In spite of the propaganda spin, it really does take 60 votes, not 51, to approve the Federal budget

Online, social media-based, for profit, fake news publisher Occupy Democrats sent out another false meme for viral distribution on social media. This item was shared into my Facebook news feed.

The Republicans have a 52 seat majority in the Senate, with one absent for medical treatment, giving them a 51 seat majority.

The problem with this propaganda is that due to Senate rules and how the political parties work in real life, it takes 60 votes, not 51.

CSPAN understood this with this graphic after the vote to continue funding the government failed on January 19, 2018 – note the reference to “60 votes needed to limit debate”.

CNN explained this in a news report just prior to the vote:

“Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill. Republicans only control 51 seats, so GOP leaders needed Democratic votes to cross that threshold. As of 11 p.m. ET, the vote was still technically ongoing but enough senators had voted against the plan to prevent it from advancing. “

CNBC noted that it takes 60 votes to pass.

The day after, the Associated Press described the situation with this headline:

Which is the opposite of the propaganda poster, above.

In 2012, Obama’s Chief of Staff said that it took 60 votes. Politifact took issue with the exact wording Obama’s Chief of Staff used and said a budget resolution can technically pass with 51 votes, but agreed that in reality, it takes 60 votes to move past the resolution phase.

Because of wide spread propaganda from fake news sites, social media on Twitter and Facebook are filled with posts saying 51 votes or 60 votes are sufficient, depending on the partisan bias of the poster. The battle crossed onto social media where it basically slid down hill from there.

The least and most trusted news sources in the United States

Which ones are the most widely shared on social media? (Story doesn’t answer that question)

Something you can do for fun – visit any of these organizations’ Facebook pages and FB will tell you which of your friends “like” that page. Kinda scary to see which friends like pages that are among the least trusted sources of news.

Source: These are the most — and the least — trusted news sources in the U.S. – MarketWatch

The survey was conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Twitter launches tweet censorship program

Today, some tweets appearing on Twitter are accompanied by the following warning:

I did a search on Twitter for #DrudgeReport and found several (but not all) tweets mentioning #DrudgeReport had this warning. Drudge Report is a right leaning news aggregator that specializes, typically, in using inflammatory headlines to hook readers.

A search for #DrudgeReport using the “Latest” option presents this:

That is weird – it appears Twitter is fully censoring searches for items related to Drudge Report.

A search for #InfoWars for tweets related to the InfoWars conspiracy theorist displays tweets, without warnings.

A search for proven fake news service #OccupyDemocrats displays a long list of tweets, without warnings.

The algorithm used by Twitter is not clear to the user –  all we can tell at this point is that Twitter has censored Drudge Report.

Twitter, of course, like Facebook, is an unreliable source for any sort of information. Yet Twitter does not display a warning on itself, nor does it display a warning regarding links to Facebook.

Social media, as this blog has extensively documented, is a frictionless platform for the spread of propaganda. This blog, at times, intentionally searches for propaganda on social media to better understand how it works. By establishing a censorship program, Twitter blocks research into the use of their platform for propaganda messaging. Twitter is therefore no longer an information conduit but a publisher that uses censorship to control messaging.  In the blink of an eye, Twitter is itself an official propaganda publisher.

Rather than allow users to think for themselves, Twitter now does the thinking for you and is choosing what you are readily able to see or not see. Do you want to outsource your thinking to an unreliable social media propaganda platform?

The first story is the one that is remembered, even if wrong

TL;DR Summary

  • A media outlet ran a story with the headline “”Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point Scholarship“, based in part on muddled comments from Ben Carson that were not clear.
  • The false version of the story was picked up by media and spread rapidly on social media.
  • The story was eventually shown as incorrect and prominent media called the story a “lie”.
  • But the damage was done. Propagandists know that the first message received by the target, even if later found to be false, is the message mostly likely to stick with the target. This is why elegant lies are effective in persuading others. (Update: There are contemporary examples from the Trump administration saying things that are not true. I wrote this post, originally, in late 2015 but did not publish until January 2017.)
  • This post is not about Ben Carson but is about a propaganda method that is illustrated well by this story involving Ben Carson and Politico. Even though the initial headline and story were not correct, this is the “message” that will live on in the minds of the targets.

Kyle Cheney at Politico.com wrote a story titled “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point Scholarship“. After spreading online, both CNN and Washington Post  noted this headline was not true; Politico later revised the article and rewrote the headline.

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U.S. cities fall behind in wealth measure! :)

CaptureTL;DR Summary

  • From a design standpoint, this poster is effective. Readers likely see it, quickly nod agreement, and then click Like and Share!
  • It uses simple statements with an authority figure as the source of the quote.
  • Some of the claims are false or misleading, but they all seem plausible.
  • The poster works by making assertions (some of which are not true) and using an appeal to authority. The poster was designed to appeal to the preconceptions of its target audience, who subscribe to the fake news outlet. The goal of the poster seems to be that there is a lot of wealth and a lot of poverty in the U.S., therefore, wealth is bad (or poverty is bad or industrialization is bad or whatever). Since the quote/poster never says what the conclusion is supposed to be, the conclusion is left to your own (pre-conceived?) thoughts.

Poster Source

Since the post asks, “What’s wrong with this picture?“, let’s take a look!

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False: Trump Administration deleted “Climate change”, “LGBTQ” from WhiteHouse.gov

TL;DR Summary

  • The Daily Beast reported the Trump administration deleted references to “climate change”, “LGBTQ”, “health care” and “civil rights” and other topics from the whitehouse.gov web site.
  • Fake news and “real” news web sites promoted the theory that these topics were deleted as part of an upcoming period of darkness under the Trump administration.
  • My Twitter feed was absolutely filled with links to these stories.
  • Reality: As part of the change in administrations, the U.S. National Archives archived the Obama record at 12 noon, and cleared out the old web site, after which new content will be added. This pre-announced change was made by the National Archives and not by the Trump Administration.
  • This works as fake news propaganda by leaving out critical information (the National  Archives and the hand off process so that “What you see is all there is”), and the logical fallacy of “if something is not stated, then X must be true”. In this case, a lot of people imagined what they wanted to believe was true.

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False: President Roosevelt on why the minimum wage must be a living wage

CaptureTL;DR Summary

  • A true quote but taken out of context – the quote is  referring to something completely different than a modern day “minimum wage”.
  • As a propaganda message, this has  been widely shared, which makes for successful propaganda, even though the message is untrue.
  • Roosevelt did say this quote, but it was not about the minimum wage but about creating opportunities to become skilled, employable and have the ability to earn good wages. The speech was about the need to balance the interests of labor and capital. The speech was not about a minimum wage, which was not enacted until 28 years later.
  • The basic methods used are Assertion (that this is about a minimum wage), “Appeal to Authority” by citing President Teddy Roosevelt and a Logical fallacy of linking his comments  to today’s minimum wage.
  • The poster originated from Occupy Democrats.

Below is the full paragraph from the 1910 speech so you can see the original context. The speech is available online at http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com/historicspeeches/roosevelt_theodore/newnationalism.html.  No where in the text is a minimum wage discussed. The context in which this was given was about creating opportunities and providing everyone with the education and skills to be able to earn a living. He proposes the need for regulations to ensure sanitary and safe working conditions. The reference to “workman’s compensation” refers to workers being compensated when injured on the job – not to normal wages or minimum wages. You can find discussion on the “workman’s compensation” issue and what Roosevelt meant at the Social Welfare History Project at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Part 6: Paying for Denmark’s Free Health Care

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TL; DR Summary

This final installment looks at the claim that Denmark has free health care – health care is free at point of service, but obviously, health care expenses still get paid some how.

FREE HEALTHCARE

Clinics are free. However, (as of 2012) there was an 8% flat rate “Health contribution” tax on income. This tax was being phased out and rolled in to general income taxes. However, this gives us a baseline for what “free” health care costs in Denmark. Additional tax revenue, especially from local government income taxes, is added to this to pay the costs of “Free” health care.

The 8% health care income tax applied to all earnings above the US$7600 level. Starting in 2012, this is going down by 1% per year and merged into the general income tax (Source Danish government web site reviewed in 2015. For additional reference, see also  http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/Denmark.pdf)

TAXES IN DENMARK

Taxes in Denmark are the highest in the world. The typical Dane worker pays between 50% and 70% of their income, as taxes, including “Gross”, “Health”, “Income”, and “Local” taxes, plus a 25% Value-Added-Tax (VAT) which is similar to the U.S. concept of a sales tax. The “50-70%” figure is NOT a marginal rate – that is the total percentage of one’s income that is paid in taxes.

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20%-40% of partisan FB “fake news” posts are false

Our analysis of three hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages found that 38% of all posts were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false, compared to 19% of posts from three hyperpartisan left-wing pages that were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false. The right-wing pages are among the forces — perhaps as potent as the cable news shows that have gotten far more attention — that helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump. These pages, with names such as Eagle Rising on the right and Occupy Democrats on the left, represent a new and powerful force in American politics and society. Many have quickly grown to be as large as — and often much larger than — mainstream political news pages.

Source: Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate – BuzzFeed News

Occupy Democrats has nearly 4 1/2 million “subscribers” on Facebook alone. Eagle Rising has a mere 655,000 page likes.

Look at those numbers – literally millions of people voluntarily subscribe to fake propaganda messaging, and then voluntarily share those fake items on their own FB pages, such that individual posts are exposed to tens of millions of potential “targets”.

Breitbart, Occupy Democrats among list of alleged fake, news sites 

[Professor] Zimdars puts the news sites into four categories. Category one deals with sites that rely on “outrage culture”, using distorted headlines or misleading information. Category two are sites that “circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information.” Category three is for more click-bait type websites that still deliver questionable information. And category four deals with satires news site like The Onion. The satires sites are included into the list because Zimdars thinks they sometimes contribute to the cycle of misinformation. The list includes sites like Info Wars, Occupy Democrats, Project Veritas, and Breitbart News.

Source: Breitbart, Occupy Democrats among list of alleged fake, misleading news sites to avoid | WFMYNEWS2.com

Examples of fake news from the above sites are shown by CNN. Another, earlier list, identifies many left wing fake news web sites such as Occupy Democrats (click for more on that). Most are for profit, social-media-based, online publishers, who profit by selling eyeballs to advertisers. They market their web sites by creating finely targeted propaganda posters that target the emotions, encouraging widespread Likes and Shares on social media, to drive traffic to their web sites.

Update: One of the alleged fake news sites blasts back with a hit piece attacking the professor, rather than the issue of the content on these sites and why they might be considered “fake news”.

The “official” list uses a broad definition of “fake news” to include not only fictional and false stories created to appear like real news, but also includes satire web sites (such as The Onion) that produce humorous fictional news stories, as well as web sites that create original reporting but are partisan (such as Breitbart News). A problem in categorizing web sites is the lack of a uniform definition of “fake news” and “fake news web site”.