Category Archives: Information War

Twitter cover-up?

Busy tweeting this morning, with so much to comment about. NBC reported on the email account linked to propelling the Covington boys and the Native American man incident to go viral. Buried down at paragraph 11, there’s this bit of information:

“On Wednesday afternoon, @2020fight deleted her Twitter account, seemingly after Twitter lifted her suspension. (Suspended accounts cannot be deleted.)”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/twitter-account-amplified-covington-catholic-d-c-march-video-appears-n961981

Why on earth would Twitter lift the suspension on this account at the center of the controversy?  If the account was actually an account in the San Francisco bay area, was it connected with some partisan political operation?  Shouldn’t the intent be to preserve an account with so many questions about it and even Democratic Senator Warner asking Twitter for more information about that account yesterday?.  Check out paragraph 2, which exonerates  the account holder of any malign intentions:

“But it appears that the account, @2020fight, was run not by a foreign operative trying to fan America’s political divisions but rather by a woman who described herself as a San Francisco Bay Area teacher and advocated liberal causes — and, to all appearances, did not expect to find herself at the center of a media firestorm.”

If the video wasn’t the result of foreign info operators, was it the result of domestic partisan info operators?  Starting to smell like the Dems corrupt Moore Alabama type operations might be a widespread Dem social media operation.

So, many questions…

Added Comment: January 25, 2019, 11:44 am,  The vague weasel words the media uses always cause my spin antennae to twitch.  In the 2nd paragraph, it begins, “but it appears” and ends with  “and, to all appearances”.  No one states whether those conducting the investigation into the account had any conversation or communication with the account holder(s).

The account triggered suspicions, because of the profile stating it was a CA school teacher, but the profile picture was a Brazilian blogger.  The CNN article quoted Rob McDonagh, an assistant editor at Storyful:

“McDonagh said he found the account suspicious due to its “high follower count, highly polarized and yet inconsistent political messaging, the unusually high rate of tweets, and the use of someone else’s image in the profile photo.””

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/tech/twitter-suspends-account-native-american-maga-teens/index.html

What exactly does  “highly polarized and yet inconsistent political messaging,” mean?  Was it political messaging playing to (targeting) different political factions?  So, we don’t know what the messaging in the deleted account, with a very high rate of tweets,  which was crucial to propelling the Covington student/Nathan Phillips video to go viral, actually contained.  We need more information about what  McDonagh meant by “inconsistent political messaging”.

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Filed under General Interest, Information War, Politics, Twitter Tales, Uncategorized

Another worrying sign

“We may never know exactly how SPIN info war evolved or who all was involved in developing the techniques.  We may never know if hostile foreign intelligence was involved at its inception, but we assuredly know, with the escalated Russian cyber attacks and online troll activities, that they are definitely involved now.”

Thought from my previous blog post, About Information Voids

The weekend viral story of a  confrontation of Native American activist and some Catholic high school boys wearing MAGA hats seemed to charge ahead of the Buzzfeed story claiming President Trump told Michael Cohen to lie in testimony to Congress.

Tonight CNN has a report, Twitter suspends account that helped ignite controversy over viral encounter.

According to CNN, the good news is that Rob McDonagh, an assistant editor at Storyful, an online content vetting service, was monitoring Twitter activity and noticed a suspicious account and Twitter investigated and suspended the account:

“The account claimed to belong to a California schoolteacher. Its profile photo was not of a schoolteacher, but of a blogger based in Brazil, CNN Business found. Twitter suspended the account soon after CNN Business asked about it.

The account, with the username @2020fight, was set up in December 2016 and appeared to be the tweets of a woman named Talia living in California. “Teacher & Advocate. Fighting for 2020,” its Twitter bio read. Since the beginning of this year, the account had tweeted on average 130 times a day and had more than 40,000 followers.

Late on Friday, the account posted a minute-long video showing the now-iconic confrontation between a Native American elder and the high school students, with the caption, “This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protester at the Indigenous Peoples March.”

That version of the video was viewed at least 2.5 million times and was retweeted at least 14,400 times, according to a cached version of the tweet seen by CNN Business.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/tech/twitter-suspends-account-native-american-maga-teens/index.html

The CNN report also quotes Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher (anti-Trumper), even though she admitted she saw the tweet and retweeted it on Saturday, claiming, “she later realized that a network of anonymous accounts were working to amplify the video.”

I wonder if we have people in our national security apparatus paying close attention to this stuff or if America is at the mercy of random civilian cyber peeps to catch this stuff?

Added thought: I’ve wondered for a long time if some of these short-lived viral stories making Americans look too dumb to exist, that burst onto social media, create mass overreaction, and garner news notice, then disappear quickly are the work of hostile foreign information operations.  Seeing how this account plucked the video from an Instagram posting and then amplified on Twitter made me think about this again.  An example of what I mean, are stories like that viral Teens Eating Tide Pods story.  Just one more thing  I will continue to ponder about.

Update: January 22, 2019, 5:54 PM

The CNN report cited above was updated this afternoon.

“The source familiar with Twitter’s investigation told CNN Business the company’s initial findings suggested the account was run from the US, but said it can be difficult to determine an account owner’s actual location.
Twitter users can try to mask their true location using services like virtual private networks, which can allow users to appear as if they are in a different country.
CNN Business has not independently determined where this account was being run from.”
CNN Business also tried to reach out to the account holder(s) to inquire about the account, but was blocked by the account holder(s).  So, basically, they don’t know who the account really belongs to yet.

 

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Filed under General Interest, Information War, Politics, Twitter Tales

About rumor control

Part 1.  Some Thoughts On Rumor Control

I’m going to break this post into two parts, offering some thoughts on rumor control and a couple of links, one which deals with rumor control from a governmental effort standpoint and the other which explains rumor control from a Christian viewpoint, but can easily be useful to anyone trying to deal with gossip, rumors and spin overload in their lives.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how there seems to be an almost complete absence or concern about the importance of rumor control by our elected leaders and among the hordes of SPIN wizards fueling our scorched earth SPIN information war, flaming across American media. I suspect most of our political leaders have no clue about how damaging whispering campaigns, smear campaigns and ramping up divisiveness can be to our national character and the morale of the American people.

Without wading into too many details, during Desert Storm, my husband, a career soldier, was assigned to a unit in Germany, that deployed from Germany to the Gulf.  The Army had thousands of families living in Germany.  One of the things I learned, first-hand, from that experience of being in a foreign country with many frightened wives and children is that rumors and panic spread like wildfire.

Rumors around the Army are a constant problem and the Army makes rumor control a command responsibility, because some rumors can cause confusion, dissension, and negatively impact morale.  Rumors can have a devastating effect on the soldiers’ trust in their leadership.  Ditto that for negative rumors about our elected leaders.   Rumors in wartime can be extremely dangerous and damaging to national unity.

As rumors spread, panic quickly blew way out of proportion among many wives during Desert Storm.  Due to the concerns about possible terrorist attacks against American family members in Germany,  extraordinary security measures were put in place by the U.S. military, working with German officials.  Once our husbands deployed to the Gulf, some of those extra security measures raised fears among many young wives.  Our husbands going off to war also elevated fears, but along with that, the endless stream of rumors was an everyday source of  fueling the wives gossip chain and fear.  The endless stream of rumors is part of life around the Army, likewise the even crazier stream of rumors among wives, unfamiliar with the Army, became off-the-chain at times during Desert Storm.

Three of our kids were in elementary school and our youngest was still at home.  I can’t remember exactly if it was one bomb threat or two that occurred at their school, but I remember there was also a bomb threat at a nearby military installation at the PX too.

Talking to the wife of my husband’s battalion commander, who was a teacher at that school, she related the chaos of trying to keep control of the children, as mothers from the nearby military housing area rushed to the school to grab their children.  We lived in leased government housing in a German village several miles away, so my kids came home on the school bus after the bomb threat.  I asked my kids what happened, because I’d already heard about it via other wives calling me.  My kids were pretty nonchalant about the bomb threat.   What happened to incite panic even more with Army wives was that many of them relied on neighbors or friends, who were operating off the latest feverish rumors.  Often around the Army, there were young wives, unfamiliar with the Army and very distrustful of the Army, in general.  They were most vulnerable to the devastating effect of rumors run amok.  Crazy stories exploded with those bomb threats, but I heard plenty of other crazy stories (rumors) from wives.

The Army also left some soldiers in Germany to manage the rear detachment operations.

The Army had set up a family support system relying mostly on leaders’  wives to organize it and run it.  Often wives called me for information, because my husband was the first sergeant, the senior NCO, in the company and his company commander was single, so I was the volunteer family support leader for the company.  An odd rumor I remember was a wife, who was German, called me and she was convinced the Army was not giving her husband water in the Gulf and she wanted to know how she could send him water.  I tried to reassure her that the Army needed her husband to be able to fight and would do everything possible to make sure he had water and food.  Many times, I noticed that I heard about a hysterical wife, worked up about a rumor, from other wives calling me and telling me about her, before the hysterical wife even called me.  Often those other wives were calling me to make sure the rumor wasn’t true.  It was a frequent occurrence to get calls that were about rumors run amok.

This past week’s insane media hysteria with our escalating scorched earth SPIN information war and the Buzzfeed story, followed by the Mueller team pushback,  made me think of that Desert Storm experience with rumors.

I also remembered a study, The Psychology of Rumor, I had heard mentioned various times in reading.  I had never read the actual study, which was conducted by two Harvard psychology professors, Gordon W. Allport and Leo Postman, after WWII.  A quick google search and I located the study available free online.  I’ve been reading through this study about rumors, in general, and then more specifically rumors in wartime.  They divided  rumors into several different categories, for instance fear rumors were common, as were wish rumors about events people were yearning for, like the end of the war.  They also identified the most damaging type of rumors as wedge drivers, which were rumors maligning certain groups in society or inciting hate.

I also have been thinking about a book, Stopping Words That Hurt:Positive Words In A World Gone Negative, by Dr. Michael D. Sedler, which I read a few years ago.  This book is written from a Christian perspective, but honestly is very sound advice on how to work to stop  “evil reporting” in your life:

“Evil report: When an individual maliciously injures, damages or discredits another’s reputation or character through the use of words or attitude.

If the intent is to hurt another person’s reputation, we must examine our motives.”

Sedler, Dr. Michael D.. Stopping Words That Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative (p. 16). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

Dr. Sedler offers many fascinating Biblical examples of “evil reporting,” but also many everyday examples, that we all encounter.  One of the things to consider in Sedler’s advice is he counsels that people work to not only stop being bearers of  “evil reporting”, but to work to stop even listening to “evil reporting”.  Pretty simple advice, but much harder to practice in our tabloid culture.

This book has been edited and republished under a different title, What To Do When Words Get Ugly.

Our SPIN information war thrives on spreading wedge driver rumors and “evil reporting”.

 

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Missed signals beyond the SPIN noise

America is in a totally different place with our partisan divides than even 20 years ago with the Clinton impeachment drama, which fueled an aggressive Clinton-orchestrated scorched earth SPIN effort to keep Bill Clinton from being removed from office. Thinking back to the 1998 scorched earth SPIN war, many questions, in my mind, still remain.

One of the biggest questions I have goes back a bit further than the Clinton years.  In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed.  The Soviet Union ran massive, aggressive active measures in America, including disinformation operations for decades.  What happened to all of the Soviet Union’s active measure operations and operatives (many of them Americans) involved in operations against America after the Soviet Union collapsed?  Where did they go?

Even more importantly, during the 1990s, what happened to America’s aggressive efforts to monitor and counter Soviet active measures?  Did we put down our guard and assume the Soviet threat was defeated and stop paying close attention to Russian operatives?  Where did the Americans working on the Soviet dime or followers of communist ideology, who fueled Soviet disinformation operations in America go to find new homes in American political operations after the collapse of the Soviet Union?  They didn’t all just quit.  Did they just shift to working in American partisan political “media operations” and “opposition research” organizations or were many of them already embedded in American partisan activities? American academia and media were heavily infiltrated by Soviet disinformation operations for decades, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.   What happened to these Soviet operations after the Soviet Union collapsed?

In late December 2018, news broke of a Democrat disinformation operation called Project Birmingham, which was run against Republican senate candidate, Roy Moore, in his 2017 campaign.  This Dem disinformation operation imitated Russian disinformation operations and was funded by a big Dem donor, Reid Hoffman, who claims no knowledge that the money was going to Project Birmingham.  Many Dems, including Doug Jones, condemned the Project Birmingham operation, and are publicly distancing themselves from it.  On December 27, 2018, the Washington Post reported:

“The looming threat of new state and federal investigations adds to the scrutiny facing those involved in the campaign to undermine support for Moore and bolster Jones. Project Birmingham appeared to broadly mirror some of the same tactics adopted by Russian operatives who spread social and political unrest on Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 presidential election. In Alabama, its backers even introduced fake evidence that automated Russian accounts, called bots, were supporting Moore in the race.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/27/disinformation-campaign-targeting-roy-moores-senate-bid-may-have-violated-law-alabama-attorney-general-says/?utm_term=.a886aecf8b13

A few days ago the NY Times had a report, Democrats Faked Online Push to Outlaw Alcohol in Alabama Race, about another Dem false flag operation during the Roy Moore run, which was dubbed “Dry Alabama”.  The NY Times reports:

“The “Dry Alabama” Facebook page, illustrated with stark images of car wrecks and videos of families ruined by drink, had a blunt message: Alcohol is the devil’s work, and the state should ban it entirely.

Along with a companion Twitter feed, the Facebook page appeared to be the work of Baptist teetotalers who supported the Republican, Roy S. Moore, in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. “Pray for Roy Moore,” one tweet exhorted.

In fact, the Dry Alabama campaign, not previously reported, was the stealth creation of progressive Democrats who were out to defeat Mr. Moore — the second such secret effort to be unmasked. In a political bank shot made in the last two weeks of the campaign, they thought associating Mr. Moore with calls for a statewide alcohol ban would hurt him with moderate, business-oriented Republicans and assist the Democrat, Doug Jones, who won the special election by a hair-thin margin.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/07/us/politics/alabama-senate-facebook-roy-moore.html

Further in this NY Times piece are details of the people involved in organizing this Dry Alabama false flag operation and this bio stuck out at me, “Evan Coren, a progressive activist who works for the National Archives unit that handles classified documents.”  A person working for the National Archives, handling classified documents, moon lighted as a progressive activist, orchestrating online false flag operations in a Senate race in Alabama.  Anything amiss or unethical with his moonlighting activities here?  Any concerns about him having access to classified documents?

This SPIN agitprop has now devolved to Leftist operatives waging false flag operations to make a Republican senatorial candidate’s social media followers look like Russian bots…  We have assuredly jumped the shark in this scorched earth SPIN info war.

The reason I keep pondering about the beginnings of the America’s mass media SPIN information war is because how spin works has always smelled like classic Soviet disinformation operations to me.  It’s a mass media brainwashing operation to control “public opinion” (sold as the “will of the American people”) as determined by polls.  The media and politicians in America sell the polling and assiduously work to herd Americans to conforming their beliefs to align with this manufactured “public opinion”.  The SPIN operations rely heavily on vicious smear campaigns.

Until Trump, the Left and mainstream media (also predominantly leftists) controlled SPIN operations in America.  FOX News ran a counter SPIN operation, feeding far-right movements and fear mongering about Dems and the Left, but they never managed to meld together a SPIN operation colluding directly with top Republicans, until Trump.

American political news remains abuzz about “Russian collusion”, but the Steele dossier, a melding of Democratic operatives, a former star reporter turned “commercial research and strategic intelligence” entrepreneur, former British intelligence officer/expert on Russia and unknown Russian sources produced information purported to come from sources close to the Kremlin.  That information was fed to the FBI and top American intel officials  as an intelligence product from a former British intelligence professional and it speaks to a melding of partisan SPIN ops  deliberately used to corrupt the judgment of FBI and top American intel officials.

The circuitous routes used to feed the Steele dossier to FBI and DOJ officials speaks to a determination to create an aura of legitimacy about the information in the dossier and to deceive and manipulate them into buying into the dossier.  John McCain despised Trump.  McCain was targeted by a former British ambassador and sold on the dossier.  McCain’s friend, flew to England and personally met with Steele to get a copy of the dossier.  John McCain hand-carried that dossier directly to James Comey.

I can’t prove what happened to me, but during the Clinton impeachment in 1998 I wrote comments on the Excite message boards attacking the Clinton spin, which was worded to corrupt foundational American principles.  I also explained how SPIN works and how it seems like something more at home in Russian disinformation efforts.  My story, Messsages of mhere, at the top of my blog, although written in a rather snarky tone, is what I believe to be the truth about what happened to me in 1998.  I believe false information was deliberately fed to a retired general, who hates me.  I believe he was recruited to silence me.  I can’t prove any of that though.  Realizing the underhanded ways the Steele dossier was fed to top FBI and DOJ officials reminded me of 1998.

Why did James Comey and his top people treat the Steele dossier as legitimate intel, even though they couldn’t verify it?  Why doesn’t Comey care about who funded the dossier?  Why didn’t Peter Strzok, the FBI’s top Russian analyst, make tracking the dossier funding and information back to its original sources a priority?  This Trump SPIN hysteria not only manipulates ordinary  Americans and corrodes their judgment, the Trump SPIN hysteria appears to have corroded and corrupted the judgment of top officials in the FBI and intelligence agencies. The Trump SPIN hysteria has also clouded, in some cases, even corrupted the judgment of our elected leaders.

In the Roy Moore situation, I  dislike Moore’s politics and find his bigotry repugnant, however as that smear campaign against Moore raged on in the media, with more and more 30+ year-old allegations of Moore preying on underage teenage girls ramping up SPIN hysteria, I noted how many conservative Republicans began to speak out against Moore and they completely bought into the Dem-orchestrated  media smear campaign.  Initially, I was willing to believe the first allegation in the Roy Moore smear campaign, until Gloria Allred showed up and it bothered me that there were no allegations of Moore’s alleged preying on underage teen girls beyond those 30 + year-old allegations, which struck me as odd.  I wrote a blog post:

I believed the first woman who made allegations against Roy Moore, but once Gloria Allred showed up, the media non-stop redo of the Access Hollywood started, coupled with the Trump is delusional spin and this new “moral purity” purge on the Left began, well, let’s just say I am not sure how to even begin to decide on what is  a “credible allegation” after finding out that the WaPo descended on AL, along with #Resist dirt-diggers to turn up these allegations.  At first the media hyped there were 30 some witnesses to corroborate that Moore chased teenage girls, but I no longer have real trust in any of this reporting.  I keep wondering if he was a total perv, who chased teenagers, where are more recent victims?  Does he have a long list of affairs or anything like that?  I am open to listening to new allegations, but at this point, I see more evidence this was an orchestrated smear campaign and less that he was a child molester.  I still want to believe the first lady.  The one Allred rolled out and all that crying looked just like the Access Hollywood victim she coached.

https://libertybellediaries.com/2017/12/07/metoo-lunacy-begins/

The orchestrated Brett Kavanaugh smear campaign rolled out the same way.  And going back to the 2016 campaign, the Dump on Trump smear campaign rolled out the same way too, with the Access Hollywood tape and the Gloria Allred victim line-up.  Trump, a womanizer, does have real dirt mixed in with the pure Dem spin fabrications, like the Alicia Machado, “fat-shaming” allegation, that Hillary Clinton launched at the end of a presidential debate.  She was totally in on that orchestrated SPIN hit.

These smear campaigns aren’t the result of some peon political operatives run amok; they are run by powerful people in the Dem machine.  The level to which the Dems will go to demonize Trump’s record with women, knows no bounds and while I find the man’s behavior totally unacceptable, so much of the SPIN about Trump and women is deliberately manufactured to incite women against him.

In Dec. 2017, with the Trump/Russian collusion spin and the Trump the Authoritarian spin ramping up, a short-lived spin attack on Trump launched about him “trying to kiss former FOX News employee, Juliet Huddy in an elevator around 2005-2006, painting this as Trump sexually assaulting Huddy.  Huddy quickly backtracked and said she hadn’t felt threatened, but liberal media and even top Dems, like Donna Brazile, retweeted and hyped this story.  The reality check is Huddy was on a date with a rich businessman/celebrity and he leaned over to kiss her after the date, but the media was running wild painting this as Trump tried to sexually assault Huddy.

The Dems at the top are well aware of these smear campaigns and they are the ones, who do nothing to put the brakes on them.  Yet, when some embarrassing details of their corrupt SPIN ops leak out, everyone involved claims they knew nothing.  That Steele dossier had the fingerprints of top Clinton sleaze operatives involved, so I believe the Clintons were the ones in charge.

The entire Clinton SPIN operations from its beginning, in the 90s, which evolved to be embraced by the entire Democratic Party, needs some serious investigation for both corruption and for hostile foreign infiltration.  Ditto that for Trump’s SPIN operations, oh nevermind, Mueller has spent two years investigating that, while the Dems, media, Comey, Clapper and Brennan keep throwing up a massive smokescreen about the Steele dossier.  They pretend that some conservative news organization was behind the GPS Fusion effort and the mainstream media assiduously avoids investigating the Steele dossier.  Instead they give Clapper, Brennan and Dem mouthpieces endless airtime to ramp up Trump/Russian collusion and to insinuate the dossier is a legit intelligence report.

There are strong warning signs that there’s plenty of hostile foreign infiltration of the American news media, especially our political news media.   SPIN disinformation speaks to a melding of Cold War era Soviet-type disinformation operations into the very fabric of American political operations and news reporting.  Figuring out how much is homegrown corruption and how much is hostile foreign info operations remains a pressing national security concern, that no one seems to notice.

In the 90s the domestic partisan SPIN war in America erupted with constant Clinton scandals (some real and some right-wing operative hyped).  The Clintons ran their own SPIN “war room” and vast networks of political operatives, on both sides,  emerged as America’s top spin warriors.  Interestingly, many of those original operatives, on both sides, are key players in this endless 2016 scorched earth SPIN info war, but one can only wonder what the extent of hostile foreign infiltration of our partisan SPIN fronts in America really is?

Looking back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by the eruption of our domestic SPIN war in the 90s, my worry is, that perhaps we missed a whole bunch of signals, because of the constant SPIN noise.

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Filed under Corrupt Media Collusion, General Interest, Information War, Messages of mhere, Politics

“Crisis”

Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!

I’ve tweeted some about Trump’s chaos lately, but every time I sit down to write a blog post, there’s an internal debate whether to let Trump dominate my blog or write about some other topics.  Truth be told though, worries about Trump’s erratic behavior, his administration in constant personnel turmoil and the Left’s relentless Trump hysteria can’t be avoided.  This endless scorched earth SPIN war is the defining political/media event in America.

America’s problem isn’t just Trump’s chaos. The endless scorched earth SPIN information war between Trump/Fox vs. Dems/mainstream media looms as a very grave national security crisis, that no one seems to see.

Often, I feel like I am a lone voice in the wilderness tweeting and blogging warnings about spin.  Since 1998, I’ve been trying to examine ways this SPIN war could evolve in America and what the final stages of this self-destructive SPIN war would look like.  I never in a million years would have dreamed up a Trump’s “GOP Insurgency”, the complete dismantling of the GOP,  or the alliance of Trump and FOX News to create a spin front to combat the Dems/mainstream media lock on controlling the news media in America.

The culmination of the vast corruption by both the Clintons and Trump in 2016, the corruption within the highest levels of the Obama administration, the corruption of the media portends things won’t end well for America without a dramatic sea change in our politics and in the media.  That said, here’s the latest on our national embarrassment – Trump, the Dems and media’s  SPIN war.

America endured another Trump, Chuck and Nancy Show last night, in this ongoing government shutdown showdown/The Wall stand-off.   All three of them looked and sounded stiff and ridiculous.  These speeches were just one more spin battle to fight for owning another spin cycle and the media obliged with high-pitched lamentations about whether the networks should grant Trump prime time to make his wall showdown speech, followed by demands for Democrats to be granted equal time to offer a response to Trump’s speech.  Of course, then the feverish media doom-casting about “What if Trump declares a state of emergency?” erupted.  Trump, of course gloried in the media spotlight and many of his loyal FOX pundits, as usual, helped sell the Trump “CRISIS!” hysteria, to manipulate Trump’s base.

At the same time, many Congressional Democrats and Republicans were urging Trump not to declare a state of emergency, as were some Trump advisers.

Trump opted not to pull that state of emergency trigger (yet).  Schumer and Pelosi offered the same “no money for the wall” red line.  Each side, as usual, declared victory in this staged spin battle and American endured another political spectacle that only fueled more media hysterics, more extreme partisanship and eroded our American political culture a bit more.

By this morning, Trump, lashed out on Twitter with the above tweet.

Reporters immediately contacted FEMA for comment and FEMA had no comment.  And therein lies the seeds of Trump’s self-destruction, if anyone cares to cut through the spin and partisan hysteria.  Once again, Trump, likely from watching something on TV this morning, impulsively decided to lash out at Democrats in CA.  He tweeted this without any consultation with this advisers or talking to FEMA.  He’s going to pressure CA pols to reform their forest management programs by cutting funds, to aid helpless victims of forest fires.

This impulsive lashing out, one-man-show tweeting, leaving his own top advisers in the dark, assures Trump will never settle into the presidency or build any sort of unified team.  It’s always going to be endless chaos, emanating from the top.

Many Trump mouthpieces and supporters in the punditry class, ignore or downplay Trump’s tweeting as just, “Trump letting off steam” or  pretend the tweets aren’t really presidential announcements.   Other Trump supporters, play dumb, dismissing his tweets, by airily waving them aside, claiming they don’t follow his tweets or pay attention to social media.

This morning’s impulsive presidential order will fade from memory quickly and in the scheme of  Trump impulsively executing his presidential duties via tweets, this one ranks as small fries compared to his Syria announcement after a phone call with Erdogan.

With that tweet Trump announced a military withdrawal without informing or consulting anyone on his national security team or America’s allies.  They all found out via his tweet.

The Syria tweet proved the last straw for Sec. of Defense, General Mattis, but that wasn’t the first military decision via tweet, that Trump announced without informing the Pentagon.

Trump’s toxic leadership assures constant chaos in the highest office in America, but even more ominously it assures confusion and distrust at the highest levels of the Pentagon.

In this stand-off with Schumer and Pelosi over funding for his wall, it would not surprise me in the least if some TV news coverage of the stand-off incites him and he furiously lashes out via tweet, declaring a state of emergency… because he can and because he knows it will propel him to be the star of the SPIN universe, outshining every other news story in the world.

Even if America inches along, without a real constitutional crisis due to Trump’s melding the Office of the Presidency into a third-rate reality TV show with constant social media interactions with his fans and the media, the prestige and the dignity of the presidency have been forever cheapened.

The larger scorched earth spin war, could spiral into a real national crisis in many different ways, including hostile info war operations inciting mass panic, faking news stories of civil disruptions, and looming dangers from “fake news” coming not from Trump or the mainstream media, but from America’s enemies.  A few days ago Trump floated a “military version of eminent domain”, asserting he could send the military to seize private property along the border for his wall.  That Trump threat made me think of the Obama era conspiracy hysteria in the Southwest over Jade Helm, a 2015 US military training exercise.  In 2018 former NSA director Michael Hayden stated:

“AUSTIN — Former CIA director Michael Hayden said Thursday during a television interview that the 2015 Jade Helm controversy in Texas was an early example of Russian efforts to spread misinformation in the United States.

Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as part of a book tour, Hayden, a retired Air Force four-star general who also ran the National Security Agency, said Russians fueled the distrust over the military training exercise in an attempt to influence the American public.

“There was an exercise in Texas called Jade Helm 15 that Russian bots and the American alt-right media convinced most — many — Texans was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents,” Hayden said.”

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2018/05/03/former-cia-director-says-russians-spread-misinformation-jade-helm

America faces plenty of SPIN information war worries, well beyond just Trump, but Americans seem too busy fighting each other to notice the real threats from a nation torn apart by constant, aggressive domestic and foreign disinformation operations targeting the American people.  And sadly, President Trump seems the most ill-equipped leader, who might be called upon to avert complete civil disorder, if this SPIN war spirals totally out of control.

Ending on a positive note, the TRUTH is the strongest weapon against SPIN (lies), so each of us has the power to defeat SPIN in our own lives.  No American is helpless or unarmed to combat SPIN – that’s the TRUTH.  Just pull yourself from the partisan extremes,  learn to recognize spin messaging attacks against the American people and don’t allow media and politicians’ repetitive messaging agitation propaganda make you afraid or angry.  When all else fails, turn off the news media in your home for a bit and spend time with your family, do things with friends, or take up a hobby.

Trust me, that’s what I’ve been doing.  Yep, more crafting pictures coming soon:-)

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Trump the Builder & our Syria Policy

The truth matters.

Thinking about America’s “big picture” strategy, first I’m going to meander on about America’s War on Terror a bit and then pivot to the “little picture” homegrown “Trump problems”, which in the end are probably way more important to America than our regional strategy in the Mid-East.

President Trump did not cause America’s failures in the War on Terror.  America’s foreign policy experts, on both sides of the aisle, have made plenty of disastrous strategic mistakes in America’s endless War on Terror, since 2001.   Our extreme partisan Trump Hysterics United echo chamber in the media makes it difficult, for these foreign policy experts to concede this fact, but it’s the truth.

The people who did formulate and carry-out these policies that failed, came from both sides of the political aisle, in previous administrations.   Some of them now are the loudest Trump critics, while at the same time refusing to admit their own policies failed.  In the spirit of the season, it’s also only right to concede that they acted with good intentions to do what they believed was best for America.

Thinking back over my many angry and scathing blog posts about Obama administration decisions, made in the heady, High-On-Arab-Spring delusions days, that’s quite a big concession, considering how disgusted I was by their massive media “narrative-writing” efforts to sugarcoat American strategic blunders and their refusal to admit mistakes and failures.  To this day, many of the loudest Trump critics, who underwrote failed Bush and Obama era foreign policy, still determinedly spin their failures as successes.

For many years, I’ve believed we should completely rethink our War on Terror, expand our focus to be more about regional stability and less about a myopic fixation on killing Islamic radical terrorists.  By turning American interests into strictly destroying Al Qaeda, Inc. we’ve overlooked many other key American interests in the region and we’ve allowed ourselves to get stuck on repeating failed approaches, over and over and over.

Even more alarming, in our zeal to invest more in military options rather than other tools of American power, we’ve failed to weigh the real damage grinding down our military, decades of endless war has wrought on our military readiness.  We’ve been so used to believing our military is invincible, that American policymakers too often grab for a military option, without even considering how that option might impact bigger picture American strategic issues.

It’s easy to get lost in Trump outrage spin cycles, just like many conservatives (myself included), often got lost in the Obama outrage spin cycles, but the real strategic issue America needs to deal with is we need a larger regional strategy that bolsters American national interests.  That’s how I began thinking about the late General William Odom last night, even as my ire simmered at how President Trump went about handling his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.   The above video of General Odom is worth watching and thinking about.

America needs a new regional strategy to deal with the Mid-East and the umbrella of Sharia-inspired terrorists, like Al Qaeda and ISIS, regardless who is in the Oval Office.

There are many larger foreign policy strategic problems that might be fall-out from the “how” Trump operates, but in my view, the greatest problem remains, not just Trump, but our, by any means necessary,  2016 scorched earth SPIN information war, that has destabilized and corrupted both political parties and most especially the media, both FOX News and the mainstream media.

Trump might be an indiscriminate flamethrower, but he isn’t the only one intent on using SPIN info war guerrilla warfare.   The constant no holds barred smear campaigns, character assassination attacks and orchestrated disinformation attacks on the American people provide an open information warfare battlefield for America’s adversaries to easily operate at fueling American divides, without ever having to deploy a single military unit to American soil.

The entire Syria mess has been so mired in spin lies, that it’s hard to figure out what is going on in Syria and what our mission even is in Syria.

I didn’t believe we should get involved in the Syrian hot mess, despite the ISIS threat, the larger humanitarian refugee crisis, or the “Assad the Butcher” arguments ( all of which had some validity).  The “how” U.S. involvement would help advance U.S. national interests and how the lessons learned about problems from our previous regime change efforts would be avoided in a Syria intervention never made any sense to me.

After Russia took action in Syria to prop up Assad, the U.S. involvement chorus morphed into competing discordant parts.  The arming “Syrian Moderates Rebels” delusions set the stage for more delusions about how removing ISIS from Raqqa was the key to destroying ISIS and somehow that would lead to stability in Syria, that removing ISIS was the key to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and then for good measure there was the larger strategic argument about how getting involved in Syria would help deter Russian and Iranian regional dominance.

None of the arguments ever made much sense to me, as part of a larger regional stability strategy… probably because I don’t think we ever had a big picture strategy.  We have a bullet point presentation of talking points strategy.  Islamist terrorist groups quickly relocate, regroup, rearm, and rebrand.  Assad and the Russians had effectively broken the Syrian rebels.  I wondered how we would deter Iranians in Syria when we hadn’t figured out how to deter the Iranian-backed militias in Baghdad from increasing their influence in the Baghdad government, which vast amounts of American money and thousands of precious American lives went into nursing into existence and bolstering.

How Trump went about this decision will likely lead to damage to America’s relationship with our allies and he does operate like a one-man wrecking ball to our international system, which many of his supporters will cheer on, just like they cheered on his “GOP Insurgency”, asserting the GOP deserved to be burned to the ground.

The problem with Trump, the touted “Builder” is he seems particularly uninterested in the most important part of any building, whether a Trump Tower or a new political movement.  He prefers to stay ensconced in his ivory tower mean tweeting his “enemies, than he does in building a solid foundation for his new GOP or his MAGA effort.

I remember the conservative fainting couch reactions to President Obama’s clashes with the generals, because I spent a good deal of time blogging while prostrate on my own fainting couch.   I’m trying not to get too worked up about Trump’s impulsive Syria decision, although the difference seems, to me at least, that  Obama was prone to foot-dragging and kicking the can down the road, rather than making tough decisions.  Trump, on the other hand, makes impulsive decisions based on “his gut”…

In my view, President Trump prefers being the one-man show in his MAGA circular firing squad.  He takes aim at people in his own administration,  America’s intelligence agencies, the FBI, Congressional Republicans, the media and now – General Mattis.  His ammo is low-grade, scattershot mean tweets and petty name-calling.  His attacks on General Mattis will likely lead to dissension within the top levels of the Pentagon and his “playing his own team against each other antics ” could create some dangerous confusion and distrust at the highest levels of the American chain of command.

That’s way more worrying to me than whether we pull out of Syria.  He was tweeting late last night:

President of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria….and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door.” Our troops are coming home!

He’s trusting his good friend, Erdogan, and today he’s on a twitter rant, taking wild pot shots at his assorted “enemies” (Americans whom he thinks have personally wronged him).  What he isn’t doing is studying policy or strategy  or working on a better big picture strategy for America in the ME, after we pull out of Syria and he isn’t working to build any sort of foundation of support for his domestic agenda.

It’s hard to envision any sort of regional ME strategy developing in an administration where the POTUS gets more energized waging war against his own cabinet than he does reading anything about foreign policy.   His strategic depth really is his simplistic “killing ISIS family members to scare ISIS fighters into submission plan”, which he doubled-down on during the 2016 primary.  He believes that was a brilliant strategy, so expecting him to grasp a larger regional strategy is hopeless…  Trump also isn’t going to hire the best people and seems to struggle keeping any competent people.  He isn’t going to do anything other than foment more chaos and be an endless, one-man show circular firing squad.

You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, but often some unexpected things grow from manure piles.  When I was a kid, in the summer time we used to sit on the flat roof of our rabbit coop, which was 3 or so feet high.  Often we’d eat watermelon slices perched there and spit the seeds toward the nearby pile of rabbit manure.  Many summers, that manure pile was covered with robust watermelon plants that sent out long runners, which produced lots of watermelons.

Perhaps, we should all be trying to spit out as many good policy seeds toward the Trump manure pile and hope some sprout and grow…

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Another Russian ramble

Here’s a timely link to a NATO Defense College publication: Handbook of Russian Information Warfare,  which I saw in a tweet yesterday.  In America, a great deal of fear mongering substitutes for actual understanding of the Russian information warfare strategies and how the Russians view information warfare in their overall military strategic operations.

The Russian approach to information warfare seems to both terrify and mystify many American policymakers and journalists.  The key, I think, relies on wrapping your mind around the Russian’s reliance on reflexive control, which this handbook explains in easy to understand terms.

Here’s a quick explanation of  reflexive control from a Small Wars Journal article written by Ronald Sprang:

“The second modern Russian theoretical concept is reflexive control. Reflexive control is applied as a means to interfere and manipulate an opponent’s decision-making cycle. It can target human decision making and organizational decision-making systems and processes. Reflexive control can also be applied through automated systems and digital mission command architecture. Reflexive control is “a means of conveying to a partner or an opponent specially prepared information to incline him to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action.”[x] One of the goals of reflexive control is the temporary slowdown of the adversary’s tempo and operational level decision making process.[xi] This adjustment in tempo creates windows of opportunity for Russian exploitation of changes in tempo and potential opponent decisions that shape the operational level forces into the overall Russian operational design and approach.”

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/russian-operational-art-new-type-warfare-and-reflexive-control

To explain how the Russians approach to information warfare developed requires going back further in Russian history than the Soviet era, I think.  The Russian state secret police dates back to 1565, when Ivan the Terrible formed the Oprichnina.

Recently, I began watching the Amazon Prime Russian TV series, Ekaterina, about the life of Catherine the Great,  which originally aired on Russia 1 TV, a few years ago.   My Russian vocabulary consists of only a dozen or so words these days, having forgotten most of what I learned in two years of high school Russian class, but thankfully this series has English subtitles.  The series emphasizes the endless palace intrigue, the imperial scheming of Empress Elizabeth of Russia and especially the machinations of the secret police.  Elizabeth had seized the crown in a coup d’etat, having the infant heir to the throne, Ivan VI,  imprisoned for his entire life.

This long history of Russian state secret police and the Russian people being culturally indoctrinated to the supreme power of the state to control their lives, to invade their privacy at will, and to basically monitor all of their activities has been the norm since medieval times.  I’ve written about this before on my blog, in a 2016 blog post, The War of Words (Part 2):

I have been thinking a great deal about what I consider cultural DNA, with how peoples the world over develop patterns of behavior ( culture) that endure, despite the changes in government.  In fact, the people’s behavior determines how long and how much control they will tolerate from their government, to maintain the status quo and social order.

wp-1469293980388.jpg

Above: My copy of “Letters from Russia.  To the right is a folk-art wooden container my son brought back from Russia, painted in a Russian folk art style called Khohkloma.

Thinking about what to write in this Part 2 post, I ordered a book, which I had read about a long while back, that explains the Russian cultural DNA, a few years after Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America.  That cultural DNA still persists in Russia today.  The book is “Letters from Russia” and like de Tocqueville’s, “Democracy in America”, the book on Russia was written by another French nobleman, Astolphe de Custine.  Although his trip to Russia in 1839 was only three months long,  he captured life in Russia under the despot, Czar Nicholas I, in such prescient, stark detail, that historians still study his letters.  His book was banned by both, Czar Nicholas I and the Bolsheviks, who didn’t much like Custine’s letters.  I can relate, heck, my posts on the Excite message boards in 1998 evoked quite a response too and there I was fighting hordes of new posters who showed up to take over the boards with the Clinton talking points……… hummm, I likened them to being like Genghis Khan.

In their own words these two French nobleman present their opinions on the cultural DNA differences between a people who accept rulers and a people who don’t.  In 1996, renowned journalist, Steven Erlanger, wrote a NY Times piece on Custine’s book, that gives you Custine in his own words.  Here’s a short excerpt:

“In Russia, everything you notice, and everything that happens around you, has a terrifying uniformity; and the first thought that comes into the traveler’s mind, as he contemplates this symmetry, is that such entire consistency and regularity, so contrary to the natural inclination of mankind, cannot have been achieved and could not survive without violence. . . . Officially, such brutal tyranny is called respect for unity and love of order; and this bitter fruit of despotism appears so precious to the methodical mind that you are told it cannot be purchased at too high a price.

Faced with the pervasiveness of the secret police and the immensity of the bureaucracy, Custine at first is shocked. He sees the dead weight that these hordes of state employees place on Russia, and their own dehumanization.

Among Russian officials, attention to detail is quite compatible with disorganization. They go to a great deal of trouble to achieve some petty end, never satisfed that they have done enough to demonstrate their zeal. Consequently, in this rivalry between employees, one formality does not guarantee the foreigner against another. It is like a pillaging army: because the traveler has passed through the hands of one regiment, this does not prevent him from meeting another, or a third, and each of these bands spaced out along his route vies with the last in harassing him.”

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/16/weekinreview/word-for-word-marquis-de-custine-long-ago-look-russia-so-what-else-new.html?pagewanted=all

Interestingly, in the introduction to “Letters from Russia”, editor, Anka Muhlstein,  presents the bulls-eye de Tocqueville quote on the difference between America and Russia:

“There are on earth today two great peoples who, having started from different points, seem to be advancing towards the same end: they are the Russians and the Anglo-Americans.  They both grew up in darkness and whilst Europeans were busy elsewhere, they suddenly placed themselves in the forefront of nations, and the world learned at almost the same time of their births and their greatness

All other nations seem, more or less, to have reached the limits nature has assigned to them and within which they now need only to remain, but those two are still growing…. America is struggling against obstacles of nature,; Russia against men…. The principal means of action for the one is liberty, for the other servitude.”

Letters from Russia, by Astolphe de Custine, edited and with an introduction by Anka Muhlstein, page ix of the introduction.

America is the only place on earth that broke that mold completely and set up a government meant for the people to have control over the government and for the individual’s rights to be paramount.

We are a nation built by free-thinking and free-acting citizens.

The Russian/American “cultural DNA” dichotomy precludes many American analysts from easily grasping the Russian’s dependence on “reflexive control”,  but looking at it from another angle helps.  The Russians don’t have the military might to rely predominantly on military force to achieve their geopolitical aspirations, but they have centuries of experience developing vast spy networks, compiling massive information operations and for engaging in using psychological operations to exert control over factions inside Russia and in their foreign policy.

Americans, on the other hand, understand military force as the way America fights its enemies.  Although we have the most sophisticated technological means to gather information; we just don’t seem to be very adept at developing a comprehensive strategy to utilize information for information warfare operations.

However, America’s partisans, colluding with sympathetic media, have been waging sophisticated SPIN information warfare against each other and against the American people since the early 90s.  Perhaps our military and intel information experts might at some point realize that the Russians are working to fuel the extreme American partisanship, by fanning the flames of our own domestic scorched earth SPIN information war.

Ending the American scorched earth SPIN information war would be a giant blow to the Russians’ info war operations in America.

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