The Fear Machine, Part II: The Puppetmasters Made Transparent

Posted in General by TBartine on August 11, 2009 No Comments yet

In the first installment of “The Fear Machine,” spoke of (and to) Americans who have chosen to disrupt the American democratic discourse, make threats of violence, make racist attacks, level ridiculous claims of “socialism” and “nazism“…all based on nothing more than fear-inducing disinformation fed to them through conservative media outlets and lobbying/PR groups representing the insurance industry.

But those people…aren’t really the heart of the problem, are they?  No one expects the portion of Americans (it appears to be about 30%) who are functionally illiterate, or marginally educated, or ignorant (either as a product of upbringing or willfulness) to react any different to what they are hearing.  We can’t really expect them to perform research, much less to read the actual bill.  We know that many…personally despise the President and will condemn any action he performs, simply on the basis of his race.  We know that some, are religious fanatics who are easily convinced that their opponents are “evil,” or “demons,” or even “the antichrist”…others, are simply mentally unbalanced….some are both.  We can’t even realistically expect them to be able to determine which news sources are reliable or which are not…they are likely to gravitate to the sources that either 1) entertain them, or 2) Reinforce their existing beliefs and prejudices.

No – the heart of the problem, is THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW BETTER.  It is those people, generally educated and generally informed…who either for political, personal, or financial reasons are disseminating claims that THEY KNOW TO BE both false and dangerous.  And who SHOULD know how the 30% of Americans mentioned above will react when hearing the demagoguery and deceptions.

Just a few examples (certainly not an exhaustive list), from each category:


  • Glenn Beck: Beck whips his audiences into a furor over imaginary “FEMA Concentration Camps“…he compares health care reform to the work of the nazis, and outrageously claims that the reform plan would kill newborns and children.  He warns of Obama’s “brownshirts” (an ludicrous reference to fascism) and a nonexistent “enemies list.“  He incessantly accuses the current administration of wanting to take away American freedoms so it can rule with an “iron fist.” He even jokes about poisoning the Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  When criticized for his positions…he accuses the people leveling charges against him as using “pure hate” speech…and then proceeds to call the president a RACIST who has a “deep-seated” hatred for white people.  Now…Beck is an educated man.  Any man with any sense knows that these claims are ridiculous and unfounded.  Any man with any sense would know that these words might drive scared, easily-influenced people to consider thoughts of violence and rebellion against the government…even Beck knows this, as recently he started making statements BEGGING his listeners not to do anything desperate.  Why did he try to take a step back?  Because he loves the attention…he loves his ability to control the 30% of Americans who lack the critical reasoning to determine that his statements are plainly false…but HE IS SCARED at the same time, that his words will inspire these people to do the kinds of sick, stupid, and deadly things that HE KNOWS these people are capable of doing.  It is the very definition of “wanton disregard for the well-being of others.”  As Keith Olbermann put it, it is the equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater, and then begging the people to exit in a calm manner as they scream and trample each other to death.
  • Rush Limbaugh: Rush Limbaugh…also openly compares the President to the worse genocidal dictator in history, Adolf Hitler.  He claims the Obama health care logo…looks like a nazi swastika.  By making such claims, he is KNOWINGLY inciting the most easily manipulated portion of our citizens to “act against” a president and the democrats who he portrays as “evil.”  Rush paints the adminsitration as ruining this country, destroying the Constitution, ruling through autocracy, and desiring to kill American seniors.  Then…he tells “his people” that they are the true “patriots” and that anybody who criticizes their actions (especially if it’s the president) is a “racist” and a “tyrant.”  Rush knows…that these things aren’t true.  He’s been around long enough and has enough education to know about Hitler and the Nazis, and to know that there is NO reasonable comparison to the current administration.  He also knows that the president and the Democrats aren’t going to put seniors in “Statist Farms,” or to euthanize them. These statements are so false as to absurd to anyone with even the slightest education or even common sense.  He also knows…that 30% of the population, upon hearing these things, will be angered…some to the point of threats and violence.  He knows all this…and says these things anyway, because he longs for the cheers of the vast, ignorant throng that look to him and his words, whose passions flare at his ranting, who will accept as GOSPEL, even the most outlandish utterances…as long as they come from him.


  • Sarah Palin: Palin tells the people that she just can’t support a reform plan that would send her parents and downs-syndrome baby in front of a “death panel,” a plan that, in her words, is “downright evil.”  Three days later…she says the conversation of health care should be kept “civil.”  She knew there were no “death panels” in the plan, but she said it anyway, to draw attention to herself and in an attempt to increase her political stock through publicly attacking Obama’s plan.  She knew that 30% of Americans would believe her REGARDLESS of how obviously insane the contention was…and when she realized what some of the more unstable members of that 30% might do, out of fear of “death camps,” she quickly backpedalled and called for civility…it’s too late, the damage done, but she still thought worth an attempt to cover her own ass and to distance herself from the actions THAT SHE KNEW some headcase might take because of her words.
  • Most Republicans: I could list each Republican by name, along with his or her comments…but why do so, when they are all following the same script.  The RNC provided them with a memo TELLING THEM exactly what to say, and for the most part…they are consistently following with it.  They were told to describe the plan as a “government takeover,” and as the first step towards full “socialism.”  They were told to say that seniors would lose Medicare benefits, and the middle-class will carry the MASSIVE tax burden required to support the plan.  They were told to scare people into thinking that government bureaucrats would now be making their medical decisions and that “rationing” would lead to them dying without treatment.  They were told to tell us that the plan would cause ALL of the insurance companies to go bankrupt.  They were essentially told to paint a frightening picture of a communist America, where all people are poor, and where people…especially seniors…are dying in the streets without proper medical care.  They know better:  they’ve read the bill (or their staff has)…they’ve seen the Congressional Budget Office reports…and STILL they willfully lie to their supporters, stir their supporters’ fear and anger, and risk some of their more-unhinged supporters committing deadly acts.  And they do it so that they can “defeat Obama” and so they can please the health care companies who have paid for their campaigns.   It has nothing to do with the American people…for them, it doesn’t even have anything to do with health care.
  • Again…Most Republicans: They have perpetrated similar injustices against the American people on the subject of Obama’s legitimacy.  You need do no more than to watch the two videos made by Firedoglake to know this.  Firedoglake asked several Republicans, on camera, what they thought of the ridiculous “bither” theorists who claim the Obama is not an American citizen.  A DISGUSTING number of them…either supported the theory, or gave non-committal answers.  Now…they have SEEN the Obama birth certificate, and the documents certifying its validity.  They KNOW that Obama is an American citizen…but they also know that 30% of Americans, many out of pure racial hatred for the President, desperately want ANY reason to claim the president is serving office illegitimately.  They know these people are racists…and they know that support of this idea may lead to ANOTHER white supremacist committing a desperate act under the misguided notion that he or she is “saving the country“…but they lie anyway, because these people VOTE FOR THEM, and they know that it distracts people’s attention from the issues the president wants people to focus on.


  • Lobbyists and PR Firms: These groups are easy to understand.  They are paid MILLIONS every year to do three simple things.  One…they must wine, dine, and provide campaign contributions to politicians, in exchange for the politicians support of the health care industry.  Two…they must place tv and radio spots that will convince the American people to accept the positions of the health care industry, EVEN IF those positions are contrary to the person’s own self-interest.  Three…they must organize demonstrations and events filled with people who will disrupt any attempt to discuss health care reform…and to give the false impression that most people in America don’t want health care reform.  They are doing all these things…and they do them very well.  They don’t care about politics…they have no ethical or philosophical position on health care…they don’t even care about the best interests of Americans.  They care about one things…getting paid America’s Health Insurance PlansFreedomWorksAmericans for ProsperityConservatives for Patients’ Rights…these groups and others, funded by the corporate, health care, industrial complex, are organizing groups of the most uninformed/misinformed 30% of our population, pumping them full of disinformation (attacks that they KNOW to be false, but effective) to get them scared and angry, and coordinate events where these groups can vent all of their anger and ignorance in the most violent and disrespectful manner possible.  To these groups…this represents “a job well done” and there is no consideration for possible violent outcomes…for deaths…for destruction.

Now, of course…these categories represent over-simplifications.  Rush certainly also gains politically and financially from stirring the emotions of America’s most uninformed demographic.  The politicians I mentioned also benefit financially, in terms of contributions from the insurance industry lobbyists, when they choose to play to their constituents’ baser instincts.

And one thing that they ALL have in common…is that they are thinking of the benefit of themselves, their political party, their company, their bank account…with a wanton and complete disregard for the dangerous, event violent consequences of their actions.

And our “watchdogs,” in the media…are all but asleep.  For example, Palin’s claims of “death panels” that would take the lives of her parents and her baby…were so obviously false, and so obviously intended to do nothing more than scare the more ignorant members of our society, and to spur them to extreme actions.  Any objective news anchor or outlet would be completely justified in condemning the statement in the harshest terms possible…some non-objective, CONSERVATIVE pundits even did so.  But where was the mainstream media to clearly inform the public of its absurdity and recklessness?  As this columnist points out, the reaction from the press was to quote Palin’s comment, and perhaps to describe it as “harsh” or “controversial“….but they would not go so far as to even mention that it is FALSE, which lends the statement unintended credence.  As this columnist writes…the reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s comparisons between Obama and Hitler, were SHAMEFUL in their timidity.  As with the Iraq War, the press is again failing in its straightforward obligation to provide the public with INFORMATION…and when a political or celebrity pundit makes statements that are 1) patently false, and 2) designed to incite hatred and violence, it is the job of the press to inform the public of both the FACTS and to warn against the THREAT to our civil order.

In this…the ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN/FOX news, and a majority of the daily newspapers are as culpable as the fearmongers, as they seem to have ceded their responsibilities to liberal pundits and online bloggers, WHO CAN NOT DO THE JOB ALONE.

On that note, I will leave you with one such liberal pundit…speaking eloquently to this very issue.  Here’s Keith Olbermann’s latest “Special Comment:”

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