STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the category “jobs and the economy”

The Bain Approach: Mitt Romney’s Plan to Profitize America!

During his CEO days at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney engaged in vulture capitalism (not to be confused with venture capitalism). Vulture capitalism, or private equity as it is otherwise known is nothing more than legalized corporate raiding.  The Bain approach is to seek out healthy companies with sizeable pension plans for their employees, and lure them in with false promises of ‘strengthening’ these companies while hiding their true intentions of ripping them apart.  Under the guise of expanding revenues and cutting costs, the Bain approach is sold to investors, management, and employees of companies they prey upon as a means of promoting growth and making them more efficient.

Despite this rosy sounding language that’s sure to resonate with companies that seek to expand their business, the Bain approach of increasing revenues and cutting costs has a more sinister meaning.  The Bain approach only involves increasing revenues for shareholders of Bain Capital, at the expense of shareholders of the companies they seek to devour.  The costs they are cutting come in the form of employee layoffs, reduced benefits, lower wages, and out-right theft of worker funded pension plans.  For a better understanding of how the Bain approach works, Ampad provides all the evidence needed to understand the true intentions of vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney.

While CEO of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney bought American Pad & Paper Co. (Ampad) for $5 million in 1992.  The Bain approach of bleeding this company dry was very successful.   Revenues in the form of dividend checks (ie, un-earned income) were substantially increased for shareholders of Bain Capital, while investors of Ampad lost millions, along with employees who lost their livelihood and life savings.  In fact, Mitt Romney continues to live large off of the un-earned income he stole from people during his Bain days.

When Mitt Romney and other vulture capitalists claim that they are in favor of rebuilding companies by expanding revenues and cutting costs to make them more efficient, this is what they mean.  The costs they are cutting are people’s jobs, wages, and pensions, which make up the expanding revenues (un-earned income) for the super-wealthy shareholders of this vulture capitalist firm.  This siphoning of wealth to a tiny group of super-wealthy people is a result of adopting the Bain approach.  This Bain approach is what has led to the Great depression, the savings and loan crisis, the housing crisis, and the near financial global meltdown and big bank bailouts witnessed recently that amounted to the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the United States.

Mitt Romney made himself, along with his privileged wealthy investors huge fortunes at the expense of workers losing their jobs and life savings. This is what Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP mean when they say capitalism produces winners and losers.  This is also why Frank “The Liar” Luntz alerted a room full of GOP politicians not to use the word capitalism any longer.  The reason for this advice is because many people are starting to figure out that capitalism no longer works as intended.  The Bain approach has taken over and turned capitalism into a Wall Street Casino, where only the house wins! The house, of course, represents the vulture capitalists that are destroying our democracy, and preying upon us to feed their addiction for more wealth and power.

The Bain approach involves racking up enormous debt so a select few privileged shareholders can reap mind-boggling profits.  Why does this sound eerily familiar to the problems facing American today?  The unfortunate reality is that we have been following the Bain approach ever since Ronald Reagan was elected into office.  It’s safe to say that this approach to governing our nation has failed miserably and represents the source of the political and social divide currently taking place on important issues affecting our lives.

This new breed of capitalism is seeping its way into our daily lives by influencing our most valued and precious institutions, including our health care and education system, our social safety net, and the vital public protections that exist to ensure we all have safe food to eat, clean water to drink, and non-polluted air to breathe.

– The Bain approach seeks to profitize our healthcare system by denying care to those in need in order to maximize profits for insurance companies at the expense of our health.

– The Bain approach seeks to profitize our education system by using taxpayer dollars to fund the education of rich kids.

– The Bain approach seeks to profitize the water we drink by reducing our reliance on public sources of drinking water.

– The Bain approach seeks to profitize the food we eat by eliminating safety inspections in order add unsafe chemicals and by-products.

– The Bain approach seeks to profitize our energy policy by eliminating public protections and preventing the development of clean, safe, fuels of the future, while advocating for a continued reliance on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past that will run out and are polluting our lungs and the environment, not to mention jeopardizing our national security.

In essence, Mitt Romney’s Bain approach to governing our nation, if elected president, will seek to profitize America! Romney’s recent claim that 80% of the Bain Capital deals grew their revenues may actually be a true statement.  The part he left out is how this occurred and at whose expense.

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The Republican Jobs Act: Nothing more than a repackaging of old bills with the added twist of “Framing” ‘Big Government’ for the actions of the ‘Big Banks’

Almost immediately after taking office President Obama launched an initiative to help jump-start our economy by making it easier for small businesses to gain access to the capital they need in order to start up or expand their businesses and add jobs.

“Small businesses are the heart of the American economy,” said in announcing the measures. “They’re responsible for half of all private-sector jobs, and they created roughly 70 percent of all new jobs in the past decade. . . . But today, too many entrepreneurs can’t access the capital to start, operate or grow their business. Too many dreams are being deferred or denied by a form letter canceling a line of credit.”

The simple, but ugly truth is that the big banks are not lending small businesses the money they need.  This is in spite of sitting on trillions of dollars, some of which was the result of the massive Government funded bailout, or ‘transfer of wealth’ from the average American taxpayer to Wall Street banks, compliments of former President George W. Bush.

As pointed out by staff writers from the Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Timothy Gitner, “admonished the nation’s largest banks for withholding loans to many small businesses, telling the banks that they helped create the current mess and “bear a special responsibility for helping America get out of it” by increasing the flow of credit, especially since they have benefited from massive federal bailouts.

As a result of the big banks failure to help small businesses get access to the capital they need, President Obama stepped in and attempted to jump-start small businesses in this country by providing financial stimulus to the tune of $15 billion dollars in order to encourage the big banks to lend us our own money back! (with interest)

What this means is that the Government must intervene in order to coddle the big banks into lending small business owners money in this country.

This is truly unbelievable!!!

So, what are the Conservatives saying about all this?

Well, naturally, they are using “frames” to argue their point.  Conservative politicians also point out that small businesses are being denied access to the capital they need.  However, they must misinform the public by claiming that Government regulations, red tape and bureaucracy are to blame instead of the real culprit, which is the ‘Big Banks on Wall Street’.

Here are just a couple of illustrations of the “frames” being used by Conservative politicians in relation to the repackaged House bills that form the basis of the Republican Jobs Act.

This is just a snap shot of what it looks like when Republican politicians literally “frame” ‘Big Government’ for the actions being committed by the ‘Big Banks.’

As pointed out in the Washington Post article, “some critics said the government is relying on a broken program that may end up benefiting big banks and lenders more than small businesses. Through the SBA, lenders would see larger profits and take fewer risks than they would through ordinary loan programs. As a result, lenders could steer borrowers into the SBA program even when they qualify for ordinary loans, said Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “This is a system that rewards banks,” she said.”

In the end, should we be more upset with the fact that we are all being “framed” to believe that ‘Big Government’ is to blame instead of ‘Big Banks’ for restricting access to capital for small business owners, or the fact that Conservative politicians in Washington are abusing their power by allowing ‘Big Banks’ to take advantage of Government programs such as the SBA to enrich members of the “privileged sector” at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.

The facts and “frames” surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline: Game over for the planet, or “Ethical Oil” for U.S. consumption.

Bill McKibben, from 350.org began a 24 hour drive earlier this week to urge our elected representatives not to cave in to the demands of the super-wealthy Koch brothers, who together with TransCanada are determined to build the Keystone XL pipeline regardless of the devastating consequences to the people or the planet.

The battle over whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a prime example of the fight progressives have been waging against the powers that be for decades, and arguably since the founding of this country.  The rich and powerful have always insisted on gaining more wealth and power at the expense of the people.  Today is no different, and the Koch brothers are the rich and powerful who stand to gain a fortune if this pipeline gets approved.

Like the majority of political, social and economic issues we face today as a nation, this fight boils down to a battle between facts and frames.  The facts are that that the Keystone XL oil pipeline is an extremely dangerous venture that will devastate the planet.

One of America’s foremost climate scientists says that if the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline is built to tap the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, the impact on the Earth’s climate will be devastating.” 

“Essentially, it’s game over for the planet,” said James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He is quoted by reporter Jane Mayer in the Nov. 28th issue of “The New Yorker” magazine as making the statement to environmental activist Bill McKibben.”

For a summary of what’s really going on with the Keystone XL oil pipeline watch this short video clip.

Robert Greenwald, the filmmaker who made this video had this to say, “The Koch brothers personify the top 1% and have used their wealth to influence policies, like those surrounding the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, to make more money at the expense of middle class families.”

Clearly this doesn’t look good for the Koch brothers, which is precisely why the need exists to “frame” this incredibly unethical venture as something that is ethical and in our national interests.  Hence, the “ethical oil” frame was born, and specifically crafted to appeal to our sense of morality.

Here’s the “ethical oil” frame in action.

This frame suggests that we will stop our dependence on foreign oil by using “ethical oil” from our friends in Canada, as opposed to getting it from dictators in the Middle East.

There’s just one major problem with this frame, as pointed out by the only study not paid for by TransCanada and the Koch brothers,

“The idea of energy independence clearly resonates with the American public, and the paid advertisements depicting Canadian Tar Sands as the source of “ethical oil” (and therefore a better option than oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia) plays to that sentiment. But KXL is a global project driven by global oil interests. Tar Sands development has attracted investment capital from oil multinationals—with Chinese corporations’ stake getting bigger all the time.1 If approved, KXL will be almost certainly be constructed by temporary labor working with steel made in Canada and India. Much of the Tar Sands oil will be refined in Port Arthur, Texas, where the refinery is half-owned by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia.2

Given the obvious devastating impact the Keystone XL oil pipeline will bring, not to mention the fact that this oil will be shipped to the global market, will kill more jobs than it will create, and is only in the interests of the Koch brothers and other multinational investors (including China), perhaps it’s time to end our addiction to foreign oil once and for all this time.

Instead of relying on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past, we should focus on clean, safe fuels of the future.  As Drew Westen pointed out, “we have a choice, we can move toward the safe, clean fuels of the 21st century – energy from the sun, the wind… fuels that will never run out, don’t have to be burned to produce energy, and will create new jobs and help us restore prosperity.  Or we can continue to rely on the fossil fuels of the 19th century, which will run out, threaten our economic and national security, and destroy the land and air as we extract and burn them – pouring billions of tons of pollutants into the air, including those that are destroying our atmosphere and altering the delicate balance of nature.”

Watch Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions tag team President Obama’s Budget proposal in a well-coordinated effort to “frame” the public.

Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee engaged in a tag team effort to “frame” President Obama for the their party’s failed budget and tax policies, as well as attempt to use framing to convince the American people to vote against their self-interest.

Paul Ryan kicked off this tag team effort with this framing attempt.

“Let me just say this…

we know we have a fiscal crisis in this country,

we know we have a debt crisis in this country,

we know its threatening our way of life, its threatening our economy and

we know we need to do something about it,

Everybody, whether your right or left, knows the sooner you tackle these problems in America the better off everyone is. “

Notice the immediate use and pairing of the words “we know” with fearful “debt crisis” rhetoric.  This type of framing is straight out of Frank “The Liar” Luntz’s playbook, and is designed to make us think what this intentional framing effect wants us to think, which is that everybody knows we have a debt crisis.

In the first three minutes of Paul Ryan’s remarks, he mentioned the language of this “debt crisis” frame numerous times in order to firmly plant this idea in our heads.  Just like in advertising, frames must be repeated several times in order to have an effect.

Here is some of the additional language he used to evoke the “debt crisis” frame.

“He (President Obama) punted on the deficit and the debt”,

“Crushing burden of debt that is coming our way”

“We all have to remember that today’s big deficits mean tomorrows high taxes”

“You can see that we have a title wave of debt”

“The presidents budget doubles the debt in 5 years, and triples it in 10 years”

The effectiveness of using frames to stir up our emotions is a very powerful motivator, as Frank Luntz has discovered while pushing our buttons (pun intended) in his aptly named “dial sessions.”  Frank Luntz uses the information gained in his focus groups, or “dial sessions” against us in the form of deceptive language designed to not only convince us of a false reality, but to anger us enough to do something about it!

What people don’t realize is that their anger is being directed in the wrong place! 

The reason we have a large deficit is primarily due to an unsustainable military budget, and tax cuts for the super-wealthy.  Together, these top two priorities of the George Orwell Party (GOP) backed by Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions, are significantly increasing our national debt and deficit by transferring wealth from average American citizens to super-wealthy members of the “privileged sector” who believe they are entitled to it!

However, when combined with a half-truth, such as the fact that we do have a high deficit, the language used by Paul Ryan to evoke the “debt crisis” frame has the added power of convincing conservatives and tea-party folks, and possibly independent voters that we need to focus on budget and tax policies that fit the frame (ie, reduced spending for all of “us”, and more tax cuts for “them”).  After all, the frame tells us that we must cut spending since we have a “debt crisis”, and we must give tax cuts to the “job cremators” in order to stimulate the economy.

This is what we have been framed to believe!

The “tax & spend” Liberal frame was Jeff Sessions’s contribution to this tag team effort, and is designed to convince the American people that President Obama and Liberal Democrats are to blame for the current level of debt and deficit we face as a nation.  Nice try!

Since it is becoming painfully clear that the GOP is now the George Orwell Party, let’s take a look at what Paul Ryan’s initial comments really mean.

we know (our insistence on tax cuts for the wealthy and massive military and war spending) led to a fiscal crisis in this country,

we know (our current debt was mostly caused by these 2 priorities),

we know (these budget and tax policies) are threatening our way of life, and threatening our economy and

we know we need to do something about it,

Everybody, whether your right or left, knows the sooner you tackle these problems in America the better off everyone is.

Now it makes sense!

Mitt Romney reveals his party’s ‘moral budget priorities’ for America at the CPAC convention: More profit for the ‘privileged’ at the expense of the ‘public’.

Although budget and tax policy may not seem like very exciting topics, budgets are extremely important since they are essentially moral documents.  The budgets we set for ourselves and the tax revenue we use to fund them reflect our shared values as a people.  Just as our parents and grandparents budgeted and paid for the things we publicly share today, such as the paved roads and bridges we drive on, the public schools we send our children to, the hospitals we go to when we get sick, and the court system we use to protect the public by prosecuting those who violate the social norms and values we share.

These are just a few examples of what our ancestors thought were necessary and worthy values, so they decided to act on this information and budget our tax dollars to pay for these things in order to serve the common good.

Unfortunately, there is another group of ‘privileged’ individuals in society, who prefer to be separate from the rest of us by walling themselves off in gated communities, who choose not to send their kids to the same schools we do, and who don’t want to pay for the heavy use and abuse of the common good we all help pay for.

In fact, this privileged group of super-wealthy elites does not want to protect the rights, or support the values of anyone who is not a member of the “privileged sector.”  This is reflected in their adamant opposition to participating in our Democracy by refusing to contribute any tax revenue to help solve the problems they are responsible for creating.  The so called “debt crisis” Republicans constantly refer to was caused by the same two budget and tax priorities Mitt Romney supported at the CPAC convention.

The primary values favored by Mitt Romney and the Republican party are simple. Increase the size of Government through unsustainable military and war spending, and more tax breaks for members of the “privileged sector.”

In order to accomplish this goal of valuing profit over people, it becomes necessary to decrease spending and impose ‘austerity’ measures on the rest of us by eliminating or privatizing the social safety net (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), deep cuts to public education, to include mass layoffs of teachers, cuts to our health and safety systems, including denying access to healthcare for people in need, laying off firefighters and police officers, and eliminating food, air and water safety protections.  Basically, the destruction of our shared value system in order to satisfy the greedy needs of the “privileged sector.”

Mitt Romney admitted to supporting these values by favoring a budget and tax policy that is against raising taxes on the super-wealthy, ”Tax hikes are off the table”, his support for an unsustainable level of military spending, “I will not be cutting our military budget” and imposing austerity on the rest of us “without raising taxes, I will finally balance the American budget”.

In the end, Mitt Romney and other radical Republican politicians are getting away with their skewed immoral priorities by framing Democratic opponents for their actions.  Budget and tax policies that are designed to increase the size of Government in order to protect and support the “privileged sector” are being framed as “tax & spend” policies that increase the size of Government to protect and support “welfare recipients.”

Unfortunately, many people believe these “frames” and actively support policies and programs that they mistakenly think will uphold our shared values.  Instead, what tends to happen is that a belief in these frames leads people to support the very budget and tax policies that are detrimental to our health and well being.  Policies that reflect underlying values that are diametrically opposed to the shared values we hold as a nation, and only serve to further enrich the already wealthy and powerful “privileged sector.”

Making the facts fit the frame: Cherry picking biased data to make the claim that union members support “Right to work” legislation.

The National Right to Work Committee, a right wing group, recently cited a single question from an 18-page survey conducted by Frank “The Liar” Luntz as proof that union workers support “right to work” legislation.

For those who are unaware, Frank Luntz is the guy who specializes in the creation and use of deceptive language to convince the general public to vote against their self-interest by supporting bad legislation.

“Here is the question Luntz’ pollsters asked union members across the country…”

Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: “Workers should have the right to decide whether to join a union. They should never be forced or coerced to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.”

Responses to this single survey question was offered as proof that 80% of union members agree that right-to-work is the best policy.

Wait a minute!!  Notice the obvious deception in trying to convince us that “right to work” literally means forcing someone to join a union.

Hopefully, people can see that this question is framed in such a way as to practically guarantee the desired response.  Responses that are then used to justify the implementation of a radical piece of legislation that will take away the very rights and freedoms the GOP (George Orwell Party) claim to be in favor of protecting.

It is important to point out this survey conducted by Frank “The Liar” Luntz was commissioned by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who’s motto is “Defending America’s workers from the abuses of compulsory unionism since 1968”

With a slogan like this, no wonder why they commissioned a professional liar to make sure their biased “facts” fit the frame.

Radical right wing groups who conjure up and then use this framed data are trying to convince the rest of us to support “right to work” laws because it will make it illegal to force people to join a union.

Think of how absurd this sounds.  The “right to work” frame claims that it is protecting someone’s right to not join a union.   If someone doesn’t want to work for a union, then they simply will not apply for a union position.  Case closed.  No one is forced to work for a union in this country.  (Hence the need for a frame that says otherwise)

In reality, if “right to work” laws pass, our right to work for a union will be taken away, and “we the people” will not be able to join or form a union to protect ourselves against the abuses of vulture capitalism.  So, when these corporate vultures decide to lower our wages, reduce our benefits, phase out our pension plans, and reduce or eliminate safety standards in the workplace, (all of which are occurring in states that have adopted “right to work” laws), we will be defenseless to stop it!

As can be seen by this chart on the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s website, the radical right wing is winning the war against workers in this country.  The “right to work” frame is being used, along with Frank Luntz’s cherry picked data to systematically take away people’s rights all over the country to join or form unions to protect themselves against the abuses being inflicted upon them in their respective states.

 

 

The strategy of “Framing“ the Democrat for GOP actions may backfire and shed light on what’s really going on in the GOP (George Orwell Party).

The GOP (George Orwell Party) really hedged their bets this time by airing a whopper of a commercial during the Superbowl on Sunday.  With an estimated 111 million people tuned in, the GOP is trying to branch out and test their radical agenda beyond the safe zone of Fox news.   Here is how the George Orwell Party is trying to “frame” us.

As can be seen in this short commercial advertisement, Republican candidates are no longer shy about their blatant attempts to “frame” the opposition for actions they are responsible for committing, such as driving up the deficit through military and war spending, (framed as “tax & spend Liberal”) taking our jobs away by shipping them overseas, (framed as “free trade”) and more importantly, borrowing money to give to the super-rich in the form of tax cuts and corporate welfare (framed as providing incentives to “job creators”).

For an accurate picture of what is really happening, simply take the following quote crafted by the George Orwell Party in this commercial and substitute Pete Hoekstra for Debbie Stabenow, since Pete is guilty of the actions he is “framing” Debbie for.

“Debbie spends so much money” becomes “Pete spends so much money.”

As usual, the Democrats must play defense against the radical right wing’s “framing” attempts.  In this case, they fought back with a website calling out Pete Hoekstra for what he is, a hoax.

“When a politician is trying to tell people he’s the exact opposite of what he really is, that’s an all out hoax–and politician Pete Hoekstra is trying to perpetrate an incredible Hoax on the people of Michigan.”

Framing Debbie Stabenow for Pete Hoekstra’s spending habits is just the tip of the iceberg.  The GOP is also responsible for “framing” Democrats for other issues pointed out in this commercial as well, such as our ailing economy and national deficit.

“Pete Hoekstra is launching attacks about the national debt–and his attacks couldn’t be more hypocritical. While in Congress, Hoekstra voted for the Wall Street bailout, budget busting tax cuts for millionairs and billionaires, giveaways to special interests and trillions more in deficit spending. Pete Hoekstra says he’s “Pete Spend-it-not”–he’s actually Pete-Spend-a-lot”

In the end, the strategy of “framing” Democrats for actions committed by the GOP will hopefully backfire, since they are essentially directing our awareness to their actions.

The only thing we have to do know is realize that we are being framed, and redirect the frames to the party responsible in order to assign proper blame before this strategy becomes effective at convincing more than a just a few tea-party folks.

 

 

Another one bites the dust. Indiana becomes the 23rd state to vote against worker protections by adopting “Right to work” (for less)

Indiana becomes the 23rd state to pass the controversial “right to work” law.  The Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, expressed his views in a television commercial ad (paid for by anonymous donors, of course).

Mitch Daniels claims that Indiana is losing jobs because, “we don’t provide workers the protection of right to work.  Right to work just says no worker can be forced to pay union dues against his will.   But this simple protection really matters.”

Besides being completely false, these comments are scripted in accordance with the “right to work” frame.

Simply put, “right to work” is a frame designed to convince Hoosiers to support this draconian law that will actually strip away worker protections by making it illegal for workers to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits once corporations legally drive down their wages.  The statements made by Mitch Daniels are designed to evoke this frame, which implies that workers rights are being taken away, and the only thing that can prevent this travesty is to vote to protect workers rights by supporting the “right to work” law.

Sounds good, right?

Despite the actual evidence of the negative impact “right to work” (for less) has had on states that have enacted this law, radical right wing groups have figured out that the facts don’t matter if the issue is properly framed, and repeated often enough.

This illustrates why right wing talk show hosts, media pundits, and others on the corporately controlled media outlets all use the same language.  They are not worried about what the evidence shows, or what the facts are.  Instead, their primary concern is repeating the language of their frames enough times so that people start believing them.

For those who are continuously subjected to the “right to work” frame, (ie, Fox news viewers, right wing radio listeners) the take away is that liberals are somehow taking our rights away.

What about the right to a living wage, or the right to collectively bargain, or the right to pensions earned through years of hard-work and devotion to a company, all of which will be stripped away from us if we fall for the “right to work” frame and vote against our self-interests in the states we live in.

Mitch Daniels ended his commercial with this line.  “Join the huge majority of Hoosiers who support right to work reform and the new jobs it can bring to our state.”

That’s funny, because an estimated 10,000 protesters showed up at the state capital to express their anger over the Governor’s radical plans to strip away worker’s rights.

 

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