Saturday, September 9, 2017

Covert Assaults On Our Democracy Getting Noticed At Last

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

The mainstream media is finally starting to get it. They haven't yet declared that we are at war with both foreign and domestic adversaries bent on dismantling our democracy, but they are starting to report on the outlines of the cognitive warfare raging against us in the media universe.

A recent New York Times editorial piece broadens awareness of the means by which Russia influenced our 2016 election.
"But as a startling investigation by Scott Shane of The New York Times, and new research by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, now reveal, the Kremlin’s stealth intrusion into the election was far broader and more complex, involving a cyberarmy of bloggers posing as Americans and spreading propaganda and disinformation to an American electorate on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms."  

And a New York Times Op-Ed piece today by Siva Vaidhyanathan provides further insight into how Facebook allowed (and continues to allow) Russia to influence American politics.
"On Wednesday, Facebook revealed that hundreds of Russia-based accounts had run anti-Hillary Clinton ads precisely aimed at Facebook users whose demographic profiles implied a vulnerability to political propaganda. It will take time to prove whether the account owners had any relationship with the Russian government, but one thing is clear: Facebook has contributed to, and profited from, the erosion of democratic norms in the United States and elsewhere." 
Here is another rather scary quote from this Op-Ed:
" We are in the midst of a worldwide, internet-based assault on democracy. Scholars at the Oxford Internet Institute have tracked armies of volunteers and bots as they move propaganda across Facebook and Twitter in efforts to undermine trust in democracy or to elect their preferred candidates in the Philippines, India, France, the Netherlands, Britain and elsewhere. We now know that agents in Russia are exploiting the powerful Facebook advertising system directly."
Even if there was no direct collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the last electionD, there is strong evidence that the rogue interests of certain Western billionaires and Russian oligarchs have converged. Breaking down the economic barriers that keep wealth and power in check under civilian controlled democracies and the goal of undermining the strength and unity of Western democracies to strengthen Vladimir Putin's global influence are essential aligned.

The Facebook, Twitter and alt-right media assaults on public perceptions during the 2016 election were not only parallel, but closely coordinated to produce the surprising outcome of Donald Trump winning the Presidency. The proof of this is slowly emerging. 

What is even less appreciated now is the ongoing media assaults aimed at Trump's supporters to maintain their loyalty and their perception that he is saving America from a "deep state" takeover of our government, or from radical Islamist trying to establish Sharia law, etc. 

We are at war. It is a new kind of cognitive warfare directed at altering our perceptions and dis-uniting us as a nation. It began long before the last election season.. and so far it's working.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville Battlefield - Follow the Money!

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW



Charlottesville isn't so much a turning point as a tipping point where a long standing social problem became a passionate social issue for the rest of us, as it should have been sooner. The media's periodic stories of hate crimes and hate groups over the years just didn't catch our attention.

Back when this latest iteration of white supremacy started growing again during the 1980's, it was financed by bank robberies and break-in's with the proceeds being shared around the country with various other hate group chapters. 

Think about that for a moment. 

The oxygen needed to organize and grow these hate groups is the same as for any other enterprise. It takes money... lots of it. 

So how much money does it take to sustain and operate this huge national, in fact global, white supremacy movement today? Who provided the cash to pay for all those tiki torches,the military equipment and the uniforms worn by so many alt-right protesters? Who provides the money to support the targeted alt-right media campaigns required to convert, recruit and motivate so many young white men? Who coordinated and subsidized the transportation needed to get everyone there and back, and where did the money come from to pay for it all? Who would want to harm our country and paralyze our politics so much that they would provide tens of millions of dollars to sustain this sick movement? 

I don't have answers, but these are among the questions we should be asking. Since it is obvious the movement is no longer being funded by bank robberies these days, and since it is a global movement with strong elements in Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy (to name a few), it is likely that funding for this movement is coming from wealthy sources that what to diminish or control Western democratic countries like ours. 


I suspect foreign sources are ultimately behind the growth of hate groups here and abroad. You might think I'm crazy, but if I'm correct, this is just another aspect of the new type of warfare raging against us.Power and control are behind this movement. The haters themselves are only brainwashed pawns in a much larger game.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Immigration - Let's Change the Narrative

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

IMMIGRATION - Immigration is largely an economic migration driven by huge wealth inequality. Start there if you want to understand it. 

Most people prefer to live in the country where they were born. The United States has a history of exploiting foreign countries and extracting their natural resources for domestic gain. Foreign economies start to falter as a result, and we (through the World Bank) lone them money until they can't afford the payments. The quality of life in those countries deteriorates to the point that people can't feed their families. The breadwinners migrate here to find work and send back money to feed their family. Or they bring their families here, breaking through whatever barriers stand in their way, because they love their family and don't want to see their children suffer. Understand this cycle and a whole different set of solutions to immigration become apparent. 

A whole new conversation emerges when the full cycle of immigration is understood. It is a problem we helped create as we pursue foreign policies that mostly benefit private corporate interests.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

E pluribus unum and Our Call to Be a Beacon

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

As we fall into the shadows of the propaganda wars raging to divide us, it is more important than ever to hold our focus on the principles and values that united America in the first place. From our founding we were uniquely conceived in the world of nations that existed in the 1700's. We are the first nation built on shared values rather than shared religion, tribe, geography, common language, ethnicity or race. We are still an experiment well conceived, if poorly lead. From the beginning we place the universal needs of human beings and the universal rights of every individual at the center of a system of self-government. From the start, and throughout our history, we are a nation of truly global diversity united by common dreams and shared values.

"E pluribus unum" is our motto. It's printed on our currency. It means "out of many, one." This is the essence of who we are as a nation or, more accurately, what we strive to become as a people. We are bonded by nature to all who hold "... these truths to be self evident." We fought and died in a bloody civil war that tested whether this nation, "... or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." We are still here. We are still called to be a beacon for a world in which ethnic and cultural diversity is a new and scary transition. If the United States of America can't be both diverse and united after 241 years, if our experiment to make self-government work in a pluralistic society falters, what hope is there for a world where massive cultural migrations are challenging nation identities unaccustomed to such diversity.

In this spirit of unity I recommend this recent article by Rebekah Entralgo in ThinkProgress. It is a brief article that highlights one example where our history and ideals are being undermined.


Online racists celebrated Miller’s performance.
THINKPROGRESS.ORG

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Frontlines in the Cyber War Against America


by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Does it seem like many supporters of Donald Trump are out of touch with reality? Why are they so dismissive of claims that Russia attacked our election? Even in the face of truly damning information about how the Donald Trump Jr. colluded with Russian's to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, the far right and their Representatives in Congress seem unmoved. Why?

Map of cyber activity by Right-wing websites during the 2016 election to counter mainstream media advantage.

I set out to answer that question. Recognizing that computer algorithms currently use by social media keep me from viewing the conversations of those who don't share my views, I began reading conservative websites such as Breitbart and Info Wars for clues. I forced myself to listened to broadcasts of the Alex Jones Radio Show on Info Wars. For those who don't know him, Alex Jones is a popular right-wing talk show host. He has millions of listeners and claims those numbers are growing as Fox News numbers decline. He admonished Fox News for having lost its conservative edge. He is also the manager or owner of a number of conservative media outlets.

You probably are familiar with Breitbart. It was initially financed by recluse billionaire, Robert Mercer. Steve Bannon was the man in charge there until after this past last election.

As I browsed through these websites, one particular radio show caught my attention. I listened in detail (took notes) to a radio broadcast of Alex Jones on July 12, 2017. Using this as a starting point, after sampling other content on both Breitbart and Infor Wars, some patterns emerged that I want to share.

First, the verbiage of Alex Jones' show can't be easily unpacked. It is dense with disinformation, oblique references, inflammatory innuendos and repetitive conservative and nativist memes. The overall narrative establishes and affirms an alternative frame of reference for his conservative listeners. The broadcasts contain a blitz of buzz words and references to long debunked Obama era scandals, as I would characterize them, woven into a story line that alters the context of current events. The content is clearly intended to evoke strong emotions in the listener.

But the biggest insight was that these conservative sites ring exactly the same alarm bells about democracy under attack and a pending authoritarian takeover that those on the left worry about. Info Wars also points to the same means and methods used to attack America as do the rest of us, such as disinformation programs and internet propaganda. But these conservative websites substitute Islamic jihadists for Russian oligarchs, and they substitute "Marxist" liberals for right-wing nationalists.

In effect this counter narrative creates two American world views that are mirror images. It unites us in our worst fears for American democracy while irreconcilably dividing us politically. We agree that we are at war conducted through information warfare, but we see different enemies waging that war against us and different ideas on what those foreign enemies want to accomplish. We can't come to any mutual understanding of our common fears as long as we have an entirely different framework and different sets of facts.

For factual confirmation of the conservative world view listeners are referred to other conservative websites, such as understandingthethreat.com. Here is what that site says about its founder:

John Guandolo is the Founder of UnderstandingtheThreat.com, an organization dedicated to providing strategic and operational threat-focused consultation, education, and training for federal, state and local leadership and agencies, and designing strategies at all levels of the community to defeat the enemy.

That enemy is radical Islam. Guandolo's website promotes the view that the real threats to America originates from Middle East terrorist organizations. The site has been active since June of 2012 and appears to be hosted in Montreal, Canada, according to domain registration data.

On the other side, Rachael Maddow had Michael Carpenter on her show recently. He was a U.S. Deputy Assistant Director of Defense before retirement. His take on our strategic threats places Russia at the center of the attacks on our democracy. From what he saw in the past, the cyber operations during the last election are consistent with what Russia has employed in places like the Ukraine. Typically, Russia seeks proxies and allies in the foreign countries they attack to help carry out the cyber operations. They try to penetrate the networks of insurgent political groups seeking power within their county. They do this, and help support those groups, to have influence as those groups gain power. Carpenter has no doubt that this has included infiltrating far right-wing groups in America and, by extension, the GOP.

For Alex Jones, his constellation of media outlets continue to create and maintaining this alternative world view focused on terrorists as the existential to America democracy. Those who believe this are convinced the investigations of the Trump Administration are witch hunts and that the allegations of Russian interference are smokescreens by the "deep state" to conceal a leftist Islamist takeover of America. They point to their universe of alternate facts, theories and political conspiracies to prove there is an unholy alliance between the liberal elites and Islamist jihadists seeking to impose Sharia Law on America. They deny the DNC was hacked by Russia, claiming there is no evidence. They see the accusation itself is proof of "deep state" preparations for a coup against Donald Trump. Even more moderate Republicans are held in suspicion. One guest on Alex Jones' show said, "The GOP establishment hates Trump more than MSNBC." In other words, the Republican establishment is also complicit with the liberal elites in working with Hamas and other Islamic groups to bring about an authoritarian state and Sharia Law in America. The CIA, NSA and FBI are all in on it and can't be trusted.

The Goal of Islamic radicals, according to Alex Jones, is to create chaos in America; to destabilize us so that out of the chaos jihadists can bring about revolution, an authoritarian state and implementation of Sharia Law. Rodger Stone, a guest on his show, said, The elite have to assume there will be no elections in the future, but a global takeover. An authoritarian state in America."

Alex Jones defines Sharia Law as total warfare against our culture, social institutions, political systems, military systems, our media and our American way of life. According to Jones, these jihadists are experts in political influence operations. Note that this is just what our Intelligence community is saying about Russia.

These are the alt-right media voices that conservative GOP members in the House and Senate are hearing on their radio. These are the sentiments reflected in their core constituents, their power base. Is it any wonder they hardly react to the US Intelligence community's warning about Russia? The men and women of the GOP are just as patriotic as any of us, but they are straddling two very different world views. They have to know that both worlds can't be true. Either the Russians are undermining our democracy in league with ultra conservative oligarchs to divided America, or it is the Islamic extremists doing the same thing in league with liberal Democrats and the deep state (i.e., our Intelligence community).

Since even the most conservative GOP members aren't ranting in the halls of Congress about jihadists destroying American democracy, I assume they have picked which scenario is more likely. But they also know how to stay in power. Even if a Republican lawmaker doesn't share their constituents views they can't challenge their base without losing their seat. The GOP is, in fact, compromised.

I said earlier that the content of Alex Jones' show is densely packed with disinformation. In fairness, I'm sure his regular listeners have no problem understanding his messages. If they were to watch Chris Hayes or Rachael Maddow, they would have the same critique as me of those shows. We really do have two different perceptual realities. The forces creating this schism require that they are well organized, well funded and very entrenched to pull this off. It's time to uncover everyone involved in this disinformation warfare that is tearing us apart. It's time to fight back, reunite and restore our republic.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Un-Rig the System - Publicly Elected, Non-Partisan Boards of Election

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

It's time! 

Un-rig the System - take all election responsibilities out of the hands of those in power. 

Let's establish nonpartisan state and local public boards of election via publically elected membership. Disqualify any election board candidates who hold or have held any public office, other than board of education. Disqualify any candidate who holds, or has held a leadership position in any political party. Give these elected, non-partisan boards the power and responsibility to re-draw voting districts, manage voter registration, maintain and operate voting equipment, manage and conduct elections, draft ballots, count and preserve physical ballots and prepare their own budgets. Require these boards to submit all major changes regarding voting practices, methods or redistricting proposals for public referendum. 

Let the people control the mechanics of democracy. Take that power out of the hands of elected representatives who eventually abuse that power to stay in power. 

Repost, RE-tweet or email this to friends if you thing there is any merit to it. Thanks!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

WE ARE AT WAR!

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

To say we are at war isn't hyperbole, or exaggeration. We are in a real war with real adversaries and real human consequences. It isn't a "shock and awe" kinetic war as in the past where things go bang, although that happens occasionally.  It is a new type of  global war being waged against Western style, civilian controlled democracies. Our adversaries are powerful, and wealthy, and well on their way to dominating our world. But the most shocking fact is that this war has been raging and escalating, for decades while most of us remain aware. 

The  Canadian professor, philosopher and media theorist, Marshall McLurhan predicted that this war was coming. Most of us know him by his quote, made famous in the 1960's, "The medium is the message." Few know he also said, "World War III will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation." How could any of us have understood this at a time well before personal computers, email, the internet and social media?

The mechanisms of this war are relentless media attacks to alter our public discourse, weaken our faith in public institutions and self-government, amplify disunity along social fault lines, polarize our politics, distract us, alienate us and pits us against each other. It is a war that assaults our collective consciousness.  It erases or rewrites our history for sinister gain. It attacks our core beliefs, undermines our principles, debauches our morality, occludes our access to knowledge and obscures all truth. In the end, it re-sculpts our culture to better serve the enemies of civil society.

I know this account of the war will likely fall into the silent media abyss that swallows almost every minority narrative.  It is up to you and me to support the authentic voices of real people and insist that we be heard in this social medium that surrounds us.

(end of part 1)


Part II
- The evidence of war is all around us. (Read Propaganda in Digital Age

- And who are these adversaries?  What do they want?

- It isn't just me saying it either. 

- Who are our allies in this war? Who do we recruit other citizens?

- Where is the People's army in this war? What are their weapons? Who are our future heroes?


[If you have read this far, please help me write part 2 of this account of war by writing your responses to the topic listed above.  Take a risk. Speak out. Send me your ideas and links to articles you want me to read. Don't make me write this alone... ]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Blood on Their Hands" - Trump Attacks the Judiciary

by Brian T. Lynch

President Donald Trump is fomenting a constitutional crisis that he cannot be allowed to win. In an official White House press release today, Donald Trump's Administration said elected officials in San Francisco "... have the blood of dead Americans on their hands" for opposing the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order that would strip away the city's federal funding for not fully engaging in federal immigration enforcement efforts.  The press release said, "Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation."

The press release was a response to a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and other county officials requesting an injunction against enforcement of financial sanctions against them. They argued that the Executive Order is unconstitutional.

After hearing both sides of oral arguments in federal court, Judge William H. Orrick granted the injunction against the Administration, barring it from withdrawing any federal funding to cities and counties until after the issue can be adjudicated in a trial. In the judges legal opinion, the merits of the case presented by the city and counties would likely prevail at trial.

Summary of Judge Orrick's Ruling.

According to Judge Orrick's ruling, the Trump Administrations Sanctuary Cities Executive Order:

1.    Violates the separation of powers because it improperly seeks to wield congressional spending powers

2.    Is overbroad and coercive, violates 10th Amendment prohibition against commandeering local jurisdictions

3.    Is so vague and standardless that it violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause

4.    Deprives local jurisdictions of Congress' allocated funds without notice or opportunity to be heard, violating the procedural due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment and because the Counties have not been named “sanctuary jurisdictions” pursuant to the Trump Administration Order

Judge Orrick's goes on to detail the substance of this federal court hearing: 
  • Trump's lawyers said at oral argument the Sanctuary Order is merely an exercise of the President’s “bully pulpit” to highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement. Administration lawyers didn't even respond to the constitutionality of the order itself, but instead argued that the Counties lack any standing in the court as the Executive Order didn't change existing law
  • Under the Administration's interpretation of the Order, as presented by Trump Administration's lawyers in court, Section 9(a) applies only to three federal grants in the DOJ and DHS, and provisions to withhold federal funding under those three grants can already be enforce under existing law.
  • Trump's own lawyers in court disavowed the Government's right to affect most of the billions of dollars in federal funds that sanctuary cities receive every year
  • Yet other language the Executive Order tries to include all other federal grants, and all federal funding as subject to sanctions against municipalities that don't comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts. 
  • President Trump called his Order “a weapon” to use against these jurisdictions. 
  • The Attorney General warned that jurisdictions that do not comply with Section 1373 would suffer “withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants,” and the “claw back” of any funds previously awarded
  • The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order cannot place new conditions on federal funds
  • The Tenth Amendment requires that federal funds be unambiguous, must bear some relationship to the funds purposes and that the financial incentive cannot be coercive.
  • Federal funding that bears no relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened because a city has chosen an immigration enforcement plan which is at odds with the Administration's plans
  • Judge Orrack therefore granted the County's request for an injunction to prevent the Administration from withholding federal funding until after full hearing on the matter determines whether the Order is constitutional, saying "... this injunction does nothing more than implement the effect of the Government's flawed interpretation of the Order."


Read Judge Orrick'sInjunction against Trump's Sanctuary Cities Executive Order in full:  http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015b-a6d5-de92-a17b-aed55e780001 

Trump's outrageousresponse to the Sanctuary Cities injunction sets up a serious constitution crisis.  His Administration is at war with another co-equal branch of government and the checks on his executive powers that were built into our constitution. We can't allow him to win this fight in the courts or in the court of public opinion.

Here is the Administration's outrageous press release printed in full:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseApril 25, 2017
Statement on Sanctuary Cities Ruling
Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation. Federal law explicitly states that “a Federal, State or Local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”  8 U.S.C. 1373(a).  That means, according to Congress, a city that prohibits its officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities -- a sanctuary city -- is violating the law.   Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation.  These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.
Once again, a single district judge -- this time in San Francisco -- has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country.  This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father's arms.  San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands.  This San Francisco judge's erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.
This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.  Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping.  But we are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States.

In the meantime, we will pursue all legal remedies to the sanctuary city threat that imperils our citizens, and continue our efforts to ramp up enforcement to remove the criminal and gang element from our country.  Ultimately, this is a fight between sovereignty and open borders, between the rule of law and lawlessness, and between hardworking Americans and those who would undermine their safety and freedom.

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