The Programming of America: Pt II, Selling War

This is part II of my series on how Americans are programmed to think in certain ways without thinking, without questioning. If you missed part I regarding marketing in various forms (not always called marketing and advertising, sometimes called many other things), you can find part I here.

In part II of this series, I focus on war (military adventurism) and how it is sold like everything else in this country, though in a more complex form. We are sold warfare as a positive from early childhood until death. This is something I have written about previously, though often split between different subjects and articles.

Corporate (Military Industrial Complex) influence does not begin with the news media, as far as our life exposure is concerned. It begins in grade school. Think back to history classes and how past US wars were presented to you. Heroism throughout. Never the slightest question that each and every conflict we have been engaged in was justified and ethical. Never a hint that our soldiers and officials issuing orders have committed war crimes, which they absolutely have when you omit “patriotism” as a rationale. Protests against Vietnam barely gain mention and the protests which happened against WWII, Korea and Iraq are never mentioned in grade school. For all I know, they’re not even mentioned in college. Nor is it mentioned that the Nazi and Communist parties had wide support in the US prior to WWII. The Communist and Socialist parties had wide support in the US right up until McCarthyism.

For this, we have to look at the tangled ties between textbook publishers, politicians and the deep pockets of weapons manufacturers who donate to the politicians. Then the politicians set the standards by which textbooks are chosen. This is stage one of selling war to the American public, beginning with childhood.

Then the next stage comes as teenagers. Partly through movies and TV which glorify warfare without showing images of the reality involved. Military recruiters at schools and patriotic displays at sports events. Commercials showing someone in a uniform, then transitioning to that person in civilian life, uninjured, no PTSD from horrors they have witnessed or directly taken part in. They are all smiling, clean, drug-free, no therapy.

Who pays for all those displays and commercials? You do. Who pays for those textbooks? You do. Who acts as consultants to Whollyweird for the movies and TV shows? The military. Who pays for them to act in that role? You do. If a movie tries to show the military in an unflattering light, the military will bring pressure against the studio. That pressure can include coercion by coordinating with local authorities for licensing purposes. The military has “consulted” on tens of thousands of movies and shows over decades. Who pays for their “consultations”? You do. Who pays to prosecute and incarcerate peaceful antiwar protesters? You do.

Only after considering all the above do we reach the point where we can consider corporate “news” media and their paid portrayal of our military endeavors. Try and name a US military conflict which the media has ever opposed. I’ll wait. I’m 57 years old and have never seen the media object to a US military action. Look at the reactions we have seen when it was even suggested decreasing military presence in Middle Eastern countries or any peace efforts with Russia and North Korea.

No, you will never see anything more of the devastation wrought by US warfare beyond a few ruined buildings, blamed on “terrorists”. You will not see children splattered on walls and streets by our bombs. You will not see victims with limbs torn off and open head injuries showing exposed brain tissue. You’re more likely to see video of our missiles and aircraft launching, preferably in low light so it highlights the afterburner effect to make it visually appealing or exciting. You will hear rave reviews about drone warfare which makes warfare bloodless and without physical risk for our soldiers. You will not hear that drone pilots get PTSD too. You will not hear that children in the countries being bombed by drone warfare are terrified of blue skies because that’s when the drones are most likely to strike.

Cue the advertisements for Boeing, Raytheon and Northrup-Grumman. Paid sponsors of your favorite corporate news outlet. Who pays for the ads you see from them? You do. That is your tax dollars at work. Who pays for the drones? You do.

Up next, interviews with high ranking military officials and veterans speaking of how we need more bombs, more guns, more drones, more troops to kill more terrorists (children, mothers, grandparents living in their own countries, sitting in their own living rooms). It’s their own fault for living there. Their existence on top of “our” oil fields makes them enemies. Saying we need to invade another country and another. Never once do you hear a diplomat saying we need peaceful negotiations to end a conflict.

When the media and politicians talk about manufacturing weapons, they consistently do so couched in terms of “creating jobs”. What they fail to mention is that building bridges also creates jobs while not intentionally killing people. Universal healthcare would creates tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of jobs while improving and extending lives. Yet that we cannot afford. They fail to mention that to keep producing weapons means we must keep waging wars for as long as possible. When one war ends (if ever), another one must be started and another and another. We keep paying for each and every one of those conflicts with money ripped from our social support programs and educational system. We pay with creating more enemies and with trade losses. They fail to mention that producing weapons is only part of the cost. Then we have to pay for shipping those weapons, providing security for those weapons, targeting systems with training and salaries to operate them, and launching those weapons with training and salaries.. They fail to mention that weapons manufacturing frequently does extensive environmental damage long before the damage from using those weapons. Domestic environmental damage which we pay for in dollars, ill health and deaths. Yay, jobs..

Cue ads for oil companies who profit from our seizure of resources in the countries where we murder innocent civilians.

Next up, a report on how we cannot afford universal healthcare but we need to give more money to the VA for their limited socialized medical system which spends tens of billions per year on drugs and medical equipment. Wecan consider those VA costs to be subsidies for the oil companies, military contractors and drug companies who bribe politicians and advertise on corporate media to sell you on the next war. Who pays for the VA, even if you receive no care from them? You do. Who pays for the advertising? You do.

Cue ads from drug companies and medical insurance corporations. Maybe with big flags in the background telling you to support the troops. Yay, ‘Murca.

Up next, a report on the homeless epidemic. Many of whom are veterans. An epidemic, stated as though it’s a disease. As though the homeless are a disease, rather than victims of a diseased system which rapes them violently, bleeds them dry and leaves them to die by the roadside like bags of garbage thrown away by our government.

We have the VFW, the VA, insurance companies that specialize in veterans, magazines targeting veterans, Memorial Day, Labor Day… Have you ever noticed we do not have a single day or nationally recognized organization dedicated to the propagation of peace?

From childhood to death Americans are sold sterilized images of warfare. Shoved into developing minds in between basic math and English, as though mass slaughter is a mere fact of life. As long as it happens in other countries, not our own. Deaths at the hands of our war machine are sold as entertainment. The next war is sold as “humanitarian intervention” yet we are never shown the results when the bombs have stopped. Disease, famine, poisoned water, decimated economies, destroyed lives. Effects which take generations to “recover” from, as if recovery is possible. No reviews of success or failure, just advertising for the next war, the next “threat” which is never actually a threat, the next country we must save from themselves, the next investment opportunity.

Never question the advertising, the programming of your children or of yourself. Cheer for the veterans, pray for the widows, widowers and children of veterans but never ask why the war was fought. If you ask questions or object, you will be branded a traitor, un-American, unpatriotic, a pariah. Maybe a Russian troll.

Asking questions means you are brainwashed, not questioning means you think for yourself. Just believe, have faith, wave your flag and hold your hand over your.. eyes and ears. Keep telling yourself, “We’re the Good Guys©” until you convince yourself. Then keep watching the marketing machine, keep cheering as you act as free advertising for the death machine.

The Programming of America: Pt I, Marketing

This is my first installment of a series regarding how marketing pervades our lives in ways most do not realize and what the negative effects are. Be sure to subscribe to know when a new installment drops.

I continuously see Americans claiming to think for themselves while their words, opinions, attitudes and behaviors tell a far different story. This is no surprise. We live in a society that is ruled far more by marketing (advertising) than most Americans ever grasp. That’s because they fail to understand the very nature of marketing at it’s very core.

If you study marketing, what you find is that the core structure of marketing lies in a distorted study of psychology with the express intent of manipulation. In other words, it’s brainwashing on a massive scale.

If you look at a syllabus or course description of college marketing programs, you find references such as “customer engagement”, “consumer behavior and analysis”, “expanding value” (in other words, exaggerating claims) and so forth. You may have already heard such things as “creating a market”, “identifying a need”. What these things come down to means convincing people they need something they did not need last week.

Yet even that does not go far enough to explain how people are manipulated. One must understand that corporate news and political campaigns are forms of marketing. I’ve said before and say again, follow the money. Look at who is paying for advertising on a network. Look at who is donating money to campaigns.

Marketing is most frequently based on emotion. The emotion used most frequently is fear. Fear of social isolation. Is your breath fresh enough? Is your shirt white enough? Is your cologne as good as the next guy? Does your bra lift enough? (Look at old bra commercials, claiming to lift and separate and compare to push-up bras today.) Fear of pain. New insoles? How much pain medication can your liver withstand? Fear of illness. Fear of depression. In other words, using emotions to make you fear your own emotions.

Political campaigns use many of the same tactics and people with the same training in marketing techniques. That’s a large part of what campaign managers do. Identify “needs” of voters. Identify or manipulate fears to exploit.

The most interesting part of this is that it takes very little effort to convince people to be afraid and immense effort to convince them their fears are unfounded. The vast majority of people are programmed to react emotionally, rather than think critically.

Know who else makes extensive use of the exact same psychological techniques? The “intelligence” agencies. The CIA, NSA and FBI are well known to use propaganda in other countries and to have used propaganda in the US itself. For some reason, Americans think that any such manipulations inside this country are things of the past. Citizens also think they are not prone to being controlled by these techniques, even as they tune in to corporate media and watch people like James Clapper being used as a source of information on major networks. Even as “intelligence” agency veterans run for public office.

There are no Jedi mind tricks at play here. People are actually easy to understand, easy to manipulate. Most people want some authority figure telling them what to do, what to think. More “likes” means something is valid. Bigger is better. More viewers means higher quality. Join the crowd, march in line, buy the most popular items, watch the latest blockbuster on opening weekend, vote for the popular candidate but keep telling yourself how you’re different from all the rest.

Even here on what is supposedly independent media I see articles from major media sources with the highest views, likes and comments. Nothing about those articles are any different from what is published on the core websites of those corporate sources. So, why are readers even bothering to be on independent media sites if all they are going to do is follow corporate media?

Does it make any sense? Or have they just programmed themselves by their own choice?

No, The Job Market Is Not Growing. It Isn’t Even Stable.

Once again, Trump announces that jobs and wages are up. Not only do his followers cheer and regurgitate that statement but MSM continues pushing how well the economy is doing and employment is up.

When you look at the facts, they tell a very different story.

Layoffs and bankruptcies. Ford announced 25,000 layoffs in December. GM announced thousands more. GE announced thousands more. Toys R Us no longer exists. Sears/Kmart is bankrupt. A couple dozen other corporate chains have declared bankruptcy, downsized or completely disappeared. Carrier has exported jobs to Mexico. Harley-Davidson has shipped jobs to Thailand.

Many people only look at these employers and the announced jobs directly. They fail to examine the downstream effect of these job losses. There is always a downstream effect.

Downstream effects. Each one of these companies contracts and does business with other, smaller companies. Companies that produce components for vehicles, supplies stocked in stores. In addition, you have to consider truck drivers no longer delivering goods. Maintenance contractors. If the auto companies were purchasing American produced steel, that impacts that industry. Then you have dock workers, trains and more.

Further downstream. Yet the impact does not stop there. You have to look even further downstream. Each one of those workers is also a consumer and taxpayer. When consumers lose their income, they spend less or stop spending. Their skills are rather specific in some cases, which now places a constriction on future employment opportunities. In geographic areas where one manufacturer was the only employer for that field, workers may be forced to relocate. Loss of sales and property tax revenue impacts municipal operations, like schools, libraries, etc. Decreasing tax revenue and population means municipal employees will then be laid off with no job opportunities in that community.

Limited skills, limited options. With manufacturers that produce items like vehicles that require a specific skill set and limited number of manufacturers in this country, relocation may have little or no benefit and indeed incur cost which they cannot afford. It is unquestionable that most will be forced to take jobs with lower wages. Possibly in locations where cost of living is higher than they have been paying.

Continued middle class erosion. This is how the middle class continues to erode. To the point that we have reached critical mass. This is how people wind up working for minimum wage when they once had a living wage income. As they climb further down the income ladder, they are less able to afford a new vehicle, a new home, new clothes and may default on current debts.

Fake numbers. The numbers cited for unemployment are false numbers. They omit those who have simply stopped looking for work. Yet they include those who work insufficient hours to make an effective living. If you work 1 hour a week, you are considered employed.

The numbers included for new jobs created do not state a balance. Those numbers exclude the number of jobs which have ceased to exist.

Median wage. When wages are stated, they are stated as a median. So if I earn $100 an hour and you earn $1 an hour, the median wage is $50. Hence, stock brokers and CEO’s earn a wage, which is thrown into a lump sum with minimum wage workers and an average is calculated to state a median wage. That’s how the claim that wages are increasing is not true in the least.

More jobs in January? Claiming jobs are increasing in January makes no sense to begin with. Many retailers hire temporary labor during the holidays, then those jobs no longer even exist in January. Agricultural jobs are over 90% suspended during winter months. Construction is at a minimum.

The biggest thing to pay attention to when job and wage numbers are being stated is that no specifics are offered. If any source claims jobs are being created or wages are increasing, challenge that claim. Force them to name specifics. If they are capable, note that they rely on a limited geographic area or even one single employer in one area. Even that employer may have relocated to that area from elsewhere, where they left and eliminated jobs. Net job creation nationally: zero.

I will concede that wages have increased nationally in one respect. The areas that have increased the minimum wage. When averaged out, that gives a false impression that wages increased nationally. Yet those are such limited geographic areas that affect such a small number of workers that the national average is negligible. It is absolutely the wages at the top of the corporate ladder that affect the median wage.

In all ways, from all sources, whether Trump or neoliberal corporate media, we have to challenge, research and reason when claims are being made that don’t fit with what are seeing before our eyes.

Chew, Swallow, Vomit, Repeat

On occasion, I have to disengage from the direct battle with neoliberals and Conservatives. It’s a practice I suggest all Progressives follow. Give yourself an occasional emotional rest.

One reason I do this is simply because I get tired of dealing with their mindless rote repetition. Virtually none of them think for themselves. This is not saying they are not capable, it’s worse. They are not willing. Memorize, seek reinforcing identical viewpoints, regurgitate. Never follow the profit path, the motivation of the author of the opinion they allow to think for them. Chew, swallow, vomit, repeat.

They pay no attention to minds or voices that are separate from the standard corporate model. Those are voices to be discredited without listening. Dr Richard Wolff, Robert Reich (on economics, not politics), the UN report stating capitalism is a failed model. Don’t read, don’t listen, don’t learn, don’t question.

One thing is absolutely true. When your arguments are rational enough to touch a chord, that’s when they start using insults and invalidation. Attack the source. In my case, they will attack saying I am not popular enough to be listened to. In other cases, they will use any accusation against a popular voice which they can. The accusation doesn’t have to be relevant to a quote or theory. The accusation does not have to be proven in any way. In fact, accusations can be absolutely proven false, as in rape or pedophilia accusations against Julian Assange. That doesn’t stop them from using it. Chew, swallow, vomit, repeat.

I think at this point I have written enough articles going into extreme detail on enough subjects that I can merely post links to previous articles on almost any popular subject. I’ve detailed why a 70% tax rate on the rich is not enough. Why imposing a Maximum Income is a good idea. How Social Democracy is profitable. Why universal healthcare is the best system. How weapons sales cost this country more money than it makes. Why Russiagate is an absolute farce (numerous articles). How the media is the advertising arm of the war industry. Why you should not be listening to corporate advertising or “intelligence professionals” because their specialty is literally brainwashing. How supporting the current system is truly fascism and will get worse. Why the economy and the dollar are doomed to fail. Soon. Catastrophically.

Posting those links or sharing information often feels like it does no good.

If you can manage to drag people kicking and screaming away from their cults (good luck with that), they consistently fall back on false narratives which they have no actual understanding of to begin with. Yet will use them as defense and offense. They can definitely be offensive. Anything to avoid challenging their established world view which they have never bothered to question or examine. Even when that world view locks them into a position which is literally killing them directly. Sit back, turn on corporate media. Cheer for the cult. Wallow in the filth. Chew, swallow, vomit, repeat.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that all of this is based on fear. Americans love to portray themselves as brave and courageous when in fact they are completely ruled by fear. Call it anger, bigotry, hatred, aggression, whatever. Every bit of it is based on fear. Yet too many people feed on this fear voraciously and with wanton gluttonous abandon, seeking it out like drunks on an endless binge. The media is more than happy to keep serving as they collect the profits on the tab. Because that’s what it’s all about to the media. The media doesn’t GAF what damage it does and if people die, they will gain even more money reporting on the deaths while covering up their own complicity.

Think of all the things you are told you must fear on a daily basis. Trump, Hillary, Bernie, third parties, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Mexicans, Hondurans, climate change, guns, not having a gun, anyone of a different generation, Socialism, lack of medical care, universal healthcare, unemployment, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, taxes, black people, white people, Nazis, KKK, men, women, pedophiles, gays, TG people, vaccines, no vaccines, lack of clean water, fire, flood, every bite of food you put in your mouth, hunger, obesity, high blood pressure, bad breath, body odor, wearing the wrong shoes, being rich, being poor, bad tires, shirts not white enough…

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” These words holds great wisdom which has been forgotten or ignored for decades. The more people hold onto fear, the less they open their consciousness to the fact that we have the power to fix our problems. If we stop fearing each other.

I know what the real truth is, though. If we stop being afraid, that means we actually have to take responsibility. Most Americans abhor that idea. The rich don’t want to give up their piles of gold so that the poor can even survive. The warmongers don’t want to stop the bombs. None of the media wants to be brave enough to end the cycle and stop being sensationalistic. That would lose advertisers.

It’s up to us. We cannot put it onto others. It’s up to us to turn off the media. It’s up to us to turn the narrative around. To realize that we don’t need to defeat anyone. To let others live their lives while we live ours. To walk away instead of adding to the hatred.

It is up to us to stop being afraid.

My disengagements are always short. It never means I will stop speaking out.