No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Propaganda

Ardern wants to suppress free speech.

with 26 comments

Via Zero Hedge

Ardern lashed out at “disinformation” and called for a global coalition to control speech. After nodding toward free speech, she proceeded to lay out a plan for its demise through government regulation:

In our glorious leaders own words

But what if that lie, told repeatedly, and across many platforms, prompts, inspires, or motivates others to take up arms. To threaten the security of others. To turn a blind eye to atrocities, or worse, to become complicit in them. What then?

This is no longer a hypothetical. The weapons of war have changed, they are upon us and require the same level of action and activity that we put into the weapons of old.

We recognized the threats that the old weapons created. We came together as communities to minimize these threats. We created international rules, norms and expectations. We never saw that as a threat to our individual liberties – rather, it was a preservation of them. The same must apply now as we take on these new challenges.

“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble? How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?””

Back to Tyler Durden

As the great civil libertarian Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

Authoritarian, socialist, ignoramus propagandising. Thank feck there is an election next year.

Written by Whiskey&Pie

September 27, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Political Akido

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The philosophy of the martial art of Akido is to use an opponent’s strengths and energy against them to defend oneself and defeat them.

To that end I’ve been highly amused by a series of billboard and newspaper advertisements that have been appearing across the USA that proclaim the nuttiest “Woke” beliefs of the Democrat Party; ideas that are clearly supported and endorsed within the Party, but which they do not proclaim in public.

The group behind this is called For Sanity. Politico refers to what they call “Citizens For Sanity” as a “dark money” group (they’re fine with dark money for Democrats of course) – so you know those assholes are scared of the impact of having the left’s woke agenda exposed to normal Americans, and likely the rest of the MSM are as well. The Sanity site doesn’t seem to be soliciting for funds, so I guess they’ve got all the “Dark Money” they need! Here’s some examples of their work.

What is so effective about this type of messaging is that Democrats cannot deny the actual message. If they object, then they have to go on record denying their own agenda. Their Far-Left base won’t let them do that.

Perhaps ACT or National, or some private group that supports them, might consider a similar series of advertisements here in New Zealand aimed at the true beliefs of Labour and the Greens that we hear from their online supporters and even sometimes in public, on topics like the environment, 3 Waters and He Puapua.

Of course they’d have to first make sure that their own side doesn’t contain people who believe the same things. For example the following advertisement contains an idea I’ve heard expressed by at least one former National Cabinet Minister – and with the same sort of lofty, dismissive contempt as “Elite Pete”.

“We create our own reality”

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That’s a famous quote from early in the War on Terror, taken from an advisor to GW Bush, the very key advisor Karl Rove (aka “Turd Blossom” as labeled by Bush himself). Rove would later dispute the quote and given that it was a NYTimes Magazine reporter, Ron Suskind, who extracted it there’s a very real possibility that it’s as much bullshit as the famous Vietnam War-era “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” quote from New Zealand’s own Peter Arnett.

The full Rove quote:

”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” 

The Left had a lot of fun with that, somehow missing the fact that to a large extent, that’s exactly what Rove, Bush and company would go on to do, the real blowback only arriving years later and coming in the form not of more Jihadi terrorists but Donald Trump and his tens of millions of American voters.

And of course the Left were never in a position to lay claim to a solid understanding of reality anyway, and even less so nowadays:

Hawley: Why are you using the term “person with a capacity for pregnancy” instead of “woman?”

Bridges: “Your line of questioning is transphobic and opens trans people to violence.”

Hawley: “You’re saying I’m opening up people to violence by saying women can have pregnancies?”

The thing is that the Left is really pleased with the responses of Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges:

If you check in on Twitter today, the left is uniformly thrilled that UC Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges has put a couple of white Republican Senators in their place. Seriously, they are over the moon about this performance, especially for her exchange with Sen. Josh Hawley.

Not just square, old, conservative White GOP Senators either, but Black, female singers like … Macy Gray:

…who defended the traditional definition of woman (versus transgender revisionism) on British TV the other day, and told her critics to stuff it. But then

Wonder how they got to her and forced her to confess? It’s chilling, isn’t it? Macy Gray is a big star, a Grammy winner, even. They broke her in a day or so. We all know what she really thinks … and we all see her humiliation. Actually, I hope that we are only seeing humiliation here. The scary thing would be is if she accepted what Orwell called “the Party’s final, most essential command”: that she should stop believing the evidence of her own eyes.

Going back to the previous article I saw this among the various Twitter clips collected:

The argument that words are violence went from a few small elite colleges to appearing in a US Senate hearing in what, eight years?

Which will be the basis of “hate speech” laws that will be enacted here in NZ, as they have been in places like Great Britain.

About the only good news out of this is that the likes of Macy Gray could be broken so quickly because all her life she’s cruised with the “in-crowd”, surfing on the leading edge of all their causes while she sold them her music, and that the Woke Left will, like the French Revolution, devour itself (and appears to be in the process of doing so).

Having said that I go back to Rove’s quote – “We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” – and note that the likes of Professor Bridges absolutely see themselves as doing that, as they always have in their Whiggish view of history.

This quote from feminist Bari Weiss is right on the money too:

Disinvitation—now called deplatforming—has become a regular feature of American life as the politics of censoriousness, forced conformity and ideological obedience have taken hold…

These incidents are not discreet little firestorms. They are deeply interconnected. They are the result of a zealous and profoundly illiberal ideology that has infiltrated our largest companies, our media, our universities, our medical schools, our law schools, our hospitals, our local governments, our elementary schools. Our friendships. Our families. Our language…

[T]his is a revolution of culture. A revolution of ideas.

For far too long, it resisted description. The revolution’s proponents went from pretending it didn’t exist and insisting that those who suggested it did were wearing tinfoil hats . . . to declaring it was here, and it was excellent, and that if you didn’t get on board you were a bigot and a bad person.

The other day my wife got an email from an old friend of hers. The friend’s note was like a missive from the Soviet Union in that it demanded that my wife prove her purity of politics by disavowing . . . me. This is not the first time she or I has been asked to do something of this nature.

A politics that forces its adherents to put their most intimate relationships to a litmus test is a politics of totalitarianism.

Andrei will approve of this Fact Check

with 17 comments

I make a practice here at No Minister of bagging the MSM for their shallow ignorance, stupidity and overwhelming Lefty bias, and how ordinary citizens on the Internet can and have done their job for them.

It thus seems entirely fair to look at an example of this where “my side” of an issue is the one getting dunked. This was the original story.

Now there’s no question that the Russian Army has lost more than few senior officers, including several generals, because their command and control problems have led these men far too close to the frontline as they try to get their army to achieve objectives. As a result there are serious stories out of Russia – including from pro-Russian military blogs – of Putin and company dredging through the officer corps back home looking for replacements.

So this story was made to measure for the British Tabloid press. I suppose it should be pointed out that the “premium name brand” MSM sources, especially in the USA, did not go for this story, which had clickbait written all over it. Still, as you can see from images above, it made the tabloids dance for a day.

Which makes the following a lot of fun to read as an ordinary citizen does the investigative work the reporters should have done, and could have done using the same Internet resources. In his case things like:

  • A facial recognition app called PimEyes to identify the people in that photo
  • Google Street View visitor photos to identify the park, the memorials and the specific troops (Border Guards as it turns out
  • A Russian search engine called Yandex to find local Russian news stories of the event.
  • A Russian social network called Odnoklassniki that had a Border Guard group.

Which eventually leads to the identification of Pavel The Obese General – who turns out not to be that at all. Read the whole thread to see how Fact Checking can actually be done nowadays using both the tools and the human networking power of the Internet.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 12, 2022 at 11:52 am

Really quite atrocious

with 20 comments

The world gets sillier with each passing day.

The ridiculous creature you’ve just watched is now the head of a new part of the US Department of Homeland Security, the Disinformation Governance Board.

What a coincidence that this announcement comes just days after Elon Musk buying Twitter and the Liberal world setting its hair on fire as a result.

The Department of Homeland Security is setting up a new board designed to counter misinformation related to homeland security, with a focus specifically on Russia and irregular migration. The board will be called the “Disinformation Governance Board,” and will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz.

And there it is right out of the gate, “irregular migration”. So we won’t be able to say “open borders” any longer? Or “illegal aliens”, (even though that’s the legal term) without the ban hammer coming down, or worse.

I’m going to call it the Ministry of Truth from here on because that’s entirely appropriate.

Ms Jankowicz herself writes:

Now that I’ve got it: a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.

That sounds like exactly the opposite of what this board is designed for. It’s purpose will be to stamp out information that the Biden administration doesn’t like, censor any thoughts that run counter to the MSM narrative of the day, and “fact-check” points of view deemed “inappropriate.”

The thing is that she herself is a peddler of disinformation as, for example, the 2020 claim that Hunter Biden’s business records were a Russian plant. In fact she was still pushing this as of March 2021.

Amazing how all those “natsec experts” were completely wrong, although that’s being generous as I think they just flat-out lied: they’ll probably gets jobs working for her at the Ministry of Truth. Hmmm… DGB… that acronym rings a bell.

It was the claim that it was Russian Disinformation that was the actual disinformation — partisan Democrat Deep State disinformation. As the new Disinformation Czarina, she should, of course, be eager to apologise for her previous disinformation. What are the odds?

I see some back-peddling going on with the Biden Administration now claiming that work on this started on Trump’s watch in 2020. Oh really? When during 2020 did this “work” begin? What exactly was that “work,” of which the current bureau is a merely a “continuation”? Did Trump ever hear about it? Did the Trump administration ever appoint an Executive Director of a Ministry of Truth?

Actually it’s fun to imagine the Liberal world’s reaction if Trump had done this. It would have made the Musk meltdown look like nothing.

But then something like this was always on the cards with the DHS. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks twenty years ago I figured that President GW Bush would tear down the CIA, FBI and other “intelligence” agencies that had so clearly failed and then re-build them into something fit for purpose. But instead, as a typical Moderate, Centrist Right Winger – the sort who loves Big Government almost as much as the Left does – he simply created yet another giant bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security and draped it over the top of the existing failures, supposedly to tie them together better.

Claims from the Right and Left that making the National Security state even bigger posed future dangers to the freedom of Americans was ignored in the heat of 9/11 emotions. The Right – admittedly mainly Libertarians – saw it as just another example of how bigger government creates bigger problems in the future, mainly because it further empowers those who love state power for its own sake in controlling individuals. The Left had traditionally felt uneasy about the NatSec state – until recently it seems, now that there’s a chance it can be weaponised against Right Wing enemies.

As silly as Ms Jankowicz appears, this is deadly serious. That joking meme of GW is no joke when you read official shit from the DHS like their March 2021 report, ‘Internal Review of Domestic Violent Extremism.’:

A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”

The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.”

This is what DHS is now all about, exactly as its critics predicted two decades ago, and this new Board is simply another drawing back of the covers to reveal the machinery underneath. What’s next?

It’s probably easier going after “domestic violent extremists” than after the people that were originally supposed to be the focus of DHS: people like Nidal Hassan, Omar Mateen, Fahreed Skyhook and his concubine and at least a dozen or so other attackers as well as plots that were only foiled by sheer dumb luck rather than by the DHS/FBI.

It’s appropriate to leave you with this interesting article: Would censorship have stopped the rise of the Nazis? The short answer is no!

Weimar Germany had laws banning hateful speech (particularly hateful speech directed at Jews), and top Nazis including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch and Julius Streicher actually were sentenced to prison time for violating them. The efforts of the Weimar Republic to suppress the speech of the Nazis are so well known in academic circles that one professor has described the idea that speech restrictions would have stopped the Nazis as “the Weimar Fallacy.” 

Meh – I couldn’t leave it on such a grim note, so here’s the original silliness, featuring what is generally agreed to be one of the worst fake accents on film, courtesy of American actor Dick Van Dyke as a Cockney chimney sweep.

The MSM through the ages

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Well the 20th and 21st centuries anyway.

As usual our former National Defense Minister has proven to be a goldmine for … interesting comments… in this case about the MSM coverage of the current nastiness in Ukraine:

However, BBC (I know, part of the dreaded and corrupt MSM) has been able to find satellite photos that show the bodies have been lying in the streets for at least 10 days. BBC, NYT, CNN have huge numbers of staff able to undertake this sort of research, they have teams of journalists, not just one or two, on the ground. And unlike some on this site, I don’t think the journalists employed by these outlets are corrupt and venal dupe

And later…

I know some commenters here view TV1 as simply the propaganda arm of Labour, but I am not one of them.

Okay. While I’ve long thought that Putin was an un-reformed KGB thug (and have argued with the likes of Andrei on this point across multiple platforms over the last decade), and while I think his invasion of Ukraine is total bullshit… (throat clearing done)…. Andrei is not entirely wrong about what goes into the MSM coverage of the conflict.

Which is to say that while they’re more than happy to diss Russian propaganda, they’re a lot less likely to do this with Ukrainian propaganda.

Here’s Ye Olde Leftie Chris Trotter – a self-confessed “Tankie” , who pretty much sides with Russia and China whenever they’re against the West and especially the Great Satan, but to his credit has said that Putin has committed a crime in launching the invasion – unloading on the MSM coverage of the war here and here. But it was that last from which I’ll pull a quote:

What you are watching is a carefully constructed narrative which, in its essentials, does not change from broadcast to broadcast. We are supplied with a cast of heroes and villains to cheer on and condemn. An occasional nod in the direction of fairness and balance may be inserted, but any serious challenge to the dominant narrative will be contradicted more or less immediately. Nothing is permitted to blunt the emotional impact of the coverage. The journalism to which we are nightly subjected is not intended to supply information, it is intended to be affective – that is to say it is aimed almost exclusively at arousing our feelings.

I’ve already responded to this, pointing out the parallels that could be made to the NZ MSM’s coverage of the whole Chinese Lung Rot story for two years now – with his full approval of all the things he condemns in that paragraph. But since Chris has a habit of dumping my comments with no explanation I’ll put this here.

This is nothing new. The Narrative is what’s been taught to journalism students for decades now: the idea that even before starting to write an article, a story must be created, a narrative the reader will receive, after which anything that goes against The Narrative – facts, witness testimony, anything – gets dumped, while the same things that support The Narrative are included.

But it’s even older than that. Here’s Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff in 1979, writing about the US MSM coverage of NASA’s Mercury astronauts:

It was as if the press in America, for all its vaunted independence, were a great colonial animal, an animal made up of countless clustered organisms responding to a single nervous system. In the late 1950’s (as in the late 1970’s) the animal seemed determined that in all matters of national importance the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone should be established and should prevail; and all information that muddied the tone and weakened the feeling should simply be thrown down the memory hole.

In a later period this impulse of the animal would take the form of blazing indignation about corruption, abuses of power, and even minor ethical lapses, among public officials; here, in April of 1959, it took the form of a blazing patriotic passion for the seven test pilots who had volunteered to go into space.

In either case, the animal’s fundamental concern remained the same: the public, the populace, the citizenry, must be provided with the correct feelings! One might regard this animal as the consummate hypocritical Victorian gent. Sentiments that one scarcely gives a second thought to in one’s private utterances are nevertheless insisted upon in all public utterances. (And this grave gent lives on in excellent health).

They/Them certainly does, and in fact the training of The Narrative in journalism schools plus Post-Modernism, PC, Identity Politics, and Woke has pushed the singularity collapse further and faster. “White male power structures”, “objectivity is bullshit”, “advocacy journalism” and so forth. Insert those viruses into the Gent and we certainly have something from the Victorian era – Mr Hyde.

Later in the same chapter Wolfe gave a specific example of how this narrative control worked in a situation when facts confronted the proper emotion, in this case when one of the greatest American test pilots (and a rocket pilot), Chuck Yeager, casually screwed the MSM’s message:

As a matter of fact, today, in Phoenix, what was it the local reporters wanted to ask Chuck Yeager about? Correct: the astronauts. One of them got the bright idea of asking Yeager if he had any regrets about not being selected as an astronaut.

Yeager smiled and said: ‘No, they gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, to fly the X-1 and the X-1A, and that’s more than a man could ask for right there. They gave this new opportunity to some new fellows coming along, and that’s what they ought to do.’ ‘Besides,’ he added, ‘I’ve been a pilot all my life, and there won’t be any flying to do in Project Mercury.’

No flying?

That was all it took. The reporters looked stunned. In some way that they couldn’t comprehend immediately, Yeager was casting doubt on two indisputable facts: one, that the seven Mercury astronauts were chosen because they were the seven finest pilots in America, and two, that they would be pilots on the most daring flights in American history.

The thing was, he said, the Mercury system was completely automated. Once they put you in the capsule, that was the last you got to say about the subject.

Whuh! –

‘Well,’ said Yeager, ‘a monkey’s gonna make the first flight.’

A monkey?-

The reporters were shocked. It happened to be true that the plans called for sending up chimpanzees in both suborbital and orbital flights, identical to the flights the astronauts would make, before risking the men. But to just say it like that!…….Was this national heresy? What the hell was it?

Fortunately for Yeager, the story didn’t blow up into anything. The press, the eternal Victorian Gent, just couldn’t deal with what he had said. The wire services wouldn’t touch the remark. It ran in one of the local newspapers, and that was that.

And so it ever has been.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 8, 2022 at 6:30 am

More fun with “Fact Checkers”

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I’ve written about this propaganda before (Layers and layers of fact checkers), highlighting how someone like Andrew Sullivan could compile a list of major lies and/or mis-reporting of facts by the MSM…

But when the sources of news keep getting things wrong, and all the errors lie in the exact same direction, and they are reluctant to acknowledge error, we have a problem. If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being “fake news” the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.

… while continuing to believe the MSM on other issues.

But here’s a link to a more recent article in The Tablet, that goes into greater depth about who some of these “fact checkers” are as it explores the case of Instagram placing a warning label on an American human rights lawyer’s post that blamed rising inflation in the United States on “corporate greed.” Now that’s an argument that I think is bullshit, but it should be engaged and debated, not vanished:

The first of the modern fact-checking sites, Snopes, was started in 1994 as an early online community organized around urban myths. followed in 2003, and PolitiFact—now operated by the Poynter Institute—was established in 2007.

The IFCN was launched in 2015 as a division of the Poynter Institute, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based media nonprofit that calls itself a “global leader in journalism” and has become a central hub in the sprawling counter-disinformation complex. Poynter’s funding comes from the triumvirate that undergirds the U.S. nonprofit sector: Silicon Valley tech companies, philanthropic organizations with political agendas, and the U.S. government. The nonprofit sector, as it’s euphemistically called, is an immense, labyrinthine engine of ideological and financial activism that was valued at almost $4 trillion in 2019, the overwhelming majority of which is dedicated to “progressive” causes. The IFCN’s initial funding came from the U.S. State Department-backed National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, Google, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

At first, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook/Instagram, resisted the idea that a lack of social media policing had been one of the main factors in Trump’s 2016 election win, saying that it was “a pretty crazy idea” and that it was “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome.”

But under pressure from leading Democrats including Hillary Clinton, a coordinated push from the party’s halo of nonprofits, and a coup from his own employees, who include some of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors, Zuckerberg buckled.

On Nov. 17, 2016, a new organization called the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) published an open letter to the beleaguered Facebook CEO. “We would be glad to engage with you about how your editors could spot and debunk fake claims,” the IFCN generously offered on behalf of the letter’s signatories, a group of 20 nominally independent fact-checking organizations grouped under its network. The following month, Facebook announced that the IFCN would be its main partner in a new fact-checking initiative

Zuckerberg might be one of the richest men on the planet but even such wealth can bend to the will of the state, despite all the claims by the Far Left:

It became a necessary feature of the new journalistic industrial complex in order to inoculate large tech platforms from government regulatory pressure and the threat of “private” lawsuits from the NGO sector. In other words, it was a concession by tech companies to the not-so-subtle threat that if they didn’t start censoring themselves, they might get their windows—or their monopolies—broken by the state.

Fact-checking was actually an ordinary, expected but fundamental part of the old MSM (at least the decent ones) – an internal auditing process of reporting – from the mid-20th century as they supposedly tried for “objective, fair and balanced” reporting compared to their partisan forebears of the 18th and 19th centuries. There was always a certain amount of bullshit attached to this image, as the histories of the likes of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather would later attest, but the Internet trashed the MSM in multiple ways, most of all in revenue:

Between 1990 and 2017, daily and weekly newspapers lost more than a quarter of a million jobs, over half of their workforce. The decline accelerated during the pandemic with at least 6,154 media workers laid off from the beginning of March 2020 through August 2021 and 128 news organizations shut down during the same period. 

Which also meant that the costly process of internal “fact-checking” increasingly got binned. Into this breach stepped the same reporters who had once been “trusted”:

As journalism collapses, it opens up a space for successor practices grouped under the banner of countering disinformation. In 2014, there were 44 fact-checking organizations in the United States, according to the Duke University Reporters’ Lab census. As of the June 2021 census, there were 341 “active fact-checking projects,” 51 more than in the previous year.

The sickest joke about this is that it relies on trust built up in the past for a completely different world, even if that trust was misplaced:

Fact-checking trades on readers’ respect for older journalistic values like objectivity without acknowledging the role of the prestige media in deliberately undermining those values by implicating them in the continuance of racism, sexism, and other toxic bigotries. 

Hence you get old people in NZ still switching on “the telly” at 6pm to watch OneNews, or perhaps that exciting newcomer, ThreeNews, or perhaps Radio NZ, imagining that somehow the reporters and anchors are still in the mould of Philip Sherry or Dougal Stevenson. They’re not; they’re Left-Wing operatives with bylines, sometimes outright Labour or Green operatives with bylines.

The article goes into some detail on how these fabulous “new” fact checkers have operated in the Age of Trump, or on Chinese Lung Rot (the lab-leak “conspiracy theory” to the fore) or the Hunter Biden laptop saga. Needless to say they all bent the same way (“and all the errors lie in the exact same direction“), just like their MSM partners.

The result is a familiar yet peculiar double game: If an article points out that a network of bureaucratic and educational activists are inculcating the notion that math is racist, that claim is right-wing hysteria. But when a journalist determines that crack pipes are innocuous, that is fact-checking.

You can read the gruesome details behind those stories at the link: the one about the British Medical Journal getting pasted by Lead Stories, one of Facebook’s IFCN fact checking network, is particularly nasty. Their appeals were dismissed and although the article doesn’t mention it BMJ finally launched a specific article as a counter-attack that tore apart the non-medical morons at Lead Stories, forcing them to finally backtrack. As an example of the sleazy way these people work:

In its “fact-check,” Lead Stories draws attention to the fact that Jackson’s Twitter account “agreed with anti-vaccine activist and COVID misinformation-spreader Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s criticism of Sesame Street‘s storyline in which Big Bird encourages kids to get a COVID-19 vaccine.” That’s just the kind of ad hominem, hard to follow, logic-chopping argument that would get laughed out of the room at a high school debate camp but has become the final word on real matters of public health.

Actually I don’t think it would get laughed out of a high school debate camp nowadays: that type of argument is standard now from Social Media to the MSM to politics.

But I appreciated one story in particular from the Tablet article because even though it was a minor piece of nastiness the outcome is telling. Talia Lavin, a fact-checker at the famous New Yorker magazine, was so stupid and ignorant that she mistook a disabled Marine veteran’s tattoo used by his Afghan unit to be a Nazi tattoo and blasted this across her well-followed Twitter account. This caused him a few problems (to say the least) as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent until ICE (and a few others) corrected her. She got canned for it but…

Lavin resigned from The New Yorker. “I just feel like I made a small mistake and it’s destroyed my life,” she said at the time.

Hardly. Lavin’s mistake became a public audition that launched her career as a new-style “fact-checker” and “expert” on extremism. Weeks after leaving The New Yorker, she was hired by Media Matters as a “researcher on far-right extremism.” In less than a year she had signed a book deal.

I believe this is called failing up. It’s a feature of The Establishment, both new and old.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 26, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Kill Big Tech – and the CIA, DHS

with 2 comments

The next GOP President needs to treat Google, FaceTwit and the rest of the Silicon Valley biggies the same way that Teddy Roosevelt treated Standard Oil.

Bust them up.

People thought oil was a dominant energy as early as the 1900’s, when we were less reliant on it than we are now.

But these people control the information flows of the world, and in the wake of the 2020 election and the shit they pulled with Hunter Biden’s laptop, plus other things about Joe Biden that should have been put before the American voter, it’s obvious that such dominance in the field is far more powerful.

Also, the next GOP President needs to take a hammer to US intelligence agencies, as GW Bush did not do in the wake of the massive failure of the CIA, FBI and the rest on 9/11. Instead he threw yet another blanket of bureaucracy over the top of them called The Department of Homeland Security that supposedly would tie them together more effectively.

They’ve always been political, but now it’s reached levels that are not acceptable for a democracy. They’re not so good at stopping the US getting screwed by its enemies but they’re very good at playing political games in Washington D.C.

Read the Powerline article for the specific list of these assholes and what they’re saying now about Hunter Biden’s laptop in response to follow-up questions. Note also their jobs: there’s no consequences for members of The Establishment.

Another Powerline article sums up the response more accurately

The New York Times expresses no regret because it doesn’t regret what it did. The Times isn’t a newspaper, it is a mouthpiece. Its purpose was obvious. It was the same purpose that animated many other news outlets, Twitter, and the 51 lying spies: they were trying to get Joe Biden elected president.

That effort succeeded. Lying about the laptop was just one of many corners they cut to achieve their desired objective, but poll data suggest that it was one of the most important. If voters had realized how demonstrably corrupt Joe Biden is–no one has ever bribed Hunter Biden–polls suggest that Donald Trump would have been re-elected. Liberal news outlets are proud of the fact that they acted together to prevent that awful possibility. If it took some lies to accomplish the mission, so what?

Thus, I attribute little significance to the New York Times’ casual acknowledgement that it blew the Hunter laptop story–really, it blew the 2020 election, if you think the Times is trying to report objectively on the news. But of course no one thinks that. For the Times, Twitter, and countless other liberal institutions, their lies about Joe Biden and Donald Trump accomplished the intended mission. There will be no apologies, no regrets–only, behind the scenes, discreet high fives.

The same is true of every person around the world who supported Joe Biden.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 21, 2022 at 7:42 am

Failed solutions, Moral Cruelty and Advertising

with 11 comments

“the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. Without a vaccine, psychology is your main weapon.You have to restrict ways in which people mix and the virus can spread… You need to frighten people.”

Those words were part of the response from the SPI-B (Scientific Pandemic Insights) group that was advising the British government on dealing with the C-19 pandemic, and that response was a specific answer to the government’s question, “What are the options for increasing adherence to the social distancing measures?” 

As the Great Chinese Xi Snot pandemic finally grinds to an end after two years there are a lot of people digging back into the measures that were taken to combat it, and one of those people is  Laura Dodsworth, who has written a book about SPI-B and the larger science group they advised, SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies). The book is A State of Fear, and her essay is The Moral Cruelty of the Pandemic Response, which examines the tensions between the individual and the collective that bubbled up during the pandemic. She has many examples of this played out in light of the government’s decision to follow the advice of SPI-B and terrify people, but none better than this:

As she points out about that Labour Party tweet:

The intention was to shame the Conservative party for ‘Partygate’, but instead it revealed how morally adrift and lacking in compassion people became. Jenny followed the rules, but maybe she shouldn’t have.

But that was merely the fear created in the individual vs. collective struggle over just one tactic, lockdowns, whereas the same thing happened for masks and ultimately the vaccines.

This and other solidarity-based messaging stemmed from the advice of behavioural scientists that appeals made to the collective conscience are more effective than appeals based on the threat to ourselves.

Science in general took the lead, and still does as countless people (many of whom dumped science at the age of 14 in high school because it was too tough) continue to scream “But The ScienceTM, when in fact decisions were made everyday that were not connected to the science. Here in NZ, the sudden reduction in weeks between the first and second shot was a classic example, done not because of a change in science but because the government found itself well behind on vaccinations when C-19 Delta hit in 2021.

Dodsworth points to Carl Jung’s famous book, The Undiscovered Self, and his take on science in our society:

“…one of the chief factors responsible for psychological mass-mindedness is scientific rationalism, which robs the individual of his foundations and his dignity. As a social unit he has lost his individuality and become a mere abstract number in the bureau of statistics.”

The whole essay is as much about philosophy as anything else (hence Jung) but, like him, she points to the weak spots of our modern society that will enable this to happen again:

Religion did not save us. Churches closed their doors at Easter, when Jesus Christ’s resurrection is remembered. Some of the faithful died without last rites…. Going further, the Archbishop of Canterbury told Christians it was immoral not to be vaccinated. “Vaccine Saves” was emblazoned on Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. People sat spaced 2 metres apart in cathedrals awaiting vaccination, both medical miracle and ritual act of biomedical transubstantiation. Masks were more than totems in the latest culture war, they became the vestiture of the faithful, signalling belief and obedience. They emblemised a moral code based upon extending life, not securing your place in the afterlife.

I found the attitude of priests and pastors on that last point particularly evil given the overwhelming reason for the existence of their Christian faith, of which the last rites are supposed to be more than just a symbol. What must those dying people have thought awaited them, given their beliefs about the need for last rites? You can laugh at them as being insane to believe in such a thing, but would you be happy to torture an insane dying person precisely on the point of their belief?

Our societies not only did but got religious leaders to do it for them, enabling the rest of society to create the required social pariahs, when the Christian church was built upon the rock of appealing to social outcasts. This was perhaps the most obvious marker of how the secular world has triumphed over the religious in the West; the Church’s reason for existence was to save souls, not bodies.

I am not confident that her final call will be met either:

Lockdowns and restrictions squashed exactly what we need to flourish as human beings in order to counteract a psychic epidemic. As that crisis recedes, other dangers endure. Bad actors and paternalistic libertarians alike lack humility when they brazenly exploit our nature. We are buffeted by nudge, propaganda, and our passions. For the good of the collective, we must recapture meaning and values as individuals. 

Aside from re-thinking the morality involved it seems that some scientists who were in the middle of dealing with it have also begin to question their scientific analysis and conclusions, starting with Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of SPI-M, the modelling group on SAGE, who has also written a book, The Year the World Went Mad. As he describes things in The Telegraph:

“We knew from February [2020], never mind March, that the lockdown would not solve the problem. It would simply delay it,” Woolhouse says, a note of enduring disbelief in his voice. And yet in government, “there was no attention paid to that rather obvious drawback of the strategy”.

Instead, lockdowns – which “only made sense in the context of eradication” – became the tool of choice to control Covid. The die was cast in China, which instituted ultra-strict measures and, unforgivably in Woolhouse’s book, was praised by the World Health Organisation for its “bold approach”. “The WHO,” he suggests, “got the biggest calls completely wrong in 2020. The early global response to the pandemic was woefully inadequate.”

Watching on, the rest of the world found itself following the same template, even though no work had been done to assess the costs of lockdowns. After swine flu, modellers had studied the knock-on consequences of many elements of infection control, but they had never envisaged “an instruction for most of the population to stay at home”.

But a big part of why they got it wrong was that they felt that organic fear of the disease was not enough. Back to Dodsworth:

The doom-mongering modelling which catalysed lockdowns does, by its nature, treat humans as social units. But by depriving us of individuality the modelling also deprives itself of accuracy. Professor Graham Medley who chairs the modelling group SPI-M reported to MPs that it is impossible to predict human behaviour and therefore the most pessimistic outcomes were offered to government….

According to Professor Woolhouse the doom analysis was only on one side of the lockdowns:

What he does know is that while extremely detailed modelling was being done “on what the epidemic itself might look like and the harms that novel coronavirus would cause… on the other side of the scales, we had pretty much nothing at all. There was never at any stage, even by the following year, any form of analysis of the harms caused by lockdowns. Were they even considered? I haven’t seen any evidence that they were and that is very, very troubling.”

But the article points out that the SAGE itself got a report in April 2020 that assessed how many years of quality life would be lost to lockdowns. The best guess was that suppressing the virus would cost three times more years than the disease itself. At the same time similar calculations were done here in NZ by Economics Professor John Gibson from Waikato. In addition the Swedish epidemiologists had already made clear that lockdowns were not an option for the same reasons. Even by late April there was analysis of the specific lockdowns used in France, Italy and Spain that showed they didn’t work.

Feeding into the doom models was, as Woolhouse says, a “fact” about the virus that was already known to be wrong:

Woolhouse, from his position on the inside as government policy was formed, saw something very different: the disease being described as a universal killer, when it was clear from the beginning some were very much more at risk than others.

“The first good data on this started to emerge in late February 2020,” he says. And as Britain endured the first Covid wave, this data was borne out in the facts. Those over 70 had at least 10,000 times the risk of dying as those under 15 years old. “This is a highly discriminatory virus,” Woolhouse says, still exasperated today. “It’s ageist, it’s sexist, it’s racist. And we certainly knew [that] before we went into lockdown.”

Yes. Known. So why did the government’s go for lockdown and the other harsh measures? Dodsworth’s analysis echos again:

Yet the Government decided that telling half the population that they were at extremely low risk would dilute adherence to the harsh rules it was imposing, and instead ramped up the threat warnings. “We are all at risk,” noted Michael Gove in March 2020. “The virus does not discriminate.” But it did then, and it does now.

Exactly. Science got trashed, even as we were being screamed at every day that politicians were following the science. I almost feel sorry for Woolhouse and I will read his book, but frankly I’m in no mood yet to forgive sinners, even deeply repentant ones.

Finally there’s this article looking at another aspect: the massive advertising campaign launched by the US government to promote the vaccines:

So, the federal government decided to market vaccine acceptance, but not by distributing information through the official pathway of public health departments.  Instead, the U.S. government hired the media to become their marketing agencies to sell vaccine acceptance to the US population.

According to Blaze Media’s Chris Pandolfo’s report on March 3rd, “The federal government paid hundreds of media companies to advertise the COVID-19 vaccines while those same outlets provided positive coverage of the vaccines.”

That advertising was spread across a huge range of media companies: ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as cable TV news stations Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, legacy media publications including the New York Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, digital media companies like BuzzFeed News and Newsmax, and hundreds of local newspapers and TV stations.

As the article bluntly states:

The entire media apparatus of the United States became the Voice of America to sell a positive, COVID-19 vaccine image to Americans. Congress appropriated $1 billion to buy the ads and obtain the placements of “influencer” personalities to appear in the media to sell the program.

Under this arrangement, the questioning of whether vaccines were effective or safe disappeared from the official narrative seen by Americans. Only the outlets that were not part of the marketing effort continued to cover the reservations of the academics; and these were then almost universally labeled as “fake news” by social media censors.

Most of these outfits never informed their viewers of this bought-and-paid-for work. For the average consumer of the MSM – for the average consumer of Fox News – it all would have seemed like normal news coverage or at worst “Public Service Announcements”.

Rhetoric, logical fallacies and fear

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Last year I wrote a post titled “The Fear”, where I looked at the hysteria of those Labour supporters angry about the collapse of the Level 4 lockdown in the face of the rapidly spreading Delta variant. They really did think it could be “crushed” to zero cases by the lockdown as the Alpha variant had been in 2020.

At least it forced the government onto a different and slightly – only very slightly – more sensible path, including admitting that if cases took off the track-and-trace system would fail:

Health officials have revealed they’re no longer spending time trying to find out how mystery cases became infected, and the focus is instead turning to isolating contacts of mystery cases.

That was with a hundred plus Delta cases a day, not the thousands of Omicron cases per day that we have now. Yet I’m still running into people complying by scanning in, surprised by rising cases among the vaccinated (which they should not be after the same thing happening with Delta) as well as exhibiting other signs of fear:

The medical director of the  Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Dr Bryan Betty has called on the Government to stop scaremongering over the Omicron variant of COVID-19. In a statement Dr Betty said Omicron is mainly cold-like illness  and probably less severe than flu. 

“Omicron is highly infectious, and so a lot of people will come down with it, but the majority of people will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and so it is very different from the Delta situation,” Dr Betty said.

“On Monday the Ministry of Health issued a statement advising that of the 20.000 swabs taken in Auckland, about 80 to 90 percent of those that turned up, didn’t need to. This is symptomatic of our Government creating a high degree of unnecessary anxiety fear.

“The scaremongering and the fear factor is causing a huge amount of resource being unnecessarily being taken up in our health system, and in some circumstances, people are suffering dire consequences due to their inability to access urgent healthcare.

“Not only are people now fearful of domestic travel, going to restaurants and the movies, some of our most vulnerable are fearful of going to their letter box.

“Our Government must come to its senses before it’s too late. Enough is enough.”

Bawhahahahahahahaha. Too late chum.

That’s the problem with giving up trying to persuade people with facts and arguments and going with emotions like fear. Emotions, especially fear, are much harder to switch off.

All of this can be traced back to papers put in front of the Prime Minister in 2020, as recently uncovered by The TCW in Britain of all places. In particular the chart below is a doozy, more a how-to-do-propaganda framework than any health care analysis, which is perhaps not a surprise since it comes from the Te Punaha Matatini “complexity analysis” group of Shaun “80,000 dead” Hendy and Siouxsie Wiles infamy.

That second line is a beauty. By the time that paper was written there were massive amounts of data pouring in from overseas, from every medical authority in the world, that showed it was overwhelmingly the elderly and infirm that were being killed by C-19, and that merely confirmed what had been known from early 2020 out of Italy and a couple of cruise ships. It was a fact, not a “logical fallacy”, although I suppose they could weasel through it via the use of that strawman word “only”.

You also have to love the “ableism” bullshit, which is modern “healthcare” code for not telling fat bastards to lose weight for example and similarly used here the way other “isms” are used, as a warning not to look the facts in the eye. Similarly there’s this from the rest of the paper:

Fuck these people. They’re about as “complex” as Pravda was. Do they also get funding from China as well as our government?

At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised to find Te Punaha Matatini linking up with the US Department of Homeland Security who are now using the exact same “MDM” framework to identify potential domestic terrorists:

  • Misinformation “false information that people didn’t create with the intention to hurt others”
  • Disinformation “false information created with the intention of harming a person, group, or organization, or even a country”
  • Mal-information “true information used with ill intent”

This crap, multiplied a million-fold via the PM and her huge comms staff, and most other politicians, bureaucrats and the media, plus all too many medical people, is why the government now has such a huge number of frightened people on its hands and also why they’re having such a tough time talking them down off the ledge.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 19, 2022 at 11:41 am