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Angry Americans and Freudian fraud
Expanded from the 8-23-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

      "I'm still taken aback at the extent of indoctrination and propaganda in the United States. It is as if people there are being reared in a sort of altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen."
— Indian novelist Arundhati Roy
From The Silence of the Cows
Barbwire 9-12-2004

While slogging my way to a degree in business frustration at Fresno State, I avoided two classes: advertising and salesmanship. I was convinced that such professions were immoral.

After more than four decades practicing both, I conclude that I was correct.

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I underestimated their scope and breadth. Salesmanship is the more benign of the two, as you will get nowhere in life if you can't sell your point of view in everything from a job application to a marriage proposal.

Bob Dylan once sang that everyone must serve somebody. The corollary is that everyone must sell somebody, including themselves.

Some advertising is very useful like the billboard which warns "last gasoline for 120 miles."

The old admonition of moderation in all things has somehow never applied to Americans.

Like our national sports, advertising has long been on steroids. The term itself is a euphemism.

Advertising is propaganda, a point of view cleverly cloaked in an inviting package.

Author Sinclair Lewis once stated that "when dictatorship comes to the U.S., it will arrive packaged as democracy."

The recent revelations by former homeland security czar Tom Ridge come as no surprise to Nevadans.

I have long opined that Karl Rove ordered Ridge to issue a panic bulletin ("Las Vegas under imminent threat of terrorist attack") just before the 2004 presidential election. The phony propaganda resulted in His Accidency Bush the Lesser carrying Nevada.

Americans did not invent the art of propaganda, but we have certainly refined it to a borderline science.

The Typhoid Mary of U.S. sheep-shearing was Edward Bernays, nephew of none other than Dr. Sigmund Freud hisself.

Bernays worked in military propaganda during World War One and came out wondering if those techniques could be applied to mass marketing.

Bernays helped pioneer the template for whipping a nation into war frenzy. As the Great War approached, there were about as many reasons to intervene on the side of the Germans as on the side of the British and French. The U.S. had large numbers of German-Americans in major population centers.

Our government propaganda machine circulated horror stories about undisciplined Hessian hordes bayonetting babies. The war stories proved totally false, but they worked and President Woodrow Wilson, who was re-elected in 1916 promising to remain neutral, took us in.

During the war, the tobacco industry used the government to hook generations of men on smoking by make a big splash shipping "good quality American tobacco products" to "our boys over there."

Bernays expanded the market to the other half of the population. Before he came along, cigarettes were deemed a filthy and unladylike habit. Women just would not light up until Bernays arranged fashion magazine spreads showing chic models with cigarettes in hand. The New York Times and papers across the country ran front page photos of puffing cadres of young ladies marching in the 1934 New York Easter Parade. Cancer as a fashion statement.

At age 103 in 1994, Bernays remained ashamed of that campaign. You've come a long way, baby.

The phony bayonetted babies of WWI were revived in 1990 by Bernays' old firm, Hill and Knowlton, to sell Bush Senior's Gulf War. Remember the stories of Saddam Hussein's thugs bayonetting babies and stealing their incubators during the Kuwait invasion? Pure perjury before congress by the Kuwaiti royal family and Hill and Knowlton, but the big lie worked again.

On Sept. 4, 1994, I wrote that "allegations of communist leanings, socialism and treason were used to bloat the military-industrial complex during the Cold War, to destroy President Truman's national health care initiative in the late 1940s and to kill the Consumer Protection Agency Act in the 1970s. The same techniques are being used to ravage the public interest today. Look at the current health care hassle." (At the time the latter was written, the health care industry was busy killing what came to be known as Hillarycare.)

"The manufacture of consent was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy," a former war information office colleague of Bernays wrote in 1922. "But it has not died out," Walter Lippman added.

"Under the impact of propaganda, it is no longer possible to believe in the original dogma of democracy," that it necessarily reflects the popular will in any significant way, the legendary New York Times columnist concluded.

"Beginning in 1945," Australian University of New South Wales Professor Alex Carey wrote, "the post-war conservative assault on public opinion revived the two dominant themes of the 1930s: (1) Identification of the traditional American free enterprise system with social harmony, freedom, democracy, family, church and patriotism, and (2) identification of all government regulation of affairs of business, and all liberals who supported such interference, with communism and subversion."

This is rhetoric later regurgitated by muttonheaded sheep from Ronald Reagan to Lush Rambo, I wrote 15 years ago.

Nothing's changed. In the September, 2004, edition of Harper's Magazine, Editor Lewis Lapham's cover story noted that over the past three decades, corporate America has pushed a conservatively estimated (and fully tax-deductible) $3 billion through its propaganda grinder.

The Guns of August
Frank Rich / NY Times / 8-23-2009

A public option that works
NY Times / 8-23-2009

Public Option Dead
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio



The health care industrial complex just made that $100 million a year figure both cheap and obsolete.

Lapham's 2004 cover story was entitled Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History.

What word have you heard most often in the current thuggery surrounding congressional Democrats' attempts to hold town hall forums on health care? Anger.

Corporate media have regularly noted that while protestors often have their facts wrong (and how!), the rage in many cases is genuine. But they don't explore the sources.

Americans today are the hardest working people in the world. Our productivity (output of goods and services per hour worked) has gone up even as the economy has gone down.

But the average American worker hasn't had a raise, adjusted for inflation, since 1973. We work more and more for less and less. Only the working wife kept the American household somewhere near even through the 1970's, but it's been downhill since.

Clever propagandists know how to come up with buzzwords to focus that vague anger to serve corporate ends. Death panels, anyone?

Republican strategist Frank Luntz has advised his clients to use "government option" to replace "public option" in the current health care feeding frenzy.

The Democrats are not smart enough to respond with "Medicare for everyone."

And so the strong will continue to profit on human misery by selling exploitation as patriotism and freedom.

The question is, will you let them?

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Reruns of his legislative session TV programs are cablecast Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and high-definition channel 80-295, available on demand at Barbwire.TV. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

The Dean's List

   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

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

...and more ammo

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know

Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

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.

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 $801,659,751.04 in 2005 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

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

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Copyright © 1982-2009 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

He hosts news and talk Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at
Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital cable channels 16 and 216, high-definition channel 80-295. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988 and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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