Sunday, October 24, 2010

Manipulation

During this insane election cycle I have been thinking about how easily people can be manipulated.  Hitler learned that fact over 70 years ago and it is still very effective.

It isn't just politics.  Religious leaders have been doing it since religion first became part of human equation.  Logic, common sense, or facts never enter into the thinking of the general populace.  It saddens me that in my 85 years on earth I see no improvement.  In many ways, we have regressed.  History should teach us why some things work and some things don't.  But history's lessons, too, are ignored. 

The common belief is that the House will be lost by the Democrats in the mid-term elections.  I am constantly bewildered by how the general public and be so easily mislead by lies and disinformation.  Is it a right-brain, left-brain thing?  

Some people just don't want to think for themselves.   If the Pope says the world is flat, they accept his statement without question.  If a fundamentalist preacher claims that anything that is fun is a sin, people believe him.  If a Jehovah's Witness claims that the Bible says that a blood transfusion is a sin they will refuse one, even though it might cause their death.  I simply don't understand why they accept the words of a book written by ignorant men thousands of years ago over modern scientific facts.  Do they want to be duped?  When words are taken out of context, or out of the time frame in which they were written, or without taking into account the lack of knowledge of the time period,  I cannot fathom  why individuals are so blindly accepting.

Being easily led to accept a fact when still children, the pattern is set.  That makes it so simple  for people like Rush Limbaugh,  Glenn Beck,  Bill O'Reilly,  Sarah Palin, and others to convince them that black is white, Obama is a Muslim, and so many outright lies and distortions that spew from their deceitful mouths.  Their followers never question.  Is it because they were taught to never question their elders or their religious leaders?  Or are they genetically disposed to believe in a right leaning way?  Are some people predisposed to think with their emotions instead of their brains?  I wish someone could clarify this for me.  Not only do they accept some patently idiotic statements, but many of the things they accept as dogma are clearly against their own best interest.

Along these lines Frank Rich wrote an Op-ed piece published in the NYT.   Following are some excerpts:

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.


The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.


No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer.


Clearly, financial institutions have learned nothing in the few years since their contempt for fiscal and legal niceties led them to peddle these predatory mortgages (and the reckless financial “products” concocted from them) in the first place. And why should they have learned anything? They’ve often been rewarded, not punished, for bad behavior.
Asked in “Inside Job” why there’s been no systematic investigation of the 2008 crash, Roubini answers: “Because then you’d find the culprits.” With the aid of the “Manhattan Madam” (and current stunt New York gubernatorial candidate) Kristin Davis, the film also asks why federal prosecutors who were “perfectly happy to use Eliot Spitzer’s personal vices to force him to resign in 2008” have not used rampant sex-and-drug trade on Wall Street as a tool for flipping witnesses to pursue the culprits behind the financial crimes that devastated the nation. 

The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene. It’s shy about calling a fraud a fraud when it occurs in high finance.  

 In our new banking scandal, as in those before it, attorneys general in the states, where many pension funds were decimated by Wall Street Ponzi schemes, are pursuing the crimes Washington has not. The largest bill of reparations paid out by Bank of America for Countrywide’s deceptive mortgage practices — $8.4 billion — was to settle a suit by 11 state attorneys general on the warpath. 

Since Obama has neither aggressively pursued the crash’s con men nor compellingly explained how they gamed the system, he sometimes looks as if he’s fronting for the industry even if he’s not.

Voters are not only failing to give the White House credit for its economic successes but finding it guilty of transgressions it didn’t commit. The opposition is more than happy to pump up that confusion. When Mitch McConnell appeared on ABC’s “This Week” last month, he typically railed against the “extreme” government of “the last year and a half,” citing its takeover of banks as his first example. That this was utter fiction — the takeover took place two years ago, before Obama was president, with McConnell voting for it — went unchallenged by his questioner, Christiane Amanpour, and probably by many viewers inured to this big lie.
 
The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support. 

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more me mpower to those who greased the skids. 

We can blauch of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust’s malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual. 
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If you want to read the entire editorial click on the link.

20 comments:

joared said...

I've wondered about many of the same issues you raise, especially during the past ten years. You've put it very well as does Frank Rich.

As for the broadcasters and political figures you name (I generally avoid even writing their names since I don't want to give them the publicity they want) -- I think much of what they say is calculated to get them attention at any cost (think of that last BO -- I could be snarky about those initials but I believe name calling is destructive, too -- episode on "The View": both pgms benefit from the controversy publicity)-- it's mostly a game for them and they're laughing all the way to the bank and at their followers, but lovin' the power. They're the political version of "shock jocks." They really exercise no judgment to avoid inciting the extremists and count on support of people who are susceptible to being influenced by their words.

Arlene said...

Is it because they were taught to never question their elders or their religious leaders? Or are they genetically disposed to believe in a right leaning way? Are some people predisposed to think with their emotions instead of their brains?

I've asked myself these same questions. Certainly the conservative media has a lot to do with it. That's a force that has tremendously increased it's presence in the last couple of decades. I am just on the edge of despair these days wondering if right wing money is going to completely take over our beloved country. No hope for the middle or working classes if that happens.

rummuser said...

Darlene, once again, I would rather not comment on the American situation for the reason that I am not one. I would however add a comment that to expect politicians and vested interests not to manipulate the public is being very naive. They would not be what they are, if they are not manipulators. This is true in all democracies. Sad, but true.

paula said...

Thanks for posting this, Darlene. I wish Frank Rich -- or someone! --had written a piece this strong, months ago. Many bloggers have been saying the same thing, but we reach such a small pool of voters, and most are members of the choir.

Did you see the front page story about PAC financing in yesterday's Washington Post? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! I've got a quote from it on my blog, fyi.

Darlene said...

*Joared - I agree, those who should have no name are reckless and do incite people to do very bad things, including murder.

*Arlene - Thank you for your visit. I do hope you will return.

Yes, I fear we are in for very dark days.

*Rummuser - Unfortunately, you are right.

*Paula - I'm off to your blog to read it right now. Thanks for the tip.

Freda said...

I shall have to pay more attention to what is happening in your politics, it is all a bit confusing for me; but I do agree that people have tended to look for easy or straightforward answers rather than work things out for themselves.

Darlene said...

*Freda - Don't try to figure our politics out. It will drive you crazy. ;-)

Nance said...

"It isn't just politics. Religious leaders have been doing it since religion first became part of human equation."

Well stated; perhaps it is no accident that the Christian Coalition has chosen the Republican and tea parties to link to. I've pondered, also, what the psychological underpinnings of our party differences might be, but it probably doesn't work to assign thinking liberals to the left brain and emotional-reasoning based conservatives to the right, since those powerful Left Brainers tend to be the more rigid personalities who bow to authority. And it is that rigidity, that bow to authority that is at the basis, I think, of the core personality differences between conservatives and liberals.

It's measurable and somebody has surely done it. Let's find them!

Darlene said...

*Nance - Very well said, Nance. Do you think it possible to find them? I hope so.

Kay Dennison said...

I echo what you have said here as you well know. I'm tired of it but it's like a bad accident where you just can't look away.

Darlene said...

*Kay Dennison - That's a good analogy.

Xtreme English said...

i picked up a copy of a local newspaper this past weekend, and just about every PHOTO in the political section was of a REPUBLICAN. i doubt the democrats simply disappeared last week, so what does this say to us on a very basic level (like, um, the lizard brain)? that these are the important people?? perceptions become reality in their consequences. how do most of us perceive what's important in the news? by its presence there. it's not rocket science. this is the kind of thing we're up against. this is also why i am careful about whose names i include when i post. simply talking about someone is ADVERTISING in a sense, for which the beneficiary does not pay a cent.

Barry said...

I have been SO troubled of late and am at a loss and my hope has dwindled a bit. I have been disappointed by the Administration on a number of issues, but I must believe it has to be better than anything offered by the 'right'. Long before it became cliche, I was saying that this GOP is not my parent's GOP. Even though I remember my grandfather glued to the radio during Limbaugh's 3 hours of blabbering, I find it hard to believe he would be that cruel and hateful. Most of my family is not around to see what's going on, but I'd love to ask them about what's going on now. I've wanted to blog about this on my site, but I am so afraid of the nuts on the right that I don't want to. I may still yet. I only wish I had the vision and words that you have, Darlene. Thanks so much for putting it out there and sticking to your beliefs.

Jack Jodell said...

Darlene,
You are a most perceptive, intelligent, and observant woman. If there were more people just like you, the modern Goebbels propaganda machine known as Fox "News" would have only a handful of viewers and the Republicans would be a smaller minority party than the Green Party. Blog on, sister!

jane said...

Part of this may be explained in the context of "leaders/followers". Seems that a segment is predisposed to following thoughts of others thus giving them credibility and authority they have not earned or deserve. Indeed a sad comment to allow someone you don't even know to take over your mind and let them mold your thoughts rather than take the time and responsibility to form your own rationale. Certainly explains how some of these fringe beliefs in the name of religion have captured such a wide following because some articulate spokesman who knows how to capture the hearts and minds of
these willing "lemmings" who follow and defend these people.

Darlene said...

*Xtreme English - I doubt that anyone who reads my blog would be swayed by the name of a nutcase, but I see your point.

*Barry - One advantage of being so old is that I no longer care what the fringe group think of me and doubt that a whacko would bother with an old lady.

*Jack Jodell - Thank you Sir, for your kind words. You made my day.

*Jane - You nailed it. A charismatic leader can say anything and the naive will follow blindly.

Xtreme English said...

Darlene...Clearly I wasn't talking about you or your blog, but answering your question about how the media manipulate us. Just for (non)fun, take a look at the cover of the current issue of New York magazine. President Who?? How did she, being dumb as a box of rocks, get so ubiquitous? Because everyone was talking about her--not necessarily in flattering terms. There are plenty of nutcases around that nobody talks about, and we don't have irresponsible magazine editors proposing them as president.

Xtreme English said...

Even in jest....I know, the article can be considered humorous or satirical, but.....

ebdoug said...

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741

As I see this, The thugs in the prison industry greased the palms of the legislators who agreed to put the illegal immigrants in jail, house them, feed them and give them health care paid for by the residents of Arizona. the people of Arizona are falling for it.

Darlene said...

*ebdoug - Thank you for your visit. I do hope you will return.

Yes, that's about it and our Governor, Jan Brewer, is in the thick of it. I hope it costs her the election, but given the stupidity of the average voter it probably won't.