Into Her Dreams

Depositphotos Photography ID: 8146447 Copyright: jkirshphoto


Like skaters on icy pavement
gliding together into the city skyline,
grey against clouds of snow.
Winter storm warning, veiled
by music and coffee,
conversation and silence.
Precious cargo
delivered into the Windy City,
big shoulders,
blonde and steel,
she slips into the hurried streets,
the streaming crowds,
out into the world.
This father beams in consolation.
Sighing.
She doesn’t look back,
blue eyes piercing into her future,
no hesitation,
Hungary bound.
Heading home,
grey fading into western twilight,
slipping past long headlights,
Silence in the music playing.
Snow dust, shifting like dry mist,
passing like sands of time.
Falling, flurries swirl
As I recall
How easily she slipped
out of my car
and into her dreams.

Advertisements

We Are Easy Targets of the Information War

Depositphotos Image ID: 88914724 Copyright: 3dmentat

The news is out that Russians have been indicted on charges of interfering in the last presidential election, much to the chagrin of Republicans and Trump supporters. The indictment is certain to curl the lips of Democrats, and Hillary Clinton supporters in particular, in grins of righteous vindication. But we need to resist these gut level reactions and take thoughtful stock of what is going on in our country.

We are polarized as never before. What the Russians did was simply to use our own momentum against us in a classic judo type of social engineering that proved so effective it should be frightening. And it should prompt us to take off our combative gloves and come together as Americans to reclaim the civility of Democracy that is our saving grace in a country that is often torn and divided by the issues that threaten to push and pull us apart.

This is the indictment:

“A grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s office. The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare” against the United States with the stated goal of spreading mistrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” *

Unfortunately, we are fat and easy targets.

We need to pay close attention here, but we have to put down our weapons against each other to absorb the full impact of what the Russians were able to do. They used us and against ourselves, and it was easy work – too easy!

The Russians set up Internet based operations making them appear to be owned and operated by people within the United States. They used fictitious and stolen identities, fraudulent bank and accounts and false documents. They posed as “politically and socially active Americans” communicating with “unwitting Americans” through Social Media action groups. They advertised on social media networks, and they engaged and paid “real Americans” to carry on political campaigns, promote political candidates and agenda and stage political rallies.

For instance, “’Black Fist’ … was confirmed to be part of the Internet Research Agency’s operation — the self defense classes were an apparent attempt to stoke fear and gather contact details of Americans potentially susceptible to propaganda.”**

According to the report, these Americans didn’t know they were communicating with and being manipulated by Russians. These Americans were so easy to manipulate because they are losing the ability to vet their own political inclinations; they are losing the ability to be self-reflective; they are losing the ability to be civil and respectful of each other. These Americans are quick to judge, quick to jump to conclusions, quick to affirm their own narratives and quick to criticize others.

These Americans are us.

The Russians pitted us against ourselves. But for what end?

“[They] engaged in activities and rallies to support the president-elect while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election.” Sometimes they supported contrary rallies in the same cities on the same days. For those Republicans licking their wounds, this might be some solace; and for Democrats who might be tempted to smirk, this should give you pause.

The indictment indicates that the Russians “intended to incite discord in the United States and undermine confidence in Democracy”. The Russians simply fueled the fires that are already burning, and they did to sow discord and contention, and it didn’t take much effort for them to succeed.

In fact, I’m not sure they needed to do anything at all because we are already doing it to ourselves. They just gave us a nudge in the direction we have already been going. For instance, “‘Heart of Texas,’ a page that posed as a pro-Texas secession organization, promoted a ‘Stop Islamization of Texas’ protest at the opening of a library at an Islamic Center on May 21, 2016. The same troll group used another page, ‘United Muslims of America,’ to promote a ‘Save Islamic Knowledge’ event at the same time.” According to the same report, “After the election the group used its pages to promote events celebrating the election of Donald Trump and events protesting Trump’s election.”

While the liberal groups are screaming that the Russians meddled in the election to get Trump elected, the conservative groups are screeching about Hillary Clinton’s deals with Russians in the past – and the Russians are just smiling.

I actually wrote on this very subject last June, long before the recent indictments:

“Are we Americans that gullible? Or are we simply unwilling to suspend our penchant to believe everything that affirms our political views? Maybe its a matter of not being able to stop the momentum of our own biases as they carry us down the streams of our own predispositions…

“We are so hell bent on affirming our own biases about anything political that fake news has become a booming business!….”

“With virtually nothing growing in the no-man’s land in between, and little communication across the expanse, each side is primed for the propaganda it wants to hear. A little fake news here, a little drama there, and the war on both sides might be fueled for several generations to come, even while we seem know and admit that we are being manipulated.

“We just can’t stop ourselves.”***

Or can we?

Hopefully, we can stop this madness, but both sides will need to put their ideological weapons down long enough to talk peace. We need to replace party line politics with some real thought, analysis and self-reflection. We need be honest about our own ideological shortcomings and stop to consider that our political enemies are really our neighbors, our friends and even our own family members – they ultimately want what “we” want, which is a better America, a better world and a better future our children and grandchildren.

We all want the same thing!

Just because we disagree on how we achieve our mutual goals doesn’t mean that have to sharpen the pitchforks. We need to relearn civility and respect and the art of the compromise. If we can’t do this, we will continue to be the targets of future information wars that will wreak havoc on our socio-political psyches, undermine any remaining confidence in our political systems and threaten our Democracy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*For the press release by Rod Rosenstein:



**From http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/16/media/internet-research-agency-mueller-indictment/index.html

***See Political Gullibility? Or Unwillingness to Suspend Belief?

The 2nd Amendment, Freedom & Responsibility

Depositphotos Image ID: 173296888 Copyright: zimmytws

Is there a more potent weapon today then a gun in the hands of a person with mal-intent? Are schools no longer safe places for children? These questions are not mere speculation, but serious deadly considerations in the wake of another school shooting tragedy.

It’s clear that platitudes, like thoughts and prayers, are not enough of a response any more, as if they ever were. Not that we shouldn’t be thoughtful or prayerful, but “faith without works is dead”, as the brother of Jesus said.

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)

Likewise, if all we do is offer condolences and our thoughts and prayers, what good is that?! Our faith, if we have any, demands action. Where is the fruit?

I get all of the arguments for the Second Amendment. I am a lawyer. Our nation was founded on the principles of an independent, free and empowered citizenry, and the right to bear arms was intended to ensure that freedom. Guns have been championed as a symbol of freedom. With freedom, though, comes responsibility (echoing the words of Eleanor Roosevelt).

I’m a Christian, but I don’t get the popular Christian response to gun laws. Where in the Bible does it tell us to defend our rights to own firearms? Jesus told Peter to put down his sword, but he’s telling us to protect our guns?

Thoughts and prayers don’t cut it when children are lying dead on the playground. Thoughts and prayers need to be followed up with love and action. We need to do something before there is another tragedy, and another one after that.

But I am not just directing my focus on Christians. I see a much more potent weapon than guns in our society today.

Continue reading

The Woody Allen Factor

CANNES, FRANCE- MAY 15 : Director Woody Allen attends the ‘Irrational Man’ photo-call during the 68th Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2015 in Cannes, France. Photography ID: 80414958 Copyright: arp (editorial use only)

An article in the Chicago Tribune, ‘I am ashamed I did this’: Stars reflect on — and rethink — working with Woody Allen, got me thinking about some things I have been chewing on but have been too reticent to explore publicly. Woody Allen, of course, has been the subject of rumors and outright allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior, but he has skated past these allegations like a Teflon President. It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that these allegations should be revisited in light of the recent trend in exposing sexual abuse that have been long hidden in the shadows?

Indeed, the article linked above suggests that time has come. Or should come. But what has taken so long? That seems to be the question of the day as these allegations come tumbling out from all corners.

Woody Allen is famous for his neurotic humor that permeates his acting and directing. He has long been a Hollywood insider, an icon over which the industry has gushed for decades for his innovative, creative and unique style. I never liked it and have never understood the infatuation people have with Woody Allen, and that may color my view of him. More on that later.

Woody Allen is also famous for his marriages to Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow and another, more unusual relationship. Woody Allen began a dating relationship with Soon-Yi Previn while he was also dating her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. Woody Allen characterized the relationship as a “fling” that turned into more than a fling. (See Woody Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi is creepier than you could imagine)

Previn was 21 when they started their “fling” and Woody Allen was 56. That makes him 35 years her senior for those who are mathematically challenged. (I had to do the math.) They were 26 and 61 when they married in 1997. Allen started the fling when he was already dating Previn’s mother, and the “fling” started with a father/daughter-like relationship!

Woody Allen claims the relationship “worked” because “I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal.” (See the NPR interview in 2015.)

Let the sink in.

Continue reading

Are We Racists? — Mitch Teemley

I am spending the afternoon reading, and this short article is worth reading. It isn’t timely. The events that prompted it are “old news”. But it is very timely as we think about the year past and the year to come. Maybe we can do better. It will take some intentionality….

Heal what you can Love who you can Start here Start now. I wrote the following after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson last year, but in light of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, felt led to re-post it. This is not an opinion article, it’s a personal reflection: Of course we are. We’re […]

via Are We Racists? — Mitch Teemley

Harvey Weinstein in the Whirlwind

Theatre Photography ID: 151700458 Copyright: SharpShooter

The Harvey Weinstein gale has caused a firestorm on the scale of the natural disasters in California, Montana and Canada, except this is no natural disaster. It is far worse. The dirty little secret is out, but how in the world did this monstrous tornado remain a secret so long?

We get angry with the perpetrators, as we should. We get angry with a culture in which men are emboldened to exploit women and in which those dirty little secrets can be kept dirty little secrets. But there is far more about which we should be angry.

There is a huge disconnect. We cry out for justice when we hear about sexual exploitation and abuse. We rightly condemned it, and we rightly condemn the perpetrators of it, but we have a culture that feeds it. We are the culture that feeds it, because “sex sells”, and we are buying it. We have created a culture that feeds the fire of monsters like Harvey Weinstein.

Our culture is saturated with sex. Continue reading