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Why digital complacency is how the ‘bad guys’ will win

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Why digital complacency is how the bad guys will win

During the Cold War, the enemy was known. Communism was spreading (or so we thought) and its very existence jeopardized the way of life we’d come to enjoy in America in the 80s. The threat of nuclear war kept our military sharp and our patriotism high. The next great unifying battle against a tangible “bad guy” came with the threat of terrorism in the mid- and late-90s, culminating in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For a while, America galvanized around the idea of stopping radical extremists from killing Americans ever again.

Now that we approach the end of the 2nd decade of this millennium, we’re faced with a very deadly series of threats. Unfortunately, they’re not as centralized or tangible as the threats of the Cold War or the anti-terrorism era. The new threats are nameless, faceless, and deeply embedded on the very devices we use daily. The growing cyber-threats are everywhere, and there’s very little we, as American citizens, can do about them.

As such, this sense of helplessness has lulled many Americans into a “digital complacency” in which we all have a set of precautions we take with various degrees of success, but for the most part we go about our daily digital business hoping that nothing terrible happens to us. We’re so accustomed to the threats of every link in our emails, every social profile we keep, and every app we download that we’ve become completely reliant on our technological safeguards to keep us from harm.

Is the nation ready to revive the American Conservative Movement?

Anti-virus programs, long passwords, biometrics, and private browsers often account for the full extent of our digital safety protocols. Still, millions of Americans don’t even take these basic precautions. It’s no wonder the various cyber-threats are so abundant. There are enough digitally complacent Americans to keep them happily in business.

There may be nothing we can do about cyber-terrorists who may be attempting to take down the power grid or corporate hackers trying to steal big data, but we can be digitally responsible for our own information.

For years, I’ve been somewhat of a nerd when it comes to safeguarding my digital profiles. I dumped Facebook and Instagram a long time ago and finally dumped Twitter last month. I only surf using a VPN when possible. My password is over 20-characters long when possible, and if there’s a service I need that requires a shorter password, I search for alternatives. But even with all the precautions I take, it’s still not enough to be 100% sure. Nothing short of being a digital hermit could be 100% certain, and I love my technology too much to go down that road.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have social media accounts, aren’t using a VPN to surf, and have a single password they use for pretty much everything the do. This is how they’ll get us. This is how they’ll win. The digital complacency that has engulfed most Americans is the reason North Korea can easily hack Sony’s emails. It’s how every week we hear about companies that allowed our personal data to be stolen. It’s why the thought that someone could hack into parts of our infrastructure in the future is a false notion because they’ve almost certainly done it already. They’re just waiting.

When the time comes for the nefarious actors capable of engaging in their cyber-threats to take action, we’ll be able to blame it on digital complacency. You see, it isn’t some Stuxnet-like code that’s breaking into all of these servers. They get there because some VP of Operations connected his iPad using a connection named “Holiday Inn Guest Service” not realizing it was a hacker camped out in room 228. They get into the power grid because a maintenance worker decided to set his password as “H4ckM31fUc@n.” They found backdoors into government servers because Huma Abedin decided to check her email on her creepy husband’s laptop.

There are far too many Americans who prefer to stick their heads in the digital sand instead of taking the necessary precautions to keep the bad guys out. These are the people who will be responsible for the next big breach.

 


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Opinions

Twitter ban of Krassenstein brothers is not the same as conservatives who get banned

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Twitter ban of Krassenstein brothers is not the same as conservatives who get banned

When news broke today that Ed and Brian Krassenstein from #Resistance fame had their Twitter accounts permanently banned, reactions from both sides were predictable. Those on the left pointed at the event and said, “see there’s no Twitter conspiracy against conservatives.” Meanwhile, conservatives’ reactions were mixed between thinking it was Twitter’s attempt to balance things out so they don’t get sued all the way up to rejoicing that the site may have finally learned its lesson.

None of this is true. According to Twitter, they were banned for using bots and paid engagement.

“The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviors will result in permanent suspension from the service.”

While the brothers will go down in Twitter history as a rare example of prominent progressives getting banned, the reality is their removals from the site were economic. That’s rarely the case for conservatives who get banned for hateful speech or whatever the latest label is for telling people to “learn to code.” In fact, I don’t recall a single conservative getting banned for paid engagement or bot use. It happens, I’m sure, but as far as I can recall it hasn’t been the reason for any major political accounts to get the ax.

Either way, I oppose this and nearly all bannings that aren’t the result of spam, illegal activity like doxxing, spreading malware, or porn. If they want to stop bots and paid promotions, they should be catching these accounts and sending them stern messages. They can reduce their visibility. But if someone artificially inflates their engagement without using Twitter ads, they can and should be dealt with in ways that fall short of getting banned. Same holds true for most “hateful speech” that seems to unfairly target conservatives. Again, as long as the speech used is not breaking the law, it should be allowed.

Or, Twitter could simply establish that it’s a content site and not simply a platform. They would lose their protections, but at least they would be in line with the letter of the law. As it stands, they get platform protections while acting to police activities that are against the notion of free speech and therefore should not be allowed to continue getting platform protections.

Speech is free or it isn’t.

Comparing the Krassenstein’s permanent suspensions to any of the recent prominent conservative account suspensions is invalid. They weren’t banned for what they said. They were banned for bots and paid promotion. Conservatives are still being targeted.

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Entertainment and Sports

‘Star Trek: Picard’ looks like it’s going to be a social justice warrior’s take on the future

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Star Trek Picard looks like its going to be a social justice warriors take on the future

Gene Roddenberry had one rule for the Star Trek franchise. The future had to be a perfect utopia. In his vision, man had evolved to a point where it had no character flaws: no malice, no greed, no secrets. There wasn’t supposed to be a Section 31, the dark NSA-like secret group. War was to be avoided at all costs. Even conflicts between Starfleet personnel had to be manufactured to pass muster; someone had to be mind-controlled for there to be fight between officers.

After his death, it didn’t take long for his rule to get broken again and again.

Perhaps this was a good thing, at least from the perspective of a modern audience that prefers to see internal conflict over pure humans operating in an impure galaxy. After all, his vision may have launched the series, but the franchise hit its stride after his death. Or did it?

The Star Trek franchise has never been a true blockbuster, at least not in a world with Star Wars and the MCU. It has a strong following and its winning people over from generations who were born after Captain Jean Luc Picard’s The Next Generation wrapped up on television to start making movies. But its ability to stay relevant has relied heavily on shifting storylines and new perspectives that are a far cry from Roddenberry’s original ideas.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but the upcoming CBS show, Star Trek: Picard, threatens to not only take the franchise into unexplored territory but also fundamentally change the character many of us have grown to love. And if my hunch is right, they’re going to do it by turning arguably the most beloved character in the franchise (sorry Kirk and Spock) into a social justice warrior.

Hints of a different type of Picard story have been swirling around the show since its inception. Patrick Stewart said he wanted this 20-year-older version of the Picard to be very different from the warrior-explorer-diplomat that we’ve admired for decades. Considering the direction he and CBS have both gone in recent years, that gave me the feeling they were going to have a betrayed Picard get drawn back in to right wrongs and fight for the little guy, as any good social justice warrior should. Now that they’ve released a teaser, my hunch has only been reinforced.

I hope I like it. but I have a very nasty feeling that I won’t. I have a horrible sense that they’re going to ruin a great character and tear down Roddenberry’s legacy for the sake of being socially conscious and progressively preachy. We’ll see.

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Democrats

Pelosi’s endgame strategy: Impeach Trump during general election season

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Pelosis endgame strategy Impeach Trump during general election season

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been playing a balancing act for the past few months. On one hand, she has to stop her caucus from becoming too zealous about impeaching President Trump, fearing the same public backlash the GOP received in 1998 during impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. On the other hand, she needs to keep the specter of impeachment alive so she doesn’t start getting attacked by the radical Democratic base who want the President out immediately.

But lost in the mix is the speculation that Pelosi is fully prepared to impeach the President, just not yet. She wants to bring impeachment and all the mud that will be flung at the President as a result during the heart of general election season.

Evidence of this is all circumstantial but compelling. In a closed-door meeting with committee heads yesterday, she instructed her team to keep up the pressure through investigation after investigation. This would normally not be enough to appease impeachment hawks like Maxine Waters and others, but their clear support for the strategy is an indicator that they’ve been promised vindication at a better time than now. Otherwise, there’s enough support for impeachment among the base for them to continue beating the drum louder and possibly even call for Pelosi’s ouster.

It’s also conspicuous that lower members of the Democratic totem pole haven’t gone after Pelosi, including known antagonists like Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.

Pelosi knows her time is short if things don’t go her way quickly. She was able to gather support from opposition within her caucus by promising to only serve as Speaker for two years. But she has no intention of stepping down if Democrats retain control of the House of Representatives through the 2020 election. Instead, she intends to build her credentials by strategically beating the President, not only on the political arena but in the 2020 election itself. No, she’s not running, but if she launches her impeachment hearings in a way that can earn her credit for the Democratic nominee to win, she will have solidified her seat as Speaker for as long as she wants to stay there.

It’s a huge gamble. Depending on how the impeachment proceedings go in the eyes of the public, she could do enough damage to help kick the President out of the Oval Office. On the other hand, she could seal her own fate if the President wins as a result of sympathy he’s able to garner from the political move of a well-timed impeachment proceeding. It has the potential to backfire spectacularly if the public sees it as a dirty trick, one that could even cost the Democrats control of the House.

But in reality she doesn’t have much to lose. If she impeaches now when it won’t affect the election or if she chooses not to impeach at all, there’s a very good chance she’ll be held to her word to step down as Speaker in 2021. If she delivers the White House to the Democrats, she’ll be locked in her Speaker seat indefinitely.

This should infuriate Democrats more than Republicans, especially the growing radical wing of the party. Their goal, as stated by the Justice Democrats, is to take over the party from within. But Pelosi’s moves are not only meant to harm Republicans but also increase the power over the Democratic Party held by the establishment.

We may be witnessing the swampiest tactics every put on display from Capitol Hill as Speaker Pelosi plots the takedown of a sitting President. Some say she’s impotent, but clearly she’s a viper with plenty of bite left.

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