Wednesday, April 08, 2009

TIME reveals Obama's mind-fuck brigade

Damon at Corrente has an excellent piece on a Time magazine story which will spawn a dozen conspiracy theories. One could argue that, in this case, we have no need for theory. Obama's reliance on a secret team of behavioral scientists is, on its face, conspiratorial.

You may want to read Damon's take in conjunction with the post below. And always keep in mind that a great many of the Obot comments I received during the primaries came from the same ISP in Chicago.

By the way... I suppose I had best make clear that the Time cover pictured here is a parody. It has come to my attention that some people may have taken it seriously.


lambert_strether said...

Thanks for the link. Glad to see you're still motivated.

Gary McGowan said...

If someone herds 10,000 cattle or sheep across our farm (or 10,000,000 fascists across Europe) and we find ourselves merely cursing the beasts and looking forward to the day when they get their comeuppance, then aren't we maybe selling ourselves short?

Who herded them? ...and what is the history of such herding ...and the principles which we can apply to better our predicament? [Can we still use the word principle? Has it become an invalid concept in consensus reality?]

Leaving aside the Babylonian priests and the various cults of the dawn of known history, here is a presentation on the control and manipulation of popular opinion in our times--maybe mom's or grandma's times, depending on one's age. It's some fours long and has its shortcomings, but I think it should be known by every high school student and citizen. Propaganda, advertising and public relations constitute a HUGE part of our lives and experience, and yet we know so little about it.

"The Century Of The Self - Part 1 of 4 - By Adam Curtis" (at google videos search for videos playable at google vids with duration greater than 20 minutes; this should display the 4 parts which together are the whole thing, although they are not consistently labeled. I think the ones posted at youtube are just shorter snippets; I doubt you'll find the whole thing at youtube.)

Anonymous said...

There's still video up that shows how Camp Obama trained people to recruit more supporters. I found the video on "Building From Self to Relationship" illuminating as it shows the manipulation of an emotionally vulnerable young woman (starts at about 16:50 but the whole video is instructive). The "Marshall Ganz Explains Development of the Why You're Here Story of Self" video explains the psychology behind the campaign's recruitment strategies.

All emphasis was on connecting on an emotional, and not an intellectual, level. Policy specifics were not to be discussed but the recruiter was instructed to relate his/her woeful tale and then try to draw out the emotional reasons a potential supporter liked Obama by finding out that person's own woeful tale. The idea was to draw parallels between the recruiter's life experiences and those of the potential supporter in order to form a bond. Then, the recruiter was to present the candidate as someone who shares their concerns and therefore offers "hope". If you've ever suffered from an attempted recruitment by a Moonie but was too polite or naive to excuse yourself, I think the technique shown in the "Building From Self to Relationship" video is much the same.

From reading the post at Corrente, I found out about the book by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago (school of (students) Loeb and Leopold, Milton Friedman, and Bruno Bettelheim), "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness". Sunstein was an advisor to the Obama campaign and is set to serve in his administration (I don't know if he's already assumed the post as head of White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs ). The book advances the idea of "libertarian paternalism" which can be achieved by "nudging" people to make choices that are deemed "correct" by those in power. According to an article in the WJS, 'Mr. Obama believes in "doing law in a way that's realistically based on human behavior," Mr. Sunstein said. "He's a University of Chicago Democrat, so he's very attuned to the virtue of free markets and the risks of free-market regulation. He's not an old-style Democrat who's excited about regulations" for their own sake.' I'm sure the banksters are relieved.

It's all about, as Don Draper would say, managing expectations.

Rich said...

Have to respond to a Don Draper shout-out: Sunstein is a formidable neo-con in neo-lib clothing. He's antagonistic to enviro regulations, aggressive anti-trust actions and a fair amount of the Great Society, where some of us came into this movie. Thaler has long been a creepy, Vulcan mind-meld type. Put their thinking together with a charismatic signifier (with brains and I believe a modicum of good will), then add the true believer troops, topped off by the most savagely attack-dog campaign management in political history (including Rove) and there are scary prospects here. The e-poison which plagued Hillary supporters from sea-to-shining sea came from the campaign and political team perched in Chicago.

Anonymous said...

I share the underwhelmed sentiment expressed by several at the linked site.

Public relations and propaganda experts have lurked in the backgrounds of many a politician's career in the modern era.

Joe McGinnis' book 'The Selling of the President' covered a myriad of such activities in the '68 Nixon campaign. Richard Wirthlin focus-grouped and poll-tested every word used by Reagan in his speeches and legislative initiatives. Clinton is said to have been the inventor of the 'permanent campaign,' whereby focus-grouped small bore initiatives were picked by comparable experts for their window dressing appeal. Bush the Stupider used more of this than did Clinton, judging by his itemized costs for polling.

So, this differs and is a new low or is shocking in exactly what way? Isn't it more of the same? (Or is that the complaint, finding the same in the change bringer?)


Gary McGowan said...

It's more of the same, and as applied to President-electing, worse--like a more widespread, more malicious and more poisonous virus.

The propaganda/mind-fucking/public relations/problem has a scope way beyond electioneering, and if more people saw into it, our culture and standard of living would improve worldwide. I'm not surprised by Obama’s actions or words, have never supported his being President (because not only is he unqualified, but he's been profiled, "groomed," and placed in office.)

The TIME article itself is disgusting. I gave up on TIME "revealing" anything decades ago.

The four-hour BBC documentary recommended above reveals quite a lot. Anyone that finds it underwhelming is either a fool or someone who should try to share with others just what shortcomings they discern in the documentary.