October 10, 2000
Put me down for $100 million on "Disinformation" in the fifth
by Stephen Bassett
Washington, DC Before going further, it would be best if any impressionable small children left the room and sharp objects were placed out of reach - just to be on the safe side. Its going to get ugly.
When you were a kid, if youre over 50, it was called propaganda. The evil Sovietskies were masters at it. If a government and its controlled press feeds people a bunch of baloney, the people make sandwiches and feast on it every time. By the time the 60s came along you were getting a little suspicious your own government was maybe in the baloney business, too. You were right.
Who knows why people do this? In the sixteen and seventeen hundreds (as the recent movie Patriot has reminded us) the ruling class told people the way you fight a war with honor is to march out into a field shoulder to shoulder, without cover, stand a few yards from the enemys lines and shoot at them in ordered cadences. The enemy would do the same. Amazingly hundreds of thousands of perfectly sane men did exactly that and were slaughtered. Level 1 of Doom II was harder. The generals remained in the background, of course, marveling at the raw, stupid courage of these baloney eaters and wondering what they would have for dinner. Pheasant perhaps, with a nice pâté, certainly not baloney they just serve it, they dont eat it.
It goes on. Recently the fine leaders of Yugoslavia informed their loyal citizenry it was time to kill all the Albanians. No problem, let me finish this pastry, Ill be right with you. In Rwanda, some minister goes on the radio and informs the Hutus its time to get out the machetes and kill all the Tutsis who, sadly, had all been possessed by demons. Sure, just a second, that machete is around here somewhere.
Because the word propaganda had been so thoroughly associated with communist countries, another term was needed for its practice in the United States disinformation, which as it turned out, needed a cousin, misinformation, to fully describe the subtleties of the art. These should probably be combined into one word, dismisinformation, which has the added benefit of describing exactly what one has to do if one is to be led into some new manner of idiocy.
It is notable the UFO/ET research movement was front and center in bringing the terms disinformation and misinformation to the general publics attention. The United States is a sophisticated nation with sophisticated, educated citizens. No one is going to be foolish enough to try and sell the old target practice theory of warfare to this group.
No, they are going to sell you on putting nuclear, laser and even chemical weapons into space. Pitch taking the product of 10,000 years of technological development in the making of arms, the finest fruit of the Homo Sapien brain, and put it into orbit where it can be properly exercised before introducing it to the rest of the galaxy. And guess what, many of you, most of you, are going to slap some lettuce, tomato and mayo on that order and wolf it down.
Now, you dont serve up a load of crap entrée like that without a soup, salad and appetizer. Which, of course, brings us to PACs, lobbyists and soft money.
PACs, Lobbyists and Soft Money
Lobbyists are the root of evil in American civic life. Get rid of them and justice will emerge from the milieu of politics like the risen Phoenix. BALONEY.
Get rid of lobbyists and the nation will fall on its ass. What exactly are a group of concerned citizens to do? There are umpteen thousand issues at play at any given time. The average member of congress has maybe mastered a few dozen (optimistic). A hundred of you desperately want your issue advanced (dam this river, stop this logging, end this tax, build this monument), so you all jump on a plane, fly to Washington, spend a few $million and wander around the Capitol like a deer herd foraging for tree bark. Take a few meetings, fly home and wait for the action to begin. Not.
Ok, you could pay one of your members to become expert on the issue and move to Washington to press the case on a consistent basis, week in, week out. Youll save a fortune and still have a life. No, wait, then that person would be a lobbyist.
Cant do that. Lobbyists bribe office holders, drag them off to golf junkets, serve them really good, gourmet baloney and mesmerize these poor public servants with their dazzling rhetoric.
The wealthy ruling elite love this stuff. Gawd how they love it. If every lobbyist was stuffed into a fleet of space shuttles and launched to the moon, thousands of public interest issues would be disemboweled. Meanwhile the private and corporate money would still be able to influence governance in a thousand ways before the average Jane and Joe had their teeth brushed in the morning.
Get it. Spread disinformation about lobbying and lobbyists and convince the average person theyre the problem. Pretty soon you reduce the entire realm of social activism to the writing of letters to the editor.
Ok, maybe lobbyists provide a valuable service. But the PACs, the PACs, now there is the real evil. PAC politics is ruining the nation. What a terrible idea a formal entity empowered by the Federal Election Commission to receive donations (only from individuals), educate the public and influence governance. BALONEY.
Every single social concern in the country has a PAC. A million individuals can target such a concern, and for $10 a person, bring enormous pressure on the Congress to act when it would rather just adjourn. But all those huge corporations and special interest groups pouring money into their PACs would be muzzled if all PACs were gone. Right? Wrong. All those corporations and special interests would still have huge bank accounts. Its the poor, the disenfranchised, the persecuted, the average Joe and Jane meaning you who are out of the game. A committee is a matter of right to assemble. Politics is how things get done. Action is what makes the world go round. So a political action committee is how you direct resources to make the nation better.
The two political parties and their candidates will rail against the terrible PACs and evil lobbyists. They mean it, right? Wrong. Its disinformation. They want you eat that baloney and not send your $10 to a PAC that might bust their chops about something actually important. PACs are not going anywhere. The influence of the moneyed elite is not going anywhere. They want you to hate PACs and lobbyists so you dont go anywhere.
If a PAC breaks the law, if a lobbyist makes a bribe, if money is raised illegally, put people in jail, take away the registration. Just dont buy the baloney.
Ok, ok. So maybe law abiding PACs and lobbyists are actually good things in American society. But soft money, ah, soft money, that is truly the root of all political evil. Right? Wrong again.
Soft money is the reason elections cost so much. Right? Wrong. Elections cost too much because the public pays too much. Its the same reason guys batting .275, who cant throw to first base, are making $3 million a year in the Major League.
The gawd awful primary season has been stretched out so long the campaigns last for a year or longer. Some winners just start campaigning again the day after the election. Shorten the campaign season to three months and watch the costs go down.
Some fool spends two generations of inherited wealth to run for dogcatcher, and the public votes him in. Why not vote in the other candidate? She spent a couple thousand dollars and actually has some very good positions. Reward grotesque spending with victory and watch it grow.
Yeah, but what about all those soft money ads spouting all those ideas you dont like about candidates you do like. What about it? Its called free speech. Money is speech. Information, the truth, persuasion, ideas, debate it all costs money. Dont like what those ads say? Dont support that party. Dont support those ideas. If a political party wants to spend $100 million airing ludicrous ads on your TV, its ok, its the First Amendment. Turn them off and vote for the other party.
Campaign finance reform is one of the truly ingenious disinformation efforts of our time. Both parties tell you how much it is needed, work you up about evil dollars being spent by evil people. At the same time they are turning you off to lobbying and political action committees. If you buy into this scam, you lose two of the most important political tools available to help make a better country, and they get to cut back on their soft money raising by having it replaced with tax funded dollars out of your pockets the dollars they dont want you to give to a lobbyist or to a PAC pressing an issue you care about. And they get to keep all of their personal money to influence the nations business in ways you can only dream about.
PACs, lobbyists and soft money arent the problem with electoral politics in America. Baloney is the problem, along with the people who keep buying it, when, with a little thought, they could be having a really fine vegetarian lasagna.
Copyright © 2000 Stephen Bassett
"Get it. Spread disinformation about lobbying and lobbyists and convince the average person theyre the problem. Pretty soon you reduce the entire realm of social activism to the writing of letters to the editor."