Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Constitutional Crisis

Power of the Pen

The president uses signing statements to decree which laws apply to him.

by James Bovard

For generations, Republican politicians have spoken reverently of the rule of law. But since 2001, this hoary doctrine has been redefined to mean little more than the enforcement of the secret thoughts of the commander in chief.

George W. Bush has added more than 750 “signing statements” to new laws since he took office. Earlier presidents occasionally appended such comments to new statutes, but Bush is the first to use signing statements routinely to nullify key provisions of new laws. He perennially announces that he will not be bound by limits on his power and that he will scorn obligations to disclose how federal power is being used.

While Bush supporters speak glowingly of originalist interpretations of the Constitution, Bush’s signing statements have far more in common with George III than with George Washington. The Constitution specifies that Congress shall “make all laws” and that presidents must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But Bush—his ego swollen by swarms of groveling intellectuals—has embraced theories that convince him that the president alone may decree what shall be the law.

Bush’s most famous signing statement was on the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. After White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales publicly declared that Bush enjoyed a “commander in chief override” regarding laws prohibiting torture, members of Congress enacted legislation to make it stark that torture was illegal. The White House engaged in long and arduous negotiations with Congress. After Bush signed this law last Dec. 30, he announced that he would construe it “in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power.”

This was widely interpreted to mean that the law is binding only when Bush pleases. He was reiterating a confidential 2002 Justice Department memo that declared that the federal Anti-Torture Act “would be unconstitutional if it impermissibly encroached on the President’s constitutional power to conduct a military campaign.”

Getting the Patriot Act renewed was one of the Bush administration’s highest priorities. After months of negotiations and compromises, a bipartisan agreement was finally reached, giving the White House almost everything it wanted. As part of the deal, Bush administration officials agreed to provide Congress with more details on how Patriot Act powers were being used. The Justice Department would be obliged to disclose to Congress how many Americans’ privacy was being violated by FBI subpoenas known as National Security Letters. (The Washington Post reported that the FBI was issuing 30,000 such letters a year).

However, Bush reneged in a “signing statement” quietly released after a heavily hyped White House bill-signing ceremony. Bush decreed that he was entitled to deny Congress any information that would “impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive’s constitutional duties.” Bush announced that he would interpret the law “in a manner consistent with the president’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information.”

In other words, any provision in the law that requires disclosure is presumptively null and void. The crux of the “unitary executive” is that all power rests in the president and that checks and balances are an archaic relic. This is the same “principle” the Bush administration invoked to deny Congress everything from Iraqi war plans to the records of the Cheney Energy Task Force. Bush has invoked the “unitary executive” doctrine almost 100 times since taking office, according to Miami University professor Christopher Kelley.

Democrats were furious over what they saw as a Bush Patriot Act double-cross. Representatives Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) bitterly complained to Gonzales: ‘‘Many members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight. The administration cannot, after the fact, unilaterally repeal provisions of the law implementing such oversight.”

The Bush administration ignored the complaint.

Bush’s prerogative also apparently includes the right to cover up waste, fraud, and abuse—regardless of how badly taxpayers get boarhogged. After Congress created an inspector general in late 2003 to look into the Coalition Provisional Authority, Bush decreed, “The CPA IG shall refrain from initiating, carrying out, or completing an audit or investigation, or from issuing a subpoena, which requires access to sensitive operation plans, intelligence matters, counterintelligence matters, ongoing criminal investigations by other administrative units of the Department of Defense related to national security, or other matters the disclosure of which would constitute a serious threat to national security.”

Since the Bush administration seems to consider any unfavorable press coverage a “threat to national security,” it is not surprising that the inspector general found almost nothing—despite pervasive reports and rumors of massive fraud. (There is no evidence that the wording of the signing statement was dictated by Halliburton.) Bush also used a signing statement to undermine the power and independence of an inspector general for Iraq in 2004 legislation.

Another frequent target of Bush signing smitings are provisions in laws on whistleblowers. Apparently he considers legal protections for whistleblowers a violation of his own prerogatives.

The administration recently swayed the Supreme Court to undermine protections for federal employees who disclose federal crimes, and the Justice Department is signaling that it could prosecute both whistleblowers and journalists who publish leakers exposing government abuses.
Some people consider Bush’s “El Supremo” view of his own powers as necessary for the war on terror.

But Bush claims this prerogative regarding any foreign intervention. As the Boston Globe’s Charlie Savage, who has done the best work on this subject, noted, “On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels. After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.”

The Colombian government’s paramilitary allies have committed some of the worst atrocities in recent Latin American history. The fact that Bush would claim a unilateral right to engage in what could become a full-scale civil war in Colombia vivifies that his boundless power stems from his job title—not from any conflict with al-Qaeda or other “Islamofascists,” as he likes to call them.

Bush’s signing statements also imply that he considers the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878—which prohibited using the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement—null and void. Congress passed laws in 2004 and 2005 prohibiting the military from using intelligence not “lawfully collected” on American citizens. In both cases, as Savage noted, “Bush declared in signing statements that only he, as commander in chief, could decide whether such intelligence can be used by the military.” It is appalling that Congress would feel it necessary to pass a law declaring that the Pentagon cannot violate the Bill of Rights—but the president responds by declaring that he will not be bound by any such law—or by the Constitution.

The “signing statement” gambit for stretching presidential power was hatched during the Reagan administration. Attorney General Ed Meese instructed Samuel Alito, then a Justice Department lawyer, to analyze how such presidential assertions could buttress the administration’s viewpoints in court. But Alito was a piker compared to George W. Bush. Alito declared that the Justice Department should ‘‘concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress.”

Bush, on the other hand, has used signing statements to negate the most important parts of legislation. According to the Bush administration, if the president issues a signing statement memo that is printed in the Federal Register, federal agencies are not obliged to obey laws enacted by Congress.

The American Bar Association has appointed a bipartisan panel to examine whether Bush’s signing-statement policies conflict with the Constitution. Their report is due later this summer. However, an ABA report earlier this year that concluded that Bush’s warrantless wiretaps were illegal failed to make the slightest dent in either the administration’s policies or its preening.

We have a nullification crisis at the heart of the American Republic. Torture is apparently legal, despite a federal prohibition. Domestic wiretapping is apparently legal, despite clear legal and constitutional prohibitions. Seizing suspects and holding them indefinitely is apparently legal, despite the Constitution’s requirement of habeas corpus.

Apparently, the government is not obliged to obey any law that Bush does not personally approve of. And how can we know which laws Bush approves of? It’s a secret. Bush’s personal thoughts thus become the ultimate law of the land—and no one can know if the government is violating the “law” because Bush has not publicly declared what the law is.

Why should anyone give Bush the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is obeying all of the laws that he has not yet publicly proclaimed a right to violate? New York University law professor David Golove told the Boston Globe, “Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional.”

Americans may have to wait many years to learn what the rule of law meant in 2006. The truth may be suppressed until Bush’s aides begin publishing their memoirs or until the Supreme Court has a change of mood and decides that the executive branch is not entitled to boundless secrecy.

In the meantime, don’t count on the legislative branch to right the balance: Bush has encountered almost no effective resistance in his own party to his power grabs. One Republican senator recently told author Elizabeth Drew: “We’ve got to hang with the president because if you start splitting with him or say the president has been abusing power we’ll all go down.” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently denounced criticism of the NSA warrantless wiretapping as “insulting” to the president, Drew reported.

Apparently, some prominent Republicans believe that the president cannot be criticized even after he admits breaking the law.

So what is the meaning of “limited government” in the Bush era? Merely that the courts and Congress must be prohibited from limiting the president’s power.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Punch in the Mouth.

What has the GOP ever done for the working class?

Not too long ago, my wife and I attended a TV football party in south Tulsa. With a lopsided score, the conversation turned to a livelier subject -- politics. The crowd was, of course, top-heavy with Republicans. With each point expressed their faces became more flushed, eyes bulging a little more and veins popping in their foreheads as they railed against the liberal programs.

Finally a lone, liberal voice asked: "Will you people name me one bill your party ever passed to help the working man of this country?" The question created much din and clamor, and someone sputtered, "Well, what have the Democrats done?"

The liberal responded with a few programs and was interrupted by howling and disdain. He noted that he had not promised they would like the programs and he asked to complete his statement -- a difficult task to ask of Republicans.

He spoke of Social Security; Medicare-Medicaid; Peace Corps; unemployment insurance; welfare (for the poor and corporate); civil rights; student grant and loan programs; safety laws (OSHA); environmental laws; prevailing wage laws; right to collective bargaining (which brought about paid medical insurance, paid vacations, pensions, etc.); workers' compensation; Marshall Plan; flood-disaster insurance; School Lunch Program; women's rights.

He spoke of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a minimum wage, instituted child labor laws, and set up time-and-a-half pay for over a 40-hour week.

He mentioned FHA-HUD with its public housing, urban renewal and 44 million residential homes (before WWII almost 70 percent of our nation were renters; by the 1970s this had been reversed). And farm-conservation subsidies -- USDA programs, Farmers Home Administration (the bankers didn't want to make rural loans), small flood-control lakes (more than 3,000 in Oklahoma alone), rural water districts, rural electricity (REA).

The GI Bill was passed, which the Republicans at the time bitterly opposed. They were salivating over millions of returning veterans to hire as cheap labor. More than 8 million have used college benefits, creating millions of entrepreneurs; most of us had never dreamed of college. For the unemployed GI, there was $20 a week for 52 weeks to help get started (a lot of money in those days). The Veterans Administration provided more than 2 million home loans.

For the bankers at the football party, it was pointed out that the liberals saved their industry with the creation of FDIC and FSLIC, insuring their deposits, and saved Wall Street with the establishment of the Securities Exchange Commission.

The oil men came on bended knees to FDR at a time when East Texas oil was 4 cents a barrel and begged him to save their industry. He did; prorationing overturned the rule of capture and the days of flush production were over. Prorating has served this great industry (and nation) well.

And the list went on and on, but of course this group didn't let him get halfway through. He noted they were weary, inattentive, so again he challenged them to offer up any Republican legislation examples.

"I'm sure your party has authored one or two comparable bills from time to time, but I can't think of any, and apparently you can't either. What it boils down to is this: the liberals dragged you into the 20th century scratching and screaming with your heels in the mud, fighting anything that's progressive, everything that's made this country great. You Republicans have never understood that the spending power of blue-collar workers, obtained through Democrats and unions, is what really made this country great. You really believe "The Good Life" was obtained from your own endeavors. You cloak your greed in religion and patriotism, railing against any form of tax, never comprehending that these programs have benefitted all of us and our country."

Well, I almost didn't make it out of the house. My wife and I didn't even get to see the end of the football game.

If Reps. Steve Largent or J.C. Watts had been there, perhaps politics would never have come up, only the game plan ... pity.

Clint C. Gold is former mayor of Moore, OK and a retired savings and loan executive.

"Hold me Unka Dick - I'm scared of them thar terrarists."

Baghdad in Meltdown

The standard line of political bullshit from the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill is that the situation is improving in Iraq. But journalists on the ground in Baghdad, the ones who aren't brain dead from U.S. propaganda, report otherwise.

I guess the question is - who do you believe?

The reporters - or the serial liars in Washington?

Words of Wisdom...

An independent republic still?

© Pat Buchanan

Two hundred thirty years have elapsed since Jefferson's document was signed in Philadelphia, declaring the 13 colonies to be independent forever of the England of George III.

In his Farewell Address, Washington defined independence in a single sentence: "It is our true policy to steer clear of any permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."

Jefferson echoed the father of his country, declaring America's policy to be one of "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none."

Adams thought his greatest achievement was that he prevented a naval war with France from degenerating into all out-war with Napoleon and had severed America's 1778 alliance with Paris. Not for 150 years would the United States enter another permanent alliance, NATO, in the extraordinary situation that was the Cold War.

It was because America remained independent of the alliances of Europe – the Triple Entente of Britain, France and Russia, and Triple Alliance of Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy – that Americans did not arrive on the battlefields of the Great War of 1914-1918 until six months before the Armistice. America lost 116,000 soldiers in that bloodbath, but avoided the horrendous casualties that killed the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian and Ottoman empires, and forever wounded the British and French.

America emerged the most powerful nation and greatest creditor on earth, as a Senate wisely rejected both the Versailles Treaty and a League of Nations set up to enforce its dishonorable terms.

World War II began Sept. 3, 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany to honor a guarantee Neville Chamberlain had given to Poland. France fell in the late spring of 1940, as the British were hurled off the continent. Stalin's prison house of nations was invaded in June of 1941. Untold millions in Central and Eastern Europe perished.

Free of alliances, the Americans did not even land in France until five years after the war began, only 11 months before its end in Europe.

No European empire survived these wars. No great European nation was left undiminished. These wars ended Europe's role as shaper of world history.

Thus it was that America emerged as first nation on earth, the most self-sufficient republic in history, undisputed leader of the West. For 40 years of Cold War against a Soviet Empire, America drew a red line across Europe and told Moscow not to cross it. Nor did we cross it the other way to liberate Eastern Europe, when the Hungarian Revolution broke out in 1956, the Prague Spring was crushed by Russian tanks in 1968, or Solidarity was smashed on Moscow's orders in 1981.

Unlike the British and French, who declared war over Poland in 1939, Americans did not think Eastern Europe worth the risk of a new world war. We waited patiently for the evil empire to collapse, and collapse it did under steady pressure from Reagan's America. Patience paid off, for, as Reagan always believed, time was on our side, time was on the side of freedom. It still is.
Today, however, the independent foreign policy of Washington and Jefferson, the non-interventionist policy of Eisenhower and Reagan – of peace through strength, of staying out of wars where U.S. interests are not imperiled, of keeping one's powder dry unless the United States were attacked – is derided as cowardly isolationism.

So, with the end of the Cold War did not come the end of the Cold War alliances, but their permanent extension and the addition of new allies – until it is probably not possible for a major war to break out anywhere on earth today without the United States being involved from Day One.

Alliances are transmission belts of war. Temporary ones, like the French alliance of 1778 and the NATO alliance of 1949, may be necessary, but a wise republic terminates those entanglements when the crisis is ended – and restores its freedom of action to decide when, where and whether to go to war, and not have that decision made by some 50-year-old treaty.

That is what the Founding Fathers taught, and what America believed, to her benefit, for most of her history.

But if the Founding Fathers were to come back to life and to be asked, "Whom does the America of 2006 resemble more, the republic you created or the empire from which you broke away?" is there any doubt how they would have to answer?

America today is more dependent on foreign fuel, foreign goods, foreign loans and foreign allies than she has ever been. Her worldwide commitments have never been greater, nor has her global and national debt.

Yet her leaders still seek to embed America every more deeply in global institutions from the WTO to the United Nations to the North American Union.

This is not the road on which the Founding Fathers set out, but it is a familiar road, one taken before by every empire in history.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cute and Fund!

^ Would you beat this woman?

Meet John_Fund, conservative pundit and regular guest on Faux News.
My, my - doesn't he look prosperous, especially sitting in front of that banner!

Why, the only things missing are a tiny American flag pin in his lapel and a halo above his head, because everyone knows the GOP is Gods party, maybe the microphone's blocking his patriotic display of the flag?

Must be - and maybe his girlfriend knocked his halo off when she was defending herself from physical abuse?

The Grand Old Party isn't looking so grand these days...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The "N" Word...

Honest question - what is the 1st word that pops into your mind when you see a bling covered, corn-rowed, track suit wearing person who also happens to be of African American descent speaking in a dialect best described as mush-mouth on television?

(Look at the picture and think about it a moment before scrolling down.)

When you hear or read the word nigger what image pops into your mind, a slave chopping cotton or one of the many contemporary practitioners of the Gangsta in Da HUD lifestyle?

Like it or not American blacks have cultivated an image that is less than savory.

Take the 2006 Oscars for example;

Djay f/ Shug - It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp Lyrics

[Chorus 2X: Shug - singing] + (Djay)
You know it's hard out here for a pimp
(you ain't knowin)
When he tryin to get this money for the rent
(you ain't knowin)
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent
(you ain't knowin)
Because a whole lot of bitches talkin shit
(you ain't knowin)
Will have a whole lot of bitches talkin shit
(you ain't knowin)[Djay]
In my eyes I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets
Gotta couple hoes workin on the changes for me
But I gotta keep my game tight like Kobe on game night
Like takin from a ho don't know no better, I know that ain't right
Done seen people killed, done seen people deal
Done seen people live in poverty with no meals
It's fucked up where I live, but that's just how it is
It might be new to you, but it's been like this for years
It's blood sweat and tears when it come down to this shit
I'm tryin to get rich 'fore I leave up out this bitch
I'm tryin to have thangs but it's hard fo' a pimp
But I'm prayin and I'm hopin to God I don't slip, yeah
Man it seems like I'm duckin dodgin bullets everyday
Niggaz hatin on me cause I got, hoes on the tray
But I gotta stay paid, gotta stay above water
Couldn't keep up with my hoes, that's when shit got harder
North Memphis where I'm from, I'm 7th Street bound
Where niggaz all the time end up lost and never found
Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big head
They come hopin every night, they don't end up bein dead
Wait I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too
You pay the right price and they'll both do you
That's the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin change off these women, yeah.



What the fuck is so great about the life of crime and degradation described in those lyrics that a person could bring themselves to mouth the words much less praise them?

Contemplate the words of that song for a moment and then remind yourself - black people in the audience gave it a standing ovation, they paid homage to a song which describes criminal acts, savagery and degradation, their applause was nothing less than an embrace of, and the enshrinment of depictions of prostitution and murder as the status quo in contemporary African American culture.

"Yeah" my ass - those words are an indictment, and a clear example of a bankrupt culture.

Anyone who understands the concepts of dignity and self respect should recognize it for the dead end that it is and discard it - throw in the fact that many blacks on a regular basis publicly refer to themselves and others of their race as niggers and is it any wonder that people of other races might also come to think of, or refer to them as such.

Slavery was a shitty deal for the enslaved, and segregation and discrimination was poor compensation for those who endured it. But those days are gone, and as people of the African race they should be thanking whichever figment of the imagination they worship that they were born in the USA rather than some pestilental hell hole on the continent where their ancestors originated.

I have a few other questions.

Where is the modern version of Black Wall Street?

Why are so many contemporary black cultural icons purveyors of thug life - why don't blacks make an effort to speak clear and concise english rather than speaking as if they had a mouth full of runny oatmeal?

African Americans finally have as good a chance at grabbing the brass ring as any other race in the melting pot and this is the best they can do?

Is this really the example they wish to set for their children - is this kind of lifestyle worthy of emulation?

Would the people in that audience wish such a life on their own child?

Would you?

I think not...

For every Condi Rice or Colin Powell there are millions of potential guests for the Jerry Springer show or candidates for incarceration in Americas prisons.

In 2003 43.9 of the inmates of state and federal prisons in the United States were of African American descent.

I suppose a person could try to blame whitey for this, but in my estimation every African American who is, or will become a parent might want to look in the mirror before pointing a finger at anyone else.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006


... is a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information. Literally translated from the Latin gerundive as "things which must be disseminated," in some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. Its connotations can also vary over time.

For instance, in English, "propaganda" was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of a certain cause. Over time, however, the term acquired the negative connotation of disseminating false or misleading information in favor of a certain cause. Strictly speaking, a message does not have to be untrue to qualify as propaganda, but it may omit so many pertinent truths that it becomes highly misleading.

In English the term propaganda overlaps with distinct terms like indoctrination (ideological views established by repetition rather than verification) and mass suggestion (broader strategic methods). In practice, the terms are often used synonymously. Historically, the most common use of the term propaganda is in political contexts; in particular to refer to certain efforts sponsored by governments, political groups, and other often covert interests.

Individually propaganda functions as self-deception. Culturally it works within religions, politics, and economic entities like those which both favor and oppose globalization. At the left, right, or mainstream, propaganda knows no borders; as is detailed by Roderick Hindery. Hindery further argues that debates about most social issues can be productively revisited in the context of asking "what is or is not propaganda?" Not to be overlooked is the link between propaganda, indoctrination, and terrorism. Mere threats to destroy are often as socially disruptive as physical devastation itself.

Purpose of Propaganda

The aim of propaganda is to influence people's opinions actively, rather than merely to communicate the facts about something. For example, propaganda might be used to garner either support or disapproval of a certain position, rather than to simply present the position. What separates propaganda from "normal" communication is in the subtle, often insidious, ways that the message attempts to shape opinion. For example, propaganda is often presented in a way that attempts to deliberately evoke a strong emotion, especially by suggesting illogical (or non-intuitive) relationships between concepts.

An appeal to one's emotions is, perhaps, a more obvious propaganda method than those utilized by some other more subtle and insidious forms. For instance, propaganda may be transmitted indirectly or implicitly, through an ostensibly fair and balanced debate or argument. This can be done to great effect in conjunction with a broadly targeted, broadcast news format. In such a setting, techniques like, "red herring", and other ploys are often used to divert the audience from a critical issue, while the intended message is suggested through indirect means.

This sophisticated type of diversion utilizes the appearance of lively debate within, what is actually, a carefully focused spectrum, to generate and justify deliberately conceived assumptions. This technique avoids the distinctively biased appearance of one sided rhetoric, and works by presenting a contrived premise for an argument as if it were a universally accepted and obvious truth, so that the audience naturally assumes it to be correct. By maintaining the range of debate in such a way that it appears inclusive of differing points of view, so as to suggest fairness and balance, the suppositions suggested become accepted as fact

The method of propaganda is essential to the word's meaning as well. A message does not have to be untrue to qualify as propaganda.

In fact, the message in modern propaganda is often not blatantly untrue. But even if the message conveys only "true" information, it will generally contain partisan bias and fail to present a complete and balanced consideration of the issue. Another common characteristic of propaganda is volume (in the sense of a large amount). For example, a propagandist may seek to influence opinion by attempting to get a message heard in as many places as possible, and as often as possible. The intention of this approach is to a) reinforce an idea through repetition, and b) exclude or "drown out" any alternative ideas.

Famed public relations pioneer Edward L. Bernays in his classic studies eloquently describes propaganda as the purpose of communications. In Crystallizing Public Opinion, for example, he dismisses the semantic differentiations (“Education is valuable, commendable, enlightening, instructive. Propaganda is insidious, dishonest, underhand, misleading.”) and instead concentrates on purposes. He writes (p. 212), “Each of these nouns carries with it social and moral implications. . . . The only difference between ‘propaganda’ and ‘education,’ really, is in the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don’t believe in is propaganda.”

The reason propaganda exists and is so widespread is because it serves various social purposes, necessary ones, often popular yet potentially corrupting. Many institutions such as media and government itself are literally propaganda-addicts, co-dependent on each other and the fueling influence of the propaganda system that they help create and maintain. Propagandists have an advantage through knowing what they want to promote and to whom, and although they often resort to various two-way forms of communication this is done in order to make sure their one-sided purposes are achieved.

Types of Propaganda

Propaganda shares techniques with advertising. In fact, advertising can be thought of as propaganda that promotes a commercial product, though the word "propaganda" more typically refers to political or nationalist uses, or promotion of a set of ideas. Propaganda also has much in common with public information campaigns by governments, which are intended to encourage or discourage certain forms of behavior (such as wearing seat belts, not smoking, not littering, or so forth). Again, the emphasis is more political in propaganda.

Propaganda can take the form of leaflets, posters, TV, and radio broadcasts and can also extend to any other medium.

In the case of the United States, there is also an important legal distinction between advertising (a type of overt propaganda) and what the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an arm of the United States Congress, refers to as "covert propaganda."

Journalistic theory generally holds that news items should be objective, giving the reader an accurate background and analysis of the subject at hand. On the other hand, advertisements generally present an issue in a very subjective and often misleading light, primarily meant to persuade rather than inform. If the reader believes that a paid advertisement is in fact a news item, the message the advertiser is trying to communicate will be more easily "believed" or "internalized."

Such advertisements are considered obvious examples of "covert" propaganda because they take on the appearance of objective information rather than the appearance of propaganda, which is misleading. Federal law specifically mandates that any advertisement appearing in the format of a news item must state that the item is in fact a paid advertisement.

Propaganda, in a narrower use of the term, connotates deliberately false or misleading information that supports or furthers a political cause or the interests of those in power. The propagandist seeks to change the way people understand an issue or situation for the purpose of changing their actions and expectations in ways that are desirable to the interest group.

Propaganda, in this sense, serves as a corollary to censorship in which the same purpose is achieved, not by filling people's minds with approved information, but by preventing people from being confronted with opposing points of view. What sets propaganda apart from other forms of advocacy is the willingness of the propagandist to change people's understanding through deception and confusion rather than persuasion and understanding. The leaders of an organization know the information to be one sided or untrue, but this may not be true for the rank and file members who help to disseminate the propaganda.

Employing Propaganda

Propaganda is a mighty weapon in war. In this case its aim is usually to dehumanize and create hatred toward a supposed enemy, either internal or external. The technique is to create a false image in the mind. This can be done by using special words, special avoidance of words or by saying that the enemy is responsible for certain things he never did. Most propaganda wars require the home population to feel the enemy has inflicted an injustice, which may be fictitious or may be based on facts. The home population must also decide that the cause of their nation is just.

Propaganda is also one of the methods used in psychological warfare, which may also involve false flag operations.

The term propaganda may also refer to false information meant to reinforce the mindsets of people who already believe as the propagandist wishes. The assumption is that, if people believe something false, they will constantly be assailed by doubts. Since these doubts are unpleasant (cognitive dissonance), people will be eager to have them extinguished, and are therefore receptive to the reassurances of those in power. For this reason propaganda is often addressed to people who are already sympathetic to the agenda. This process of reinforcement uses an individual's predisposition to self-select "agreeable" information sources as a mechanism for maintaining control.

Propaganda can be classified according to the source and nature of the message.

White propaganda generally comes from an openly identified source, and is characterized by gentler methods of persuasion, such as standard public relations techniques and one-sided presentation of an argument.

Black propaganda is identified as being from one source, but is infact from another. This is most commonly to disguise the true origins of the propaganda, be it from an enemy country or from an organization with a negative public image.

Gray propaganda Is propaganda without any identifiable souce or author. In scale, these different types of propaganda can also be defined by the potential of true and correct information to compete with the propaganda.

For example, opposition to white propaganda is often readily found and may slightly discredit the propaganda source. Opposition to gray propaganda, when revealed (often by an inside source), may create some level of public outcry. Opposition to black propaganda is often unavailable and may be dangerous to reveal, because public cognizance of black propaganda tactics and sources would undermine or backfire the very campaign the black propagandist supported.

Propaganda may be administered in very insidious ways. For instance, disparaging disinformation about history, certain groups, or foreign countries may be encouraged or tolerated in the educational system. Since few people actually double-check what they learn at school, such disinformation will be repeated by journalists as well as parents, thus reinforcing the idea that the disinformation item is really a "well-known fact," even though no one repeating the myth is able to point to an authoritative source. The disinformation is then recycled in the media and in the educational system, without the need for direct governmental intervention on the media.

Such permeating propaganda may be used for political goals: by giving citizens a false impression of the quality or policies of their country, they may be incited to reject certain proposals or certain remarks, or ignore the experience of others.

^ Excerpts from: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Now that you've read the primer.

Molding Opinion Through the Undisclosed use of Third Parties.

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As an American I find this offensive, and I am afraid for the future of America when a political party can so casually undermine the founding principal that a free press is a necessary Constitutional guarantee.

It's something Joseph Goebbels would do...