Saturday, February 11, 2023

Memo To GOP: Let's Talk About Laptops Shall We?

I'm waiting for the House Republicans to open up an immediate investigation into a laptop discovered by the FBI recently that had classified information on it.

What laptop am I referring to? A current aide of Trump's who worked for the Save American PAC was copying classified documents and storing them on a thumb drive. His/or Her's laptop and a thumb drive were seized as one of Trump lawyers admitted its existence weeks ago.

This is bigly news.

Authorities are concerned after finding out the documents were converted into a digital format that they could be easily distributed to anyone. As in foreign countries.

Is their evidence of espionage on this Trump connected computer? We know the authorities are searching through its contents, but no one knows what to expect. Yet.

Apparently, the Trump lawyer, James Trusty, turned the laptop and hard drive over to the DOJ claiming a Trump aide (with no security clearance) unwittingly copied classified pages with classified markings on them.

Huh? How does someone unwittingly copy something clearly marked

Classified 

Documents

with no questions asked? A pretty weak excuse by anyone's standards.

That's why it's time for Gym Jordan and other MAGA committee chairs to investigate this very real threat to our national security. I recommend they bone up on this violation of 18 USC Code Section 793 - Transmitting or losing defense information.

I expect hearings on this security threat to begin on Monday.

We've witnessed their enthusiasm in going down the rabbit hole after civilian Hunter Biden's laptop for the past six years. It's been the holy grail of right-wing conspiracies. 

Objectively pick the laptop that poses the greatest threat to our national security.

A. A civilian's laptop with dick pics, or

B. Trump aide's laptop with stolen classified top-secret documents on it and a thumb drive.

I hope that was a no-brainer. It seems like the MAGA faithful have been chasing a supposed laptop from hell to deflect from the true laptop from hell with stolen information on it.

Those classified documents had to be scanned in order for them to be on the laptop which indicates they had intent to keep the information and worse to share it.

As it stands, I'm ready for the MAGA morons to come up with reasons NOT to investigate this threat to the American people who will be watching their hypocrisy unfold on national TV and social media platforms.

Friday, February 10, 2023

GOP House Committees Providing Comic Relief in Chaotic Congress

Have you heard the one about a House GOP committee chair getting caught with numerous lies as he tries to grill witnesses?

If not, you haven't been following the most entertaining Congress in history. Late night comedians have a new treasure trove of wacky Republican's to feature on future skits.

It's been fun watching Democratic House members slice and dice the Republicans baseless claims in every committee meeting thus far. 

Seeing MAGA committee chairs being humiliated by facts is worth watching this circus edition of lawmaking, but in the long run it's not good for the country.

I suppose you could say that having Republican lies and misinformation refuted on a daily basis does have its advantages. 

Truth has a way of breaking through the GOP spin machine when it's held high for all to see.

Meanwhile Americans can count on the charade going on until the Republicans lose the House in the 2024 elections.

As it stands, like vampires who hate the light, the GOP crazy caucus didn't count on the light/truth getting through their dark web of lies.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Fox News Reboot of the House Un-American Activities Committee Holds 1st MAGA Friendly Meeting

When the GOP so-called Weaponization of the Federal Government committee held their first meeting it was a springboard into a litany of conspiracies and MAGA outrage.

The stage was set with a lineup out of Fox News. Two of the witnesses from Fox News, both contributors to the right-wing channel set the tone for the kangaroo court - former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (who recently left the democratic party and went to the dark side), and a former FBI agent Nicole Parker.

Three of the GOP's favorite grief squad were star witnesses. Giving their version of reality was Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson - as well as right wing constitutional lawyer Johnathan Turley. There was another former FBI agent, Thomas Baker who testified for the dark side.

The TV-caliber lineup hosted MAGA friendly trolls attacking the FBI over nebulous grievances with no evidence. With Jim Jordan leading the pack the circus was complete.

Just before the farce got underway the White House sent a clear message against the corrupted panel calling it, "A Fox reboot of the House Un-American Activities Committee" that "weaponizes Congress to carry out the priorities of extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress."

As it stands, I agree with Democrat Rep. Raskin who's on the panel when he said, "This all could take oversight over a dark alley" and that the panel's name was "pure physiological projection."

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A 'Dox' on You! The 21st Century Version of the Plague

Warning! If you're on a social media platform like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Tic Tok, you stand a chance at being doxxed.

What's doxxed mean? I'm glad you asked. The Urban Dictionary defines it as someone who reveals personal information such as an email address, phone number, or home address on the internet.

It's a cheap ass punk move to harass others, but it can ruin lives. It's a cyber threat without boundaries. Anyone can be a victim of doxxing regardless of their age, race, nationality, gender, or religion.

When someone leaks your sensitive information online without your knowledge or consent for taking personal revenge on you, harassing, or proving a point... you've been doxxed.

How can you prevent being doxxed?

To begin with don't share so much sensitive information online. 

I know. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at what people share online. Sex vids between two lovers can be ammunition for doxxing if those two lovers break up.

You may have heard this before. Don't use easy to guess passwords. Make a habit of changing them ever so often. You want it to be difficult for your online enemy by taking these precautions.

A word on Search Engines. Frequently delete your activity history from Google and other browsers. Also, remove your data from the Google Maps Timeline.

Use a private network (VPN) to hide your IP address. Just by knowing an IP address, a person can find out a device's geographical location, internet providers name, local time, and even the user's web browsing behaviors.

I've only outlined basic measures to protect yourself you from doxxing. If you want to go into further detail, I recommend you read this article from InfoSec Insights.

As it stands, doxxing is the 21st century version of the black plague in Europe. It spreads without restraints to millions of people around the world and can result in physical harm. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Democracy in Decline: Life in the Divided States of America

When someone refers to red states and blue states that's proof of a dire division among Americans.

We're supposedly the United States of America, but it sure doesn't feel like we're united.

Pick any subject and try to get Democrats and Republicans to agree on it. Take today when President Biden gives his State of the Union speech for example.

As Biden attempts to unite people in a common cause the Republicans are giving their version of reality today in a speech by Gov. Sarah Huckabee a loyal minion of Trump.

There are two different interpretations of the same speech. One deals with facts and the other is a screed coming from an alternate universe where Trump is still president.

It's downright confusing for millions of Americans who chose not to vote at all because of the conflicting stories coming from Washington, DC.

Americans are watching like bystanders as laws, traditions, and history are assaulted every day by the right-wing extremists seeking to destroy democracy and install an authoritarian state under Trump.

It's been a slow decline that accelerated when Trump first slithered into the Oval Office six years ago with the help of Russian operatives.

There's a word that has ceased to come up in Congress anymore, compromise.

Without the ability to compromise there's little or no hope things will get better among our warring leaders of both parties.

The future for a unified America is becoming a dream that seems more unlikely than ever to happen. 

I would like to think that Trump and the rest of the Republicans will be held accountable for their coup attempt, but I have my doubts. It's been two years since the assault on the Capitol and Trump is not only free, but he's running for the presidency in 2024.

Contributing to the decline of democracy in America is our broken court system. The highest court in the land - the Supreme Court - has been corrupted with extreme conservatives who are busy taking away people's rights. Overturning Roe vs Wade is just one example.

There is something that can be done to slow the decline. More people need to vote. There was approximately 240 million people eligible to vote in the 2020 election and roughly 66% of them submitted ballots.

That left 80 million eligible voters who did not participate in the 2020 election. About 27% of all Americans aged 18 years or older, numbering 63 million men and women who didn't even register to vote.

Without them it's hard to get a true picture of what the majority of Americans really want from their lawmakers.

Those who didn't vote had reasons like distrust of the electoral system (thanks to Trump), disillusionment with politics and systemic barriers for people of color.

As it stands, this trend is a troubling sign for America's democracy in the 21st century.

Monday, February 6, 2023

How Did Loofahs Go from a Shower Accessory to a Symbol for Swingers?

There are ordinary objects around us every day that could be a symbol for something that we're not aware of.

Take loofahs for example.

Yes. You heard me right. That sponge that you've been using in the shower is a symbol for swingers.

There's even a Loofah Code guide to show what each of the seven colored loofahs stand for. The prior symbol for swingers, an upside-down pineapple, was shelved in favor of loofahs

If you hang a white loofah on your car (or golf cart) it means you are a beginner swinger. Purple is for those who like to watch the action go down. But when it comes to no holds barred look for the black loofah!

There's a infamous retirement community in Florida called the Villages where seniors display loofahs on the cars and golf carts indicating what kind of swinging their interested in.

This sharing of secret symbols has been going on since the New York Post ran an article about the Villages titled "Wild Retirement Getaway" in 2009.

I should point out that swingers of all ages employ this method to meet with like-minded people.

But the whole thing started with seniors, which I find fascinating and almost inspiring... I repeat almost.

I remember seeing seniors turn out for Trump in the Villages in their little golf carts festooned with Trump flags. But I don't remember loofahs. Then again, why would I? Symbols don't stick out unless you are an insider.

As it stands, I can just imagine a clueless female shopper buying a black loofah and suddenly having a group of grinning men follow her around the store!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

A Decade Ago, I Wrote About Hate Groups: They're Still Around and More Dangerous Than Ever Before

Here's a blast from the past 10 years ago where I talked about the growing militias and hate groups in America.

This column was published on May 13, 2012, by The Times Standard a daily newspaper in Eureka California. It gives some background on the progression of the hate groups we have to deal with today in America.

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While most of the country follows the presidential campaign this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center is following a trend that should concern all Americans, a spike in hate groups.

So-called patriot groups, militias, and hate groups are preparing for a civil war if President Obama gets re-elected. These anti-government groups numbered 149 when Obama took office. There are over 1,200 today, an increase of 755 percent, according to SPLC, a nonprofit civil rights organization.

"The reality is that many of these groups are more and more fearful that Barack Obama will win re-election. You can see the anger rising along with that fear,” said Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of the SPLC report.

Last week, 10 members of a white supremacist skinhead group called American Front, which authorities described as a militia-styled, anti-Semitic domestic terrorist organization, were arrested in Florida.

The felony arrest charges include paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and evidence of prejudices while committing an offense. The last charge falls under Florida’s hate-crimes law.

Once based in California, most of the group's activities and most of its members, are in Florida, according to what Potok wrote on the center’s Hate Watch blog.

The reason these anti-government and hate groups are fearful and preparing for war can be attributed to a variety of factors; radical propaganda, anxiety over the re-election of a black president, a sluggish economy, and an irrational fear the government will take away their guns.

I say irrational fear, because President Obama hasn’t passed one anti-gun law during his term thus far. The only people whose guns are taken away are criminals. The numbers of militia/hate groups have continued to grow, jumping from 824 in 2010 to 1274 this year, according to the SPLC report.

President Obama has actually been criticized for failing to crack down on gun proliferation. Last summer, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, led an investigation into an ATF gun-tracking operation and said the Obama administration has been less stringent than Bush in gun-law enforcement.

In 2009 Obama drew criticism from the left for signing a bill that allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons into national parks.

Some militias say exercising their constitutional right to bear arms does not mean they are committed to revolution. The poster boy for the militia movement is 20-year veteran, Ed LeStage .

When he found out his militia group, the 63rd Battalion of Lightfoot Militia, was listed in the SPLC report, LeStage’s reaction was to deny his group was a danger to anyone unless they were communists or socialists who attacked them.

That in itself is troubling, as his group believes socialists and communists are already running the government. The implication is obvious. LeStage claims militias come from U.S. citizens’ desire to restore the country to its constitutional roots.

“He’s been after our guns,” LeStage said. “Obama’s been the best gun salesman there ever was,” he admitted in an interview with the Murrow News Service. There it is again. That fear of losing guns. I don’t see any basis for that fear, as I mentioned earlier.

On LeStage’s website he says we will probably lose our republic and turn into another socialist country if Obama is re-elected.

"Nov. 8 should be the start of the next civil war,” a member with the username “Thunder” wrote in January on LeStage’s website. “May GOD guide us safely,” the member added.

There’s also been a steady rise in the number of hate groups, from 604 in 2000, to more than 1,000 last year, according to the SPLC report. Those include anti-gay groups, anti-Muslim groups, black separatists and “Christian Identity” groups, who hold racist and anti-Semitic views that overlap neo-Nazi beliefs.

One of the things that bothers me is the misuse of the word “patriot.” Too many hate groups co-opt the word. I consider myself a patriot, but don’t see the need to arm myself and prepare for a civil war because I want change. I have concerns about the government invading our privacy and have written numerous columns on that subject.

Still, my reaction isn’t violence. I trust the power of the written word. I believe another civil war is not the answer, and preparing for one is unpatriotic. We must not let propaganda from hate groups steer us into a war no American can win.

This year’s presidential election is already so toxic I can’t help thinking the rhetoric will get worse now that Mitt Romney has emerged as the once and future candidate for the GOP.

As It Stands, not so quietly behind the scenes, hate groups and militias are preparing for a homegrown war if President Obama is re-elected.

Dave Stancliff is a retired newspaper editor and publisher who writes this column for the Times-Standard. Comments can be sent to www.davesblogcentral.com.

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...