Friday, April 29, 2011

OMFG! The War for Your Mind

Should I be surprised?

This is insanity at its worst.

Of course it's fake right? Because a black man can't possibly be legitimate.

They won't be satisfied. EVAR.

I loved the last line. It's a dead give-away as to their strategy.
"We'll keep our eye on it. We'll keep digging....But it certainly opens up that can of worms that there are at least questions."

This is where the War for Your Mind comes in. Agenda Setting theory is a media theory which posits that the more something is talked about in the media, the more salient it is on people's minds. It's been tested again and again and proven true. When asked what are important issues facing the country, again and again, people cite those things that have been highlighted in the media. This prompted noted media theorist Bernard Cohen to pen: “It (the press) may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.

The echo chamber of the right has been well documented (ThinkProgress, SourceWatch, Know Your Government). Rachel Maddow does a nice piece on a particular lie regarding Obama's trip to India last year that is worth watching.  She goes on to unpack some of the crazy lies that frequently show up in our news cycles and how they come to be.

This is important to recognize because the more the various media outlets report on topic, the more likely it will be covered. And when enough media sources say things that aren't true - they become true in people's minds.

Rick Perlstein had a great article in Mother Jones, Inside the GOP's Fact-Free Nation that's worth the read just for the historical look of political lying. But inside his piece is an analysis of one factor that helps us understand how this has come to pass. He writes:

There evolved a new media definition of civility that privileged "balance" over truth-telling—even when one side was lying. It's a real and profound change—one stunningly obvious when you review a 1973 PBS news panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring National Review editor George Will, both excoriating the administration's "Watergate morality." Such a panel today on, say, global warming would not be complete without a complement of conservatives, one of them probably George Will, lambasting the "liberal" contention that scientific facts are facts—and anyone daring to call them out for lying would be instantly censured. It's happened to me more than once—on public radio, no less.
In the same vein, when the Obama administration accused Fox News of not being a legitimate news source, the DC journalism elite rushed to admonish the White House. Granted, they were partly defending Major Garrett, the network's since-departed White House correspondent and a solid journalist—but in the process, few acknowledged that under Roger Ailes, another Nixon veteran, management has enforced an ideological line top to bottom.

The inability to call lies lies because of the need for "balance," coupled with the 24 hour news cycles, coupled with a zealous willingness to lie to further their cause*, has led to a media circus where outrageous claims become part of the daily discourse in multiple media outlets. And when multiple media outlets talk about it, people think that it is important and thus must have merit. Even if it is a lie. Gobbles, the infamous Nazi propagandist once said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

As long as there are questions, there is controversy. And you can bet your ass that they will keep asking the questions.

But the question I really want answered is how come none of those people in the top video have rejected the accusation that they all fuck goats? Remember, as long as the question is out there, we'll keep digging.

* Perlstein's article also exposed a culture where lying is justified on the right as long as it furthers a noble cause, summed up excellently by this quote from evangelist C. Peter Wagner "We ought to see clearly that the end does justify the means, if the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This is important. You should watch it.

FOLLOW UP: Baratunde Thruston was interviewed by The Village Voice on his YouTube post.  It's worth a read.

Spoiler alert,  "And Trump says he wants to just walk into the White House and touch this document? That he has the right to do so? You don't have the right to do shit! You don't have the right to roll up to the White House and say, "Show me your papers," like it's apartheid South Africa"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Views of the Tea Party

In my previous post Rachel told us about the declining numbers of the Tea Party...

But take heart!  All of you who want to defend America from evil people not like you, you aren't alone.

Ricky over at Cause for Concern shares a video of South Carolina Tea Baggers who are carrying the standard!  I think he summed it up best with the title of the video: OMFG, S.C., Tea? ROFL

Crooks and Liars posted this gem: 

Racism in the tea party?  How do you get that from things like this? "The United States has a higher standard of living than Mexico because it's populated by white people."  No racism to see here... just move on to .... Orange County?

...I know everyone has heard about the GOP official in Orange County sending this photo around:

The Awl has a nice breakdown of racism in photos for us.

And finally, Lyssa over at Leo's Life in Hell takes us behind the scenes and into the mind of a teabagger.  Warning: Leo is not a nice man.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So I've been a big believer in  PAYGO and trying to live it out in my activism.  I'm not talking about this thing in Congress where they have to justify new spending, but in my own life when it comes to giving money to the Democrats.

The thing is, I've gotten a lot of calls recently from the DNC, the Democratic Senate Campaign, and a bunch of other Democratic fundraising institutions.  So far I haven't given money.  This isn't to say I haven't given to the Dems, I have, on multiple occasions in the past, but I've stopped for now.

And when they ask me why I tell them I believe in PAYGO

Here, take a look at this thing Rachel has put her finger on...

See, when the Republicans were in control under Bush, I didn't like the way things were going.  So I ponied up and gave to the party that I thought would make the difference.  I gave to individual campaigns as well as the DNC.  And they won!

So the Dems held both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, and I expected Change.  The kinds of Change that was talked about during the election.  And yes, I'm one of those who believes that not enough Change has happened.

It's not that I don't believe in trying to find a bi-partisan solution to issues.  I do. But the Republicans didn't want compromise - they wanted it their way.  And no matter what the Dems did, the Republicans fought it tooth and nail.  Look, when you get kicked in the nuts repeatedly by the people you're trying to find compromise with, you ought to realize that they don't want to compromise, and that they sorta enjoy kicking you there.

And throughout this time I kept getting solicitations saying "We need money to stay in power, so we can keep those Republicans at bay,"  and I thought "you've got both Houses of Congress and the Presidency - make something happen."

So the Dems finally got health care passed.  When they did - I call them up (ok, I used the internet and did it electronically but the thought is the same), and I donated.  (Though I don't think the bill went far enough).

Then came the lead up to the mid-terms and here came the calls again.  "We need money to keep the House!".

"Honestly", I thought, "what for?  You didn't do all that much when you had it."

And when they passed the finance reform during the lame duck session I donated again.  (Though for the record, I don't think that went far enough either).

Now reflecting on Rachel's thesis - that the Democrats in Congress are embarrassed by or ignore their base - I think she's right.  There seems to be this notion that the Republicans are so horrible that we should just give to the Democrats to keep them in office.  And that fear tactic does have some merit.

But if the best we can do is to hold the status quo versus letting things get worse, how will things ever get better?  If the Democrats won't use their power when they have it, why should I expect them to be able to stop the Republicans when they don't?

Think back to the debate around the Patriot Act.  Did the Dems stand firm and unified agaist this massive encroachment of our rights?  No.  67 Dems rolled over and voted for it in the House.  And only 1 Democratic Senator voted against it (Sen. Feingold) and only 10 voted against it when it was up for renewal.

Going to war?  Same thing... a ton of House Dems and Senators voted to give Bush the authority to go to war.

But what are the Dems fighting for now?  They continue to adopt Republican talking point, allow huge cuts to progressive programs, extend the Bush tax cuts... And we have hundreds of thousands of people marching.  Far more than the tea party ever had.  So they put Medicare and Social Security on the table.

I'm frustrated by the lack of action on behalf of the Dems.  That's why I believe in PAYGO... I'll pay as we go.  I'll give them money when they get stuff done.  But I won't pay for the empty promises that they'll fight the Republicans.  I just don't believe them anymore.