Dear GOP, Drill This

Either unregulated free markets work, or they don’t.  Either a thing is the President’s responsibility, or it isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways unless you’re inventing your own reality… Oh yeah, never mind.

US Oil ProductionOkay, maybe we should mind a little… The GOP’s message is that Obama is responsible for high gas prices and he should do something about that.  And that something is to “drill, baby, drill“.  Unfortunately, those damned liberally biased facts stand in stark opposition to the GOP’s message.  As the chart on the right shows, oil production under Obama has risen at a substantial rate, and contrasts markedly with the steady decline of production under George Bush.  In fact, the number of oil rigs in production in the U.S. has reached a 24-year high, according to oil field services company Baker Hughes. In 2005, domestic production was 1.89 billion barrels. This year, experts say, production is expected to surpass 2 billion barrels.

drilling_gas_prices_chartFurther, there’s no correlation between domestic oil production and gas prices.  The chart on the left shows instead that the two numbers seem to roughly track.  If we assume (moronically) that correlation is the same as causation, the obvious policy would be to stop domestic production in an effort to bring prices at the pump down.

Another nail in the coffin of the failure to drill position is the U.S. Energy Information Administration report that the U.S. exported 430,000 more barrels of gasoline than it imported for the month of September. This is an historic change, because we’ve been a net importer of gasoline, mostly from Europe, since the 1960s. We are not domestically constrained on gasoline supply.

Another inconvenient truth is U.S. net petroleum imports have fallen to about 47% of the nation’s consumption, down from a record 60.3% in 2005, Energy Information Administration statistics show. It’s been 15 years since the nation’s reliance on foreign oil has been this low.

So does Obama deserve all the credit for this?  No, absolutely not.  While he’s called for ending the $40B in annual subsidies to big oil, so far the money flows unabated.  While there was a brief moratorium on deep water drilling after the BP oil spill, that was long ago lifted.  Obama subsequently opened up drilling in the Arctic to the howl of environmentalists, and also agreed to open leases for drilling off the eastern seaboard, despite his reputation on the right for shutting down oil exploration.  Obama may not be responsible for the boom in production, but it’s not at all clear how you can claim he’s a hindrance to it.  There might be a claim that he could do more to spur drilling, but there’s no evidence he’s done anything yet to impede drilling.  If anything, his policies lean the other way.

Meanwhile, in reality, the major reasons for increases in domestic oil production lie with recent advances in geologic imaging allowing accurate identification of underground oil deposits, as well as the development of new extraction techniques making previously unprofitable wells productive.

oil -- u.s. oil efficiency improvingThe impact of energy efficiency should also not be underestimated. Not only are our homes, cars, and appliances cleaner and greener, but advances in technology have reduced the need for travel. More of us are telecommuting to work, or using GoToMeeting instead of jumping on a plane.

Hmmm… domestic production is up, domestic use is down, and gas prices are still rising.  That doesn’t sound like the supply & demand model we learned about in school!  But wait, I’ve heard rumors that the US is not the only country on the planet.  Maybe there are other players here influencing the market.

It turns out that growing industrialized counties like China and India are consuming an ever larger portion of the global oil supply.  In aggregate, the global demand is expected to barely keep pace with global production.  So there’s minimal excess capacity in the market, and that helps keep prices high.  Granted, additional production will definitely help this problem.  However, if China and India continue growing at their current rate and eventually consume oil at rates approaching what we do in the U.S., the need will far outstrip the supply of oil on the entire globe.  So long term, most of us have to find an energy alternative to oil anyway.  The only way “Drill, Baby, Drill” solves this problem is if the US becomes entirely oil self-sufficient, and then detaches itself from the global oil markets.  And that flies directly in the face of the GOP position on open, free, and unregulated markets.  Can you imagine the cries when the law is passed that prevents Exxon from exporting?

And speaking of free markets, oil speculators are in no small part responsible for the current price spike.  Almost 70% of the current oil commodities market is driven by speculators.  Why is speculation driving prices up?  Primarily, the speculation that there is an imminent military intervention in Iran that will dramatically impact the delivery of Mid-East oil.  Meaning, the increased saber-rattling toward Iran is helping drive prices up by driving speculation of a coming supply crunch.  Keep in mind that while Obama has offered stern warnings to Iran, the current GOP Presidential contenders (excluding Ron Paul) have all promised to attack Iran if they don’t fall in line to U.S. demands.  Commodities speculation is fairly unregulated, and it seems highly unlikely the GOP would support such financial regulation.  Meanwhile, their militaristic approach to foreign policy exacerbates fears that are driving the free market in the direction they claim to not want it to go.

Mitt Romney is on record saying that rather than bail out the auto industry, the market should just have been allowed to run its natural course.  That’s what’s best for the markets and ultimately best for America. Why then, is it not best for the markets and best for America to let gas hit $5/gallon if that is the natural course of things?  Why should the government intervene on gas prices?

If your mantra is, shut up and take your medicine while the markets sort it out, then shut up and take your medicine.

The GOP is Running Out of People to Alienate

Danger Man CaveThere was a time when party politics was about appealing to the majority of voters.  Minimally, this meant getting people to feel like the party had their back in some way or another.  However, for many groups the GOP increasingly seems to be asserting they not only don’t have their back, but they find the members of the group to be somehow unsuitable as members of society.

If you are part of, relate to, or support one of the groups below, you should know how the GOP feels about you or your loved ones:

  • Women – unscrupulous homicidal baby incubators who left unregulated and controlled would be hurling infants off seaside cliffs in hormonal rages.
  • Gays/Lesbians – an affront to God, family, and good clean living; they won’t rest until they’ve turned everyone gay and destroyed the institutions of marriage and parenthood.
  • Immigrants – the illegal ones are job-stealing leeches on the underbelly of society that should be deported just as soon as the crops are in; the legal ones are sketchy too—they talk funny.
  • Scientists – a cabal of liberal tree-hugging geeks in white lab coats bent on corrupting children, destroying religion, and crimping oil industry profits; except the ones working on smartphone technology—they’re okay.
  • Atheists – an evil, amoral, hedonistic scourge sent by Satan to lead the weak of faith straight to Hell and plunge America into darkness… which would be bad, unless it’s the End Times.
  • Poor People – lazy, shiftless, unmotivated, drug-addled drains on society; they need to get off their asses and out in the fields for sub-poverty wages so we can send all the damned illegals back home.
  • African Americans – entitled and lazy, they will resort to crime and drugs if they don’t get their food stamps and welfare checks; except pro athletes—they’re valuable.
  • Muslims – terrorists… all of them; this is America dammit, and we do not sit idly by while some freedom hating loonies with exploding underwear try to rob us of our religious freedom.
  • Hispanics – see Illegal Immigrants; and even those that are legal are only hear to try and figure out how to sneak all their friends and relatives over the border.
  • Future Seniors – current seniors are good to go; future seniors had better cinch up their Depends because this notion that you should have health care and a government pension is unsustainable; but don’t worry, if you do it right during your working years, then you’ll be rich enough to enjoy retirement; if you didn’t… well, try to die unobtrusively.

…and I’m sure I missed a few groups, or maybe the GOP just hasn’t gotten around to them yet.

I can’t fathom how alienating all these groups will help the GOP in the election as these groups represent some significant portions of the population.  Their only election day salvation would seem to be  keeping all these undesirables from the polls.  Oh yeah, that’s already under way.

May I have that aspirin between your knees?

Bayer Aspirin
Use as directed (by doddering old men)

The overreaction by the left is giving me a headache. Sure, Foster Friess made a stupid remark when he said,

“This contraception thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

He says it was a joke, and I believe him.  Apparently I’m the only one who remembers hearing this joke some 40 years ago.  It was a play off of what was then a new form of birth control called “the pill”.  People would joke back then that the only way the pill would be 100% effective is if you held it between your knees.  And I remember hearing the aspirin variant as well.

This certainly doesn’t excuse the reality that this was not the time or the venue to make such a lighthearted remark.  So, Friess rightly gets a dope slap for that.  But MS-NBC, the Huffington Post, and other liberal leaning outlets have been beating the poor guy to death over this.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully support contraceptives being included in everyone’s health coverage.  I live in one many states that already have such rules in place.  It’s sheer lunacy that we have national politicians arguing that contraceptives are harmful to women or that anyone can opt out of providing any form of health coverage as long as they site their moral conviction as the reason.

Further, Friess is the single key monetary backer of Rick Santorum’s Super-Pac, which already calls his sanity into question.  And if you watch his post-remark explanation from last night, he seems more than a little bewildered, not only about why he’s on TV, but also about the positions of the candidate he supports.  It’s not clear he’s firing on all cylinders, but he has a big-ass checkbook and a Supreme Court ruling that says he can use it—which is a whole different messed up thing.

However, at its core Friess was simply advocating for abstinence.  After all, that’s the point of the aspirin between the knees, right?.  Keep your legs closed ladies.  Because everyone (who’s never had much sex) knows that you can’t have sex if your knees are touching.

All these same reporters and pundits who are apoplectic over Friess’ remark, are the same folks who for decades have listened with a straight face as politicians and advocacy groups pushed abstinence based programs in this country.  Despite mountains of evidence that abstinence is a failed strategy, it still gets the courtesy of consideration from news media on the left and the right alike.

Why go off the rails now, and against a 72-year old man who has a cute way of saying he thinks we should be teaching abstinence instead of providing contraception?  Sure, that’s a dumb idea.  But it’s been a dumb idea for a long long time.  It’s a little late to get your shocked face out now.

The left often (and properly IMHO) chastises right-wing media for blowing small issues out of proportion.  For taking a minor incident and playing it and replaying it until it becomes a thing.  But in this case, the left is guilty of the same behavior.  Lead by example. There is a big story here on women’s health and healthcare in general.  Foster Friess is not the story.  Cut the old guy some slack.

The American War on Sex

NoSexOur culture has a curious relationship with sex.  Judging by our television programming, Internet habits, and even news coverage, it would seem we are obsessed with it.  Yet judging by our politics, we are terrified anyone is actually doing it.

Reruns of Two and a Half Men run almost constantly, and the content is almost entirely sexual.  ABC’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager was wildly popular amongst teen girls, and dealt almost non-stop with teen girls having sex.  The E! network is awash in pixelated boobs.  And what self-respecting primetime crime drama wouldn’t feature sexual depravity and violence as a major theme?

Meanwhile, Janet Jackson’s “accidental” exposure of a nipple for 8 seconds on TV warranted the attention of the Supreme Court.

The hot-button issues emerging in the 2012 election are turning out to be topics like contraception, gay marriage, and defunding Planned Parenthood.  In the 21st century, we are still committed to teaching abstinence to kids.  The same kids to whom we market an unending stream of sexualized clothing, music, and media are then being told by politicians that sex is just for making babies within the context of a marriage.  Is it any wonder kids think politicians are out of touch?

Ironically, the Muslim countries have this right.  If you’re really committed as a culture to sexual repression, then drape your women in burkas, censor the Internet, and restrict TV broadcasts to G-rated content.  At least it’s a consistent policy

Alternatively, maybe it’s time to embrace sex as a natural human function rather than some weird necessary ritual that must be performed 2.2 times in order to produce the requisite number of children.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places sex at the same level as breathing, food, water, and sleep.  We are hard-wired for sex at very fundamental and physiological level.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for hedonism.  Just because you enjoy eating doesn’t mean you’re into gluttony or dumpster diving. And just as the government plays a role in the food you eat, it has a role to play in sex as well.  The government works to make sure the food supply is safe.  It even encourages good nutritional habits.  But there is very little support for the government regulating what you can eat and when.  Maybe a similar approach should be taken with sex.  The government can work to ensure that sex is safe.  That might include disease prevention and control, sexual product testing, and access to sexually related health care.

But maybe people should be as resistant to the government regulating when, where, and whom you can have sex with as they are to the notion that the government will take away their soda-pop and Twinkies.

Government regulation of morality rarely goes well.

The Angry Mob Is Rising

Angry Mob Fun RunAs the 2012 election approaches, all the old anti-Obama crap is recirculating.  The message is unchanged. He’s the most dangerous man in America. He’s trying to destroy us. He’s Marxist. He’s Muslim. He hangs with terrorists.  He was born on Neptune. He wears magic underwear. (Oh wait, that last one was Romney. Sorry)  But you get the point.

I was recently the recipient of one such email screed, and decided to take on the issue, as I’m wont to do from time to time.  Yes, I’m sure I was just tilting at windmills, but the email chain was widely circulated, and I’m making that a little wider by publishing it here.  Who knows, maybe someone reading it will at least reexamine their position before picking up their pitchfork. If so, it’s worth it. The complete chain is included below.

The original email:



Subject: Wake up!
WHEN – he refused to disclose who donated money to his election campaign, as other candidates had done, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he received endorsements from people like Louis Farrakhan, Muramar Kaddafi and Hugo Chavez, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – it was pointed out that he was a total newcomer and had absolutely no experience at anything except community organizing, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he chose friends and acquaintances such as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn who were revolutionary radicals, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – his voting record in the Illinois Senate and in the U.S. Senate came into question, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he refused to wear a flag lapel pin and did so only after a public outcry, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – people started treating him as a Messiah and children in schools were taught to sing his praises, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he stood with his hands over his groin area for the playing of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he surrounded himself in the White House with advisors who were pro-gun control, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage and wanting to curtail freedom of speech to silence the opposition, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he said he favors sex education in kindergarten, including homosexual indoctrination, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – his personal background was either scrubbed or hidden and nothing could be found about him, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – the place of his birth was called into question, and he refused to produce a birth certificate, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he had an association in Chicago with Tony Rezco – a man of questionable character and who is now in prison and had helped Obama to a sweet deal on the purchase of his home – people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – it became known that George Soros, a multi-billionaire Marxist, spent a ton of money to get him elected, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he started appointing White House Czars that were radicals, revolutionaries, and even avowed Marxist /Communists, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he stood before the Nation and told us that his intentions were to “fundamentally transform this Nation” into something else, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – it became known that he had trained ACORN workers in Chicago and served as an attorney for ACORN, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed cabinet members and several advisors who were tax cheats and socialists, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed a Science Czar, John Holdren, who believes in forced abortions, mass sterilizations and seizing babies from teen mothers, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed Cass Sunstein as Regulatory Czar who believes in “Explicit Consent,” harvesting human organs without family consent and allowing animals to be represented in court, while banning all hunting, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed Kevin Jennings, a homosexual and organizer of a group called Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network as Safe School Czar and it became known that he had a history of bad advice to teenagers, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed Mark Lloyd as Diversity Czar who believes in curtailing free speech, taking from one and giving to another to spread the wealth, who supports Hugo Chavez, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – Valerie Jarrett, an avowed Socialist, was selected as Obama’s Senior White House Advisor, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director, said Mao Tse Tung was her favorite philosopher and the person she turned to most for inspiration, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed Carol Browner, a well known socialist as Global Warming Czar working on Cap and Trade as the nation’s largest tax, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he appointed Van Jones, an ex-con and avowed Communist as Green Energy Czar, who since had to resign when this was made known, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – Tom Daschle, Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary could not be confirmed because he was a tax cheat, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – as President of the United States , he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he traveled around the world criticizing America and never once talking of her greatness, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – his actions concerning the Middle East seemed to support the Palestinians over Israel , our long time ally, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he took American tax dollars to resettle thousands of Palestinians from Gaza to the United States , people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he upset the Europeans by removing plans for a missile defense system against the Russians, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he played politics in Afghanistan by not sending troops early-on when the Field Commanders said they were necessary to win, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he started spending us into a debt that was so big we could not pay it off, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he took a huge spending bill under the guise of stimulus and used it to pay off organizations, unions, and individuals that got him elected, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he took over insurance companies, car companies, banks, etc., people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he took away student loans from the banks and put it through the government, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he designed plans to take over the health care system and put it under government control, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he claimed he was a Christian during the election and tapes were later made public that showed Obama speaking to a Muslim group and ‘stating’ that he was raised a Muslim, was educated as a Muslim, and is still a Muslim, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he set into motion a plan to take over the control of all energy in the United States through Cap and Trade, people said it didn’t matter.

WHEN – he finally completed his transformation of America into a Socialist State , people woke up— but it was too late.

Add these up one by one and you get a phenomenal score that points to the fact that Barrack Hussein Obama is determined to turn America into a Marxist-Socialist society.   All of the items in the preceding paragraphs have been put into place. All can be documented very easily. Before you disavow this do an Internet search. The last paragraph alone is not yet cast in stone. You and I will write that paragraph.
Will it read as above or will it be a more happy ending for most of America ?

Don’t just belittle the opposition. Search for the truth. We all need to pull together or watch the demise of a free democratic
society. Pray for Americans to seek the truth and take action for it will keep us FREE. Our biggest enemy is not China , Russia , North Korea or Iran . Our biggest enemy is a contingent of politicians in Washington , DC . The government will not help, so we need to do it ourselves.

Question….will you delete this, or pass it on to others who don’t know about Obama’s actions and plans for the USA , so that they may know how to vote in November, 2012 and the ensuing years?

It’s your decision. I believe it does matter. How about you?

WHEN – November 2012 comes, it will matter who you vote for!

I replied:

This is America.  It is a country where everyone has a right to ignorance, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, paranoia, and all manner of conspiratorial delusion.  The author of this gem is taking full advantage of those rights.

When the things listed here are true, you should be worried.  But you should be more worried that there are people out there making decisions based on a belief that bunk like this is true.  And unlike the crap below, that is happening now.

There are ample reasons to vote against Obama based on a disagreement with his policies and positions.  However, the points below reflect only ad hominem attacks.  They disparage the people. They take aim at the integrity and character of Obama and others, largely through innuendo and speculation.  Ideally, most people outgrow this sort of behavior in middle school.  But this is not an ideal world.

The only valid point the author makes in this whole diatribe is, “Don’t just belittle the opposition. Search for the truth.”  Do that. Just be careful not to mistake the loudest and angriest voices for those speaking truth.  Sometimes truth is just a tad more subtle than that.

Which generated this response:

I was so hoping to get a response like the last one in which you took the time to go through point by point and put it in perspective. I’m disappointed you didn’t do that this time, but did just what most Liberals do when they listen to the main stream media and can’t disprove the truth. They label those that expose the truth as racist, ignorant, paranoid etc. If, as you say, this diatribe is bunk please show me where. You might want to “search out the truth” for yourself so you can do that.
I would also like your opinion on just how Obama has made America any better since he has been in office. Thanks!
Looking forward to hearing from you.

To which I replied:

If you want me to address your issues seriously, then you need to send me serious issues.  These were not.  This was the equivalent of the old bully’s chide, “Your mother wears Army boots.” And then having the bully demand you prove it’s not true.

It’s been six years since Obama hit the national stage.  The GOP has had control of the house for the last two, during which their explicit self-stated mission was to bring Obama down.  If any of these charges were more substantive than character smears, do you seriously think there would not have been Congressional hearings to expose all this.  Obama is a Muslim Marxist Kenyan?  Are we still seriously arguing these things?

If someone asserts the Earth is flat, the sky is green, and gravity makes things fall up, I could certainly provide research, data, and demonstrations those contentions were untrue.  But I wouldn’t.  It’s not worth my time.  Anyone who holds true such readily demonstrable falsehoods is not looking for truth.  They are looking for confirmation, either that they are right or that there is a conspiracy to keep the truth hidden.  Nothing I might say or do is going to change that.

There is an old adage that you should never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Has Obama made the country any better?  Ask the 16 million people who now have medical care.  Ask the millions of unemployed who have continued to receive benefits so they can keep their homes and feed their families. Ask the employees of GM who still have jobs and are working for a thriving company. Ask the workers who have enjoyed additional thousands in their paychecks because of tax cuts.  Ask the 1%ers who have garnered 88% of the income growth since 2009.  Ask the Wall Street bankers who didn’t go to jail for tanking the economy.  Ask the families of soldiers home from Iraq. Ask Mommar Quadaffi or Osama bin Laden.

Does any of that make this a better country?  Better for whom?  And compared to what?  That is question you must answer for yourself.

This generated yet another response:

I am truly amazed that you get to determine what questions you decide are serious enough to answer or not. The truth is all those points made regarding the President are the truth. I will grant you some of the points by themselves seem unimporant. However when you put them all together, you can get an idea of just who Obama thinks he is and why he thinks he can stomp all over the Constitution to get his policies put into effect. You say you can’t do anything about any conspiracy to keep the truth hidden. I disagree. You could start by seriously checking out sources other than the main stream media for your information. Our freedom and our rights are slowly and oh so cleverly being stolen out from under us and it is people like you who seem to be so blinded to the the truth of what is happening to our country that they are getting away with it. You have no idea of the evil that is permeating this land.
Just a couple of more things, Tim and then I think we should agree to disagree.
No one seems to be able to answer just why Obama didn’t pass the things he wanted to when he had control of both the House and the Senate. Any ideas? (I am being very serious).
Your answer as to how Obama has made America better on the surface looks ok. My question is at what cost? Obama has put us more in debt than any other president combined. The health care billed was passed even though 60% of the people didn’t want it. It was passed unread by anyone (even the President.) It was passed after meetings being held behind closed doors where who knows what happened. (so much for the promised transparency), and by bribing congressmen and senators for their votes, (both Republicans and Democrats.) Now that we know what is in it (some parts considered unconstitutional) more of our rights are threatened, and is putting us further into debt.
Who knows what the effect of cutting benefits from Seniors to pay for this will be. There are enough sources out there to check on that.
You say millions of unemployed are receiving benefits so they can keep their homes and feed their children and that is wonderful for them. My question is what is being done for the millions who have lost their homes with no hope of getting them back? What plans are in the works for putting the millions of unemployed back to work? Obama had the chance to do something about it with the Keystone pipeline construction, but chose to appease the environmental wackos for their votes in the upcoming election. Because of the stimulus money bailouts, the Federal Government now controls the auto industry, the banking industry and the Green Energy businesses that he supported are now going bankrupt. Can you guess who is being paid back first? It is not the American taxpayers.
I could go on, but you get the idea, Tim. I’m not saying all of this is all Obama’s fault. It is my opinion the whole Governmental system is corrupt, and if we (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, the Tea Party, Christians, Jews, Atheists,) in short, Americans just stand by and let it happen, we deserve what we get. Everyone should be checking both sides of the issues and speaking up to questionable issues from both sides that, if passed, could change life as we know it.
Serious? You bet it is!!!!

Which finally resulted in this:

You are apparently easily amazed. I’m pretty sure I’d get fairly wide agreement that I absolutely get to decide what questions are important enough for me to spend my time addressing.  Further, you then go on to completely justify why I chose correctly to not waste my time.  You already believe you know the truth, and any notion that you’re seeking dialog, answers, and/or explanations is disingenuous at best.

And yes, we will clearly continue to disagree, but maybe not about quite what you think we disagree about.

You see malice, conspiracy, and evil.  I don’t..  Obama is not evil or part of an evil plot, nor is he some sort of political Messiah. He’s a guy, doing a very tough job, in an environment pretty much designed to keep him from getting anything done.  (So is every President for that matter.)  It wasn’t that many years ago that even disagreeing with a wartime President was viewed as treasonous–ironically, by the same folks who now position Obama as an evil incarnate bent on the destruction of America.  Doesn’t that make you wonder just a little about the cognitive dissonance of folks you’re following?  Doesn’t it make you suspect that maybe they are really angling for something a little different than what’s claimed on the surface?

Where we disagree is that you believe you are privy to some hidden truth, and it’s your mission to wake others up. While I believe you are being manipulated by a political machine that masquerades as a persecuted grassroots movement, and that machine is using you to further its own ends, not to help you and those like you.

The Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was formed in New York in 1937. Its findings are considered seminal in the field and are still widely quoted in propaganda texts.   The IPA outlined 7 critical techniques for effective propaganda.  If you want to get a group of people fired up and headed off in the direction of your choosing, these are the things you need to do.

  • Name calling – Apply emotion-laden labels to individuals who provide a face and a focus for either the idea being pushed, or its opposition.
  • Glittering generalities – We believe in, fight for, live by, or other virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, morality, etc..
  • Transfer – A device by which the message carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect such as “church” or “nation” to an idea we might otherwise reject.
  • Testimonial – ‘Bill O’Reilly said,’ ‘The Governor said’, ‘My doctor said,’ ‘Our minister said’; basically lending the weight of others you respect to the argument. Can also be used in reverse by lending the weight of those you despise (e.g. Bill Ayers, Hugo Chavez) to tear down the opposition.
  • Plain folks – Binding your idea to children, small town America, hockey moms, real Americans, etc. Can also be used in reverse by labeling the opposition as not plain folks (e.g. elites, intellectuals)
  • Card stacking – Employing all the arts of deception to win support for an idea. Stacking the cards against the truth through distortion, careful omission, half-truths, and false testimony, raising new issues to divert attention from a failing argument.
  • Bandwagon – Hire a hall, use radio/TV stations, fill a stadium, march a lot of people in a parade. Employ symbols, colors, music, movement, all the dramatic arts. Get people to write emails and blog, and/or to contribute to the cause. Make them feel part of a group that’s connected to the message.

Does this sound familiar?  Granted, politicians have employed these techniques to varying degrees since the dawn of time, but this basically is the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News playbook.  They are unmitigated masters of this.

I’m certain you don’t think you’re being played. One rarely does while they are in the midst of it.  But if you harbor a shred of true inquisitiveness, re-read the initial email you sent.  The one you assert is all true.  Can you see that it employs these techniques?  Read whatever it is you read as your source of daily information, and weigh it against these techniques.  Are you getting news or propaganda?

Granted, just because something is propaganda doesn’t mean it’s false.  But it does pretty much mean that the author is is up to something.  Something that can’t be sold on the facts and logical reasoning alone.  Otherwise, it’s a lot of work to go through to make a point that shouldn’t get much disagreement.

My original point was essentially that the email you sent was propaganda. It contained no plan, no useful policy ideas, no arguments to weigh or counter.  It was fear-mongering.  It was a storm the castle pitch.  That can’t be usefully countered by a point by point analysis.  It could be offset by counter-propaganda, but I will not stoop to that.  As a people, I’d like us to be more than pawns in a political marketing tug-of-war.

I’m not going to argue that the world is all sunshine and roses.  It’s not.  We absolutely have problems.  But they are not the making of any one man or one event, nor will one man or one event be their undoing.  Being angry, afraid, and contemptuous is understandable.  But it’s not helpful.  We are where we are. The question remains, how do we move forward and up?  Pitchforks and torches rarely foment progress.