6/09/2007

06-09-07 - 1

It's a good measure of the degredation of our democracy that many of the "dirty tricks" used by Colson & Haldeman on behalf of Nixon and other Republicans are now considered standard political tactics, largely popularized by Rove. A few of them are :

Fake news articles & fake impartial experts. Colson & Haldeman had a network of writers and editors that they could plant stories through, which they had won with favors, information, etc. They would just let them know that they wanted an article about some opponent and it would happen. This is still employed today, along with directly paying "reporters" to present political information as if it were impartial. It's quite shocking to me that this is legal (in fact it isn't, but it's hard to prove that it's being done for political purposes as opposed to education of the populace, which is legal). Of course it's hardly necessary these days, the administration can simply pass on whatever they want to certain reporters and its printed in our major newspapers.

Fake biographies & old friends. In this technique a fake "expert" masquerades as a professor-type and writes a biography or articles that are intended as political poison. A similar method is to find people from the opponents past that will spread dirt about them, true or not.

Fake grass-roots opposition. In this technique a supposedly-local grass roots opposition movement arises to protest someone's position or oppose their reelection, perhaps making a big stink. In fact the movement was funded and created by the political operatives, and is often manned by staffers from the home office pretending to be concerned locals. We saw this in heavy use in the Florida recount, but it's now become a totally standard technique.

Staged photo ops and interviews. This one is so over the top it's become hillarious, even Nixon didn't have the nerve to believe that you could create totally scripted town hall meetings and have them be believable, but our standards for our politicians and our news reporting has plummeted so far that these hardly raise an eyebrow any more.

In fact the only thing that isn't being copied (so far as a I know) is wire-tapping, breaking & entering, and other illegal spying techniques to gather information on the opposition. There is such a great ability to gather information legally these days that these methods just aren't necessary.

As usual, the history that most people know is this watered down pleasant version that doesn't get into the real muck. People think of Nixon's sin as "Watergate" which they either think of as the taping of calls or the break-in. Both of those were relatively minor offenses compared to the long-term scheme of political sabotage and media manipulation that his underlings had orchestrated. And even that is pretty minor, which you consider that basically Rove does it today out in the open and nobody cares. In fact, Nixon should be remembered for negotiating the allowed genocide in Bangladesh, and the bombing and invasion of Cambodia which led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

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old rants