Right wing message machine

Suffocating Echo Chamber By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times, September 25, 2013 …as conservative talk radio spread across America…talk radio, Fox News Channel and right-wing Web sites may have done greatest harm to conservatives themselves. The right-wing echo chamber breeds extremism, intimidates Republican moderates and misleads people into thinking that their worldview is broadly shared…Research suggests that the echo chamber effect is disproportionately a problem on the right, leading inhabitants to perceive a warped reality.

The Right’s Obamacare Rhetoric Is Completely Detached from Reality by Joshua Holland, Moyers and Company, October 13, 2013 — …We’re a nation divided not only by partisanship and ideology, but also by wildly divergent realities…Some of the claims ostensibly respectable figures on the right make about the law are simply mind boggling. This week, Ben Carson, a conservative surgeon and activist — and the flavor-of-the-day at Fox News – told a crowd at this year’s “Values Voters Summit” that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Forget two world wars, the Great Depression or coming within an inch of annihilation during the Cold War….Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)…was more subtle, concluding merely that the ACA would eventually turn the US into a “police state” and “will ultimately be known as DeathCare.” …This stuff is nothing short of comical when you recall that Obamacare was a conservative answer to the doomed “Hillarycare” [Mitt Romney]called the very similar scheme he’d enacted as governor of Massachusetts, “the ultimate conservatism,” …When you get into the details, the health care law is complex… But the broad strokes are relatively simple: there are a number of (highly popular) new regulations on insurers; there are exchanges where private companies offer a variety of insurance plans; it’s got subsidies that make those plans more affordable for the middle class; there’s an expansion of Medicaid for the poor, and a mandate While people who don’t consume an enormous amount of Fox News can easily laugh off the Hitler comparisons, another line of argument made by virtually every conservative in America is just as unmoored from reality…Nothing [Senator Ted] Cruz said is reflected in any objective reality

Trapped in a Web of Truth, Frank Luntz is Whining

The Worst Of Times by Paul Krugman, April 16, 2010, New York Times blog …has there ever been a time in US political history when one of the two major political parties was so addicted to doublethink, so committed to pretending that it’s advocating the opposite of its actual agenda?…I’d say no….

What Would Machiavelli Do? The Big Lie Lives On by Thom Hartmann CommonDreams.org, August 26, 2004  There is nothing new about the Swift Boat ads. German filmmaker Fritz Kippler, one of Goebbels’ most effective propagandists, once said that two steps were necessary to promote a Big Lie so the majority of the people in a nation would believe it. The first was to reduce an issue to a simple black-and-white choice that “even the most feebleminded could understand.” The second was to repeat the oversimplification over and over. If these two steps were followed, people would always come to believe the Big Lie…
The Big Lie is alive and well today in the United States of America, and what’s most troubling about it is the basic premise that underlies its use. In order for somebody to undertake a Big Lie, they must first believe Niccolo Machiavelli’s premise (in “The Prince,” 1532) that the end justifies the means…
Believing that the end justifies the means is the ultimate slippery slope. It will ultimately kill any noble goal, because even if the goal is achieved, it will have been corrupted along the way by the means used to accomplish it… 
like George W. Bush repeatedly asserting that he had to invade Iraq because of WMDs and because Saddam “threw out the weapons inspectors”…trying to accomplish a “good” by using the means of an “evil” like a Big Lie inherently corrupts the good.
Now the Bush campaign and its allies are encouraging a new series of Big Lie techniques to assail John Kerry’s Vietnam War record…Swift Boat ads Thus, there is no equivalence between the MoveOn (and other) ads and the Swift Boat ads, moral or otherwise. Truths and issues — however unpleasant — cannot be weighed on the same scale as lies and character assassination, explicit or implicit… Techniques, interestingly enough, that have an uncanny resemblance to character smears used by the Bush family against Michael Dukakis in 1988, against Ann Richards in 1994, against John McCain in 2000, and against Max Cleland in 2002. Lee Atwater, on his deathbed, realized that the “ends justifies the means” technique of campaigning he had unleashed on behalf of the Bush family was both immoral and harmful to American democracy.…Atwater’s spiritual and political protege, Karl Rove, soldiers on. Big Lies are emerging from Bush allies with startling regularity, and old Big Lies are being resurrected almost daily, most on right-wing talk radio.
The most alarming contrast in the election of 2004 isn’t between the conservative Bush and liberal Kerry. It’s between those who will use any means to get and hold power, and those who are unwilling to engage in the Big Lie. History tells us that, over the short term, the Big Lie usually works. Over the long term, though, the damage it does — both to those who use it, and to the society on which it is inflicted — is incalculable.

Deciphering Right-Wing Code: What Conservatives Are Really Saying When They Seem to Spew Nonsense By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, April 4, 2012  - …in our zeal to debunk the facts, many progressives are completely missing it. It’s Not About the Facts. The thing to remember is this: Even though right-wing narratives are often factually wrong, they are absolutely never content-free. Stories like this are always about something. And the weirder and more factually challenged they sound to liberal ears, the more important it probably is for us to know what that something is. Too often, our obsession with the gobsmacking wrongness of these statements deafens us to clues to the right’s current motives and intentions that are frequently lurking in these strange declarations.…When wingnuts say stuff like this, it is never, ever offhand. This narrative is making the rounds on the right because somebody is laying the groundwork for an imminent, planned political action…Right-wing crusades almost always start with think-tank reports; and are issuized on the pages of conservative magazines and newspapers. From there, the ideas are picked up and disseminated by Fox, politicians, conservative ministers, and right-wing bloggers. If all goes well, within weeks, legislators will be paying attention, and lobbyists will be presenting them with ready-written legislation to propose to deal with this manufactured “problem.”

The Language Police: Gettin’ Jiggy with Frank Luntz, by Nancy Snow CommonDreams.org, February 26, 2005 … GOP language meistro Frank Luntz, who has produced a memorandum of “The 14 Words Never to Use.” Thanks to the Internet and the blogosphere, we mere mortals can get our grubby mitts on what the conservative elite persuader Luntz is doing to scrub our brains free of individual thoughts…effectively communicating the New American Lexicon requires you to STOP saying words and phrases that undermine your ability to educate the American people. So from today forward, YOU are the language police. From today forward, these are the words never to say again.”
the first word expunged from our memory—government…must be replaced by Washington… most Americans appreciate their local government…Washington is the problem…Privatization good, government bad…NEVER say global economy/globalization/capitalism…Never refer to the way things really are. Instead, refer to the way you’d like things to be and make that your reality…[use] Free market economy…Capitalism is a major no-no…NEVER use the word outsourcing…the answer: ‘over-taxation, over-regulation…
We need to stop using the language of what happens to real people and replace it with the language of the corporation, which has no purpose other than profit and no conscience.…In his memo, “The Eleven Steps to Effective Trade Communication,” he says that wordsmiths must appeal to America’s greatness… talk about the economy, but talk about it in terms of perseverance, stamina, and WINNING.”
So remember, do six reps of You Own It, It’s Personal, It’s Your Choice in the Free Market Economy Where Everyone’s An International Trade Winner…

Job Creators”: Luntz Strikes Again by Alan Grayson, Common Dreams, September 28, 2011

How Did Conservatives Convince the Public to Think Differently About Government? By Sara Robinson, Blog for Our Future, March 15, 2008

The mythology of the 1980s still defines our thinking on everything from militarism, to greed, to race relations by David Sirota, inthearena.blogs.cnn.com   

Tentacles of rage: the Republican propaganda mill, a brief history by Lewis H. Lapham, Harpers Magazine v.309, n.1852, September 1, 2004 — In company with nearly every other historian and political journalist east of the Mississippi River in the summer of 1964, the late Richard Hofstadter saw the Republican Party’s naming of Senator Barry Goldwater as its candidate in that year’s presidential election as an event comparable to the arrival of the Mongol hordes at the gates of thirteenth-century Vienna. The “basic American consensus” at the time [1964] was firmly liberal in character and feeling, assured of a clear majority in both chambers of Congress as well as a sympathetic audience in the print and broadcast press…accepting of the proposition, as were the churches and the universities, that government must do for people what people cannot do for themselves. And yet, seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly at the rostrum of the San Francisco Cow Palace in a roar of triumphant applause, here was a cowboy-hatted herald of enlightened selfishness threatening to sack the federal city of good intentions, declaring the American government the enemy of the American people, properly understood not as the guarantor of the country’s freedoms but as a syndicate of quasi-communist bureaucrats poisoning the wells of commercial enterprise with “centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.” the basic American consensus has shifted over the last thirty years from a liberal to a conservative biasthe numbing of America’s political senses didn’t happen by mistake…the nature and the extent of the re-education program undertaken in the early 1970s by a cadre of ultraconservative and self-mythologizing millionaires bent on rescuing the country from the hideous grasp of Satanic liberalism…the organizational structure of the Republican “Message Machine”…fifty funding agencies of different dimensions and varying degrees of ideological fervor, nominally philanthropic but zealous in their common hatred of the liberal enemy, disbursing the collective sum of roughly $3 billion over a period of thirty years for the fabrication of “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”

The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists by Henry A. Giroux,  Truthout, October 1, 2009 … in mobi­liz­ing enor­mous pub­lic sup­port against almost any reform aimed at rolling back the eco­nomic, polit­i­cal, and social con­di­tions that have cre­ated the eco­nomic reces­sion and the legacy of enor­mous suf­fer­ing and hard­ship for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans over the last 30 years.…
Part of the answer to the endur­ing qual­ity of such a destruc­tive pol­i­tics can be found in the lethal com­bi­na­tion of money, power and edu­ca­tion that the right wing has had a stran­gle­hold on since the early 1970’s and how it has used its influ­ence to develop an insti­tu­tional infra­struc­ture and ide­o­log­i­cal appa­ra­tus to pro­duce its own intel­lec­tu­als, dis­sem­i­nate ideas, and even­tu­ally con­trol most of the com­mand­ing heights and insti­tu­tions in which knowl­edge is pro­duced, cir­cu­lated and legit­i­mated... there is some­thing more at stake here which points to a com­bi­na­tion of power, money and edu­ca­tion in the ser­vice of cre­at­ing an almost lethal restric­tion of what can be heard, said, learned and debated in the pub­lic sphere.

And one start­ing point for under­stand­ing this prob­lem is what has been called the Pow­ell Memo, released on August 23, 1971, and writ­ten by Lewis F. Pow­ell, who would later be appointed as a mem­ber of the Supreme Court of the United States. Pow­ell sent the memo to the US Cham­ber of Com­merce with the title “Attack on the Amer­i­can Free Enter­prise System.“

The memo is impor­tant because it reveals the power that con­ser­v­a­tives attrib­uted to the polit­i­cal nature of edu­ca­tion and the sig­nif­i­cance this view had in shap­ing the long-term strat­egy they put into place in the 1960’s and 1970’s to win an ide­o­log­i­cal war against lib­eral intel­lec­tu­als, who argued for hold­ing gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate power account­able as a pre­con­di­tion for extend­ing and expand­ing the promise of an inclu­sive democ­racy…The Pow­ell Memo is impor­tant because it is the most suc­cinct state­ment, if not the found­ing doc­u­ment, for estab­lish­ing a the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work and polit­i­cal blue­print for the cur­rent assault on any ves­tige of demo­c­ra­tic pub­lic life that does not sub­or­di­nate itself to the logic of the alleged free mar­ket.

…The Pow­ell Memo was designed to develop a broad-based strat­egy not only to counter dis­sent, but also to develop a mate­r­ial and ide­o­log­i­cal infra­struc­ture with the capa­bil­ity to trans­form the Amer­i­can pub­lic con­scious­ness through a con­ser­v­a­tive ped­a­gog­i­cal com­mit­ment to repro­duce the knowl­edge, val­ues, ide­ol­ogy and social rela­tions of the cor­po­rate state. For Pow­ell, the war against lib­er­al­ism and a sub­stan­tive democ­racy was pri­mar­ily a ped­a­gog­i­cal and polit­i­cal strug­gle designed both to win the hearts and minds of the gen­eral pub­lic and to build a power base capa­ble of elim­i­nat­ing those pub­lic spaces, spheres and insti­tu­tions… match their ide­o­log­i­cal fer­vor with their pock­et­books by “dis­burs­ing the col­lec­tive sum of roughly $3 bil­lion over a period of thirty years in order to build a net­work of pub­lic intel­lec­tu­als, think tanks, advo­cacy groups, foun­da­tions, media out­lets, and pow­er­ful lob­by­ing inter­ests.“[8] …

For sev­eral decades, right-wing extrem­ists have labored to put into place an ultra-conservative re-education machine — an appa­ra­tus for pro­duc­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing a pub­lic ped­a­gogy in which every­thing tainted with the stamp of lib­eral ori­gin and the word “pub­lic” would be con­tested and destroyed.…by the time Ronald Rea­gan arrived in tri­umph at the White House in 1980 the assem­bly lines were oper­at­ing at full capac­ity.…a teach­ing machine that pro­duces a cul­ture that is increas­ingly poi­so­nous and detri­men­tal not just to lib­er­al­ism, but to the for­ma­tive cul­ture that makes an aspir­ing democ­racy pos­si­ble. This pres­ence of this ide­o­log­i­cal infra­struc­ture extend­ing from the media to other sites of pop­u­lar edu­ca­tion sug­gests the need for a new kind of debate, one that is not lim­ited to iso­lated issues such as health care, but is more broad-based and fun­da­men­tal, a debate about how power, inequal­ity and money con­strict the edu­ca­tional, eco­nomic and polit­i­cal con­di­tions that make democ­racy pos­si­ble…What must be clear is that this threat to cre­at­ing a crit­i­cally informed cit­i­zenry is not merely a cri­sis of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lan­guage, but about the ways in which money and power cre­ate the edu­ca­tional con­di­tions that make a mock­ery out of debate while hijack­ing any ves­tige of democracy.


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