Glenn Greenwald has a cynical piece on Obama’s corporate-shill economic team, well worth reading in full – as they say, Wall Street spent more to elect Barack Obama than any previous candidate – but particularly valuable is Greenwald’s little gem of advice for interpreting propaganda:
Geithner wasn’t chosen and hasn’t remained despite being ”associated with the deregulatory policies of the past” and despite being the bankers’ “man in Washington.” He is empowered precisely because of those facts, as was pointed out even before Obama’s inauguration. That Geithner and Summers were empowered after enabling the financial crisis through Wall Street subservience isn’t a mystery; it’s the explanation. (And just by the way, replacing the word “despite” with the phrase “because of” is — in general — one of the most valuable tools for translating Washington propaganda into reality; here is an excellent example showing how that works, from the first paragraph of a New York Times article two weeks ago:
“Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.”
Note how the paragraph instantly transforms from misleading nonsense into obvious truth simply by changing “despite” to “because of”; this repeatedly is an effective instrument for deciphering propaganda – e.g., the U.S. continues to brutalize people in the Muslim world “despite” the fact that doing so produces more Terrorism and thus ensures Endless War.)
Oppositions implied by words like “despite” or “but” are entirely in the mind of the observer, and depend on some kind of presupposition. This is one of the reasons why reading the newspaper, or listening to political commentary or news, can be so frustrating: if you don’t share the guiding presuppositions, the logic and even the language will make no sense at all. I often wonder at the way people can listen blithely to an hour of NPR or read through a good chunk of the newspaper without feeling at least a little bit angry at the way their consent and agreement to any number of propositions is presumed by the presentation, but who knows, perhaps they do consent and do agree. But the nature of these sorts of things is, the less you expose yourself to it, the less you agree with it.