How Dracula and Trump use horror to scare the “ever-livin’ giblets” out of us

By Gary Kimsey

In 1972, I waited hours on a blustery afternoon to vote in the presidential election. Hundreds of people were ahead of me on the tree-lined sidewalk. As the dead leaves of fall swirled around us, most people grumbled about the long, cold wait.

By contrast, I was immersed in a novel about horror, and even now, 45 years later, I remember the tingling of my imagination from fearful words and suspenseful images.

I was taking a college class on the literature of horror. We studied Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft’s works, and, among others, Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was before Stephen King’s time, or I’m sure he would have been on the reading list.

Gary Kimsey is a writer who lives part of the year in Independence, Mo., and the rest near Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about him…

The current reading assignment: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Most people have seen Dracula movies, but few have read the novel. Take my word, the novel is scarier.

A gloomy night had fallen by the time I voted and walked home, frequently glancing back to see if vampires followed. My old house had huge windows with nothing to view outside but darkness. Wait just a Frankenstein moment, did I just see evil red eyes glaring through the black night?

I rushed to close the curtains. I switched on every light and situated myself in a corner chair where no vampire could approach unseen. I read on. I didn’t sleep that night. I was too jittery of things that might go bump.

Richard Nixon won the election. On went the Watergate scandal, dirty tricks, threats, lies, and nasty pronouncements. News commentators observed, “This is like a horror story.”

I thought about it. Yes, indeedy, Nixon’s actions exhibited all the elements of literary horror that I studied in my class.

The quintessential Dracula: Bela Lugosi.

Decades passed. I forgot all about similarities between a crooked president and literary horror—that is, until I saw Donald Trump’s attack on Myeshia Johnson, pregnant Gold Star widow of La David Johnson. Trump’s shameful actions were horrific in their own right, but the issue brought back memories of how a president’s tactics can reflect the elements of literary horror.

Five elements exist. Here is how each relates to the current president’s recent antics—please note that each example is just one of many that I could cite.

Dracula vs. Trump: What do you think? Take a short poll at the end of this article.

One horror element is foreshadowing, the strategic placement of scary tidbits that alert the reader that something bad will come. A recent Trumpian tidbit was dribbled about when the president told the media that his meeting with military leaders was “the calm before the storm.” Nobody knew then or even now what he was talking about. Yet, people began worrying. It could be, of course, that he was merely talking to hear himself talk, yet once again.

Kate Beckinsale as Selene, vampire warrior in the  Underworld film series.

Fear is a critical element. As horror literary expert Amanda Headlee points out, fear is used to scare the “ever livin’ giblets” out of us. Trump leverages fear by demonizing Muslims, Blacks, Congress, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and, among others, the media. The result: Many Americans have gained an uncalled-for fear of those groups and persons.

Another horror element—suspense—keeps us worrying about monsters under the bed. Trump is a master of monsters.  Remember his threat to “reign fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea, a chilling statement that evoked the horror of a nuclear exchange? Since then, we’ve heard more of his threats—verbal slashes that some people worry could bring about World War III.

Mystery is a horror element that keeps us wondering if what we know is really true. In Trump’s case, consider health care. At some moments during the long Trump/congressional healthcare debacle, we thought we understood what was going on but then realized time and again that we knew nothing. Everything was a mystery that created unnecessary suspense and fear in many Americans.

Trump is a user of the most impactful element of horror: Imagination. As horror writer C.M. Humphries explains, “The cool thing about horror…is that you can toy with someone’s imagination. You paint a picture in such a way that the reader’s mind can become lost in thought the same way we might think there’s a ghost in the house during the thirteenth hour.”

As a way to inflame our collective imagination, Trump concocts wild, brash, scary statements—like the “fire and fury” and “calm before the storm” threats—and then leaves it up to the imagination of Americans and the entire world to conjure up terrifying visions.

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Van Helsing in the 1992 gothic horror film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The Dracula novel, which I’ve re-read now and then since that night of the ’72 election, uses horror elements to move the story forward. Count Dracula is a monster who does monstrous things. It’s something he cannot help; evil is his primal nature. By the novel’s conclusion, when he is killed by a band of fearless companions led by Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula has almost become a pitiful character because it’s clear he had no choice over the horror he committed.

On the other hand, Trump is supposedly a human and therefore should be able to make decisions between right and wrong, and good and evil. Why does he use elements of horror? It is not to move our nation, our lives, forward.

The original movie vampire in the 1922 Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

He often uses horror elements to divert the public’s attention from issues that are damaging to him—the Trump-Russia Investigation, for example. Sometimes he solely uses elements like fear and mystery to draw attention to himself as the savior—the Dr. Van Helsing—that he so incorrectly perceives himself to be. And frequently, as we’ve seen in his Twitter attacks, Trump relies on elements of horror because, I suspect, he has a mean-spirited nature.

Americans don’t deserve a president who spends time scaring the “ever livin’ giblets” out of us. Unfortunately, what we have in the White House is an author writing his own personal horror novel which the rest of us are forced to endure. Rather than close curtains to keep him out, it’s time for Americans to grasp the metaphorical stake and blazing torch, and chase him out of the village.

 

Learn more about literary horror:

Core Elements of a Horror Story by Amanda Headlee.

5 Elements of a Good Horror Story by C.M. Humphries.

 

How Dracula and Trump scare “ever livin’ giblets” out of us

By Gary Kimsey

In 1972, I waited hours on a blustery afternoon to vote in the presidential election. Hundreds of people were ahead of me on the tree-lined sidewalk. As the dead leaves of fall swirled around us, most people grumbled about the long, cold wait.

By contrast, I was immersed in a novel about horror, and even now, 45 years later, I remember the tingling of my imagination from fearful words and suspenseful images.

I was taking a college class on the literature of horror. We studied Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft’s works, and, among others, Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was before Stephen King’s time, or I’m sure he would have been on the reading list.

Gary Kimsey is a writer who lives part of the year in Independence, Mo., and the rest near Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about him…

The current reading assignment: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Most people have seen Dracula movies, but few have read the novel. Take my word, the novel is scarier.

A gloomy night had fallen by the time I voted and walked home, frequently glancing back to see if vampires followed. My old house had huge windows with nothing to view outside but darkness. Wait just a Frankenstein moment, did I just see evil red eyes glaring through the black night?

I rushed to close the curtains. I switched on every light and situated myself in a corner chair where no vampire could approach unseen. I read on. I didn’t sleep that night. I was too jittery of things that might go bump.

Richard Nixon won the election. On went the Watergate scandal, dirty tricks, threats, lies, and nasty pronouncements. News commentators observed, “This is like a horror story.”

I thought about it. Yes, indeedy, Nixon’s actions exhibited all the elements of literary horror that I studied in my class.

The quintessential Dracula: Bela Lugosi.

Decades passed. I forgot all about similarities between a crooked president and literary horror—that is, until I saw Donald Trump’s attack on Myeshia Johnson, pregnant Gold Star widow of La David Johnson. Trump’s shameful actions were horrific in their own right, but the issue brought back memories of how a president’s tactics can reflect the elements of literary horror.

Five elements exist. Here is how each relates to the current president’s recent antics—please note that each example is just one of many that I could cite.

Dracula vs. Trump: What do you think? Take a short poll at the end of this article.

One horror element is foreshadowing, the strategic placement of scary tidbits that alert the reader that something bad will come. A recent Trumpian tidbit was dribbled about when the president told the media that his meeting with military leaders was “the calm before the storm.” Nobody knew then or even now what he was talking about. Yet, people began worrying. It could be, of course, that he was merely talking to hear himself talk, yet once again.

Kate Beckinsale as Selene, vampire warrior in the  Underworld film series.

Fear is a critical element. As horror literary expert Amanda Headlee points out, fear is used to scare the “ever livin’ giblets” out of us. Trump leverages fear by demonizing Muslims, Blacks, Congress, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and, among others, the media. The result: Many Americans have gained an uncalled-for fear of those groups and persons.

Another horror element—suspense—keeps us worrying about monsters under the bed. Trump is a master of monsters.  Remember his threat to “reign fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea, a chilling statement that evoked the horror of a nuclear exchange? Since then, we’ve heard more of his threats—verbal slashes that some people worry could bring about World War III.

Johnny Depp as a vampire in the 2012 horror comedy movie Dark Shadows.

Mystery is a horror element that keeps us wondering if what we know is really true. In Trump’s case, consider health care. At some moments during the long Trump/congressional healthcare debacle, we thought we understood what was going on but then realized time and again that we knew nothing. Everything was a mystery that created unnecessary suspense and fear in many Americans.

Trump is a user of the most impactful element of horror: Imagination. As horror writer C.M. Humphries explains, “The cool thing about horror…is that you can toy with someone’s imagination. You paint a picture in such a way that the reader’s mind can become lost in thought the same way we might think there’s a ghost in the house during the thirteenth hour.”

As a way to inflame our collective imagination, Trump concocts wild, brash, scary statements—like the “fire and fury” and “calm before the storm” threats—and then leaves it up to the imagination of Americans and the entire world to conjure up terrifying visions.

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Van Helsing in the 1992 gothic horror film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The Dracula novel, which I’ve re-read now and then since that night of the ’72 election, uses horror elements to move the story forward. Count Dracula is a monster who does monstrous things. It’s something he cannot help; evil is his primal nature. By the novel’s conclusion, when he is killed by a band of fearless companions led by Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula has almost become a pitiful character because it’s clear he had no choice over the horror he committed.

On the other hand, Trump is supposedly a human and therefore should be able to make decisions between right and wrong, and good and evil. Why does he use elements of horror? It is not to move our nation, our lives, forward.

The original movie vampire in the 1922 Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

He often uses horror elements to divert the public’s attention from issues that are damaging to him—the Trump-Russia Investigation, for example. Sometimes he solely uses elements like fear and mystery to draw attention to himself as the savior—the Dr. Van Helsing—that he so incorrectly perceives himself to be. And frequently, as we’ve seen in his Twitter attacks, Trump relies on elements of horror because, I suspect, he has a mean-spirited nature.

Americans don’t deserve a president who spends time scaring the “ever livin’ giblets” out of us. Unfortunately, what we have in the White House is an author writing his own personal horror novel which the rest of us are forced to endure. Rather than close curtains to keep him out, it’s time for Americans to grasp the metaphorical stake and blazing torch, and chase him out of the village.

 

Learn more about literary horror:

Core Elements of a Horror Story by Amanda Headlee.

5 Elements of a Good Horror Story by C.M. Humphries.

 

Into what Hell does Trump’s money trail lead us?

By Gary Kimsey

Follow the money.

The boldfaced sentence above was popularized by the 1976 docu-drama All the President’s Men where two Washington Post reporters chronicled the nefarious trickeries of Richard Nixon. In 2016, the sentence emerged again into our everyday lexicon when Donald Trump used it while campaigning against Hillary Clinton.

Gary Kimsey is a former newspaper reporter and magazine editor. Learn more about him…

In a classic twist of irony, it may now describe how Trump will be brought down.

The Trump-Russia Investigation has picked up the scent on a trail that may lead to shady, illegal international deals involving lots of money, Russia and Trump. Most Americans lack knowledge about international banking, money-laundering, bribery, and fraud. However, we’re rapidly learning—thanks to the news media’s ongoing coverage of Trump’s international business deals.

Some Americans ignore or could care less about Trump’s Russian connections. This is unfortunate for our country as a whole. It demonstrates a lack of thinking, reasoning, caring, and awareness among a segment of our citizens.  The Trump-Russia issue has the potential to be more adversely impactful upon the American psyche and self-worth than the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s, Nixon’s ribald lying of the 1970s, and Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. On the other hand—for Americans who follow the Trump-Russian issue—it sometimes seems as if we’re wandering around with Dante through the nine concentric circles of Hell, the realm for those who have perverted “their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellow men.”

Create confusion: Trump knows an investigative journey into his finances is not good for him. His tactics to deflect the investigation have been of the same ilk as they were to avoid anti-Trump issues during the campaign and since the inauguration. When he wants to sidestep a topic, he relies on combative, nasty tweets and outlandish statements to change the national dialogue and redirect the public’s attention elsewhere.

Don’t forget to take the short poll at the end of this article.

As news gained ground in late July and early August about the Trump-Russian Investigation turning to Trump’s finances, the president suddenly steered us toward the brink of war with North Korea. He also crazily announced the possibility of using the U.S. military in Venezuela. He flip-flopped back and forth on the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacy related to the Charlottesville tragedy, and his inflammatory tweets and public proclamations switched the national dialogue to statues of Confederates and American heroes.

Learn more: This New Yorker article by Adam Davidson offers insights into money-laundering through international business deals and how Russia compiles extensive dossiers on businessmen like Trump with the purpose of blackmailing them at a later date. The article for the magazine’s August 21 issue is detailed and complex, and well-worth reading. The New Yorker illustration is by Oliver Munday; photograph of hand by Skynesher/Getty.

Trump also began a highly public Twitter offensive that attacked U.S. Senators in his own party for various issues such as the Senate’s inability to repeal and replace Obamacare. One attack began after Trump and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a profanity-laced phone conversation in which the president berated McConnell for not protecting him in the Russia probe. Next, Trump’s tweets insinuated that McConnell should resign over the Obamacare issue. Well, you get the point…Trump’s tactic is simple: Do what I say to stop the Russian probe or I will attack you on another topic.

Trump’s diversions serve two purposes. They appeal to many supporters in his political base. In addition, and more importantly for his own personal protection, they veer the public’s vision away from the money trail and such related issues as possible collusion between his campaign and Russians in the 2016 presidential election, a topic under scrutiny by the Trump-Russian Investigation.

Art of bad deals: Trump has a well-documented track record in the U.S. for defaulting on loans, business failures, bankruptcies, and deceptions. Years ago, almost every bank in the country started refusing to finance deals in which he was involved. “Trump has had a few successes in business, (but) most of his ventures have been disasters,” pointed out a 2016 Newsweek article which took an in-depth look at business deals he made over decades. “Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.”

Without access to American financing, Trump turned to foreign countries for money for real estate and other deals: Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, India, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. And Russia. One of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, once admitted, “We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”

Confused about all that has happened in the Trump-Russia issue? Check out a deeply comprehensive timeline detailing what actually happened and what’s still happening in the ever-changing story of the president, his inner circle and a web of Russian oligarchs, hackers and government officials. You can find the timeline on the website of newsman Bill Moyers: BillMoyers.com.

In contradiction to Eric Trump, the president’s lawyers have recently and artfully said Donald Trump’s Russia-related income in the last decade only includes $12.2 million for holding the 2013 Miss World contest in Moscow and $95 million from a Russia billionaire who in 2008 bought a Trump estate in Florida, property that only four years earlier Trump purchased for $41 million. The transaction with the Russian was tagged as the single biggest family home sale in the history of America. The Russian never lived there and the home has since been demolished. A good deal that fleeced the Russian? Or a good payoff for some shady deal? Or money laundering? We don’t know.

Most importantly, as a New York Times article pointed out in May, the revelation by Trump’s lawyers leave “other questions unanswered, including whether Mr. Trump or his firms received Russian income or loans from entities registered elsewhere or whether he derived income from Russian-linked partnerships that file their own returns.”

Trump has claimed time and again that he has never had business deals with Russia. He deceitfully crafts such statements so listeners think he means all and any Russians. But, if one reads between the lines and does the research, it becomes obvious he specifically means only the Russian government. It appears to be true, in fact, that he never has had a business deal with the government.

However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried. On August 27, the Washington Post published an insightful article about Trump and his organization attempting to create a deal with a Russian bank—one that is largely owned by the Russian government—to build a massive hotel in Moscow. The effort went on in secret while Trump was a candidate in late 2015 and early 2016.

No, it has nothing to do with sex: The Trump-Putin romance is about money and quite possibly blackmail. This mural of Trump and Putin adorns the outside wall of a barbecue restaurant in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Painted by local artist Mindaugas Bonanu, the mural was unveiled in 2016 and quickly received international attention. Read the Washington Post article about the mural…

Trump and his organization have deep connections with foreign companies, countries, and oligarchs (business elites with close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin) strongly associated with and influenced by Putin and the Kremlin. As The New Yorker reported in its August 21 issue, some of these Trump partners have committed or are being investigated for money-laundering, fraud, illegal loans, and bank theft of billions of dollars.

Prevailing theory: The most common theory—which the Trump-Russia Investigation is following—is that Trump has profited through business arrangements with these Russia-associated companies, countries and oligarchs, and such arrangements are illegal under American and international laws. The other part of the theory is that Putin has secret information about Trump’s involvement in illegal deals. As a result, Putin has significant blackmail leverage over Trump.

The idea that Russia uses blackmail as a political tool is not new. The Russians have a name for it: kompromat. Putin and his government have craftily developed kompromat into a major component of foreign policy. They cultivate “marks” like Trump for years, enticing them with money and other promises, involving them in business deals and sometimes sexual opportunities. Remember the dossier about Trump and Russian made public earlier this year? (Read the dossier.) On August 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee spent 10 hours interviewing the owner of the company that commissioned the private investigation into how Trump was cultivated and used by Russia.

Subscribe to Writers With No Borders (it’s free) by clicking on the Follow icon at the top of the right column. New articles are delivered directly to your email inbox. We publish one to two articles a week by writers around the country. These are writers who volunteer their time and skills to write what they are passionate about.

Thus, our president dons kid gloves when it comes to Putin. Thus, Trump dismisses proof about Russia’s interference in the presidential election. Thus, Trump is Putin’s lapdog. Thus, America is in jeopardy; democracy endangered.

All of this, of course, brings us back to the Trump-Russian Investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a formidable team of lawyers with expertise in criminal law, organized crime, money-laundering, racketeering, counterterrorism, cyber security, and foreign bribery. Not unexpectedly, Trump doesn’t like the team. On July 27, he tweeted, “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history—led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

Regardless of Trump’s views, the Mueller team will continue to focus on Russian connections. Trump will continue to try to discredit the investigation and change the national dialogue. Nonetheless, Americans have opportunities through news reports to learn more about the complexities and possible illegalities of Trump’s international business deals.

What is our role in this journey? Quite simply, we must not get distracted by Trump’s nasty tweets and wild statements; nor by the the Kafkaeque nature—the nightmarishly complexities—of Trump’s international business deals. There are layers and layers of shell companies designed to hide illegal transactions in these international deals. To make matters more complicated, Trump and his organization make it a practice to destroy records and sometimes keep a second set of secret books, as plaintiffs in some of the 3,500 lawsuits filed against Trump over the last three decades have discovered.

The most important action we can take at this moment is to keep abreast of news about his involvement with Russia and their associates. Read. Watch. Listen. Discuss. If the investigative trail leads to where many believe, put heavy pressure on our congressional representatives to vote for impeachment.

Whether Trump is proven guilty or innocent of collusion or other illegal activities, the Trump-Russian Investigation is a historic endeavor that will be discussed by pundits and historians for decades.

If innocence is on Trump’s side, we’ll face more of the same that we currently see under the Trump administration: an emboldened Alt-Right, more pollution of our air and waterways, tax incentives for the rich, fewer civil rights, and, among other things, less economic opportunity for many Americans.

If he’s guilty, well, then, we’ll have the opportunity to claw our way out of Trump’s purgatory and back into being a nation that is governed rather than ruled by hateful tweets.

Keep your eyes on the money trail.

 

Learn more: Read the following articles by respected media outlets:

Don’t speak no English? ‘merica don’t wantcha

By Gary Kimsey

With my eyes rolled upward to demonstrate the stupidity of it all, I let out a disgusting snort when the news media recently reported Donald Trump eagerly supports legislation that favors immigrants who speak English.

Gary Kimsey is a writer and marketing specialist. Learn more about him…

Gosh, there you have it. Such legislation would keep out Klingons and me—that is, if I weren’t already here, mind you.

You see, I’m a mumbler. My wife often asks: “What did you say?” My friends: “Huh?” People I’ve just met gaze quizzically at me as if I’m speaking, well, Klingon.

Chances are extremely excellent that I’d be nixed at the immigration office when asked what language I speak. “Engblurmumblelish,” I’d mumble.

A Klingon would reply, “qaStaH nuq jay’?” Which in English is the equivalent of barking out, “What the *$@expletive delete%* is going on?” Well, that’s if the Klingon is stubbornly contrary and refuses to reply in anything but his own native language. In actuality, Klingons speak perfect English.

Not familiar with Klingons? Click here to learn about them. Click here to find out about their language.

Introduced by conservative Republican U.S. senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, the legislation would cut immigration in half by changing the system for legal residency, or green cards. The new focus in this legislation, named the RAISE Act, would be on applicants who can financially support themselves and their families, have skills that contribute to our economy, and speak English.

The president and authors of the legislation have failed—either on purpose or through lack of vision—to take into account an important point: Humans have the ability to do great things. We can go to the moon and beyond. We visit ocean depths. We invented rapid global communication. And a measure of no less greatness: People who adopt a new motherland can actually learn her language.

Who would you vote for–a Klingon or Donald Trump? Take the short poll at the end of this blog.

I have to wonder if Mr. Trump himself would be let into the U.S. under the proposed legislation. Don’t believe me? Read his convoluted tweets. Are they really English? And, as far as his speaking English? Listen to the president’s spoken words, his inability to complete a sentence, his contrived words with no meaning, his verbal wanderings, misuse of verbs and subjects, nonsensical messages…well, the list goes on.

To be fair, however, I have to admit that Mr. Trump’s mangling of our verbal and written language is more representative of what’s happening in our society than one might like. In short, grammatically correct English is on the way out. How often do we hear people make such statements as “Me and Joe went to the movies” and “He don’t know nothing”? (Uh, just in case, please note that it should be “Joe and I…” and “He doesn’t know anything….”)

Do Klingons speak English better than Donald Trump? Take the short poll below.

And the written language? Oh, ye gads. Let me give a small example of what I’ve witnessed. I taught a magazine writing class for college seniors and graduate students for a couple of years. Each semester I had to give remedial grammar lessons. A plural verb goes with a plural subject…a singular noun takes a singular pronoun…and so on and so forth. Many of these supposedly highly educated students had no idea how to craft a grammatically correct sentence.

Anyway, at this very spot, I would like to make a graceful transition to a related topic by writing, “Well, now, all kidding aside….” Unfortunately, I wasn’t kidding about the above observations.

The proposed legislation smacks not only of racism but also of economic ignorance. The U.S. is beset by an aging population and low fertility rates—two trends that economists say severely limit our society’s innovation and economic growth.  By restricting immigration, we dull our economic edge.

The legislation also would close the spigot on a stream of workers—both in the high-tech and lower-skilled areas—that America needs to fill big gaps in our labor force.  Ask yourself how many vegetables, really, will end up in our grocery stores if we impose an English-only rule on the folks doing the backbreaking harvesting.

Thanks to immigration, businesses are created and improvements are made, leading to more jobs in our country. Boosting economic growth is an issue that should be supported by all of the congress—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. With this thought in mind, I encourage you to contact your congressional representatives to voice opposition to the legislation.

If that doesn’t work, tell them, “wo’ batlhvaD.” After all, as this Klingon saying goes, we’re on the same team, aren’t we?

 

Subscribe to Writers With No Borders—it’s free. Click on the “Follow” button at the top of the right column.

 

Welcome to World War III, My Friend

By Gary Kimsey 

Part I of a series for Writers With No Borders

I’m not a philosopher, a scientist, politician, or deep thinker. I’m a guy from middle America who likes beer, pretzels, Sunday football, and naps.

On one specific topic, I’m a fellow who has plenty in common with the observation Butch Cassidy made when he announced to the Sundance Kid: “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Gary Kimsey is a writer and editor who lives part of the year in his hometown of Independence, Mo., and the rest of the time in his family’s ancestral home along the Poudre River in the northern Colorado Rockies. Learn more about him...

My vision: We’re in World War III and most Americans don’t know or care. The few average Americans aware of the global conflict don’t know what to do. This isn’t a war where we enlist, donate blood, or manufacture tanks, cannons and ships.

This war is being fought with computers instead of guns. Combatants rely on the sophisticated technology of bytes, bots, worms, Trojans, malware, viruses, and 010101s, the coding upon which computer language is based. Most Americans don’t even begin to understand the crucial inner workings of such technology.

During the last few years, the Internet has been crammed with news articles and opinion columns focusing on “when” or “if” World War III ever comes about. The general consensus: the war will be cyber attacks on such infrastructures as power grids, banking and financial systems, communication networks, voting systems, airlines—you know, the stuff of the culture and lifestyles in America and the countries of our allies.

While issuing such predictions, almost every expert qualifies statements by couching their thoughts in the future tense, as if they believe a cyber war may or may not happen in the future. Bifocals they wear; the war is here.

We have yet to witness a cyber Pearl Harbor or a cyber event with the magnitude of the assassination of an archduke that set off World War I. This is a war we’ve slipped into mostly unnoticed by Americans. We continue on with our lives in a state of denial or the bliss of ignorance, save for the inconvenience of having to change passwords now and then.

Some leaders are playing politics at a critical time when wisdom and action are needed much more. The most recent example occurred June 13 when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the extent of his knowledge of Russia’s intrusion into the 2016 presidential election: “I know nothing but what I’ve read in the paper.”

Does anyone really believe that ignorance constitutes a valid excuse from our nation’s top prosecutor? My opinion: Sessions pirouetted away from the issue because his boss is under investigation in the matter of Russian cyber warfare. Even Sessions himself is under suspicion.

Cyber attacks come almost daily: hacks that steal millions of IDs and supposedly protected information from banks, credit card companies, Yahoo, political parties, hospitals, and even the CIA and Department of Justice. The list is long, detailed and depressing.

The newest revelation came June 13 with the news that Russia’s incursion into the 2016 election was more widespread than previously believed. The attack targeted voter data bases in 39 states, twice as many and more viciously waged than initially identified. The attack upon Illinois, for instance, attempted to delete or alter voter data. These were attacks on the basic core of democracy, on our way of life. Not a single gunshot was fired or bomb exploded.

The cyber weapons reflect the evolution of warfare. World War I had its new technology: tanks and airplanes. World War II: jet propulsion; self-propelled missiles and nuclear bombs. The weapon now is intellect, the ability to arrange a mass of electrons so they go forth in an almost magical way to cause havoc and destruction.

Today’s combatants aren’t the 400-pound guys sitting on their beds, as Donald Trump proclaimed in trying to lay blame for the 2016 hack of the Democratic Party’s computer records. Rather, the combatants are Russia, North Korea, England, France, Iran, China, the Baltic countries, and other nations, including the U.S.

We must not forget ISIS. We frequently see TV news footage of bloodied ISIS battlegrounds. Yet, seldom do we hear that ISIS has a covert “hacking wing” which has the potential to be more dangerous than any other cyber warriors.

The basic purpose of World War III’s technology: espionage and sabotage. They—whoever they are—are trying to take us down. We—our computer geeks—are trying to stop and take them down. Sound familiar? Opponent against opponent. Warrior against warrior. It’s a war scenario.

At the risk of sounding like a hopeless doomsayer, I think what we witness now is tame compared to what we’ll see in the future. The current flexing of cyber warfare muscles is merely a toning and strengthening—like young athletes training for the Olympics. The gold medal represents a discernable shift in the order of the world.

Next in this series: Ted Koppel and the darkness.

Why Trump’s Bait-and-Switch Tweets Confuse Americans

By Gary Kimsey

In his use of Twitter, is President Trump performing a classic bait-and-switch scam to confuse Americans?

Well, yes, of course.

Gary Kimsey is a writer and retired marketing specialist. Learn more about him…

“Bait and switch” is a dishonest marketing tactic where consumers (we Americans in this case) are encouraged to believe something about a product (here, the product is Trump). The terrible truth is that the product is vastly different and of significantly less quality than what was promised. It’s often easy to identify a bait-and-switch maneuver. Thus, be wary when someone says, “Believe me”—a favored Trump expression.

I couldn’t help but think about bait-and-switch while watching the March 20 congressional hearing by the House Intelligence Committee. The hearing focused on hacking, Putin, cabinet members’ ties to Russia, and, of course, Trump’s crazy Twitter tweets claiming President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (I took the liberty of adding the word “crazy,” by the way, for his accusatory tweets were just that.

I found it interesting that Trump conducted a tweet storm as the hearing was underway. He used the official Twitter account of the President of the United States. More than 1.6 million Americans received the tweets.

These tweets contained partial truths, at best, as well as grossly misinterpreted accounts of what was said in the hearings. Predictably, this was the same fantasy pattern that many of his tweets have followed since the inauguration.

Click here for a fact-check on Trump’s tweets during the congressional hearing.

As a person who spent the last half of his 50-year professional career in marketing, I am well-aware that Trump—the quintessential marketer—fully operates on a certain assumption. Americans, especially those who voted for him, will unquestioningly believe information from such a traditionally respected source as a U.S. president.

Think back to your history and civics classes. Many of us were indoctrinated in high school and college classes to believe certain positions in America are above lying. The presidency is supposedly one of the sacred positions. For my generation of Baby Boomers, this myth of total truthfulness was shattered by Nixon.

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The problem now is that many Americans don’t peer beyond tweets and eye-catching headlines. As a society, we are victims of 140 characters and information overload. Fake News is a stake aimed at our intellectual heart. We fear Fake News so much that many of us will believe, without questioning, a president who tweets “Fake News” whenever someone disagrees with him, whether it’s individuals, the media or intelligence agencies.

Trump knows our fears and plays upon them by telling us in his tweets—without presenting any evidence—that information from such reliable sources as the FBI is wrong. He also keeps the tweets coming as a way to divert the thoughts of Americans away from other issues—his denial of global warming, defunding Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood, appointing to his cabinet inept and incapable billionaire friends rather than experts, and the likely loss of health care for 24 million Americans, to name just a few issues. Rather than draining the swamp, Trump is filling it with moccasins and alligators.

The impacts of bait-and-switch in tweets? Many Americans have learned they are unable to trust the person sitting in the Oval Office. Strife is perpetuated in society and politics, continuing to divide the nation. The Office of the President of the United States—the world’s most powerful position—is belittled in the eyes of Americans, as well as people and governments around the world. Important issues are overshadowed. Democracy is undermined. Confusion reigns.

How do we avoid the bait-and-switch of Trump’s tweets? We must cast our vision beyond what we read in his tweets. Seek out at reliable sources. Fact-check information.

Here are reliable fact-checking sites:

Also look at The 10 Best Fact-checking Sites.

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