Pundits and politicians contend for the soul of the Republican party

by Paul Harris, Guardian/UK, November 12, 2012

Excerpt

A civil war is brewing in the GOP – between the realists who have to get elected and the ultras in the conservative media…the fascinating element of this sure-to-be-brutal conflict lies not in the opposing arguments, but in the make-up of each side. For long years, buoyed by Fox News and a legion of talk radio shockjocks, the conservative media and its allies in radical think tanks have been an integral part of the Republican party…internet scribe Matt Drudge, radio host Rush Limbaugh and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist…Steve Deace, a radio host in Iowa…Bryan Fischer, a radio host with the American Family Association…Limbaugh…Herman Cain…What do these people all have in common? No one elects them. They are pundits and firebrands whose very existence relies on stirring up the base. That is where they get readers, listeners and donors. These people do not fear election losses. They thrive on them. Opposition suits their purpose…Among the GOP’s elected representatives – and its more traditional elites – there is a sudden outbreak of moderation….it is not really a battle between two sets of warring politicians. Instead, it is a fight between politicians and pundits. It is policy versus talking points, voters versus ratings. Even Democrats should hope the politicians win.

Full text

A civil war is brewing in the GOP – between the realists who have to get elected and the ultras in the conservative media

There is rarely anything “civil” about civil war. That definitely seems to be the case as the Republican party and conservatives react to defeat at the hands of President Barack Obama.

As with most such fights – think of the Labour party in Britain in the early 1980s, or the Conservatives in the early 2000s – the conflict is between modernisers dragging a party more in line with the electorate it seeks to represent and reactionaries convinced salvation lies in a harder adherence to ideology.

On the one hand are people who accept the Republican party has now lost five out of the last six popular vote tallies in US presidential elections. They examine the changing demographics and social attitudes of Americans (less white, less religious, and more angry at the very wealthy) and see a powerful need to change.

On the other hand are Republicans who look at Mitt Romney’s capture of 48% of the vote and see a flawed “moderate in conservative clothing” who failed to connect to voters the way a true believer would. Just another couple of percentage points, these folks argue, and it would now be a dawn of a conservative golden age.

But the fascinating element of this sure-to-be-brutal conflict lies not in the opposing arguments, but in the make-up of each side. For long years, buoyed by Fox News and a legion of talk radio shockjocks, the conservative media and its allies in radical thinktanks have been an integral part of the Republican party. If you agreed with them, you saw people like internet scribe Matt Drudge, radio host Rush Limbaugh and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist as necessary watchdogs on slippery politicians. If you didn’t, it seemed that in the Republican party, the inmates had taken over the asylum.

Look at those now standing on the side of retrenchment. There is Drudge, promoting the “secession” petitions that grassroots activists have sent to the White House from every state. That sort of extremist posturing feels very pre-2012 election (even Texas Governor Rick Perry – no stranger to secession talk – thinks so). Or look at Limbaugh. He dubbed critics of conservatism “the usual suspects” and asked millions of listeners to hold firm. Across the country “mini-Rushes” are repeating that message.

Take Steve Deace, a radio host in Iowa, who has slammed potential 2012 modernising candidates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush or New Jersey’s Chris Christie. “Those people will never happen,” he emailed Business Insider.

Or look at Bryan Fischer, a radio host with the American Family Association. On the key issues of immigration, gay marriage and the deficit, Fischer’s argument is for more of the same message that has just rejected at the polls. “There hasn’t been such a rush to surrender since the French dropped to their knees before the Nazis in 1940,” he wrote this week.

There is even talk about a third party emerging from this fight. Limbaugh has floated the idea. So has Herman Cain, who may have run for the GOP nomination, but whose real power lies in his radio show and his speaking tours.

What do these people all have in common?

No one elects them. They are pundits and firebrands whose very existence relies on stirring up the base. That is where they get readers, listeners and donors. These people do not fear election losses. They thrive on them. Opposition suits their purpose.

The last thing they need is any form of accountable relationship with actual voters. Former George W Bush speechwriter David Frum, firing a brutal shot from the moderate camp, summed up their tactics the best: “Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex,” he told MSNBC.

So, what of the people who actually have to appeal to the voters?

That is where the other side of the GOP civil war is pitching its camp. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s remarkable interview to Politico this week had him sounding like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Jindal, echoing the “nasty party” fears of a previous generation of British Tories, said it was time for Republicans to stop being the “stupid party”. He went on:

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

Wow. That is heady stuff for anyone who has listened to Republican dogma over the past decade or more.

Among the GOP’s elected representatives – and its more traditional elites – there is a sudden outbreak of moderation. The new intake of the House of Representatives now includes a dozen Republicans who have refused to sign Norquist’s “no tax increases” pledge. Others have recanted their allegiance. It is a clear sign of an ideological break with the past in favour of practical reality.

House speaker John Boehner is making noises about not seeking to repeal Obamacare, apparently accepting that most virulent of political fights is finished. Chris Christie has not backed down despite conservative ire over his across-the-aisle back-slapping with Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, Christie has now earned the displeasure of the Koch brothers-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which once fervently supported him.

And Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol – the epitome of the Washington establishment conservative – even recently raised the prospect of supporting tax hikes. “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won’t,” he told the flabbergasted viewers of Fox News.

Finally, there is immigration reform. Witnessing Obama’s overwhelming support among Hispanics, Republican politicians are rushing to embrace this once toxic issue. Three Senate Republicans, in the shape of John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, are making noises about legislation that includes the once-unmentionable idea of a path to citizenship.

This sort of thing is a huge shock to the “conservative entertainment complex” Frum so accurately identified. Which is what makes the coming Republican civil war so unique. For it is not really a battle between two sets of warring politicians. Instead, it is a fight between politicians and pundits. It is policy versus talking points, voters versus ratings.

Even Democrats should hope the politicians win.

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/commentisfree/2012/nov/14/republican-party-soul-pundits-politicians

Framing the issues

Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics

By Bonnie Azab Powell, NewsCenter | 27 October 2003

BERKELEY – With Republicans controlling the Senate, the House, and the White House and enjoying a large margin of victory for California Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s clear that the Democratic Party is in crisis. George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley professor of linguistics and cognitive science, thinks he knows why. Conservatives have spent decades defining their ideas, carefully choosing the language with which to present them, and building an infrastructure to communicate them, says Lakoff.

The work has paid off: by dictating the terms of national debate, conservatives have put progressives firmly on the defensive.

In 2000 Lakoff and seven other faculty members from Berkeley and UC Davis joined together to found the Rockridge Institute, one of the few progressive think tanks in existence in the U.S. The institute offers its expertise and research on a nonpartisan basis to help progressives understand how best to get their messages across. The Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the College of Letters & Science, Lakoff is the author of “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think,” first published in 1997 and reissued in 2002, as well as several other books on how language affects our lives. He is taking a sabbatical this year to write three books – none about politics – and to work on several Rockridge Institute research projects.

In a long conversation over coffee at the Free Speech Movement Café, he told the NewsCenter’s Bonnie Azab Powell why the Democrats “just don’t get it,” why Schwarzenegger won the recall election, and why conservatives will continue to define the issues up for debate for the foreseeable future.

Why was the Rockridge Institute created, and how do you define its purpose?

I got tired of cursing the newspaper every morning. I got tired of seeing what was going wrong and not being able to do anything about it.

The background for Rockridge is that conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing. Even the new Center for American Progress, the think tank that John Podesta [former chief of staff for the Clinton administration] is setting up, is not dedicated to this at all. I asked Podesta who was going to do the Center’s framing. He got a blank look, thought for a second and then said, “You!” Which meant they haven’t thought about it at all. And that’s the problem. Liberals don’t get it. They don’t understand what it is they have to be doing.

Rockridge’s job is to reframe public debate, to create balance from a progressive perspective. It’s one thing to analyze language and thought, it’s another thing to create it. That’s what we’re about. It’s a matter of asking ‘What are the central ideas of progressive thought from a moral perspective?’

How does language influence the terms of political debate?

Language always comes with what is called “framing.” Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like “revolt,” that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That’s a frame.

If you then add the word “voter” in front of “revolt,” you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like “voter revolt” – something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.

Here’s another example of how powerful framing is. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acceptance speech, he said, “When the people win, politics as usual loses.” What’s that about? Well, he knows that he’s going to face a Democratic legislature, so what he has done is frame himself and also Republican politicians as the people, while framing Democratic politicians as politics as usual – in advance. The Democratic legislators won’t know what hit them. They’re automatically framed as enemies of the people.

Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?

Because they’ve put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying that all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and that we needed to do something about it. Powell’s agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks. He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that. [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]

And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation, they have 1,500 conservative radio talk show hosts. They have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system. They understand what unites conservatives, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.

Why haven’t progressives done the same thing?

There’s a systematic reason for that. You can see it in the way that conservative foundations and progressive foundations work. Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, ‘Here’s several million dollars, do what you need to do.’ And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in “Moral Politics,” has as its highest value preserving and defending the “strict father” system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well.

Meanwhile, liberals’ conceptual system of the “nurturant parent” has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, ‘We’re giving you $25,000, but don’t waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don’t use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.’ So there’s actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better.

Back up for a second and explain what you mean by the strict father and nurturant parent frameworks.

Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline – physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones – those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant – and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, “spoil” people by giving them things they haven’t earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it.

 

From that framework, I can see why Schwarzenegger appealed to conservatives.

 

Exactly. In the strict father model, the big thing is discipline and moral authority, and punishment for those who do something wrong. That comes out very clearly in the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policy. With Schwarzenegger, it’s in his movies: most of the characters that he plays exemplify that moral system. He didn’t have to say a word! He just had to stand up there, and he represents Mr. Discipline. He knows what’s right and wrong, and he’s going to take it to the people. He’s not going to ask permission, or have a discussion, he’s going to do what needs to be done, using force and authority. His very persona represents what conservatives are about.

 

You’ve written a lot about “tax relief” as a frame. How does it work?

 

The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

“Tax relief” has even been picked up by the Democrats. I was asked by the Democratic Caucus in their tax meetings to talk to them, and I told them about the problems of using tax relief. The candidates were on the road. Soon after, Joe Lieberman still used the phrase tax relief in a press conference. You see the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot.

So what should they be calling it?

It’s not just about what you call it, if it’s the same “it.” There’s actually a whole other way to think about it. Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there’s an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists – vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues – you pay your dues to be an American. In addition, the wealthiest Americans use that infrastructure more than anyone else, and they use parts of it that other people don’t. The federal justice system, for example, is nine-tenths devoted to corporate law. The Securities and Exchange Commission and all the apparatus of the Commerce Department are mainly used by the wealthy. And we’re all paying for it.

So taxes could be framed as an issue of patriotism.

It is an issue of patriotism! Are you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country? It’s about being a member. People pay a membership fee to join a country club, for which they get to use the swimming pool and the golf course. But they didn’t pay for them in their membership. They were built and paid for by other people and by this collectivity. It’s the same thing with our country – the country as country club, being a member of a remarkable nation. But what would it take to make the discussion about that? Every Democratic senator and all of their aides and every candidate would have to learn how to talk about it that way. There would have to be a manual. Republicans have one. They have a guy named Frank Luntz, who puts out a 500-page manual every year that goes issue by issue on what the logic of the position is from the Republican side, what the other guys’ logic is, how to attack it, and what language to use.

What are some other examples of issues that progressives should try to reframe?

There are too many examples, that’s the problem. The so-called energy crisis in California should have been called Grand Theft. It was theft, it was the result of deregulation by Pete Wilson, and Davis should have said so from the beginning.

Or take gay marriage, which the right has made a rallying topic. Surveys have been done that say Americans are overwhelmingly against gay marriage. Well, the same surveys show that they also overwhelmingly object to discrimination against gays. These seem to be opposite facts, but they’re not. “Marriage” is about sex. When you say “gay marriage,” it becomes about gay sex, and approving of gay marriage becomes implicitly about approving of gay sex. And while a lot of Americans don’t approve of gay sex, that doesn’t mean they want to discriminate against gay people. Perfectly rational position. Framed in that way, the issue of gay marriage will get a lot of negative reaction. But what if you make the issue “freedom to marry,” or even better, “the right to marry”? That’s a whole different story. Very few people would say they did not support the right to marry who you choose. But the polls don’t ask that question, because the right wing has framed that issue.

Do any of the Democratic Presidential candidates grasp the importance of framing?

None. They don’t get it at all. But they’re in a funny position. The framing changes that have to be made are long-term changes. The conservatives understood this in 1973. By 1980 they had a candidate, Ronald Reagan, who could take all this stuff and run with it. The progressives don’t have a candidate now who understands these things and can talk about them. And in order for a candidate to be able to talk about them, the ideas have to be out there. You have to be able to reference them in a sound bite. Other people have to put these ideas into the public domain, not politicians. The question is, How do you get these ideas out there? There are all kinds of ways, and one of the things the Rockridge Institute is looking at is talking to advocacy groups, which could do this very well. They have more of a budget, they’re spread all over the place, and they have access to the media.

Right now the Democratic Party is into marketing. They pick a number of issues like prescription drugs and Social Security and ask which ones sell best across the spectrum, and they run on those issues. They have no moral perspective, no general values, no identity. People vote their identity, they don’t just vote on the issues, and Democrats don’t understand that. Look at Schwarzenegger, who says nothing about the issues. The Democrats ask, How could anyone vote for this guy? They did because he put forth an identity. Voters knew who he is.

Next: “The ‘free market’ doesn’t exist”  http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff_p2.shtml

George Lakoff dissects “war on terror” and other conservative catchphrases

Read the August 26, 2004, follow-up interview  http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/08/25_lakoff.shtml

‘Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there’s an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers.’  -George Lakoff

‘Conservatives understand what unites them, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.’-George Lakoff

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.