The Administration Positions Its Heavy Artillery For The Next Battle In The Culture War

This newsletter has been emphasizing the importance of the culture war in US politics for some time. Recent developments — exposed by the same folks who have told the world how ACORN operates — tell us more about Team Obama’s dream of organizing the national community. We have already been treated to the spectacle of a number of show business personalities telling each of us to “pledge to be a servant to our president.” (See PenPo 103 and 104.) Now we see that this risible propaganda effort, little remarked in the news media, was a tiny part of a much larger effort. The nation is targeted by a recruiting effort.

The latest story was unleashed on this website. There is related information on a sister site.

Further information can be obtained at this link-rich site. For a quick overview of the unfolding scandal (and yes, it is a scandal), read this post first, and then follow up with these two: read this, and then conclude with a good roundup of the facts.

Since before the advent of civilization, art has often been in the service of power. In the twentieth century, Stalin and Hitler and Mao policed their artists vigorously; the Nazis even created the category of “entartete Kunst” (“degenerate art” — perhaps a better translation would be “art that has been robbed of its very soul”) to contain the work of those who painted without due reverence for fascist ideals. The result was a linkage in the minds of today’s public and the politicians: some art, though devoid of explicit symbolism, took on ideological meaning. Censorship and the use of art in and as propaganda so corrupted the common view of art, in other words, that a fair and objective evaluation of painting, the written word and cinema became almost impossible. Everything was a matter of heavily-nuanced interpretation, and that left the door open for political correctness. Pictures of idyllic scenes were no longer just that, but praise of the regime; scenes of people working happily were neither parodies, cynical mockery, honest portrayals nor fantasies, but exhortations to work harder. The meaning, like evil, was in the eye of the beholder, and it still is. When we look at a Soviet era portrait of Stalin, we recognize that we are looking at blatant propaganda; someone from another culture or era would be unaware of the connection.

Team Obama knows better than to suppress some art works and tell artists how to work. But there is a logical conundrum here: if the administration is going to let artists create and display as they see fit, what is this effort to enlist their political support all about? Is it just a matter of getting them to “sign on,” allow their names to be used as examples of people who have pledged “to be a servant to our president”? Does anyone really think endorsements by artists will win hearts and minds in the public at large? Doesn’t the mix of politics and art emit a slight aroma of fascism? What’s really going on here?

It’s easy to understand. The nation is witnessing a manifestation of the collectivist urge to impose solidarity. For some, the spectacle is a bit of a shock. Well, expect more of this “bandwagon” propagandizing as the ruling elite issues ever more requests for pledges of fealty. A system of ideological fiefdom has worked well with the unions and the news media, so why won’t artists respond enthusiastically to exhortations to camaraderie?

Money is sometimes involved, so that partially answers the question. Unfortunately you are involuntarily paying the fees of the artists working on Obama’s graphic arts propaganda. It’s tax-supported.

And it may just be illegal.

It’s far too early for the administration to go to war with organizations like the National Rifle Association and the American Legion. For now, the plan seems to be to surround uncooperative “wingnut” and “flyover country” segments of society with a coalition of True Believers, who will be — quoting the propaganda linked to above — “servants” of the president.

As events unfold, realize that you will not be able to count on the major news media for complete information. That is both a suggestion and a warning: use the internet to get the facts, and beware attempts to control it. Those attempts will surely come, for the new medium is of increasing importance. Sooner or later, Obama, or people very much like him, will try to put a muzzle on it.

Oh… wait….

These People Do Not Represent The Best Traditions Of US Democracy

Hope and change: “It was an absolutely mind-blowing turn of events, a total collapse of longtime Democratic support for ACORN.” EvenBarney Frank is scuttling for the woodwork now that the light has been turned on. Senator Harry Reid, however, is made of sterner stuff. That’s too bad for the nation.

Meanwhile the trap is about to snap shut on ACORN’s leg; as a law prof says, “…it’s almost as if the real point of the videos was to provoke a lawsuit that would open ACORN to the legal intrusions of discovery.” A smart outfit would get that lawsuit withdrawn immediately.

Of course Alinsky would be furious with his proteges, who may have to deal with a few late-arriving chickens; it looks as if ACORN isvery poorly staffed to do that. The organization is not exactly adroit when it comes to hiring principled employees.

“ACORN is not going down because there’s a conservative media conspiracy, or other explanation du jour. There is clearly something deeply wrong with the organization.” That quote is from an Atlantic weblog. In fact ACORN may be shown to be a criminal enterprise and therefore subject to RICO.

So…why does all this matter? Well, first there are the narrow legal aspects of ACORN’s misbehavior; justice should be served. Second is the question of who and what the president is. ACORN needs to be investigated, exposed, and understood, because Obama was a dyed-in-the-wool ACORN apparatchik, a True Believer. His work for ACORN was, to all appearances, both formative of his political inspiration and an expression of his deepest values. Obama the executive is the child of Obama the community organizer. What that means matters very much.


Almost half of US physicians would consider abandoning medicine if Obamacare is launched.

“If you oppose Obama, you are a racist.” That’s slanderous nonsense that gets a former president a trip to the woodshed. Well-deserved. First he savaged all of Israel, and now he’s tossing accusations of racism around like Hallowe’en candy. He’s an embarrassment.

This newsletter reminds you that unlike the Great Depression, the current economic downturn is not a mystery. We know exactly how it happened, who caused it, and why.

Holy smoke, the bastards are at it again! If this took place in a public school, it is government-mandated child abuse. Some people need to lose their credentials. How much of this goes on, unrecorded and therefore unknown to the public?

You should know this now, before hopeandchange triumphs: these are the folks who will be running Obamacare.

There are endorsements you want, and then there are those you darn sure don’t.

If you don’t recall the Walpin scandal, that isn’t because this newsletter did not harp on it. In fact issues 90, 91, 92, 93, 95 and 99 carried relevant information and links. Well, the White House won the fight simply by refusing to release information on why whistle-blower Walpin was fired, and then by stonewalling efforts to pry the facts loose. Now it turns out that there is, as Heinrich The K used to say, a price to pay for such misbehavior. Well, Hank was wrong about the effectiveness of that policy, and it isn’t going to whip Team Obama, either. That’s too bad, because this scandal really stinks. Now if the major news media took it up…oh, sorry, that was just a daydream. (If you want copies of all those issues in which the Walpin scandal was mentioned, request them from the PenPo’s publisher. You won’t be stonewalled.)

To repeat: Rep. Waxman is a moron. And this bill of which he is co-sponsor proves it yet again.

What is a community organizer, anyway? Here are a definition and a hypothetical example, with links to information on the real thing.

Canadians really do know better — it’s just that they pretend to be uncivilized when it comes to issues of freedom of speech, press, andreligion.

Journalists react to the sting of ACORN. It’s interesting, but pretty much what a long-time reader of the Penguin Post might have predicted.

Confused about Obamacare? Let Mark Steyn explain it to you.

And now for an AGW alert: Polar bears face extinction by drowning. We need to…HEY! How did that bear get…Leggo! HELLLP! (Unreadmemo on desk)

Suppose that Italy, France and Germany left Europe and joined the USA as states. What would their relative economic status be in their new home? The answer and more await your click of the mouse.

Remember “It’s the economy, Stupid!”? These days, it’s the antique mindset.

Economist Thomas Friedman takes some body blows from Jonah Goldberg and Kenneth Anderson.

Commentary subtitled, “How the panic over right-wing violence is being used to marginalize peaceful dissent” is available here. The author, Jesse Walker, managing editor of Reason, maintains that paranoid, conspiracist nonsense is gaining currency in the political center.

A NY Times columnist looks at political confrontation in the USA today, and explains it in value-free terms. It’s an interesting effort, with some useful insights and some dismissive errors. This is recommended reading for those who, while they try to find a better vantage point, are especially careful when the footing appears flat, horizontal, and solid.

Gaia worshippers are looking grim these days: not only have they heard that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are not of concern, now it turns out there’s a lot of petroleum to be had. This is a welcome bit of cheer in the gloom!

A lot has been said about Obamacare, and some of it is true. So who’s the biggest liar?

The gatekeepers at the LA Times slipped up again. Read their mistake while you can, and preserve a copy just in case — it might become a valuable collectable some day. It is, after all, a too rare example of principled journalism.

Ah, the feminist Utopia has almost arrived: “…it just goes to show how much power women have in our society when they get away with falsely accusing men and the men are just happy they have not landed in jail.” There’s more, and it’s pretty obnoxious.

Do not read this. Move on to something else; don’t even think about reading this. If you read it, you will be severely punished. Only traitors read things like this. — Well, that’s the party line, anyway.

Seen on the internet: “Even though Republicans, Libertarians and those who support the United States Constitution have been fighting socialized medicine for 75 years, your opposition represents: RACISM. You’re all f***ing racists, get it?”

The history and rationale of the current administration’s embrace of economic and social distress is explained in two useful articles. Read them both to gain an understanding of how Team Obama thinks and plans. The first is from September of last year, and the second is a month older. You may be surprised at how open this strategy is — it’s not at all a secret or even confidential. It’s been publicly explained by its creators, whose candor reveals their cynicism. Yet the chances are you never heard of the Cloward-Piven strategy.

Media Matters exists to defend biased newsrooms from those who believe in freedom of the press. Sometimes MM gets a bit carried away.

“A tax is what I say it is. Never mind that dictionary. We won, and that’s all that matters!” Sheesh…. Where is Rep. Joe Wilson when you need him?

Speaking of Wilson, he seems to have started a trend. How odd to see AP signing on.

Wow…look what CBS, of all outfits, just allowed onto its website!

Say the wrong thing about Obamacare, and get Health and Human Services on your neck? Yes. There is no doubt that the highly partisan agency has used intimidation to try to impose censorship. Someone should give those bullies a copy of the federal constitution — and then find a way to make them obey it.

From the Penguin Post’s What, Exactly, Did You Expect, Anyway? file comes this quote — “If they were left-wingers exposing some conservative or religious organization, government-funded or not, the mainstream media would have hailed them as heroic whistleblowers, perhaps worthy of a Time cover. Instead, the media are doing their damndest to slime them” — and the rant in which it appeared. The whole story is interesting and entertaining. Well, it’s fun as long as you don’t get too het up at those would-be puppetmasters running the major news media.

Headline: “Obama open to newspaper bailout bill.” Of course he is.

From The Archive

The seventy-third issue of The Terrapin Gazette dealt with an issue of great importance that was overwhelmed by a biased and ideologically dishonest press. This appeared on the 16th of November, 2005:

Here It Is, And You Won’t See This In Your Newspaper Or Newsmagazine Or On TV. Do Read It All

The full story has been emerging slowly, bit by bit. Now we have enough bits to understand what happened and why, but that clarification will not be reported by the major news outlets in the USA and around the world. Where it appears, it will languish and die.

First, the basics: you know that Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and bitter Bush critic Joe Wilson, was not covert. Joe introduced Val as his “CIA wife” and bragged about her real job, her employment was a paper-thin deception, and the facts were an open secret. You also know that the Fitzgerald indictment of Libby does not accuse him of revealing Val’s real employer. So what is all the fuss about?

It centers on two things: the “Bush lied, people died” slogan (which both you regular readers of The Terrapin Gazette know is a fraud) and a terrific battle between the CIA and the Bush White House.

The full story is available in a recent (07 November 2005) article in the The Weekly Standard. Its author is one Stephen F. Hayes. Because the article is a bit long — far too long for both readers of The Terrapin Gazette, who like short and punchy stuff — we shall summarize it here. Yes, our summary is also too long, but we hope you don’t let that minor inconvenience that keep you from the facts.

Here’s our summary, with quotes from the article:

As the popularity of the slogan, “Bush lied, people died” grew, reporters and editors realized they had a catchy way of smearing Chimpy McFlightsuit. When Fitzgerald indicted Libby, the Bush-haters leaped to yet another false and illogical conclusion:

By last Friday morning, David Gergen, who often serves as chief spokesman for the conventional wisdom, was calling the upcoming court battle the “trial of the war in Iraq.” This, he says, will “keep the administration on the defensive” for months and will make it very difficult to govern. Congressional Democrats used the occasion to call for hearings into the alleged misuse of intelligence.

Fitzgerald was clear on the matter: Libby’s indictment shed no light on the “Bush lied” slogan. His words:

The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction.

What had happened? How had it come to this?

The explanation is both straightforward and appalling. Bush and Company had asked for and received intelligence from the CIA and the intelligence services of several other nations, all of which indicated that Saddam was a threat — that his Nasty Toys were still available to him, and that he was eager to get a nuclear weapon. He also had cooperative links to Al Qaeda, and had provided help to that organization. Facts.

The CIA, in what has been called its “Cover Your Ass” mode, started leaking reports that its own intelligence was faulty. The CIA was telling the president one thing and the press another.

That is the core of the problem.

Many White House officials suspected that the leaks were condoned by Agency leadership….

…Joseph Wilson began telling his story, first anonymously, then as a would-be whistle-blower. As some Bush administration officials quietly tried to correct Wilson’s misrepresentations, others contemplated a bold move that would undercut the leaks from the Agency.

The White House began pressing the agency to declassify and release much of what it knew.

Bush administration officials reasonably believed that…would stanch the flow of leaks coming from the CIA and would weaken the claims that “Bush lied” to take the country to war. They were mistaken.

At the end of his July 14, 2003, column that identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, Robert Novak wrote that understanding the claims and counterclaims about Wilson’s mission “requires scrutinizing the CIA summary of what their envoy reported.” Novak reported: “The Agency never before has declassified that kind of information, but the White House would like it to do just that now–in its and in the public’s interest.”

Within days, the CIA had declassified significant portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. That document reflected the consensus view of the 15 intelligence agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

The result: outrage in the ranks of the CIA’s Bush-haters. Their duplicity had been trumped.

Note that the White House had its facts straight, and therefore had a theoretical chance to counter the CIA’s leaks:

Larry Wilkerson, former State Department chief of staff and now an outspoken Bush administration critic, put it this way in a recent speech in which he described the intelligence Colin Powell used for his presentation to the U.N. Security Council. “People say, well, INR (the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research) dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios. . . . The consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming.”

Outflanked and in almost desperate frustration, the anti-Bush spooks made the implausible claim that someone in the White House must have tried to get Valerie Plame killed by telling the world what Wilson’s friends and casual acquaintances and the government of Niger already knew: that socialite Val was a long-time CIA employee. The CIA requested that the Justice Department investigate and prosecute. That would put a Bush loyalist in prison, so there and take that!

At once the anti-White House crowd connected the Fitzgerald investigation with the war in Iraq. It was silly, but there it was, right alongside “Bush lied, people died.”

On September 26, 2003, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC’s Alex Johnson reported on the MSNBC website the following: “The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman’s husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush’s since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned.” The referral from the CIA to the Justice Department was classified and, according to officials with knowledge of the process, was almost certainly leaked by the CIA to put public pressure on the Justice Department to launch an investigation. It worked.

To this day, Libby’s indictment and the basis for the war in Iraq remain linked in the minds of the mindless.

Where they do overlap–Joseph Wilson’s claim that he had “debunked” Bush administration assertions about an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger–they point to an embarrassment for the war critics and reporters who invested so much in his self-aggrandizing fantasies: Wilson lied.

But where propaganda is involved, truth is seldom a factor. The “Bush lied” slander-mongers know that

…(the) scandal-hungry news media, the ongoing difficulties in Iraq, and a weary American public provide an environment hospitable to even their most outrageous claims.

It’s working. The White House is on the defensive, clumsily trying to regroup and convince people that it did the right thing when it drove a stake in the vampire’s heart. The popular conceptions of Libby’s indictment and the reason the USA went to war are exactly wrong, but a hostile press is not about to explain that — or allow the truth to be widely stated. Gatekeepers.

The bizarre aspect of this is that Bush and Company could strike back, but they hesitate.

The default position was to refrain from publicly asserting anything that could possibly provoke a public debate, and the result has been that each new Iraq speech the president gives–however well written–ends up sounding a lot like the last speech the president gave. For the most part, the speeches have been heavy on assertions and light on arguments. So for most of his second term the president would claim that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror without stopping to explain why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

This reluctance comes not from a lack of arguments to make but from a fear that if the administration aggressively makes its case, the CIA will promptly seek to undermine it through leaks that wind up on the front pages. But this self-censorship is keeping the administration from making full use of the information at its disposal. Here are three examples.

When the president mentions Abu Musab al Zarqawi, current head of al Qaeda in Iraq, he rarely points out that Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war, and he never points out that Zarqawi’s operatives were working closely with senior Iraqi Baathists even as U.S. troops were engaged in “major combat” in Iraq.

When the president notes the former Iraqi regime’s support for terrorism–a rare occurrence these days–he never mentions Abdul Rahman Yasin, the lone fugitive from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who was provided assistance by the Iraqi regime in his flight from the United States. (That fact is not even controversial: It is cited in the July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report on prewar intelligence on Iraq.) The FBI is in possession of documents that indicate Yasin was given financial support by the regime of Saddam Hussein for a decade after his return to Iraq.

There are other documents from Iraq that would help the American public understand the nature of the former Iraqi regime and why a serious war on terror required its removal. Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents currently stored in a warehouse in Doha, Qatar, as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s document exploitation project are a case in point. Many of these documents, listed in a database known as HARMONY, have rather provocative titles:

Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan

Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000)

Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals

Order from Saddam to present $25,000 to Palestinian Suicide Bombers’ Families

IIS Reports from Embassy in Paris: Plan to Influence French Stance in UN Security Council

IIS Report on How French Campaigns are Financed

Improvised Explosive Devices Plan

Ricin research and improvement

There are thousands of similar documents. Many have already been authenticated and most are unclassified. That’s worth repeating: Most are unclassified.

The Terrapin Gazette concludes with this simple sentiment: The US public owes the CIA and the major news media something. It’s long overdue.