When the Left-Wing Uses Right-Wing Attack Methods To Attack Themselves

Author: July 3, 2011 3:17 pm

Image from http://stevelummer.wordpress.com/category/right-vs-left/

 

I’m not a great fan of Cynthia Boaz, but I’ll give her fair due. She’s written a cracking piece which you can see on TruthOut.org’s website, entitled “14 Propaganda Techniques that Fox ‘News’ Uses to Brainwash Americans.”

It’s a pretty inclusive article, but she should have added how elements of the Right, specifically the Tea Party, borrowed principles and techniques from Saul Alinsky and used them to their advantage- the organising and the targeting of communities and people within these communities in order to grow a movement from within. This whole current Republican Party borrowed a lot of organisational methods from the old communist party, in point of fact.

As much as they like to invoke his sainted memory, the Republican Party is not the party of Reagan. These people are the grandchildren of Barry Goldwater and direct lineal descendents from the Birchers of the Fifties and Sixties. The Birchers borrowed a lot of organisational practice from the communist party, from the era when the communists were trying to infiltrate the union movement.

It was from the old communist handbooks that the Birchers learned to infiltrate the lowliest organisations, mingle with the hoi polloi in order that they might see and accept them as people much like themselves (which they were), and then move onto something bigger and better. Start with the PTA, move onto the Town Council, run for Mayor, County Supervisors, State General Assembly etc etc. This might take time, but these people, unlike a lot of people today, understood that incremental change is change that lasts.

Thus, when the Democratic party, under the urbane and suave leadership of Gary Hart and co, newly-minted voters from affluent, professional, white-collard middle class homes, people with no emotional or traditional connection either to the working class or the labor movement, kicked the working class of the rural South, Midwest and other areas of the country to the political curb, the “family values” Republicans, many of whom were people these folks had known all their lives, were there to pick them up, dust them off and turn them in direction Right. Even though a lot of this effort took 30 years to achieve.

Cynthia’s right to emphasize the fear tactics and brainwashing used by Fox News and the Right, in general, in order to keep their vast demographic so pulverized with fear that they’re basically infantilised – hey, it’s always easier to control scared children – and it’s fair to say that a lot of this necessity on behalf of the Right’s public voice arose after 9/11, when we were all pretty much scared afraid that something else might happen. It’s pretty accurate to say that whilst George Bush and Co managed to keep the country in a heightened state of fear over the spectre of Osama bin Ladin for 8 years, that fear now has been handed on by the Right to focus on the figure of the President, himself.

I’ll grant you, for forty years, the Right has systematically demonized the Left to the point that the Left accommodated the Right and abandoned the use of the word “liberal” as a pejorative – instead, reinventing itself under the guise of “Progressive.”

We watched the Republicans throw various dirty bits at Bill Clinton, mostly in the shapely shapes of women coming out of the woodwork to tell about his sexual exploits. He was also labelled a cocaine trafficker and a murderer. And now we’ve seen the Right vilify and seek to delegitimize Barack Obama in a myriad of ways which are just as bad, and worse, than the way Clinton was morphed into Public Enemy Number One, by the GOP.

He’s been called a Kenyan, a Mau-mau, a socialist, a communist, a Marxist and a Nazi. He’s been accused of being a curious Manchurian candidate, smuggled as a baby into the country by his mother and raised and groomed for the highest office in the Land. Some on the Right have characterised him as an uppity thug; one even called him a liar to his face. He’s been accused of wanting to establish death panels, in order to determine who might live and who might die under his Healthcare program. All of this has been force-fed various tranches of the public to the point that they are convinced and nothing and no information could persuade them that they’ve been fed a tissue of lies.

And that’s just from the Right.

Because as the Right has borrowed extensively from the Left in order to beat them at their own game, so the Left is borrowing from the Right and – for some reason – undermining this Administration.

Let me show you how, using some of Cynthia’s listed propaganda techniques.

1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren’t activated, you aren’t alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don’t think rationally. And when they can’t think rationally, they’ll believe anything.

Do the Left indulge in this? Quite frankly, yes. Not to the extent that the Right do, but it’s there in the Leftwing media, on the web and certainly on MSNBC.

The most obvious proponents of this technique are FireDogLake’s Jane Hamsher and Bold Progressives’ Adam Green. Green is a particularly bad with this technique. If you’re on his e-mail list or even on Jane’s, you’ve probably received e-mails from them, telling you in breathless terms, urgent terms that time’s running out for this cause or that cause, the latest dastardly deed of betrayal that Barack Obama’s about to level on Left. Cleverly inserted inside these fear e-missives is the kind request that if the recipient just clicks on a link to sign a petition and donate at least $5.00 to thecause au courant, of course, Jane or Adam or whoever will be able to fight just that much more securely to ensure that your rights are preserved.

Green’s most recent cause celebre has been haranguing people that the President is about to axe not just Medicare, in cahoots with Paul Ryan’s budget plan, but also Social Security Insurance. If you cast your mind back to April when the President gave his George Washington University speech – the one where he handed Paul Ryan his ass on a platter – I’ll let Joy Reid of The Reid Report, also – like Green – an MSNBC political contributor, tell you how Green man-managed this issue:-

Nobody knows what the president is going to say at 1:35 this afternoon about entitlements. The stories flying around the Beltway about what Obama will announce, including the speculation that he will embrace the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles “cat food” commission, are just that: speculation. The White House often releases embargoed previews of the president’s speeches. I’m on that media list. They didn’t do it this time, and have made it clear they won’t. (Thanks for leaking those prior embargoed speeches, National Journal…)

Green is probably on those lists too.

In other words, he has no more idea what the president is going to say than I do. The president may very well go all Simpson-Bowles on us, and if he does, it will be worth debating how smart that is. But at this stage, no one knows.

But that didn’t stop the “bold progressive” from releasing a dramatic email this morning, quoting a bunch of disillusioned Obama voters who can’t believe he’s selling out Medicare and Medicaid, which they know because … well they just know he’s gonna do it and they can’t BELIEVE it…! And asking the recipient to sign their petition demanding the president not “sell out,” the way they already know he will. From the in-box:

Joy-Ann,

Urgent! The White House announced that in a big speech today, President Obama will do what no Republican President has been able to do: Put Medicare and Medicaid on the table for potential cuts.

Many former Obama volunteers, donors, and voters are deeply disappointed. A Democratic Congressman said on MSNBC on Monday that Obama needs to “act like a Democrat.”

Will you sign this urgent pledge, which we’ll deliver to the Obama campaign?

“President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don’t ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I’m going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates — not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts.” Click here to sign.

Below are some amazing notes from Obama volunteers who worked passionately for the President in 2008.

Many people still want to believe in President Obama. But the White House needs to understand that their actions now will have real consequences for 2012. The level of grassroots enthusiasm will be determined by whether the President fights for bold progressive change — and takes cuts that hurt grandparents, the disabled, and kids firmly off the table.

The White House will absolutely be watching the progress of this petition. And we’ll deliver the pledge signatures to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.

Please sign today — then, pass it to others who worked to elect President Obama in 2008.

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

– Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Jason Rosenbaum, Keauna Gregory, and the PCCC team.

Now, the beauty part of this, beside the fact that when you go to the petition, the CONTRIBUTE button is nicely highlighted in red, is that no matter what Obama says today, it works out for PCCC.

If he fails to “sell out” Medicare and Medicaid, PCCC will claim credit for making him change a speech that I’m pretty sure was written before they started their online petition drive – much the way they claimed the credit for the popular revolution in Wisconsin. Then they’ll raise money on their “win” in turning the feckless president around, and Green will go on Lawrence’s “Last Word” show to skewer Obama for having to be forced to change his ways when he promised to govern as a liberal.

I received one of these e-mailed screeds from Green, because I used to be on his mailing list too, but that one jumped the shark for me, for exactly the reason Joy outlined: No one knew what the President was going to say.

And know what? The only mention made of Medicare or Social Security was in direct opposition to what Ryan proposed to do, but since the President gave that address 24 hours after Green sent out his desperately urgent e-mail, enough people had sent their five-dollar donations to Bold Progressives, that Green had garnered a cool $300K in less than 24 hours, and he bragged about it.

Nice work, if you can get it. For a grifter. And isn’t that just a little bit illegal? Still, MSNBC, who leans forward, continuously brings Green to the table and identifies him as a political contributor.

Here’s the rub. Green is a graduate of my alma mater, the University of Virginia. We have a stringent Honor Code which precludes any student lying, cheating or stealing. If Green had tried some of the tactics he’s so successful in trying now as a student, he’d be ordered to leave the University within 24 hours … basically for lying, cheating and stealing. He probably studied under Larry Sabato, but I know Larry, and I don’t imagine Larry would have either encouraged or condoned a scam piece like this.

Still, some people have more money than common sense. Let’s plough on.

2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person’s credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. “liberals,” “hippies,” “progressives” etc. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.

Once again, people on the Left have engaged in this technique – most often against the Right; and though it might make me a hypocrite, I’ve no problem with “my” side giving back to the Right just as good as they give us; but MSNBC – Lean Forward MSNBC – engages in this as much against the President as against the right-wing. And so do many of the celebrity talking heads, especially against the viewing/listening/reading public who happen to disagree with their particular assessment of the President.

Weeks before he was sacked from MSNBC, Keith Olbermann embarked on a scurrilous “Special Comment” against the myth these celebrity talking heads and several members of Congress from safe, affluent districts, had been pushing about the President “caving” on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Never mind the fact that thiscompromise secured notable benefits for the unemployed, the poor and the working poor, the President should have walked on the discussions and allowed the tax cuts to expire. (And sacrificed the repeal of DADT and the passing of SMART and the First Responders’ legislation).

Nevermind all that. Keith’s special comment wantonly labelled the President a “quisling,” which is the worst sort of traitor, and likened him to Nazi appeasers.

That same week, appearing on Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday program, Bill Maher – not to be undone – promptly declared the President a “pussy.” He recently reiterated that once again a week ago on his program.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen Hamsher and her cronies on the FDL site refer to the President as “the Affirmative Action President,” “Bugaloo Bush,” and even “the house nigger.”

It’s not just the President for whom they’re aiming. Olbermann and Joan Walsh, inveterate Twitterers, regularly engage in punching down at followers from the Left who disagree with their opinions. Olbermann’s favourite tack is to address these people as “morons.” Joan tells people to “get help” or she opines that their lives must suck (to be so stupid as to dare disagree with someone so far elevated by appearances on television that they must know the subject about which they discourse).

In fact, quite recently, Joan reckoned that anyone who vigorously defended the President was actually a GOP troll, most likely paid by Andrew Breitbart, and that these people would do more damage to Barack Obama than anyone else.

Pardon me, but I was raised a Democrat, by parents who’d voted Democratic since Roosevelt and beyond. I was raised to support the party, especially if there were a Democrat in the White House. Criticize the President, yes, that goes without saying; but wantonly and in the fashion of the radical chic the way this President has been criticized for absolutely everything, by the Right as well as the Left, it goes without saying that his supporters are many things, but not under-miners.

And it’s these selfsame supporters who’ve been labelled “Obamabots” by those morally superior purists who follow every word, deed and thought of the likes of Hamsher and Green as truth, when – in fact – like many on the Right, including Hamsher’s political bedfellow, Grover Norquist – they’re pushing the propaganda technique of the Big Lie to the fullest.

3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you’re using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism, or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon are accused of not having science or facts on their side. It’s often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.

This is something the Left doesn’t like to here, but it’s there and it needs addressing: racism. On the Left, the tack has been rather like the old Fawlty Towers episode about German guests in the hotel: Whatever you do, don’t mention the war.

In this case, it’s whatever you do, don’t bring race into it, even when it’s really all about race. How could it not be about race, when we have the first African-American President in the White House?

No, he doesn’t have to bring it up, anymore than I would have expected Hillary Clinton to have played the gender card, had she won (and which Sarah Palin does remorselessly and without compunction); but some of the remarks and the attitudes emanating from certain quarters on the Left have had a particular whiff of subtle racism about them.

Walsh, two months ago, uttered an inadvertently racist remark in a Twitter feed, and had her posterior portion served up to her on a platter by several African-American bloggers, articulate and intelligent people who were offended. Did she apologise for the way she worded her sentence? No. Show remorse? Never.

Some of these remarks have been foolishly inane, like Chris Matthews getting over-excited and blurting out that he sometimes forgets Obama is a black man. Others are blatantly ignorant and provocative, such as Bill Maher’s referring to the President as “President Sanford and Son” or wondering why we didn’t elect a “real” black man, one who embodied all the characteristics Bill ascribes to ‘ghetto gangstas’, including carrying a gun concealed on his person.

But if anyone points these items out or questions the appearance of racists attitudes on the Left, the argument is turned around to imply that the person introducing the subject is, themselves, a racist.

I’m a white woman from the South. I grew up just when segregation was ending and integration was the norm. I lived through the high age of deliberate Affirmative Action in the Seventies. I’ve seen knee jerk liberals welcome minority employees into the fold and then proceed to patronise and raise the performance standard as an excuse to tut and to criticize. People like me just don’t hear dog whistles, we see the mutts being herded across wide expanses of fields.

Nobody likes to be called a racist, but more and more African-Americans are recognising the subtle form of patronising racism amongst the Progressive Left and are calling them out about it – whether it be Cornel West and his personal vendetta against the President in implying that Obama inherited too many white traits from his Kansan mother, to Joan Walsh’s ladylike vapours at the thought that African-American supporters of the President would dispute that people of Joan’s ilk make up the Democratic base.

(They don’t.)

4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin’s mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false? Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality than to update their viewpoints. They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests. And they’ll often speak with such authority that the casual viewer will be tempted to question what they knew as fact.

Yes, sorry to say the Left is guilty of this as well. Not on such a grandiose scale as we’ve seen on the Right, with Palin’s version of Paul Revere’s ride or Bachmann’s making John Quincy Adams one of the Founding Fathers when he was still wet behind the ears, and their respective supporters scurrying onto Wikipedia in an effort, actually, to rewrite events, themselves. And not with the odious David Barton pushing his revisionist history of the United States as a nation founded on a vision from God. But our side does its fair share of rewriting history.

Here are some facts we rather conveniently ignore about our various saints:

  • Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the Progressives, was a Republican. He coined the phrase “bully pulpit,” but it didn’t mean what we interpret it to mean today. In Roosevelt’s time, “bully” was slang for “great” or “good.” So when he described the Presidency as a “bully pulpit,” he really meant it was a great platform by which to communicate and not one by which a leader could forcibly impose his will upon Congress or the public.
  • Woodrow Wilson, whom the Righ-wing revile and whom the Leftwing revere, was a notorious racist. Fact.
  • FDR was a pragmatist, more at home in the world of industrialists and financiers. His best friend was Bernard Baruch. Once he’d got his social justice schemes in place, he dropped the Progressive Midwest Democrats and joined up with industrialists to promote production for what he perceived to be the upcoming war. He interned the Niseii, not because he wanted to, but because the public demanded it. He interned them in concentration camps. That’s right. He tried to stack the Surpreme Court and got smacked by Congress. He wasn’t afraid to send in National Guard troops to bust union strikers during the war and argued heavily with John Lewis of the CIO about unionizing WPA jobs to the extent that Lewis endorsed Wendell Wilkie in 1940.
  • LBJ went from hero to zero in two years. Whilst he was an effective Senate Majority Leader, he wasn’t that successful a President. He managed to sign the Civil Rights Act, but was helpless against the onslaught of white backlash that erupted in the North. He lied about the Bay of Tonkin disaster in order to get us more heavily involved in Viet Nam. Until his dying day, he never ceased to refer to a person of African-American heritage by anything other than the awful n-word.
  • Barack Obama did not run as a Progressive, but as a Centre-Left pragmatist, who never advocated single-payer health insurance or, really, a public option. He always said he’d bring down action in Iraq, whilst concentrating on upping the ante in Afghanistan.
  • John Edwards, prior to 2008, was a triangular Clintonian Democrat. He only decided to run as a Progressive in order to hit Hillary Clinton from the Left in the primary campaign of 2008. He has never and still doesn’t approve of same-sex marriage.

5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.

This is a regular tactic of the Hamsher Firebaggers as well as Arianna Huffington. If it’s Wednesday and the economy’s bad, blame the President or one of his advisors, usually Tim Geithner. Huffington pushed the big lie last year that Geithner was viciously opposed to Elizabeth Warren being appointed to head of the Credit Protection Agency. The other big lie she promoted up to and including the eve of the Midterm election, was that the President “just wasn’t that into the Middle Classes” – as if she were such an expert on the middle class, itself.

But she’s still out there, still commanding the media attention of the sociopath she is and still being identified as a Progressive voice, even though she’s now a part of the corporate Kochmeister social swirl. MSNBC and Bill Maher treat her like a goddess when she’s more like a gorgon. Why?

6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I’d call a “meta-frame” (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. For example, terms like “show of strength” are often used to describe acts of repression, such as those by the Iranian regime against the protesters in the summer of 2009. There are several concerning consequences of this form of conflation. First, it has the potential to make people feel falsely emboldened by shows of force – it can turn wars into sporting events. Secondly, especially in the context of American politics, displays of violence – whether manifested in war or debates about the Second Amendment – are seen as noble and (in an especially surreal irony) moral. Violence become synonymous with power, patriotism and piety.

Whilst the Left in no way identifies with violence in the way the Right does, there is, with this Presidency, a penchant of people on the Left to use various epithets and phrases that, unconsciously, have a pejorative historical value when applied to this seminal Presidency.

I’ve noted before that Bill Maher regularly refers to Obama as a “pussy.” He has also stated that the President was weak, without spine and not a leader in the least. So have many other people from the Left. It doesn’t matter that each time these accusations get bandied about, the President proves there’s more than one side to strength than swaggering like Bush or chest-beating, which is what people like Maher with Big Daddy issues seem to expect from this President. They long for the stereotypical angry Black Panther of a man, and the moment the President loses his temper, which is always done in a calm, cool and rationally cold sort of way, they either go running for cover or they whine some more that this isn’t enough.

There’s such a sort of strength as quiet strength from within. As far as throwing temper tantrums, my Sicilian grandmother always used to remind me that “revenge is a dish that’s best eaten cold.”

7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. The bully exploits this lack of confidence by berating the guest into submission or compliance. Often, less self-possessed people will feel shame and anxiety when being berated and the quickest way to end the immediate discomfort is to cede authority to the bully. The bully is then able to interpret that as a “win.”

I think we saw a fair amount of this recently, especially at NetRoots Nation 11, when Lt Dan Choi, the latest Hamsher tool, ostentatiously confronted the bisexual OFA volunteer in a humiliating fashion for all to see. It happens when someone disagrees online with the Alpha man likes of Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota or John Aravosis (he, who’s pronounced on Twitter that “all blacks are insane”). It occurs in the commentary sections from The Daily Kos toHuffington Post to Salon, where people name-call and bait others. It happens on phone-ins from the Right and from the Left, and it’s inexcusable.

8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking, thereby giving the user’s claims veracity in the viewer’s mind.

Favourite tactic of Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann. When in doubt, tell the person who disagrees with you how stupid they are and that they simply cannot follow your logic. Greenwald’s a particularly bad sock puppet, who trolls websites where he’s mentioned, often under the guise of someone else, to bait and bother.

9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of “the people” and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always “elitist” or a “bureaucrat” or a “government insider” or some other category that is not the people. The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused “elitists” are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.

The extreme Left, the Progressives, do this in reverse. Yes, we know the right-wing is suspicious of anything smacking of elitism – Northeastern or Coastal liberals educated, often privately, but having degrees, if not from Ivy League institutions, then mostly from well-established institutes of higher education.

Make no mistake. This is a divide and conquer technique employed by the right-wing. The right-wing wants an uneducated or undereducated populace, poor and unsuspecting,whilst at the same time, suspicious of anything redolent of sophistry. It’s to the advantage of the Republicans and their corporate Kochmeisters that there be an underclass of peasants, for lack of a better word, willing to work for whatever rate of pay offered, under the belief that their employer would look after their interests better than any union could ever seek to do. Suck the workers in and entertain them on a diet of right-wing and religious talk radio pumped through the tannoy daily from dawn until dusk of the working day.

But instead of reaching out to these people, instead of trying to dispel the notion that the Left is the Devil in disguise and out to ruin their way of life as they know it, we ridicule them. David Carr did as much last week on Real Time with Bill Maher when he referred to inhabitants of Kansas and Missouri as having sloping foreheads, indicating low intellect.

Well, Mr Carr, time was, Missouri and Kansas were blue states. And Virginia. And North Carolina. And Montana. And the Dakotas. And Texas, for that matter. These people need to see and hear people, from our side, who sound and act like them, not to deride or denigrate them, but to convince them that the real party fighting for their interests is actually the Democratic party. Or, at least, it should be.

10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America. And hates taxes and anyone who doesn’t love those other three things. Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It’s a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.

Again, the Left does this in reverse, and it does no one any good. Just recently, the right-wing came out with a new meme to push in the run-up to the next election: Liberals hate God.

That’s it. We hate God. Not only are they painting us as weeping-Nellie atheists in a culture war, but we’re the enemies because we are perceived to hate God.

I can’t possibly think where they got that idea.

Oh, wait … once again, maybe Bill Maher comes into the equation.

Look, I’m a non-believer, but I know that our country was founded on the principle of having the freedom to worship, or not to worship, as one chooses. And I know that most of the Founding Fathers were elite members of the ruling aristocracy, educated during the Enlightenment, and that most were probably Deists. Thomas Jefferson not only had a copy of the Koran, he even edited his own Bible to suit his own tastes.

I also know that most non-believers are found on the cultural Left – with the exception of S E Cupp and Karl Rove (and Cupp is suspect, whilst Rove flip-flops on his atheism depending on the audience). But I hate proselytizers of any stripe, and I abhor the raving atheist who propagates his opinion that anyone who believes is demented as much as I abhor the fundamentalist who exhorts me to repent or burn in hell. Whatever floats your boat, the Left is supposed to be the side demonstrating tolerance here. Deriding anyone’s religious beliefs is as bad as dismissing anyone’s lack of belief.

11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it’s true or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.” If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth. Another example is Fox’s own slogan of “Fair and Balanced.”

Do we do this? Yes, we do. How about endless, endless repetition of the fact that:-

  • The President is weak
  • The President is a corporate tool of Wall Street
  • The President just isn’t into you
  • The President is just like Bush
  • The President isn’t a good negotiator
  • The President caved
  • The President caved
  • The President caved
  • The President caved

Get the picture? There are people out there right now on our side, who won’t believe anything else, other than the most pejorative talking points about this President; and some of them are people who should know better.

13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. Here’s how it works: if your cousin’s college roommate’s uncle’s ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984 with Gorbachev’s niece’s ex-boyfriend’s sister, then you, by extension are a communist set on destroying America. Period.

You know, the old Blue Dogs have taken some knocking in the past three years. So much so to the extent, that I had a very unwise soul from the Commonwealth of Virginia tell me that she was glad a Tea Partier had unseated Rick Boucher, an established, moderate Democrat of 30 years’ standing in the midterm elections. If you’re going to vote for a Blue Dog, she reckoned, you may as well vote Republican.

Rick Boucher was not Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin. He was a loyal Democrat who voted with the party, but because he was centrist and veered centre-Right, he was deemed a Blue Dog, and therefore, unworthy of serving, even if that meant losing a Democratic seat in the House of Representatives.

The Hamsherites think that way too. In fact, they’ve put together a group who are looking to find someone either to primary the President in 2012 or to run a third-party candidate; and you know what? They don’t give a rat’s ass that such a tactic would literally hand the White House front door key to a President Bachmann or Perry or Pawlenty, because they reckon that the Democratic party needs a shakedown like this to reform along more Progressive lines. After all, a Presidential term is only four years, right?

Wrong.

The last time a serving Democratic President was primaried, we got 12 years of Republican rule – those 12 years which set us firmly on the road to hell from which we’re desperately trying to find an exit. Peeps, this current Republican party isn’t the party of the smiling Gipper. It’s people are, at best, Goldwater’s grandchildren; at worst, they’re the natural successors to the Koch-funded John Birch Society. They’re Dominionists, intent on turning this country into a Christian theocracy. They come with Ayn Rand in one hand and thumping a Bible against their hip with the other. They want to control women’s reproductive rights, ditch the Department of Education and public schools and live by states and property rights. This is back to the future, big time!

Anytime we label any Democrat pejoratively, we lessen the strength of the Democratic party.

Cynthia Boaz listed 14 different propaganda tactics employed by Fox and the Right to brainwash people. The Left, aided and abetted by MSNBC and other entities, is guilty of following 12 of those 14 propaganda techniques, albeit modifying them to suit their own agenda. But the difference is that the Right is using those techniques in order to demonize the opposition – us – whilst we on the Left, some of us, at least, use these techniques less effectively against the Right, but – perversely – more effectively against ourselves.

Admittedly, the plebiscite of the Left is often led by the short and curlies by professional hacks who masquerade as Leftwing pundits – Huffington comes to mind, and she’s anything but. Yet consider that Hamsher owns a public relations firm who represents and advises Republican candidates, that Greenwald has been connected with the Cato Institute and the Koch brothers and that several of these celebrity talking heads have a past history of being neocon Republicans, themselves. Even Bill Maher, who repeatedly and incorrectly labels himself a Progressive, is far too cosy with the likes of Darrell Issa and Andrew Breitbart.

So going into the 2012 election and aiming for a Democratic President securing a second term, all we seem to have managed to do is create a house divided against itself, whose foundations, the base, are anything but strong.

And, please, don’t patronise me by pushing the old chestnut of the President abandoning his base. His base abandoned him the minute they ceded their capacity for critical thinking to those who profit from dividing and conquering. Or maybe it’s just more comfortable being morally right in Opposition with no responsibility to govern?

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22 Comments

  • Henry Rinehart

    I liked the article, it was well thought out and very well-written. It covers the basic issues, delineates clearly what those issues are and how the right are using these tactics to both bully the left and build their own mindless, terrorized sheeple-base.

    Thank you for your effort in bringing this information to us in this simple to understand format, as many of the people we will be trying to influence with the information are extremely resistant to any other ideas and, as you mentioned in the article, extremely distrusting of anything that even slightly resembles sophistry.

    That said, please understand that while I like your article, and what you’ve pointed out appears to be correct, I am one of the people who voted for Obama who is deeply disturbed by some of the things he has done, not the least of which is signing the latest NDAA into law. I have honestly begun wondering whose side President Obama is really on, and am still clinging to a desperate hope that the only reason he signed it into law is that he intends to declare every politician who had a hand in drafting it, promoting it, signing it and passing it on to him to be terrorists. This would give him the authority to put nearly three-fourths of the worst politicians in Congress into indefinite detention, where they can see how they like what they had intended to use against the OWS protesters being turned on them. At this point in time I have to consider all of them traitors, as they have passed legislation that is utterly against the Constitution of the United States, and are thereby forsworn of their oaths of office, each and every one of them.

    I weep for what used to be the United States of America, for the Constitution that once made us great, and for the future of this country. We are at war, not with enemies from without, but with terrorists from within, boring their way into our government under the guise of Christianity, with the avowed aim of reducing the Constitution to an unmentioned document within the annals of their to-be-revised history books, and making America a theocracy under the most strict interpretations of Christian law.

    They will stop at nothing, stoop to any foul act or lie to further their agenda, and have representatives actively seeking the Republican nomination for President. You can tell them by their acts–if they want to destroy women’s rights, make life harder and more miserable for the majority of the people of this country, and support no-one but the mega-rich, they are representatives of a so-called “Christian” right wing that wants to destroy the America we live in today. They and their rich supporters are the ones backing the tactics of Fox News and the worst of the supposed “Democrats”, and the reason they are all working so hard to undermine Obama’s presidency is that they want to destabilize our government, intend to destabilize our government, to rip it apart from within and destroy it utterly.

    And they claim the “liberals” are making war on Christians because that is exactly what they are doing to everyone in the country who wants equality and freedom, two concepts that are anathema to this insane brand of self-styled “Christianity”.

    God help us all.

  • Change does not come from complacency, that’s for sure. BIG change IS gonna come when voting your principles over common sense, though, that’s even surer. Please explain, Art, how voting against the democratic party and the president is going to bring real change THIS TIME. I’m still waiting for one of the many “vote against Obama” people to explain what they foresee…
    Very thorough article, Marion, with so many good points. Thanks!

  • Christopher Calkins

    Christopher Calkins I gotta ask again: Do you think there’s a correlation between Obama Bashing, Far Left, Herbal TeaBaggers and folks who grew-up hating their parents?

    • Henry Rinehart

      No. I think Obama Bashing is mainly a tool of a radical group within America that wants to destroy the Constitution and our way of life, replacing America with a theocracy run on radicalized extreme “Christian” law. The Far Left, Herbal Teabaggers, and folks who grew up hating their parents are all equally in danger, and although their criticisms may sound similar, I believe they have all simply drunk the same poisoned Flavor-Ade the right is pushing, handed to them by people supposedly on the “left” who the Far Left groups thought they could trust to be honest with them.

      Of course, this is my opinion, so please don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at “Christian” Dominionism, a dangerous, radical, and well-connected group of insane ultra-right-wing conservatives who believe they are both “christian” and “doing right by God and every right-thinking person in America”. Once you’re acquainted with their goals, their methods, and what they truly want to accomplish, feel free to throw up.

      I did.

  • Saje Williams

    There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of this administration that do not depend on any of the memes you list. Take Medical MJ, for example. It’s clear that the people support it, and the science certainly leans that way as well… yet Obama’s Justice Department regularly acts as though the will of the people is meaningless. This isn’t an accident. It’s a sign of a deep seated problem within this government… that the will of the people doesn’t matter. And there’s still entirely too much faith in Voodoo economics in Washington when the very situation we’re in now can be laid at the feet of that same failed ideology.

    Yes, a lot of people go way too far. And that weakens the position of those who have legitimate complaints. But never pretend that there are no legitimate complaints. There’s a whole mess of wolves now standing in the crosshairs in Montana and Wyoming who might beg to differ.

  • This is a clear sign that Sarah Palin WILL PWN Obozo in 2012 and be our next and greatest President of ALL TIMES! It is the word and will of GOD HERSELF that HER CHOSEN ONE Sarah Palin becomes President and Saves us all as the REAL MESSIAH and SAVIOR!

    • Henry Rinehart

      You are kidding, right? Please, God, tell me this idiot is kidding. . .

      Ignorance is not power, moral weakness is not goodness, working for rich people against poor people is not social progress, and all of these describe Sarah Palin. If you honestly believe any of the tripe you committed to this page, whoever you are behind the “Palin Power” pseudonym, you are so far off your required medications that you may never find your way back to reality. When was the last time God took Jesus up in a helicopter to butcher wolves with high-power rifles from the safety of a seat eighty feet in the air? When was the last time Jesus pushed legislation to take away medical and support funding from special-needs children? Oh, and since I’ve been to one of Sarah Palin’s rallies–when was the last time Jesus promulgated hate and bigotry to the masses?

      It’s people like you, without the courage to use your real name but with all your misbegotten and ill-guided zeal to snipe at us from your protected position, laser-guiding little bombs of misinformation, misdirection and outright lies at our minds, people like you, PP, who are doing all they can to bring America to its knees.

      I don’t want the Messiah in the White House, PP, I want someone who is HONEST, and BRAVE, and has the COURAGE to make our country a BETTER, MORE EQUAL PLACE for EVERYONE in it to be President.

      Sarah Palin is none of these things. She is the antithesis of most of them, couldn’t spell any of them on her own three times in a row, and would be a disaster to anything she was in charge of.

  • I have asked, time after time after time, for the facts behind peoples opinions of politics, and politicians. And, time after time after time, I have not been replied to. Or, the few times that I do get replies, I am answered with more generalities, not facts. It, frankly, baffles me.

    I get some of my news from the news websites. I, also, read a LOT of articles. It doesn’t really matter which “side” they are on. I read them. I want to know what my fellow citizens are thinking. I would rather know, and disagree with them, than not know and not be able to counter or agree with them.

    Most of what I pay attention to is the Library of Congress (thomas.loc.gov). It is an amazing website! It has ALL bills online, with who introduced them, who sponsored them, what actions have been taken on them, and what the text says. The actual text, not just an opinion of it by someone else.

    I was brought up wanting facts, not just opinion. I was, also, brought up with the knowledge that there is more than one way to something. No matter how vehemently a case is argued for only on e side. I, also, do not trust the opinions of people who do so.

    The fact is that nobody does everything wrong. Nobody. Just as nobody does everything right.

    I have lectured people on what an official Birth Certificate/Certificate of Live Birth is, and how to tell (BTW, Obama’s is an official one). I have told people about what bills they thought were just plain wrong actually said (like the one that people claimed that the Government was going to regulate your home garden. It was only for commercial food growers and processors, not home). Explain to people, who said that Obama had never held a real job, that Civil Right’s Attorney, Constitutional Law Professor, Best Selling Author, State Legislature and US Congressman, are ALL real jobs. And that Community Organizer is much more difficult than it sounds.

    I have watched, over the years, Ann Coulter target the left. No, I am not exaggerating. Look at what her books have to say. Heck, look at just the TITLES of her books!
    “We THE PEOPLE”

    -Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right
    -Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
    -How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter
    -Godless: The Church of Liberalism
    -If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans
    -Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America
    -Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America

    NONE of these are true. NONE. So, why have so many people chosen to believe them?

    • Both Dems and GOP have their huge base of deniers. They will vote Party over substance.

      The GOP is definitely heavier on the “fingers in the ear” side. And the “O” has stood for “Obstructionist” for far too long whenever a Liberal is in the White House.

      But they have shown for decades how they can use the media to whip up support and distort issues. And when the percentage of Americans who vote is still falling (with a few anomalies), the minority will continue to pull this Country towards Wealthy interests, including a growing number of Democratic Representatives.

    • Henry Rinehart

      Because the Big Lie works, if done properly. And the people backing Fox News and the GOP have the money, the reach, the media outlets and the desire to put the Big Lie out in every kind of media the people of America are normally exposed to. People like Ann Coulter participate in the Big Lie because they are heartless, uncaring individuals who are paid extremely well to push the Big Lie, and to them money is more important than the truth, the lives of the people they have ruined and will ruin in the future, or the continued existence of the United States of America as a true democracy.

      One of the posts farther down mentions this as well, that Adolph Hitler employed the Big Lie, because it works. And it works anywhere, with any people who have limited education and limited media resources to rely on, because while the Big Lie works with almost anyone, it works better and faster on the ignorant. And if the ignorant people only have one or two channels to watch, and both of those are Fox News or their subsidiaries, and they’re “Christians” as well, inculcated from birth with the attitude “don’t question authority”, then it works astonishingly well.

      In fact, it works so well that I’ve shown people historical truths that conflicted with what they’d heard on Fox News and had them–literally–slap the book out of my hand and scream at me that I’m lying to them.

      Some people will come to believe the Big Lie so passionately that they will shout down the truth, refuse to listen. That is why the Big Lie is still used, because it works so well. It’s exploiting how most people’s brains are hardwired, and demagogues and would-be dictators rely on its efficacy.

      The only way to break its hold on some people is to expose them to a process similar to a cult intervention, with the same techniques you’d use to break someone free of a cult. Because that’s what the Big Lie really is, at that level–their religion. And once those individuals accept the Big Lie, really accept it, then the only way to make them change their mind about it requires an equal and unflinching willingness to expose them to the Big Truth, and do it to them as relentlessly as they were inflicted with the Big Lie.

      God help us all.

  • FiredUpInCA

    This is an excellent post. I wanted to know more about this:

    “Greenwald has been connected with the Cato Institute and the Koch brothers and that several of these celebrity talking heads have a past history of being neocon Republicans, themselves.”

    What is his connection to the Koch brothers?

  • Saturation? “Make the lie big. Make it simple. Tell it often enough and eventually they will believe it” Adolf Hitler. Only he said it in German. And, hey! It worked for him.

  • BRAVO!!! Tweeted/Facebooked. An absolute MUST read.

  • @Art Perez – I’d prefer pragmatism and political maneuvering over rigid principles and ideology any day. Sometimes a compromise is what we need. And, sometimes, it’s all we can get.

    Stick to your principles. But just remember, we live in the real world. The president is just one person that represents one branch of government. He can’t do everything by himself.

    As pragmatic Progressives (which we are, or should be, by definition) then we should know that we can’t have everything we want right away or at all. Things change. And we have more work to do. With a second term we can actually do more.

    • @Aaron If he couldn’t do with the control of the Congress, what makes you think he can do more with only half the Congress (and not even 60 in the Senate anymore)?

      He had that 2008 to 2010 and the Democrats couldn’t jam through everything they were elected to do. And the movement really started in the 2006 midterms.

      You speak of compromise… that means the poor and middle class take on burdens and the Wealthy give up breaks for perks. That is not compromise, that is betrayal by “Liberals”.

      I’m more than willing to talk about entitlement programs AFTER we have done everything we can to reasonably increase revenue, cut welfare for the Rich, and end the wars.

      Doesn’t that sound more reasonable? We need to pull the Democrats back to the Left. But every-time you give them your undying support, they go further to the Right. Or do you disagree with that? And what is your answer for pulling them more Left?

      • @Art your post proves you haven’t been paying attention to facts, and only reading commentary.

        We never had 60 Magical Votes in the Senate – not for one micro second. And certainly never had a Super Majority in the House, which is HOW the GOP has held the entire country hostage for such a long time – BECAUSE THEY CAN.

        The fact Obama has accomplished anything, much less record legislation in 2.5 years is nothing short of miraculous.

        I’ll take a half a glass of tap water any day (and live to fight for cleaner water tomorrow), rather than die of dehydration waiting for a bottle of Evïan.

        • @Bardgal So typical of Obama apologists. You say it’s amazing that he got anything done with the majorities he had. Wow…

          Did Bush have these majorities? How did he get so much done (negative stuff)?

          Obama (and the DNC) could have the entire House and 99 in the Senate AND they would still complain and cave.

          Next you’ll tell me all the campaign promises don’t mean squat and he shouldn’t have to honour propaganda speeches (cause that’s what it is, isn’t it, if you don’t keep your word?).

          And when will you ever vote for a Liberal Party besides the Dems? Can they ever do anything to lose you? Or is it always half full?

          He had overwhelming support and momentum, but caved whenever giving an opportunity. Why did he extend the Bush tax cuts? The Republicans couldn’t get it past the Senate and/or a Veto. They would have had mud all over them, but Obama went “bi-partisan” on them to give them cover.

          You talk about not following facts, you need to follow Liberals like Bernie Sanders, not corporate sell outs.

          When the middle-class and poor continue to sacrifice necessities for the Wealthy’s perks. I will have a clear conscious. I won’t be like those chump Republicans who voted TWICE for Bush because the Party scarred them.

          Every-time you see a kid, know that you sold them out just to put a Democrat (not a Liberal) in office.

          • Well said Art. I’m sick of being bullied and guilted into supporting the corporate-owned Dems just because they are so much less scary than the corporate-owned Republicans. I’m sick of blind party loyalty and this whole idea that any criticism of this administration gives aid and comfort to the enemy. When do people start talking about principles and just support the candidates (and there are some, as you mentioned) who just support the things they believe in?

          • Henry Rinehart

            Umm, @Art, was this a serious question?

            “Did Bush have these majorities? How did he get so much done (negative stuff)?”

            Because the answer is yes, until the 2006 mid-term election he did have a majority in both the House and the Senate. Now, please understand, like Liebermann they were not all CALLING themselves Republicans, but the majority of them voted faithfully on every blighted thing he wanted, because the wealthy interests in control of this country wanted them to.

            As for the others, they were bullied, frightened, or extorted into going along most of the time. There were a shining few who refused to be railroaded into helping pass repugnant legislation, but those few couldn’t stop it, or even slow it down much. And after 2006 and the mid-term elections gave control of the House and Senate to the “Democrats”, it still didn’t matter, as Pelosi and Reid’s first “Non-Binding Resolution” made absolutely, appallingly, clear.

            It is, and has been since Reagan began the shift to a plutonomy instead of a democracy, an issue of money. The people voted so overwhelmingly against the Republican policies that had so outraged them by 2006 that all the rigged machines in the country couldn’t stop the backlash. But what they got instead was a group of “Democrats” who were being paid off by EXACTLY THE SAME PEOPLE who had bought the “Republican” party and were responsible for the legislation that put us on the road to fiscal and moral ruin.

            Don’t get your panties in a twist, anyone–I said moral ruin, and meant it. But I didn’t mean the same thing the so-called “Republicans” mean by it. I believe true moral ruin is exemplified by throwing the old, the infirm, and the children back to the wolves. When the social safety nets for all three of the above groups are gone, the moral ruin of this country will be complete, and freedom-loving people everywhere will have lost.

            But I digress. Yes, @Art, it is a miracle that Obama has done as much as he has, because he doesn’t have a Democratic party watching his back for him. He has “Republicrats” doing everything they can to stop him for their rich masters, and a few Independents trying desperately to figure out a way to help him do what has to be done to rescue this country from the Plutonomy that wants America to fail. Yes, he has his faults–but until Eleanor Holmes-Norton agrees to run for President, or Bernie Sanders, or preferably both, I don’t see a better alternative.

            Do you?

            God help us all.

  • Forrest Leeson

    “I enjoy a good game of mumblety-peg as much as the next man, but Brutus — really!”
    Julius Caesar

  • Actually, I think this is more about the tired old tricks from the two main parties trying to silence dissent in the ranks.

    On the first point the author tries to make about “maybe” Obama is going to see out Medicare. He (and others Democrats) has already said that cuts may be necessary. They are prepping their base for the chop across our neck. Then they will point back to the many times they said this and shrug their shoulders, “What are you guys so upset about? We told you this was part of the deal?!?” The author gives us a prelude to this again in the article of June 14, 2011 when Marion tells us, “Instead of Blaming the President, Try Learning Some English”.

    Does dissent make the Democrats change their minds? I think we all know that only when they see THEIR necks on the chopping block makes any politician “re-consider” the issue. How else do we explain the apologists dancing around when their Leaders break campaign promises?

    The author also states, “Pardon me, but I was raised a Democrat, by parents who’d voted Democratic since Roosevelt and beyond. I was raised to support the party, especially if there were a Democrat in the White House. Criticize the President, yes, that goes without saying;” Yet in looking through the posted blogs, I didn’t see any precise criticism. So how does a Leader of your Party know when you don’t agree with their stand on an issue? Telepathy? Or should other Leaders of the Party tell the President of the United States he is wrong? Yea, I bet that happens a lot…

    Most of her other points are repetitive. Don’t criticize the President. She never argues against any of the specific points Liberals have against him. In her point 11, she mentions the general symptoms of his Presidency, but not any of his failings. I would have welcomed her detailed defense of his broken promises and failure as a negotiator. I have given specifics on many occasions and have never received a rational defense. Only that the Republicans are worse.

    She also makes her disdain apparent that dissenters might want a contribution to continue the discussion and organizing. How dare they?!? That must mean they are opportunists, right? No one should ask for money when promoting a cause. Puh-leeze…

    Of course the Republicans are happy to see a weak Democrat President. And they are happy to see any infighting. We were happy when Bush kept making flub after flub. And every time a Republican re-branded himself as a Conservative, we took it as a victory. Many of my Republican friends are joyous when they hear me criticize Obama. Until…

    I ask them who would they vote for, Obama or Bush? They usually get quiet. Then I ask who would they choose, Clinton or Bush? They then start to say they don’t like either, but they look lost and confused. So I put them out of their misery. I tell them that yes, I did vote for Obama. But the difference between me and them is I will not vote for a week President TWICE. I tell them that Liberals DO have principals and when our Party sells us out, we will stick to our principals and vote for someone who represents our ideas, and doesn’t try to BS us with “pragmatism”.

    Change does not come from complacency.

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