Saturday, April 19, 2008

U.S. Democracy, Elections: An Illusion?

The following is a cross post from my friend, Sean Madden's, with this caveat: Although I agree with Sean's introductory assessment of our illusionistic "Democratic" elections, I am not convinced that Barack Obama is a willful participant in the Establishment's fascist charade.

Perhaps, to maintain my own sanity, I need to hold out hope that his candidacy is about changing the very things Mr. Engdahl illuminates. That is why I am supporting Barack Obama for President. There are many indications -- subtle, but there nonetheless -- that Obama is not part of the incestuous behind-the-scenes Washington power elite, although he will most assuredly be wooed by the powers-that-be in an attempt to control him. I'm betting he will not take the bait.

I'm interested in what others think and am sending an email to Mr. Engdahl for his thoughts on Obama. I'll let you know his response.

First, Sean's introduction:

Political Incest and Psychological Warfare

Introduction by
I post the below article not because I give a damn about Hillary's campaign being deliberately sunk. Nor would I give a rat's ass (a favored expression of my dead father) if Obama's or McCain's was similarly sunk. Huge hoorays, rather, would be in order were all three to go down along with the permanent political establishment which parades these shameless shills before us, offending our every sensibility with their endless mind rot.

Instead, I post this piece because the political incest of which Engdahl writes provides yet further evidence -- for those who require it -- of collusion between the anti-democratic political elite of the so-called left, right and center.

This -- not the election charade -- is what folk need to talk about as they go about their day-to-day. The rest is but drivel. But such drivel endlessly pumped out of the media machine's shitty depths and straight into our increasingly passive minds is more powerful than guns, bombs and rockets, unless we can individually, and thereby collectively, become explicitly aware of the psychological war that the candidates and their corporate-political (i.e., fascist) masters are waging, ceaselessly and at every turn, as a means to control our political- and, indeed, our very self-consciousness. In short, to control us, as individuals and in the collective. Fascism.

This war, for the simple fact that most haven't noticed, they have already won -- what with their 16 intelligence agencies (in the U.S. alone, and bolstered immeasurably by the global military-industrial complex of 'defense' contractors which people these conspiring enterprises and vice versa), their in-pocket 'journalists', their corporate mass-broadcasters, their corporations, period, not to mention their fraudulent banks, money-laundering stock markets, and money-printing central banks -- unless we are to wake up and, en masse, bring a quick and decisive end to their endgame by way of an utter refusal to participate in any aspect of their genocidal endeavors, to begin to recognize, fully, that black's not white, nor white black, and to speak and to live the real reality -- that which we see, smell, taste, touch and hear and otherwise sense -- which exists within and all around us rather than to accept the pseudo-reality which we, in waterboarding fashion, are presently forced to swallow and to breathe deep into our drowning minds.

And, so, it is with this in my own mind that I post the following piece. Please share widely.
Is the Hillary Clinton campaign being deliberately sunk?
By F. William Engdahl
Online Journal Guest Writer
Apr 16, 2008, 00:18

American presidential politics are at best a cynical business. The outcome is typically determined, at least since the ill-fated campaign of George McGovern in 1972, by major corporate lobbyists and behind-the-scenes money interests who have little interest in national issues other than their own. Now, with the sudden departure of Hillary Clinton's main campaign strategist, Mark Penn, it is clear that the powerful interests originally backing Clinton have decided to end the game with her.

On the surface the issue was a discovered conflict of interest between Penn and Hillary over Penn's outside consulting for the government of Colombia on a policy which Hillary stated she opposed. Penn had agreed to be hired as a high-price lobbyist by Colombia to help secure congressional passage of a bilateral US-Colombia free trade bill that US unions claim would cost American workers hundreds of thousands of jobs. Hillary desperately needed trade union support to win the primary in Pennsylvania, and unions are strongly opposed to the US-Colombia trade deal.

The curious career of Mark Penn

The figure of Mark Penn is revealing as to what the machine of Hillary Clinton represents in terms of power politics. Penn had been a political adviser of the Clintons since managing Bill Clinton's 1996 gubernatorial re-election fight. His firm ran the election polls that helped define Clinton's campaign strategy, itself a cynical modern US electoral innovation, updating with high tech means the motto, "tell the people what they want to hear." Pennís polling firm, Penn, Schoen and Berland (PSB) has been used by Britain's Tony Blair, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, by Menachim Begin in Israel and Senator Joe Lieberman to shape election strategy.

PSB has played a pioneering role in the use of polling operations, especially "exit polls," in facilitating various US-backed "Color Revolutions" in Serbia and elsewhere. Its primary mission is to shape the perception that the group installed in power in a targeted country has broad popular support. The PSB group began work in Serbia during the period when Mark Penn was President Clinton's top political advisor.

Manipulating exit polls

The PSB website boasts that they "have played critical roles behind the scenes of the elections in Serbia and Zimbabwe, helping the opposition parties craft strategies, messages and organize a credible and effective campaign that has enabled them to weaken the dictator, his political party, and eventually throw him out of power. The introduction of cutting edge political and communications techniques is as well as the advice of the best Western political consultants and image makers, is as potent a weapon as the planes, bombs, and intelligence technology used in such conflicts as the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, and, most recently Afghanistan." In short, PSB is at the cutting edge of the modern politics of images.

In 2004, it was PSB which ran the "exit polls" in Venezuela asserting, even as voting was still open, that their polls showed "major defeat for Chavez." The opposite was the case with Chavez winning an overwhelming 59 percent. Investigation revealed that Penn's PSB had emailed and faxed their poll results to international media four hours before polls were to close, proclaiming, on the basis of the fraudulent polls, that Chavez had lost. That was in violation of Venezuelan election law and was intended to rally international support behind a campaign to declare Chavez guilty of vote fraud and organize a recall. It backfired and PSB came under public fire as a result.

Referring to Mark Penn, the influential Washington Post once referred to him as "the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of." According to PSB's website, Penn helped elect 15 overseas presidents in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe. Clients include heads of state or opposition politicians in Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Yugoslavia.

About the "permanent establishment"

Mark Penn is exemplary of what US political insiders refer to as a person of the "permanent establishment," the shadowy institutions and insiders behind the curtains who really determine critical policy issues and shape the choices gullible voters then are given to "democratically choose among."

It has been referred to by strategists since the time of Edward Bernays as the "illusion of choice." Penn is above political party, serving the interests of what some call the permanent establishment. As a case in point, he also is CEO of the influential global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, which includes among clients the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, and Blackwater Inc., the Republican-led mercenary security firm that has been accused of repeated killings of innocent Iraqi civilians. Penn's firm was to make sure the "image" of such clients remained positive to the US public.

. . . political incest?

More interesting is that "Democrat" Penn's Burson-Marsteller Worldwide owns BKSH & Associates, a major political lobbying firm run by Charles R. Black, Jr., counsellor to Republican presidents. Black now works full time for the campaign of Republican John McCain. In other words, Black heads a firm whose boss is "Democrat" Clinton's top strategist, at the same time Black is Republican opponent John McCain's top strategist.

In turn, Penn's firm, Burson-Marsteller is owned by British advertising and public relations giant WPP Group which employs as lobbyists former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie; former House of Representatives Republican leader Robert S. Walker, top Republican fundraiser Wayne L. Berman and the former media adviser to George W. Bush, Mark McKinnon.

In the wake of the resignation of Mark Penn, reports in Washington are that James Carville, former 1992 campaign adviser to Bill Clinton, to Tony Blair and Israel's Ehud Barak, will assume the role of campaign strategist. It is worth noting that Carville is also deep in Washington political incest. While Carville was running the 1992 Clinton strategy, Carville's fiancee, Mary Matalin was running the campaign strategy of President George Herbert Walker Bush. As the old expression goes, US politics, at least, has indeed strange bedfellows.

This article was originally published by the Center for Research on Globalization

F. William Engdahl is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization and author of the recently-released book, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation ( He also author of "Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics," Pluto Press Ltd. He may be contacted at his website,

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Also See:

  • Why Bush Watergated Spitzer

  • Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand | NYT | David Barstow:
    "In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantanamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded 'the gulag of our times' by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure. The administration's communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantanamo... Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse - an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks...."
  • Talking to ourselves | Los Angeles Times | Susan Jocoby:
    "...It is past time for Americans to stop attributing the polarization of our public life to the media, the demon entity "Washington" or "the elites." As long as we continue to avoid the hard work of scrutinizing public affairs without the filter of polemical shouting heads, we have no one to blame for the governing class and its policies but ourselves. Like Hofstadter, I yearn to live in a society that values fair-mindedness. But it will take nothing less than a revolutionary public recommitment to the pursuit of fairness, knowledge and memory to halt, much less reverse, the trend toward an ignorant single-mindedness that threatens the future of democracy itself."


profmarcus said...

it's been a while since i've been a regular visitor to your blog... too long, in fact... it's good to be back...

i am in total agreement with you about obama... while i still hold reservations about him, particularly when i look at his roster of advisors and see someone like zbigniew brezinski, i cannot help but feel that recent events indicate that obama has NOT - yet, at least - sold his soul... why else would our media, political, corporate, and governmental elites be so intent on taking him down...? obama very obviously scares the bejabbers out of them or we would not be seeing such a concerted effort to destroy him...

can obama keep his integrity intact, not only through the campaign, but after he assumes office...? is he the "real thing"...? i, too, WANT to believe, but after the past decade-plus, i remain highly cynical... but, what else can we do but go by what we see, and what i see is fundamentally encouraging...

B Lester said...

Excellent post and analysis of Mark Penn. His PSB website also gives him cred it for "devising" the Tony Blair slogan, "Forward, not backward."

Of course, that line was actually "devised" by the writers of "The Simpsons" for an episode where someone was running for president of the United States.

Showing that in additiion to being an unethical, slimy and devious character, he is a fraud and a liar.

But the pig has his snout firmly planted in the campaign's treasury, milking it for every dime, incliding the "3 AM ad" which he copied from two earlier campaigns -- and copied it incompetently at that.