"In psychological warfare, the Colonel of Truth is always outranked by the General Lie."
-- Swami Beyondananda
Back in the Vietnam era, there was a popular joke about Lyndon Johnson. How can you tell when LBJ is lying? When he scratches his head, he is telling the truth. When his nose twitches, he is telling the truth. When he wiggles his ear, he is telling the truth. But when he opens his mouth ... he's lying.
Like so many political jokes, that one has been re-purposed many times to apply to the lying politician du jour. Even the lies are the same. If you haven't done so already, go rent Norman Solomon's movie, War Made Easy. There, you will see and hear Robert McNamara and LBJ justifying the Vietnam War -- and the Bush team and their media lackeys saying almost the exact same words to justify our invasion of Iraq 35 years later.
How can they continue to get away with it? Well, because the American people have been "trained" to accept being lied to. The prevailing cliche of lying politicians is so universally accepted, that ... well, it's universally accepted, so much so that you can probably get nine out of ten Americans to agree that, yes politicians lie. By making "lying politicians" an indisputable truth, it becomes like army food in the old days: something we are encouraged to complain about, but are powerless to change.
To understand how we have been collectively mentally manipulated to accept and embrace lies and liars, go check out Edward Bernays and Leo Strauss\. They shared the belief that the masses are meant to be manipulated by the elites, and their ideas have spawned the techniques and technologies that keep the American people enslaved under the illusion of freedom. And when dissatisfaction does well up, the channels are in place for the heat of anger to be expressed, while the light of insight remains hidden.
How Lie-ability Has Become An Asset
To understand how lie-ability becomes an asset, let's take a look at two liars -- your liar, and my liar. Your liar is the liar I love to hate, whose lies I believe should be transparent to everyone -- which is why he or she drives me crazy. For progressives, Glenn Beck fits that description perfectly. As the "ideal" purveyor of toxic disinformation, Beck builds credibility by beginning with "common sense" truths that seem indisputable. Into this mix, however, he inserts an IED (Intentionally Explosive Disinformation) that causes progressives to explode with rage, to the glee of his faithful audience.
Ready for Beck's favorite IED? George W. Bush was a progressive. Yes, according to Glenn Beck, because the Bush Administration grew big government to run the Iraq War, it makes him a "progressive." Does it make sense? Well, to conservatives who have learned that "progressives hate America and love big government," it makes a sort of half sense -- but who needs logic when you have fervent belief and an all-purpose straw man enemy? This is a recycled McCarthyist tactic that worked back when the enemy was communism. Now it's socialism, or Obamacare.
Because of the absurd outrageousness of this claim, it draws progressive fire: "Come on baby, fight my liar!" And, it gives so-called conservatives something to rally around. (I remember the first peace march I went to in New York back in the 60s, where I found myself face-to-face with a counter-demonstrator shouting, "Communist! Communist! Communist!" I calmly walked up to him, put my face close to his and asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me what a communist is?" He got a blank look on his face for a moment, and then he answered my question. "YOU! YOU! You're a communist!")
OK. So that's their liar. What about ours?
Strung Out On Hopium?
Last month, more than 500 concerned progressives attended an event at the University of San Francisco sponsored by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Convened by Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, the one-day event focused on how the progressive wing of the Democratic Party could influence President Obama to be the Obama the people voted for.
In addition to providing comic relief as the Swami, I was also given a panel spot to address the war in Afghanistan. I used that platform to suggest that the war is a symptom of the disease that has had America in a stranglehold for more than 60 years -- a Military Industrial Complex in support of the American Empire. Earlier, a military veteran had commented that in his experience, the President had limited power to make any real change, and that the Military Industrial Complex held the real power. Another individual suggested that until we address the very questionable "official 9/11 story," we would unable to fundamentally change American foreign policy.
I was disappointed -- but not surprised -- as the gathered progressives rejected the opportunity to step outside the political matrix. None of the other panelists who spoke would address either the forces that hold the President in check, or the horrific notion that our own government might have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. It was reminiscent of the classic Holy Fool story, where the Fool is down on his knees in a parking light one evening. A friend asks him what he is doing.