For the last decade and a half, the Republican party has pursued an intentional strategy of insulating its base from reality. The goal has been to create a permanent block of loyal Republican voters who will dutifully internalize whatever the party’s leaders tell them.
To accomplish this, the Republican political machine has engaged in a relentless and systematic assault on all of the institutions in our society that have traditionally served as arbiters of truth. They have attacked the press, the judiciary, academia, and even science itself. And they’ve been remarkably successful; we’ve now reached a point where much of the Republican base simply refuses to believe anything that doesn’t come from a trusted partisan outlet.
Any unpleasant news reports can be dismissed as the product of liberal media bias. Any inconvenient studies can be explained away as the work of godless academic elitists. …
… This strategy has an inherent vulnerability, though. Call it the Pied Piper problem. If you train a bunch of people to follow the Leader reflexively, they’re likely to follow him right out of town (or right off a cliff).
I want to get out a thought I have been working on.
For a long time America’s politicians have needed to posture and pretend and play a game of saying things that every informed person understands are not true, but are mouthed in order to to “position” themselves aligned with their idea of the thinking of the broad uninformed masses.
The conservatives built up a power structure by building (and funding) advocacy organizations like Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute – buying a movement – and progressives and their funders had not done that. So the conservatives have had this persuasion machine in place and progressives have not. The conservatives were able to use their machine to build up the “conventional wisdom” along the lines of their own strategic narrative. And so for a long time the public was, probably correctly, perceived to have been largely persuaded by conservative rhetoric, and the politicians had to speak to that.
So maybe for a politician it was a correct perception that you have to move right and “triangulate” and spout right-wing crap to get elected. You get this enormous demand built up by the right’s unanswered propaganda, and at the same time you get this enormous conservative-engineered institutional pressure built up to vote a certain way on legislation. What else were politicians supposed to do?
Meanwhile progressives were not working to persuade the public, so there has until recently been little popular demand or respect for progressive policies and candidates. Sure, we want leaders to do the right thing, but we haven’t been building up the mechanisms or creating the public demand that makes leaders do the right thing — or that protect them, “watch their backs” and give them cover to do the right thing. I think the blogs are starting to make a tremendous difference in our politics. They are holding politicians and the media accountable, and I think we’re all starting to see the effects. They can’t seem to get away with ANYTHING anymore because of these darn bloggers, and a lot of them don’t like that one bit. But progressive politicians are learning that now there finally is someone out there – the blogs – working to persuade the public, and watching their backs, and applying pressure, and rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. A power structure for progressive is being built.
So I think that one of these effects from the blogs is that doing the RIGHT thing rather than ridiculous posturing and perception games is starting to become the way to win elections. Or maybe I should say that the posturing and perception game to win elections and doing the right thing are converging – into the same thing.
Click on this link. It’s unbelievable.
Lara Logan of CBS News in Iraq has apparently had to send out an email begging people to ask CBS’s national news people to run her team’s reporting. The CBS top management has been so intimidated by the right-wing thugs that they’re suppressing stories.
Think about it. The CBS news team is risking their lives to get the news, but because of a bunch of screaming stay-at-home rightwing ideologues, their story is not being broadcast.
The reporters are now using the internet to get the word out. CBS itself has only a censorship function. It’s a travesty. Update:
I just realized what’s so strange about this story. Logan’s email included a video clip of the coverage she wanted CBS to broadcast. In other words, she was able to broadcast the story herself, without CBS’s help. The internet has supplanted the major media even for the major media’s content-producers. This is a disgrace, all right, but it also tells you in no uncertain terms that media world we remember is dead as a doornail. Something big has got to change.
Co-written with James Boyce
They destroy our leaders.
In our Dec. 11 post How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama, we discussed how the right consciously and over time systematically destroys Democratic and Progressive leaders.
We were prompted to write the post because of a national poll of favorability of leading politicians had just been released and Senator Barack Obama, the brightest new star in politics, was the highest ranked Democratic politician in the poll.
As we studied the poll, we asked why our other great leaders were seen unfavorably by so many? We wrote,
“With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?
… Our point here is not whether you will vote for them, or volunteer for their campaign, or give them money, but do you, the American voting public, have a favorable impression of these leaders?
We went on to make the claim that we believe our impressions of our leaders have been negatively impacted by the right wing’s $mear machine.”
Scenario: no candidate emerges from the primaries with enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination for President on the first ballot at the convention. Eventually Senator James Webb is chosen to be the nominee.
In case you missed it last night:
Bush wants to cut Social Security taxes – that is what is meant where he talked about a new tax deduction for health insurance that would come from “payroll taxes.” That means from Social Security taxes.
Social Security is currently solvent, and projected to remain solvent. But not if Bush gets his way with this tax cut. Then it really WOULD be in trouble.
It’s a trick. It is yet another scheme to get rid of Social Security. Update – American Prospect picks up on this
But, there is a flip side to this tax break. If workers pay less money into Social Security, they would also get less back. To take an extreme case, imagine a worker whose pay averages $20,000 a year. Currently, this would salary would get this worker $11,000 if she started collecting benefits at the normal retirement age. Under President Bush’s proposal, the worker would only be credited with $5,000 a year towards her Social Security benefits, getting her $4,500 a year when she retires. This is a big difference.
Co-written with James Boyce
It’s a day of celebration and sadness for those of us who follow the global warming issue. On one hand, Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” received a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Congratulations to all involved but especially Laurie David and Lawrence Bender for their wonderful work in bring the Vice-President’s presentation to the big screeen.
However, tragically, today the summary and highlights of the definitive report on global warming was leaked. This 1,600 page report will showcase once and for all, that global warming is real, we are causing it and “the future is dire.”
So how is it, one might ask, that we didn’t take global warming seriously earlier? Especially when we have an an advocate like Al Gore on the national stage.
It’s because the right wing ozoned Al Gore. They mocked him for his concern. The called him “Ozone Man.” Like pathetic schoolyard bullies, they picked fun at him, made him uncool.
Who led the charge?
In 1992, the first President Bush:
“This guy is so far out in the environmental extreme we’ll be up to our necks in owls and outta work for every American.”
In 2000, the second President Bush said of Al Gore
He “likes electric cars. He just doesn’t like making electricity.”
So when President Bush stands up and talks about global warming, think of Al Gore. He stood up fifteen, twenty years ago, and got mocked for his courage and vision.
Big-time media guy blogs and gets every fact wrong. Commenters point it out. Big-time media guy then writes a post saying, “the left is as full of unthinking Ditto-heads as Limbaugh-land.”
Please, please, please go read the comments!!! Please!
Seriously, take some time off. Maybe take a refresher at a local community college. Or maybe look into one of those air conditioner repair courses. It’s supposed to be a lucrative field.
Wow-comparing fact-based commenters to unthinking dittoheads form Limbaugh-land. That’s going to win you some friends.
What is this assumption that people are from “the left” when they point out errors?
Co-written with James Boyce
A little over 48 hours ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made history when she announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for 2008. She is the first woman to have a legitimate chance to become President of the United States. In fact, she is clearly the front runner, not a long shot.
“I’m in. And I’m in to win.” She declared. It was a historic moment.
It is an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary woman. Of course, to win The White House, Senator Clinton will face many challenges and hurdles. But the first may end up being perhaps the most significant. For Senator Clinton and her advisers must find a strategy that makes every voter look at her clearly. Senator Clinton and her advisors must shatter the public’s habit of viewing her and her record through the prism of right wing distortions and smears.
Just the headline: Fragile Hopes for Bipartisan Rescue of Social Security – New York Times
“Rescue?” The Social Security trust fund is solvent – no problems at all. But the NY Times story talks about “the long-term fiscal problems in Social Security.”
This framing of “going broke” and needing “rescue” comes from a long-term strategy to get rid of Social Security by portraying it as a “ponzi scheme,” “going broke,” “needing to be fixed,” etc. This strategy was laid out in a 1983 Cato Institute document. The document even describes the strategy as “Leninist.”
Do not be fooled. There is nothing wrong with Social Security, it is not “going broke,” there is no need to “fix” it. It is solvent, and will continue to provide retirement, disability and other benefits to Americans without changes.