the Russia investigation, like firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses.

“How did we get here?” Trump woefully wondered on Fox News earlier this evening.

You ran for president, Donald. That’s how.

It’s been a tangled path, but one thing is certain. He’s got only himself to blame.

Making Tyranny Great Again-Trump Spends Week Assaulting Democracy.

Trump is a threat to our democracy.

Ever since the first few weeks that Trump took office, in which he created worldwide pandemonium by announcing via Twitter that citizens of seven countries were banned from traveling into the United States, America has seen itself disgraced by the conduct of its 45th president time and again.

Things have reached the point where it’s becoming normal. The bar of expectations set by our citizens for our leaders is having to be lowered by the day, and that is very dangerous to our democracy.

Most recently, it’s been his decision to start stripping people who criticize him of their security clearances, starting with former CIA director James Brennan.

Axios recently tweeted that Trump has become enamored with the unchecked powers of the presidency. “What he enjoys most about this job is finding things he has absolute power over,” said one source who’s worked closely with Trump.

Sources recently told Mike Allen that Trump  “got a kick out of pardons, that he could pardon anybody he wants and people would come to him to court him and beg him.”

60 former CIA officials have signed a letter responding to the removal of Brennan’s security clearance, pointing out that “The country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.”

Of course it will, but that is not what Trump cares about.

Trump’s attack on John Brennan is meant to distract us from his crimes, starting with the fact that he and his crew are almost certain to be proved guilty of agreeing to conspire with a shady Kremlin plot to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

Even at this minute, he is aiding and abetting Putin’s attack on the election by denying it was happening. He’s still doing it.

Meanwhile, his old campaign manager Paul Manafort’s trial drags on, because the jury is still deliberating. Why? There is enough evidence against that guy to throw him in the can for a million years.

The jurors must be at least as aware of it as we are, which is what makes it fishy that they’re still in there arguing with each other about it. T.S. Ellis, the judge, who has been threatened himself, says they’re scared. Who can blame them?

All the while, Trump is talking about how sad it is that a guy who stabbed America like Manafort did is on trial at all.

Not very democratic of him, but that’s the kind of guy he is.

The bottom line is that democracy is an impediment to Donald Trump. He does not find it useful, so he holds it in contempt. To him, the natural order of things involves debauched old white guys on top of every power structure, shouting orders and bossing everybody around.

Democracy has been in the process of rejecting this worldview for more than a hundred years. So why respect it? It’s an albatross around his neck.

If he can manage to whip up a sort of spit-polished authoritarianism, some form of rule that would retain a veneer of democracy while skewing the contest to ensure its result, that would be ideal for Trump, and also for his right-wing nationalist buddies all throughout the world.
Trump wants Erik Prince to build him his own private army. he was talking about building him a private spy network a few months ago. They want to privatize the war in Afghanistan.
He’s been talking up his dictator buddies, like Putin and Kim and Maduro, right from the start. As long ago as 1989, he was making public statements deploring the “lack of control” the Soviet Union had over its people. He wants to do whatever he wants to do, and he can’t  completely disregard the rights of others because he lives in a democracy.
How then to get rid of it?
In the clouded and foggy mind of Trump, these notions are not well conceived. They are murky impressions at best, addled further by the dementia Omarosa says he’s got. But other authoritarian leaders, like Putin, understand them very well and would like nothing better than to see them take place here.
America is the center of the current, liberal world order that has given us everything since the conclusion of World War Two, a struggle over these same ideas that nearly finished us. In order for that to change, America must abandon its values. That is why Trump, a man who values nothing he can’t stain his T-shirt with, was so favorable a candidate for other despots to support.
Going forward, we have got to come together strongly to affirm that we will not give up our values for anyone or anything. That is what the Resistance is for. Preservation of all we have in America depends on our success.

Economic Inequality Casts Shadow On the Future of Millennials- Voting Is The Answer.

millennial-survey

Economic inequality issues are going to become a crisis for our generation. This is unavoidable. Millennials came of age during one of the worst economic recessions in history, and it hurt most of us severely while making a small few of us incredibly prosperous.

As we stand right this minute, still flush off the bounce given us by the eight years of sound economic practices President Obama put in place for us, it’s tempting for many millennials to feel good about the economy.

Right now we’re all doing pretty good, but that will only last for a single day compared to what is coming next.

Our generation is poised to have the worst income inequality in American history. Only the most well-off will have a say in defining what “we” care about.

In the last decade especially, our economy has begun to disproportionately reward certain types of professions often occupied by millennials, e.g. techies like Mark Zuckerberg, at the expense of those pursuing what are referred to as bedrock jobs, like nursing and teaching.

The discrepancy itself isn’t the story, though.  What’s scary is how fast this gap is growing. And how fast it will soon be getting worse.

Wage rates are stagnant already, and the US trade deficit is declining as well. The negative trade balance is certain to put increasing pressure on our generation, especially with the country now out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Trump threw the world economic order into complete upheaval with his random scuttling of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). That is certain to help to set the stage for this, as well as the number of lies that Trump has told about how all our economic successes recently are due to the marvel that is him.

As with George W. Bush before him, when people start waking up there will be anger.

Economic issues are going to become a crisis for our generation. We all came of age during one of the worst economic recessions in history, and it hurt almost all of us. This is unavoidable.

But we can choose to solve them. It just means resolution and hard work. We can still turn this thing around. We just need to work hard, focus, and target our messages. It’s critical because, above all, we have to avoid the trap of descending into radicalism, to the left or to the right.

Millennials have many strengths. We are a fiercely progressive bunch, deeply individualized and passionate. We stand out because we are the most diverse generation to date.

42 percent of us identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white, around twice the share of the Baby Boomer generation when they were the same age. We’ve got all the people in the world as part of our numbers. That gives us access to everything humans have.

Millennials are better educated than Gen X was, we have more college graduates. We are recognized as being tough, resilient, and resourceful.

Yet even still, we make less money and are less likely to be working at all.

This has to change, and the one sure way to see to it that it does is to organize. We’ve got to start getting ready, and we’ve got to start getting busy.

We have to assert ourselves to government and employers about the labor and economic changes that we will ultimately require to succeed.

The only ones who can turn this thing around are we ourselves. And the best way to kick that off is to vote all Republicans right off the face of the earth.

We must vote Democratic until there are no more Republicans.

Help The Midwest To Do Its Best! VOTE DEMOCRATIC On Tuesday!

2018demwomen

The latest primaries for the November election are adding up to a historically diverse field of candidates. Four states voted last Tuesday, and the results were fantastic for Democrats. This Tuesday, on August 14., four more states will vote, in races that are absolutely crucial to the Democratic Party.

Democratic senators are up for re-election in both the Minnesota and Wisconsin primaries, where success is critical to our chances. Tina Smith is running to continue serving the rest of Senator Al Franken’s term. Senator Amy Klobuchar is also up for re-election.
These are some of our best people, and we need them. We are going to find every way to support them that we can.

Because of the dirty trick that got rid of Al Franken, Ms. Smith, a Democrat, took office in January as a temporary replacement after Mr. Franken resigned. Now, as she is running for the final two years of the term, Republicans hover vulture-like, hoping to pick off the seat.

In the Wisconsin primaries, incumbent Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin is up for re-election. She too is the best.While the Republicans squabble, Tammy Baldwin is holding a week-long series of listening sessions across Wisconsin. The listening tour was invented by Hillary Clinton, who is undoubtedly proud.

Baldwin said her “In Your Corner Tour” was engineered to counter “special interests and out-of-state billionaires” who have spent more than $11 million trying to defeat her.

“It’s powerful special interests who call the shots,” Baldwin said in a news release. “I’ll hear directly from Wisconsinites who want Washington to start working for them.” Well said.

Paul Ryan’s mid-April announcement that he will not seek re-election for Wisconsin’s First District shows the peril that the Republican majority in the House faces. Our choice for his replacement is Cathy Myers, who Emily’s List also chose.

Both a school board member and a teacher, Myers is a consummate professional and a solid Democrat besides. She is sensible and tough and in touch with the reality faced by her constituents. If we had a Congress filled with folks just like her, we could keep up with anyone in the world.

Going forward, we’ve got to keep one thing in mind.

There are only 86 more days between now and the general election. This is the time for us to fight for power in earnest. The country is in a big mess, and the only way to clean it up is to vote Democrats into office this November.

See you at the voting booths.

Charlottesville One Year Later- Heather Heyer, Rest In Peace.

Our sister, Heather Heyer, who became a martyr to the cause. We shall overcome.

It was a year ago that Millennial Democrats published our first piece, written in anguish after the senseless and cowardly murder of our sister, Heather Heyer, who was not even mentioned by the orange malignance in the White House, upon this solemn first anniversary of her passing. She deserved better.

In August 2017, white supremacist demonstrators and counterprotesters squared off in violent clashes over an old war statue in Charlottesville, site of the University of Virginia. The conflict culminated in the death of Heather Heyer, 32, when the vicious murderer James Alex Fields Jr. purposely drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

While speaking at the anniversary of Heather’s death on Saturday, Trump condemned “all types of racism and acts of violence,” an insincere and half-hearted improvement from last year. He failed even to mention her name.

What he didn’t do, like telling these people and their values they are not welcome and never will be, speaks in volumes. Loudly.

He did nothing to discourage Sunday’s “Unite the Right 2” white nationalist rally, meant essentially to celebrate the death of Heather Heyer, has Washington bracing for conflict of the type that turned lethal last year.

Predicted for the rally’s attendance are about 400 demonstrators are expected in Lafayette Square, a park adjacent to the White House. More than 1,500 counter-protesters plan to gather at various downtown locations, including in the same park.

Back then, Trump refused even to condemn her murderers, choosing rather to assign blame equally for both sides. He also said there were very fine people on both sides, as if there was no difference. Kids will be kids, and all.

However, it was not members of the anti-racist protestors whose social media accounts included posts espousing white supremacy. We also didn’t drive any vans into their crowd and kill them.

One side was made up of Nazi killers who were only even in Charlottesville to make trouble with their lousy rally.

The other was made up of good-hearted people who want to see the human race make progress and are willing to stand up for it. That is good, because we will all have a lot of standing up to do, especially tomorrow.

Things might get rough out there, and law enforcement is desperate to avoid another Charlottesville. That is also important to us and to any healthy society.

That is also why it is necessary here to take an unequivocal stand against any members of the left who turn to destruction. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

Senseless violence can never be a good answer to anything. Specifically, we need to stay calm because if we don’t, the right will revile us endlessly and moderates will turn to conservatives. Every such incident will haunt us all. Violence has to be avoided if we do not want to move any further down the path to another Civil War.

In closing, we would like to implore our readers and Democrats everywhere to stay calm tomorrow, no matter what happens.  Stay calm, keep in your ranks, and sing your songs loudly and well. Regardless of our geography, every decent person in the world is sending our best hopes and wishes alongside you.

Seeing Truth through Smoke- Disinformation Is Hazardous to Our Heads!

Thank You For Not Lying!

Dr. Alina Polyakova, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, is one of the world’s foremost experts on fake news and Russian disinformation. She had a brilliant idea the other day.

In the Western world, we’ve been playing catchup with the Russians for years, trying to find a way to counter the pesky disinformation tactics they’ve become famous for.

She came up with something just as simple as it is profound- to look for an analogous solution, based on the American anti-smoking campaign that started in 1964. These two completely unrelated subjects have some amazing similarities.

In the case of whether or not it’s a good idea to let the Russians loose like attic-bound raccoons in our cyber-grid, spreading disinformation and malware around like scat, the why-nots are obvious, just like with smoking. A rational person has no cause to misunderstand why this would be bad.

What we want to examine are the actual techniques used by the Surgeon General and others to paint cigarettes in the light they deserve- as filthy, smelly, cancerous sticks of death you’ve got to pay for.

That’s the way to go here.

First off, disinformation is dangerous. It leads to a gross devaluation of truth and a breakdown in the entire moral order. Though zany Russian hacker disinformation combos of race-baiting and coordinated cyber-lying may seem silly and random one at a time, they add up.

Ladislav Bittman, the former Communist Czechoslovak deputy chief of the disinformation department, compared the effects of disinformation to a slow acting poison, saying “One drop may not be a problem, but together a dose could be fatal.”

The same is true of nicotine, of course. And eventually, America caught on. But for years, the tobacco companies managed to convince Americans that the opposite was true. They did it with a carefully calculated and billion-dollar effort, based on pseudoscience, lies, and big advertising. It was exactly like what the Russians are doing now.

This is a significant concept for a few reasons. First, it’s always elegant when you can fit an old key in a new lock. She went rifling through the old Public Threat or Menace manual, found a campaign in the past that gave her precedent, and voila.

This is conduct to be emulated as much as possible, especially as that particular connection isn’t easy to see. Well done, Doctor!

Returning to our topic, people have been thinking this whole time that these Russian cybercrimes are all really stylish, powerful, interesting things to do. They think Russian hackers, and they picture this:

Thank You For Not Lying!
Thank You For Not Lying!

What they should be picturing, is this:

Mucky! Gives you cancer!
Disinformation gives you brain cancer!

Think back. When your mother first told you not to smoke cigarettes, did she give you any pamphlets on the subject? Did she cite scholarly sources to you? Or did she just do like mine did, and shout “No! Mucky! Gives you cancer!”

I got the point. Looked it up later.

This thing with the Russian disinformation is exactly the same. It is so obviously bad for America that the case cannot be overstated, and yet they are not listening. The whole thing has had to be completely infanticized, and it’s us who’s changing the diapers.

Inside those disinformation diapers are the images we need to show people.

Disinformation is gross. It’s like being smelly. Telling lots of lies is for the kid nobody wants to sit next to. That’s probably why he became a hacker, the poor schmoe- Glad I’m not that guy!

Disinformation is smoggy. It makes it hard to see, hard to breathe.

The people under its influence get bewildered and don’t know what is what anymore. They just know that they are angry and they want to hit out at something, like Trump is provoking his followers into doing to CNN reporters.

That’s why watching Fox News these days make people behave like they’ve been doing bathtub crank. There’s no bathtub-crank chic. Nobody is remaking Trainspotting, over bathtub crank.

Smoggy. Wasteful. Smelly. Stupid. Gross. These are the reasons people quit smoking. Once smokers realized that nobody was looking at them and seeing the Marlboro Man, they got red in the face and cut it out, en masse.

This will be the case with fake news trolls eventually also.

Sitting around inside all day plunking on a keyboard and trolling is not what healthy adults, ones with actual influence in life, tend to want to do. Many studies have shown this to be the case.

Recently researchers at Australia’s Federation University used an online questionnaire to look closely at the psychology of those who engage in online trolling.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that trolls tend to show higher levels of trait psychopathy and sadism.

Trolls also tend to be poor, unfit, unkempt, unhappy. This is not what you want to do. You’re acting out all this harm on yourself for a cheap thrill.

You might as well start smoking.

The modern-day, right-wing Cold Warrior.
The modern-day, right-wing Cold Warrior.

Going forward, the message we have got to get across is a very simple one.

Spreading disinformation and sowing dissent around in the form of fake news is a lousy, negative activity.

It isn’t writing, or programming, or art.

It destroys and does not create.

It does everyone in the world a huge disservice by destabilizing their nations and economies.

It’s gross, it’s stupid and it’s unhealthy. There’s nothing good about it. Cut it out.

Cyber-Defense For Democrats! Security Measures For Midterms.

#CyberDefenseForDemocrats

Hello, world!

We have received numerous requests for a focus piece regarding cyber-defense for Democrats, especially right now as we are going into the midterms. In it is an introduction to a number of the techniques we can use to defend ourselves going forward. Knowledge is power. Pass it on.

Regular readers of Millennial Democrats will not require a lot of explanation as to how and why the threat of Russian hacking is real. We have been up against it for years. The time has come to soberly and objectively assess Russia’s cyberwarfare capabilities, and examine how we plan to fight back.

In 2016, America was caught off guard and we got a bloody nose. Guys like Roger Stone’s buddy Guccifer 2.0, or the guys in Fancy Bear pulled a fast one, to be sure.

But it’s important not to overstate the case. It is not accurate to attribute cybernetic omniscience to the Russians and their zany bots and fake news.

They had the element of surprise back then. Most people had no idea what they were doing(and rolled their eyes at those who were trying to warn them, but that’s another subject). These days things are very different.

Regardless of the lies of the great orange malignance, America knows the Russians are out to get us. Trump is sticking his head in the sand on this and will do nothing to help us, so we’re going to have to learn to help ourselves, and each other.

It’s too bad we’ve got no national leadership on this, but it is what it is. We’ll get by on our own.

In starting out, the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Hackers rely on our mistakes, and mistakes are most often made when we don’t know we are making them. They need to catch us off guard, and their job is to find creative ways to use their tools to get us to slip up.

The first place a smart hacker will look is outside the box, so to speak. They’re always looking for ways to burrow in that you wouldn’t think to look for.

Employing a given system, be it a human being or a PC, for a purpose it wasn’t designed for is what hacking means. However, if you’re careful, neither you nor your computer will end up thus employed. It’s all about being careful.

Hackers are clever, be they Russian or from elsewhere, but they are far from invincible. We’ve already stopped a number of Russian cyber-assaults directed at Democrats this year, such as the ones aimed at our Claire McCaskill.

Without the element of surprise, hackers have many limitations. It’s not that easy to brute-force open a website. Just ask these guys:

This is the IP address of a hacker, purportedly from Beijing, who is always doing his best to get in here. Have at it, pal.
This is the IP address of a hacker, purportedly from Beijing, who is always doing his best to get in here. Have at it, pal.

Basic cyber-hygiene techniques would cut down on more than 80 percent of cyber attacks and cyber thefts, according to Herbert Lin, senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It will benefit us to learn a few.

There is a great deal of white-hat(ethical hacking) work that can be done to defend America in this realm, and most of it has to do with how careful we are.

We repeat- It’s all about being careful. This cannot be repeated too often.

Every technique that hackers use, be they DNS attacks against home routers, phishing emails, malware, botnets, or what have you, is ultimately something we can avoid.

In this piece, we’re going to talk about a few common mistakes made by end-users(that means us, the consumer) and how they are exploited by criminals. We’re also going to talk about some of these cyber-hygiene measures and assign them three rules of thumb.

  1. Don’t open strange emails.
  2. Don’t click on strange links.
  3. Don’t accept chat messages from people you don’t know, particularly on Facebook.

Before we get started, think for a second about all your other social media accounts. Are they just as secure as your Facebook or Twitter? Make sure they are! That’s the first place a hacker will go to collect more data about you. You’re particularly vulnerable to having your account on the ones you don’t often use pried open.

As an aside, this is also why you don’t want to use the same passwords for everything. Passwords are obviously critical, as somebody who’s got them has got all your information at his fingertips. Be careful!!

A great deal of a hacker’s job revolves around getting the passwords of their victims. Their most popular tools are all various ways to apply “spear-phishing” hacks, designed to steal passwords and personal data. The unlucky “phish” who opens one has become a victim and is now open to all kinds of trouble.

There are all kinds of ways to go spear-phishing. A brand new one showed up not long ago when U.S. government agencies recently received letters via snail mail.

They came with CDs inside, and they contained malware, according to cybersecurity researcher Krebs on Security. The infected discs were accompanied by a Chinese-postmarked envelope and a “confusingly-worded” letter.

That is just like what they do on Facebook. Hackers make links that look like YouTube videos and various other innocuous things, and they write you some goofy little messages. They look like some cute little harmless thing. Actually, they’re viruses. And you’re hit.

One example that all readers of this blog will vividly recall took place on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious e-mail messages hit the inboxes of thirty people who were closely associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Inside them were links that were actually viruses, like worms on a hook.

Nearly all of them were failures. All but one, actually. But one was enough.

Within nine days, a horrendous amount of critical data had been stolen and passed along to Wikileaks, to be strategically released in a way they figured would hurt us. It did.

Those leaked e-mails, in which Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was seen to be fussing over Bernie’s lack of ability to fill out campaign finance forms correctly, were spun up into a narrative that Bernie(who lost by four million popular votes) had been cheated.

Bernie or Bust bought it, there were riots in the streets of Philadelphia, and a rift was torn in the Democratic Party that still has yet to heal.

All of that was made possible, with just a few phished passwords.

To combat phishing is to make sure everyone knows how common and damaging these attacks can be. Everyone should keep their guard up when checking emails, and they should report any email they find suspicious.

It’s necessary to point out here that Facebook phishing in particular is horrendously easy. They can hack you right through your chat box. We recommend in the strongest possible terms that you put as little of your personal information as possible on Facebook.

They save everything. They’re like a gigantic data collection firm, and they’ll sell your personal information to companies like Cambridge Analytica who will use it to hurt us all.

Why risk it?

Facebook presents about a million added vulnerabilities to all of us that use it. When Edward Snowden was asked what to do to keep your data safe on that platform, his response was, “Delete your account.”

We can’t recommend that, as Facebook gives us access to 2 billion people, but we can recommend this much. If people you don’t know send you strange messages on Facebook, don’t accept them.

Facebook was made to brief congressional aides just last week Tuesday about the newest outbreak of anti-Democratic disinformation, which is already said to be evolving into something more sophisticated. Excerpts from that briefing are shown below.

“We are looking at just some of the malicious material that already may be circulating or will be released before the midterms. It also bears repeating that we know the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was targeted.”

Cyber-intelligence experts see this as being major, and with clear reason.

Moving on, it isn’t only Facebook and social media you’ve got to be careful with. Websites too are vulnerable.

Anecdotally, the webmaster of this site has seen hackers from all over the world try to take us down, from Beijing, China to Lviv, Ukraine, from Adelaide, Australia to Beauharnois, Quebec. They use all kinds of tricks, but they’ve never gotten in and they never will.

This is not because I’m a cyber-genius who speaks binary code, but because WordPress is awesome. Sucuri, the plugin that keeps safe all of us Millennial Democrats, is likewise excellent. They care about their clients and they hold the same liberal values sacred that we do.

Wordpress users should strongly consider using Sucuri, not least for the reverse IP trace it automatically performs. This has the benefit of letting you know a lot more about who’s trying to hack you. Sometimes it will tell you everything.

Once a flower store owner from Adelaide, Australia tried to hack us. By using a reverse IP trace, Sucuri let us know who she was as soon as she had done so. Then we went to a site called WhatismyIPaddress.com, put it in, and voila.

We were able to get the name of her business by looking at the name of her domain. We then used that to look her up, and jackpot. We found the store’s address, website, and owner. We also found far-right garbage smeared all over her life.

I could put her on blast right here with a screenshot like this one:

My (possibly) Chinese friend, saying hello to me again. Hi, buddy. Change your ways!
My (possibly) Chinese friend, saying hello to me again. Hi, buddy. Change your ways!

Then the hunter would rapidly become the hunted.

Luckily for her, I’m not that mean. But the next guy might be. It’s a dangerous game for newbies (noobs- learn your hacker-ese) to play. It’s easy to run into trouble.

Change your life, would-be hacker flower store owner! Mend your wicked ways, before it’s too late.

Speaking of WordPress, using the two-factor authentication feature they offer as part of their platform is another good idea. This is a highly effective security measure and is available for Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, and many other major platforms.

Using this feature means a second device’s input will be required to access email accounts or websites on new computers, usually by prompting you and sending an SMS code to your phone or whatever. This can prevent scammers from accessing compromised accounts.

In addition to good cyber-hygiene, which amounts to common sense, caution, and our three rules of thumb, there are some tools we can use to make our online experience safer still. You may find this necessary, from time to time.

A VPN, or virtual proxy network service, will allow you to register as being somewhere that you’re nowhere physically near. It allows you to safeguard your IP address. You do not want hackers to have your IP address, as it can be used to hurt you in a bewildering multitude of ways. This is probably the biggest reason to use a VPN.

Guccifer 2.0 recently made a mistake and forgot to turn his VPN on, and we connected him to an IP address connected to Russian intelligence. Now his whole identity is blown because he didn’t use his VPN.

We strongly recommend getting one of these, specifically IVPN. They take protecting their customers super seriously and they are located on the Rock of Gibraltar. That fortress strikes me as a good place to keep anything valuable.

HotspotShield is another good one, and also NordVPN. There’s a lot of them; shop around and find one that’s right for you. We feel it’s worth repeating that they are a very good investment.

Additional tools include TOR(The Onion Router), which offers a former naval encryption system that we can now all use. Tor takes all your internet traffic and routes it through its own network, providing total anonymity.

The DuckDuckGo browser, which Tor employs, is good to know about also. It has a number of different features that keep you safe, including a “Flame” feature that burns up all your cookies in a second. Pretty cool.

We suggest you learn Linux, because it is more secure, and 99% of viruses are designed to attack Microsoft products. 

Russian hackers have been targeting home routers of individual people en masse, using what is called a DNS attack. We suggest you check your home router often, using the website Secure Router.

Secure Router is a great free feature that allows you to check if your router has been compromised with the click of a button. Doing this regularly cannot hurt and takes less than a second.

In closing, it’s important to emphasize that this is an introductory piece, and not meant to be totally comprehensive. These techniques will do a lot to keep you safe, but nothing is a substitute for doing your own research.

So far, this has not been the kind of cyber war imagined in the past, with nations taking out each other’s power grids before a mass invasion, although Russian malware continues to turn up in our power stations.

It’s more like a new type of proxy war. Like it or not, against our will, we have begun a new phase of the Cold War, on digital battlefields where you meet the enemy directly, but behind a screen.

Now, just as then, there is a need for deterrence, to defend the nation and hopefully prevent a further escalation of tensions. There is more at stake than we can even put into words. We need to be ready.

There are bigger dangers here than the usual America vs. Russia, liberal world order vs the new world order that the extremist crazies keep screaming that they want kind of thing. This is different completely.

One superpower actively destroying the democratic process of another is new and very dangerous, especially since Russian destability tactics rely heavily on disinformation and a systematic devaluing of the truth.

If nothing is true, everything is permissible. And then our entire species starts down the road to guns and roving mobs.

Disinformation and a post-truth reality are unacceptable, and so is Russian interference into our election, regardless of how many Fox News devotees will slobberingly say otherwise.

We have only got one party ready to defend our democracy from the foreign agitators’ who are trying to destroy it, and that is the Democratic Party. Accept no substitutes.

Due diligence is the key. Hackers will look for things you might be neglecting. Get in some good habits and keep yourself alert, because it all comes down to one thing.

If you are politically active as a Democrat, you are not paranoid. You are a target. Defend yourself.

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