Conditioning the Masses in the Hall of Mirrors (II)

April 10, 2004

Comment: # 508

Discussion Threads - #459 was the first comment with this title Comment #s: 507, 505, 504, 503, 501, 499, 496, 494, 492, 491, 489, 487, 486, 485, 484, 481, 479, 476, 475, 469, 465, 461, 460, 459, 458

The ubiquitous practice of Front Loading has become the information engine for actuating the nightmare posed by James Madison on August 4, 1822 in his letter to W. T. Barry:

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

The architect of the Constitution was describing the central role of reliable information to the salutary functioning of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people (to borrow from Lincoln) ... that is, a democratic republic, where people's representatives are made accountable to the people.

But Front Loading is the political art of producing unreliable information by downplaying or misrepresenting the future consequences of a current decision in order to bring about approval of the desired course of action by the ultimate "decision makers," the people.

Whether a Front Loading operation takes the form of

  • "low balling" a cost estimate for a new weapon by the Pentagon [see Thread 2],

  • downplaying the future costs and overstating benefits of social expenditures,

  • cooking the budget books to show how a combination of tax cuts and defense spending increases will reduce future budget deficits, as OMB did for Ronald Reagan in 1981 and did again for George W. Bush in 2001 [See Atch 2 to Comment 468, i.e.,], or

  • procuring the people's support for an aggressive war in 2003 by hyping the popular fears of Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent links to the 9/11 terrorists together with the painless task of effecting a subsequent "regime change" [see Comment list in Discussion Thread]"

it should now be clear to even the most casual observer that the art of Front Loading has become central to the practice of politics and the maintenance of the two-party plutocracy in the Hall of Mirrors that is Versailles on the Potomac.

Front Loading is an art, because it requires creating a rosy vision connecting an unpleasant (present) reality to a pleasant (future) unknown in order to induce the "decision makers" to suspend their disbelief and buy into the vision. But the operation also requires the creation and evolution of powerful vested political interests to shore up that decision's real evolutionary pathway (or more popularly, to stay the course), once its painful consequences become apparent.

These somewhat contradictory requirements lead to a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle brush strokes by the artist, but the Front Loader's task has been made much easier by the overloading effect of the dumbing-down communications phenomena Reality TV, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Air America, and Omnibus Appropriations, to name but a few now corrupting the content of popular "information" and sweeping the masses into a post-information era that would incite the envy of Joseph Goebbels [Comment #407, for example, is Werther's exegeses of this evolution in the conservative wing of the American plutocracy].

Nevertheless, despite their variety, there is one universal, highly visible requirement that must accompany all Front Loading operations: for the practice to thrive and grow, the front loaders must always escape accountability, while those who object to their deception are always held accountable and punished for their objections.

To those readers who disagree or believe the front loaders will be held accountable by the checks and balances in our system of popular information, I pose the following question:

Query: Who in the list that follows has been accountable for his predictions about the future consequences of the decision to invade Iraq?

Dick Cheney, "Meet The Press" - March 16, 2003:

Cheney: The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but that they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that. [...]

[Tim Russert noted that the Army Chief of Staff had said we would need well over a hundred thousand troops to maintain order after the invasion.]

Cheney: I disagree. We need, obviously, a large force and we've deployed a large force. To prevail, from a military standpoint, to achieve our objectives, we will need a significant presence there until such time as we can turn things over to the Iraqis themselves. But to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement.

Kenneth Adelman, Washington Post, February 13, 2002:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

Richard Perle, Knight-Ridder, March 29, 2003:

Richard Perle, an influential former Pentagon official who is close to Rumsfeld, reportedly gave a briefing to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs 10 days ago in which he predicted that the war would last no longer than three weeks. "And there is a good chance that it will be less than that," he said.

David Frum, National Review, February 24, 2003:

But there is good news: If the preparations for the Iraq round of the war on terror have gone very, very slowly, the Iraq fight itself is probably going to go very, very fast. The shooting should be over within just a very few days from when it starts. The sooner the fighting begins in Iraq, the nearer we are to its imminent end. Which means, in other words, that this "rush to war" should really be seen as the ultimate "rush to peace."

GEN Eric Shinseki, US Army Chief of Staff, Testimony before Congress, February 2003:

"It will take at least 150,000 US troops in country, over a period of at least 10 years, to effect regime change in Iraq."

Paul D. Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense:

"In my opinion, General Shinseki doesn't know what he's talking about."

Chuck Spinney

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]