Politics, Oh the tangled web we weave….

Politics, Oh the tangled web we weave….

**NOTE**  “The Nazi imagery is for educational purposes only related to this post.  It in by no means is meant to spread, condone, or justify Nazi ideals.  I renounce anything related to Nazi ideology.”

“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favorable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”


I do not like to talk about politics because people hold such fixed views and therefore there really cannot be a discussion.  My parents followed the “don’t talk about religion and politics” idea.  I guess since I regularly talk about the one there is no reason not to bring up the other. Why are people’s political views so fixed and even worse, so polar?  People no longer look at an issue on its own merit but instead try to reconcile it in relation to the notion of left or right.  As a Buddhist I understand the idea of the Middle way and the non-duality of all things.  The Buddha taught that the idea of this polarity or opposites was an illusion and should be avoided. The best path was always in the middle of the two extremes.  You do not have to be a Buddhist to understand the wisdom of this.


Let me ask a question.   Do you think that it is possible that if you are on the right, and you view all issues through that lens, that your position is based on reality?  What about if you are on the left and you instantly agree with all views on the left but are immediately opposed to any idea on the right, is your position based in reality?  Well this is the place we find ourselves today.  I would contend that if everything you think is completely on one side or the other you really should stop and reconsider your position because it is not in line with reality.


People will hold one of these opposing views but simultaneusly view themselves as not like the other.  Is this a realistic view point?  Are Shawn Hannity and Rachel Maddow really any different?  You could have a Republican politician get charged with the vilest crime and Hannity would defend them and try to make out that it really wasn’t so bad.  Rachel Maddow could find out that Mother Teresa was a Republican and she would try to convince you of her evil ways and how she was a threat to your wellbeing.  They are just two sides of the same coin, not any different. These are two examples of what I am talking about and also part of the cause of the problem itself.



My 1933 VE301 Volksempfanger


My father served in WWII  as a radioman in a Grumman TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber.  So since I was a kid I have been interested in both radio and WWII history.  Latter when I went in the military myself I repaired radio and communications equipment.  This all cumulated when I began to collect and restore antique vacuum tube radios.  Being involved in this hobby I heard about a radio that started to be made in Germany before the war started called a Volksempfanger or The Peoples Radio.  Although the Nazi’s are known for their use of propaganda they did not originate it.  Hitler learned about the use of propaganda from the writings of a Frenchmen named Gustave Le Bron.  Le Bron wrote a book in 1895 called The Crowd: A study of the popular mind which talked about using propaganda to control the behavior of crowds.  This had a big impact on Hitler’s thought and came to fruition when he put Joseph Goebbels in charge of his propaganda ministry. Just before WWII radio was just coming into its own as a


goebbelsGoebbels demonstrating a Volksempfanger


Source of news and information.  Prior to this newspapers were the primary source.  Goebbels realized the speed and efficiency with which radio could communicate over the current system of using newspapers.  So he had a radio designed that would be affordable to even the lowest income German.  The idea was to ensure that there was a radio in every German household.  That way when the Nazi’s took political and physical control of all of Germanys media they would have a direct way to communicate to every German citizen.  Of course what they wanted to communicate was Nazi propaganda.  This worked great with the only problem being that German people could also pick up broadcasts from foreign radio stations such as the BBC.  The quickly made it illegal for citizens to listen to any foreign broadcasts.  They made it mandatory to hang a tag on the tuning dial called a Warnschild that warned the user against listening to foreign broadcast or be punished.


DKE38My DKE38 Volksempfanger with Warnschild


The Soviets took this idea one step further when they installed what was the forerunner of modern cable to every house and apartment.  This was even better than the Volksempfanger because there was no possibility of hearing any foreign broadcast because the Soviet government controlled the cable.


A very important point here is that history matters. It is the utmost importance to learn and understand history so that we do not repeat the evils that have been done before.  Another thing the Germans were known for doing was creating their own version of German history that had little resemblance to actual history.  The point of the alternate history was to use it in their propaganda to support their arguments for the superiority of the German race.  After the war many in America and England wondered why so many seemingly normal Germans could be convinced to go along with such radical ideas that the Nazi’s promoted.


Let’s leap across the ocean to my parent’s home in the U.S.  How did they get their news?  They got the newspaper delivered every day to the house.  In any state there were a number of statewide or national papers.  These were owned by a variety of different people and companies.  They also watched the nightly news every evening.   Although they only had a choice of three channels, NBC, ABC, and CBS these stations were also owned and operated by different people and or companies.   The news broadcast was just that, news.  Reporters had limits on how much of their opinion could creep into the broadcast.  Yes there were some opinion shows but they were kept separate from the nightly news broadcasts.  My parents were Democrats although they certainly would not recognize the democratic party of today.  Back then it was primarily a party of the American worker and the unions.  I am from Michigan and many members of my family worked for the different car factories.  Both of my Grandfathers worked for car companies, one of them after emigrating from Canada.


Now let’s take another leap to today.  We have the same two parties’ right?  No actually we don’t.  You will hear around election time both parties claiming that the other one has been bought by special interest groups.  Don’t believe it………….they both have!!  These parties do not believe in any of the things that they claim they stand for.  They have become the parties of the highest bidders. Simple logic can prove this.


As I mentioned earlier the Democrats (don’t you worry I will get to the Republicans!) during my parents and grandparents day were the party of the working man. Let’s just take two of the special interests that make up the Dem’s today.  The unions are still there although there power over the party has greatly diminished.  What is it that a workers Union strive for?  Well jobs of course!  The unions reached their peak power during the industrialization of the country.  My family is connected to the unions throughout by all of my relatives working for the car companies.  So there is no negative talk about unions when I am in their midst. 🙂  It is kind of simple logic that the more manufacturing and factories the more jobs workers have, the more powerful unions become.  Well the second special interest is the environmentalist.  They want to save the environment.  From what?  Well, all that pollution that those pesky factories create of course.  They want to prop up the EPA and impose more and more regulations to stop any form of pollution from these factories.  In fact what would really please them the most is to not have all these factories at all.  No factories, no pollution, problem solved!  Has anyone noticed that these two are diametrically opposed?  I know that there will be some that will insist that all they want is “clean” factories not to shut them down.  But any honest person that knows anything about the subject knows that is not true.  When it comes to power generation the environmentalist just want us to use re-newables and get off fossil fuels right?  So if we can go to clean re-newables you can shut down all those coal mines where those union miners work right?  Well actually……..no!


There is a really rich guy who made all his money in the oil business.  His name is T. Boone Pickens.  He bought off on this idea of clean re-newables even after years in the oil business because any normal person would rather have clean energy than dirty, it only makes sense. Besides if this clean re-newable stuff is the thing of the future it is just good business.  What do they have an overabundance of in Oklahoma?  Wind!  So he bought up a huge corridor of property in one of the windiest parts of Oklahoma.  He invested millions in Wind turbines and had a plan to set up one of the biggest wind generated electric plants in the U.S.  Well there was one minor snag.  As it turns out in order to get the power generated by the wind farm to the grid a cable had to be run through part of a National park.  They just needed to dig a trench, bury the cable, and then the path that the cable took would grow back as it was before.  So this would generate a lot of clean energy, it would create many jobs in the installation and maintenance of the equipment.  It was a win, win, for everyone, the environmentalist, the unions the Democrats.  Not!!!!!!!  The environmentalist threw a fit, protested, contacted all their Congressmen and Senators and had the whole thing stopped because you cannot, according to them, dig a trench through a National park!  So old T. Boone Pickens lost all of his investment and we lost all that could have been benefited from this project.  And of course everyone knows that the Dem’s are for the poor and really don’t like those pesky rich people.  Strangely though Hilary took millions from Wall St. for her campaign.  Wasn’t that the same Wall St.  that she was always going on about those evil republicans being indebted to? Weird huh?


Oh, don’t think the Republicans are any better!   Ask any Republican what they stand for as a party.  Fiscal responsibility, small limited Government, and the free market they will say.   Well the Republicans have the more small government, libertarian sort of folks on one hand.  Then they have the Christian Right on the other. Well I guess they must have a third hand because they have those fiscally conservative tea-party folks as well.  Well then this subject of Gay marriage came up.  Well the Christian right doesn’t want that because it goes against THEIR Religious beliefs.  They would like to govern everyone based on THEIR understanding of moral conduct.  Since being Gay is against the bible there should be no gay marriage in THEIR country.  In fact we should enact many laws based on THEIR morality. Well how are we going to do that if we have a small government?  If we shrink the government down to the size that the small government arm of the Republicans would like to have there would barley be enough people working for the government to enforce offenders of Federal felonies let alone who is married to who.  Personally I think marriage should not be controlled by the government at all.  Take the government right out of it.  To most people marriage is a spiritual union.  So you give control over marriage to the religious institutions and don’t give any government benefit at all.  For the things you get currently for being married, like insurance or hospital decisions of loved ones, you just draw up a contract. That contract can be between any two people.  So if your sister has three kids and no insurance you can have a legal agreement with her and her and her kids can be on your insurance.  If one church wants to marry people that are gay and another does not, the gay people can go to the first church and get married. That way it does not infringe on the gay persons right to be married or the religious institutions beliefs.


Oh yeah and then there is those fiscal conservatives.  They are always talking about that National debt.  The strange thing is when Bush was president he spent like a drunken sailor!  He was a republican right? Oh and small government?  How many government agencies did Bush create?  After 911 it was realized that one of the reasons we did not know about the plot beforehand is that the different agencies were not communicating with each other.  So what did Bush the small government guy do to fix the problem?  Well he created another agency of course!  Now we have another agency above the agencies that communicate with each other.  Lastly there are those free market principles, if you are a Republican you gotta love them.  As soon as Bush realized we were about to have a financial crisis which any free marketer would say, let the free market fix it, he  began without a flinch and started the process of arranging all the bail outs!  Because to fix the free market we have to sometimes abandon free market principals???  Weird huh?


Remember that I said my parents watched the news each night or read the paper to get their news.  You tell me where you can watch a news broadcast like they watched?  There are NONE!!!!!  Even though they have names like, Fox News or Cable News Network, these are not news.  They are 100% (or very close) opinion.  Do you know another name for one sided opinion (in reference to news channels), it is called propaganda!  Propaganda plain and simple.  These “news” agencies are all owned by a very few conglomerates run by a very few very powerful people.  They do nothing to serve the country or its people they are mouth pieces to spread those powerful peoples own right or left propaganda. They churn out propaganda 24/7, oh Goebbels could not have dreamed of a better system.  Almost all talk radio broadcast are controlled by the right.  All but one Television outlet is controlled by the left.  Is this my imagination?  Let’s take a look at  television.  A very few people in relation to the whole country are privy to see this left wing propaganda machine in action.  The few that get to see this are our military men and women.  If you are in the military and overseas you likely cannot understand the language of the local t.v. network.  So the military came up with something called AFN, Armed Forces Network.  They provide English broadcasting from American to all our military overseas.  They have one channel that is just news.  It broadcasts one hour of each of the major U.S. news channels in a repeating circular fashion. So you get one hour each of, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.  Then it starts over again and you get the next hour of each one.  So what is unique here is that you get to see all of the channels one right after another. Most people in America watch just one or a couple of the aforementioned news agencies.  With AFN you see how each one is reporting any given breaking news.  I worked with the military (and was in the military) for a time so I was privileged to this as well.  The weird thing I noticed is that  all of the networks, except FOX, were all reporting the news the same way.  I don’t mean that they were just reporting the same event or even that they had a left lean on the reporting.  They were using the same words and phrases in the reporting as all the others.  Then FOX would come on and you would get words and phrases that matched all the talk radio (AFN has radio stations as well).  The same words, same phrases.  Of course all the media will exclaim that there is NO left leaning media bias.  Well that is sort of true because there is both left and right media bias and it is not just leaning!  It is full on propaganda!


Well I am on a roll and there is no stopping me now, but this is getting long for a post so I will see you in part two.  I didn’t want to do this but otherwise this post would just be to long. Please feel free to comment but hold any judgement about this post until part two comes out.  By the way the quote at the beginning of this post was from Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.



7 thoughts on “Politics, Oh the tangled web we weave….

  1. Let me ask a question. Do you think that it is possible that if you are on the right, and you view all issues through that lens, that your position is based on reality? What about if you are on the left and you instantly agree with all views on the left but are immediately opposed to any idea on the right, is your position based in reality?

    I like this passage very much. I’m a democratic socialist, and maybe a Buddhist (I’ve given the former a lot of thought, but am just coming to learn about the latter). And I can say very much that I wish my fellow socialists would consider the arguments of the other side. They’re not wrong about everything. It may be that we have to take a step left or a step right — maybe even several steps left or right — to get on a healthy course; it so happens that I think we need several steps left. But I can’t make those steps in a fruitful way if I ignore everything that my perceived opponents are saying. The world is too complex for that, though it makes great fodder for the reality TV show that our national government has become and the cable talking heads that cover it. This is just one example of why the Buddha’s teaching of non-duality resonates with me. I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jessie,

      I think that this is a very important point that you mention. There is a lot of confusion amongst non-Buddhist that a Buddha image is an idol. In the strictest sense it is a visual image of an ideal. It is a visual image of what we as Buddhist should strive for. That is not to say that it (the image) has not become more than that to many Buddhist but that is a whole discussion in its self. But in the Western mind we generally see this very differently. How many times have you heard a non-Christian say that some Christian is bad because they do something In thier life that is not inline with what is perceived a Christian should be doing? You will even hear Christians groups fight about which group is the most Christian or truest Christian. In the Buddhism of the East it isn’t like this. It is seen a a good thing and enough that you are trying or striving for the ideal. You are not knocked for not living up to the ideal in every way. It is of course the most difficult for an individual to live up to the ideal when things are going badly or they are under some form of pressure. This is where we as humans tend to fail. I feel that this is what is happening to both the Buddhist and the Muslims in Myanmar. They are just being human.

      Don’t be offended but I am not a big fan of socialism. Please give me a oppertunity to explain. I am sort of a history nut and where for most people history was boring in school I was fascinated with it. The problem with socialism or its extremes is not the concept or the ideal, it is the people. History shows when ever a person or group of people have to much power they tend to start doing bad things with it. When I was living in Korea I visited the DMZ between North and South Korea. It had a profound effect on me. What I was seeing was the troops, walls, barbed wire, we’re all devices to keep people IN and not out as in most other countries.

      I will elaborate on this more later but right now there is a specific reason why I can’t. This reason ties directly into what we are discussing. I will be able to explain in four days when I return from the trip I am on. Please be patient, when I am able to explain you will understand. Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not offended, because I understand the baggage of the term. But I must clarify: what you’re talking about is not remotely related to what I mean by “socialism.” It’s a little like taking the murderers of the Rohingya and saying “well, this must be Buddhism because this is what self-described Buddhists did.” The most poignant moment in the tragedy of socialist history for me was when Menshevik leader Yuli Martov stormed out of the council of Soviets right after the Russian Revolution because of the Bolsheviks’ undemocratic behavior, and which to me represents the departure from the ideal I’m callig “socialism.” As a fellow history buff, allow me to indulge:

        Trotsky: “You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on — into the dustbin of history!”
        Martov: “Then we’ll leave!”
        (Martov walked in silence away without looking back. He paused at the exit, seeing a young Bolshevik worker wearing a black shirt with a broad leather belt, standing in the shadow of the portico.)
        Young Bolshevik, bitterly: “And we amongst ourselves had thought, Martov would at least remain with us.” Martov: “One day you will understand the crime in which you are taking part.”

        If you prefer more substance and less narrative, here’s my favorite article on the topic: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/10/how-to-be-a-socialist-without-being-an-apologist-for-the-atrocities-of-communist-regimes

        Incidentally, I just posted about what I mean by “socialism” over in my blog: https://counternarration.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/community-an-eroding-american-value/ It’s possible that others will find another term more useful, and that’s okay. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet — and calling a lump of manure a “rose” doesn’t make it one. Unlike an individual practicing a faith, a political system does get knocked for not living up to the ideal; for particularly egregious failures of the sort we saw in the USSR, the DPRK, etc., you get stripped of the label entirely.

        At any rate, it comes down to being clear about what we mean by the term. So please rest assured that I don’t think the DPRK is anything to admire. What’s happened there is among the worst things to unfold in modern history. (I visited the DMZ while living in Japan, too. The feeling there was similar to the one evoked in the passage I quoted above, that’s for sure.)

        I’ll look forward to your further thoughts!


      2. Jessie

        I had written a explanation but then I realized where I was (physically) and I had to delete half of it. Where I am right now it could be literally dangerous to me to say some of the things I had written. But in my haste of deleting I did not communicate clearly what I was trying to say. That is why I said to hold on a few days and I would be able to explain. I did not mean to imply that the Socialism that you are speaking of is the same as what exists in the DPRK. I have two more nights here and then I can explain my situation. Please be patient with me. 😨


      3. Jessie

        I decided to respond to your questions with a new post. I hope that even though we are separated by politics we can still continue to have conversations. This is the only way the world will become a better place!


      4. Hmmm…well, of course we can still have conversations even if we disagree. If you poke around my blog, you’ll see that conversing with people of different opinions is something I really enjoy! At the same time, I hope you’ll really listen to the points I’m making. I’ll note here only that I don’t believe I asked a single question in my post here…but am instead trying to communicate something to you about what I and others who are calling themselves “socialists” are aiming for. To have a conversation, please listen to me and consider the points I am making, rather than leaping to conclusions based on people who are the equivalent of the murderers of the Rohingya as representatives for Buddhism. It may well be that I am still wrong. If I am wrong, I’d like to realize that, and good conversation could help me do that. But it also may be that you are wrong.

        (Perhaps now that you’re back, you could take a look at those links I shared, so you see what precisely I’m talking about! There’s still going to be a gap between us, but at least our conversation will be more grounded.)

        Or perhaps (as I note in my recent blog post) I should be using a different word — though based on your comments, you might see “socialist” elements in our proposals, so I feel it’s better to be up front about that and work through it, to get to that end of reaching wisdom and using it to craft policy that make our communities — and the world — a better place! It might be that we’re closer together than we think, and that semantics make the gulf between us look wider.

        I’ll move over to the other post now to address the substance!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s