Archives for category: Propaganda
I have always known that governments lie, that politicians are congenital liars, and that, furthermore, secrecy is something the State requires, in addition to all those fantasies necessary to obtain compliance from the masses. But recently I have greatly expanded my estimation of the scope of state prevarication.
Some of this is the result of the brazen ways in which the shallow end of the Deep State has attempted to oust a president it did not approve of. But it goes far beyond this, and much of it is related to keeping the military-industrial complex going through incessant warfare. The insanity of these wars, their sheer idiocy and lack of coherence and even hints of efficacy to the attainment of stated goals, suggests to me something far beyond my packet of previous explanations:
1. greed and corruption via Pentagon contracts
2. powerlust by media folk, ideologues, politicians, military men, and bureaucrats
3. greed
I now think that an additional secret realm of operations has been at play, and has been kept running by an elaborate if stumbled-into plan of psy-ops. Most Americans have pictures of their government utterly at variance with reality — perhaps even their view of bedrock, non-political reality is greatly shaped by a startlingly coherent state agenda.
Funny thing is, my fellow individualists have such a low opinion of state competence that they buy into most of said government psy-op, are indeed routinely controlled by Deep State psy-ops. Their error is in underestimating the State.
For this truth is long established, and libertarians should know it best: the State is not an efficient instrument of the general interest, but, instead, a hyper-efficient conduit through which private interests can gain at the exploitative expense of other private interests, and to the general detriment of the general interest. And the key to this is the ultimate in psy-ops, the confidence game of political ideologies that promote the State as a necessary entity for the promotion of that phantom, the public interest.


“I’m not going to call them ‘conspiracy theories,’” said podcaster Michael Knowles about the growing reports and rumors surrounding Jeffrey Epstein, “because I guess they could be true.”

Well, that was embarrassing.

Look, I recently said something witless like this, too. But can we admit it? Conspiracy theories — conjectures as to secret schemes, plans, intentions, operations — can be true.

We are so programmed to think “ooh, conspiracy theory BAD!” that we cannot even speak logically in public.

Maybe we should all grow up.

The main trouble with conjectures regarding possible conspiracies is that they are hard to falsify. The nature of the beast. And this puts us in a sort of flapdoodlish epistemic situation. In the end, it matters most how you react to such a theory, and whether the theory is correct. Not that it counts as an “x theory.” Ah, that dreaded x!

There are a number of reasons we tend to like conspiracy theories, of course. One is that we know people to be purposeful actors as well as liars. So, realism. But only a few people can keep a secret. So, fabulism. More important, though, is that we like a good story. I think it was Iris Murdoch who wrote that “characters who plot make for well-plotted novels.”

twv

For three years, Democrats have driven themselves mad hallucinating a Russian conspiracy to elect Trump — when the most that could be said is that some Russians were sowing ideological discord in a rather goofy way. But now we have good evidence that a major corporation is trying to “influence” the next election through e-chicane.

We have Project Veritas to thank, having not only recorded a Google insider admitting to the company’s conspiracy, but unearthed a whistleblower, too. Tyler O’Neil summarizes:

The video shows leaked documents calling for Google to establish “a single point of truth” for news. An admittedly unscientific PJ Media study found that 96 percent of Google search results for “Trump News” came from liberal sources.

“We have gotten accusations on around fairness is that we’re unfair to conservatives because we’re choosing what we define as credible news sources and those sources don’t necessarily overlap with conservative sources so we’re getting accusations of fair from one side,” [Jen] Gennai admits in the video.

“They are not an objective source of information,” the Google whistleblower says. “They are a highly biased political machine that is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again.”

Ms. Gennai is head of Responsible Innovation at Google Global Affairs, of all things. And biased is right:

“We all got screwed over in 2016. Again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again?” she says.

This is far from the first time that anti-Trump bias has been revealed at Google. A Google executive bragged about efforts to boost Latino turnout “in key states” in 2016, expecting that voting bloc to pull for Hillary Clinton. Employees at Google and other tech companies heavily favor Democrats in political contributions.

Google is taking upon itself to steer the course of these United States — in a clandestine way. O, the Democratic Party should be proud, now! The left’s cultural hegemony is really paying off.

Or is it? The Veritas revelation could effect a backlash — in votes. After all, a majority in America are not hard-core, lockstep supporters of the Democracy. Their temptation to vote left may vanish.

Of course, no single voter’s vote elects anyone. One must find an extra-instrumental reason to vote. Google may have inadvertently provided an unexpected reason to vote Trump: spite.

Against Google.

Remember President Barack Obama’s annoying “You didn’t build that”?

Today I watched President Donald Trump “explain” how awful trade deficits are. In that explanation he basically said to China, “You didn’t build that.”

The line should still be familiar. Obama had purloined it from the lips of Senator Elizabeth Warren. With this argumentative gambit, these two politicians revealed themselves for what they are, demagogues out to fan the flames of resentment and entitlement. In trying to give to government the credit for the entrepreneurial accomplishments of businessfolk, they were honing an agenda: de-legitimize the achievements of the successful the better to take their wealth away.

But while Obama gave to government the credit for business successes, Trump gave America the credit for China’s.

His logic?

Trump said previous presidents had allowed China to get away with trade policies that disfavored the U.S. to such an extent that no future deal could be 50/50; then, that a deal had been made, but China changed it, so he put up the wall of high tariffs.

Next, Trump boasted of the huge increase in government revenues from his taxes, er, tariffs.

And then the kicker: “We rebuilt China because they got so much money” under freer trade.

That is how Trump had America take the credit for Chinese growth.

And he was more than implying that there is something wrong with Americans helping Chinese grow in this manner.

Trump seems not to understand that when people trade (it is not, really, countries trading) both sides gain. The farmers who support Trump can imagine selling more agricultural product had President Xi’s own protectionist measures been lower, and it is on the basis of those lost opportunities that Trump makes his pitch to American farmers. But it is Chinese consumers who have the greater cause to complain for past Chinese protectionism, for had Xi allowed more trade, China would have grown even faster. Because of all the exchanges. 

Like in all trade, neither side to a trade is irrelevant. China could with just as much justification take credit for American progress in all that past trade.

Every instance of which was an advance for both sides.

The Chinese built what they built, with American help. And could’ve built more had their government gotten out of the way.

And right now, with Trump’s high tariffs in place, American consumers will have to pay more for what we buy from China.

And elsewhere.

Trump is apparently trying to get Xi to take down his protectionist barriers by putting up American barriers. And if Trump succeeds, we do indeed all win. If he fails, we all lose. Meanwhile, we are hurting as much as the Chinese.

And what Trump is saying encourages resentment and economic superstition. So, even if he wins, what we may end up with is more resentment and a greater reservoir of protectionist sentiment in the American electorate.

And that almost guarantees disaster.

twv

One of the great public relations coups of all time has been to identify “the left” with goodness and “the right” with “wrong.”

This is especially droll, since, in olden times, “the left” was identified with “sinister.”

Defining “sinister”. . .

Further, and especially before the introduction of toilet paper, the left hand was not a hand you offered in public, especially in handshake or salute. Why? Because in private it was the hand one used to wipe one’s anus after defecation. The idea that “the left,” today, would be synonymous with good intentions and moral goodness and all other things pure and holy is almost hilarious.

But it is just the kind of thing you should expect to happen when the State comes to dominate society.

twv

Sea level rise has been ongoing . . . for a long time. And steadily. Why?

The standard story, in recent times, has been anthropogenic global warming (AGW): increasing levels of greenhouse gases produced by human civilization warms the planet and melts the polar glaciers, thus raising the sea level. A very common answer. But it hardly seems like the right answer.

Though I have never denied that this standard story seemed a plausible explanation for climate change, on the face of it, in this particular case there is an obvious and grave reason for doubt.

We are coming out of the Little Ice Age, which has been the most significant glaciation period in the Holocene epoch so far. Humanity almost certainly had little to do with either the onset or the ebb of that cooling event. The warming since then has constituted a long trend.

But remember something: continents tend to sink and those that are not offset by countervailing geological forces are indeed sinking. Some apparent sea level rise is not the result of “global warming.”

And, if you have been listening to Jim Hansen and Al Gore and the politicians of a few tropical island nations, the summer Arctic ice sheet was supposed to be gone already, and our lowest-lying beach property under water.*

Why do the prophets of doom keep having to postpone and re-date their doomsday scenarios? Well, could it be because their science is bad? Maybe, even, that their data have not been honestly presented?

To those who have been paying attention, it has become clear that AGW shills have perpetrated a number of data frauds in recent years. Their reporting on sea level increases sure looks to me like one of them. The trend line was on its way up before the dramatic increase in greenhouse gases by the introduction of widespread internal combustion engines, and so attributing later oceanic trends to a new and separate cause hardly seems honest.

And we witness this in other intellectual areas — especially regarding a great number of issues where partisans for the dirigiste state proclaim great success for their programs. What these advocates do is cite trends after the introduction of their favored nostrums, to “prove” how well they work, ignoring that the favorable trend lines they identify had been running in their direction before their programs were put in place. The classic case is workplace fatalities, which decreased after the introduction of OSHA. But of course workplace fatalities had been trending downwards for some time.

An even more startling case is poverty reduction, which leveled off after the introduction of LBJ’s War on Poverty. America would probably have seen greater alleviations of the conditions of America’s poor if the federal government had done nothing. And if you wonder why that would be the case, contemplate, at length, the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

Those of us who doubt the nature, extent and popularly identified causes of climate change get called “climate deniers,” of course. It is a typically idiotic charge. I have my usual response:

From my memevigilante.com pages.

But, when it comes to climate trends, today’s “climate science consensus” seems to be suffering, itself, from denial. Today’s “hockey stick” pushers play down not only the Little Ice Age but also, more infamously yet, the Medieval Warming Period.

But it is worse than that. They ignore the even bigger picture, the events at the beginning of our own Holocene epoch: the end of the last Ice Age.

It was catastrophic. Sea levels rose hundreds of feet in very short periods of time. The piddling secular incline in sea levels in the last century or so is nothing compared to that deluge.

So I demand of AGW-obsessed climate scientists a great many explanations. Until they can explain how Ice Ages start and end, I cannot trust them about our recent climate trends.

They are, embarrassingly and monomaniacally focused on greenhouse gas emissions and the feedback effects of warming on oceans and their consequent, heat-induced emission of carbon dioxide. And, by the way, they never seem to explain how Ice Ages have not spiralled to total global freeze and warming periods have not spiralled to hothouse infernos. Their fondness for simple models that show positive feedback loops after a “tipping point” — that they almost invariably say would be “irreversible” — is bizarre. They seem immune to recognizing factors leading to homeostasis. Climate is determined by multipe causes, and the limited models of the AGW pseudo-consensus strike me as not merely notoriously bad predictors, but absurd on the face of it.

So, I have a lot of questions. Many, many questions. And these questions — only one set of which I ask here — seem rather obvious to me, but which I never encounter from the over-ballyhooed “climate consensus.” I guess I should ask Tony Heller of RealClimateScience.com (whose recent videos inspired some of my ruminations here), since he recognizes the complexity of climate processes and the importance of a geological perspective on climate — recognition of the Big Picture. (In full disclosure, I have been following popular climatology since The Coming Ice Age was a thing, and helped edit a magazine that published one of the first scholarly critiques of the then-new AGW craze, back in the 1980s.)

Sticking to recent trends allows many AGW advocates — usually and suspiciously pushing for ever-more intrusive government — to engage in cultic behavior. Anyone trying to win an argument about science who resorts to the “overwhelming consensus” canard loses his Science Card. Science is about public testing — conjectures and refutations — and, as Richard Feynman astutely suggested, distrusting “the experts.”

I would add one heuristic we non-scientists must keep in mind: the reasoned distrust of those whose public “checks and balances” — vanishingly small in an age when the peer review process has been shown to be in crisis — can be so easily swamped by grant checks and their own bank balances. And let us apply some caution here. Government funding can be as corrupting as corporate funding, and is likely more so, since much greater, and is far more prone to political capture and the prejudice elicited by the public-interest halo. Alas, that halo is ever-present, with most folks giving governments the presumption of efficacy, authority and good will. This prejudice is rank bigotry, of course, almost certainly the result of an evolutionary programming to favor in-group hierarchies.

In fine, I remain confident in saying that mainstream of climatology is now addicted not only to cultism but, specifically, to Ice Age Denialism.

twv

Trying to make sense of the world, one book at a time.

* Of course, there is a major caveat here: melting Arctic sea ice cannot cause a sea level rise. Melting glacial ice on the land masses of Greenland and Antarctica would be the almost sole sources of any future sea rise by melting.

U.S. and NATO, before 1991: Communism must be fought!
U.S. and NATO, after 1991: Just kidding, it was always about Russia!

American leftists, before 1991: Hey, communism isn’t so bad . . .
American leftists, after 1991*: Yeah, it’s the Russians! That’s the ticket.

Rightwingers, before 1991: Those commies are so godless!
Rightwingers, after 1991: Muh military-industrial complex!

 

twv

 

* Especially after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential loss.

wiseman

A timeline of me changing my attitude on iconoclasm:

  1. When Russians pulled down Lenin statues, at the end of the Soviet era, I cheered.
  2. When folks in Seattle’s Fremont District put up a Lenin statue, I snickered.
  3. When American forces, during the Conquest of Iraq, hit some major sites of ancient Mesopotamian civilization I was deeply irked.
  4. When ISIS began dismantling, destroying and selling off ancient statues from Assyria as “idols,” I was aghast that any modern would wish to treat as objects for either current reverence or irreverence millennia-old statuary.
  5. When SJWs turned against the statuary of the Civil War dead, I was somewhat disturbed that anyone would treat centuries-old and even decades-old memorials as objects for current reverence or irreverance — other than a reverance for history.

My attitude about recent iconoclasm is not unlike my attitude regarding speech: just as the proper response to speech one does not like is more speech, the proper response to statuary one doesn’t like is not iconoclasm but more statuary. It is easy to destroy, not so easy to put up new monuments — they cost money, at the very least. Destroying statuary amounts to destroying history. And destruction, even the destruction of ugly history, seems more like childishness than maturity. Adults should be able to look at a statue and not get sucked into its implied ideology.

And, surely, the postmoderns are right: any given artifact possesses more than one meaning. We Hyperboreans are authorized to pick and choose the meanings we prefer, surely.

I prefer knowledge to ignorance, truth over myth, and seeing even the most vile of monuments as examples of history.

Yes, I am one of those people fascinated by ancient monuments. I have been since very young. You know: the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, Göbekli Tepe, all that.  My interest has engendered quite a bit of reverence for these monuments’ historicity, not allegiance to their original functionality. I am quite certain I would not support the bulk of the policies of the ancient monument-builders were someone foolish enough to attempt to revive those policies.

I made peace with Lenin being in Seattle. Still . . . perhaps I should fear the statue’s influence on Seattle politics. Could it have given succor to socialism on the current Seattle City Council?

Which brings up an important point: republican governments should probably forgo the making of monuments. They are inherently propagandistic, and though celebrating the heroes of the republic seems a fine thing, it is worth doing this privately, with private funds on private land. If republics have any legitimacy, it is in defending individual rights. Adding propagandistic and eulogizing monuments to the mix of political duties is part of the ancien régime where much effort had to be made to pretend that leaders were gods, or,  at the very least, God’s servants upon the Midgard.

All this notwithstanding, were it up to me, a motto emblazoned upon every legislative house with the words Mundus vult decipi would be more apt than any other maxim, like E pluribus unum or Novus ordo seclorum.

But in politics, truth is not what you lead with.

twv

Sometimes we should take a step back and remember: we don’t know much, and much of what we “know” isn’t so.

IMG_2025This is especially the case in foreign affairs. Many important events and agendas are kept from the public. Whole organizations operate (and even exist) sub rosa. We are fed misinformation and lies on a regular basis. We are easily manipulated.

I have tried to hedge, or even seem Delphic, in the recent past, regarding Russia and North Korea, for instance. I know I know little, and more-than-merely-suspect that many who say they know important truths often only parrot half-truths, at best.

There has been way too much partisan nonsense about Russia in the past few years, and much of what is important about the “negotiations” between North Korea and the U.S., South Korea, et al., is kept far from public view.

IMG_2027We should try to keep in mind that manipulation of focus is the modus operandi of all major parties and organizations, and with it the clumsy and deceptive uses of statistics.

Arguably, one of the main jobs of the corporate media is to encourage people to think they are informed, while ensuring that they remain misinformed. News is not history or social science. It is entertainment. And the unfortunate unreliability and sheer perversity of the major media outlets does not need to be seen as a conspiracy (much of it being quite open). Ideological fantasy, partisan coup-stick conflict, and the profitability of hype and hysteria might explain most of it.

twv

Sometimes it seems as though people no longer know what freedom of speech is. The Stanley Fish argumentation in his infamous essay against the very coherence of free speech has not increased clarity or general understanding — though I take it that was indeed what Fish was trying to provide. So I have, in a number of venues, tried to explain free speech.

Recently on Quora I have answered two questions that sketch out what I believe to be the correct formulation of the idea:

I provided the gist of my understanding in the first essay:

Remember, freedom of speech is a term of art. It does not mean “all speech is free,” or that all symbolic acts are legally justifiable. Freedom of speech is merely speech broadly construed (semiosis) that does not aggress against the rights of others to be free. It is a way of defending freedom in the realm of speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc.

We cannot (rightly) possess a right to use speech to conspire against the rights of others.

The most important point to take away is this: a right to free speech does not mean that all speech is free.

Free speech “absolutists” get this wrong all the time, for they are constantly moved by their desire for consistency and absolutism to construe all speech as free. One reason for this is that they wish to use the First Amendment in a lawyerly way, with specific words carrying the most weight. They most strongly wish to avoid philosophy, and instead use the Constitution as a magic document, and the words in it as incantations that solve all problems.

We can see how well that has turned out.

And perhaps my free speech absolutist friends are afraid of Fishian (piscine?) error, of saying that if some speech is free and other speech is not, then the demarcating line must be arbitrary.

This is just simply not the case.

So, what is the line of demarcation between speech that is protected as free and speech that is not?

Freedom itself, in the wider context.

Most importantly, free speech really only makes sense in societies that regard general freedom (liberty) as in some sense primary. Indeed, it also only makes sense — and this can be seen best when paired up with freedom of religion and especially the press and association in the First Amendment listing — in a private property rights regime.

You have the right to speak freely on your property. You have the right to speak freely on property you have hired for the occasion.

It necessarily becomes murky regarding public places. This is especially murky regarding the freedom of the press when the press is a government outfit, like Britain BBC. What is “freedom of the press” regarding a government-run medium? All speech is finite, and its purveying is done under conditions of scarcity. Everyone must ration their resources. Including newspapers and blogs as well as radio and TV networks. So when the BBC makes an editorial decision, “free speech” is problematic: which words and ideas to broadcast is a constant decision-making process, with some telling others what to say and what listeners and viewers may hear. “Freedom of speech” is perilously close to meaningless. (But is not.) Which is why minimizing government is a necessity: it obviates basic principles and places government bodies in the position of serving some people and not others.

And government is, in theory, supposed to serve all people.

Oh, why did I bring up “freedom of the press”? That is not free speech, I can hear someone protest.

But it is. “The press” is just a technological way of distributing speech beyond our local realms, outside of our properties. It is free speech with extended borderlines. But the extension must always conform — as speech alone must conform — to individual rights in society.

It might be useful to remind today’s confused connoisseurs to see these concepts in a continuum:

freedom: of thought — of speech — of press

with the most basic being on the left and going from private to public as we read right.

And the context of property rights integrates everything. Without property rights there is no freedom of any kind. For freedom depends on exit rights and exclusion rights. Which, together, make up free association, which is implied by free speech and press freedom.

And, as I noted on Quora: No one has a right to contract a hitman to murder another. You cannot absolve yourself on “free speech” grounds for that sort of criminal speech. Similarly, you may not command someone you have reason to believe will follow your orders to commit a crime, either. The common law has long held that incitement to riot and similar acts do not constitute protected speech because free.

The idea is simple: freedom as both a fact and a right requires reciprocity. Your speech cannot be defended as free speech if your speech precludes others from their free speech.

It is an old idea, reciprocity. But people still get this wrong.

Maybe it would help to compare freedom of speech and press with freedom of religion. In the United States, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from messing about in religious matters, or favoring one religion over another, ceteris paribus.

But that does not mean everything declared “religious” is protected. It may be the case that you desire to sacrifice infants and virgins to your god Ashtaroth, but let us be realistic: sacrifice of this kind abridges the rights of infants and virgins. “Religion” is no excuse for crime.

This is not so nuanced an idea that it cannot be readily understood. No? But maybe it is difficult. After all, I cannot recall anyone else make this exact formulation.

So this is what I insist upon: all these British-American concepts are terms of art, and the art should not seem to us British and American citizens at all recondite. The art is liberty. As soon as you erode liberty either by erecting a Leviathan state (of any variety) or by engaging in piecemeal criminal activity, these freedoms become incoherent.

twv