Thursday Reads: High AnxietyPosted: November 2, 2017
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was one of those kids who used to get up in the morning with tummy aches before school. I spent a week or so in hospital during high school suspected of having an ulcer. A lot was expected from me, so I pretty much tried to be as perfect as possible and that’s a recipe for self-doubt and high stress. It’s a hard habit to kick too.
I have to admit that I thought my Buddhist practice coupled with living in the Big Easy with a pledge to avoid relationships at all costs would keep my nerves pretty much under control. I made it through my doctoral program with very little of the usual stomach thing which they now call irritable bowl syndrome. But, life has these ways of reminding you that your imperfections are always lurking and that you probably never have them completely exorcised. At least I know that I am not alone in this by any means.
We’ve become the United States of Anxiety. This is the year of the national nervous breakdown. I’m right there with the rest of the country. So, you can read the official, peer reviewed title: APA Stress in America™ Survey: US at ‘Lowest Point We Can Remember;’ Future of Nation Most Commonly Reported Source of Stress. You can also read the media version: “Americans Are Officially Freaking Out; Almost two-thirds say this is the lowest point in U.S. history—and it’s keeping a lot of them up at night.” Yes it’s keeping me up at night too. I’m one face in that number. This is from the Bloomberg link.
For those lying awake at night worried about health care, the economy, and an overall feeling of divide between you and your neighbors, there’s at least one source of comfort: Your neighbors might very well be lying awake, too.
Almost two-thirds of Americans, or 63 percent, report being stressed about the future of the nation, according to the American Psychological Association’s Eleventh Stress in America survey, conducted in August and released on Wednesday. This worry about the fate of the union tops longstanding stressors such as money (62 percent) and work (61 percent) and also cuts across political proclivities. However, a significantly larger proportion of Democrats (73 percent) reported feeling stress than independents (59 percent) and Republicans (56 percent).
The “current social divisiveness” in America was reported by 59 percent of those surveyed as a cause of their own malaise. When the APA surveyed Americans a year ago, 52 percent said they were stressed by the presidential campaign. Since then, anxieties have only grown.
A majority of the more than 3,400 Americans polled, 59 percent, said “they consider this to to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.” That sentiment spanned generations, including those that lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. (Some 30 percent of people polled cited terrorism as a source of concern, a number that’s likely to rise given the alleged terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday.)
“We have a picture that says people are concerned,” said Arthur Evans, APA’s chief executive officer. “Any one data point may not not be so important, but taken together, it starts to paint a picture.”
Okay, so I highlighted the factors the studied controlled for which is pretty amazing. Read that list of big events in US History and people still came up with this year, right now, and probably due to you know who.
There’s almost an overload of horrid news these days but at the top of my list is the number of my fellow citizens that fell for Russian Trolls. Actually, it’s even scarier that we have high level official that followed Russian trolls. This is from The Daily Beast which is combing through a drop from the House of Russian propaganda from the election. “Michael Flynn Followed Russian Troll Accounts, Pushed Their Messages in Days Before Election.”
Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn followed five Twitter accounts based out of the Russian-backed “troll factory” in St. Petersburg—and pushed their messages at least three times in the month before the 2016 election.
Over 2,750 troll accounts based out of the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency were made public by House investigators on Wednesday. The accounts, some of which had previously been identified by The Daily Beast as Russian-generated, were pulled from Twitter due to their ties to the troll factory over the past three months.
The Daily Beast had previously discovered Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale retweeted Ten_GOP several times in the month before the election.
The news that Flynn also pushed Russian propaganda comes at an unwelcome time for the former three-star general and head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn is one of the people under investigation by Robert Mueller’s widespread probe into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.
During Flynn’s brief tenure as President Trump’s top national security aide, Flynn pushed for cooperation between the Russian and American military that would have been, at best, borderline illegal. Flynn ultimately resigned amidst reports that he had undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak during the campaign.
Of course, Flynn wasn’t necessarily hostile to Russian agitprop. In December of 2015, he traveled to Moscow for a gala celebrating Russia Today, the Kremlin’s propaganda network. At Flynn’s side for dinner: Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Lawmakers on Wednesday released a trove of ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, providing the fullest picture yet of how foreign actors sought to promote Republican Donald Trump, denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton and divide Americans over some of the nation’s most sensitive social issues.
The ads that emerged, a sampling of the 3,000 that Russians bought during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath, demonstrated in words and images a striking ability to mimic American political discourse at its most fractious. The targeting information also showed a shrewd understanding of how best to use Facebook to find and influence voters most likely to respond to the pitches.
As a group, the ads made visceral appeals to voters concerned about illegal immigration, the declining economic fortunes of coal miners, gun rights, African American political activism, the rising prominence of Muslims in some U.S. communities and many other issues. Some of the ads, many of which were bought in Russian rubles, also explicitly called for people to attend political rallies amid a campaign season that already was among the most polarizing in recent U.S. history.
The ad was highly specific—and specifically Russian.
It was for a Facebook group called Defend The 2nd. Above an image showing a cornucopia of bullets, it billed itself as “The community of 2nd Amendment supporters, guns lovers & patriots.” That was how it appeared to the public—the American public—but Facebook internally held data that told a different story.
Ad targeting information associated with Defend The 2nd showed how highly targeted it was. The location for viewership had to be within the United States. They had to be between the ages of 18 to over 65. They had to match Facebook users with interests including the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Sisters, Gun Owners of America, Concealed carry in the United States, and Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
House Democratics are responsible for the data dump. You can see 14 ads on Facebook directly planted by Russian Trolls here at Motherboard. They are broadly spread between helping Trump and helping Bernie Sanders against Clinton. You can go see them. I have no intention of putting them up here.
Lawmakers finally disclosed a small sample of the more than 3,000 ads that Russian trolls bought on Facebook and Instagram during the 2016 presidential election. The 14 ads released on Wednesday show a glimpse of the political issues that Russian government trolls tried to harp on to sow divide among Americans and influence the 2016 presidential election.
Some of the ads disparage Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, or promote divisive trends like anti-muslim or anti-immigration sentiment. Some promote rallies and counter-rallies that ended up in real life events.
So, the Mustang is finally back running and has totally left me without the ability to pay for anything else. I’m trying to round up funds to take Kinsey to the vet to get her on her meds and to pay the house note. I’m not used to asking for money for anything but the blog but if you could spare something please help. I feel awful that I got this cat with hyperthyroidism to save her and now I can get her to the vet but I can’t pay for the visit and meds up front and Dinah needs to go too. She’s in the throes of a reaction to mites. Thanks and I promise not to do this again if I can at all help it!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?