I’m surprised to find that many people do not read their local newspaper. Well, not actually surprised perhaps, rather amazed. In my extended sojourn upon this rocky sphere, it has been the case in every locality I’ve stopped and dropped my gear. Some people show no interest in community/public affairs, choosing to lie back and "go with the flow." Que’ Sara Sara, whatever will be will be.

I mention this because in my past life I occasionally contributed personal opinion to the letters page of the "Big Paper" over across the Big River, and when none appeared for months at a time, acquaintances would inquire of my laziness. My first reaction was puzzlement since considerable time is spent at this in order that my philosophical energies are published every other Saturday in the Press Argus-Courier. When informed of that fact, the reply is usually, oh I never read the Argus.

That’s sad really, at least from my perspective, and not just because I’m given space herein for my creative - well, disjointed maybe, ramblings.

The Press Argus-Courier has long been a reflection of Crawford County culture, was a part of my family tradition ere the day I was born and has served the community well over the years, keeping friends and neighbors informed and in touch in a day that keeping in touch was not so convenient.

But one can learn much more than local stuff by reading the PAC especially here on the page set aside for editorials, letters and opinion; if one looks closely enough at the chronicles of those who are apt to chronicle, one might even learn a little about human eccentricities, about the natural forces that drive the wagon and what it is that makes the creature tick.

While one might expect denizens of the area to have more interest in local societies and form more culturally oriented investments, newspapers even the small community service print are often used as a vehicle for propaganda by people with a political agenda. (Propaganda is a militant activity by political activists waging an agenda, the worth of it laying in its mind-bending consistency.)

In the interest of clarity, propaganda is not an occasional writer expressing his conscience, whatever that conscience might be. Public input of various opinion and thought is the underpinning of the U.S. constitution and makes for a rich, free and healthy society; propaganda is usually a chronic and enduring attack against a politic, religion, race or creed etc, that rises to the accusation of inherent villainy.

Dictionary.com defines propaganda as such:

No 1. Information, ideas, or rumors deliberately and widely spread to help or harm a person, group movement, institution or nation.

No. 2. The deliberate spread of such information.

No. 3. The particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

While this definition is useful as a frame of reference in determining what is propaganda and what it’s not, for me that bar is reached when a political activists within ideology, No. 1 chronically singles out for vilification, individuals of ideology No. 2, for the purpose of sabotaging the credibility of that individual and by reason of association, invalidate that individuals political group. (Bowling for one’s own, whether Democrat or Republican is fine, it’s all in how you throw the ball.)

Yes, one becomes apprised of much by reading his newspaper regularly or on a daily basis, not the least a deeper insight into human psychology and the societal principles we are willing to bend in order to achieve certain goals. When I arrived here in 2006, by reading the PAC I learned from leftist propagators that poison from depleted uranium munitions and armament used by U.S. forces in the Iraq war was killing thousands of American soldiers, could possibly kill the entire population of Iraq and might even be a world wide threat by way of radio-active contamination through Iraq’s wind blown sifting shifting sands.

It was ludicrous on the face of it, but was part of the widespread paranoia and propaganda directed against the Bush administration during the Iraq war and was picked up and passed on via the Press Argus-Courier by political vilifiers.

Of course, claims of such extreme extent are often driven by personal vendetta rather than conscience or political conviction; injury, real or imagined can send fragile personalities on exotic flights of fancy. One loses a lot by being preoccupied with the meanness of others, not the least of which his own credibility. One also learns a lot about the psychology of political hatred by reading the daily chronicles of the disenchanted; that it’s not always born of conscience, not always in the interest of justice, ethics or fair play, rather of primal excess and obsession, elements that, given place, stand as a gateway to human paranoia.

Muck raking at the core of political propaganda: Scandalizing one’s opponent is a propagandist’s stock in trade. If a propagandist can convince people that the actions and policies of his political opposition is evil, even though those same actions are an observable problem within his own political alignments, it detracts attention from the onerousness of his own association or group and hopefully deflects from the embarrassing weaknesses and short comings that are common within his own political society. As an example, the Christian will tell you right up front that he is a sinner, his antagonist will tell you that too, but will never allude to his own personal frailty or the frailty of those who hate Christians.

The word "muckrake" was originally defined as a barnyard tool used for working with muck or dung. Once defended as investigative journalism, its meaning was "to search for and expose corruption in politics" but more recently gained a new meaning and reputation. Currently, it is most commonly used in partisan politics to discredit groups, entities and individuals, to diffuse and to distort reality, especially when that reality reflects badly upon one’s self or upon his own association.

One may not hear it in local commentary and opinion but there is plenty of corruption to be ferreted out and exposed on both sides of the political spectrum because the cold hard reality is, that government cannot operate effectively without becoming corrupted by the corrupt, (in that) deals are often made with the devil in order to pacify the "saints" and no individual or particular politic, creed or association is immune to what may be termed an inherent political failing. Political virtue is all façade. In power politics, the words ethics, justice and integrity are paper roses stuck into depleted soil, lovely to behold but no amount of cultivation will change what they are. The best one can hope for is that the corruption does not become so extreme it arises to the degree it undermines the nations political stability.

It’s always been this way, just that in former times we’ve been spared the shock of sudden impact; with todays instant information technology, it arrives as an extra course with the evening meal and carries into the night and into the day after as the bilious taste of acid reflux. The results are Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ people whose political and character deficiencies would have made them unfit as presidential choices only a decade or two ago.

But does it actually matter over the long haul? Republican’s are self-destructing and that leaves the future in the hands of people who at a more sober time in American history would have been rejected as an embarrassment to their own party. That’s not saying much for those who govern or are apt to govern. Yet, what does it say about those of us who refuse to follow our conscience by continuing to ignore mediocrity or perhaps even villainy as long as that villainy takes place under our own political flag.

There are some destinys we must contemplate: The long progress toward a socialist system of government that began with Roosevelt holds to a steady course: for some that’s a positive, for others a negative but however it’s viewed; don’t be complacent in your comfort; do not be led into the false security that American political history is cyclical, that political tides sweep in and out on a timeless basis. America’s political history is like climate change, there may be fluctuations of weather patterns but the dominating trend is linear.

There is reason for that: Propaganda has worked much better for Democrats against Republicans than it has worked for Republicans against Democrats. The primary reason for that had its beginning with Hoover and the Great Depression. The historical lesson is that Democrats have not only schooled themselves in the art of propaganda they are more vicious and persistent in its use, more willing to promote social divides, to set neighbor against neighbor in order to achieve their socialist goal. Republicans are amateurs on a field of giants.

Destiny comes to all great empires and so it will come to ours, not today perhaps not tomorrow, but come it will. And it will come because propagandists have convinced the populace the nation was born in inequity, to evil design. The popularity of Democratic/socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders a precursor of things to come, serves to indicate the downward trajectory of the nation’s political destiny.