Stealth Propaganda

To all of you out there who believe that President Obama is a neo-Marxist/Socialist who was born in Nigeria, I must say that I believe you are wrong: Obama was born in Hawaii, not Nigeria. The Marxist/Socialist thing, however, that, unfortunately, you may be right on.

Obama supporters would like us to believe that the notion many of us have that Obama is closer to Marx in his political convictions than he is to Jefferson is just as crazy as the notion that he was born in Africa. The problem is that unlike the absence of real evidence pointing to a foreign birth, every day we seem to find out new things about the people Obama has surrounded himself with and are his closest advisers, which, to put it nicely, do not portray them as champions of democracy.

Reporter John Stossel shares another interesting factoid about Obama’s close friend, adviser, and the man he appointed as head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein. Seems that Mr. Sunstein has a solution for all those “conspiracy theorists” out there, and the solution comes right out of Stalin’s playbook.

Stealth Propaganda

An obscure 2008 academic article gained traction with bloggers over the weekend. The article was written by the head of Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein.  He’s a good friend of the president and the promoter the contradictory idea: “libertarian paternalism”. In the article, he muses about what government can do to combat “conspiracy” theories:

…we suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies … will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.

That’s right. Obama’s Regulation Czar is so concerned about citizens thinking the wrong way that he proposed sending government agents to “infiltrate” these groups and manipulate them. This reads like an Onion article: Powerful government official proposes to combat paranoid conspiracy groups that believe the government is out to get them…by proving that they really are out to get them. Did nothing of what Sunstein was writing strike him as…I don’t know…crazy? “Cognitive infiltration” of extremist groups by government agents? “Stylized facts”? Was “truthiness”  too pedantic?

How many of these revelations does it take before an Obama supporter who does not consider him or herself a Socialist says, “gee… I don’t feel comfortable with this”? How many Cass Sunsteins, Anita “Mao Tse” Dunns, Van Joneses does it take for democracy loving Democrats to take notice? If you do not believe Obama even leans towards a European Socialist ideology, aren’t you in the least bit curious why he has surrounded himself with extremists that profess, admire, and propose Marxist/Stalinist principles?

Just wonderin’…

You can read Stossel’s entire piece HERE.

6 thoughts on “Stealth Propaganda”

  1. It’s hard to improve upon commenter John’s response to this amazing disclosure:

    “Can you imagine the outpouring of rage and rioting in the streets that would have erupted around the nation had Karl Rove or Dick Cheney written such a piece of lunacy as Sunstien’s??”

    Exactly.

  2. As a huge and I mean HUGE John Stossel fan – the Cass Sunstein bashing is a bit much.

    1. The example used for conspiracy theorists is the 9/11 idiocies being spouted. Wouldn’t we at least want the FBI to check out “extremist” (as mentioned in the paper) organizations that say the Israelis did it?

    2. Much of what Sunstein advocates, checking out extremists, paying for commentators to tip the scales are things the government has long done. Best example is Encounter magazine during the Cold War and the program under W where certain commentators were paid off. The problem with this as Sunstein notes is that when linked to the gov’t these commentators lose their authority.

    3. Sunstein is of course of the left but he supported John Roberts nomination to SCOTUS. I doubt a “socialist” would support Roberts.

    I think this is a case of us not liking what someone says because quite frankly they pay for the other team. Libertarians like Stossel will always be hostile (they’re wonderfully consistent like that). For us we have to watch what we say and do in that if we knock it now then be prepared to be knocked on it later. I also have to add that this was after all an obscure academic paper, there is no better place to talk absolute garbage than academia.

  3. Cardinal:

    First of all, Sunstein’s paper used the 9/11 conspiracy theorists as an example, but he certainly did not limit the scope of what he considers “conspiracy theorists” to solely those that subscribe to 9/11 conspiracies.

    And herein lies the problem: Who decides what is a conspiracy theory?

    Some, like the Truthers and the Birthers, are easy to label. But beyond the obvious lunatics, who will decide what are conspiracy theories and what are legitimate concerns? The government? Remember the Clintons and their “vast right-wing conspiracy” proclamation after the Lewinski story broke out? Under Sunstein’s recommendations, the Clinton administration would have been justified in sending undercover agents to infiltrate the newsrooms of the nation’s papers and work diligently to discredit anyone who proposed such a ridiculous scenario as the president of the US receiving sexual favors from an intern in the Oval Office.

    As far as extremists go, there is a huge difference between Timothy McVeigh and Orly Taitz. One was a murderous psychopath and the other just a moonbat. Both, however, could easily fall into the “conspiracy theorist” category, which is scary when you think about it. Imagine the travesty of devoting any government resources to an Orly Taitz character when there are McVeighs running around.

    Besides the fact that I am not comfortable with either a Republican or a Democrat White House deciding whether or not a cause is acceptable or requires to be “infiltrated,” I am especially wary of this White House. There is nothing wrong with investigating questionable organizations and individuals that may present security issues. But if they are going to go so far as to conduct undercover operations and try to disband any groups, they better be able to prove there is imminent danger. There has to be a check on this power. If not, all of us, both on the right and left, can easily become targets.

  4. A-

    I can’t really say I disagree with you. My issue is that I know that in the post 9/11 world I do not find myself comfortable in the civil libertarian camp. Your fears and concerns are irrefutable. I just don’t know where we are going to draw the line. I just don’t want to discount everything he says out of hand. There might be something useful dug in there…really deep probably but dug in there nonetheless. If this was back in the day post Cold War and pre 9/11, I would be creaming bloody murder. Now, I just note it, hope it doesn’t go to far and see what happens. Not really a great defense for what I said, I know.

  5. Cardinal:

    That is the whole problem: Where do we draw the line?

    I am sure that there are some very reasonable and useful recommendations in Sunstein’s paper, but then again, this is the same guy who thought the use of sterilants in drinking water to control the world’s population was a good idea in the 70’s. I’m not saying you throw the baby out with the bathwater, but you have to consider the source. Personally, I would not appoint a person such as Sunstein, who is capable of both brilliant and lunatic solutions, to such a high level position. Usually, the bad ideas do twice as much harm as any good idea they come up with does good.

    I don’t know about you, but I would rather get advice from someone a lot less extreme.

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