Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’

US Chamber of Commerce takes astroturfing to a whole new level

June 22, 2010

Starting last Thursday, the Chamber emailed its grassroots network like-minded mailing list subscribers asking members Republican freepers, Ayn Rand enthusiasts, free market think tanks and Wall Street PR firms to create their own personalized, avatars, or virtual versions of themselves anonymous CGI “protesters”. Once created, the avatar can participate in a “virtual march” on the Capitol.

(There, WSJ.  Fixed it for ya.)

Look out Obama!  The freeple are digitally self-replicating and pretending to be in Washington together!  Time to rethink those financial regulations.

infinite dorks march on Washington

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The Bailout Failure and the End of Panic Politics

September 30, 2008

I am glad the US Congress is finally tired of panic-driven policy making.

I hate this neo-con style of cramming through terrible legislation with minimal debate.  It’s been disastrous.  First it was the Patriot Act, prepared well in advance by the PNAC but passed in a matter of days without even being read by most legislators. Why?  Because if it wasn’t passed IMMEDIATELY and without reflection, terrorists were going to blow America to the bottom of the sea.  Then the invasion of Iraq, also prepared well in advance by the PNAC, passed effortlessly (apart from a few riots, but that was just the public), without NATO cooperation and without UN sanction.  Why?  Because Saddam was about to attack America (or Israel, or the Kurds, or whoever).

The bailout bill, which in its original form was only three pages long and would have given a private banker (Henry Paulson) unsupervised control of almost a trillion dollars, was only the latest fiasco in an 8 year history of neo-con blackmail and I am relieved the US congress has grown tired of this “now or never” style of legislation.  “Let me tap your phone without a warrant, send your kids to war and transfer your treasury bonds to private banks or Osama bin Laden is going to rape your daughter.  Do it NOW!  No time to think!  End times!  End times!”

I know it’s supposed to be some kind of giant tragedy that the bill didn’t pass in its current form (according to the papers) but why not think things through anyway?  There’s no guarantee it even would have worked.  If you’re a business journalist, buck up!  It’s not like that’s the last economic rescue package the US will ever see.  You’ve got at least a decade of recession (which you would have had anyway) to figure out how to solve the problem of predatory lending. Besides, until a passable bill is hashed out, the US can (and surely will) keep doing what they’re doing:  Nationalize some assets, inject capital into some institutions, oversee a few asset seizures and private buy-outs and act on a case by case basis – just like every other country that is struggling from the sub-prime mortgage crisis (albeit with much less wild-eyed desperation).

The next attempt will almost certainly be superior to this one, just as the 160 some-odd pages subject to debate and negotiation were superior to the initial three page plan Bush started with (which, by the way, is a sure-fire indication that the PNAC didn’t write it in advance – they were wordy as hell.  More likely, Paulson reconstructed it from vague memories of a wet dream).  OK, it wasn’t passed, but I seriously doubt it’s bound for the shredder.  After some more negotiation it will have another kick at the can.

Thank heavens American legislators are growing some backbone.  I was reading about the dangers of the housing bubble years ago.  There has been plenty of time to come up with a plan that could pass a vote.  But no, that’s not the neo-con way.  If defense industry lobbyists haven’t already written you a plan that can pass a vote on the sheer force of public panic, you might as well whip something up at the very last minute and use the same tactics.  The panic approach worked with Iraq, worked with the Patriot Act, why not Wall Street Welfare?  No need to look at the fine print, better to whip everyone into a frenzy so that their elected representatives are afraid to ask questions or consider other options.

Never mind that not looking at the fine print is what caused this problem in the first place.

Good riddance to panic politics.  I’m confident that after some sober consideration some kind of agreement will be reached, but it was madness to stake a trillion dollars on homework churned out the night before it was due.  Hats off to those bipartisan “no” votes.  I think you are right; I think you can do better.

National Post: Liberal women doom their cause by refusing to procreate.

August 8, 2008

Peter Schweizer, in a National Post editorial, argues that conservative idealogues are destined to win the culture war because they make babies faster than liberals.

His argument is based on a tediously simplistic view of humanity where people can be neatly divided into two categories – “conservatives” and “liberals” – and an unspoken, obviously fallacious assumption the centre of the political spectrum is static. The statistics he uses to support his position come from “a 2004 US survey”. If these few factors don’t sound your propaganda gong, I don’t know what would.

I call bullshit.

I looked the man up. Sure enough, Schweizer is a research fellow at the libertarian “think tank” (a PR industry euphemism for “intellectual-sounding propaganda disseminator”) the Hoover Institution.

In his view, women who have been too busy contemplating social justice and overpopulation to get ourselves knocked up are just too selfish to do our civic duty and make babies like decent women should. Well I say you can go ahead and fuck right off, Peter. Why have babies of my own to advance my political agenda when I can win yours over with reason?

Surely liberals – a group that traditionally includes most of society’s activists, artists, musicians, homosexuals, philosophers, adventurers and visionaries – have ALWAYS procreated at a lesser rate than undereducated rednecks. And yet with every generation the centre of the political spectrum shifts mysteriously to the left. Slavery is gone! Women vote! Racial discrimination has gone out of style! Gay couples walk the streets unashamed! Boy I’ll bet that sure sucks for you, Peter. All that hard work getting your wife to churn out extra people to advance your personal political views and all we “liberals” need to do is write a few catchy folk songs and, sooner or later, the whole world sings along.

Why is an ostensibly “Canadian” paper disseminating American propaganda anyway? The least you can do is let us have us our own damn propaganda. Call up the Fraser Institute or something. Jeez.

Can’t afford your gas bill? This year, heat your home with a good, old-fashioned book burning!

August 6, 2008

Starting with these: Regnery Publishing’s Pig-Ignorant Guides to Perverting Reality.

Regnery is simultaneously catering to the luctrative niche markets of “books for people who are obviously too stupid to read”, “books for the dissemination of which free market propagandists will shell out considerable financial support”, and “books written by people who are too stupid to read their publishing contracts.”

The more I researched Regnery Publishing, the more it began to seem like the right-wing lunatic faction of US politics is actually a tiny group of people with a very well-oiled (and well-funded) propaganda machine.  What with the overlapping staff and complex movement of funds between right wing propaganda foundations, I’ve been struggling to make sense of whose message is being promoted by these books, but  Hart Williams has done a great job of putting the pieces together.

Regnery Publishing is a subsidary of Eagle Publishing, which seems to mainly publish (and sell) direct-marketing mailing lists of moneyed Republicans.

Anybody feel like chipping in for the list of “Eagle Publishing Special Product Buyers“?  We could send them all a book of matches and a note saying “Do yourself a favour.”

If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away…

July 10, 2008

What happened to the free and open exchange of information when the president of a secretive conservative propaganda foundation won control of the Canadian federal government?

The Toronto Star investigates with a pretty good series of articles.

“This is the Prime Minister’s Office calling. I have the Prime Minister’s chief of staff on the line. Please hold.”

As I stood in my new, empty apartment in Ottawa a few weeks after the last election, phone in hand, it occurred to me I might want to remember this call. So, I made notes, scarcely believing the words I was recording.

Stephen Harper’s right-hand man, Ian Brodie, head of the most powerful and secretive PMO in national history, was telling me what I would be doing in the next few hours. You will issue a media release, he said, praising the Prime Minister for appointing David Emerson to cabinet. And you will immediately stop writing your blog.

But Brodie, the former Reform party organizer and University of Western Ontario professor, did not stop there. “If you want to be a f—ing independent,” he said, “then go ahead. We can arrange that.” And he was gone.

Welcome to Mr. Harper’s Ottawa.

This is a world in which a member of Parliament, sent by the people to represent them, is cowed and threatened by an unelected staffer. It’s a place where a political party can silence internal debate and, in a hasty few moments, overthrow the results of an election.

It’s where Harper MPs are told they need permission from the PMO to speak to reporters, and are expected to carry wallet cards reminding them how to avoid the media. It’s a capital in which promised free votes don’t take place, where a government elected on openness fights to restrict access to information and public servants fear for their careers if they dare speak in the public interest. Where regulators are fired for seeking to regulate and federal scientists muzzled for talking about science. Where MPs like myself and Bill Casey are expelled for speaking, and former cabinet minister Michael Chang demoted for having convictions.

~Garth Turner, ex-Conservative MP, Halton (blog)

Well, what did we expect?