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Blue Wave Looms Over Voting Day 2018! Get To The Polls And Vote!

Today is Voting Day! That long-awaited day, the one we’ve all been waiting for. As voting kicks off on the final day of the 2018 midterm cycles, we’ve got a few last thoughts to offer.

Down south, it looks like they’re trying to cheat people. Our prayers go out to all Democrats. A particular prayer seems due for Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the gubernatorial candidate of that fair state; we wish her the best of luck overcoming the dirty tricks of the Republicans and taking her state back to sane decency.

The disgraceful conduct of the Republicans will color their names for all time.

This Millennial Democrats contributor voted yesterday. A straight blue ticket! A drop of blue water to a strong Blue Wave. It was a beautiful moment for me. I have been waiting for this every single day since November 8 of 2016. I have lived for it. We are going to take back the House and save our country- and we are going to do it today!

Even one branch of Congress will be enough for us to stymie every evil thing they try to do. Forget about Trump getting anything else past legislature. He’ll be stuck in his chair from that point on. The Blue Wave’s Crest is towering over him as we speak. He is in its shadow.

For all of you who might see this at the last minute- If you are stuck at home today. If you’re too sick. If you’re too busy- Please take advantages of resources designed to help you get to those polls! Your country needs you, your people need you, your planet needs you!

EVERYTHING we have been doing here for all this time is pointless if we don’t make it into those booths.

Now, Millennial Democrats! Today is that day! Let’s get out there and vote!

See you at the booths!!

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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.

#TheBlueWave- Where We Stand, Going Forward.

Millennial Democrats and #TheBlueWave

New House and Senate ratings from CNN point the way to an excellent set of midterms for the Democratic Party.

That said- Beware complacency.

Those two words are so gigantic in this case, that they could be the whole article.

There’s a number of different factors at play in the political scene of America at this time. Some of them are in no way American, but most of them are.

One of the biggest is voter apathy.

Millennial readers, ask yourselves this: How many conversations have you had, with people our age about politics, in which you have heard somebody say: “Ah, all governments are fascist. There’s no difference between one or the other.” Or had a menu of talking points from Fox News or Infowars with them?

Many others act like they’re afraid to talk at all, either because they don’t know enough, or because they don’t care enough, or because people get so intense about it.

This is the state of things when a polarity this extreme and disparate exists between the people of the country.

People aren’t getting their information from the same places anymore. You can tell when you’ve been talking to someone deeply indoctrinated by Rush Limbaugh and the Breitbart band. You’ll immediately be confronted with a whole galaxy of half-truths, lies, and slanders.

Most of the time you won’t even know what they’re talking about, the stuff will be so out there. And by the time your smartphone has proved them wrong, they’ve already made fifty more specious claims. It becomes clear very quickly that they don’t have any interest in getting at the truth.

You can’t even talk to them anymore.

An understanding of this fundamental truth is where any realistic discussion of how to win the midterms must begin.

A great deal of time and money has been invested by those currently in power, seeing to it that those without it remain apathetic and confused regarding the process. Nor have they closed their wallets.

Charles Koch and members of his Seminar Network- donors who contribute a minimum of $100,000 to the various political organizations run by the Koch brothers– have big plans for the midterm elections.

At a retreat this weekend, the group announced plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million in 2018- a 60 percent increase from its spending in 2016-  to defend Trump administration policies that Charles and David Koch and their network overwhelmingly support- while distancing themselves from a man that is personally unfit to serve as president.

They want it both ways, and they figure with enough cash they can get it. Once the strategy gives them the power they are seeking, they figure it will all be worthwhile. If they can dominate and make a shell of the governmental apparatus, they can change things around all they like. Those changes will be catastrophic to every environment we live in.

We have to find a way to stop them and to do so we will need to surmount some difficult challenges.

Republican standing has improved recently. It’s going to take awhile for people to understand just how stupid those tax cuts were. It’s going to take a while before it hurts them.

CNBC’s John Harwood calls Trump’s tax reform a “remarkable paradox,” as middle America will not benefit as much as the coastal elites his base so loves to stick it to.

Howmuch.net, a cost information website, has created a handy infographic to help us understand how middle-to-low income households are losing.

Howmuch explains that “Some taxpayers would definitely benefit from Trump’s tax reform — especially those at the higher end of the income scale. There are others, however, who would see their tax rates go up. Especially those on lower incomes.”

This is important, because the tax plan is the reason the GOP has been polling better recently. Their strategy going forward will be to beat that drum as hard as they can. It’s the only legislative accomplishment they’ve got.

Many of them are showing signs of indigestion of the conscience, as evidenced by the fact of so many of the GOP leaders in Congress retiring, but it’s a little late for that.

Another key factor to watch this year will be Russian interference in our elections.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was asked during an interview with the BBC on Monday whether he anticipates a Russian influence campaign later this year.

“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” he said.

“But,” he added, “I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election — that we’ll push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”

What a joke.

Later the same day as those comments were made, the Trump administration announced that it will not impose the new Russian sanctions. And the other Republicans are just as bad. All of them are complicit in the biggest treason of all time.

Aside from all that, there’s the usual electoral stuff to consider. The House, in which Democrats need a 24-seat pickup to win the majority, looks very favourable. And ever since the stunning victory of Alabama’s Doug Jones, a plausible path to control of the Senate has arisen.

 

If the Blue Wave is indeed going to sweep over this country in the midterm elections, we are going to have to work very hard, because nobody is going to do it for us. It can and will happen because we will be here to fight for it tooth and nail.

Going forward, the key is to find out which races are the most competitive, target them, and put our resources into fighting for them. We are actively asking our readers for help on this. Anything you’ve got that might be useful, please feel free to send it in. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And it is going to take us all.

A New Year’s Resolution for Democrats- Taking Back Our Country.

Now back to work.

I find myself physically shaking my head as I think about 2017.

What can we say about it that has not been said before? Obscenities? Pleas to God? Somehow, words run dry.

Since the 20th of last year, we have been beset on all sides, as if a dam had burst its floodgates. Back then, I felt like a croaking soothsayer in a Shakespeare play, shouting into the wind.

Above all, defeat was stifling. It left us with little to do except sit around in groups and think tanks, trying to figure out where it all had gone so wrong. And by March, many brave warriors from the election cycle were sick of the whole debacle. Extended trench warfare is a terrible thing psychologically.

We lost people here and there in trickles. It was hard to see them go, but it was awesome to watch a hardcore form until only the most dedicated remained. We cleaned up the Groups and we started to tighten bonds. Our foxholes we dug deep, and our trenches we shored up well. We slowly built the infrastructure we will need to build this movement. And now, we’re seeing those people trickling back.

It was around April or May that the anti- Democrat cyber-invasions started on Facebook. When you get fifty, sixty new members requests a day, in a Facebook Group that’s got six hundred members, it makes you start to wonder. And when you see the same thing happening to every single group in your whole network, you know for sure. We’ve passed the point of thinking it might just be paranoia.

It was clever how they did it. They noted that Americans tend to lose interest in politics a few months after a big election and expected our groups to be sitting ducks for sleeper cells. They were organized and they were motivated. It showed up pretty clearly that for the opposition, there’s no such thing as an offseason. So we took no days off either.

I can hear the fireworks of the New Year crackling and booming in the distance, and I wonder what this particular new year is going to bring with it.

I hear the explosions and I think of Kim Jong Un in North Korea, triggering seismic shifts on his own land as a Fourth of July gift to the world.

One thing only is certain. We have got to make serious headway in cleaning this mess up, and we have to do it this year. Last week Doug Jones of Alabama was officially certified as the victor of the Senatorial race he fought against Republican Roy Moore. He will be sworn in officially on the third of January.

The victory of Jones has given us Democrats a plausible path to taking control of the Senate again next November. It did not exist before then. That combined with #TheBlueWave that started building this November when we won in Virginia and New Jersey has given us a very real momentum. Our job as activists is to help that momentum grow in every way we can.

The key now is to find new ways to tie ourselves together. The stronger our bonds are, the firmer our solidarity. People stay true to their convictions when they can still draw strength from those who share them. It’s when they cut us off and make us feel small, that people start to shake loose from the coalition. But we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve got a no-man-left-behind policy, and we are not accepting any casualties.

The clock has turned, and we have entered 2018. Very soon now, we will be coming out of the trenches, and rushing to the battlefield with everything we’ve got.

This is bigger than America. It’s bigger than Russia, and it’s bigger than Trump and Putin. This is a world war between ideologies. It’s the age-old struggle between authoritarianism and democracy and must be fought anew in every generation.

As we go forward into the New Year, we have got to assume it’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse. The first obstacle is going to be fending off more than four hundred primary challenges from the so-called Justice Democrats, people who ought to be our natural allies, at a time when every dollar is needed to take the Congress back from the Republicans.

It’s unbelievable and it doesn’t make sense unless you assume their intent is to hurt loyal Democrats as badly as they can. But nevertheless, that is our situation. We must make the best of it.

Our plan is simple. We intend to take back our own ideas from the radicals who have usurped them. We will meet our opposition on every battlefield we can find.

This will be a historic year for the Democratic Party, no matter what. This will go down in the books as the year we rallied, came together, and cleaned up our country’s backyard.

The path ahead is finally clear. We will simply make a New Year’s resolution. We will keep the faith and work as we have never worked before. Next week, the whole circus starts up again in earnest.

This is likely to be a midterm year like no other in history. It’s going to be a mess, and it will take every bit of us all to get it done, but it is possible. Momentum and midterm tradition both favour us. Happy New Year, fellow Democrats. We’ve survived the first year of Donald Trump. We’ve earned it.

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