Sunday, February 27, 2011

We're All Being Psy-Opped

Uncle Svengali Wants YOU!
The senators reputed to be targets of a nefarious Psy-Ops campaign by the U.S. Army to get them to fork over more cash and troops for the Afghanistan War for Nothing all insist they were not victimized.  From what we know so far, the plan to use special techniques on the lawmakers was discussed, but never actually carried out. (much like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "discussed" planting provocateurs amidst union demonstrators without actually doing so.  Uh huh.)

Among the lawmakers allegedly targeted were John McCain (who should know mind games when he sees them, but given his recent trajectory toward the right-wing cliff, that is debatable); his pal and mind-gamer par excellence Joe Lieberman, Democrats Al Franken ( an expert on lies and the lying liars who tell them),  Carl Levin, and Jack Reed.  Lieberman said he couldn't possibly have been brainwashed, because he has been pro-war all along. He deemed the psy-ops report "weird."

Which is so weird, because the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thomson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." And Lieberman is definitely weird, pro, and was probably born with a washed-out brain anyway.

One of the commenters on this blog recently asked if I thought President Obama could actually have been "psy-opped" by General David Petraeus into escalating the war.  Since both men are Machiavellians, willing to manipulate others to achieve a desired end (re-election for one, duty/honor/country/legacy for the other) I suppose their hypothetical mutual hypnotic techniques may have cancelled each other out.

The real victims of psy-ops, of course, are us - the great unwashed hoi polloi, viewers of cable news, victims of the military industrial complex, of the plutocrats, kleptocrats, oligarchs and corporations.... the list is endless, but the techniques used are basically the same.  Here is how "they" control us (these techniques are all found in the official military Psy-Ops manuals, readily available online - the examples, however, are mine):

Appeal to fear:  example - when the House of Representatives recently failed to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano immediately warned of an imminent terror attack from within our own borders and raised the alert level to red, smokin' hot!

Appeals to authority: cite prominent figures to justify courses of action. Example - all Republicans reference St. Ronald Reagan to justify austerity and attacks on social welfare programs.

Bandwagon approach:  propaganda that fosters a sense of belonging to the same club. The Tea Party was born of a CNBC rant by Rick Santelli after the financial meltdown caused by Wall Street. Right- wing Christian fundamentalism, close cousin to the astroturfing Tea Party, fosters that same feeling of togetherness and ultimate salvation.  Closely related is the "obtain disapproval" approach. To be fair, let's put the onus on Obama for this one. Calling his base "sanctimonious purists" for not going along with his Bush tax cut extensions distances them from the mainstream... and his own supreme self.

Glittering generalities: intensely, emotionally appealing words not matched by supporting information or reason. Take your pick - "Change We Can Believe In".... "Take back our freedoms"..."We fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here"...."Winning the Future"...."Fair and Balanced."   Ad nauseum, ad absurdum.  Repeat something often enough and it doesn't have to make sense.  Rationalization and deliberate vagueness are also tried and true techniques.

Transfer:  projecting positive or negative qualities on a specific group or person in order to discredit it. Example - the right-wing spawning of "Islamophobia,"  as well as the continuing march of the birthers. An estimated 50 percent of all self-described Republicans now believe Obama is a Muslim, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Fox News repeats the myth, and "establishment" Republicans don't bother condemning it.

Oversimplification:  easy answers to complex problems.  Example - anything Sarah Palin tweets.

Common Man: Politicians use the "plain folks" speech in order to ingratiate themselves with average people. Example - Obama uses a genteel version of ebonics when addressing town halls, but a bland vanilla American accent when speaking to the press. Perhaps the most vile example of over-the-top folksiness is Mike Huckabee.  But they are all guilty of this, every last phony one of them.

Testimonial: name-dropping to give credence to a position.  Example - God. Republicans say the Lord tells them everything, presidents all say "God bless America" and the Pledge of Allegiance had "one nation under God" inserted sneakily into the text during the Cold War.

Scapegoating:  Casting blame on those who don't deserve it to cover the identity of the real culprit.  This is an easy one - public labor unions.  Teachers, cops, firefighters, snow plow operators.... these people are all being blamed for the financial collapse, caused by the banksters and  colluding public officials.  And let's not forget to blame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for exposing embarrassing government secrets, and Michael Hastings for writing articles that don't heap praise on the military.

Virtue words: used by propagandists to produce a positive image when attached to an idea, person or action:  Peace, security,freedom.... the Koch Brothers' "Americans for Prosperity", or child abuser Lloyd Dobsons "Focus on the Family."

Slogans: repetitive, self-perpetuating memes. "Winning the Future" - used by both Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama.  "We bring good things to life" (G.E./Obama). "Job-killing Obamacare" (John Boehner).

I mentioned earlier that both Obama and Petraeus are Machiavellian advancers of their own self-interest.  But the nihilistic Republicans are much, much worse.  They are Svengalians - sadists who rejoice in the infliction of pain and the exercise of raw power, just because they can.


Draft Spitzer said...

This is a great post, and much of it reminds me of what you describe reminds me of OFA 'practices.' My only two comments are as follows:
1) When I did outreach on bank reform to local conservative groups, the most vocal (and eager to engage) contingent were the libertarians. But two of their more prominent local leaders insisted that the tea party had long been Ron Paul's idea, and they were pissed when it was co-opted by Freedomworks, approximately the time that Santelli had his 'moment.'
The local libertarians claimed that the whole tea party concept had been theirs for years, with their own particular libertarian imprint (anti-foreign wars, pro-choice and pro-legalization of cannabis, etc.
I did find a VERY palpable difference between events organized by local libertarians and the Freedomworks crowd. It was actually FAR easier to make the progressive argument to the Freedomworks attendees, many of whom had once been Democrats, but had become grossly disaffected with the Democratic party. That really surprised me, actually.
2) are there actually degrees of two-party nihilism? You write of GOP nihilism, but I see little difference except for the fact that the GOP appears to be leading the way off of the cliff, with the Democrats mutely following.
Because I don't contribute to the GOP, I can't realistically have expectations of them.
To me, and not a few other Democrats, it seems far more pernicious for the DNC to promise A through G to us, take our money, and then not only withold on their promises, but insist that we're disloyal when we call them out on it.

Anne Lavoie said...

Thanks to Karen and Marie Burns more great comments on the NYT. Your comments on Frank Rich's piece 'Tea Party Shutdown' were masterful. You are my heroes! You really are helping to bring us together in spirit.

We did get PsyOpped!

Once upon a time in our country, we had a great anti-war and civil rights movement. We had a sense of the possibilities of peace and oneness with all the people of the world. We knew the injustices and we fought against them. We really hoped and believed that we could help make the world and our country a better place, taking care of each other instead of waging wars. We knew the power of the Military-Industrial Complex and raged against it.

But then there were the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, the end of the Viet Nam war. Somewhere along the way, we gave up, bought into Consumerism, and went into the ranks of the Establishment.

Then years later, along came a candidate for President who seemed to embody those ideals once again. In his election campaign, he appealed to the poor and the working class, to all Americans to build a more humane nation and world. He said all the rights words to stoke up that long lost Spirit.

We poured our hearts, souls, hard work, and money to get this man elected because we believed in him when he spoke of those values. At last we would have a peace loving President. He even convinced the Nobel Prize Committee. It was the dawning of a new day after suffering for 8 long years under the Bush Machine.

Then we slowly but surely found out that those inspiring words came from the lips and not from the heart. We ended up with an escalation of war and with a virtual Police State thanks to his newfound love for the Patriot Act which he was once against, and so many more broken promises. Fooling us completely, his Presidency has turned out to be a perfect fit for the Military-Industrial Complex specifically and the corporate elite in general. There couldn't have been a more effective PsyOp election campaign if the MIC had conducted it themselves.

Personally, it strikes me as sacrilegious for Obama to cynically use that great Spirit for his personal aggrandizement and to advance a militaristic and corporatist agenda.

Bill Clinton was so right when he said the Obama campaign was the biggest fairy tale. Once upon a time indeed. We now have a corporate takeover of our country and Obama is enabling and assisting with it. Since he won't help, it is up to us to stop it. With the right Spirit, we will.


jhand said...

Karen: Keep up the great blogging.
Except for Sanders, Boxer, Franken, and (add your own global-thinking favorite senator here), the US Senate is so brain-dead that psy-ops is a waste of time. The majority of them sound like Mortimer Snerd:
"Yup, yup, we've got to cut the deficit."
"Nope, nope, we can't expect the wealthy and corporations to pay taxes."
"Yup, yup, gotta keep fightin them wars."
"yup, yup, all Planned Parenthood does is perform them abortions."
"Yup, that Krugman fella shore is too far out for my way of thinkin."
"Boy, Charlie, that there socialized medicine ain't for us Americans."

Draft Spitzer said...

Dear jhand,

Whatever would make Boxer a favorite? She supported the extension of the Bush tax cuts, just like the majority.

Most of us here in Northern California think she's a sad joke. We voted her back in last year only because Carly was scarier.

(Take my senator - please! And give us some term limits.)

In 2009, Boxer was infamously more concerned in 2009 with whether a Brig. General called her "Ma'am" than with economic justice.

Also in 2009, while the HCR "debate" was raging out of control, Boxer was busy promoting a book. OFA sent me to stand with a bunch of volunteers during her book signing. I went, reluctantly, knowing that Boxer was the lesser of two (Senate) evils. (Feinstein ain't no prize.)

I assumed Boxer's book dealt with some serious issue, and that's why OFA had sent volunteers to support Boxer. I was shocked to learn that during the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression, and in the midst of us getting the stuffing knocked out of us by PhRMA and insurers during the HCR debate...

Barbara Boxer was promoting her book about...

her book about...

drum roll, please...

her book about NOTHING. She'd written, as would some Georgetown socialite, some ridiculous DC mystery/thriller, called Blind Trust.

Blind Trust? Ironic title for Boxer supporters, no?

What's outrageous is that she had tax-payer funded security detail to protect her during the book signings.

Had she, perhaps, noticed the tent cities in Sacramento? The state of our schools? No, this dilettante senator has nothing better to do than write a DC mystery thriller.

It really frightens me that Senators like Boxer, just because they occasionally speak up on hot button social issues that have taken on enormous significance for both right and left sides of the baby boomer generation can be considered "progressive" while they sell us down the river on almost everything economic.

However, NY's Kirsten Gillibrand should get some major props - I believe she voted against the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Draft Spitzer said...

Yellow stickie reminder note for reference: the following Senators voted AGAINST the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

(The extension will cost the federal government a "mere" $858 billion, which entirely justifies cutting off heating assistance to any American unworthy enough to be poor in a cold climate.)

From the Washington Post:

"Fourteen Democrats voted against the bill:

Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.),
Byron Dorgan (N.D.),
Russell Feingold (Wis.),
Kirstin Gillibrand (N.Y.),
Kay Hagan (N.C.),
Tom Harkin (Iowa),
Frank Lautenberg (N.J.),
Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.),
Carl M. Levin (Mich.),
Jeff Merkley (Ore.),
Mark Udall (Colo.),
Tom Udall (N.M.),
Ron Wyden (Ore.) and
(Bernie) Sanders."

Also from the WaPo:

"And five GOP senators were opposed:
Sens. John Ensign (Nev.),
Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
George V. Voinovich (Ohio),
as well as Coburn and

jhand said...

To Draft Spitzer: I stand corrected on Boxer; I guess I was comparing her to Feinstein and Baucus. Your list of grievances reminded me of one other grievance: she campaigned for Lieberman in '06 or whenever it was that he got re-elected. Good wishes from the hell-hole for liberals known as Texas.

Draft Spitzer said...

Jhand, To give you credit for the thought, I think she did vote against the Iraq invasion, but it seems she's really coasted since then on her progressive reputation. And she and DiFi both kind of play this "saving angel" schtick over repro rights/gay rights. It's such a schtick and we fall for it every time. Plus the pure egomania/lack of humility shown with that whole "Ma'am/Senator" bit - revolting! It's all about "the great lady" - let the tent city folk eat cake.
There's that line by Plutarch about Pompey that really reminds me of Boxer and especially DiFi, and why term limits are essential.

"And well had it been for him had he terminated at this date, while he still enjoyed Alexander's fortune, since all his aftertime served only either to bring him prosperity which made him odious, or calamities too great to be retrieved."

"For that great authority which he had gained in the city by his merits he made use of only in patronising the iniquities of others, so that by advancing their fortunes he detracted from his own glory, till at last he was overthrown even by the force and greatness of his own power. "

Actually, that's a bit grand for those two insipid Senators. Probably a Ramones lyric would be better.

racetoinfinity said...

Common Man: Politicians use the "plain folks" speech in order to ingratiate themselves with average people. Good example: Fred Thompson

Slogans: repetitive, self-perpetuating memes. Good example: "The War on Terror"

jhand said...

Wow!! I hadn't heard anyone quote Plutarch since grad school a zillion years ago, Draft Spitzer. And what a great quotation. I think it's time I ordered Plutarch and read him again. Actually, it wouldn't hurt if all of us read more of the classics; we might begin to become civilized again. Over the years I have taught Hamlet to kids who are poor and not very interested in reading at all. But once they understand what Hamlet is up against, both within and without himself, they really get into it. Many of them begin to see that Hamlet speaks and acts on their behalf, that he is more than just a character in a play. Shakespeare--and Plutarch, Cervantes, Plato and the rest of the gang really can make us better people who can become perceptive enough to see through the fallacies that Karen lists in her post. It used to be that conservatives were the big advocates of the classics, but today's conservatives show little evidence of having read anything except Powerline.

Draft Spitzer said...

Plutarch cracks me up, it's always the same story, as written by a minority (Hellene) living under the Roman Empire. It goes something like:

Roman gains power through self-sacrifice and humility. Then: Same Roman becomes drunk with power. Finally: Roman overthrown by younger, more humble, more self-sacrificing Roman.

His take on the Greeks is far more generous. It's just like Mel Brooks calls it in "Spaceballs": it's all marketing. In Plu's case, he was selling to elite Romans the notion that they didn't measure up to the Greeks. And they bought it, repeatedly.
We read Sallust last year, it was GREAT and very appropriate for our time. A fast read. Reminded me, oddly, of Isaac Babel.
Back to Plu: Shakespeare basically just took Plu's story of Caesar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and ornamented it in his plays Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleo. But what ornamentation.
If you ever get time, Stanford made available its lecture series, "The Literature of Crisis" - the standout in that series is their take on Hamlet. Holy cow! They tie it in to the political, spiritual, and identity crises that hit Europe in the aftermath of the discovery of the New World, which basically cast into question everything Europeans had been taught. Thus, most of Hamlet is an intentional reflection of a revolutionary awakening in Europe.
It's on iTunes. Worth it.
We have a classics group in town - great to get together with folks from all walks of life and get their takes oneverything from Dostoevsky to Cicero. A book is a much richer thing as we get older, and have more layers of experience.

Anne Lavoie said...

PsyOp Alert!

Two days in a row of NYT opinion columnists giving Obama credit for the Middle East/North Africa democracy movement. It's his 'spirit' you know.

This is Obama's new re-election theme in case WTF doesn't work. Or maybe NYT Corp. is trying to preserve their access to the President. Whatever. Same old PsyOp/PR/Spin. Think it will work?


Anonymous said...

Tommy Freedom's column giving props to Obama for the Egyptian revolution was nauseating. And that "Winning Progressive" commenter/Obama astroturfer was having orgasms over it too. I wonder how much they are getting paid for their cut and paste work?

Anne Lavoie said...

Maybe that's why Frank Rich really jumped ship from the NYT Corporation. He wasn't willing to tow the new line of praising Obama. If this keeps up, I will jump too.

Whoever gets the corporate owned media on their side Wins The Future! That's how it works now in USA, Inc.

p.s. I wonder how many dissenting comments didn't get published. Mine didn't. Only 146 appeared.


Anne Lavoie said...

I didn't see either a comment by either Karen or Marie on Cohen's or Friedman's pieces giving Obama credit for the Revolutions. Either they both took the days off from commenting, or the NYT is indeed running a Obama re-election piece, compliments of the Corporation.


Draft Spitzer said...

Agreed - I couldn't find K's comment today. The "Winning Progressive" comment today was a classic - I felt like I was reading a satire by Kosinski, e.g., "Sec'ty of State Clinton was wrong, Chauncy Gardiner was right!"
But no disrespect to WP - he seems to be genuine, if wrong. And I get a laugh out of the persistence of all of the "movement" commenters, including myself.
I sure would hate to have to pitch Obama to anyone, but to WP, he's the genuine article.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a rotation at the NYT of people that review and post the comments and at least one of the reviewers is a strict "party liner". Other(s) will post anything, the job seems to rotate weekly and a "party liner" Is working now.