Sunday, June 28, 2015

Propaganda On Steroids

Silly, sleepy me.

Until I read all about it in today's New York Times, I'd been totally, unforgivably oblivious to having just lived through a monumental event called "The Liberal Spring."

In the space of just one week, a tsunami from "the left" has apparently changed the entire ideological landscape of America!

Jonathan Martin explains it all to ignoramuses like me:
A cascade of events suggests that 2015 could be remembered as a Liberal Spring: the moment when deeply divisive and consuming questions of race, sexuality and broadened access to health care were settled in quick succession, and social tolerance was cemented as a cornerstone of American public life.
Happy days are here again! The skies above are clear again! We can sing a song of cheer again! We all have guaranteed health care for life,  gender and sexual equality is here to stay, and institutional racism has disappeared as quick as you can tear down a Confederate flag.

And lest we be deemed ungrateful, we must give all the credit for our unexpected salvation to Obama Triumphans.  He is being widely portrayed in the corporate media as a latter-day Joshua. The president miraculously escaped from the Egypt of Lameduckville to finish leading the refugees of America into the neoliberal promised land of brand-name milk and honey. All it took was one off-key but sonorous rendition of We Shall Overcome to further cement mass delusion as a cornerstone of public life.

The Times piece continues,
Yet what appears, in headlines and celebrations across the country, to represent an unalloyed victory for Democrats, in which lawmakers and judges alike seemed to give in to the leftward shift of public opinion, may contain an opening for the Republican Party to move beyond losing battles and seemingly lost causes.
OK, now that we got spring out of the way, we can get into the nitty-gritty of what the permanent ruling class really wants. And that is the GOP repudiating the Tea Party in order to get back to its big business roots. As fast as pro-market forces once tore down the Berlin Wall, as fast as Obama tore down the walls of racism, John Boehner is purging Congressional committees of those anti-trade, anti-government, anti-corporate welfare ideologues. Newly empowered by their partnership with Obama's Wall Street Democrats, the Wall Street Republicans aim to make the world safe for plutocracy.
But even as conservatives appear under siege, some Republicans predict that this moment will be remembered as an effective wiping of the slate before the nation begins focusing in earnest on the presidential race.
 As important as some of these issues may be to the most conservative elements of the party’s base and in the primaries ahead, few Republican leaders want to contest the 2016 elections on social or cultural grounds, where polls suggest that they are sharply out of step with the American public.
Polls, shmolls. More than measuring public opinion, polls actually serve to influence it. Witness the recent Pew Poll purporting to show widespread domestic and international support for the anti-democracy job-destroying Trans-Pacific Partnership. What reasonable person doesn't support free trade? Never mind that the respondents were not allowed to actually see what is in the classified TPP  Nor did the pollsters bother to inform the people whom they called about the various leaked portions of the agreements.
As G. William Domhoff further elucidates in Who Rules America?:
Polls also can be used to suggest that a public opinion exists on issues for which there is none. This does not mean people do not have general opinions, but that they often make it up as they go along when responding to specific questions about policy preferences. If questions about affirmative action or oil drilling are framed in one way, they yield one answer, but framed in another way, they yield a different answer, especially for those without knowledge or firm opinions.
Obama the Joshua-Josher and his plutopals know full well that ordinary people would never support the replacement of  local and national justice courts with fascist Investor State Dispute Tribunals. They know that people would never agree to become personally financially liable for the "lost" corporate profits of Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Tobacco. Therefore they keep the whole deal secret while at the same time cynically ordering rigged polls which falsely show public support for programs that are precisely antithetical to the public interest.

The Pew polls are funded by the Pew Charitable Trust,  a think tank originally funded and still largely controlled by the conservative heirs of the Sun Oil Company. They're also in the astroturf business, hiring advocates to appear on TV and before congressional committees, poll results clutched tightly in their hands as evidence of public support for filthy rich interests.

Now, back to the latest Times propaganda effort in the service of the plutocracy:
“Every once in a while, we bring down the curtain on the politics of a prior era,” said David Frum, the conservative writer. “The stage is now cleared for the next generation of issues. And Republicans can say, ‘Whether you’re gay, black or a recent migrant to our country, we are going to welcome you as a fully cherished member of our coalition.’ ”
The critical question is whether the Republican Party will embrace such a message in order to seize what many party officials see as an opening to turn the election toward economic and national security issues.
It's almost enough to make you root for the Tea Party. What the Establishment really fears is the extra-partisan, left-right coalition against the TPP and other corporate coups, along with widespread transpartisan, populist disgust with mass surveillance, the bloated Pentagon and Wall Street crime. What the Establishment really loves is Obama-style bipartisanship in the service of those who run the place and who matter only to themselves. Remember that it was the Tea Party "crazies" who put the kibosh on the Boehner-Obama Grand Bargain of Social Security and Medicare cuts.

The reason that marriage equality has sailed through in record time has just as much to do with gay rights being a non-issue for the hyper-rich as it does with popular demand. Either marriage equality doesn't affect the interests of the Power Elite, or it has affected them personally enough to make them devote their money and their influence to getting it done. If millionaires and billionaires aren't gay themselves, they statistically have a family member, friend or business associate who belongs to the LGBT community. Granting marriage equality in all 50 states, regardless of class, has the double advantage of being no skin off their uplifted noses and a deflective public relations ploy. The granting and mass celebration of "diversity" by the Imperium gives the Imperium a false patina of morality as a cosmetic healing of class divides is broadcast by media conglomerates. Rich gays and poor gays join together to march in parades. Even lowly cannon fodder has been granted marriage equality. (although sex crimes in the military have now reached epidemic proportions, due in part to Obama's strange refusal to take prosecution of them out of the corrupt chain of command. But, hooray anyway.)

So on with Extreme Centrism, as told by the New York Times for the benefit of #WealthyLivesMatter:
While acknowledging that the country has become more tolerant and, in some ways, culturally liberal, many Republicans contend that America is still receptive to a more conservative approach on economics and national security. After all, the same week that highlighted the ascent of cultural liberalism also illustrated the limitations of economic populism, as organized labor was unable to block a measure giving President Obama expansive trade authority.
"America," aka the rich, is more open to a "conservative approach", aka austerity for the masses. It is in the interest of both wings of the Big Business Party to marginalize organized labor, which, despite the fact that it's been marginalized for nearly half a century, still occasionally manages to be a pesky thorn in the side of the GOP-New Democrat partnership. Therefore, if the presidential debates can be restricted to scaring the voters to death over phony foreign terror threats while deflecting our attention from the real economic and social threat of a global oligarchy gone wild, it won't much matter to the ruling class whether Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush gets "elected". The oligarchy will not only have won, it will be able to claim with a straight, stuffed face that it was a legitimate populist victory.

(Needless to say, despite his growing popularity with the actual populace, Bernie Sanders' name did not appear one single time in today's Power Elite-dictated, fair & balanced front page Times "news analysis.")


Meredith NYC said...

Karen... thanks for link to Times article.

So does the Gop win either way, or am I confused? So if the liberals didn’t win these issues, the rw Gop stays powerful. If the liberals do win some issues, this is a chance for the Gop to ‘move beyond losing battles and lost causes’? Is that it?

So it’s win win for rw. There is no political mechanism for the reversal of corporate power over our govt, so the majority to win back influence, then.

Gop white voters don’t realize that the blacks are in the front lines of the rw attack on the US, getting shot down first, and many whites believe blacks deserve this while whites are safe. But the whites are being used to make them docile and are in the line of fire themselves.

I love that word ‘endure’—that the Gop ‘has endured a series of setbacks’. A setback for our dominant party is the idea that govt should be powerful enough to protect the majority in a democracy. Or to disagree that confederate treason be revered as glory, is something the gop has to ‘endure’. No, endure and suffer are words apt for the victims of Gop ideology.

I love the word ‘unsuitable’. So the slaughter of 9 people in church by an armed paranoid white supremacist rendered the Conf flag ‘unsuitable’!! That is a topic for satirist Andy Borowitz that I can’t do justice to. Not an outrage, an insult to the whole nation, an obvious evidence of mass illusion to the point of mental illness. Only unsuitable.

The Gop may be sharply out of step with public opinion, but when was that divergence ever allowed to direct policy? This has been known quite a while, not too publicized, re many issues ---gun background checks, SS/medicare, wealth taxes, bank break ups, etc etc. But as Princeton’s Martin Gilens’ study proved, the majority of our laws pass per the interests of the elites, and ignore the wishes of the majority.

I love the phrase, ‘bring down the curtain on the politics of a prior era’ This may disguise that a harder battle is ahead, just to bring the US to 20th C parity with accepted policy in social democratic nations abroad. There, h/c for all is long accepted by their conservatives, the Nazi flag and swastika is banned, and religious obsessives aren’t allowed to influence govts on abortion and gay rights.

Otoh, maybe now democrats could be freed up, emboldened to go farther out in advocacy of Reality. Finally to move the goal posts. They’ve been so constrained to stay ‘mainstream---the perfect example is the hypocritical Conscience of a Liberal Krugman.

But still the big money, unique in US elections vs abroad, is the factor molding policy, plus voter views of candidates, and their media coverage.

The only TV show with almost daily fervent advocacy against TPP and with daily coverage of Bernie Sanders MSNBC Ed Schultz show, like him or not. But he’s on at 5pm, not prime time, not repeated later as the other shows are. Tho the videos are available.
So the shows with the frank labor advocacy and the one with the black host, Sharpton, are both sidelined too early. Not ready for prime time in our politics. But at least they’re on. These are the crumbs that liberals get.

Kat said...

more on the propaganda front

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is planning an important new exhibition, American Enterprise, which will open in the spring of 2015. Chronological in organization, the exhibition will use objects, graphics, and interactive experiences to examine how the United States moved from a small dependent nation to one of the world’s most vibrant and trend-setting economies. Visitors will learn that with few barriers to individual opportunity, a tradition of relentless innovation, an environment of fierce competition, and a widespread commitment to common good, the United States economy has expanded more quickly than other economies over a longer period of time.

The exhibition will illustrate how the changing balance between efficiency, equity, and control has provided opportunities for many, great benefits for some, and hardships for others. Visitors will understand that the business development of the nation with its corresponding social effects, are fundamental to understanding the lives of the American people, the history of the United States, and the nation’s role in global affairs. American Enterprise will convey the drama, breadth, and diversity of America’s business heritage.

The bulk of the exhibition will be told in four chronological periods spanning the story of America from the 1770s to today: the Merchant Era, the Corporate Era, the Consumer Era, and the Global Era. In addition to the chronological sections there will be three specialized areas: Marketing Moments, Biography Snapshots, and The Exchange. While comprehensive in scope, the exhibition will primarily focus on stories from five economic sectors: agriculture, finance, information and communication technology, manufacturing, and retail/service.

At its heart, American Enterprise argues the critical role of business in forming the American experience, tracing the relationship among producers, managers, workers, and consumers. It holds that the history of the United States is a tradition of change or, as economist Joseph Schumpeter would say, creative destruction. American Enterprise explains that to understand the United States is to see the ongoing dynamic interplay between core national values of individual opportunity and common good – capitalism and democracy – and the role of innovation and competition in molding the relationship.

With this website, the Museum hopes to expand the online presence of the American Enterprise exhibition and discover new ways to collaborate with the public. In the months ahead, the team working on the exhibition will share research and collecting stories, test exhibit ideas, and provide educational content before the physical exhibition opens. Website visitors will be able to engage with the exhibition team and help shape the project’s development.

Sounds grrrreat! Can't wait!

Ste-vo said...

Thank you for your commenting on the NY links from the Sunday edition. I saw them all, of course, but did not read them. I can't. I do however delve into your links, ie. "Who Rules America." It is on my must read list.

Kate Flannery said...

Karen - First of all, I am addicted to your site. I would be lost without it. So many times, with whatever is the big story of the day...I'm reading all over the web, feeling my head ready to explode in frustration at the conformity and vacuity of opinion or commentary...and then I come here, and more often than not, you write something on the topic at hand that alleviates the sensation of impending head-explosion. So..thank you!

It strikes me again and again, how easy, naive and compliant the American people are as a whole. The ACA is given a pass in the Supreme Court and everyone is cheering with abandon - especially the medical-industrial complex - and announcing what a great win this is for our illustrious president. Or marriage equality is now a right - for which I'm thrilled beyond words - but again, the underlying truth as you so ably pointed out is that the owners of this country don't care about that. The Confederate flag - as good as that is to have it not be sold or flying over a statehouse, papers over the fact of the ongoing economic inequality (as well as the prison-industrial complex et al) that negatively impacts poor minority neighborhoods.

And then that speech at the memorial service that Obama gave. I almost couldn't bear it. So utterly contemptible...just another example of him giving what some consider a good speech, but loaded with things unsaid or outright distortions - and hypocrisy. Let alone the fact that we do have this pesky thing called the separation of church and state which just flies right out the window while he's giving his homilies about grace. I wonder how God feels about neoliberalism, unfettered capitalism and drone wars? I guess he's fine with them because he understands that Obama has a serious job to do and is doing his best with all that grace that God is pouring down on his head. A guy who was not raised in church, who only uses the church to prop himself up on the shoulders of others, and does it all with such aplomb while the world robotically cheers his majestic's really too much.

I often think of something George Carlin said in one of his HBO specials...when he was talking about the corporate state and the true owners and how Americans participate in their own degradation - and he said, "...and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care..."

But, I come here, and to the NY Times opinion pages its comments, to find someone else who does. And my appreciation for this and the work you do is huge.

Karen Garcia said...


The narrative seems to be this: portray the Dems moving left, the better to drag the Republicans closer to the centrist sweet spot (social liberalism, economic conservatism:just what the elite Wall Street doktor ordered.) The mainstream media are desperately seizing upon a few vaguely humanistic Supreme Court decisions in order to drive this propaganda forward, because I think that the broadening appeal of Bernie (he who must not be named) is starting to get to them.


I recently came across Domhoff's book (first published almost half a century ago) and was then pleased to discover his supplementary website. The text is actually part of a college course, melding sociology and political science. So hopefully there are enough non-STEM and non-business majors still out there studying it.


Great succinct comment summing up all that ails us in this great land of ours. So glad to know you are a reader and hope you'll continue posting. And thanks so much for your kind words!