Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Identify Kremlin Trolls on Facebook

How to Identify Kremlin Trolls on Facebook
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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After the 2016 election, I added over 2000 Facebook "friends"—most of whom I believed were fellow liberals—in the hopes of filling my feed with like-minded posts. Little did my new friends and I know, many of these accounts were actually Kremlin trolls. Over time, they slowly wedged more and more into our social circles.

Over the past four months, I have researched these accounts, looking for similar characteristics that I can share to help others identify these trolls. While no two trolls are exactly alike, they share two fundamental characteristics:


One: A Public Profile

There is no sense in spreading propaganda if no one can see it.


Two: “Post Blasting”

Do they post articles, memes, any type of political content, seconds, minutes apart, multiple times? Then you probably found a troll. (You may also have also found a bot, which is an account set up by Facebook pages to share their posts. Look at the posts they’re sharing—if it is only from one source, then they’re probably a bot.)


Okay, so you found a public account blasting a ridiculous amount of posts. Here’s some more signs to look for:


Employment is Listed as Unemployed or Retired

It makes it harder to verify the person’s authenticity if they don’t have a place of employment.

Profile Images

Kremlin trolls often use generic images related to their political affiliation, or those of famous people. Some will use images of regular people, and reuse the same image over and over cropped and panned out. Don’t try to Google Image these photos; the Kremlin is too smart to use an image that you can find via Google Images. Due to the poor quality of these images, my guess is that many of these are scanned.

Pages

Trolls are often recommissioned several times over. When a troll account is recommissioned, say, as a liberal troll, they clean up on their images and posts from when they were conservative trolls.
Pages, however, is a section of Facebook often ignored by trolls. They spend a lot of time “liking” pages that fit into the image they are trying to convey, but they forget to remove “likes’ from a previous personality. If you study their page “likes,” it’s quite possible you’ll find page “likes” for conflicting issues – such as a “like” for “Trump is a Big Orange Clown” and a like for “Trump for 2020.” Trolls will also forget that they are on their hacked accounts, and “like” pages in their native language, or a topic that is juxtaposed to the account’s identity—for example, a retired Presbyterian school teacher from Indiana “liking” a page for Ukrainian strippers.


Grammar & Punctuation

In My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins famously bemoaned, “There are even places where English completely disappears; in America they haven't used it for years.” Yeah, well, he had a point. Those who live outside English-speaking countries are taught proper, more formal English, and Russia is no exception. Look for posts with thoughtful, well-laid diatribes that read almost like term papers.

Trolls don’t often comment on their own posts, but when they do, look at their writing style in their responses. Their English is never quite as good because they have to make up sentences on the fly; look for stylistic discrepancies between their posts and their comments. Some don't even bother to reply, but use a meme or image instead.


The Space Between the Last Word and the Punctuation Mark

Although it’s technically punctuation, this deserves its own category. Trolls add spaces before a period. We don’t know why. A common thought is that it is done by the translating services that the trolls use.


Sharing of “Memories”

Trolls don’t post a lot of personal posts – although they have gotten better. They do looove to post memories on their wall as a way to validate their account. The thinking is, if it appears to be an old account that has been around awhile, it can’t be a troll. Wrong. Older accounts are used by trolls more than new accounts. Older accounts can actually be bought on the dark web, and the older the account, the more expensive.

Overuse of Divisive Nicknames

RepubiKKKan, Killary, tRUMP…


Shares an Overwhelming Amount of Image-Heavy Images

Let me explain. The typical meme created by an American relies on the language, not the image. The American sense of humor is different. We rely on more sarcasm and irony. Russian memes are heavily photoshopped –many skillfully so—and rely on the image itself to make an impact.


Share Ad Nauseum Content Related to the Most Divisive Topics in America

Usually this falls under racial tension. Starting last week, it switched to gun control.


Shares Fake or Overly Biased Articles

Think: Palmer Report


Signs Not to Look For

  • Relationships. Old hacked accounts come prepackaged with relationships, so if you think “oh, this person is not a troll, they have five cousins.” – think again.
  • Geotagging. Just because an account’s post is tagged in Trenton, New Jersey does not mean they were in New Jersey when it was posted. It is very, very easy to trick Facebook’s geotracker, and you better believe Kremlin trolls have the right tools for the job.
  • The fact that they share non-political posts, or posts about Russian hacking means nothing. It’s a ploy. They do that to throw you off their scent. In fact, trolls are usually the first to accuse others of being trolls.


Once you find a Russian Troll…

You’ll find a hundred more. Keep searching. Keep reporting. Go to the pages that they share from and look there too. Liberal and Conservative pages are plagued with troll accounts. Here are some of the pages that pop up over and over in my research:

The Palmer Report (if you want to the space before the punctuation mark in action, look no further)

Rachel Maddow Fans

Democratic Moms
https://www.facebook.com/Democraticmom/

Expose Trump
https://www.facebook.com/exposetrumpnews/
(Their website, learnprogress.org is no longer working. They haven’t posted in forever.)

Proud Liberals and Proud to be a Democrat are the same fucking people. There’s no information on who manages it.
https://www.facebook.com/Proud-Democrats-2021255211434727/
https://www.facebook.com/ProudToBeADemocrat/

Impeach Trump and Fight Trump are the same people.
https://www.facebook.com/impeachtrumpasap/
https://www.facebook.com/Fight-Trump-1876828232546679/

Same People, same shit:
https://www.facebook.com/We-Are-Liberal-1036841469686059/
https://www.facebook.com/Liberal-American-610045389164725/

Sketchy, divisive, clickbat promoting a blogsite called truthbait.com that has no contact information.
https://www.facebook.com/ILoveDemocrats/

I’m not implying these accounts are run by trolls; however, many pages are. Facebook pages was how Putin got his start in the Facebook game. Accounts were simply created to push the page posts.

Remember, you can also block from seeing Facebook pages, which is really your best recourse from being exposed to propaganda.

Continue to report troll accounts to Facebook, but do not expect a high success rate. Facebook keeps these accounts because, due their prolific posting habits, they increase engagement, and that makes Facebook money.

The Battle of Twittergrad

The Battle of Twittergrad

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Excerpt from Unfriended: Social Media in the Era of Trump
***

Wendy didn’t get Twitter. The forty-five-year old librarian from Fargo, North Dakota, tweeted occasionally, but no one replied or retweeted her tweets because she was, admittedly, a nobody. She used Twitter mostly to stargaze; to look up her favorite celebrities, sometimes replying to their tweets and hoping they’d reply back (they never did).

In October 2016, when the race for the White House was in full throttle, George Takei tweeted, “I hear the bathrooms in Trump Tower are being relabeled ‘Bad Hombres’ and ‘Nasty Women.’”

Wendy laughed and retweeted, adding her own comment, “He’ll have to learn how to spell first!”

Immediately, another Twitter user replied to her comment, “TRUMP WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. #MAGA!!”

Intrigued, Wendy looked up the commenter’s profile. “FloridaMom4Trump.” A profile image of a woman in her sixties with a full head of ruffled, graying blonde hair grinned back at her. Her bio read: PROUD AMERICAN PATRIOT AND MOM OF ARMY SOLDIER. #MAGA, accompanied by multiple American flag emojis.

Wendy tweeted back, “Do you really want a racist misogynist for president?”

FloridaMom4Trump replied, “HE’S BETTER THAN KILLARY!” and added a link to a story, “WikiLEaks Confirms Hillary Sold Weapons to ISIS…Then Drops Another Bombshell!” Wendy was no expert, but even she could tell the news was fake, as well as the site, The Political Insider, reporting it.

A sinking feeling settled in Wendy’s stomach. “What in God’s name am I looking at?” she wondered.

#

For some, Twitter was a delightful, no-frills social media platform where they could jump in, grab what they needed, and jump out.

For others, it was a piss pool—a Palahnuikesque fight club where the morally defective could settle scores. Polluted, bitey, and overpopulated, its dumbed-down, noncommittal pop-in and pop-out public interface made it the friendliest for the trolliest—the type of asinine environment where narcissistic arrivistes like Donald Trump could thrive, turning their 140-character yammer into a propaganda megaphone audible to the world.

So it’s no wonder when Putin sent his trolls into battle, Twitter was Ground Zero.

#

In October 2016, London-born writer and former Conservative Member of British Parliament Louise Mensch broke the news of Russia’s Twitter army and its attempts to influence the election.

It was a shot fired too far and too late.

Blame it on Mensch’s not-so-credible reputation (she’s been called, among other things, “the paranoid bard in the age of Trump”) or the outlet in which she published it—Heat Street, a decidedly right-wing news blog funded by none other than Rupert Murdoch—but when the article broke just weeks before election day, it wasn’t well-received—when it was received at all. Conservatives laughed it off; the Washington Post refuted the evidence backing up Mensch’s claims. Liberals largely ignored it; they didn’t need a conspiracy theory raining on their parade. The “grab them by the pussy” tape had been released. Republicans had, as Bill Maher put it, “handcuffed themselves to a dead hooker.” So what if Russia was playing a virtual mind game on social media? It didn’t matter. Nothing could stop a Clinton win.

It was an assumption that 65,844,954 Americans would live to regret.

#

Perhaps Louise Mensch and other foreign press were on top of the Russian’s covert online operations because they saw history repeating. The American election wasn’t the first time Putin had sought to manipulate an event in his favor.

In 2014, Russia used social media to promote their Ukraine campaign. When almost fifty people—most of them pro-Russian activists—were killed in a building fire, Russian Twitter accounts went into overdrive, blaming the Ukraine and asking for public sympathy, forgetting to mention that the pro-Russian activists had fired the first shot, and continued to fire on pro-Ukrainians even as flames engulfed the trade union building.

In April 2015, The Guardian reported details of a Russian troll house, where hundreds of bloggers spent hours each day flooding forums and social networks at home and abroad with anti-western and pro-Kremlin propaganda. These trolls would work especially hard when Putin launched his less popular campaigns. For example, when the army’s fighter planes were sent to the war in Syria, the Russian population—only 14% of whom supported military intervention in Syria—where inundated with a “succession of live reports, analysis, and official defence briefings that combined delivered a seemingly coordinated message: that airstrikes in Syria are crucial in the fight against ISIS.”

Skip to June 2016, where more than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted tens of thousands of messages urging Britain to leave the European Union, just days before referendum on the issue. When government officials studied 139 of these tweets from twenty-nine accounts, they found unflattering, photoshopped pictures of London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, racial slurs against refugees, and articles about terrorist attacks in England and across Europe, all clearly directed for spreading racial hatred across the Western world.

#

A year and two months after the 2016 American Presidential election, and Americans still don’t know what to think. New—and often contradictory—information continues to leak daily on how far Russia’s propaganda machine reached. So far, 50,000 Twitter accounts have been directly linked to the Kremlin, as well as 3,000 accounts to the Internet Research Agency, an infamous troll farm responsible for wide-ranging influence operations on social media in the lead-up to the election. I suspect by the time you read this, thousands—if not millions—of more accounts will have been uncovered.

#

The Kremlin’s modus operandi for attacking the 2016 election via social media came in two varieties—bots and trolls.

The Kremlin bots are automated Twitter accounts programmed to fire off the same message seconds apart, in alphabetical order according their made-up last names. Their messages include hashtags to rig Twitter trends, such as #TrumpTrain and #CrookedHillary. They can retweet, “like”, and reply to tweets; they can also follow each other and retweet themselves.

Autobots rarely feature a profile image, and when they do, it is often shared among multiple accounts. Bots also reply to messages in less time than what is humanly possible to read the tweet that they are responding to, and their response to you is the same response they’ve given others. They follow far more accounts than they are followed in return, they have little to say apart from the topic that they were programmed for, and they tweet prolifically without apparent need to fulfill the basic human requirements of food and sleep. (If the account has tweeted at least fifty times a day across a period of four or more days, it’s fair to assume it’s a bot, according to researchers.)

Kremlin troll accounts are run by humans. These accounts are usually the curators of the messages that the autobots retweet. In terms of the 2016 election, they trolled pro-Hillary accounts with disparaging, often crude comments and images, and they were the first to comment on Trump’s tweets, replying with memes of the American flag or photoshopped images of Hillary in prison stripes.

These online hecklers are also designed to discredit or silence private citizens in powerful positions, like journalists or celebrities, by means of organized harassment, leading the way with autobots following close behind them.

Kremlin trolls are harder to spot than autobots. Keeping up appearances is important to them: they don’t overtweet, they tweet ideas that appear to have some original thought behind them, and they almost always geotag their tweets. That last bit—geotag—is important, because occasionally the bots will forget to hide or change it, and towns like Anzhero-Sudzhensk or Belaya Kholunitsa appear instead of towns like Phoenix or Miami.

Kremlin trolls are also harder to discern because they are often not new accounts, but hacked accounts recommissioned for propaganda. In a 2017 article, the New York Times cited the case of Rachel Usedom, a young American engineer in California, “who tweeted mostly about her sorority before losing interest in 2014. In November 2016, her account was taken over, renamed #ClintonCurruption, and used to promote Russian leaks.”

Working together, these trolls and autobots turned election era Twitter into a dark, dystrophic slaughterhouse. As The Atlantic’s Douglas Guilbeault put it, “Never have we seen such an all-out bot war.”

#

Perhaps the best (and most disputed) example of Russia’s army bot tactics occurred after the first presidential debate. While everyone and their racist grandmother could tell Clinton came out on top, Twitter activity suggested a different outcome—an alternative fact, if you will. The hashtag #TrumpWon began to trend, and it stayed that way for hours.

The odd phenomenon had many Americans scratching their heads. The next day, Boston Globe readers woke up to the headline, “Why is #TrumpWon trending on Twitter?”

Louise Mensch knew the answer. In her October 2016 Heat Street article, she explained the Kremlin bot methods: “Let’s say you had a hashtag you wanted to get trending. You have a thousand bots (or Russian Trolls) and a popular account like Ricky Vaughn [a real person]. You have the bots use the hashtag, flooding Twitter until it gets a high count, but stays just under the top twenty trends. Then, Ricky Vaughn pitches the hashtag to his followers. Here is where the window of timing kicks in: within minutes, Ricky Vaughn can have a hashtag trending, but before he gets the hashtag to the top fifteen, the bots automatically delete their tweets with the hashtags. You’ve now started a ‘trend’ associated with Ricky Vaughn, and not a 1,000 odd bots or Russian trolls.” (At the time Mensch wrote the article, Ricky Vaughn was not a confirmed troll. A year later, his account has been deactivated by Twitter—but the question of whether he is a troll of the American or Russian variety, remains unclear to this day.)

As controversial as Mensch's conclusion may be, she wasn’t the only one watching Twitter closely. A research team led by Oxford University Professor Philip Howard was also studying nuances in hashtag trends after the debates, using popular pro-Trump and pro-Hillary hashtags as guides.

After the first debate, their research concluded that 37% of the pro-Trump tweets had been posted by bots, while bots were responsible for only 22.3% of pro-Clinton tweets. In total, 576, 178 pro-Trump tweets were by bots, while 136,696 were in support of Clinton.

Bots turned up the heat for the second debate, with 800,00 pro-Trump tweets and just under 200,000 pro-Clinton tweets.

Howard didn’t point the finger directly at Russia for the huge political bot party; however, he did suggest the data indicated a deliberate manipulation behind the bots’ behavior: “They were purposeful, thoughtful, and deliberate about when to release messages, what those messages should be, and what their targets were.”

And while both candidates benefited from the bots’ hard work, there was no question who they preferred. "On the balance of probabilities, if you examined an automated bot account, the odds are four to one that you'll find it's a bot tweeting in favor of Trump," said Howard.

So why bother tweeting for Clinton at all? According to the September 2017 New York Times article, “The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election,” Russia used the pro-Clinton bots to blur its role in influencing the election results. Additionally, their seemingly pro-Clinton hashtags weren’t pro-Clinton at all, but modern-day black propaganda for spreading dissention among Clinton supporters, applying pro-Clinton hashtags to inject anti-Clinton memes, links, and political messages into pro-Clinton circles. “Like a virus, they essentially co-opted the opponent’s messaging and infiltrated her supporters. Using pro-Clinton hashtags like #ImWithHer and #uniteblue, memes describing Clinton as corrupt ricocheted across both blue and red feeds.”

#

The bot activity may have increased around the time of presidential debates, but it didn’t start and stop there. A November 2017 analysis published by the Wall Street Journal determined that Russian Twitter accounts began promoting Trump mere weeks after he announced his candidacy. Not only did these accounts, often disguised as fake, right-leaning Americans, heap praise on Trump, but much of their effort was also spent criticizing and spreading fake news about Trump’s Republican opponent, Jeb Bush, as well as Clinton.

“The support for Trump was clear even at that stage,” reported the technology news site, Engadget.com. “There was a 10:1 ratio of praise to criticism among the bogus accounts, a figure that would climb to 30:1 when the election was two weeks away. Identical messages often showed up within minutes of each other, hinting at tight coordination.”

According to Howard’s fellow researcher, University of Washington Professor Samuel Woolley, the persistence of the accounts during the election were also meant to give the appearance that Trump had a bigger following than what he had in reality.

“Some of the botnets that supported Trump were more than likely purpose-built to create an illusion of massive online political traction for Trump,” said Woolley. “These bots work to create a bandwagon effect among voters who were still considering a candidate, or were focused on a specific issue. They also generated a spiral of silence among voters who might not agree with a candidate or issue, but who experienced a barrage of hugely enhanced content from the Trump bot network. These purpose-build bots and botnets often disappeared right after a political campaign, some were even created for a specific issue within a campaign and go offline after working to manipulate public opinion around that one issue.”

On election day and a few days before, the bots redirected their purpose almost entirely to spread misinformation that benefited Trump: Democrats could vote on a different day than Republicans; Clinton had a stroke during the final week of the election; and that an FBI agent associated with her email investigation was involved in a murder-suicide.

#

It’s hard to look back a year later without a sense of awe at Russia’s commitment to divide America using a weapon of our own making.

But their commitment also begs the question: why Twitter? Why would Putin put so much investment in dividing Americans via a social media platform that only 16% of the country used? And surely he must have considered, out of that paltry percent, how many of those weren’t even registered voters, or too young to vote? How many were even active, or signed in just to stargaze before dropping out?

How many of the 16% were actually paying attention?

It’s a logical fly in the ointment, and not one that cannot be easily explained.

…unless Twitter was never the prime offensive, but a modern-day Pas de Calais, a staging ground to divert the enemy from the real invasion...

Coming soon: "From Russia, With Likes"
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Red is the Bluest Color

Red is the Bluest Color
Thursday, February 15, 2018
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Grayscale Photo of Person Holding a Gun


I woke up from a nightmare where I was standing on a street corner during a storm, watching electric poles fall and knock over trees, and trees fall and knock down houses, and I realized my dream was America.

***

Two weeks ago my daughter interviewed my friends about their careers and one friend she interviewed was a mass shooting expert and my daughter asked, “Mom, do you think think that’s appropriate for school?”

I said, “I can’t think of anything more appropriate.”

***

Yesterday my daughter climbed into the car, held her arms out palms flat, and said, “I know, I know, mom. We heard in gym. Can we just enjoy Valentines Day? Don’t turn this into Sandy Hook.”

(Sandy Hook is forever engraved in my children’s memories as the day mommy locked herself in the bathroom and didn’t come out for hours. The Season of Grieving. The Christmas That Wasn’t.)

***

Over sandwiches I told my 11 yr old son, “Kaya, run outside if the shooter is inside and you’re near an exit.”

“What if I’m not near an exit?”

“Then hide behind a locked door.”

“What if the door won’t lock, Mommy?”

“Then make yourself small and stay perfectly still.”

We play Mario World 3D and the mushroom men are chasing us. Kaya’s toad character runs inside a gumdrop tree. “I would hide here if this was real life,” he says.

We change worlds. Now we’re speeding through clear pipes sprinkled with gold coins. “Here, mommy,” Kaya says, jumping into a wall of bricks. “I would hide here.”

“Good, Kaya.”

We’re chasing turtles through the sky. Kaya pops into a rainbow and waves from a cloud. “Am I safe here, Mommy?”

“You’re safe, Kaya.” And I throw fireballs through tears.

***

A child’s death is never a single casualty. A child dies, and a part of the parents die too. A community fractures. The future evaporates. Any weapon that can kill a child is a weapon of mass destruction.

***

American mothers,

each day you send your children to slaughterhouses.

and you pray at the altar of elected officials who advise, “say three Hail Marys and take a Tylenol in the morning.” Thoughts and prayers. Wink, wink. Their cloaks are lined with  human sacrifices, their pockets deep with second amendment rubies, and come reelection time, they’ll clink glasses of champagne with the men who armored the men who butchered your children, while in Florida, 17 angels roam the skies, searching for the cloud behind the rainbow.

American mothers,

Your country is killing your children.

American mothers,

Rise.
Scream.
Yell.

Your voice is more powerful than any weapon.

It is time.

It's not a blue wave coming in November. It's a lifeboat.
And it's coming to save our children. 
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thank you Alabama

Thank you Alabama
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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This one’s for the Yellow Dog Dems, the Exonerated Men, the Indies, the Greens, the Swings, the right-wing refugees.

This one’s for the fed-up librarian retired in Gadsden who never voted Dem until today and Peggy in Montgomery and Ebenezer on Fourth Avenue cutting hair saying white folks don’t scare him no more since Vietnam, he’ll vote in a dog fight, he don’t care.

This one’s for the troops on the ground, the phone bank crowd, the drivers and givers and big spenders and Twitter warriors and the keyboard queens sharing memes.

This one’s for the women who left early and the men who came late and the elderly and sick who waited in line for hours. This one’s for the disowned children of the rainbow world who stayed close to home when home wasn’t safe. This one’s for the descendants of slaves. This one’s for the woke kids in Tuscaloosa and Auburn and the genteel ladies in Mobile hiding their girlhoods in purses beside their photo IDs.

This one’s for the progress, the message sent, and the sins that can no longer be disguised behind a Bible verse.

This one’s for the Americans who lose time and again, but are never defeated. This one’s for the daughter who tugs at her mother’s skirt and asks, “what’s next?” This one’s for the mother who replies, “We keep fighting.”
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An Open Letter to White Women in Alabama

An Open Letter to White Women in Alabama
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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Liberals are wrong about you. You’re not racist or homophobic (and no, you’re not married to your brother). You’re well-educated. You love your family and your church, and you will always put them first. If others have a problem with that, so be it.

You live in Alabama because you love it – the tall trees, the trips to the coast in the summer, the fried everything, the slow, pleasant pace of life (except during football season, when the air ripples with excitement).

Everyone is nice here, too. Neighbors are real neighbors; people take the time to stop and say hello. If you get a flat tire, a second later someone will stop and help. Do they do that up north, you wonder? In Chicago or Boston? Do they really care about their fellow man — all those self-righteous snowflakes with their protest signs, smug liberal cannibals so hungry for outrage that they’ll eagerly devour their own?

These Libs pop up online sometimes and accuse you of hating women, to which you reply, “I am a woman.” Just because you don’t strap on a pussy hat and march on Washington, demanding rights that (news flash!) you already have, doesn’t mean you haven’t felt the full weight of womanhood.

Or girlhood, for that matter. You remember being fourteen, don’t you? – all limbs and unruly hair, a mouth lined with braces. It’s a difficult time. You’re not a child anymore, but you’re not a woman either. Suddenly watching certain movies with your dad feels strange, and you no longer tell your mother everything. You still play games with kids on your street, but somehow it doesn’t feel the same – almost as if there’s another layer, a new price for playing.

Did older men approach you then, or gaze at you from afar with a look in their eye that made you uncomfortable — a look that you had no name for yet? Maybe it was a young man who first made unwanted advantages … are you the one woman out of four who has been sexually assaulted? If not, then certainly you’re in the Harassment and Close Calls Club, where most of us are members.

When was the first time you were told to be silent? When was the time you silenced yourself? Have you had enough self-reflection to trace back all your life’s struggles to the moment you said no and he said yes?

I think you have. In fact, I think you’ve changed a lot over the last couple of months, haven’t you? You’re still a God-fearing woman who loves her family, but lately, the pillars of truth that build the foundation of your faith have taken a beating. You’re starting to wonder if men, who have spent centuries interpreting God’s words, have maybe, just maybe, construed His words to their favor.

It started with Trump’s Access Hollywood video. It repulsed you. It didn’t keep you from voting for him (he was still a better choice than Killary), but it didn’t sit right with you then, and it still doesn’t. Then, a year later, the #MeToo movement grew momentum. You didn’t participate – at least, not in public. Instead you wrote it down somewhere – maybe in a post-it note that you slipped into your Bible, or maybe you typed it in a flurry of keystrokes that you saved in an inconspicuous folder on the family computer. Maybe you didn’t write it at all, but spoke it, when only God was around to witness your truth.

A month later, when public figures began to lose their jobs from sexual harassment claims, you thought quietly, “You reap what you sow.” And when, fifty-so plus men later, your husband casually mentioned, “This is turning into a Witch Hunt!”…you quietly disagreed with him.

Liberals are wrong about you, but maybe the Conservatives are too. You are not a sheep. You will not be spoon fed what to think. You may never march down Pennsylvania Avenue wearing one of those obscene pussy hats, but maybe it’s time you protested in your own way.

On Dec. 12, you have a big decision to make. As a fellow Southerner, may I make a suggestion? In the voting booth, go ahead and hand Jesus the wheel, but let your fourteen-year-old self lead the way.
Sunday, December 10, 2017

What a Mass Shooting Expert Wants You to Know

What a Mass Shooting Expert Wants You to Know
Sunday, December 10, 2017
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What a Mass Shooting Expert Wants You to Know

Jackie Schildkraut's Facebook wall is filled with posts describing the fallen, a digital shrine. Christopher Roybal from Colorado, "could draw people in with an infectious smile." Carrie Parsons "had a contagious giggle." Patricia Mestas was "a mother of three, a grandmother of eight, and a great-grandmother to one."
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