Monday, July 25, 2016

Seeing the Ghost in the Fog

"I've told people that hunting for spies is like trying to find a ghost in the fog. You've got to believe first of all, that they're there. And you have to have enough drive to keep looking."
- Scott Carmichael, Criminal Investigator (Ret.), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA, the Intelligence arm of the Pentagon).

That is how it is with hunting spies. As confusing as it is, this is also how it is with conspiracy theories or divining political maneuvering in real time. While spy hunters are in dangerous intellectual territory by seeking a foregone conclusion, it is typically after being alerted to an actual threat based on real intelligence, having been analyzed by actual intelligence people, and then seeking out more evidence to support it.

Civilians, amateurs, in fact most Americans, do not have that expertise in field experience.

What they  tend to "find" is typically mere conjecture, pure and simple. Pattern finding of coincidences or potential for something where there really is no something there to be found. Much of that has to do with "feel good" findings, possible and sometimes not even plausible situations that support their polarized contentions and beliefs about things that simply do not exist.

And I'm not even getting into things like "confirmation bias".

Yet for some their nice and tidy faux beliefs serve their purpose in the moment, if not in an historical context.

Is the left doing this or that? Are those on the right pulling something yet again? Some easily believe. Some require more proof.

Is Putin attacking the Democrats by releasing a hack of information to Wikileaks to the egoist Assange? Has Putin been working (stealing DNC emails?) to get a most ever defective candidate in Donald Trump elected President becuase they seem to have an admiration society going on between the two of them?

Or becuase Putin thinks Trump would weaken America, especially after a powerhouse like Obama had been in office for eight years as president? Putin manipulating things behind the scenes becuase he wants a defective as president? Trump because he wants to get elected? Two birds on the same branch?
Putin \ Trump, 2020?
People walk past a mural on a restaurant wall depicting US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting each other with a kiss in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Is Trump a Russian dupe? If so, congrats Russia. Professionally speaking, nice work. But I doubt Trump's ego would knowingly allow that. So Putin is either manipulating him without his realizing it or there is (more likely) a disconnected monetary element involved.

Putin in having been KGB trained by an organization who's roots go back to those who developed disinformation and sophisticated means of affecting change in foreign governments, certainly has the background for it. The old Soviet being who the Brits learned disinformation from after years of their being manipulated and who who we then learned it from in WWII. Russia has a lot to be proud of.

This it the type of information that travels like wildfire across a nation. Is it true? Isn't it? Just the fear, the questioning of such information can be some. Consider that some of what in this current election could seem like pressure from outside forces, can at least in part simply be business as (un)usual.

But then as a friend put it on Facebook today: "Just for a second, ignore all of this noise and consider that Vladmir Putin and Kim Jong Il both want Donald Trump to be President." Trump has said things about NK and has said things Putin would like about his interesting in Eastern Europe, among other things. Even our comedy news people, such as Trevor Noah, who is from South Africa and has replaced the amazing Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, can clearly see what is going on with Trump.

Look. If you support Putin, if you think he's a really great guy and a fabulous leader, fine. It's your country. Make your best choices, if and when possible, like we all do (hopefully). Putin has a lot on his plate as does China, as do we.

It's interesting to note where in the 1980s we were told to learn Russian, now we hear we should learn Chinese and Spanish. And yet, China still looks up to Russia as it always has and Putin as well, as a leader who has a status of respect that Chinese leaders have somewhat failed to achieve.

As is said in that video clip about the question of whether we are now in a new Cold War with China and Russia, back during those days you would never have seen 100,000s of Russian students in American universities (though not the same in reverse), or find at the top levels of Chinese government, American educated officials. On the other hand, we may never have had as many operatives, agents and cyber hackers involved in our information gatherings from either of those countries.

Just consider as we need to in America or anywhere, that nationalism can easily and unexpectedly quickly, turn nasty. Remember that the world isn't just about your (our) country, but people. Yes, fight harder for your country, just remember we all need to somehow get along in a world that is ever getting smaller. One day that person you screw over, may be standing in the same room alone with you, pissed off and asking for explanations and reparations.

By the way, this connection between Putin and Trump is not just in my imagination. US Intelligence officials are showing concern, too. As indicated in a recent Huffington Post article:

"According to a former senior intelligence officer,
“Never have we had a candidate so tied to a foreign power, especially one that is so hostile to the U.S. in many ways, and one that is actively messing with our election. Many [in the intelligence community] don’t care about U.S. politics and pride themselves on being nonpartisan, but the ties to Russia are deeply disturbing.”

People are looking to someone to aim their frustration and anger at the election process. They just need to be accurate as it would have repercussions, whatever they decide to do. Were illegal activities involved or simply skirting what is allowed? Does this have to do with the currently self-destructive GOP and will it bring others down with it?

This type of thing may even keep (and has kept) political candidates from office. Only coming out much later that it was false if not completely fabricated information, depending on whether it was respectively, rumor or propaganda; misinformation or disinformation submitted out onto civil society with purely partisan political objectives.

Though sometimes it is just a money generating effort. A publicity stunt by typically right wing media if not by an opponent's political enemies. Some lightly call it, "spin".

This is the problem with much of our news media today as instant information, twenty-four hour news cycles, and for profit news overwhelm fact and reality. They move so quickly that there is little or no time for due diligence on their part, for triangulation of sources and info so that in the end we receive information that can easily be "off". That is off kilter, or completely wrong.

The speed of news today can do irrevocable damage before reality hits. Too often too many never hear a retraction or a rectification. While those who did the damage even if done innocently, get completely away with what is in effect a cancer on society. Many times bad information is not later corrected or apologized for at all.

Sometimes we get news that is simply describing what we can clearly see onscreen during a news report, in a redundant effort that truly serves no purpose whatsoever other than to fill air time. This all leads to forming an information bubble leading to frustration, a desire in individuals to find closure. When much of the time there simply isn't any to be found. Perhaps never will be. Especially when the information being shared is intentionally wrong.

Try to be aware, but also try to "find" what really is going on if and when it truly exists. Are we in a post fact society?

Speak as if you are offering conjecture when you are, because much of the time that is what you are sharing. Pure conjecture. You do yourself a disservice if you present it as fact just because you think you have "found" something, or have been told by others that it is true, or simply wish it were true out of spite.

Rumors and Propaganda.

When I was in the military one of their biggest efforts on a daily basis was to squelch rumors and propaganda before they start running wild. At first when I heard of it I thought it was stupid. That was in basic training. Then with our quarterly security indoctrination and in seeing these things in practice among fellow military and even among their families, I came to understand what the military has long known. The sheer destructive power of those two things.

We actively worked to keep rumors and propaganda in check because when we didn't, bad things happened. Just as we can see today in America at times with absolute nonsense spreading like wildfire.

Today these are frequently compartmentalized on the internet in graphical memes.

Memes as most of us know can be quite entertaining, funny, even useful. But as with so much on the internet, it should only serve as a starting point to then go search for the truth in what it is sharing. Especially in sharing facts. Though they are prime for sharing factoids, false or unproven facts they are are very good for using sarcasm against lies, propaganda and shear foolishness. Though they can also be destructive as most of us have already seen.

When I was young and in the military one of us would tell our Sgt. what we had heard, concerned about it, looking for more informed comment about it. Much of the time he would consider it, then blow it off as just more Rumors and Propaganda. And just about all of the time he was right. It saved us a lot worrying over a lot of nonsense.

It saved us grouping together against the "other", whomever it was the traveling nonsense was about. Much of the time it would be about the higher ups. Therein you get that polarization of us against them in a structure where there is a command line, control that needs to be maintained. Even if it is merely control by truth and reality over that of incorrect information. Control needs to be maintained or it can become extremely dangerous, or at the very least it can damage morale.

We had been told back then that the military was the "perfect society". A microcosm of overall America. So we had to keep rumors and such in check else they would be even more devastating than they can and have been in America at large.

If only America at large showed as much attention and concern over rumors and propaganda as we did in the military, we might not be embedded in such a morass of ignorance and even stupidity as we are today. Instead sadly, many latch onto nonsense and share it as fact. The result of which is quite apparent.

We need to try to realize whenever we are hearing or sharing information , just what might be rumors or propaganda rather than as solid news and information. If we do that we will save us all a great deal of what is currently going on all across this country.

Lies and misery. There can be lots of confusion and frustration in yearning for, observing whatever information can be found when typically there may be too little. Even incorrect information has its appear at times because it is up against such a strong desire for closure and understanding. However we may not now or within the time frame necessary, ever really know the truth.

Especially if we do not have the capacity to understand it in all its complexities as so many of us don't. Especially when at times, simply none can be found.

Let me restate my point and put it into words some will more betterer understand even more clearily stumble into understanding.

I'm not saying I'm any kind of a genius here. Or that I'm an expert. Though I do seemingly and not infrequently have more of a handle on the extent and correlation of some of these things than do some who speak so boldly, so loudly, on them; who do not think they can ever be incorrect. Or who admit they can be incorrect, but never really exhibit that reality.

Sometimes these are people who very possibly do know better, even if they can't openly admit it even to themselves. Sadly if you are sharp, if you are the type to acknowledge these things, if you do try to curb bad information, then you may be some of those who think that this is you too. A part of the masses of people sharing nonsense, when very possibly that's simply not the case. Maybe, you're one of the good ones.

That is the kind of murkiness we're dealing with here. Not all of us realize that and as I have said, some of those who have loudest voices tend to be the most ignorant of their inconsistencies and incorrectness.

All I'm saying here really is this, and excuse my vulgar irritation:

F*cking pay attention people!
Because some of you out there are just spewing total bullsh*t all over the rest of us!
It's damaging what you claim to love most.
What we all love most.
Our country.

 At times it's even going against your own true desires and best interests.
Not to mention it makes you look like a complete tool to those of us who can see it.
You will lose in the end because reality and truth have to win out because truth falls into a slot that simply fits with reality.

Lies disintegrate over time because the bulk of history simply cannot fit into it.
It takes time but, eventually it happens. The truth wins out.

 As for those of you who are not sharing all this nonsense....
Speak the Hell, up! We need you!

Push back against ignorant bullies.
We need you but we need them too!

We need them to start seeing what they are doing and stop it.
They need to come to realize how they are going so far afield into our collective enemy's hands.

 Still there is hope. There's always a sun on the next horizon.

 It's just a matter of how soon we want it to arrive. To shine on the lies and expose the truths.
To warm us in its brilliance. To wrap us in its protective arms of honesty and reality.

It's really just a matter of how long you may want to push back the inevitable in overtaking all the rumors and propaganda that we have been and will continue to be infected with.

There is still hope.
There is always hope.
It's just not based in lies, rumors or propaganda.

Luckily we have candidates who could out president Trump with their eyes closed, in a sandstorm, with the flu and a band hangover. Either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders could do the job.

And it looks like, Hillary. Putin really isn't going to like this as there's no lover lost between the two of them.

But then, this is our election... not his.

Okay, after all this serious stuff how about something fun? (And no, this is not THE Hillary Clinton, it's just a joke, but a very astute one)

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