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The combination of propaganda and crowd control may have never been practiced more effectively in this country than in the lead up to the Patriot Act. Now we live in a brave new world in which our bodies, our possessions, and virtually everything we say and do are under a microscope whenever we travel by air, make a purchase, and use a computer or phone. As odious as previous examples of such manipulation have been in this country, they never did that.

The powers that the Patriot Act, and the road to the Patriot Act, have granted the government would have made Hitler and Stalin green with envy. And all the while, even if they dislike some things, much of the American public still runs around pretty sure that they live in the freest country on earth. That seems to be why rhetoric can shift so quickly from the problems at home to ginning up fear about European socialism--better protect what you still have while you still have it.

Deception, lies, and damn lies don't get nearly enough attention. Chris Christie seems to be an exception, but in the end, neither he, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, nor any number of a long list of folks who deserve hard jail time will get more than a slap on the hand compared to Bradley Manning and what's been proposed for Edward Snowden. Why? Those in power are part of the issuing authority while the others, in their humanitarian and patriotic actions, blow the doors off the safe of things the government never wants you to know, but it is only in your best interest to know.

Most people seem to have decided it's the way things are and the way they're gonna be. Pandora's box is open. Maybe developments surrounding the Patriot Act are one reason for that, but there's also a longer history of what helped to make the Patriot Act possible. Many books have been written about it, chances are you've read one of them. But as I was poking around during the past few weeks, I ran across a few things that were both funny and, upon reflection, made me uncomfortable.

It's possible that America has been better at propaganda and mass media manipulation than anyone else for a long, long time, even though for a lot people what that conjures up is the hammer and sickle or the Nazi propaganda machine. Effective as that was, one has to wonder how the Nazis viewed our own. I imagine Josef Geobbels reeling from Disney's anti-Nazi cartoon short Der Fuehrer's Face, then scrambling to try to harness the German film industry as effectively as the Roosevelt administration did with The Spirit of '43, which blamed taxes on Hitler and Hirohito.

Whatever the propaganda said, being a former target and war criminal didn't prevent you from becoming a member of the home team. Nazi propagandists were a second group, along with rocket scientists, that Uncle Sam scooped up after the war and put to work in Project Paperclip, as propagandizing was morphed into psyops at home and abroad. The Nazis that were brought home were not a few dozen special individuals, like SS Major Werner Von Braun, but over 1600 and maybe hundreds more, many of whom were classified as ardent Nazis and led very privileged lives in post-war America, like Walter Dornberger, who became Vice President of Bell Aerospace.

But Bradley Manning gets 35 years, and the president wants to see Edward Snowden prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, which would make the proceeding a closed door affair.

(If you're interested, PecosBill provides a long list of films that Disney made during World War 2.)

Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 6:19 AM PT: The first embedded video for The Spirit of '43 was removed by YouTube, I added a new one.

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