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The Big Lie
How the Right Wing Controls Millions
By Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June 1, 2019

Robert Mueller appeared on TV and told the nation “If we had had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Watching it live, I didn’t think there was anything unusual in that quote. After all, he says the same thing directly in his report. Anyone who read the report...oh, right. Most of the members of Congress haven’t read the report. And they’re the ones responsible for acting on the information it contains. It’s a sign of the times when the best thing you can say about your Congressional representative is that he is too lazy and illiterate to function. But Mueller really didn’t say anything that wasn’t in the redacted version of his report. I’m amazed how many people didn’t know that.

One Republican did read the report, a Republican from Michigan named Justin Amash. He immediately declared that Trump should be impeached, becoming the first Republican to favor impeachment. He held a town hall in his district to inform his constituents of why he reached the decision he did, and to defend it. Not your typical Republican, most of whom avoid their constituents these days. He wound up getting a standing ovation from an initially hostile crowd when he laid out his case.

According to Brad Reed over at Raw Story;

In an interview with NBC News, Michigan Trump voter Cathy Garnaat said that she went to Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) town hall this week to challenge his view that Trump should be impeached — and she got caught off guard when he directly quoted from the Mueller report to justify his views.

“I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump,” she admitted. “I hadn’t heard that before.”

Garnaat went on to explain that none of the news shows she watches or listens to have ever gone into depth about the contents of the Mueller report.

“I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated,” she explained.

In an earlier incident of truth meeting conservatives, Bernie Sanders went into the lion’s den, a town hall on Faux News, and laid out his case for universal health care, a high minimum wage, free college, and a system of not-for-profit banks through the Post Office. Serenely confident that Sanders had only made the case that he was an American-hating Commie, the host asked the audience to indicate their displeasure with Sanders. They gave him a standing ovation.

Don’t be surprised.

The vast right wing conspiracy has been working for decades to section off a segment of the American population and essentially turn them into a cult, suspicious and disdainful of any outside information. In fact, the morning Mueller made his announcement, so damning to Trump, I was curious and looked to see how Faux News was playing it. Their header was “ "Special counsel makes rare public statement to resign, says team was unable to charge Trump" No mention of the reason why he didn’t charge Trump. Faux News viewers are ignorant, and Faux News spends a lot of time and money to keep them that way.

While Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has always presented a grave danger to western democracies, and is inimical to freedom and the non-wealthy, Murdoch is hardly functioning in a vacuum. For years, a nest of think tanks, blogs, radio networks, trash political “Christian” televangelists, along with corporations snapping up local newspapers, radio and television, have devoted themselves to being one seamless propaganda machine.

One favored way is social media memes. Prior to that, they were mimeographs and copies in their twentieth generation, passed around at bars and water coolers and in chain letters.

The method of transmission has gotten more sophisticated, but the propaganda tactics remain about the same.

I got one passed along to me the other day, and in a time when the Republicans are working to lie their way to success, it seems a really good example of the messaging used by them.

This one (replicated in full below) is putatively written by a family mother who is distraught because her children are supposedly being driven out of California by draconian policies promoted by Gavin Newsom, the rookie governor of the state.

I’m not worried about copyright infringement. It’s anonymous, which is an odd thing for a public letter to a political figure, and its actual provenance is open to considerable speculation. It may have been written by one of the stable of writers they keep at Heritage Foundation, or Regnery Press, or perhaps somewhere in Russia. It’s so ham-fisted I think it could be a Russian troll outfit.

I doubt very much the actual authors are going to step forward and demand credit.

The opening lines are unalloyed pathos: “The boxes are filled. The bags are packed. The hearts are breaking. My family is about to be divided, separated, perhaps forever. I wish you cared.” Oh, the heartbreak! Did any family ever suffer so? Why, this is as bad as the Trail of Tears, or the railroads to Auschwitz!

But it gets worse: these innocents, driven from California by the cruel whips of Governor Gavin, are just one of millions, perhaps even billions, being driven from California!

But there is hope! They are leaving the foul pestilence of the Golden State and headed for a shining beacon of hope: “The Real America”. She doesn’t describe this real America, but I have the impression it’s something like Pleasantville before the colored folks showed up and ruined it. It is, however, in a “southern state” where people show their patriotism by flying the Confederate flag. Apparently it differs from all of California in that it doesn’t have dog feces and hypodermic needles on the sidewalks. That right there eliminates most southern states.

The author cites a rise in communicable diseases, which while unfortunately true, isn’t climbing as steeply in California as it is in the south (CDC). Children are at grave risk, it seems, but again, the South, which the Polly Klaas Institute identifies as having 38% of non-family/kidnapping child abductions) has a far higher rate than the West (28%). It would seem our refugees are leaping from the frying pan and into the fire. vThe author concludes the first litany of grievances by telling the governor, who had nothing to do with the imaginary complains, that “[Y]ou’re concerned that I might ask for a plastic straw.” Overuse and misuse of plastics is a growing crisis, one that will eventually kill more people than kidnapping, drug users, and Fresno combined. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t hurt anything except plastic straw manufacturers, but for the noble Republican princess writing this, it’s the cliché that broke the camel’s back.

The woman (or study group, or St. Petersburg sweatshop) bitterly blames Newsom for not caring about the middle class. Which is being destroyed in America, it’s true, but one can thank thirty years of Reaganomics and supply-side nonsense for that. Granted, California did inflict Reagan on the land, and we’re trying to live that down. But Newsom is continuing Brown’s policy of shifting the tax burden upward to the wealthy, and increasing wages. That’s how you build a strong middle class. You don’t get one by giving your pension and half your income to your employer and hope they’ll build a museum in your town or something.

California, the whine continues, has car thefts and car chases. And that it does, most assuredly. But her answer, which seems to involve locking up millions more people, has been proven not to work. At one point, California’s “tenth largest city” was the prison population, and all that did was breed gangs, hardened criminals, and organized crime. The author complains about the high rate of recidivism (61% in California, compared to 60% nationwide), but offers no solution beyond, “lock them up.”

Next on the laundry list of whines is taxes. Yes, California has high taxes on gasoline, sales tax, etc. Part of the problem is that millions of wealthy Californians are protected from property taxes and wealth taxes. That has changed in recent years, and California is catching up from decades of Republican “feed the rich” misrule.

And yes, California has a problem with homeless people. But again, Newsom didn’t create that problem, and has been working to address it for years. One wonders what the fictional author of the letter has done to address the issue. Besides putting an apartment up for rent by moving out, that is.

It goes on in this vein, an unending and self-pitying whine about how horrible California is, and how wonderful the South is. Gas is only $2.00 a gallon! According to the writer. Except that the cheapest gas in the country is Mississippi, nobody’s idea of paradise. California’s gas is $1.50 a gallon more than Mississippi’s, but California state taxes on gasoline amount to 35 cents a gallon. Mississippi’s is 18 cents a gallon. Obviously something else is at play here, such as price manipulation by the oil industry.

Why isn’t she just joining her family and moving? After all, there’s no reason for her to stay in California, and every reason to move. Doesn’t having to pick hypodermic needles out of her flip-flops and paying $1.50 because state taxes are 17 cents higher get old?

But the nature of this letter isn’t to portray a real situation. The woman does not exist. Her situation does not exist. Many of the items she lays at the feet of Gavin Newsom either don’t exist, or are things he has nothing to do with. They are blatant manipulation, with a glorious disregard for accuracy or truth.

The intent of the letter is to inflame, and arouse feelings of resentment against California, a state that has, since 2008, consistently performed better economically and socially than the rest of the country. It is a success story of liberal governance, and the right wingers must pump out endless lies to vilify it and make it look like one of their own disasters, such as Kansas or Wisconsin.

The article is written with scant regard for any truth whatsoever, and uses almost ridiculous levels of emotional manipulation to try to inflame the reader and shut down critical thought.

The right wing has been spewing this nonsense by the thousands over the past 40 years or more. One thing they did learn from the Nazis and the Communists was that propaganda is a powerful tool, if applied unremittingly and relentlessly.

The Cathy Garnaats of America—and there are millions of them—aren’t vile deplorables who take glee in Trump’s viciousness and contempt for American values. They don’t hear about that. Instead, they hear about how Trump is a victim of anti-American forces who hate and despise everything they hold dear. Today’s minute of hate is Meghan Markle, princess and wife of Prince Harry. She doesn’t want to meet with Trump in London this week, and so Faux News is gleefully leading a chorus on their site of racist and sexist abuse. The deplorables, little better than Nazis, love it. The cultists, usually possessed of a more human core, turn from the viciousness, but wonder how Markle could be so disrespectful to such a wonderful president. They really do.

They may have been born ignorant, as all of us have, but the right wing has used emotional manipulation and lies to keep them ignorant. Many, like Garnaat, need only be confronted by reality. Others will refuse to accept it and have a highly negative reaction.

The propaganda won’t end, because when you have to lie to the people to get your own way, they have to be big, simple lies, repeated endlessly.

But if Trump is indicted for his crimes in the House (which is what Impeachment is), the propaganda machine will break down in the face of a mountain of evidence, and won’t be able to prevent the Garnaats from seeing what is true.

In the meantime, read the piece attached. It’s a good lesson in finely honed propaganda, and a chance to hone your own reasoning skills.

Ice Fall, my science fiction novel, is now available in PDF format (FREE!)
Also available for free: PDF of Rocketships and Stuff Preview of my upcoming novel, Earth Fall: Paperback

Posted: June 14, 2019

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