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Now and Then- Part II
The Propaganda Machine
by    June 14, 2002

Propaganda isn't really a dirty word. Basically, it's nothing more than information from one group to sway another to the source's way of thinking. Campaign promises, political messages, heck, even deodorant commercials fall under the true definition of propaganda. The old adage "Everybody does it" is true. Democrats and Republicans utilize propaganda to do their best to influence the masses to help them pass legislation or kill a bill. Propaganda is nothing more than a tool and a very powerful one. And like all powerful tools in politics and the media, it's fair game for abuse against those of us on the receiving end.

In the early days of Bush II's appointed reign, both members of his administration and their media supporters used the word "elected" every chance they had when in front of the TV cameras. There's an old rule that if you tell the same lie over and over that people will eventually believe it. Bush was heard to say repeatedly, "I was elected because..." or I'm doing this because that's what the American people "elected me to do." Ari Fleischer continues to remark about the will of the American people in reference to Bush II's latest attack on us without pausing to think that the majority of the American people wish Ari was nothing more than an occasional right wing blow-hard guest on MSNBC and his boss was still governor of Texas trying to figure out why his Daddy's plan didn't work. Their claim to speak for the American people is a clear example of the abuse of propaganda. But it doesn't stop there. There is also this little problem with the mainstream media. Like pigs at the trough, they line up to feed on whatever garbage Bush II throws their way with an enthusiasm that would make Goebbels envious.

Democracy is not simply a matter of being able to vote, it is a matter of being sufficiently informed about crucial issues to participate in decision-making processes. Why are mainline news sources denying the American public such information? In regards to Nazi Germany the entire world agrees that the German people were misled by an organized propaganda campaign. Is this currently happening in the United States? Why is there such a disparity between what is reported in the European and American press? Why, with each new revelation from the coup d'etat in Venezuela to the new information on what the Bush administration knew about a potential al Qaeda strike prior to 9/11, do American citizens trust the word of the American media? What seems to be the need to hide what's actually happening? What is so wrong with the truth other than the fact that it threatens the only court appointed president in history?

We are not referring to the press revealing state secrets, military intelligence or sensitive negotiations with foreign powers. We are talking about information that is basic to understanding what goes on in the current administration and our government. In other words, information that is crucial for American citizens to be informed voters and part of the democratic process. How has the esteemed American press fallen to such depths that we can no longer trust its journalists as bearers of truth? Even a cursory glance at major newspapers and the way that they covered the recent coup d'etat in Venezuela by misnaming it a "transition" as the White House released their spin to a welcoming and uncritical press. For days almost all newspapers originating in the United States used almost identical words to describe Chavez, Venezuela's legally elected president: "Socialist," "dictatorial," "unpopular" and "resignation". The Washington Post's editorial stated "the violation of democracy that led to the ouster of President Hugo Chavez Thursday night was initiated not by the army by Mr. Chavez himself." The Washington Post accepted Condoleeza Rice's version and words without question.

What sort of nonsense is this? The United States of America's media, as representatives of a free and unfettered press, supporting a coup d'etat without a single question asked about the official White House version? Had this been Germany 1934 with the threats of armed SS and SA thugs beating down doors and crashing windows of newspapers, it might be comprehensible. But in the United States, 2002 with no evidence of armed thugs beating publishers and closing them down, one has to wonder who is calling the shots? Could it be the same financial sources that put Mr. Bush into the office of president? Who put Adolf Hitler's playbook into action? And there is ample evidence that the playbook of the Third Reich is now in effect.

A propagandized media has to have a director and sub-directors. In 1930 Germany it was Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Is this the role that Karl Rove holds? Are there others now that Karen Hughes is slated to leave the White House? Is Michael Powell's role as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission to facilitate mergers so that a single-voiced media is fully operational by 2004? It is hard to come by accurate news in this administration, but certain facts are indisputable. Secrecy is the tool of the day. "Secrecy is a tool the leadership uses to maintain power and control over issues of controversy" (Sr. Nancy Sylvester, 5/2/02). The good sister was not speaking about either Nazi Germany's leadership in 1933 or Mr. Bush's administration in 2002. She refers to the way the Catholic Church is handling it's current controversy of pedophilia amongst its priests. The quote is striking though because it reflects the way that both Hitler and Bush II seized and used power.

The cast of characters in place for Mr. Bush's Propaganda machine:

The most likely key players in the Bush propaganda machine include Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, but who else is involved? What official roles do former Iran-Contra operatives, Otto Reich and John Poindexter play? How does the U.S. Army's 4th PSYOPS fit? This was the military unit assigned to carry out policies of the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) that planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration's Central American policies in the 1980s. This is also the group that staffed the National Security Council's Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) of the Reagan-Bush (the elected) administration. And while both the OSI and the OPD are officially disbanded, two players are back in the current Bush administration, Otto Reich (Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs) and John M. Poindexter as head of a new agency, Information Awareness Office. These are interesting appointments if an administration is choosing to set up a propaganda network, and both bring considerable propaganda skills to their new jobs.

One of the striking similarities between the Third Reich and the Bush Reich is the list of euphemistic names given to agencies responsible for propaganda. Mr. Bush created a new agency called the Information Awareness Office in 2002 and named John M. Poindexter as its head. Hitler created the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and named Joseph Goebbels as director. It is more likely that Karl Rove is the power behind the Bush propaganda machine, but he holds the official title of Director, Office of Political Affairs. Mr. Rove's increasing circle of influence may be a factor in pushing Karen Hughes from the White House Inner Circle.

Karen Hughes, Bush's former official spinmaster held the title, Counselor to the President and though she is in the process of "resigning," she is currently traveling in Europe with Mrs. Bush as her adviser. According to press reports, Hughes will continue to travel to the White House to consult with Mr. Bush.

Another player is Charlotte Beers, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs chief. She has recently (May 1, 2002) asked Congress for $600M for the Propaganda budget. Ms. Beers comes from an advertising background and sees her role as public persuasion. She is careful to use the term "persuasion" rather than "propaganda", but the net effect is the same. The Bush administration is managing perception, and up until the foreknowledge about a potential attack with too many details provided in presidential briefings came to light, the mainline media bought into perception management. Lewis Lapham, Harper's editor, views it as "the media is hand in hand with the government." (Fost, Dan 4/24/02, SF Chronicle). It remains to be seen if this latest wrinkle in Mr. Bush's façade continues to be noticed by the somnambulant American public.

John Rendon and his public relations firm, The Rendon Group, specialize in making images, manipulating scenes and managing news. He is currently under a $100,000 per month contract to track foreign news reports and offer advice on media strategy. Rendon consulted with the Pentagon when it created the Office of Strategic Influence. Supposedly this office was snuffed after publicity leaked that the Pentagon planned to use it to spread disinformation. But, whether it is gone or just gone underground is a legitimate question.

"Persuasion works best when it's invisible. The most effective marketing worms its way into our consciousness, leaving intact the perception that we have reached our opinion and made our choices independently" (George Monbiot, The Guardian, UK 5/14/02). This is what Beers and Rendon do best and it is why Mr. Bush's administration hired them.

Whether it was the Reichstag fire in February 1933 or the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, perceptions of the events were orchestrated and managed for political gain. Hitler used the Reichstag fire to mobilize the German population for Hitler's National Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazi Party). Mr. Bush's propaganda machine is using 9/11 for political advantage. Any call for a Congressional investigation of 9/11 has been met with sneering propaganda tactics. Fear, intimidation, loss of one's livelihood, public ridicule are the Bush tactics. Hitler's SS and SA troops beat publishers to a bloody pulp. To date, Bush has not resorted to public beatings; people just lose their jobs as TV's Bill Maher learned for being Politically Incorrect.

The Republican National Party is currently selling photographs of Mr. Bush depicting the "resolute leader" on 9/11 and it's aftermath (even after he told a German reporter he was trying "to stay out of harm's way" that day). This is one example of perception management that may come back to haunt him and his administration. Goebbels used exactly the same strategy to sell the image of Hitler even though his weaknesses were known to those close to him. "Give me ten years and you will not recognize Germany" (Adolf Hitler, 1933). Between his Gestapo troops and propaganda machine, he transformed Germany in four years. The United States has changed dramatically from January 2001 to May 2002. What role has a propagandized press played in this?

John Stanton and Wayne Madsen state that "A crisis without precedent is underway in the United States. And its consequences will be far graver than those wrought by the U.S. presidential election of 2000 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the Jeffersonian 'free and uncensored press' in America endangers the liberties of all Americans. --The only remaining barrier to monstrous U.S. totalitarianism is a sickly and crippled U.S. media, an aggressive foreign media and the hope that the heretofore somnambulant American public will awaken from its stupor." (Stanton, J & Madsen, W. (4/25/02) U.S. Media Profit, Propaganda and Puffery, Counterpunch.org).

"Secrecy is a tool the leadership uses to maintain power and control over controversy" (Sr. Sylvester, 5/2/02). Mr. Bush has learned that lesson well. And when secrecy doesn't work, then resort to propaganda and perception management. If things get to close to the truth then they offer up another "terrorist alert" so everybody stays too scared to ask any questions. Or Ashcroft can bust another former gang member and call him a terrorist and wave the flag some more. And when perception management doesn't work, what then should Mr. Bush do? Does he go home to Crawford or does he continue to raise funds for Far Reich/Right causes by telling that God awful sick Trifecta joke?

What it boils down to is that we are being subjected to a form of propaganda that even the Europeans recognize. The American people are being ruled and controlled through fear tactics. The media shows us images of America standing tall and then, in the same breath, does it's best to work with Bush II to send us cowering into our basements for fear of another attack. America waves the flag while it covers its eyes and ears to the real threat to this country.

History repeats itself.


coming next..... Hitler's Playbook: Who bequeathed it to Bush?