Tag Archives: federal government

Govt to study ‘social pollution’ (Political Speech) on Twitter

As we have stated in the previous several posts, the government has no business regulating, or even trying to regulate political speech.

What you will read below is the beginning of several very creepy efforts to destroy freedom of political speech and conscience. Those efforts will likely manifest themselves in three ways:

I – First and most obviously, this “study” is designed to develop techniques to identify the political leanings of Twitter users. That way opinion leaders and top influencers can be singled out for IRS audits like they did to Becky Garritson; or spied upon like they did to reporters James Rosen, Sharyl Attkisson, as well as the entire Washington Bureau of the Associated Press.

This went as far as the government putting classified documents on Sharyl Attkisson’s computer in case they ever decided to charge her with possession of classified documents. Perhaps you are spreading messages someone doesn’t like or you grow to be an influencer on Twitter; so they sneak a little kiddy porn on your PC using government hacking tools and you go bye bye.

II – The study will “determine”, by the standards of “truth” as defined by the Democrats in power who paid for it, what is “true” or not. This is so obvious that it does not even need to be said, but we will say it anyway. Who lies more than government and politicians? Any attempt by them to declare something true or false will be done by pure political motivation. Even if that is not the intent of this study the results and resulting software will be used for just such a purpose, it is only a matter of time.

III – The study will determine what messages propagate through Twitter via mass fake accounts and “astroturfing” vs how messages that genuinely go viral propagate.  This will be done for the purpose of perfecting methods of astroturfing to further manipulate and control the messages you see and hear on social media.

Read the following carefully….

Via The Washington Post:

By Ajit Pai – Ajit Pai is a member of the Federal Communications Commission.

If you take to Twitter to express your views on a hot-button issue, does the government have an interest in deciding whether you are spreading “misinformation’’? If you tweet your support for a candidate in the November elections, should taxpayer money be used to monitor your speech and evaluate your “partisanship’’?

My guess is that most Americans would answer those questions with a resounding no. But the federal government seems to disagree. The National Science Foundation , a federal agency whose mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense,” is funding a project to collect and analyze your Twitter data.

The project is being developed by researchers at Indiana University, and its purported aim is to detect what they deem “social pollution” and to study what they call “social epidemics,” including how memes — ideas that spread throughout pop culture — propagate. What types of social pollution are they targeting? “Political smears,” so-called “astroturfing” and other forms of “misinformation.”

Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.

But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems. It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes.

The Truthy team says this research could be used to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.”

Hmm. A government-funded initiative is going to “assist in the preservation of open debate” by monitoring social media for “subversive propaganda” and combating what it considers to be “the diffusion of false and misleading ideas”? The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.

The NSF has already poured nearly $1 million into Truthy. To what end? Why is the federal government spending so much money on the study of your Twitter habits?

Some possible hints as to Truthy’s real motives emerge in a 2012 paper by the project’s leaders, in which they wrote ominously of a “highly-active, densely-interconnected constituency of right-leaning users using [Twitter] to further their political views.”

Truthy reminds me of another agency-funded study, in which the Federal Communications Commission sought to insert itself into newsrooms across the country. That project purported to examine whether news outlets were meeting what researchers determined were the “critical information needs” of the American people. And it involved sending out government-funded researchers to ask editors and reporters questions about their news philosophy and editorial judgment.

Once this study was brought to the attention of the American people, howls of protest from across the political spectrum led the FCC to scrap the project — thankfully. The episode reaffirmed that the American people, not their government, determine what their critical information needs are and that the First Amendment means the government has no place in the newsroom.

That principle applies here. Truthy’s entire premise is false. In the United States, the government has no business entering the marketplace of ideas to establish an arbiter of what is false, misleading or a political smear. Nor should the government be involved in any effort to squint for and squelch what is deemed to be “subversive propaganda.” Instead, the merits of a viewpoint should be determined by the public through robust debate. I had thought we had learned these lessons long ago.

Now, I do understand the motivation behind this scheme, even though I disagree with it. To those who wish to shape the nation’s political dialogue, social media is dangerous. No longer can a cadre of elite gatekeepers pick and choose the ideas to which Americans will be exposed. But today’s democratization of political speech is a good thing. It brings into the arena countless Americans whose voices previously might have received inadequate or slanted exposure.

The federal government has no business spending your hard-earned money on a project to monitor political speech on Twitter. How should it instead have reacted when funding for Truthy was proposed? The proper response wouldn’t have required anywhere near 140 characters. It could have been, and should have been, #absolutelynot.

NYT: Obama IRS Seizing Cash From Small Businesses. No Charges Filed….

…and letting the small business pay lawyers thousands to sue the government and try to get their money back.

There used to be about a hundred of these types of seizures per year, The Obama Administration did 639 just in 2012 alone.

New York Times:

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”

[Editor’s Note: This is an admission that the IRS knew that they were seizing money from people they knew full well were innocent.]

But the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm that is seeking to reform civil forfeiture practices, analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case.

The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going.

 

Money and Federal Regulations Yield No Positive Education Results

Via the Mercatus Center at George Mason University:

Reading, Writing, and Regulations: A Survey of the Expanding Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education Policy

Until 1965, the federal government played a fairly limited role in the elementary and secondary education system in the United States. The US Constitution is noticeably silent on matters related to education, and therefore the provision of education is left as a power reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. As part of his Great Society programs, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 and set in motion an expansion of federal control that would continue into the next century.

The original legislation was relatively specific in its intent; it was meant to provide compensatory educational resources for students from low-income backgrounds. However, after numerous amendments and reauthorizations, the law grew to more than 20 times its original size, and the breadth of federal control it provided grew with it. Hundreds of specific federal programs were added over the years as federal funding of elementary and secondary education increased. Attached to these programs and funds came strings of federal control.

The most recent version of the ESEA is No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which authorizes such a high level of federal oversight that the original legislation is hardly recognizable. Even now, federal influence continues to expand, fueled by such recent programs as Race to the Top and Common Core.

Continue reading.

K-12 total outlays per student MercatusK-12 math and reading performance Mercatus

Only 19% Say Federal Government Has Consent of the Governed

Rasmussen Poll:

Just 19% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

That’s down two points from January  but still up slightly  from the all-time low of 17% reached in August. This finding is generally in keeping with regular surveying for the past four years.  Sixty-sixty percent (66%) do not believe the federal government has the consent of the governed today, while 16% are unsure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 9-10, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.