Press Conferences From Now On

Earlier today I linked to a story about how government employees will soon be paid according to the level of service they are performing in the effort to consolidate the power of The Party. I have previously posted links to stories about people being fired for opposing Bush, or doctors refusing to see them as patients anymore, or getting tickets for having bumper stickers opposiing Bush… All ovre the blogosphere we are reading stories about reporters being intimidatred for using “private accounts” language even though the President used the same wording as recently as last week.

Now we have a glimpse of what to expect from the press in the future. Chris at MyDD has a post about a MEMBER OF THE PRESS prefacing a question to the President with the following,

“[H]ow are you going to work with people [Democratic leaders] who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?”

Watch your backs.

Troll Policy

Many Progressive bloggers have been noticing a recent increase in “trolls” — right-wingers showing up and disrupting the comments. The recent trolls also seem more sophisticated. Whatever the reason for the increase, I’m not going to let them disrupt Seeing the Forest.

If you want to have a discussion in the comments here, that is encouraged. In fact I have even invited commenters with opposing viewpoints to be guest posters here.

If you (are a right-winger and) insult other people in a comment, your comment will be deleted and you will be banned, which means you will be unable to post comments here from then on. (Left wingers are free to insult right-wingers at will in the comments.) If you insult me or another Seeing the Forest writer, or say anything even remotely unpleasant about the blog, your comment will be deleted and you will be banned. If I even catch a whiff that you are a professional, or that you are a skilled volunteer familiar with the current right-wing talking-points and tactics, constructive comments or not, you will be banned and won’t get your bonus.

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Ted Turner compares Fox to Nazis

MediaLife reports that Ted Turner, founder of CNN, compared Fox News to the Nazis during his address to the National Association for Television Programming Executives conference in Las Vegas yesterday. He conceded that Fox News has passed CNN in terms of viewers, but also pointed out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany before World War II. Ted called Fox News the “ Bill O’Reilly network” and said it is “a propaganda tool for the Bush administration, and while that may be legal, it’s bad for our democracy.” Fox said it is sour grapes on Ted’s part because FNC has surpassed Turner network CNN in the ratings. However, Turner is not the only TV notable to compare Fox to the Nazis this week.” “Gilmore Girls” executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino called Fox network show American Idol” “like the Nazis marching through Poland. You just got to let them go. Get out of the way. We’re kind of France going, ‘You know, just don’t burn down Paris, that’s all we’re asking.’”

During my own experience with Ted in launching an environmental program on TBS and socializing at CNN parties when my wife was VP at CNN, Ted told a story about the time he and Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of Fox, once went skiing on Ted’s ranch. “There we were on our skies, stopped on a cliff overlooking the valley. Just one little shove from me, and ….” May have something to do with Ted’s oft- stated reason for selling Turner Broadcasting System to Time-Warner…he was afraid Murdoch would get it in a hostile takeover.

The National Mood of Intimidation

High School Journalist Faces Firing:

“When high school journalist Ann Long sent a recent edition of her school’s newspaper to the printer, she hoped her profile of three gay students would generate some discussion in the hallways.

But she didn’t expect to be punished for writing the article.”

The national mood of intimidation is getting worse. If you write pro-Bush stuff, you get government money. If you oppose Bush and the Right, you get fired, arrested, refused service, beat up, canceled, taken off airplanes, etc. It doesn’t have to happen every time for the “message” to be clear.

Bush Sends Holocaust Denier to Ukraine Inauguration

Mary beat me to it. I was going to kink to this story, and then I saw that Mary at Left Coaster beat me to it, so I’ll link to her instead. (It’s a blog thing.)

A delegation sent by President Bush to Ukraine’s presidential inauguration last weekend included a Ukrainian-American activist who has accused Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for their gain and blamed them for Soviet-era atrocities in Ukraine.

Republicans…

No on Gonzales

I’m writing this to add my voice to Daily Kos :: No on Gonzales:

“With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.”

Go to the original post to see which bloggers have signed up so far.

Why Republicans Win

A typical generic blog post written by a Progressive in the last several months would read something like this: “Everyone can sum up the Republican core beliefs in a sentence or two, while Progressives need to search for a candidate who can articulate core Progressive values.” Some bloggers might also refer to George Lakoff’s “framing” work as a solution to the problem. Not being able to explain your product concept in a sentence is a classic marketing problem, and what these posts show is a budding awareness that Republicans have been outmarketing Democrats. Think about this – if you are in a “red state” area you are told a hundred different ways every day why business is good and government is bad and why unregulated free markets work better than democracy. But you are never told the other side of the story.

The Republicans win because the modern Right has developed around the core idea of persuading people to support their ideology, which then leads to support for their issues and candidates. In other words: marketing. The Right developed this persuasion capability in reaction to the dominance of the existing “liberal establishment.” Because of this, most of their organizations are designed as advocacy and communications organizations, with the mission of reaching the general public and explaining what right-wing ideas are and why they are better for people. Today’s Progressives, on the other hand, think there already is a public consensus supporting their ideals and values, so they have not developed a culture that is oriented around persuading people, and their organizations are not designed at their core to persuade the public to support them.

For example, everyone used to think that it is moral to help the poor or protect the environment, so there are organizations that are designed to do that. Then along comes the right, funding organizations designed to convince people it is wrong to do these things. The result today is that on one side you have organizations trying to help the poor, protect the environment, etc. On the other you have organizations telling people what those organizations are doing is wrong. But now you have no one explaining to people that it is GOOD to help the poor and protect the environment so over time support for helping the poor obviously will erode and eventually the organizations that help the poor will be in trouble and have little public support.

So you can see how things got to be the way they are. Democrats understand themselves as a political party, not as a movement. The party grew out of a time when people already understood why they were Democrats or not, so there was no need for organizations that talked to the general public about why it is good to be a Democrat. Instead the party naturally focused on elections. And it is still that way. Democrats look for the “right candidates” to appeal to voters. The candidate is expected to “voice” the issues, and develop messaging that works, and is expected to do it after putting together a campaign team, which happens during and after the primaries. The Democrats use the election cycle as a time to come up with specific “issues” and “messages” and educate the voters. Then the campaign is supposed to reach the voters and educate them about the candidate and the issues… This is the old way of understanding politics. The problem is that times have changed — they have been changed by the rise of “movement conservatism.”

On the Right, they developed their movement in response to the existing liberal consensus, which means that their movement developed based on the idea of changing people’s minds away from those liberal ideas and values. So the result is that today the Right is structured around persuasion, while the Democrats are not. And their organizations have spent decades studying how best to persuade people.

For Republicans, functions like message and issue development are handled by the multitude of “conservative movement” organizations, not the Republican Party or its candidates. A Republican candidates’ job is to voice the messages of the Right but not to develop the messages, like a Democratic candidate is expected to do. The job of Republican campaigns is to take advantage of the issues that their constituency has already been exposed to, not to define the issues from scratch like Democrat candidates have to do. And the Party’s job is to harvest the voters at election time.

Organizations like the Heritage Foundation comprise the persuasion machine of the Right. Republican candidates get their talking points from these organizations. They get their issues – tort reform, Social Security privatization, NCLB Act, etc. – from these organizations. The organizations spend years educating the public about the particulars — “lawsuit abuse”, woman gets a million for spilling hot coffee in a moving car, environmentalism costs jobs, Social Security is going broke, etc. They do the core research to learn how to reach the public, what words to use, etc. A focus group might show that some voters will change their minds if they think Democrats are “rich elites who drink lattes” and a week later every single columnist, talking head, talk show host, etc. is saying that Democrats are rich elitists who drink lattes. It is not about their candidates — I mean, look who they run! Compare Bush the person or the candidate to Gore or Kerry, and then try to tell me it is about the candidates!

The Party is not the SOUL (ideology) of the Right. It is the other way around: the Right and their organizations are the soul of the Party. And what is the Right, in this context, at this time? Understanding this points us to a path out of this.

The Right as I use it is the “conservative movement” — a few hundred well-funded ($300 million per year that is NOT counted as “election spending”) and centrally coordinated (Grover Norquist, Philanthropy Roundtable, etc.) advocacy organizations, all preaching right-wing “free-market” ideology. They preach the ideology. They persuade people. THEY define the issues and educate the public. Not the Party, not the candidates, not the campaigns.

The way out of this is to understand that we need to EDUCATE AND PERSUADE THE GENERAL PUBLIC about the fact that core Progressive ideas and values are good for them. What we are instead doing now is spending a LOT of money on narrow-interest environmental and other kinds of interest organizations that largely talk to the converted. Environmentalists have to combine forces with civil justice advocates, consumer litigation advocates, peace activists, etc. and all together go after the Right AS ONE.

We need to change what our existing organizations see as their core mission. They need to understand that the public consensus they thought they have is not there anymore. They need to understand that to survive a good part of their effort has to be toward persuading the public that the core progressive values of democracy and community are good, and benefit them, and only then can they also do the work that before now they thought was their core mission, be it environmentalism, helping the poor, or whatever else they do.

And, more important, we all need to understand that new organizations have to be started, with their entire mission being to educate and persuade the general public that core progressive values of democracy and community, and all the things that means, are better for them than right-wing ideology.

See Don’t Blame the Democrats.

Matt Wrote A Great Post

Matt’s History Is Never Past is a great post:

“The post-Civil War thinkers, pragmatists, believed that truth – objective truth – is a real notion, but that objective truth cannot be owned by any one person. It can only be owned by a social group, if at all. Diversity of perspectives, and real critical debate and discussion, led to the scientific method and the modern notion of science and academia. Right-wingers believe either that there is no such thing as truth, only interpretative variations that are a proxy for power, or that truth is held by atomized individuals or groups.

[. . .] Liberals are those who see the endpoint of a media system as a broad culture of tolerance, discussion, and argument leading to a socially higher truth. Reactionaries either want to limit participation to a small group of social liberals or conservatives, or the more extreme version of the them seek to remove the concept of truthfulness from discourse altogether.”