The railroad barons first tried to infiltrate the halls of government in the early years after the Civil War. The efforts of these men, particularly Jay Gould, brought the Ulysses Grant administration into such disrepute, as a result of what were then called "the railroad bribery scandals," that Grant's own Republican party refused to renominate him for the third term he wanted and ran Rutherford B. Hayes instead. As the whitehouse.gov website says of Grant, "Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered. One visitor to the White House noted 'a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms.'"
"All Democrats are fat, lazy, and stupid," the talk-show host said in grave, serious tones as if he were uttering a sacred truth. We were driving to Michigan for the holidays, and I was tuning around, listening for the stations I'd worked for two and three decades ago. I turned the dial. "It's a Hannity For Humanity house," a different host said, adding that the Habitat For Humanity home he'd apparently hijacked for his own self-promotion would only be given to a family that swears it's conservative. "No liberals are going to get this house," he said.
Computers in the electoral process started in 1964, the year Goldwater opposed Johnson for the presidency. Back then, though, when states bought computers to read punch-card votes, the states owned and operated the computers, and the electorate could thus examine their processes and results. Even Barry Goldwater, ever suspicious of the creeping power of government, approved: the process was relatively transparent.
Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush both seem to have a funny idea about democracy: they think it's about voting. Saddam was able to win his election without even having to use corporate money or Supreme Court justices appointed by a relative: just hold an election and therefore it must be a democracy. Bush and many, if not most, other American politicians, think that giving hundreds of millions of dollars to huge media corporations to carpet-bomb the minds of voters means that democracy is served when a vote is held.
An hour ago, I was standing deep in a Franconian forest of central Germany, gazing in amazement at the time-hidden ruins of an ancient castle, Nordek, that was first built in A.D. 950 and finally abandoned about 500 years ago. The massive stone structure looms two hundred yards above the Steinach river, and was probably built by the local warlord to control the trade on the river. A sign on the castle identifies three medieval wars that were fought for control of it, and, no doubt, for control of the river's trade.
I just returned from Argentina. People there understand Machiavelli, I discovered; when he wrote his instructions to The Prince, that, “Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose…” it would make perfect sense to anybody who’d lived through Argentina’s past half-century.
I was about 12 and into the first year of a very brief career as a magician, in partnership with my best friend Chuck and his stepfather, the late professional stage magician Jim Edwards. Chuck and I were going to perform on a local TV show, and Edwards counseled us to “always control where your audience is putting their attention.” And the greatest of a magician’s tricks, he said, was to have the audience watch the illusion, and let them notice some small thing that they thought was the trick making it work, while you were pulling off a third and wholly unnoticed thing out of the range of their attention.
Thomas Paine said it best.
“It has been thought,” he wrote in The Rights of Man in 1791, “…that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed; but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.”
In early January 2000, Paul Hawken sent me this copy of the diary and notes he wrote as a result of his experience in Seattle at the WTO meeting. I found it one of the most powerful, insightful, and meaningful reportings and commentaries on the events in Seattle I've read from any source...and, with his permission, share it with you. To find his most recent books, click on The Ecology of Commerce or Natural Capitalism.
It's Willie Horton all over again. The Bush family is subjecting Americans to psychological operations, only the level of sophistication and deception is an order of magnitude higher than it was in 1988. And it could turn the election, if not used effectively in rebuttal. Here's how it works, and how Dick Cheney just used it masterfully:
Thom Hartmann and His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, September, 1999
As your wise Native American elders here have shared, you know your roots. You know the languages of your great-grandmothers, from before the White Europeans arrived and murdered your people and stole their lands. You know the customs of your people that go back a thousand years, five thousand years, some of you to the time of the original settlement of this area, just as the glaciers receded, nine thousand years ago, and perhaps even tens of thousands of years before that. The ways of your people have been passed down all that time.