One Nation, Under Attack

Over 100,000 Americans died in a pandemic our President chose to ignore.

Yet, large numbers of Americans believe the Coronavirus Pandemic is a hoax, and they are aggressively breaking the rules designed to protect us from the spread of the virus.

Why is this happening?

Information warfare became a hot topic in the United States shortly after Trump took office, but as a concept, it is hard to understand.

How can people in Moscow or Vietnam use bots to convince people in the United States to make decisions that destroy their lives?

It seems outlandish.

But it’s not new.

Everything I know about espionage I learned from Mission Impossible, which means I know almost nothing.

But the premise of a team of covert operatives who use disinformation, deception, and staged scenarios to achieve military goals suggests a general public awareness of ‘Perception Management’ or ‘Reflexive Control’ in Cold War America.

Most of the public information regarding Information Warfare uses the dense academic language of specialists.

In writing this, I simplified the language and paraphrased quotes, I strive for accuracy, but translations are rarely perfect; the reference material is available for download at the end of the post.

Mass Media as an Arm of the Armed Forces
Russia Views Mass Media as an Arm of the Armed Forces

What is Information Warfare, as defined by Russia?

To paraphrase the Russian Ministry of Defense: “Information War is the confrontation between two or more states to damage institutions and resources by undermining political, economic and social systems with a psychological attack so massive it destabilizes a nation and its government.Russia’s Information Warfare, Exploring the Cognitive Dimension.

A massive psychological attack.

A collage of Russian Facebook ads found online
A grouping of Russian Facebook ads

Americans who think the Russian attack on the 2016 election was mere ‘meddling’  to sow chaos are wrong.

Putin spent years preparing to ‘meddle,’ and the Russian attack continues into 2020,  with co-ordinated attempts to sabotage our Coronavirus Pandemic response.

These are explicit acts of ongoing aggression.

What is Reflexive Control?

The concept of ‘Reflexive Control’ emerged in the 1950s when Soviet Scientists searched for ways to optimize the use of computer technology and cybernetics for the military.

In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev reportedly said the Soviet Union would destroy the United States from ‘within’. He had ‘reflexive control’ in mind.

Russia studied the United States and continued to analyze our strengths, weaknesses, and divisions after the end of the Cold War.

As an observer, Russia can potentially know Americans better than we know ourselves.

According to the New York Times, “… “Reflexive Control” is a military tactic to control the enemy’s perceptions, to convince him to ‘reflexively’ act against his interests.

To achieve Reflexive Control, you must study the enemy, know how the enemy thinks.

Russia uses ‘insight’ into our intellectual and regional differences to model our decision-making process to target specific groups with the half-truths and lies most likely to provoke a ‘reflexive’ decision that benefits Russia at our expense.

Screenshot of a 1983 disinformation campaugn that falsely claims the U.S. Invented the Aids virus
How Do Russia’s Lies Distort Your Perceptions of Reality

A Personal Experience:

In 1986 Right-wing  activist Lyndon LaRouche Jr. successfully launched Proposition 64:

Prop 64 “Declares that AIDS is an infectious, contagious and communicable disease and that the condition of being a carrier of the HTLV-III virus is an infectious, contagious and communicable condition. Requires both be placed on the list of reportable diseases and conditions maintained by the director of the Department of Health Services. Provides that both are subject to quarantine and isolation statutes and regulations. Provides that the Department of Health Services personnel and all health officers shall fulfill the duties and obligations set forth in specified statutory provisions to preserve the public health from AIDS.”

The men of the Castro thought the State of California was ready to round us up and send us to camps.

That year I heard a rumor, later confirmed by Dan Rather: the U.S. government – specifically the Pentagon – created the AIDS virus to kill blacks and gays.

I believed the story and hated my government for the suffering it caused.

But the story was a Soviet fabrication, a lie, disinformation designed to incite paranoia and mistrust among Americans who had reason to believe the worst.

As a youth, I became a gay activist because I had faith in my government’s commitment to reason and justice and was courageous enough to one day admit the mistake of discriminating against me.

As a ‘reflexive’ reaction to Russia’s lie, I lost faith in my government and viewed everything it did with suspicion, and for a short time, stopped voting.

The government restored myfaith on June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage.”

Read the story of how Russia made this and other lies go viral before social media.

Prop 64 lost, btw.

During the Cold War, hundreds of salacious and bogus headlines around the world appeared, part of a covert playbook of Russian disinformation used to undermine America.- NBC News

Insight is called ‘reflex.’

A Russian Facebook page called 'Woke Blacks"
A Russian Facebook Page for ‘Woke Blacks’
A Russian Facebook ad for Southern Heritage
A Russian Facebook ad for Southern Heritage

The side with the most ‘reflex’ wins.

The Russian Federation

Most of the journals I read describe the Russian Federation as a corrupt capitalist country controlled by oligarchs, the Russian Mob, and remnants of the Soviet Union’s KGB.

President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, trained in Psychological Warfare beleives, “Russia’s approaches to conflict between nations “are to be based on intellectual superiority. They will be asymmetrical and less costly.”

Intellectual superiority = ‘reflex’.

‘Setting the stage.’

Russia used several methods to profile Americans. This 2018 video published by the Wall Street Journal describes the profiling of African Americans in 2014.

“Intelligence services are interested in personal information because they’re trying to find a weak point, and trying to find ways of making this person do what they need done. If you can insert false or misleading information into a government agency’s decision-making process, or into a policy maker’s decision-making process or even a voter’s decision-making process, you can have an impact on how the United States reacts to Russia or to other powers around the world.” Former Special Agent Leo Taddeo

Cambridge Analytica spent $1m, harvesting millions of Facebook profiles in early 2014 to build a system to profile individual U.S. voters to target them with personalized political advertisements.

Screenshot of antisemitic propaganda produced by the Russian Internet Research Agenc
Antisemitic propaganda produced by Russia’s Internet Research Agency
A Russian Facebook ad that blames Black Lives Matter for Policeman's death
Anti Black Lives Matter propaganda produced by Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

In this 2018 video, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie describes how Cambridge Analytica turned Facebook likes into a political tool.

Screenshot of a russian facebook ad blaiming immigrants for American poverty
LIKE if you agree

Reflexive Control is most effective when targets are unaware of it. Even when lies are exposed, the effects linger, fueling division, and conspiracy theories.  If a nation’s people are extremely divided, Russia’s lies are used by the opposing sides to intensify political conflicts.

Example: 49% of voters polled by Gallup approve of Trump’s performance as President despite his mishandling of a pandemic that has killed over a hundred thousand Americans.


The simplest way to understand reflexive control is to think of it as non -stop marketing campaign on speed designed to convince people to self destruct.

Russia views civilians as legitimate targets, so we are suffering the effects of an ongoing psychological attack, all of us.

The most effective way to protect yourself is to be aware that you are a target.

Take a close look at the tweet that pisses you off?  Is it divisive? Does it use loaded language?

When you read a story,  notice the language, verify the source,  mistrust ‘breaking stories’ without links to credible sources.

The New York Times and MSNBC are credible sources. Art by Rob Goldstein isn’t, at least, for verifying a news story.

Again, know you are a target, Information Warfare exploits your vulnerabilities.

A russian facebook ad that depicts Bernie Sanders as a gay superhero
A Pro-Bernie appeal to the LGBTQ community from Russia’s Internet Research Agency

Russian operatives are working to subvert Joe Biden. They will post smears and racially charged content designed to go viral.

Question content about Biden that causes a ‘reflexive’ or intensely negative emotional reaction.

Update: May 28, 2020

EuroMaidan Press is an online English-language independent newspaper launched in 2014 by Ukrainian volunteers.

Part of Russia’s hybrid war, which is based on a Soviet secret technique of reflexive control. The virtual reality Russia creates has the aim of altering its victims’ vision of reality. Wearing Russian-made glasses, they make the political decisions Russia wants without suspecting a thing.


You can also find ‘One Nation, Under Attack‘ on #DemCast

Vote D for Democracy
#DemCast Graphic

(c) Rob Goldstein 2020

All images used in this post found and twitter and Google. I use them for educational purposes.

‘One Nation, Under Attack” by Rob Goldstein (c) 2020

Below is the downloadable source material for this post.

Reflexive Control Thomas_2004

Cognitive Bias and Reflexive Control

The NATO Handbook of Information Warfare

 

 

Trauma in a Culture of Abuse

In late November, I planned a short break from my blog to focus on Trump’s Impeachment.

I listened in shock as witnesses like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified to crimes that included threats on her life.

Screenshot_2020-05-21 Marie Yovanovitch calls Trump's disparaging tweet 'intimidating'

After the House impeached Trump for extortion, I watched in horror as elected Republican officials used their positions, and media access to spread the smear Trump demanded of the President of Ukraine.

Republican Senator threatens to impeach Joe Biden

I felt personally betrayed when the Republican Senate voted to acquit Trump without hearing witnesses.

I went numb with fear and shut down.

When faced with life-threatening circumstances, most mammals shut down and play dead and hope the predator will go away.

I felt like a five-year-old trapped in a community of violent and corrupt adults. I switched to an abusive ‘protector’ alternate that silences me by telling me I am a nothing, doing nothing, and hopelessly bad at it.

Threatened children must not be seen or heard.

CPTSD  and Institutional Betrayal

C-PTSD is a cluster of symptoms caused by chronic childhood trauma such as physical assault, sexual assault, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, and threats of violence and death.  People with C-PTSD often suffer from feelings of betrayal, defeat, and shame.

“Instead of a single traumatic event leading to mental and emotional symptoms, complex PTSD is believed to be caused by chronic or prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences. “It’s the concentration camp, the person in a bomb shelter in Syria, the soldier in war or child suffering sexual or physical abuse. It’s happening to you, or you’re witnessing it,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, associate chair of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.” US News and World Report

As a child, I felt hopeless as the neighbors and social services that should have stopped my Mother’s abuse did nothing or became part of it.

‘Betrayal Trauma’ is the systematic abuse by a parent, a trusted leader, or an institutional authority figure, like the President and his government.

Institutional betrayal is potent because it represents a profound and fundamental violation of trust in a necessary dependency relationship. In that sense, it is similar to abuse in close relationships – it can be more harmful than abuse by a stranger. The breach of trust, unreciprocated loyalty, and exposure to retaliation are like a knife in the back. The Wiley Online Library

Recovery is finding the will to believe that life is more than a savage facade of well-mannered hypocrisy and hate.

The Shutdown

Stay Home
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I was in the aftermath of lingering flu when the pandemic and shutdowns began; my partner was away, taking care of his Mother.

I’ve spent the shutdown in isolation, triggered, and regressed to the darkest years of my childhood.

I’ve watched the President of the United States murder his citizens and gaslight us into accepting it.

A week in late November became an agony of months.

Writing this,  I found a recent essay at @CNN by

He writes about a world of people who are afraid to touch each other and how it feels to lose the lives we took for granted: life before the trauma of betrayal:

“Do you remember who you used to be? Before you were told that anyone could kill you? Before you were conditioned to avoid people the way you might avoid malignant obstacles in a video game? Before your brain rewired itself toward a continual search for the proper angle of evasion, the likely field of airborne dispersion, the space least contaminated by human touch?”

All this fear will have lasting consequences. We cannot know what they will be. Last Sunday, we had a visitor, a friend I’d known since childhood. Jessica knew and loved all our children, especially the youngest. Jessica got out of the car and sat on our front steps. We walked outside and stood at a safe distance. The 2-year-old ran toward her. Jessica told her to stay back.
“And she looked at me with the saddest eyes ever,” Jessica told me later. “And that broke my heart.”
It hurts to be treated like a monster.

How it feels to live in fear of each other

There isn’t a rape victim, an abused child, an unjustly imprisoned migrant, a hungry vet, or a homeless schizophrenic who doesn’t know how it hurts to be treated like a monster.

There isn’t an LGBTQ person on this planet who doesn’t know how badly it hurts.

There isn’t a parent who loses a child in a school shooting who doesn’t know
how badly it hurts.

We are a nation of traumatized survivors.

Can we stop the abuse, accept that it happened, and heal?

As I emerge from the ‘freeze,’ I can return to the blog.

For my next post, I am compiling a list of online resources for people who want to learn more about Information and Psychological Warfare.

Loyal Americans placed their lives and reputations on the line to warn us that we are under attack and on our own; we don’t have to be Agents of Shield to learn a few basic principles of psychological warfare.

People are hurting in different ways, and we’ve had a rough five months.

I hope everyone is coping and staying as healthy as possible.

I look forward to catching up with your blogs.

I also look forward to hearing about how you’re coping.

Update May 23: The focus of Art by Rob Goldstein for the next 164 days is pro-democracy essays and art and articles from advocacy groups like #DemCast.

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Flip The Senate 2020 - DemCast
Graphic by Cris Palomino

A note about comments:

I am not OK with over a hundred thousand dead Americans.

Screenshot_2020-05-23 Opinion America’s True Covid Toll Already Exceeds 100,000

If you are a trump supporter, don’t follow or comment on my blog.

Thanks

(c) Rob Goldstein, May 21, 2020

This post is dedicated to my friend, Scott Baser, who reminded me of why I write.  Thanks, Scott

Introducing My First Chapbook: A Skeleton in the Attic

I took a break in September, returned in early October to post Teagan Geneviene’s feature, then decided I wasn’t ready to resume posting.

Why?

Trump’s impeachment.

There is so much news; keeping up with it feels like a full time job.

I may limit myself to two posts a week during the impeachment.

Now to the point of this post:

A Skeleton in the Attic

Illustration for a Skeleton in the Attic
Illustration for a Skeleton in the Attic

I realized my goal of publishing a book of poems was unreasonable for a man with no experience in online publishing, so I took a break.

I started the break by evaluating different programs for self-publishing and discovered Ourboox.

Ourboox is a free platform and seems ideal for writers who are new to online publishing.

I researched the company and the founder, Mel Rosenberg, is exactly who he
says he is:

Mel Rosenberg is a microbiologist best known for his research into treatment of bad breath; he went to a children’s book fair in Bologna and came home with the idea of a free web based platform for publishing children’s books.

The template is limited but flexible.

If you’ve used WordPress Classic, Ourboox is easy.

The e-books I saw on the Ourboox site reminded me of chapbooks.

What is a Chapbook?

A chapbook is “a small book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads, stories, or religious tracts” (dictionary) The term is still used today to refer to short, inexpensive booklets. MIT

The Cover of Jack the Giant Killer
Jack the Giant Killer chapbook title page

Chapbooks were the zines of early modern Europe and played an important role in the history of publishing and literacy. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, chapbooks were the most popular way to disseminate poetry and children’s books: they were easy to make and cheap. Wikipedia

Chapbooks are still a popular way for poets to publish, especially street poets, who distribute their chapbooks for donations.

The last page of the Ourboox template invites the reader to donate to your PayPal account.

I loved with the idea of using Ourboox to publish an online chapbook; it felt like a perfect way to begin publishing.

A Skeleton in the Attic is a short story about a little boy who finds a skeleton in his attic and makes friends with it.

I wrote the story in the 1980’s and revised it many times over the years.

I used VR to make the illustrations.

I suppose if I want to, I can release a Skeleton in the Attic on Amazon, but for
now, this ‘chapbook’ format on Ourboox is ideal.

If you read the book and like it,  please leave a thumbs up on the upper right of the screen.

Leave a Like
As I understand it, ‘likes’ will move the book into the featured books section.

Click the image to read the book

Bookcover for a Skeleton in the Attic
or click the link below:

A Skeleton in the Attic

 

Images and text (c) Rob Goldstein 2019

Turn or Burn, When Hate Becomes Normal

‘Turn or burn’ is a reference to the 16th Century practice of the burning heretics and homosexuals alive.

First posted Jun 17, 2016

Political ideologues know what’s going on inside of angry men like Dan White, and they know how to use it.

A homophobic Meme showing Donald Trump saying, Get in Faggot, We're Making America Great Again
Homophobic Meme found on Twitter

Dan White grew up a world of normalized homophobia.

Queers were criminals in the eyes of the law, abominations to the Judeo-Christian God, and described as clinically deviant by psychiatry.

White’s political leaders and ministers told him his honor as a man was under attack; they said perverts like Harvey Milk were a threat to everything decent God-fearing men like Dan White revered.

Dan White was a straight man.

Dan White was a Viet Nam Vet.

Dan White was a devout Catholic.

Religious and political leaders on the right raged that fags like Harvey Milk and liberals like George Moscone deserved death.

Political leaders who use hate speech to ‘fire up’ their base know that some of those people will act on what they hear.

They want violence and plausible deniability.

Screenshot from NBC News

Dan White had reason to think he’d be seen as a hero when he gunned down Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1978.

Herb Cain, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote after the trial about the police department’s support for White, and their “dislike of homosexuals.”

As a former police officer, White knew he could use some form of the ‘Gay Panic’ defense and get a reduced sentence.

 Historically, in US courts, use of the gay panic defense has not typically resulted in the acquittal of the defendant; instead, the defendant was usually found guilty, but on lesser charges, or judges and juries may have cited homosexual solicitation as a mitigating factor, resulting in reduced culpability and sentences. Wikipedia

That’s what happened.

White’s defense attorney’s argued diminished mental capacity.

On May 21, 1979, a jury found Dan White guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced him to five years in prison; he earned paroled in 1984.

“A middle-class jury, not a bunch of kooks by any stretch, had decided one can kill, twice, complete with coup de grace, and get away with it.” Herb Caen, People Magazine, 1985

Dan White killed himself in 1985.

“Nobody knows what’s going on inside of me,” Dan White once said, but he was wrong.

Right-wing ideologues know what’s going on inside of depressed and angry white men like Dan White, and they know how to use it.

A meme that depicts a permit to hunt democrata and liberals
Liberal Hunting Permit found on a right-wing website in 2016

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2016-2020 all rights reserved

Memes found on the internet used for educational purposes
Header Image, (c) Rob Goldstein 2020

 

 

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Now is the Time We All Need A Great Leader~

‘We need words and acts of wisdom, ethics, and compassion, from our leaders’  Cindy Knoke

We need words and acts of wisdom, ethics and compassion, from our leaders now more than ever. Since this is utterly lacking, take heart from the words of a truly gifted leader that could never be more relevant than today.

Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) addresses the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963

“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

“I Have a Dream”, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

My heart breaks for George Floyd, his family, and our country. Are we not better people than this?

There are no cheers…

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The Value of Life in a Pandemic

The Value of Life in a Pandemic

As of the morning of April 23, 2020, 47,992 Americans have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus sweeping across the earth.  The first known US death from COVID-19 was on February 6, 2020, so all of the 47,992 died in slightly less than 2 ½ months.  In comparison, the 15-year US military death toll in the Vietnam War, from 1961-1975, was 58,220.  On April 22nd, my 86-year-old aunt became one of those COVID-19 death statistics.

Over the past several days, we’ve been hearing calls for reopening the government.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said, “There are more important things than living.” when asked about the dangers of reopening the state too early.  Indiana Representative Trey Hollingsworth said about the potential loss of life that “it is the lesser of these two evils” in calling for reopening the economy.

In a 25-minute interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called for opening the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, without offering any plan for social distancing or other safety measures.  Instead, she said she offered to use the crowded casinos as a “control group” to test what going back to normal conditions would do to the local coronavirus infection and death rates.  When Cooper asked her if she would be on the casino floors each night, showing the world that it was safe, she deflected the question. Once again, as has happened over and over again in history, the rich and powerful are ready to sacrifice other people’s children, parents, siblings, relatives, and friends to protect their fortunes and power.

The Value of Life in a Pandemic

Mindy Schwartz is a blogger, life-long political activist, pet nutritionist, wife, daughter, DogMom, DemCast California Content Captain, and Jew. She is equally proud of all of those roles.

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid to promote #DemCast, and Demcast does not pay me to write.