Puppy Dog Tales
Expanded from the 5-6-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

   Public relations, they had called it in America, the multi-billion dollar industry that could make a talentless oaf a celebrity, a fool a sage, and a base opportunist a statesman.

   Propaganda, they called it in Russia, but it was the same tool.
– Frederick Forsyth, 1996

About 30 years ago, Jock Elliott, CEO of Ogilvy and Mather, one of the world's four largest advertising agencies, spoke at a Reno Ad Club dinner. Elliott was asked if advertising messages had to be tailored differently to various cultures. Surprisingly, his answer was no.

"People are people everywhere you go," he stated, "and the one thing they are most interested in is themselves."

Elliott's career included a long stint as editor of Reader's Digest. He used their marketing research as an example.

He reminded the audience that they had seen the little magazine in grocery stores with a sticker on the cover promoting three stories inside. Those titles were carefully chosen. As part of an ongoing campaign, Reader's Digest would mail a letter to residents of three different cities every month. The editors offered free preview copies of three articles in an upcoming issue. Respondents needed only to check three titles from an enclosed list.

The top three appeared on the magazine cover sticker when the issue hit the streets a few months later.

Elliott recalled that one month, an article on how to cut the fat out of the federal budget came in last among 50. How to lose weight was by far number one. People are interested in themselves.

Nothing has changed. The purveyors of propaganda, corporations, politicians and patricians, know how to punch the hot buttons to keep the lower classes fighting among themselves rather than becoming angry at the button punchers.

A poll last week showed that 69 percent of Nevadans favor an increase in casino taxes. (Outside of three or four California reservation joints, our gambling halls pay the lowest levies in the world. Always have.)

The University of Nevada's Alan Bible Research Center used to do a comprehensive and objective statewide poll every two years, just in time to inform each biennial legislative session. The research consistently showed seven of ten Nevadans favoring a hike in the casino tax. The gamblers didn’t like it. Magically, funding for the poll dried up.

In the current edition of the Reno News & Review, former Tribune columnist Dennis Myers has published the third part of his trilogy "on the way we are manipulated through the misrepresentation of science, rewriting of history and abuse of language."

He recounts the story of how the doctors' lobby created a phony malpractice insurance crisis through manipulating the media a few years ago. This resulted in a special session of the legislature with the net result of pretty much preventing butchered patients from suing for damages. This is nothing new from our healers. In the late 1940's, the American Medical Association killed President Truman's proposal for national health insurance by calling it a communist plot.

At last week's Ten Little White Guys TV show, the Republican presidential candidates trashed Hillary Clinton's 1993 attempt at national health care as "socialized medicine." Nothing's changed.

Nevada has always been a free for all when it comes to snake oil peddlers. Some get elected, some practice law or medicine.

With malpractice lawsuits now becoming a thing of the past, the ducks are quacking so loudly that University of Massachusetts political science professor Susan Gallagher has built a whole website about Silver State charlatans.

She is especially critical of a joint promotion between some defrocked docs and a Las Vegas network TV station. She decries the booming business of "medical tourism" in Nevada. While part of her complaint is personal involving a family member, the site is worth a review, especially with additional legislation before lawmakers which would further keep doctors from being sued.

Every day, some marketing research firm is polling, prodding and interviewing the great unwashed to find out what we want to hear and the words with which we want the message delivered. Such syllables soon revisit us in the form of talking points or TV ads.

Pacifism = Pacified

   ...Time and again, people struggling not for some token reform but for complete liberation — the reclamation of control over our own lives and the power to negotiate our own relationships with the people and the world around us — will find that nonviolence does not work, that we face a self-perpetuating power structure that is immune to appeals to conscience and strong enough to plow over the disobedient and uncooperative.
   We must reclaim histories of resistance to understand why we have failed in the past and how exactly we achieved the limited successes we did. We must also accept that all social struggles, except those carried out by a completely pacified and thus ineffective people, include a diversity of tactics.

Full story
Protest Is Dead. Long Live Protest.
Meet the new boss: You
Utne Reader, May-June 2007

For the bad guys, a split is as good as a win. News media report the American public as "split" on withdrawing from Iraq, abortion and a host of other life and death issues. Nevadans are split on full-day kindergarten.

The split reflects a divide, so the dividers conquer.

I feel sorry for lonely war protesters in the street. The powerful don't listen because they don't have to. The public is split.

Brown people demonstrating for equal justice under the law get one-shot publicity in Reno and become Los Angeles dodgers at McArthur Park as LAPD runs wild one more time.

The usual expressions of outrage and calls for investigation follow, then nada.

Meanwhile, our brutal, impersonal profiteering system continues to corrode the American Dream.

When was the last time you heard anyone advocate cutting our trillion-dollar war budgets and spending money here at home?

Our political choices fall between Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber. Paper or plastic? Coke or Pepsi? War or more war?

The current edition of Utne Reader Magazine has two unrelated articles which actually dovetail nicely. One is about a guy who started a successful specialty sodapop store in the Highland Park area of LA. He carries over 500.

"As consumers, we're left with the illusion of choice," writer Jeff Penalty notes, "our only options being two mediocre colas that basically taste the same."

The other article asserts that peaceful protest does not work.

The way we roll over and play dead, I cannot disagree.

Be well. Raise hell.



Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti-New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $8,520,829.88 in 2007 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

...and more ammo

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966

      Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
I've been telling you so for more than 10 freakin' years

Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive



Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
      RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

"Our long national nightmare is over."
Did I say that a dozen years ago?
CORY FARLEY, RGJ, 11-10-2006

BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006

Oregon State U. minimum wage deflator

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The reasons behind the failure
of Nevada's first non-smoking casino

Barbwire 3-2-1990



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Copyright © 1982, 2007 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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