“George Orwell and the Power of a Well-Placed Lie” by Robert Kuttner (billmoyers.com)

George Orwell in 1940. (Wikimedia Commons)

January 25, 2017.  This post originally appeared at The Huffington Post.

Last week, I reached for my Philip Roth — his splendid novel, The Plot Against America. This week, I reached for my George Orwell.

In 1946, as Europe was digging out from the ruin of World War II — a genuine case of mass carnage as opposed to President Donald Trump’s fantasy carnage — Orwell wrote the classic essay on the seductions of propaganda, “Politics and the English Language.”

Much of the essay, widely assigned in English classes, warns how stale writing leads to sloppy thinking. But the most original part is Orwell’s evisceration of propaganda.

Long before Trump, the ‘mainstream’ Republican Party made lies a staple of its arsenal, from its lies about Obamacare to its bogus budget numbers to its false contentions of fraudulent voting.

Combined with his great novel 1984, written in 1949 as a dystopian warning about the way totalitarian practice becomes internalized in totalitarian thinking, these two great works gave us the adjective, “Orwellian.”

In  1984, we learned the official slogans of the party: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” only slight parodies of communism and Nazism.

“Freedom is Slavery” was not far from the infamous greeting at the gates of Auschwitz, “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

And “Ignorance is Strength” seems to be Donald Trump’s credo and operating premise — ignorance for both himself and his public.

Orwell’s target was the prettified euphemism, used mostly by extreme left-wing and right-wing parties and governments. If people could be persuaded to accept the reframing, they might well alter their conception of reality.

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell made great sport of pretentious writing and mixed metaphors, such as “The capitalist octopus has sung its swan song.” But he was dead serious about the political point. He wrote:

Defenseless villages are bombed from the air, their inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called “pacification.” Millions of peasants are robbed of their land and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called “transfer of population.”

Note that Orwell was writing two full decades before the Vietnam War. Even before the advent of Donald Trump, the misuse of language in our own day has been in many respects more insidious and more corrosive than the plague against which Orwell was warning.

Orwell’s examples came from either totalitarian governments or far-left and far-right parties in the democracies. In America, a democracy, both major parties have increasingly used Orwellian language ― Republicans far more than Democrats.

Trump has taken the maneuver to a whole new low. But the earlier Orwellian efforts softened the ground.

There was a time when most laws had descriptive or technical names, such as the Glass-Steagall Act, the National Labor Relations Act or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Since former President George W. Bush, pieces of legislation have been treated as branding and marketing opportunities.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration hastily assembled a wish list of every overzealous prosecutor and surveillance agent. The initials of the legislation were tortured until they spelled out the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, or the Patriot Act for short. What patriot could be against the Patriot Act?

And speaking of torture, that activity, prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, was rebranded as “enhanced interrogation.” Sending American captives off to prisons in allied nations where there were no limits on torture was called a “rendition.” If a document was censored, that was now termed “redacted.” Even the mainstream press, shamefully, has succumbed to that usage.

As Orwell would have appreciated, “censored” is plain English. Censorship sounds like something we might want to oppose or at least suspect. “Redacted” is a bland, unfamiliar and bureaucratic word that suggests a neutral and presumably defensible process. And the Obama administration found the word just as convenient as Dick Cheney, Bush and company did.

After the Patriot Act, it became standard procedure for both parties to give laws propagandistic names, though the Republicans were the repeat offenders. One of the worst pieces of bipartisan education legislation ever, later repudiated by both parties because of its overreliance on teach-to-the-test, was called the “No Child Left Behind Act.” Who could be against that?

Trump’s strategy is to flood the zone — to proliferate so many lies that by the time one lie is rebutted, he has put out several more, and he seems to believe even the lies that contradict previous lies.

Republican advocates of school vouchers, mindful of the well-established support for public schools, began rebranding them as the more sinister sounding “government schools.” When President George W. Bush sponsored a tax-subsidized drug insurance program run by private insurance companies, he made sure to brand it “Medicare Part D,” since Medicare was a broadly supported public program — even though his drug program was a pure windfall to the drug industry and had nothing whatever to do with Medicare.

This may seem like small beer, but it is one of several trends on the use of language that has misled and cheapened public discourse ― and laid the ground for Trumpism. At the extreme, the trend feeds the ability of demagogues to persuade citizens that up is down, or black is white.

Fox News, the most flagrantly biased of the cable channels, pioneered the trend with its slogan, “Fair and Balanced.” As any serious person knows, Fox is a propaganda organ, while the reputable news organs, from The New York Times to NPR, really do make an effort to separate fact from opinion.

Long before Trump, the “mainstream” Republican Party made lies a staple of its arsenal, from its lies about Obamacare to its bogus budget numbers to its false contentions of fraudulent voting.

Trump has embellished this technique by lying, then accusing his critics of lying, until the debate is hopelessly scrambled. Trump manufactures phony stories, then accuses the media of “fake news.”

Adolf Hitler was the first to describe the technique of repeating a lie so often that people would come to believe it. He called it the “Big Lie.”

Bill Moyers and four historians on the big lie behind the rise of Trump.

From his denial of climate change to his denial that Obama was born in Hawaii, Trump has dusted off the Big Lie. But then he does the classic Big Liars one better ― by denying the denial.

As Jonathan Swift wrote in 1710, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late.” A version misattributed to Mark Twain has it that “a lie is halfway around the world while the truth is putting its boots on.” You get the point.

Trump’s strategy is to flood the zone — to proliferate so many lies that by the time one lie is rebutted, he has put out several more, and he seems to believe even the lies that contradict previous lies. Ignorance really is Trump’s strength.

In his Inaugural address, Trump claimed that America is succumbing to a horrible crime wave, when if fact serious crime is at a 30-year low. Republican demonizers of the Affordable Care Act bemoan the high out-of-pocket expenses, when in fact all the Republican replacements would raise deductibles and co-pays. And so on.

Trump has resurrected the Big Lie. But, pathetically, he also resorts to the Little Lie.

On his first full day in office, Trump’s main concern was whether his was bigger — his inaugural crowd. Though it was easily verified that Obama’s inaugural had a larger crowd, as did the women’s march the next day after Trump’s show, a livid Trump sent out his press secretary to rail at the press for understating Trump’s size. The press spokesman, Sean Spicer, himself told at least seven easily verifiable lies.

I am feeling a little better than I did on Inauguration Day, in part because of the good cheer and political resolve modeled at the several women’s marches — but also because you can sense the wheels starting to come off the Trump bus.

Call it the New Separation of Powers. Trump’s inner circle is a snake pit of intrigue between the likes of Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump is at odds with senior members of his own cabinet, who are at odds with each other. Trump’s ad libs, like his abrupt support for universal health coverage, regularly cut the legs out from under his Republican Congress.

Trump may wish he were a total dictator, but this is still a democracy. Lies can work during campaigns but at some point, when you try to govern, reality has a way of intruding. Eventually, the truth does get its boots on.


Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama’s Challenge (2008) and other books. Follow him on Twitter: @rkuttner.

Aquarius New Moon, January 27, 2017 (9 degrees) 4:07 pm PST (from Wendy Cicchetti)


It is interesting to note that the Sun and Moon, for this New Moon in Aquarius, are not making any major aspects to any major planets. All of the aspects in this New Moon chart are coming from other aspected planets. The sign that represents the collective, is highlighting energies other than the New Moon itself.

The New Moon is a natural time to quiet yourself and look within. This is an appropriate time to decide how you can impact the collective in a positive way. Aquarius is the sign that promotes ideas for the future and ways to help humanity. This is a great time to ask your guides what is the best way for you to serve in your community and help impact the political issues in your state and the common good.

Fear and anger are at an all time high. The massive governmental machine is daunting. We cannot shrink and hide, but move forward with purpose and energy. Ask yourself, “What can I do to maximize and send peace and love energy into the collective?”

These are the current aspects surrounding this New Moon: Venus in Pisces squares Saturn in Sagittarius. This can feel like a restriction surrounding the things you love. This is not a happy aspect for Venus. As we look all around us we see how big government and big business (Saturn) is overtly encroaching on our cherished values. Venus and Pisces are compatible with love and compassion, but Saturn in Sagittarius doesn’t considers the feelings of others, and focuses on governmental and business structure, self-righteous belief systems, acquiring money, and “my way or the highway” practices.

There is increasing tension between the people and the government in the US and abroad. This is also a part of the continuing energy of Uranus (need for independence) square Pluto (evolution). Fast moving Mercury (communication) conjunct Pluto, triggers this square. This is shakeup breakup time and consistent with Mercury, we are hearing all about it. How it will end up will depend on the cohesiveness of the masses, standing up against corruption and oppression.

Written by Wendy Cicchetti

PLAN YOUR OWN NEW MOON CEREMONY. Give yourself some quiet time in meditation to see where you need to seed new ways of becoming. List these areas within your life you want to change. What areas do you want to break free from the norm and become more productive and discerning? The NEW MOON is the time to manifest the personal attributes you want to cultivate as well as the tangible things you want to bring to you. Possible phrasing: I now manifest ____ into my life. I am now _______ . Remember, think, envision and feel with as much emotion as possible, as though you already have what you want. Thoughts are things and the brain manifests exactly what you show it in the form of thoughts, visuals and emotions. The Buddha said, and I am paraphrasing, “We are the sum total of our thoughts up to today. ” If we want to be different then we must change our thoughts. “If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” CONSCIOUS CHANGE is the key.

“Our Need for Cultural Community” by Robert McEwen, H.W., M.

We all have the need for community.  It is a primal archetypal presence in our soul calling out for expression moment by moment.  At one time the hearth was the center of our tribal cave that we centered around for our survival.  Food…nurturance…survival by having food to eat and cook, and gather together.  To  BE together.  To stop the world and breathe the same air in the cave around the fire.
The men hunted and brought home the game and the women skinned and cooked it.  They developed ways to store it in salt and other ways.  The community gathered around hearth for food,  tribal survival, companionship, and often the mogur (shaman) would tell stories through motions and grunts.  (read Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jane Auel)  The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell also wrote about this topic.
Now, this has been turned into fast food and the lack of center exists in our non-culture.  We need to bring that center back home to the hearth.    The Cosmic Intention of the universe has driven humans to space age acceleration and the cultural center of the power of the now has been put at risk.  When we all sat around the fire and prepared the food, cooked and ate it we were present more in the now.  We told stories and sang songs and culture came out of this gathering of people.  It was easier , in many ways, to BE together.  That purpose of BEING together is being lost!
We have reached dangerous “Tipping Point” of the loss of meaning.  Joseph Campbell wrote about this happening, as did Thane.
How can we restore this culture to a less scattered and distracted technologically divided world.  We travel the globe to find culture that is slower and more “present”.  To learn how to bring it home, so to speak.  I challenge you now, to take the time and journal about this and create a symbolic gesture to restore the power of myth of this lost tribe.  I asked myself this a year ago…”where is my tribe?”  The Prosperos is one, and I have a few others, to instill love and meaning into my life through my dedicated action with these tribes.  I make the phone calls to nurture this in my daily life, and volunteer in my local church and 12 step group.  Also sharing Translation and R.H.S. with people in groups on internet radio is another expression, inviting them to learn it.  Astrological readings has also enriched my sense of meaning and symbolic living now. Even sharing movies with others in my apartment community room brings a sense of tribe.
Our community and cultural roles have shifted to insanely accelerated paces.  The family is scattered around the globe and the cell phone has become the new “hearth!”. We eat our food on the run, gabbing mainly useless gab, to people won’t don’t know on face book, and nd we will probably never meet!   This is a sad situation.  On the surface it is inclusive and open to the new.  Take a deeper look and it is shallow and meaningless “monkey mind” chattering garbage!
This is the question that keeps ringing in my ears.  Maybe you re actively living a sense of cultural community that brings meaning to your soul?  The sense of Purpose is important in that process for me.   I pose this question to you now and challenge you to share it  with me, The Prosperos, and your own individual community.  To take action, not to sit around forming committees, having endless meaningless meetings ABOUT doing that, BUT to actually do it! Take action.  Mars and Venus are going into Aries any day now. 
Robert McEwen, H.W., M.
503 706-0396
Robert McEwen  (face book)

Quantum Theory Proves Consciousness Moves to Another Universe After Death

“Lanza points to the structure of the universe itself, and that the laws, forces, and constants of the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, implying intelligence existed prior to matter. He also claims that space and time are not objects or things, but rather tools of our animal understanding. Lanza says that we carry space and time around with us “like turtles with shells.” meaning that when the shell comes off (space and time), we still exist.

The theory implies that death of consciousness simply does not exist. It only exists as a thought because people identify themselves with their body. They believe that the body is going to perish, sooner or later, thinking their consciousness will disappear too. If the body generates consciousness, then consciousness dies when the body dies. But if the body receives consciousness in the same way that a cable box receives satellite signals, then of course consciousness does not end at the death of the physical vehicle. In fact, consciousness exists outside of constraints of time and space. It is able to be anywhere: in the human body and outside of it. In other words, it is non-local in the same sense that quantum objects are non-local.”

~ Science and Nonduality Conference

Colin Tipping: Life is a Feeling Experience

I sometimes get criticized for expressing what some people consider as negative feelings and imply that such feelings are not consistent with Radical Forgiveness. In the video that follows, I address this issue head on. But first, let me say this to put it in context.

I believe that life on the planet is meant to be an emotional experience. That’s why we chose to take on a body. To deny one’s feelings is to deny the reason for being here. There is no such thing as a negative feeling. Feelings only become toxic if they are suppressed and denied and that stunts our spiritual growth.
We purposefully set ourselves up to have experiences that make us feel separate so we can feel what that is like. That’s what our soul wants. Once we have experimented enough with separation and have realized that it is just an illusion, we wake up to the reality that we are in fact all one. But that shift doesn’t happen in the head. It occurs in the heart and is felt as Love. Without we feel compassion for each other in our everyday interactions with each other along the way, we’ll never get there. We need to open our hearts and let ourselves be vulnerable. There’s nothing to lose but our pain.

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