“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Big Lie, Again

Most people who follow politics and propaganda know the term “The Big Lie.”

The Big Lie is a technique to shape the public’s opinion. It relies on repeated lies of a grand scale. Its most infamous use has usually been attributed to Hitler — documented in his 1925 autobiography “Mein Kampf.”

According to an Office of Strategic Services psychological profile of Hitler quoted on the Wikipedia Web site, “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

However, the use of that propaganda technique predates World War II.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) pioneered the morally bankrupt approach to social and the political philosophy, according to catholiceducation. org: “Machiavelli didn’t just lower the moral standards; he abolished them. More than a pragmatist, he was an anti-moralist. The only relevance he saw morality having to success was to stand in its way. He taught that it was necessary for a successful prince ‘to learn how not to be good’ (“The Prince,” ch. 15), how to break promises, to lie and cheat and steal (ch. 18).”

Americans are not immune to the political manipulation of The Big Lie. Nor does the use of this propaganda technique by government leaders restricted to major or worldwide issues or events. The Big Lie can be used on a smaller event which would become part of the tapestry of a larger into broader picture.

If this sounds rather vague and elliptical, let’s focus on a particular event and the use of The Big Lie in this instance.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been on the hot seat for several months, as are others in the Department of Justice, for their dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. The two most prominent of the fired federal prosecutors were Carol Lam, in San Diego, and David Iglesias, of New Mexico.

At the root of their dismissal and that of other attorneys was not political philosophy, but political interference.

The Bush-Rove White House could not tolerate federal prosecutors who refused to turn a system of blind justice into a partisan political tool against the administration’s enemies.

Look no further than our neighbor, New Mexico, and Republican Sen. Pete Domenici’s and U.S. Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s interference in Iglesias’ investigations into other politicians.

So, where is The Big Lie in all this?

Right-wing commentators continue to compare this purge of political honesty in the Justice Department with a new administration’s dismissal of almost all U.S. attorneys, a common practice at the federal level.

For the second time in as many months, the Amarillo Globe-News repeated on Monday a form of The Big Lie: “Law review: Perhaps the Bush administration and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired eight U.S. attorneys for political reasons. Is that what is truly motivating Congress — not to mention the national media — to tar and feather Gonzales? Here’s how CNN described President Clinton’s dismissal of all 93 U.S. attorneys shortly after he took office in 1993: ‘A one-day clean sweep.’ This ‘sweep’ barely registered on the national media radar. Then there’s this quip from U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who handed out the 93 pink slips: ‘I want teamwork where we’re both interested in achieving justice throughout America.’ One president gets rid of 93 U.S. attorneys for political reasons, and another allegedly does the same to eight. Something doesn’t add up.”

Here’s what doesn’t add up: On Feb. 18, the Globe-News’ publisher wrote a column about his commitment to accuracy.

To my mind, that means including and explaining fully all information about an issue, not selectively omitting relevant information.

I don’t understand why, then, the piece didn’t explain that every administration performs a clean sweep when it takes over while noting how rare it is for an administration to fire a small number of these types of appointees.

After looking at the full record, we know it’s because those people refused to become political bullies and hit men.

The strategy here is The Big Lie: Continue to condemn the Clinton administration for doing what other administrations have done and making a change of administration equivalent to using public servants to further a morally bankrupt and probably illegal political agenda.

The hope is to repeat this lie often enough that people will believe it.

I don’t think residents of the Panhandle are that gullible.