Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bachmann, The Pretzel Logic Propagandist Patriot

The Chief Mad Hatter of the Tea Party

  Michelle Bachmann’s political career finds its origins in the school board elections of a small backwater town, appropriately called Stillwater, which has a population of 18,000 and a racial makeup of 97.52% White. Fargo (1996), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) were filmed in Stillwater. You can still see the small town mindset in her appearance and demeanor. Bachmann may have been born in Iowa, but she grew up in Anoka, Minnesota, population 17,000.

  To gain her second term in 2010 Bachmann spent over $8.5 million dollars, "...more than any other House of Representative candidate, although her opponent, Tarryl Clark, was able to raise $4 million, one of the largest fundraising efforts in the nation for a U.S. House challenger."

 What did the people that helped her to outspend to be reelected get for their money ? She has never crafted a single jobs bill during her tenure in congress, and is more widely known for such bills as the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act”, and “To Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”. I can’t find any bill that she ever sponsored that has passed in the entire Congressional Record. I did see a couple of co-sponsored bills, but most of them were co-sponsored by the entire Republican caucus, except for one such bill renaming a post office building in Minnesota as one of 7 co-sponsors.

On her website michelebachmann.com , she states:
"As a constitutional conservative, I believe in the Founders' vision of a limited government that trusts in and preserves the unlimited potential of the American people."
 Now, calling one's self a "constitutional conservative is a Pandora's box in and of itself, since most persons calling themselves this appear to have either an extremely narrow interpretation of the term, an erroneously incomplete knowledge of the constitution, or both. 
 What I believe occurred to enable Bachmann now to have come to lead the Mad Tea Party caucus is that she has learned how to become the lead propagandist of that radical right evangelist portion of the Republican base. I will compare her studied mastery of the art of propaganda with some similarities she shares with two of the other most successful propagandists in world history, Augustus Caesar and Joseph Goebbels. Michelle Bachmann is no "snowflake snookie", as Sarah Palin has been characterized.

 Political terms such as Left and Right came from the period of the French Revolution, referring to French parlimentarians who were seated on the right of the chair of the parlimentary president who were supporters of the monarchy. There, the Right represented politicians who were for hierarchial rule, clericalism, and tradition, and invoked natural and divine law to justify the state of social inequalities. After the revolution, the far right emerged as counter-revolutionaries.  So the far right involves support of strong or complete social hierarchy in society, and supports supremacy of certain individuals or groups deemed to be innately superior who are to be more valued than those deemed to be innately inferior.

 "Asked if her positions are extreme, Bachmann replies that the Tea Party’s ideals are simply the most rational solutions to a broken and profligate government, and that the only option is to stand tough. 'I do not twist in the wind,' she says proudly."

 " In a speech in Minneapolis in 2006, Bachmann spoke of growing up with “the emotional struggles of not having a strong father in my life.” Two years after her father left, Bachmann joined a high-school prayer group. She had been brought up a Lutheran, but she knew little about the Bible. With the help of the members of the prayer group, she explained in the speech, she became a born-again Christian.. 'But what it meant was that all of a sudden I had a father'.... In the fall of 1975, Bachmann enrolled at Winona State University, a small school in southeastern Minnesota, where she became more devout and tried to lead her dorm mates to Christianity. There she met Marcus, whom, she has said, God called her to marry. She had a vision while praying 'of me marrying this man in the valley where his parents have a farm in western Wisconsin.' According to Michele, Marcus was simultaneously having a vision about marrying her."

 "Mythical figures were the foundation to Augustan propaganda. Throughout the life of Augustus, he attempted to link himself to divinity. His proclaimed divine lineage is mentioned throughout his propaganda program and acts as the glue holding all his work together."
"Every part of Augustus's propaganda is deliberate and intertwined with already existing ideas, and constantly repeating themes. Repetition made Augustus's program strong".
"The common tale that is constantly repeated in the propaganda of Augustus Caesar is the story of the founding of Rome. {editors note: Bachmann often refers to Stillwater as the birthpace of Mn.}. Augustus constantly returned to the same line of history to tie himself to the Divine Julius Caesar and to tie Julius Caesar to the gods....At the time of Augustus, these myths were as good as fact in the hearts and minds of the people of Rome...why would Augustus need these stories to be told ? These stories bring the art of Augustus to life...These stories also aided in the reception of the forms of propaganda that followed them. "

  As in Roman times, propaganda is a constantly repetitive multimedia affair, utilizing another of it's techniques, used Ad nauseam. Bachmann consistently uses controversial statements made to startle the media into reporting them, thus ensuring coverage and publicity. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to even find an example of propagandist techniques not being used by the RNC, Romney, and the superpacs as well as Bachmann herself. 

  Bachmann also shares a family "scandal" (obviously in her eyes) with Augustus, his daughter Julia. who was banished and several men were executed, forced to commit suicide, or exiled. It is hard to reconstruct what actually happened, but it was proved that she had taken part in nightly drinking parties on the Roman Forum and that she had a lover named Iullus Antonius. Other men were also reported to have enjoyed her favors, but this may be gossip. Bachmann's stepsister after her mothers 2nd marraige is a lesbian in a long term relationship. Bachmann had been reported to be very close to this sibling, but we've heard nothing of her during the campaign. 

 Speaking of Romney, the "blunderbuss businessman", it's appropriate to also note that in Rome:
"The celebration of the Secular Games in 17 BC was another deliberate piece of ‘media management’. The Games were supposed to mark a renewal for the city – the ending of one period and the beginning of the next. The propaganda appeal is obvious....Augustus must be one of the single most successful manipulators of his own image – he stands {in} comparison to the spin-doctors of the modern political scene. He was the conservative father figure, shepherding the nation (now both Rome and Italy) into a new golden age."

 "Also he ensured he satisfied Roman citizens' expectations in terms of "bread and circus". The agrarian laws established by the Gracchi at the times of the social wars a century earlier were still in place and still granted the poorer Roman citizens the right to purchase grain at half price. By the time of Augustus approximately half of the population was taking full advantage of this benefit. As Julius Caesar had when he was Aedile, Augustus ensured that great public games and feasts were regularly organised to keep the population happy."

"Rep. Michele Bachmann is promising to get the price of gasoline back below $2 a gallon if she is elected president." 

 Teapublican propaganda is primarily meant to draw an emotive response, often using fallacies and Ad hominem attacks as they now do to discredit the president’s very origin, religious upbringing, beliefs, and even rebuttable edited snippets of his statements. Labeling has had a huge effect on public opinion to poll as showing that a considerable amount of the voting public now believes the name calling of “the president is a muslim” despite any amount of coverage showing him with his family attending church and statements to the contrary. This is why logic, facts, and exposition of erroneous claims and information have little noticeable effect on the opinions of the “true believers”. Add to this the lately described physiological differences of the liberal vs. conservative mindset and the added stress of economic environmental conditions, and there is little wonder why polarization is now so remarkably prodigious.

 "It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success."
(Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, 1983 p 90)

Goebbles Principles of Propaganda (excerpts)
"1. Propagandists must have access to intelligence concerning events and public opinion.

{"Bachmann to Intelligence Committee"} 

5. Declassified, Operational Information must be available to implement a propaganda campaign. 

 {" Rep. Michele Bachmann says the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamist movement that recently came to power in Egypt, has made “deep penetration” within the U.S. government, and she wants an investigation of its influence within five federal agencies."}

6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.

14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases and slogans." 

 And so it goes, on and on. But the parallels are chilling. 
(Goebbel's Principles of Propaganda
Author: Leonard W. Doob
Source: The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3, Autumn, 1950, pp. 419-442)

 "He openly acknowledged that he was exploiting the lowest instincts of the German people – racism, xenophobia, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, play the popular will like a piano, leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go. 'He drove his listeners into ecstasy, making them stand up, sing songs, raise their arms, repeat oaths – and he did it, not through the passionate inspiration of the moment, but as the result of sober psychological calculation." Goebbels

 "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."  ~ Joseph Goebbels

"She comes from us, not to us,” said Dacosta, an industrial engineer and passionate political activist. “She speaks our code, and we believe her.”

 Bachmann once stated that the evangelist theologian Francis  Schaeffer “was a tremendous philosopher." (Lizza 2011) This, about a man who became unhinged philosophically after Roe vs. Wade and who speculated about the possibility that the U.S. government is controlling its citizens by means of psychotropic drugs.  Schaeffer was the major shaper of the Dominionist cult, and early on was one of the most influential evangelical activists in the U.S. 

 In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed. In his movie, Schaeffer warned that America’s descent into tyranny would not look like Hitler’s or Stalin’s; it would probably be guided stealthily, by “a manipulative, authoritarian élite.” (Lizza 2011) It appears that Bachmann wants to be the chief sectarian leader of that authoritarian elite before its too late. Bachmann also mentions that her father was a strict authoritarian. 

"Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (...) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (...) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion."  (Hitler; Mein Kampf citations are from the Project Gutenberg-hosted 1939 English translation by James Murphy)

 If you’re afraid that Bachmann got her first law degree at the bottom of a cracker jack box, she very nearly did: “In 1979 Bachmann enrolled at the new O. W. Coburn School of Law in its inaugural year (and first of three name changes), at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Bible, not the Constitution or conventional jurisprudence, guides the curriculum. For several years, the school could not get accreditation, because students were required to sign a “code of honor” attesting to their Christian belief and commitment.” (Lizza 2011)

(Lizza 2011) “The law review published essays by Schaeffer and Rousas John Rushdoony, a prominent Dominionist who has called for a pure Christian theocracy in which Old Testament law—execution for adulterers and homosexuals, for example—would be instituted.”

(Lizza 2011) “At Oral Roberts, Bachmann worked for a professor named John Eidsmoe… who In Alabama… he addressed an event commemorating Secession Day and told an interviewer that it was the state’s ‘constitutional right to secede,’ and that ‘Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.”

While her husband Marcus got a masters in counseling from an obscure Pat Robinson school, Bachmann attended the College of William and Mary to get a masters in taxation law, ostensibly because she was not professionally prepared for any serious career in law, and even for a couple of years at the I.R.S., she never litigated much as a junior lawyer, perhaps one case going to trial. “According to court documents, in 1992 Bachmann sought six thousand dollars in taxes from a Chippewa Indian who failed to report three years of income from Youth Project, Inc., a community-organizing nonprofit dedicated to “social justice and peace.” (Lizza 2011)

So there ended her law career. After several years of evangelical based anti-abortion and educational activism, Bachmann became a state senator continuing this agenda, railing   constantly against same sex marriage and other gay rights issues. Her election to congress simply elevated her to the national stage by making endless controversial statements from her philosophically evangelical right wingnut background. This continued with the backing of the mad Tea Party attracting so much attention that the media enjoyed popularizing her rants and raves and thus unwittingly propelled her right into the clown car of the Republican primary campaign for the presidency. 

(Lizza 2011) “Today, one of the leading proponents of Schaeffer’s version of Dominionism is Nancy Pearcey, a former student of his and a prominent creationist.” ”Sara Diamond, who has written several books about evangelical movements in America, has succinctly defined the philosophy that resulted from Schaeffer’s interpretation: “Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.”

(Lizza 2011) "When, in 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Bachmann what books she had read recently, she mentioned two: Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” a jeremiad that accuses liberals of lacking patriotism, and Pearcey’s “Total Truth,” which Bachmann told me was a “wonderful” book.” 

Bachmann’s secular fundamentalism and Tea Party extremism is, when you come to think of it, the perfect madman's foil to the blunderbuss businessman Willard “Mittens” Romney to continue the attack on the middle class and it's progressive roots.  Her steadfast radical fundamentalist activism and his polling pliability and backing of the power elite have much to compare to the rise of the party of control in Germany during the socioeconomic strains of the 1930s, and the dealings (the "Settlements") of Octavian becoming Augustus of the Roman Empire, respectively. 

The philosophical unity slogan of the tripartite of fiscal, social, and the power elite conservatives is in the party line of “anyone but Obama”.  And the real power behind the throne, namely the neoconservative power elite, shares the same lust for conquest as did the Roman Empire in it's infancy and the facists of the 20th century.

A Dark Knight Rises, indeed.


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