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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Entries in Propaganda (96)

Saturday
Jul152017

Rinat Akhmetshin: Not a Russian or a Spy

First a little background: there was a meeting June 2016 where a Russian "government" lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump, Jr. to provide information about a supposed Clinton scandal. There was no information. Instead it was an attempt to influence Trump, Jr., and hopefully his father, on behalf on a Russian Oligarch against the Magnitsky Act which put up sanctions against her client. The meeting was a total bust. The reason I used quotation marks around government is that this is technically true, but misleading. Yes, she worked for the prosecutors office in Moscow, just as a promising attorney in the US might work for the Office of the New York prosecutors office. Would you describe this person as a government lawyer years after she went into private practice? You would not. I leave it to your imagination why the words "government lawyer" are being used on the various networks. If you think they would have the decency to use the word "former," you would be wrong. Veselnitskaya was not representing Russia, she was representing her client. 

But the talking heads and the politico class have a problem, there is no there there. So they had to expand their blathering. Besides the translator, there was a fifth person present, Rinat Akhmetshin. Here is how the New York Times talks about him:

While not, he insisted, an expert in the technical aspects of hacking nor, a spy, Mr. Akhmetshin talked openly about how he had worked with a counterintelligence unit while serving with the Red Army after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and how easy it was to find tech-savvy professionals ready and able to plunder just about any email account.

I quoted this because it can show how to lie through your teeth but saying nothing false. Rinat Akhmetshin, like every other Soviet young man, was drafted into the army for his two year hitch. So at about age 18 to 20 he served in the army from 1988 to 1990. Imagine the jobs he would have been given. Assuming he is telling the truth about where he was assigned, he would have been emptying the trash, and cleaning the toilets. Assuming that he is telling the truth about his departure rank of sergeant, he would not have had a job that might be described as an "intelligence" job; that would be quite a stretch. (There is no reason to conclude that Rinat is lying.) 

Note also the phrase, "the Red Army after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan." Every Soviet young man would have served in the Red Army after 1979, if they were drafted after 1979! Why try to connect Akhmetshin with the Afghanistan invasion? 

I think that for years Akhmetshin might have said things that are technically true but misleading in order to benefit his consulting business. Or maybe he allowed others to draw conclusions and did not correct them. He is not a former spy or even a former intelligence officer. He was a GI Ivan who was drafted. 

What do I mean when I say that Rinat Akhmetshin is not Russian? He is not ethnically Russian. His first name tells us that. It is not clear exactly what his ethnic background is. Russian minorities tend to be concentrated in their traditional homelands. Rinat is either a Kazakh, a Kazakh Tartar, a Tartar born just north of Kazakhstan, or interesting enough in a Tatar born in Crimea. 

You might think, as an American, that such ethnic issues do not matter. You are being naive, even about America. In Russia it matters, it matters a lot. 

Here is what government sponsored Radio Free Europe said about him:

Barely registering in U.S. lobbying records, the 48-year-old Akhmetshin has been tied to efforts to bolster opponents of Kazakhstan's ruling regime, discredit a fugitive former member of Russia's parliament, and undermine a Russian-owned mining firm involved in a billion-dollar lawsuit with company information allegedly stolen by hackers.

Rather than being pro-Russian, his career seems to be centered on anti-Russian activities and lobbying as "Kazakhstan's ruling regime" is pro-Putin

Rinat Akhmetshin does not represent the Russian government, nor is he a former intelligence officer. When you hear otherwise, you are being played. 

Thursday
Feb232017

What Is the Job of the Media? 

Here is the answer to the question posed in the title.

 

Of course Ms Brzezinski misspoke—but there is such a thing as a Freudian Slip. Or maybe she was channeling her father:

 

 

Noam Chomsky tells us how it works:

Wednesday
Feb152017

Why Trump Will Win: MeetUp

This may seem an odd contention but the general opposition to Trump in the media and social media, and especially those positions like immigration where the majority support him, will increase his popularity and his electabliity. 

Meetup, the app that lets people of similar interests meet, has gone crazy

"For almost 15 years, Meetup has served as an organizing platform for a wide range of political parties and movements, welcoming everyone from the Howard Deaniacs to the Tea Party. 'We’re vital plumbing for democracy,' we always said. Before today, our company had never taken a partisan stance. It’s not a decision we take lightly.”

...

So Heiferman and his team literally stopped Meetup in its tracks - paused operations - to gather for a hackathon. The effort resulted in 1,000 new Meetup Groups under the hashtag #Resist. It announced the new groups to their 30 million members. And it partnered with organizations including Planned Parenthood, the Anti-Defamation League, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Campaign, the Women’s March, and many others who are contributing to a library of ideas for making change.

While it is doubtful that Meetup's customer base is similar to the US population which voted 45% for Trump, there is enough overlap that this is a very poor business decision. Let's just piss off at least 25% of our customers! One has to really wonder about the business acumen of social media companies as this is not the only company who is acting stupidly. 

Firefox forced its CEO to resign because he was a Christian. They would deny this, but what they did is force him to resign because he was against same-sex marriage. What did he do? He started a new browser company called Brave

Reddit is banning conservatives, both explicitly by banning threads and subgroups, but also by shadow banning. Shadow banning is designed to keep "trolls" from posting nonsense. What it does is let the troll post, but no one but the troll sees the post. This is a fine tool from keeping out the jerks, but will it be used to keep conservative thought off Reddit? I would not be surprised. There is no alternative to Reddit right now, but one is in the works. 

FaceBook is already banning fake news. At this point, except in Germany where being anti-immigration is enough to be considered fake, FaceBook seems to have a light hand. A whistleblower inside FaceBook alleged that FaceBook was burying conservative stories in What's Trending through manual manipulation of data. There is no way for a customer of FaceBook to know what is being done behind the scenes. It can only get worse. There is no real alternative to FaceBook at this time. 

Wikipedia is an interesting product that is starting to go bad. I was an editor for a while before I was banned from editing a few years ago. I was not even editing anything controversial, and my editing was to make the entry more neutral in a few historical areas having to do with church history. You would think that they would want someone with a degree in history and work towards a masters degree with an emphasis on church history—but no. There is now an alternative to Wikipedia called Infogalactic. I am supporting this effort and may become an editor. 

Twitter is also using a form of shadow banning along with direct banning of conservatives. Here is how Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, describes what happened to him in a blog post called Freedom of Speech Is an Illusion

Here’s a fresh example (today) of how Twitter throttles back my free speech when it doesn’t fit their political views. This only happens for Trump-related content, as far as I can tell. I haven’t seen an exception yet. Notice the referenced tweet shows as “unavailable” but it actually is available when users click the link. Twitter does this trick so my followers will think the link is gone and they won’t bother to click. This Twitter censorship method is well-documented by others. 

The clever thing about Twitter’s approach is that they randomize it so everyone sees my content sometimes, but no one sees the good stuff all of the time. That creates the illusion that it might be a fluke, a temporary bug, or just a perceptual thing. Best of all, it makes people like me look like conspiracy nuts. This is brilliant technique for mind control. It took me about a year to see this as a real thing. I thought everyone that was yapping about it was in deep conspiracy theory mode too. Most of you reading this post will think the same about me.

There have been too many complaints about this for it not to have some validity. There is an alternative to Twitter called Gab. I am on Gab. Gab is having some growing pains and is not dealing with trolls strongly enough, maybe because of Gab's actual commitment to free speech. There may be a waiting line as they do not want to overwhelm their servers. 

So how does this help Trump? 

It will drive those who are not Trump supporters into his arms. I am not a Trump supporter. But yet over and over again, I am saying to myself: "That is not fair." "What a biased use of pejorative words." "I want a neutral ground on social media." I was watching CNN on a tv at a restaurant and I could not help almost constantly shaking my head in shock. 

The media and social media are going to drive away their own customers and new platforms will develop. This will drive opinion to the ends of the spectrum as it will make mass media and social media giant echo chambers of pre-established dogma. 

Are the thought leaders of media and social media really that dumb? 

Yes, they are. 

Tuesday
Feb072017

Really Dumb Superbowl Ads

Last time I checked the purpose of a Superbowl ad was to increase sales for your business. A Superbowl Ad costs millions, so lets do an ad that hurts our business said no one ever. But yet that is exactly what two ads did. 

The first begins with a stereotypical beer customer insulting the founder of Budweiser as he enters America. Of course, most of those who Budweiser is parodying do not oppose immigration, they oppose illegal immigration. There is a certain subset that those oppose all immigration, but it is small, 10% maybe. But even at 10%, why would Budweiser want to alienate that many potential beer drinkers? Not also the founder of Budweiser nodding at a black man, no stereotype was left unaired. 

Here is the ad: 

(Budweiser is doubling down and is buying extensive YouTube presence for these ads.) 

The second ad is for 84 Lumber. It is even worse as it highlights illegal immigration. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when this ad was pitched. It is like 84 Lumber does not actually know who its customers are. A big problem in the contractor and subcontractor area is the hiring of illegal aliens. If you are a contractor, and a potential customer of 84 Lumber, you may have just been underbid by a competitor who uses illegal labor. Your supplier favoring these illegal acts might influence which supplier you chose. Notice also the stereotype of women and children as illegals. 

I wonder how the "let's insult half of our customers" ploy is going to work for them? 

Friday
Jan272017

How Propaganda Works

The post as it appeared in Facebook
The original photo.
Besides filling out the double chin to massive proportions, the skin tone was changed to a pasty whitish pink along with a contrast adjustment to make the skin look reptilian. This is not going to stop.

 

Thanks to the No Agenda Podcast for pointing this out. As I have said many times, never forget that you are being played.