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Propaganda in the United States comes from both the government and private entities of various kinds. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions and incite action. Propaganda can be disseminated through any medium, including radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Neoliberals (and by extension neoconservatives, as neoliberals with the gun) took an important page from Bolsheviks doctrine: organized party should have a core of "professional revolutionaries" which should be supported by research organizations. this is how neoliberal invented the consent of the "think tank"
Later the same trick was used with color revolution, when NGO became organizing center to the uprising against the current regime (if the regime was too timid to suppress them on early stage).
The story behind neoliberal think tanks such as Heritage foundation and AEI is really fascinating (Where Conservative Ideas Come From - The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2016
These think tanks are very powerful propaganda units, a real "propaganda tanks". Their function is to produce “reports” and “papers” that offer the neoliberal solid justification of the current anti-labor policies and instill in the minds of the US population the necessity of extending and maintaining the global neoliberal empire led by the USA (i.e producing talking points, publishing papers on the subject and giving interview). Neocons engaged in this activity are often called national security parasites. Robert Kagan and Max Boot are nice examples of this specie. They ensure that the propaganda war is being won by the neoliberals.
Stahl’s chief object of inquiry is the American Enterprise Institute, or AEI. Founded in 1938 by a group of businessmen devoted to unwinding the New Deal, its true history began five years later, when its headquarters moved from New York to Washington. Inside the Beltway, AEI staffers portrayed themselves as nonpartisan scholars eager to assist lawmakers from both parties. That stance became increasingly difficult to maintain as the conservative movement grew in strength, and in the 1970s AEI was reborn as a champion of the right in the battle for ideas.
Success bred imitators, and AEI soon found itself outflanked by an upstart known as the Heritage Foundation. More concerned with passing legislation than posing as researchers, Heritage became the dominant think tank in Reagan’s Washington. These nimble practitioners of war-by-briefing-books made AEI seem musty and academic by comparison. AEI revived itself by shifting toward the middle, but it never regained its former centrality. It had changed too much, and so had conservatism.
There is no formal regulation of think tanks. Anyone can set one up. "According to US academic Dr James McCann, who compiles an annual think tank ranking, there are 6,305 such bodies in the world. He lists 285 in the UK, giving it the most after the US and China ... The Adam Smith Institute was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher." BBC News
I think there are too many in the western elites (the ones that actually own the MSM and give it its marching orders, the BBC and CBC public news services then have to goosestep to the same tune or else be shut down for producing too much cognitive dissonance) who think they won the propaganda war against the USSR. Even though they had actual leverage points back then, neoliberal propaganda might still collapse from its own internal rot like happened with Marxist propaganda in the USSR. If the gap with reality became too wide, no amount of efforts can fix that.
But today these elites and their storm troopers have nothing to worry about. they still dominate and even with Trump election comnitue to dominate TV and airwaves.
Think tanks are the most important part of neoliberal propaganda machine. They act like script writers, composing and writing the dialogue that the donors want to be the American public to be brainwashed with. Communist propaganda machine worked the same way and organizations that created untrue ideas, talking points which made their leaders ideas, and plans seem good to the population.
This international ensemble of neoliberal think tanks is essentially a reimplementation of the idea of Comintern ( Communist International - Wikipedia) ;-). Such a Neoliberalism International... Some of them have a world Institute in the name similar to "Institute of Marxism-Leninism" in the USSR. Brookings Institution, CATO, Heritage are just reuse of this idea. Adding the word ‘institute/institution’ or 'foundation' to the name of ‘think-tank’ is a measure devised to give the patina of legitimacy to what is simply a regional headquarters of casino capitalism propaganda machine.
This huge propaganda machine of "professional revolutionaries" is not that distinct from the way Bolshevik Party emerged in the part -- a close circle of people mainly from intelligencia and paid by the party to be able to devote all their time to revolutionary activities. It is instrumental in hiding the truth about the real essence of neoliberalism from "common folk". The ridiculously high levels of money that are pumped into this propaganda machine by financial oligarchy ensure that the so called shmucks never awaken
In general both the Republican party and Democratic Party in the USA are not so much a party as propaganda machines. For example, many European observers consider the US republican party to be a cult in a sense that members of the USA Republican political party, have political, economic, and scientific views that are completly unscientific but were created inside of corporate think tanks and promoted to ensure the success and staying power of neoliberalism as a social system. Media groups like Fox news, MSN NBC, CNN, etc repeat these phrases and ideas on their news broadcasts until they became imprinted is listeners minds.
Mar 12, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
In Christopher Nolan's captivating and visually dazzling film Inception, a practitioner of psychic corporate espionage must plant and idea inside a CEO's head. The process is called inception, and it represents the frontier of corporate influence, in which mind spies no longer just "extract" ideas from the dreams of others, but seed useful ideas in a target's subconscious.
Inception is a well-crafted piece of futuristic sci-fi drama, but some of the ideas it imparts are already deeply embedded in the American subconscious.
The notion of inception, of hatching an idea in the mind of a man or woman without his or her knowledge, is the kernel of propaganda, a black art practiced in the States since the First World War. Today we live beneath an invisible cultural hegemony, a set of ideas implanted in the mass mind by the U.S. state and its corporate media over decades. Invisibility seems to happen when something is either obscure or ubiquitous. In a propaganda system, an overarching objective is to render the messaging invisible by universalizing it within the culture. Difference is known by contrast. If there are no contrasting views in your field of vision, it's easier to accept the ubiquitous explanation. The good news is that the ideology is well-known to some who have, for one lucky reason or another, found themselves outside the hegemonic field and are thus able to contrast the dominant worldview with alternative opinions. On the left, the ruling ideology might be described as neoliberalism, a particularly vicious form of imperial capitalism that, as would be expected, is camouflaged in the lineaments of humanitarian aid and succor.
In a short span of time in the 1970s, dozens of think tanks were established across the western world and billions of dollars were spent proselytizing the tenets of the Powell Memo in 1971, which galvanized a counter-revolution to the liberal upswing of the Sixties. The neoliberal economic model of deregulation, downsizing, and privatization was preached by the Reagan-Thatcher junta, liberalized by the Clinton regime, temporarily given a bad name by the unhinged Bush administration, and saved by telegenic restoration of the Obama years.
The ideology that underlay the model saturated academia, notably at the University of Chicago, and the mainstream media, principally at The New York Times. Since then it has trickled down to the general populace, to whom it now feels second nature.
Today think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, Stratfor, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Carnegie Endowment, the Open Society Foundation, and the Atlantic Council, among many others, funnel millions of dollars in donations into cementing neoliberal attitudes in the American mind.
The ideological assumptions, which serve to justify what you could call neocolonial tactics, are relatively clear: the rights of the individual to be free of overreach from monolithic institutions like the state. Activist governments are inherently inefficient and lead directly to totalitarianism. Markets must be free and individuals must be free to act in those markets. People must be free to choose, both politically and commercially, in the voting booth and at the cash register.
This conception of markets and individuals is most often formulated as "free-market democracy," a misleading conceit that conflates individual freedom with the economic freedom of capital to exploit labor. So when it comes to foreign relations, American and western aid would only be given on the condition that the borrowers accepted the tenets of an (highly manipulable) electoral system and vowed to establish the institutions and legal structures required to fully realize a western market economy.
These demands were supplemented with notions of the individual right to be free of oppression, some fine rhetoric about women and minorities, and somewhat more quietly, a judicial understanding that corporations were people, too. Together, an unshackled economy and an unfettered populace, newly equipped with individual rights, would produce the same flourishing and nourishing demos of mid-century America that had been the envy of humanity.
Mar 03, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
March 2, 2018 Colonizing the Western Mind
by Jason Hirthlerby
Photo by Marco | CC BY 2.0
In Christopher Nolan's captivating and visually dazzling film Inception, a practitioner of psychic corporate espionage must plant and idea inside a CEO's head. The process is called inception, and it represents the frontier of corporate influence, in which mind spies no longer just "extract" ideas from the dreams of others, but seed useful ideas in a target's subconscious. Inception is a well-crafted piece of futuristic sci-fi drama, but some of the ideas it imparts are already deeply embedded in the American subconscious. The notion of inception, of hatching an idea in the mind of a man or woman without his or her knowledge, is the kernel of propaganda, a black art practiced in the States since the First World War. Today we live beneath an invisible cultural hegemony, a set of ideas implanted in the mass mind by the U.S. state and its corporate media over decades. Invisibility seems to happen when something is either obscure or ubiquitous. In a propaganda system, an overarching objective is to render the messaging invisible by universalizing it within the culture. Difference is known by contrast. If there are no contrasting views in your field of vision, it's easier to accept the ubiquitous explanation. The good news is that the ideology is well-known to some who have, for one lucky reason or another, found themselves outside the hegemonic field and are thus able to contrast the dominant worldview with alternative opinions. On the left, the ruling ideology might be described as neoliberalism, a particularly vicious form of imperial capitalism that, as would be expected, is camouflaged in the lineaments of humanitarian aid and succor.
In a short span of time in the 1970s, dozens of think tanks were established across the western world and billions of dollars were spent proselytizing the tenets of the Powell Memo in 1971, which galvanized a counter-revolution to the liberal upswing of the Sixties. The neoliberal economic model of deregulation, downsizing, and privatization was preached by the Reagan-Thatcher junta, liberalized by the Clinton regime, temporarily given a bad name by the unhinged Bush administration, and saved by telegenic restoration of the Obama years. The ideology that underlay the model saturated academia, notably at the University of Chicago, and the mainstream media, principally at The New York Times. Since then it has trickled down to the general populace, to whom it now feels second nature. Today think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, Stratfor, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Carnegie Endowment, the Open Society Foundation, and the Atlantic Council, among many others, funnel millions of dollars in donations into cementing neoliberal attitudes in the American mind.
The ideological assumptions, which serve to justify what you could call neocolonial tactics, are relatively clear: the rights of the individual to be free of overreach from monolithic institutions like the state. Activist governments are inherently inefficient and lead directly to totalitarianism. Markets must be free and individuals must be free to act in those markets. People must be free to choose, both politically and commercially, in the voting booth and at the cash register. This conception of markets and individuals is most often formulated as "free-market democracy," a misleading conceit that conflates individual freedom with the economic freedom of capital to exploit labor. So when it comes to foreign relations, American and western aid would only be given on the condition that the borrowers accepted the tenets of an (highly manipulable) electoral system and vowed to establish the institutions and legal structures required to fully realize a western market economy. These demands were supplemented with notions of the individual right to be free of oppression, some fine rhetoric about women and minorities, and somewhat more quietly, a judicial understanding that corporations were people, too. Together, an unshackled economy and an unfettered populace, newly equipped with individual rights, would produce the same flourishing and nourishing demos of mid-century America that had been the envy of humanity.
A False Promise
This ' Washington Consensus ' is the false promise promoted by the West. The reality is quite different. The crux of neoliberalism is to eliminate democratic government by downsizing, privatizing, and deregulating it. Proponents of neoliberalism recognize that the state is the last bulwark of protection for the common people against the predations of capital. Remove the state and they'll be left defenseless. Think about it. Deregulation eliminates the laws. Downsizing eliminates departments and their funding. Privatizing eliminates the very purpose of the state by having the private sector take over its traditional responsibilities. Ultimately, nation-states would dissolve except perhaps for armies and tax systems. A large, open-border global free market would be left, not subject to popular control but managed by a globally dispersed, transnational one percent. And the whole process of making this happen would be camouflaged beneath the altruistic stylings of a benign humanitarianism.
Globalists, as neoliberal capitalists are often called, also understood that democracy, defined by a smattering of individual rights and a voting booth, was the ideal vehicle to usher neoliberalism into the emerging world. Namely because democracy, as commonly practiced, makes no demands in the economic sphere. Socialism does. Communism does. These models directly address ownership of the means of production. Not so democratic capitalism. This permits the globalists to continue to own the means of production while proclaiming human rights triumphant in nations where interventions are staged. The enduring lie is that there is no democracy without economic democracy.
What matters to the one percent and the media conglomerates that disseminate their worldview is that the official definitions are accepted by the masses. The real effects need never be known. The neoliberal ideology (theory) thus conceals the neoliberal reality (practice). And for the masses to accept it, it must be mass produced. Then it becomes more or less invisible by virtue of its universality.
A Pretext for Pillage
Thanks to this artful disguise, the West can stage interventions in nations reluctant to adopt its platform of exploitation, knowing that on top of the depredations of an exploitative economic model, they will be asked to call it progress and celebrate it.
Washington, the metropolitan heart of neoliberal hegemony, has numerous methods of convincing reluctant developing nations to accept its neighborly advice. To be sure, the goal of modern colonialism is to find a pretext to intervene in a country, to restore by other means the extractive relations that first brought wealth to the colonial north. The most common pretexts for intervention depict the target nation in three distinct fashions.
First, as an economic basket case, a condition often engineered by the West in what is sometimes called, "creating facts on the ground." By sanctioning the target economy, Washington can "make the economy scream," to using war criminal Henry Kissinger's elegant phrasing. Iran, Syria, and Venezuela are relevant examples here. Second, the West funds violent opposition to the government, producing unrest, often violent riots of the kind witnessed in Dara, Kiev, and Caracas. The goal is either to capsize a tottering administration or provoke a violent crackdown, at which point western embassies and institutions will send up simultaneously cries of tyranny and brutality and insist the leader step aside. Libya, Syria, and Venezuela are instructive in this regard. Third, the country will be pressured to accept some sort of military fettering thanks to either a false flag or manufactured hysteria over some domestic program, such as the WMD restrictions on Iraq, chemical weapons restrictions on Syria, or the civilian nuclear energy restrictions on Iran. Given that the U.S. traffics in WMDs, bioweapons, and nuclear energy itself, insisting others forsake all of these is perhaps little more than racially motivated despotry. But significant fear mongering in the international media will provide sufficient moral momentum to ram through sanctions, resolutions, and inspection regimes with little fanfare.
Schooling the Savages
Once the pretext is established, the appropriate intervention is made. There's no lack of latent racism embedded in each intervention. Something of Edward Said's Orientalism is surely at play here; the West is often responding to a crude caricature rather than a living people. One writer, Robert Dale Parker, described western views of Asia as little more than, "a sink of despotism on the margins of the world." Iran is incessantly lensed through a fearful distrust of the 'other', those abyssal Persians. Likewise, North Korea is mythologized as a kingdom of miniature madmen, possessed of a curious psychosis that surely bears no relation to the genocidal cleansing of 20 percent of its population in the Fifties, itself an imperial coda to the madness of Hiroshima.
The interventions, then, are little different than the missionary work of early colonizers, who sought to entrap the minds of men in order to ensnare the soul. Salvation is the order of the day. The mission worker felt the same sense of superiority and exceptionalism that inhabits the mind of the neoliberal. Two zealots of the age peddling different editions of a common book. One must carry the gospel of the invisible hand to the unlettered minions. But the gifts of the enlightened interloper are consistently dubious.
It might be the loan package that effectively transfers economic control out of the hands of political officials and into the hands of loan officers, those mealy-mouthed creditors referred to earlier. It may be the sanctions that prevent the country from engaging in dollar transactions and trade with numberless nations on which it depends for goods and services. Or it might be that controversial UNSC resolution that leads to a comprehensive agreement to ban certain weapons from a country. Stipulations of the agreement will often include a byzantine inspections regime full of consciously-inserted trip wires designed to catch the country out of compliance and leverage that miscue to intensify confrontational rhetoric and implement even more far-reaching inspections.
Cracking the Shell
The benign-sounding structural adjustments of the West have fairly predictable results : cultural and economic chaos, rapid impoverishment, resource extraction with its attendant ecological ruin, transfer of ownership from local hands to foreign entities, and death from a thousand causes . We are currently sanctioning around 30 nations in some fashion; dozens of countries have fallen into ' protracted arrears ' with western creditors; and entire continents are witnessing huge outflows of capital–on the order of $100B annually–to the global north as debt service. The profiteering colonialists of the West make out like bandits. The usual suspects include Washington and its loyal lapdogs, the IMF, World Bank, EU, NATO, and other international institutions, and the energy and defense multinationals whose shareholders and executive class effectively run the show.
So why aren't Americans more aware of this complicated web of neocolonial domination? Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, who pioneered the concept of cultural hegemony, suggested that the ruling ideologies of the bourgeoisie were so deeply embedded in popular consciousness that the working classes often supported leaders and ideas that were antithetical to their own interests. Today, that cultural hegemony is neoliberalism. Few can slip its grasp long enough to see the world from an uncolored vantage point. You'll very rarely encounter arguments like this leafing through the Times or related broadsheets. They don't fit the ruling dogma, the Weltanschauung (worldview) that keeps the public mind in its sleepy repose.
But French-Algerian philosopher Louis Althusser, following Gramsci, believed that, unlike the militarized state, the ideologies of the ruling class were penetrable. He felt that the comparatively fluid zones of Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) were contexts of class struggle. Within them, groups might attain a kind of 'relative autonomy', by which they could step outside of the monolithic cultural ideology. The scales would fall. Then, equipped with new knowledge, people might stage an inception of their own, cracking open the cultural hegemony and reshaping its mythos in a more humane direction. This seems like an imperative for modern American culture, buried as it is beneath the hegemonic heft of the neoliberal credo. These articles of false faith, this ideology of deceit, ought to be replaced with new declarations of independence, of the mind if not the mainstream. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jason Hirthler Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jason Hirthler
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism . He lives in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Feb 17, 2018 | isreview.org
Review of:Democracy in Chains:The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America By Nancy MacLean Viking , 2017 · 334 pages · $28.00
Duke University historian Nancy MacLean counted herself among those who'd never heard of Buchanan when she began researching Jim Crow Virginia's decision to subsidize private school vouchers for "segregation academies" in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education outlawing racial segregation in Topeka, Kansas, public schools. References to Buchanan in the writings of the doyen of postwar neoliberal economics Milton Friedman led her to Buchanan's former office at George Mason University. There, among huge piles of papers, she found a confidential letter from Koch describing millions of dollars in contributions to Buchanan's research center on the campus.
From that chance encounter with evidence connecting the unassuming professor with the billionaire ideologue, MacLean has constructed a history of Buchanan's role as an idea merchant for free market ideology. Over the course of nearly five decades Buchanan, his acolytes, and associates have been key participants in a billionaire-funded campaign to promote such policies as school vouchers for private education, privatization of Social Security, anti-union "right to work" laws, and ideological crusades like climate science denial. That many of these policies have been implemented at the state and local level, while perhaps the most plutocratic administration ever inhabits the US government, is testament to the success of the Far Right's long game.
MacLean's Democracy in Chains thus joins Jane Mayer's Dark Money and Kim Phillips-Fein's Invisible Hands as essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the intellectual and organizational roots of the free-market Right that has taken hold of the modern Republican Party and much of US politics today. In contrast to the stories that Mayer and Phillips-Fein tell, MacLean's approach is narrower -- focusing on the career of one influential academic and his patron. But its focus on Buchanan allows MacLean to explore other themes that aren't as central to Mayer's and Phillip-Fein's work, such as the connection of these self-described "defenders of liberty" to an older, antidemocratic tradition rooted in the antebellum South and the Confederacy.
Only a few years from receiving his PhD in the right-wing economics department at the University of Chicago, Buchanan proposed to his employer, the University of Virginia, that it support his plan to set up a research center to "produce a line of new thinkers" promoting libertarian views then largely out of step with the mainstream of the economics profession. He suggested in his proposal to the university president that the center be given an innocuous name to camouflage its "extreme views . . . no matter how relevant they might be to the real purpose of the program." University President Colgate Darden Jr. agreed to raise the money from corporate foundations to create what MacLean rightly characterizes as "in essence a political center at a nonprofit institution of higher learning." It was the first of many such efforts by Buchanan and subsequent imitators to create what one of them, Murray Rothbard, openly described as a "Leninist cadre" of free-market ideologues who could move into positions of influence in government, business, and universities.
In reconstructing Buchanan's role in crafting academic incubators for free-market ideas throughout his long career at UVA, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and finally at the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, MacLean emphasizes two main points that rip the mask off of these ventures' innocuous claims of devotion to "individual liberty." The first is the inconvenient truth that they can't be separated from their origins in the defense of Jim Crow and doctrines such as "states' rights" and "nullification" dating back to the antebellum South. MacLean recalls historian Richard Hofstadter's characterization of John C. Calhoun (proslavery ideologue and US vice president 1825-32) as the "Marx of the master class," and shows how Buchanan echoed Calhoun's ideas. Like Calhoun, Buchanan assumed the supremacy of property rights over all other rights. And like Calhoun, he developed (in The Calculus of Consent , coauthored with Gordon Tullock in 1962) a theory of government that required all members of society -- and most importantly, its wealthiest -- to agree before any government action could be taken.
Buchanan's version of "public choice" posits a world in which government is a corrupt and oppressive enterprise in which individuals and politicians adopt "rent-seeking" behavior to channel private wealth to ends that its original owners may not support. In this world, if the democratically determined majority supports taxation to fund public schools, but a wealthy minority objects to paying those taxes, the wealthy minority should have the ability to veto or opt out of support for public schools. Buchanan tested out this very idea in post- Brown Virginia, when he coauthored a 1959 plan for the full privatization and selling off of all public schools in the state. Although presented in race-neutral language of "economic liberty," it presented an option to the Jim Crow Democratic Party state leadership who urged "massive resistance" to court-ordered integration of public schools. Yet Buchanan's proposal proved even too radical for Virginia's legislature, which narrowly rejected it.
MacLean describes how Buchanan's early failure taught him lessons that stuck with him the rest of his life:
Faced with majority opinion as expressed in votes, politicians could not be counted on to stand by their stated committments. . . . He learned something else, too: constitutions matter. If a constitution enabled what he would call "socialism" (which, in Virginia's case, meant requiring a system of public schools), it would be nearly impossible to achieve his vision of radical transformation without changing the constitution.
Buchanan's comeuppance illustrates the second major point that MacLean draws out: hostility to democracy, collective action, and majority rule is central to this project. Throughout the book, MacLean quotes the principals, like Buchanan and Koch, acknowledging to each other that their ideas are unpopular. They understand that ordinary Americans support public goods like public education and Social Security. As a result, they resort to stealth in advancing their agenda. They look to judicial or constitutional means to change the rules of the game to institutionalize their far-right policies, and to place them outside the control of elected politicians or the popular will. This is what MacLean means by placing "democracy in chains."
So we find Buchanan writing memos and papers in support of the Koch-funded Cato Institute's campaign for Social Security privatization in the 1980s. Knowing that a direct assault on Social Security was political suicide, Buchanan urged a more surreptitious route: raise doubts about the system's viability, pass incremental "reforms" to peel off groups of beneficiaries from the system, and enlist the financial industry to offer alternatives. Anyone who followed the George W. Bush administration's failed effort to privatize Social Security, or House Speaker Paul Ryan's current effort to wreck Medicaid and Medicare, will recognize these tactics.
More dramatically, we find Buchanan playing a role as adviser to that champion of economic liberty, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Here, where a brutal military coup allowed the most right-wing elements of the Chilean ruling class to remake society, Buchanan found an opportunity to test his theories of placing constitutional "locks" on democracy. The 1980 constitution, passed in a rigged referendum, had Buchanan's fingerprints on it: ridiculous supermajorities required to raise taxes, union leaders barred from political participation, and an electoral system designed to empower conservative minorities. Chile's return to democracy in the 1990s overturned many of these restrictions, but others remain. And the legacy of Pinochet-era privatizations of the country's pension and education systems -- fruit of the policy advice of leading neoliberal ideologues -- still contributes to wide swathes of poverty amid "economic freedom."
Buchanan's final stop was George Mason University, where Charles Koch's millions bankrolled the transformation of a sleepy commuter college into a Beltway powerhouse that has become an idea factory and policy mill for conservatives. Its proximity to Washington, DC, means that politicians, congressional staffers, lobbyists, judges, and other Beltway denizens have direct access to the latest research, talking points, and training in support of their patron's extremist ideology.
If some of the purer libertarians worry, as MacLean quotes one of them, that they "have been seduced by Koch money into providing intellectual ammunition for an autocratic businessman," Buchanan didn't seem to be one of them. But with an avowed school privatizer running the US Department of Education, and with court cases aiming to cripple public sector unions heading to the US Supreme Court, it's hard to argue that they've been inconsequential.
MacLean raises this dystopian prospect: "To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation's governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form." She asks: "Is this the country we want to live in and bequeath to our children and future generations? That is the real public choice."
Feb 10, 2018 | www.unz.com
A couple of decades or more ago when I was still in Washington, otherwise known as the snake pit, I was contacted by a well-financed group that offered me, a Business Week and Scripps Howard News Service columnist with access as a former editor also to the Wall Street Journal, substantial payments to promote agendas that the lobbyists paying the bills wanted promoted.
To the detriment of my net worth, but to the preservation of my reputation, I declined. Shortly thereafter a conservative columnist, a black man if memory serves, was outed for writing newspaper columns for pay for a lobby group.
I often wondered if he was set up in order to get rid of him and whether the enticement I received was intended to shut me down, or whether journalists had become "have pen will travel"? (Have Gun -- Will Travel was a highly successful TV Series 1957-1963).
Having read Bryan MacDonald's article on Information Clearing House, "Anti-Russia Think Tanks in US: Who Funds them?," I see that think tanks are essentially lobby groups for their donors. The policy analyses and reform schemes that they produce are tailored to support the material interests of donors. None of the studies are reliable as objective evidence. They are special pleading.
Think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and the Atlantic Council, speak for those who fund them. Increasingly, they speak for the military/security complex, American hegemony, corporate interests, and Israel.
Bryan MacDonald lists those who support the anti-Russian think tanks such as the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, German Marshall Fund of the US, and Institute for Study of War. The "experts" are mouthpieces funded by the US military security complex. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48755.htm US government agencies use taxpayer dollars to deceive taxpayers.
In other words insouciant Americans pay taxes in order to be brainwashed. And they tolerate this.
Nov 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.comAccording to recent reports the Heritage Foundation, clearly the most established and many would say politically influential conservative think tank in Washington, is considering David Trulio, Lockheed Martin vice president and longtime lobbyist for the defense industry, to be its next president. While Heritage's connection to Washington's sprawling national security industry is already well-established, naming Trulio as its president might be seen as gilding the lily.
If anything, reading this report made me more aware of the degree to which the "conservative policy community" in Washington depends on the whims and interests of particular donors.
And this relationship is apparently no longer something to be concealed or embarrassed by. One can now be open about being in the pocket of the defense industry. Trulio's potential elevation to Heritage president at what we can assume will be an astronomical salary, will no doubt grease the already well-oiled pipeline of funds from major contractors to this "conservative" foundation, which already operates with an annual disclosed budget of almost $100 million.
A 2009 Heritage Foundation report, " Maintaining the Superiority of America's Defense Industrial Base ," called for further government investment in aircraft weaponry for "ensuring a superior fighting force" and "sustaining international stability." In 2011, senior national security fellow James Carafano wrote " Five Steps to Defend America's Industrial Defense Base ," which complained about a "fifty billion dollar under-procurement by the Pentagon" for buying new weaponry. In 2016, Heritage made the case for several years of reinvestment to get the military back on "sound footing," with an increase in fiscal year 2016 described as "an encouraging start."
These special pleas pose a question: which came first, Heritage's heavy dependence on funds from defense giants, or the foundation's belief that unless we steadily increase our military arsenal we'll be endangering "international stability"? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle: someone who is predisposed to go in a certain direction may be more inclined to do so if he is being rewarded in return. Incidentally, the 2009 position paper seems to be directing the government to throw more taxpayer dollars to Boeing than to its competitor Lockheed. But it seems both defense giants have landed a joint contract this year to produce a new submersible for the Navy, so it may no longer be necessary to pick sides on that one at least. No doubt both corporations will continue to look after Heritage, which will predictably call for further increases, whether they be in aerospace or shipbuilding.
Although one needn't reduce everything to dollars and cents, if we're looking at the issues Heritage and other likeminded foundations are likely to push today, it's far more probable they'll be emphasizing the national security state rather than, say, opposition to gay marriage or the defense of traditional gender roles. There's lots more money to be made advocating for the former rather than the latter. In May 2013, Heritage sponsored a formal debate between "two conservatives" and "two liberals" on the issue of defense spending, with Heritage and National Review presenting the "conservative" side. I wondered as I listened to part of this verbal battle why is was considered "conservative" to call for burdening American taxpayers with massive increases in the purchase of Pentagon weaponry and planes that take 17 years to get off the ground.
Like American higher education, Conservatism Inc. is very big business. Whatever else it's about rates a very far second to keeping the money flowing. "Conservative" positions are often simply causes for which foundations and media enterprises that have the word "conservative" attached to them are paid to represent. It is the label carried by an institution or publication, not necessarily the position it takes, that makes what NR or Heritage advocates "conservative."
In any event, Mr. Trulio won't have to travel far if he takes the Heritage helm. He and his corporation are already ensconced only a few miles away from Heritage's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters, if the information provided by Lockheed Martin is correct. It says: "Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services." A company like that can certainly afford to underwrite a think tank -- if the price is right.
Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for twenty-five years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale PhD. He writes for many websites and scholarly journals and is the author of thirteen books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents . His books have been translated into multiple languages and seem to enjoy special success in Eastern Europe.
September 22, 2012 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com
Chris Skidmore, one of the authors of Britannia Unchained, says:
People aren't interested in looking at medians and graphs. We have a duty to try and broaden that message outside of the think tank zone.
I don't know what to make of this. It could be that Skidmore is recommending that politicians use social science in the way Paul Krugman urges economists to use maths - you base your policy upon it, but then find a way of advocating the policy in more populist language.
Sadly, though, it is not at all obvious that Britannia Unchained's authors are using this reasonable approach. They seem instead to have skipped the science and evidence and gone straight to the populism.
This suggests an unkinder interpretation - that Skidmore thinks formal science has no place in politics. What matters is what sells, not what's right.
The problem here is that there is no strong obstacle to this descent into post-modern politics. The anti-scientific culture of our mainstream media means they will not call politicians out on their abuse of facts, unless the abuser is not in their tribe - as Jonathan complained in noting the press's reaction to Britannia Unchained.
But does this matter? In one sense, maybe not. Expert support and empirical evidence does not guarantee that a policy will be a success - though I suspect it improves the odds.
Instead, what worries me is that this threatens to further corrode the standard of political discourse.Fact-free politics need not be the sole preserve of the right; some of my readers will have the name of Richard Murphy in their minds. And if we go down this road, we'll end up with one tribe thinking the poor are all scroungers and the other thinking our economic problem can be solved by a crackdown on tax dodging. And the two tribes will just be throwing insults at each other. And there's a few of us who think this would be dull.
BenSix | September 22, 2012 at 12:09 PMI don't think that's what Skidmore's saying but nor do I think that what he's saying is any less silly. He replies to charges of slipshod research and laziness by saying...
"...it's a 116-page book, there's 433 footnotes to it."
I see this a lot: the implicit claim that the merit of work can be judged by the amount of references that it contains. Yet that says nothing about the quality of its research or interpretation. I could argue that I'm God and add 433 footnotes that reference self-published blogposts in which I proclaim that I'm a deity but it wouldn't make it a work of scholarship.
Chris | September 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM
"Fact-free politics need not be the sole preserve of the right"
They need not be, but they are.
Blissex | September 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Continuing my previous comment on voter hypocrisy, yes there are many voters who consider politics a spectator sport, a source of entertainment, just like news.
But my impression is that "fact free" politics is really a cover for an unwillingness to discuss the available facts, because they are unpleasant, as they relate to nasty self interest and distributional issues.
Politics thus may be fact free because the facts cannot be be discussed in a politically correct way, and therefore dog whistling abounds.
It is not a question of tribes, but of interests, even if these interests relate fairly directly to culture and in particular theology (most "culture" is the corrupted legacy of some dead theologian).
Consider this quote:
"When I was at university, a one-time very senior Tory figure put it succinctly at an off-the-record gathering: the Conservative Party, he explained, was a "coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people"."
Are Richard Murphy's posts really that fact free? A lot of the left seem to rely a lot on his "insights" (especially the PCS trade union).
SR819 | September 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
But my impression is that "fact free" politics is really a cover for an unwillingness to discuss the available facts, because they are unpleasant, as they relate to nasty self interest and distributional issues.
Think Tank Spectrum, 1998-99
Much like in the global economy, in the world of the think tanks that dominate the mass media, the rich have gotten richer.
There has been little shuffling at the top of the most cited think-tank list, based on references to the group in major papers and broadcast transcripts in the Nexis database. Once again, the Brookings Institution led the way, with close to 3,000 citations among major newspapers and television and radio transcripts.
While the Heritage Foundation once rivaled Brookings in prominence, Washington's premier centrist think tank has separated itself from the rest of the pack, more than doubling the frequency of the next most prominent think tank, the Cato Institute. The Heritage Foundation has fallen to third place.
While this survey reveals that media show a greater reliance on think tanks than at the time of the last survey two years ago, the constituencies representing a center/right debate have further cemented their positions as media-friendly analysts. In the survey of 1997, conservative or right-leaning think tanks received 53 percent of all citations, 32 percent of citations went to centrist think tanks, and only 16 percent of the citations went to progressive or left-leaning think tanks. The percentages for progressive or left-leaning think tanks have declined slightly since then.
These think tanks along with Fox news and Rush radio, have placed 100's of ideas and phrases, into the brains of US republicans. And they are all untrue, unreal, and/ or fantasys.
The following are a few examples of (untrue) phrases, that were created inside of think tanks, and repeated by Fox news and Rush radio, that have become the actual political, economic, and scientific thought processes inside of US republican brains. All of the phrases created by theses think tanks, are designed to lower taxes and increase profits for, Americas rich and large corporations.
The following is one example of a (scientific) untrue belief, that was created inside of a corporate think tank, that has become a thought process of US republicans.
1. Fox news and Rush radio say the following "Global warming is not happening, and global warming is a hoax and a lie, created by the worlds political left."
Even though 97% of climate scientists state "global warming is happening" , these Fox news and Rush radio propaganda group victims still believe "global warming is not happening." The victims of this propaganda group also believe that, the scientists who say "global warming is happening" are lying and involved in a conspiracy plot started by the worlds political left
I have spoken to many members of this propaganda group/ cult, who believe that global warming is not happening. And even though I tell them 10x "97% of climate scientists say "global warming is happening, and I can show you proof", they refuse to believe it. Once these US republicans get into this propaganda group/ cult they only trust information from Fox news and Rush radio.
Note: These think tanks created the lie "global warming is not happening", to increase the profits of large corporations like Exxon Mobile.
2. tax cuts for Americas rich, increase government revenues
(While all respected economists, even US republican economists state, "tax cuts for Americas rich do (not) increase government revenues.")
The above think tank created lie effects the propaganda group/ cult victims, in the same way as the think tank phrase "global warming is not happening."
And I have also told these victims of this propaganda group, that "all respected economists state, tax cuts for the rich do not increase government revenues", and just like with global warming, these propaganda group victims do not believe it. They only believe information from Fox news and Rush radio. They believe any information (not) from Fox news or Rush radio are lies from a conspiracy plot created by the worlds political left.
The following are a few more examples of (economic) think tank phrases, that are lies and untrue, according to respected economists, but still victims of this propaganda group believe them as true.
These are only a few examples there are 100's more.
1.) tax cuts for Americas rich, and large corporations create jobs (economists say this is un-true, b/c small business creates most new US jobs, and also large US corporations are moving many US jobs to China for cheaper labor.)
2.) tax cuts for Americas rich stimulate the economy (economists say this is un-true, and it stimulates Chinas economy, thats were Americas rich create jobs to get cheap labor.)
3.) large US corporations are forced to pay too much money in taxes (While GE corp and many other large US corporations have a -0- % tax rate, and these same corporations get billions in tax refunds, these corporations tax rate is actually (negative) billions of dollars.)
4.) Americas rich are forced to pay too much money in taxes (While Warren Buffet has a 17% tax rate, and Americans who make $60,000 a year have a 30% tax rate, Americas rich have around 1/2 less the tax rate as regular Americans.)
5.) the death tax effects everyone (reality: it only effects the top 2% of richest americans.)
6.) the flat/fair tax is the best idea for all Americans (While the flat tax is actually a huge tax cut for the rich, and a huge tax increase for everyone else. source: Citizens for Tax Justice.)
7.) free trade creates better paying american jobs (reality: in 2001, economists estimated that 3/4 of American workers lost about 12% of their current wages because of free trade deals.)
8.) raising the minimum wage kills jobs and hurts low-income workers (reality: economists say this cant be proven, because states with high min. wages actually create more jobs.)
9.) higher wages mean higher prices (reality: the US department of agriculture did a huge study on this and found this un-true)
10.) low wages are offset by low prices (reality: economists say this does not happen.)
11.) free markets -not regulation- will keep intrest rates low (reality: economists say this is un-true)
12.) "free" trade laws make trade actually free (reality: these laws only give billions of dollars to Americas rich)
13.) we dont need policies that increase wages because wages are already growing (reality: When republicans said this, American workers wages just decreased by 0.6 %.
It seems that any untrue or unreal think tank created phrase, is believed by US republicans.
This US republican (propaganda group) media says, and repeats 10,000's of untrue, false, and untrue fantasy phrases about economics, science, US democrats, liberal organizations, and US democrats laws each year.
And because of the fact, their are millions of US republicans, this propaganda group/ cult, says and repeats millions and millions of lies and untrue things each year in America.
I challenge any forum member to post/ list any group of people, who have said more lies than US republicans, in a 15 year period.
I believe chances are, there has never been a group of people, in the history of all mankind, that has said and repeated as many lies and un-true things as US republicans, said and repeated in the last 15 years. But increased population and better media systems may be the reason for this, but maybe not?
So now you've seen the power of conservative propaganda for setting America's agenda. This week we saw the annihilation of progressive ideas by the most sophisticated, deeply funded, and precisely orchestrated public relations system ever concocted.
And they are preparing to take things up a notch now that they've won. The gears are well greased and the engine is humming. Prospects are slim for President Obama and the remaining progressives in Congress. If we don't act now, 2012 will mark the end of the progressive rise to power in American politics.
Now is the time to respond with force.
We have to rally together and stop the message machine that aligns corporate wealth with the American story. The stakes are too high for us to ignore this threat any longer. Our enemy is not a party. It is a system designed to manipulate public perceptions about what it means to be American. And it is unraveling the tapestry of our culture and destroying our democracy.
I've watched the progressive leadership closely in the last five years as they have repeatedly underestimated this oppositional force and overlooked its fundamental threat to America's future. They have invested nearly all their time and money in candidates and policies, naively thinking that rational discourse would save the day despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Very little has been done to build the 21st Century communication infrastructure we need to counter the vast network of think tanks, media outlets, and cultural myths that preserve the status quo.
To give you a sense of exactly what we're up against, consider how the Tea Party Movement came into being:
- A group of billionaires organized by Koch Industries came together and designed the initiative;
- Spokespeople were planted in the mainstream media to suggest that it was time for a revolution reminiscent of the founding days of our country;
- A massive media platform including Fox News and conservative radio spread the meme to every corner of the country;
- Seed funding was provided to organize the first rallies, all the while painting it as a "grassroots movement";
- Narratives that had been planted by conservative think tanks throughout the last forty years were evoked as "traditional values";
- Real concerns by people suffering under corporate corruption were tapped to evoke strong anger and fear;
- People came out in droves to support Tea Party candidates who were actually in cahoots with their corporate benefactors.
All of the investments have paid off. The Democratic majority in Congress is gone. President Obama has been put on the defensive. And local initiatives across the country have advanced conservative policies into law at the city, county, and state level.
Put simply, we're getting our asses kicked.
Now more than ever, we need effective governance in the various sectors, including both public and private to save our country from collapse. Yet what we have is a deep collusion between wealthy corporatists and a significant cabal in government. Their collusion is profoundly anti-democratic and even anti-market (as demonstrated by the devastating impacts of their policies on financial markets in 2008). So what we're getting is a group of financiers who set up communication systems to manipulate public perception and drive boom-crash cycles in the economy to siphon all forms of wealth into their coffers.
We can't let this happen any longer. Now is the time to act.
Are you concerned about the future of America? Would you like to finally see the American people have a stronger footing than large corporations in our politics? Then you should invest wisely in the infrastructure that is capable of elevating progressive ideas so they dominate public discourse. Stop dumping all your money and time into reactionary campaigns to save progressive policy from the conservative hammer. Break out of the election cycle mold and build for the long haul. And start being strategically proactive by targeting the source of power our opposition holds – the Conservative Worldview.
When I was a fellow of the now defunct Rockridge Institute I saw the potential for decisive strategic action that reframes political debate. It was painful to watch progressive philanthropists turn their backs on this foundational work and pour all their money into the 2008 campaign. What would have happened if they had instead pooled a few million dollars to invest in the design of a communication framework that brings coherence to the progressive vision? How might this year's election have been different if progressives across the country were taught how to deconstruct conservative stories and challenge them in a manner that fundamentally weakens their influence?
It's getting late in the game and our side is way behind. Our only chance for a comeback is to respond directly to the conservative propaganda machine. Right now we don't have adequate capacity for getting our messages out to the public. And we rely too heavily on outdated tactics that repeatedly fail in the face of such a powerful opposition.
We have to be smart. We have to be organized. And we have to be strategic. It's now or never.
Are you with me?
1:29 am in Uncategorized by Barefoot AccountantI just watched Robert Greenwald's film clip, Koch Brothers Exposed, and was blown totally away at the operation of a brilliant propaganda machine, making that of Hitler and Goebbels in comparision appear infantile and primitive. This is a propaganda machine well thought out, organized, and orchestrated.
First, the Koch Brothers and other corporatist interests fund millions of dollars to these right-wing think tanks of economists and political scientists, as the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Mercatus Center, Reagan Foundation, et al, to write the script that these donors want to disseminate to the general public. These think tanks are sort of like screenwriters or script writers, composing and writing the dialogue that the donors want published to the American public.
Then attractive economists and political scientists of these organizations make guest appearances on the media, such as Fox Business, or the Kudlow Report, Neil Cavuto's Your World, and Fox News, reading the carefully crafted orchestrated scripts in an effort to get the word out.
The next step then is that the media mouthpieces, such as Lawrence Kudlow, Britt Hume, Gretchen Carlson, et al, start repeating this script as if it's gospel since it emanated out from these so-called think tanks. This is the important segment missing in the Hitler-Goebbels propaganda strategy. These supposed news reporters and journalists add a touch of credibility and veracity and objectivity to the propaganda. Robert Greenwald and Bernie Sanders refer to this phenomenon as the "echo chamber".
Lastly, our politicians then repeat almost word-for-word what has been said over and over by the think tanks and the media personalities on talk shows such as "Hardball" (which in my opinion should now be renamed "Softball"): e.g., last night Kay Bailey Hutchison just repeated their script on raising the Social Security age to Chris Matthews, who then exclaimed in his sycophant manner that she should run for President of the United States. Gosh.
For those of you interested in seeing this excellent clip by the Brave New Foundation on the "Echo Chamber", please see, Counter the Koch Billions. Protect Social Security. Will you help Senator Sanders expose the Koch Echo Chamber? Video Transcript.
For Cenk Uygur's interview of Robert Greenwald, the producer of this very important clip, please see, Social distortion. Does the GOP suffer from social insecurity? Cenk Uygur June 22 2011 video transcript.
Please get involved and organized now; tomorrow may be too late: the rich and multinational corporations are kicking our ass.
CATO was making much hay a few days ago about budget problems in California, New York, and New Jersey, which can be explained, respectively, by the Governor's veto of an Assembly-passed budget a few months ago, the decline in tax revenues from financial services firms and continuing loss of upstate industry, and underfunded pension obligations whose origins date back to Christie's cocaine-inspired budgets of the mid-1990s.
Strangely (via Dr. Black), they missed the crises in a few other states, most especially including the state governed by Republic hero Mitch Daniels:Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has warned residents that most of the state's services -- including its parks, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and state-regulated casinos -- would be shuttered unless a budget is passed today.Closing down the casinos? Now that is extreme.
Mitch Daniels, doing for my old home state
Posted by Ken Houghton at 11:29 AM Comments (12)
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