Truth and Pravda

Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt: 


Pull up a chair, pour something cold, and let’s talk. The topic for the day is propaganda.  Call it that, call it “spin,” call it “deceptive advertising,” call it “shading the truth,” hell, call it “George” for all I care.  It’s something everyone does, at some level or another.  (This is why I always advise you to take no one’s word at face value, including mine.)


Governments are notorious for it, as are political movements, kids learn how to do it very early in life, and some people are professionals who get paid very well to do it, we call them Advertising executives or politicians usually.


Sometimes there is a “movement” where people haul the mail for the propaganda organization.  We USUALLY see this in times of war, and in totalitarian regimes.  Now however it seems we’re seeing it more and more, right here at home.


Take this “Disinformation Governance Board” (PLEASE take it, as far away from my country as you can!)  Now first off, we can’t get a straight answer about what it is even supposed to do, as even the AP admits, in this article:  Key takeaways include:
“Given the complete lack of information about this new initiative and the potential serious consequences of a government entity identifying and responding to ‘disinformation,’ we have serious concerns about the activities of this new Board,” wrote Reps. Mike Turner of Ohio and John Katko of New York, the top Republicans on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees.


The Homeland Security Secretary, Mayorkas stated in an interview on CNN, in trying to quiet the controversy over this new “ministry of truth” “we in the Department of Homeland Security don’t monitor American citizens.” To borrow from a talk show, “we have determined this to be a lie.” DHS has broad authorities to track and collect data on American citizens. It has repeatedly been accused of misusing those powers. To quote from the article above: 


In a bulletin earlier this year, DHS said it was using social media to identify potential conspiracy theories that might inspire domestic violence or terrorism. In a statement on May 2, the agency also released examples of how it has responded to misinformation in the past, including during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when falsehoods spread about drinking water and shelter locations, and organizations tracking disinformation monitor social media, where it’s sometimes impossible to determine the nationality or location of individual users. Disinformation researchers often identify popular conspiracy theories and trending falsehoods in the U.S. by monitoring public social media groups, pages, and accounts.


Another article that I’ve mentioned before, based on an FOI request, determined that the DHS was tracking and gathering real-time location data on 20 million Americans… But hey, “we don’t spy on US Citizens.” RIGHT…


Now, we’re seeing other agencies getting in on the ass-covering. The FDA has gotten into the act for Gods’ sake.  In an interview for “Sirius XM’s “Doctor Radio Reports” Link here:
The Commissioner of the FDA, Robert Califf stated “I have been telling Congress that misinformation is the leading cause of death.” Califf explained: “We’re in the negative spiral right now due to mostly chronic disease, drug overdose, and gun violence.” 


He went on to say: “Mental health being a very important part of the problem. If you think about the common chronic diseases, we’re talking about good ol’ fashioned heart disease, diabetes, obesity. This is driven by day-to-day habits that people have. Driven largely by the information they’re ingesting and not driven by the information they should be getting about the measures that are effective. One that we have a lot of control over is we now have generic medicines for most of those that are pretty inexpensive and a lot of people aren’t taking them. We got to reach people with secondary prevention but also make sure we flood the airwaves and our personal interactions with positive, reliable, useful information.” (emphasis mine)


Then on CNN Saturday, he repeated this claim, Link here:


All of which seem to be driving towards the Government having “justification” for the “Disinformation police.”  Funny thing though, when called on it, during that CNN interview of all things… Yeah, I know, CNN actually asking a Democrat a hard question is difficult to believe, but it happened… Anyway, when the reporter called him on it, his response was priceless:


“Uh, I have to acknowledge there’s no way to quantify this. So, I can’t say, you know, the numbers come out just like they would, uh, heart disease or cancer. But let’s look at it. You know, we’re in a country now which is seeing an erosion in our life expectancy, so that we’re now living on average five years shorter than the average of other high-income countries. Now, of course, this– these are all based on estimates, but this is quite disturbing. And as you correctly pointed out, let’s look at the causes of death. Uh, as you correctly said, heart disease, cancer, COVID, uh, much of this is common chronic disease that we know a lot about how to treat.


And of course, with COVID, the situation is we know that if you’re vaccinated and up-to-date with your vaccinations, um, you have a ninety percent reduction in the risk of death, and then, if you are unlucky enough to get infected, or unfortunate enough, another ninety percent reduction in death with the anti-virals which are now available. So almost no one in this country should be dying from COVID, if we were up-to-date on our vaccinations and got appropriate anti-viral treatment. What has concerned me for a long time before the pandemic is that we’re seeing this reduction in life expectancy from common diseases like heart disease. I’m a cardiologist by training. We know so much about what to do to prevent, uh, bad outcomes from heart disease, um, but somehow the messages, the, the reliable, truthful messages are not getting across, and it’s being washed out by a lot of misinformation which is leading people to make bad choices that are unfortunate for their health.”


In short: “WELL, I haven’t got any proof of what I’m saying, it’s all a guess, but based on my opinion, we need to stop people from saying things that I don’t think they should say, because, you know, people are dying, and I don’t think they should have. It’s all the fault of those people that won’t speak the government’s truth.”   


Well, let’s see, the government’s truth isn’t even supported by my old friend and whipping boy the NYT, who states that the vaccine’s effectiveness against hospitalization is between 48 and 73 percent, and protection against infection is between 12 and 51 percent… Wow, that’s a whole lot different than the 90% claims for each category the FDA would have you believe, and frankly, based on the NYT’s track record to date, even that’s probably higher than the truth. More and more, it looks like the government of Joe Biden wants to be the only source of information you get to hear.


Not to be outdone in the propaganda department, the NYT ran this little gem:  (the link is to a version that ISN’T behind the NYT paywall.  It’s worth noting by the way that literally dozens of news outlets ran this article in the wake of the NYT…


Mr. David Streitfeld, the article’s author would gaslight me into believing that “prospects have not been this bright since men landed on the moon.”  He tells me that my retirement account is fattened by a prolonged bull market, and the fact I own my home means that it’s “in effect a giant piggybank” that I live inside.  It seems that I’m just too stupid to realize this, and to give all credit to the “Great and Powerful Joe.” (Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain!) 


If you read on through the article, he tells us that the reason not everyone is singing the praises of the economy is that it’s racist, and “Even as the overall homeownership rate in 2020 rose to 65.5%, the rate for Black Americans has severely lagged. At 43.4%, it is lower than the 44.2% in 2010. The rate for Hispanics is only marginally better.”


Well, David, it seems I have to judge between your words and my own lying eyes.  I get my portfolio income report monthly, and while I haven’t lost as much as the S&P 500, I’ve still lost about 25 thousand in the last couple of months.  Yes, my home is worth more, but the only way to actualize that is to SELL IT, and then where the hell would I live?  Oh, yeah, I would have to buy another home, which will cost a shit ton of money and wipe out any increase in apparent worth that my current home’s value gives.  Not to mention the fact that while the “official” rate of inflation (which doesn’t count silly little worthless stuff like GAS and FOOD) is 8.4%, the actual rate is more like 14% on the stuff that I actually have to buy.  Meanwhile, my income has gone up about 2%, which means that in effect I’m losing about 12% of my buying power.  This doesn’t seem quite so rosy to me there Sparky. 


Considering the fact that food and gas prices are expected to continue to surge throughout the year, due to putting more food (corn) in my gas tank, which means less for sale in the grocery store, plus the loss of any food exported to the world from Ukraine and Russia this year, and the loss of fuel and fertilizer exports from that region as well… If this is your idea of “bright prospects,” I would absolutely hate to see your idea of “a problem.”


One final note before I go, of interest because I’m 1) an author, 2) a geek, and 3) not exactly a fan of companies getting special sweetheart deals… There’s new legislation being introduced that sits at the intersection of all those categories.  The “Copyright Restoration Act of 2022 introduced by Senator Hawley of Mo. is set to strip the “House of Mouse” from the sweetheart deals they’ve been getting for decades.  See Disney has been successful in extending copyrights for up to 120 years.  No one else gets that sort of deal.  It’s allowed them to bury stuff they didn’t want to admit they did (Like Song of the South, and some parts of Dumbo) and allowed them to protect stuff that for anyone else would have been LONG out of Copyright (like the early versions of Mickey himself.)  


Now is this revenge for Disney going all political and picking sides in the great national food fight?  


Oh, almost certainly.


But good luck proving it.  Even if it is, it’s a self-inflicted wound. All that needed to happen was to stay out of the fight.  To simply say, as many corporations do: “We are not in the business of politics, we are in the business of X (for the mouse X=entertainment) as a company, we will not take sides on this.”  Not terribly hard, right? Yet it’s more than they could manage.  It’s like they thought they were too big and too important for anyone to call them to task… Seems they were wrong.  Well, if you get into a mud-slinging contest, don’t be surprised if you get some dirt on you… Oh, you chose to wear your best suit?  Well, that was stupid.


OK, I’ve got other things I have to do today, so that’s all for now.  As always, I welcome your comments. 


Take care, watch your six, 
Until next time I remain,
Yours in service.
William Lehman.


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