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Jul 2012 25

by Steven Whitney

[The Fighting Back series began with a simple question: given their minority status for most of the last 80 years, why is the GOP so successful at winning elections? Exploring one answer, the series has first focused on Karl Rove’s free adaptation of Joseph Goebbels doctrines of PropagandaIndoctrination, Intimidation and Revenge, Distraction and Disinformation, and Divide and Conquer. In coming weeks, we’ll seek more answers in a myriad fields and offer solutions aimed at turning the tables on the party that favors corporations and the 1% over the vast majority of Americans.]

Through Fox News and other media outlets, Karl Rove has inculcated a false world view for the past dozen years through indoctrination tactics perfected by Joseph Goebbels, the former Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich.

How has he gotten away with it for so long? His resume reveals the answer: by intimidation and revenge – the true standards of “win at any cost” politics.

Certainly, part of the blame falls to those who were cajoled or browbeaten into compliance. As children, we’re taught to stand up to bullies, especially since they are essentially cowards…so it’s disheartening when elected officials fold their values under pressure (and, like the post-1994 Republican Congress, even became bullies themselves). But to be fair, Rove and his henchmen dish out frighteningly more punishment than a bloody nose.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar employed a simple tactic that led Forbes magazine to list him as the world’s first narco–billionaire. Escobar would approach someone from whom he wanted something and offer them either silver (plata) or lead (plomo), meaning he would either make them very rich (silver) or riddle their body with bullets (lead). His plata o plomo strategy was copied quite literally by every subsequent cartel…and figuratively by Karl Rove, who adjusted it a notch for the American political arena.

As one White House aide put it: “Karl operates under the rule that if you fuck with us, we’ll fuck you over.”

In 1994, Rove-backed candidate Harold See ran for a Supreme Court seat in Alabama against Democrat Mark Kennedy, who had honorably served as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect and whose commercials included a shot of him holding hands with at-risk children his group had literally saved. Enter Rove, who started a particularly malicious whispering campaign smearing Kennedy as a pedophile. The Atlantic Monthly’s Joshua Green correctly described the incident: “What Rove does is try and make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship.”

That same year, George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas against incumbent Ann Richards, widely admired for the diversity of her administration. Soon, persistent rumors spread across the Lone Star state that Richards was a lesbian, several steps too far diversity-wise for Texans to venture at the time. Journalist Lou Dubose spotted a common Rove tactic: “Identify your opponent’s strength, and attack it so relentlessly that it becomes a liability.”

In 1991, while visiting one of Mother Theresa’s orphanages in Bangladesh, Cindy McCain spotted two sickly infants who, frankly, weren’t going to make it. On the spot, she decided to take them back home for medical treatment that saved both their lives. Two years later, John and Cindy McCain officially adopted one of the girls, Bridget, and arranged for the adoption of the other (Mickey) by the family of McCain aide Wes Gullet. For many, these were heroic acts of kindness and compassion…but to Karl Rove, they served merely as an opportunity to smear someone who stood in his way.

In 2000, Sen. McCain squared off against the Rove-controlled Bush in the Republican Presidential primaries. After McCain’s 18 point victory in New Hampshire, the smart money was on the Senator to win the nomination, especially as he held a 5 point lead heading into South Carolina. Rove cut into that margin with TV attacks implying that McCain’s days as a POW had left him mentally scarred (a real-life Manchurian candidate) and that Cindy was a drug addict. But then, asserted another White House aide, Rove devised the coup de grace – a fiendishly damaging question to ask Southerners via a phony poll: “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” Since McCain was barnstorming the state with Bridget, his dark-skinned daughter from Bangladesh, voters in this Old South state quickly began marching to the darkest of Rove’s tunes. Bush won South Carolina by a healthy margin and the race was essentially over.

Following his formula of hammering his opponent’s perceived strength, Rove had taken McCain’s admirable sense of character and turned it into a racist affront. It was a strategy so depraved only Rove could have stooped so low as to implement it – as noted by Meghan McCain: “Karl Rove is a pathetic excuse for a human being.”

Rove’s tactics in these scenarios incorporated the Big Lie, but he could bully with the truth, too – when he needed to.

In 2002, with America already at war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration tried desperately to produce even the flimsiest rationales for invading Iraq. Tipped to an unsubstantiated rumor that Niger had supplied Saddam Hussein with yellowcake uranium, the CIA asked former Ambassador to Iraq and 23 year Foreign Service veteran Joseph Wilson to investigate. After more than a week in Niger interviewing key players and examining technical information (including forged memos), Wilson correctly reported that the rumor was “highly unlikely.” Months went by and he thought the rumor had been discarded…until Bush cited it again in early 2003 as a compelling reason to invade Iraq. Wilson countered by writing an OpEd in the New York Times stating unequivocally that the yellowcake connection was highly suspect.

Almost immediately, Rove leaked to reporters Matt Cooper and Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was in fact a covert CIA agent specializing in WMD. It was the truth, of course, and once her cover was blown, Plame’s career was kaput. Never mind that Plame’s clandestine colleagues across the globe were put in grave danger and America lost its most effective nuclear intelligence operative. Bush got his “revenge” war (Hussein had put out a contract on W.’s father years before) and Rove got his revenge on Wilson, a man who refused to shade the truth for administration purposes. The cost was thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and more than a trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war.

Of course, Rove’s actions were actionably treasonous in this case – the FBI even believed they had him nailed. But for some reason never adequately explained, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald failed to prosecute Rove.

When pop-recording stars the Dixie Chicks publicly voiced their opposition to the Bush 2003 invasion of Iraq on stage, Karl went to work with his “Southern Strategy” friends. Soon, the Dixie Chicks were not only demonized and persona non grata at many venues and media outlets, with concerts cancelled and radio play diminished, they were even accused of treason via the underground rumor mill that Rove had long relied upon.

Rove’s hostile invective was even aimed to discredit whole countries. Just like in our own Revolutionary War, the French were our greatest allies in the War in Afghanistan. But they rightly wanted no part of Iraq; As bad as he was, they argued, Hussein did not attack the U.S. and there was no reliable evidence that he posed “a clear and present danger” to anyone, much less to the Western allies. France did not believe a country had the moral right to go to war just because its President wanted to, which pretty much sums up the Bush Doctrine. But by this time, Rove had convinced Bush he was “a war President,” and needed perpetual war (shades of 1984), so all things French became nearly traitorous (down to the absurd renaming of French Fries to Freedom Fries in the Senate cafeteria), and the build-up to Iraq II continued unabated.

When Senator John Kerry posed a credible threat to Bush’s re-election in 2004, Rove went after Kerry’s most obvious political asset by swiftboating his admirable Vietnam service. From a legitimate war hero, Kerry was turned into something akin to a Timothy McVey serial killer, while Bush, who went AWOL for about a year during the same era, literally strutted around in a flight suit with Commander-in-Chief emblazoned on its breast. Like a cherry atop an ice cream sundae, there was even widespread talk that Kerry somehow “looked French.”

Even the press was not immune to Rove’s intimidation tactics. First there were the wildly illegal wiretaps and surveillance by which the administration tracked “suspect” reporters. If any of the White House press corps still didn’t toe the line, Rove reduced their access to White House personnel in stages until they either came around or had no access at all and were necessarily replaced by their media employer. The message came through loud and clear – play Rove’s game or lose your job.

Rove is not going to change, and neither will his modus operandi. His inestimably low character and slimy strategies have been too successful (in the worst sense of the word) to alter.

But we can change. Politicians and journalists must be made of sterner stuff than we have seen in the last decade. We must start not only standing up to his intimidation tactics, but begin an all-out offensive against him – harsh, unyielding, and repeated endlessly, shouted from every media outlet and whispered in every dark corner of every American community. We must bloodlessly attack every particle of his loathsome being until he is thoroughly discredited and utterly destroyed. Until no one – not corporations, not his super rich amigos, no one – can afford to have anything to do with him. We must stomp on him until his reputation and his GOP architecture is dead. Then we must set fire to the remains to ensure that nothing arises from the ashes.

It’s plata o plomo without the silver, just the lead – the same game he plays but with one huge difference. Instead of spinning Big Lies, we have only to divulge and spread the truth – relentlessly, with a vengeance heretofore unimagined by liberal and progressive wusses. And repeat those truths over and over and over. We cannot rest until Karl Rove, and the willfully deceitful tactics he employs, are permanently interred in the graveyard of modern American politics.

Related Posts:
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Jul 2012 20

by Lee Camp

Let’s be honest with ourselves. America is too fat!…We’re also too skinny. The United States has the most obese people in the world. But we also force an impossible-to-obtain body image on young people. The end result is that everyone is miserable. Check out the video. Let me know if you agree in the comments section below.

[..]

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Jul 2012 20

by Steven Whitney

Reading this recent tweet from the esteemed Governor of Wisconsin, one has to wonder if his head is buried in the sand or up his ass. Either way, his vision is blurred.

No disrespect to Noah – he built a fine ark – but like Mitt Romney, he invited only his family to come along for the ride. And the animals, of course. But at least on Noah’s vehicle, they weren’t strapped to the roof.

In ancient times, there were other great wonders to behold – the Great Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis, the Roman Coliseum, the Greek Parnassus, and even the Great Wall of China. All of them built by the governments of their eras.

In modern America, the bridges (the Golden Gate and Brooklyn come to mind) and dams and canals that adorn our waterways were built by the government. The Interstate Highway system and the city streets and country roads were built in the 1950s, under a Republican President who (like Roosevelt before him) saw the need to build our country’s vital infrastructure. The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space crafts, as well as the Space Shuttles and the giant telescopes that look into the farthest reaches of space were all built by our government. Why, even Wisconsin’s Statehouse was built by the government.

I doubt Noah, even with the help of his sons, could have managed any of them.

Governor, until you realize that individuals, private enterprise, and governments can all contribute remarkable achievements to society – separately or together – you define yourself by the old adage: there are none so blind as those who cannot see.

Related Posts:
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Jul 2012 18

by Steven Whitney

[The Fighting Back series began with a simple question: given their minority status for most of the last 80 years, why is the GOP so successful at winning elections? Over the next weeks, we’ll seek answers in a myriad of fields and then offer solutions aimed at turning the tables on the party that favors corporations and the 1% over the vast majority of Americans. The series is not meant to be a monologue, so feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.]

Last week’s column sketched out how Karl Rove – the GOP clone of Dr. Evil but lacking the charm or charisma – designed the new Republican model based upon the same four doctrines employed by Joseph Goebbels in his role as Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich.

The reason is simple: if we can learn from and implement some of his tactics and strategies, albeit without his mendacity and immorality, we should – if only to start winning more elections and to successfully push a liberal/progressive agenda through the labyrinthine halls of government.

Make no mistake, no matter who the Republican candidate or what GOP agenda Democrats are running against, they are also running against Rove, “the Architect” of the modern GOP. This is the man who not only “consults” on practically every race but who also makes and maintains connections to Big Money corporations and the 1% while holding the purse strings of rightwing SuperPACs and the RNC.

It’s also important because propaganda is all that Republicans have. With no substance, no moral high ground, no sustainable policies and no real solutions at hand, it’s just them and their giant propaganda machine. If we can beat that, we can beat them.

So let’s reboot the Goebbels/Rove doctrines of Propaganda – Indoctrination, Intimidation and Revenge, Distraction and Disinformation, and Divide and Conquer – and dig a little deeper into them, one by one.

Generally speaking, Indoctrination is the practice of instilling targeted ideas, attitudes, strategies, tactics, and other thoughts into the conscious, subconscious, or unconscious mind of another. It is different from learning (education), which requires deliberate study, perception, and critical analysis, in that indoctrination can be, and often is, involuntary – occurring almost subliminally, unobserved by the unsuspecting mind – and strongly discourages any questions or examinations of an analytic, or fact-based, nature.

The term indoctrination was originally used to describe the generation to generation passing on of religious doctrine (indoctrinate contains the word doctrine and comes from the same Latin root), a set of core beliefs central to an enclosed community that is based solely on “faith,” not facts. Children of the faithful were born and brought up within the strict guidelines of the religion and often attended religious schools (in addition to worship services and special religious instruction like catechism) where they learned and often had to memorize doctrine. By the time they reached adulthood, most (but not all) identified themselves with the religion in which they were indoctrinated. Children, of course, are particularly vulnerable because they rely on their families and communities for all their basic needs and they trust, or have faith in, the entities that nurture their growth.

Indoctrination to military service, on the other hand, is based on the reinforced concepts of “duty” and “order” to a nationalist (or tribal) entity while also encompassing the mental and physical training factually necessary for soldiers to perform their often unpleasant tasks. The ideal recruits or volunteers are late teens and young adults, largely because development of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain that controls judgment is not complete until about age 25, rendering them more susceptible both to influence and bad decisions.

While there are many forms of political indoctrination, the one successfully practiced by both Goebbels and Rove is based on the concept of “The Big Lie,” a term coined by Hitler himself in his book Mein Kampf:

“…because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily. . . in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie. . . for they could never believe that others would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

When the Third Reich snatched total control of Germany’s media – all print, radio, and film outlets – Goebbels targeted those same “broad masses,” endlessly bombarding them with the Big Lies that led to World War II and the Holocaust. Any alternative view was vigorously quashed – books were burned, professors and other “intellectuals” were jailed, killed, or fled the country, art and music was censored or banned, and all performing arts were under the centralized control of Goebbels’ Ministry (two films produced by the Third Reich – Triumph of the Will and Olympia – are still considered the most skillful and frightening examples of the power of visual propaganda). This relentless blitzkrieg of untruth occurred every single day from 1933 to the Fall of Berlin twelve years later – and, tragically, it worked.

With modern technology, total control over the outward flow of information is more difficult today, but still possible (think North Korea). Yet in America, if the indoctrination begins early enough, continues blaring non-stop 24/7, and if the dialogue can be poisoned just enough to win elections, our entire society can be transformed from inside the government, almost invisibly, from a democracy to a plutocracy of corporations and the 1% with hardly a whisper of recognition.

Under Rove, and like Goebbels, Big Lies are mostly absorbed and reinforced through social brainwashing by the media, which diligently reports the GOP’s Daily Talking Points as both real news and, incredibly, the truth. On radio it’s the right wing corps of talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Bennett who receive their marching orders from Rove and the RNC.

But for the last 15 years, the elephant in the big GOP tent has been Fox News, created and autocratically run by Nixon/Reagan crony Roger Ailes, who serves as its president – and owned by none other than phone hacker extraordinaire Rupert Murdoch, the Aussie-turned-Brit-turned-American Citizen Kane. Over the last fifteen years, and by Ailes’ design, Fox News has literally become the unofficial arm of both the Republican Party and the Tea Party, if there’s any difference at this point.

In collusion with Rove – who signed a big money contract to serve as Fox’s “political analyst” – Ailes programs a never-ending cycle of propaganda and fear-mongering, complete with now infamous buzzwords and phrases like freedom, entitlements, elitist, liberal media, smoking guns and mushroom clouds, WMD, Red Alerts, Islamo-Fascist, Muslim, birther, redistribution of wealth, and my personal favorite, death panels.

Hour after dreary hour, the chattering chowderheads of Fox News goosestep in 2/4 time to the Daily Talking Point, using exactly the same words and phrases, over and over and over, like the annoying drip drip drip of a faucet all night long until it becomes part of your unconscious and you can finally sleep.

Jon Stewart frequently pokes fun at Fox’s journalistic reverb chamber, airing montages of every Fox host repeating the exact same words and phrases over and over – from Hannity to O’Reilly to Fox & Friends and everyone else, including every “guest” pundit weighing in on the day’s “news.” But laughs aside, the technique is lethally effective: every single textbook on brainwashing states that exact and continuous repetition is the most effective tool of social brainwashing. Preying on fear and paranoia, Rove and Fox continually repeat emotionally-charged slogans and buzzwords that, although false, favorably brand their far right agenda while painting anyone on the left (or sometimes even the center) as “Un-American,” perhaps their most overused buzzword – and all of it at a noise level that deafens reason.

The other sly ploy used by Fox News from its beginning is: “Trust only us. We’re the only network that will tell you the truth.” Goebbels’ state-run newspapers and radio employed the same ruse, so German children of that period grew up trusting only Nazi media.

And, of course, every time any reasonable objection is voiced from the 99% the Fox puppets repeatedly scream other buzzwords like “Class Warfare” or “socialist” (Goebbels, too, was virulently anti-socialist). How’s that for fair and balanced?

Even the GOP’s horrendous rudeness is a political tactic. Watch almost any installment of Real Time with Bill Maher and you’ll see Republican panelists aggressively interrupt and shout down (or over) pertinent points being made by progressives. While it may not at first seem advantageous to be so boorish, it keeps the audience from hearing the liberal perspective – and like a tree falling in the forest, if no one hears it, does it really exist?

Some might argue that only wingnuts on the right believe and trust in Fox News. But consider this: Because they are so unprepared for analytical thinking and contextual meaning, children are extremely vulnerable to propaganda, especially that which is delivered over a period of years. Think of children born in l993 or 1994 to parents who constantly played Fox News in the den. This year voting for the first time, these young adults have been indoctrinated for most of their lives – and they will likely pass their inculcated beliefs onto their children. That’s a scary thought, and proves that we have a lot of work to do for many years ahead.

During WWII, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) – the precursor to the CIA – issued a report on the Hitler/Goebbels methodology that remained classified until the mid-60s, when its use started to leak into global political indoctrination:

“…his primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Please, read that passage again. Let it sink in. Then ask yourself if, point by point, it doesn’t exactly describe the strategies of today’s GOP under the aegis of Karl Rove, his corporate sponsors, his media cronies, and Fox News.

As Germans discovered, those tactics can and do win elections, but they are so divisive as to inevitably lead to the destruction of once-great nations and sovereign cultures, just as they have led to the most dangerous political and social crisis the United States has faced since the Civil War – a crisis only we can solve, and only by taking action against those who want “to fool all of the people all of the time.”

Related Posts:
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Jul 2012 14

by Steven Whitney

Today, July 14th, marks the 223rd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, the event that sparked the French Revolution.

While there were only seven prisoners – all freed – incarcerated at the time, the fortress was perhaps the most visible and most accessible symbol of a repressive royal authority that represented only the top 2% of the country. The other 98% were bound in an economic enslavement with a regressive tax system, meaning the richer one was, the less one paid.

Does any of that sound familiar?

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen – alongside our own Declaration of Independence one of the greatest documents of democratic principles – arose from the camaraderie and solidarity shown by the vanishing middle class and poor of Paris who fought back with a vengeance on this single day that changed the course of history.

Now celebrated as Bastille Day, it is to France what Independence Day is to America.

Happy Anniversary!

Related Posts:
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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