On the Importance of FEAR – (False Evidence Appearing Real)
George Reed for “Clean-up On Aisle Four”
I am sad to accurately report that we now live in a fear-based culture. We see people every day in the news and social media talking about something they are afraid might be real—or something that might have happened, or could happen. This issue crosses both sides of the aisle and is how two great nations (Germany in the 1930’s and America in 2016) elected fascist dictators.
So what is a “culture of fear”? It is a culture of responding to False Evidence Appearing Real. This means we act upon information that we do not have real world data to back up. I encountered this in the Army when conducting large-scale training exercises. Intelligence doctrine teaches that we should never assume a situation is what it appears to be on less than five corroborating sources of information. On one occasion, my team wanted the defending unit to believe they were being attacked in the middle of the night. Their scouts—if we were really attacking—would hear the sounds of vehicles moving in the desert, their ground radar would pick up turbine engines, their long range optics would see thermal images of hundreds of combat vehicles, and their electronic warfare unit would detect a massive upswing in the radio chatter from our unit. Also, there would be a strategic and/or tactical *reason* for us to attack at 2 am when the desert terrain would be nigh impassable and quite perilous to stream 300 tanks along on a moonless night.
It turns out my team created charcoal pits near the line of departure to fool their thermal imaging. We played a 400 watt stereo recording of 300 vehicles on the assault. We had 5 people do 3 different accents each to create false radio chatter discussing the attack as being commencing. This was only three of the 7 elements they should have been looking for, but it was enough. The opposing commander got everyone awake and even counterattacked one of their own units.
At dawn, when the real attack happened out of the rising sun, the hapless enemy—who had survived the counter-attack nonsense—were sleep deprived, twitchy, and looking into the glare of sunlight.
We destroyed them.
Fast forward many years and I sit at my desk viewing a thousand examples like this in real time—except this is not a training exercise, this is our world we are botching up. Here are some examples that could benefit from a tad more sentient thought and a bit less rash action. They are in no particular order and we should all be terrified of anyone in power enacting these items as it clearly demonstrates they are blissfully free of the ravages of intelligence.
- We have a Commander in Chief who does not attend Intel briefings, is not in the White House Situation room while attacks he has ordered take place, and spends more time golfing and tweeting than leading. Less tweeting and more listening might be in order. Would there be fewer dead women and children in Yemen, and a patriotic Seal still there for his family? Maybe, maybe not. But all the agencies agreed there was insufficient Intel, and on two of the seven points of intelligence analysis we charged on in and failed.
- We have a White House Communications presence that is the laughing-stock of the world. If they do not like a question, they call it a stupid question. If they don’t like a story, they call it fake news. Their President leads the charge with calling everything that does not praise him personally to be unfair reporting and fake news. To be honest, Mr. President, it is not fair. It is not fair that the United States appears to have elected—with a good bit of Russian help—a scarlet-stuffed popinjay to the highest office in the land. You might be surprised that we often find ourselves praying that the launch codes require more than 140 characters.
- We have a Congress that pretends the ACA is failing. Failing is an important word. It means it does not work at all. Well, the 24,000,000 American citizens that have healthcare today and won’t after the repeal beg to differ. Over 140,000 US Veterans who will lose GI and VA benefits, while having their war wounds and ailments declared pre-existing conditions, may soon beg to disagree. The over-419,000 children who receive coverage assistance for extremely expensive medical conditions will be relegated to impairment or death certainly might want to weigh in. Repealing rather than improving seems more expedient and if Paul Ryan stands at a podium—secure in his free health care—and declares that there are 3 million Americans without healthcare *because* of the ACA, and thus we have a need to repeal now and replace later, he is smoking dog food. The numbers he cites might be correct, but the solution is a whiplash that just changes the number of people getting screwed over by 24 million to the detriment of all. It is interesting to note that the draft plan ideas include items that will not favorably impact the 3 million lives Speaker Ryan cited. You cannot spend a tax credit at Walgreens, and if you have a lower middle income, hiking the ceiling on a health savings account(HSA) is an insult. HSA’s work for people with money to put in them.
- We have a president who disenfranchised 3 million citizens of the United States with alternative lifestyle and/or gender identity. The worst part is he targeted the most defenseless element of that group—children. Why is everyone afraid of where someone goes to relieve themselves? The documented cases of sexual assault by CIS, republican adults against minors in the bathroom exceeds 20,000 since 2000. The number of such assaults by transgender persons is zero. Think also, if they did this to one minority group, when will *your* group be next?
- Who will rid us of this troublesome wall? All putting up a 40 billion dollar, 30 foot wall does is improve the sales performance of 32 foot ladders in Mexico. And it will take 2.4 billion per year of corn sales to Mexico and give the revenue to Brazilian farmers—not the 2 million people who make a living growing corn in the American Midwest.
- Misdirection has been a part of carnival cons and stage magic for millennia. The fact that it is a part of how a Republican Congress and the far-right, alternative fact-generating White House do business every day should rightly terrify the average citizen. It is not that someone might disagree with my ideas, it is that they dodge the conversation, scream fake news, and cite obscure perils that do not exist as a reason for their actions.
- The Russians. I know the cold war bugaboo that was the Soviet Union will tend to make moderates skeptical that all the gnashing of teeth about any possibility that the Russian interference in the US is real. Let’s look at a few points no one in the Republican Party are assuring be dealt with per reasonable process.
- The National Security Advisor, General Flynn, lied to the Vice President after having extensive contacts with Russian officials during and after the campaign. Yes, he fell on his sword for the team, but the real issue is that this occurred and Congress refuses to investigate.
- Presidential Nominee Donald Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton during a public, televised speech. No one wants to look into that.
- MI-6 Agents known to be highly reputable released a dossier of information that is slowly being verified. This information produces huge problems for the Trump White House, and rather than deal with it, they fired Flynn, declared it all fake news, and moved on. This information, when verified, will show how Trump as promised 19% of the Russian State Oil company if he won the election. This same company “sold” 19.5% of its interests (19% plus a snacky broker fee) to unknown parties shortly after the American Elections. I am pretty sure the House oversight committee has not gotten around to checking into that one.
- Those tax returns. There are only two real reasons to hide the tax returns.
- Reason 1: They are fraudulent. Massive tax fraud would be of the High Crimes and Misdemeanors variety of offenses. If they are fraudulent, Trump will never release them.
- Reason 2: They are true. A true disclosure would show the hundreds—if not thousands—of foreign conflicts of interest present in the President’s business dealings—most of which he has not handed over to a neutral party. If the tax returns are accurate and true, President Trump will never release them.
- The returns will only be released if they are neither fraudulent or true…Good luck with that one…
We must ask ourselves why the republican members of congress stand at 87% having on-hand campaign funds in excess of a million dollars 32 business days into the two-year session. We must examine the data and see that the average contributions from corporations not in the districts receiving the funds is in excess of 60 percent of money on hand. Our Republican Congress is being bought from interests not even in their districts. Further inquiry shows FEC reporting that reveals that 67% of republican congressional campaign funding for incumbents originates from corporations and Political Action Committees directly impacted by Congressional Committees upon which those same incumbents serve today. That is a concerning fact, based on data, and is certainly not fake news.
We need to become a culture of Fact and Responsibility and leave the fear behind.