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Guys. You're going to hear news stories of a variety of types of awful.
Here's my guide on how to survive and thrive.
1. The vast majority of people are good.
News is generated either by legitimate reports of truly awful characters, or by PR firms.
There are 5 PR employees for every journalism employee.
So, when the news is utterly horrid, you've either got a real report of the tiny sliver of statistically aberrant behavior, or a coordinated operation from PR firms and/or other less-than-democratic actors trying to play your emotions.
Still, most people are GOOD.
2. Even the people you think are bad are probably good.
You've likely never met the lizard-brained sociopaths who are behind most of what's awful.
You HAVE met people who were susceptible to their propaganda.
They are different. VERY different.
The vast majority of your fellow humans/citizens are targets for propaganda. They have personal backstory, cultural touchstones, emotional triggers.
Sociopaths have been studying those to trigger them when convenient for those footing the bill.
Note that this is *not* partisan, religious, or sectarian in the *least*. We're all targets, we're all susceptible. Even when you KNOW the game (as my colleagues and I do) you still fall for it.
So look down on nobody for being a *victim* of propaganda.
The "Right" is targeted to trigger the very human nature of defending loved ones and territory, classic values, traditions.
The "Left" is targeted to trigger emotions around compassion, inclusiveness, defending the victimized.
Almost ALL people have both traits.
What separates out "Right" from "Left" is whichever traits are *dominant* in an individual. This was brilliantly explained in "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff, a treatise on the framing of issues.
Almost ALL people have both sides of that humanity.
This is why "Cambridge Analytica" and other actors - often nation-states - wanted your Facebook data, health records, social media comments: to make a psychographic profile of you and know which propaganda would resonate most strongly with YOU.
Worse (and producing copious forensic evidence that will doom them), it was an iterative process where they got a sense of what you liked, delivered it, measured your response, refined their algorithms, and re-delivered something new.
They played this mind game with millions.
It's excruciating to admit, but there's a REASON your uncle went nuts and your kid is spouting talking points you've never even heard.
It's an ugly reason, too.
Millions in many countries have been targeted by tech to be influenced for the benefit of truly evil oligarchs.
There are sociopaths with unfathomable financial resources who wanted to test this new technology on our minds with no regulation. And they did so.
They separated us by general profile and began targeting us *as individuals* to see what they could make us, in part, feel.
Using common technological platforms, they tested this and separated us out by race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and more.
They found they could manipulate some, many, into extreme beliefs.
Then, the propaganda produced itself.
This has never happened before in human history, because the tech wasn't ready.
Then, it was ready, and nobody was prepared in democratic society.
The results have been historic, and terrible.
This *does not obviate* in any way the fundamental goodness of human beings.
If I could support this point in a general way, think of the people in your life who are fundamentally good who have expressed malevolent ideas that seem totally out of character.
These are the people at whom some throw the term "MAGAts" or "libtards." Or whatever it is in Greek, Moldovan, French.
Good neighbors. Good people. Suddenly demonizing immigrants or attacking lifetime public servants as traitors.
Good people. Targeted propaganda.
I myself have heard people who would *never* carry through with any such action themselves talk about genocide and racism. Most of it after 2012 or so.
I don't think they went mad. I think they succumbed to sophisticated propaganda.
There are sociopaths, sadists in the world; don't worry about compassion for them, for that's lost energy.
But there are countless others who were victims of propaganda specifically designed to tear us apart as citizens, neighbors - even family.
They are still victims.
Left, Center, Right, pro-this, or anti-that: we live in an historic time when all were targeted.
And for us to come together, we must lay down the intolerance cultivated in us, and turn toward the perpetrators of this historic crime.
3. Follow the money.
There's a James Bond-John LeCarré novel aspect to intelligence operations. And true, that's the root of this crisis: military-grade (mostly Russian) psychological operations were deployed across the planet.
But it's not about intelligence officers.
Fact is, intel is a niche field, a tiny slice of humanity. Huge impact on history? For sure. Centuries old? That too.
BEHIND THIS MASS PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATION? Absolutely, these are military-grade tools.
But the story is about money. And lots of it.
Too much to recount for any set of tweets, but the long and short of it was that in the 1990s, the Soviet Union went "out of business" leaving two institutions intact: its spy services and its Red Mafiya.
The Mob was stronger and organized a Mafia State, first of its kind.
For the first time in *history*, a nation-state was taken over by organized crime and then merged with the strongest and most ruthless, sophisticated spy services in the world.
That was Russia, it was the 1990s, and America thought they won the whole game.
The 1990s is when the Russian Mafiya started taking over (think partnership, but with a pistol to your head) the rest of organized crime and even various forms of corruption - around the world.
And the years to follow have been a goddamned roller coaster.
Transnational Organized Crime, led by Russia, began assimilating more and more streams of money, commandeering the offshore money laundering pipes of the Mob, taking over ever more front companies and states and politicians.
This effort has been UNTHINKABLY successful.
Transnational Organized Crime, as well as Russia, has the ideology of the cancer cell: growth and dominion at all costs.
Besides, many of the Russians are still pissed about losing the Cold War.
And so they wanted to own the world. So they paid to deploy propaganda.
Since Russian intelligence was essentially just one of Transnational Organized Crime's many assets, they used its century of research on mass propaganda to deploy against democracy, everywhere from Manchester, New Hampshire to Myanmar.
And boy did it work.
See, it took America and NATO around 20 years to realize what Russia and the Mob had done. And around 2011, Barack Obama and Robert S. Mueller III were taking major actions to CUT OFF THE MONEY THAT FUNDED TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME.
And then, the Mob struck back hard.
July 25, 2011: Executive Order 13581--Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations. Obama went after the MONEY of the major crime organizations around the world.
The United States finally found a way to threat the trillions of dollars offshore and onshore that allowed the Global Mob to thrive.
And the Mob deployed EVERY asset it had to protect that money.
Especially its investments in politicians, media, and tech.
As a last-ditch effort, it seems that both hostile nation-states and Transnational Organized Crime (which now have mostly merged) have deployed *every* asset they ever had to try to protect those flows of money.
Which leads us to this final chapter.
4. The Corrupt are panicking, and this is their last stand.
Cornered animals bite. And while I believe most people are good, some are willing to traffic children, to starve people, to gas them so they become refugees, etc.
Those people are animals and they're in a corner.
There's a problem - a MAJOR problem as those who follow @Dry_Observer know - with taking organized crime mainstream and merging it with technology.
It leaves a court-admissible trail of evidence the likes of which no prosecutor has ever seen.
@Dry_Observer The Corrupt, whether low-level bagmen or the guys who give lavishly to charity from their ill-gotten gains, knew they were kinda caught and lashed out with everything from algorithm-driven propaganda to cryptocurrency.
Because a quarter from an illegal casino looks no different from a quarter dropped into a dryer at a *laundromat.* Which the Mob owned in Chicago to allow them to recognize their profits legally.
@Dry_Observer Why is it operation "Car Wash" in Brazil that's taking down so many of their Mobsters? Because car washes also take quarters. An old practice, but pretty wide spread.
THOSE QUARTERS WEREN'T TRACEABLE. BITCOIN IS.
Which brings us to this chapter.
@Dry_Observer Once the Russian Mob combined crime syndicates with nation-state tools, they made so much money that front *companies* were no longer enough.
Dude, they needed - and could afford - front *countries.*
@Dry_Observer And to traffic *all* of their various, lucrative, tax-free enterprises, The Mob needed every possible outlet to "wash" their cash - although at a certain point it's so obvious, that's really not the metaphor, it's too stupid.
This is when The Mob infects damn near everything.
@Dry_Observer When you have so much money you need to jam it through retail, gift cards, music copyrights, and everything else under the sun, you're no longer flying under the radar.
When you have fake bank accounts is one thing. Fake banks? Quite another? WHEN YOU OWN CENTRAL BANKS...?
@Dry_Observer At some point, illegal operations are so big you can see them without much training. Much less FBI training.
NOW, add to this Bitcoin, digital payment apps, "e-commerce." Imagine the Mob uses these en masse to launder money.
THESE AREN'T QUARTERS IN A LAUNDROMAT.
@Dry_Observer Whether you intend this consequence or not, global organized crime operations that use technologies that store evidence on multiple servers or - GAWD - in the case of Bitcoin, public ledgers are finally, for the first time...
@Dry_Observer Well, it's all about the money and the money's threatened.
So you go for broke. You think it's your last stand. And it is.
Because between Bitcoin, bank wire transfers, and digital propaganda, you handed global law enforcement the most evidence in history.
@Dry_Observer They've got hard evidence, communication, mens rea, actus reus, your confession to pals over Title III intercepts, high-definition video...the whole thing.
From the bagmen to the bosses to the high-profile enablers.
First time in HISTORY.
@Dry_Observer Dear friends, it thus only makes sense that every truly corrupt, Mobbed-up, would-be tyrant and/or tyrant lackey would be cornered, snarling, confused, panting, and throwing out every last trick, burning every last asset.
Which is why I want you to listen to Motown.
@Dry_Observer Now, that last sentence may seem like a curveball, but here's my REAL tip for surviving the current moment:
The Corrupt are going to try, poorly, one last time to convince you that the world is evil and dangerous and people are bad.
When it's they who are those things.
@Dry_Observer They're going to throw out - while the Unfriendly FBI interviews and Interpol Red Notices pour in - a last few salvos of awful.
Their time is truly over, and I think they finally know it.
So put on some early Stevie Wonder.
@Dry_Observer The Corrupt will throw their last possible assets at *their* problem (not ours) and cause havoc that leaves an even DUMMER trail of forensic evidence, caught in real time.
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