STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the category “Radical right wing agenda”

Paul Ryan’s crusade to “Raid the Railroad” is being framed as an attempt to “save” taxpayers money. Where have we heard this language before?

Paul Ryan, Republican chair of the House Budget Committee, is attempting to Raid the Railroad Retirement fund by introducing a ‘poison pill’ that would effectively steal the hard earned money that Railroad workers have been putting aside for years. Many people may be familiar with Paul Ryan’s current budget plan for our nation, which he calls a “path to prosperity.”  What many people may not be aware of is that his plan for the nation is similar to his plan for local railroad workers, which is to create a “path to prosperity” for the top 1% that is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan added a little something extra this year to the conservative’s immoral budget proposal for America.  In addition to devastating our social safety net by gutting social programs that benefit the most vulnerable populations among us, including the working poor, sick, disabled and elderly populations, Paul Ryan is extending this destructive crusade to include middle class working Americans who contribute to the railroad pension fund.  It should be noted that the money saved from this crusade will be transfered up to the wealthiest among us, who believe they are entitled to it!

According to the Railroad Retirement Board “An accompanying report (House Report 112-421) to the House of Representatives’ version of the federal budget for fiscal year 2013 includes a list of reforms that could impact government income security programs.” According to this report, conservative politicians in Washington are actively trying to “conform Tier I so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2 billion over 10 years.”  What this means is that workers will be forced to alter their existing pension plan, which has been working to benefit retired and disabled railroad employees for years.

What Paul Ryan is not telling the American people is that the railroad pension fund has absolutely nothing to do with taxpayers.  The Railroad pension fund is completely funded by railroad workers themselves.  Not one dime of taxpayer money is used to fund this pension plan.  So, why would a conservative politician in Washington say otherwise?  The short answer is that Paul Ryan is operating under a radical ideology that seeks to transfer wealth from average working Americans to upper class members of what Vice President Joe Biden referred to as the “privileged sector.”

Despite the fact that Railroad workers fund their own pension plans, NOT TAXPAYERS! it is important to point out that this language of “saving taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years” will soon be the focus of attention by the majority of conservative politicians in Washington, not to mention Fox news, and all of the radical right wing talk show hosts.  Soon, they will all be on the same page, so to speak, and join forces to endlessly repeat this talking point of saving taxpayers money.

When viewed through the lens, or “frame” of saving taxpayers money, Paul Ryan’s comments appear to make sense.  This is how framing works.  Specific language is used to create a “frame” that represents how people see an issue.  In this case, the endless repetition of “saving taxpayers money” that will shortly occur will start to make sense to viewers and listeners of this right wing echo chamber because of the sheer repetition of this nonsensical frame.  This strategy works in a similar fashion to advertising.   The more a message is heard or seen, the more readily available it becomes once this topic is brought up.

With that being said, the sad, but ugly truth is that some of us will begin to view the Railroad Retirement pension fund through the lens of this frame, and believe that this issue is primarily about saving taxpayers money, and not about the fact that it really involves stealing money from working Americans.

The great thing about framing, (for conservatives who seek to manipulate us), is that any fact that doesn’t fit the frame is rejected, and only misinformed opinions that reinforce the frame are accepted.  They’re pretty slick aren’t they!

Since the ‘poison pill’ language above has not yet been used to amend the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board, who oversees the fund is not able to comment on what changes to tier I benefits will actually take place for current railroad employees.  I guess now would be the time for people who work on the railroad, as well as concerned citizens who care about threats to our current social safety net, should begin to take action by calling their local and state representatives to protest this immoral theft taking place by radical conservatives politicians.

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A closer look at Governor Scott Walker’s budget shortfall frame: Dennis Kucinich pulls back the curtain on the so called “debt crisis” affecting Wisconsin and other states around the nation.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is in the process of being recalled after he used a fake “deficit crisis” to justify his actions of stripping workers of their rights to fight back when corporations decide to lower their wages, reduce their benefits and eliminate their pension plans.  This is known as the right to collectively bargain, and has been long established in unions across the country because of actions taken in the past by large corporations to purposely drive down the cost of labor in order to further enrich the super-wealthy elite who own the majority share in these companies.  So, clearly Scott Walker is not on the side of workers in Wisconsin. 

The average voter may not be aware of this judging by the influx of out of state money pouring into Wisconsin by the very folks who stand the most to gain if Scott Walker is successful in remaining in office.  These special interests groups, such as the Koch brothers, and ALEC, for instance are using poll tested, focus group approved language to frame Scott Walker as some type of hero for working class Americans.  

We have become so accustomed to believe the “framing” language, courtesy of unethical folks like Frank “The Liar” Luntz, who gets paid manipulate public opinion, that we are actually holding congressional hearings that support the radical ideology from which this language stems.  A perfect illustration of this can be seen in the congressional hearing framed as “choice or necessity” that was held recently regarding the alleged budget shortfall and the necessity or choice to eliminate the established rights of union members. 

As can be seen in the clip below, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asks Scott Walker simple questions about how stripping away collective bargaining rights from union members can possibly save the state of Wisconsin money.  These types of questions were directly relevant since the congressional hearing in which they took place was focused on the fictitious “debt crisis” Scott Walker claimed his state was facing that necessitated taking away workers rights.     

In response to this line of questioning, Scott Walker immediately began to regurgitate his pre-rehearsed frame of providing workers with the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union.  After all this language of having the ‘freedom to choose’ is intended to trigger the emotional response Frank Luntz discovered works to piss people off by making them think that Government and ‘big union bosses’ are taking away your freedoms.  This language is also being used in the ‘Right to Work’ legislation promoted by ALEC, who stands to gain enormous amounts of wealth at the expense of stripping away worker rights, eliminating pensions, and reducing the wages and benefits paid to workers.   In this sense, stripping worker rights to collectively bargain is only the first step in the process of transferring wealth from working Americans to the super-wealthy elite, who believe they are entitled to it!

Thanks to Dennis Kucinich we now know that the entire purpose of this congressional hearing involving Scott Walker was complete nonsense, since stripping the bargaining rights of union workers has absolutely nothing to do with the fiscal issues facing the state of Wisconsin.  In other words, the fake “debt crisis” that Scott Walker deliberately created was meant to serve as a distraction to convince people to vote against their own interests and well being.

Dennis Kucinich further pulled back the curtain on Scott Walker’s fake “debt crisis” by pointing out that the real budget issues facing the state of Wisconsin results from Scott Walker’s actions of helping corporations dodge their tax obligations.  This corporate tax dodging has led to a $2.5 billion dollar revenue shortfall in the past year alone that must be made up somewhere else.  That somewhere else is on the backs of working Americans.  In addition, Dennis Kucinich notes that under Scott Walkers watch, an overwhelming number of corporations are not paying any taxes at all!  (2/3 of all corporations).  This exemplifies how Scott Walker and other radical right wing Governors are able to continue transferring wealth up!  They must force ‘austerity’ on the rest of us in order to continue to protect and enrich the ‘privileged’ in America.

Governor Scott Walker receives the NRA’s ‘defender of freedom’ award: Proof that we truly are living in a land of George Orwell.

For those who may not have been paying attention to politics in Wisconsin in the past year, Governor Scott Walker is in the process of being recalled.  This has happened only twice in history!  Basically, Scott Walker attempted to strip workers of their rights, and once the workers figured this out, they decided to stage massive protests, and eventually decided to boot him from office altogether.

Like many other radical right-wing Governors throughout the country, Scott Walker is following an ideology that creates extreme environmental conditions for the vast majority of people, while showering the ‘privileged’ class with more taxpayer funded wealth and prosperity.  In fact, this transfer of wealth taking place from average working Americans to those at the top can only be carried out if these radical Governors are successful in convincing (ie, framing) voters to support them in their efforts to strip all of us of our rights, not to mention our ability to fight back once our freedoms are taken away as well.

Its important to point out that every frame being used by radical Governors like Scott Walker is Orwellian in nature, in that the exact opposite is true!  Take the example that Scott Walker runs with every time he makes a public appearance on a corporately controlled media outlet.  During every interview he makes sure to repeat the frame that ‘big union bosses’ from out of state are pouring money into Wisconsin in order to impact the recall election.

In reality, ‘big corporate bosses’ from out of state, including David and Charles Koch (aka the Koch brothers) are pouring millions of dollars into Wisconsin in order to prop up Scott Walker in the public eye as a defender of freedom, who supports worker rights.  It’s no surprise then that other special interest groups like the NRA have decided to give Scott Walker an award for being a ‘defender of freedom.’  After all, this fits the frame, and has the added impact of helping him overcome the backlash he is facing for attempting to strip away workers rights.

David Cay Johnston sheds light on two critical “frames” conservatives use to manipulate us: Government “Picking winners and losers” and a “Transfer of wealth.”

David Cay Johnston wrote an article entitled, “Taxed by the boss” where he discussed the implications of the more than 2,700 companies in the Unites States that are keeping the state income taxes they are collecting from hundreds of thousands of workers for themselves.  So, in case you were wondering why states are laying off teachers, firefighters, and police officers, among other drastic cuts to social services that affect millions of people’s lives throughout the country, look no further than the corporate socialism taking place, as pointed out by David Cay Johnston.

To make matter worse, big banks and businesses like Goldman Sachs, J.P Morgan, and Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital, are enriching themselves by a process known as “job piracy”, where one state diverts taxes in order to lure an employer from another state to relocate if they promise to create jobs.  The problem is that no jobs are ever created.  Instead, the money is transferred in an upward direction from workers to the corporate bosses in the top 1%, as indicated in the report by the taxpayer watchdog organization, Good Jobs First.  This report also discovered that “deals cut with states over the past two decades diverted $5.5 billion from public purposes to private gain.”  Talk about a transfer of wealth!!

Big businesses are getting away with diverting the taxes they collect from workers to enrich themselves because radical right-wing Governors like Chris Christie, who tops the list, has personally transferred a whopping $251.2 million from average workers to those in the “privileged sector”, who believe they are entitled to it!  No wonder why Chris Christie was being groomed for a spot in the Whitehouse.  He has done the most to enrich the privileged few at the expense of everyone else.  David Cay Johnston calculates that this transfer of wealth amounts to $80 per household in corporate welfare average families are spending to subsidize shareholders of the big banks and large corporations in the United States.

According to David Cay Johnston, “these deals typify corporate socialism, in which business gains are privatized and costs socialized. They also mean that Government picks winners and losers, interfering with competitive markets.” So, it turns out that radical right-wing Governors, in support of an ideology that advocates corporate socialism, are actively “picking winners and losers” (big business is always the winner) which amounts to a “transfer of wealth” from all of us (ie, workers) to a select few of them in the privileged sector (ie, CEO’s and shareholders).

Those of us who watch Fox news or listen to Glenn Beck, or some other radical right-wing talk show host are being framed to believe that Government is “picking winners and losers” in an attempt to benefit lazy people on welfare programs, which serves to create a society of dependency on Government.  Following this logic, believers of this frame are further inclined to believe that a “transfer of wealth” is occurring from the so-called successful people in the top 1% to those who are lazy and don’t want to work hard in order to carry out a socialistic agenda.

The problem with this logic and the rest of the radical right-wing frames is that the opposite of what they say is true!  In this case, Socialism is alive and well in America, as indicated by the Good Jobs First report and David Cay Johnston’s take on this issue.  However, the problem is that it’s only being applied to the top 1% instead of being used to benefit all of us!

The irony here is that the fear of socialism is being used to scare people away from supporting policies and programs that will benefit us all.  A prime example is the current ‘Budget for All being introduced by the progressive caucus in the House of Representatives.  This budget is more in line with our nation’s moral values, and will benefit all of us, as well as help prevent the abuses of power that lead to examples of corporate socialism mentioned above.

As expected, Allen West (R-FL), a conservative member of the tea party, initiated the latest socialism scare by telling people in a town hall recently that there are approximately 80 representatives in the House that are members of the communist party.  Although communism and socialism are not the same, they are used interchangeably as if they were in order to increase the fear effect, I presume, so people will not vote for it!

Unfortunately, if we continue to believe the conservative “frames”, we will never know the benefits that other nations currently enjoy, such as living longer, happier and healthier lives, not to mention being better educated, less stressed, depressed and anxious, as well as having the safety and security of knowing our family members will be taken care of if they get sick, or become disabled for any reason.  All of these benefits are not fantasy, but reflect the reality of countries that adopt moral budget priorities, and implement a system based on socialism for all, not a select few.

The top 1% took in 93% of all income gains in 2010. What does this transfer of wealth mean for our country?

The most critical issue affecting the majority of American citizens that is rarely discussed by political pundits, including those on the left, is the fact that in order for the top 1% to rake in 93% of all income gains in 2010, as illustrated in the chart below, a transfer of wealth must take place from all of “us” to a select few of “them.”  This is how it becomes possible for the top 1% to pile up such massive amounts of wealth to the point where just 400 households, (those at the peak of the pyramid scheme they have turned America into) can possess more wealth than 154 million people combined (half the U.S. population).

Startling figures like this is what makes radical right wing initiatives, such as Paul Ryan’s budget plan so extremely important, since the implementation of our budget and tax policy not only determines the moral values we set for our nation, but also who benefits in our society.  Should everyone share in the success we all help to create, as reflected in the past when we implemented moral budget priorities and a progressive vision for our future?  Or, should we continue to adopt radical pieces of legislation that further widen the gap between those in the top 1% and everyone else, as seen in the fat cat illustration above?

This chart from the Economic Policy Institute reflects how the growth in income was shared between those at the top and everyone else during what was known as the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ (1945-1975).  During this time period, our political leaders recognized that higher tax rates on the super-rich were advantageous to our economy and nation as a whole.  This ‘Golden age of Capitalism’ led to the creation of a thriving middle class, where the majority of people (including those at the top) benefitted, as opposed to only a tiny minority reaping all of the income gains.

Contrast the ‘Golden age of Capitalism’ with the time period immediately following it when Ronald Reagan came into office in 1980, and ending when George W. Bush  left office in 2008.  During this period, our conservative leaders decided to drop the progressive vision for America that was working to benefit us all in favor of a radical right wing ideology that focuses strictly on what benefits those at the very top.  It’s no surprise, given the shift in priorities that an unconscionable amount of profits were captured by those at the top, while a mere pittance of 2% of all income gain during this time period was made available for the rest of the people (90%) to share.

The problem we face today is that the tiny minority in the top 1% has been very successful thus far at implementing this radical vision for America and getting what they want.   This is largely accomplished by consolidating and controlling the media (ie, corporate media) in order to develop a well functioning ‘echo chamber’ to spread misinformation and “frame” the public to believe conservative politicians are actually trying to “save” and “strengthen” Social Security and Medicare, and help create a path to prosperity for all.

If we continue to believe this nonsense, then the GOP’s “path to prosperity” for the top 1% will continue to be paved, which means the rest of us will be faced with drastic cuts to vital services that will initially affect the most vulnerable populations among us, (the working poor, sick, and disabled) but will eventually affect us all every time they seek to re-pave the “path to prosperity” in the future.  We must understand that this is the conservative version of morality, and their tax and budget policies will naturally follow from their moral principles, which are first and foremost to protect and enrich fellow members of the upper class at the expense of everyone else.

 

Two visions for America: One Progressive the other regressive. Which path will our elected representatives choose?

In reference to the choices we make today that will decide the fate of our nation tomorrow, Jim Wallis mentioned in a recent article, the choice Paul Ryan and members of the GOP have made, (which they are calling a “path to prosperity”) is really a choice to hurt people who don’t have the political clout to defend themselves.  In addition to not paying down the deficit, which is what the GOP claims, or should I say “frames” their budget plan does in order to convince people to support it, Wallis notes, “Two-thirds of the long term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad.”

He states that, “Cuts of this magnitude for people of modest and low-incomes will result in a direct increase of poverty and misery in America.”  This is what happens when we pursue economic growth at all costs, which is proven to only benefit a select few at the top at the expense of the health and well being of everyone else, including the planet!

This regressive vision for America the GOP chooses to embrace will allow those at the very top to prosper, while everyone else slowly sinks into poverty and despair.  This is evident in the massive transfer of wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the super-rich plan will generate.

As pointed out by Jim Wallis, “In dramatic contrast, Ryan has chosen to help the people who need help the least. Wealthy individuals and companies reap a windfall of benefits in Ryan’s plan — with tax cuts and breaks, continued subsidies and loopholes for every powerful special interest, and increased corporate welfare payments from the government.”

As you can see, the only prosperity being achieved is for the already affluent and super-wealthy in the top 1%, who use members of the GOP to advance their radical agenda by passing laws to the detriment of ‘we the people’ in order to continue to re-distribute wealth up by showering the “privileged sector” with corporate welfare (ie, more of our tax dollars).

The actions of the GOP mentioned above represent a regressive vision for America, which ultimately leads to further pieces of radical legislation being introduced, not to mention the proposal of immoral budget priorities like the Paul Ryan plan that serves to perpetuate the status quo of income inequality, which amounts to further austerity for all of “us” in order to provide continued prosperity for a select few of “them.”

In opposition to Paul Ryan’s immoral budget priorities and regressive vision for America, the Progressive caucus in the House of Representatives put forth their own plan last week.  This moral budget, called the ‘Budget for All’, represents a progressive vision for America, which puts an end to the corporate welfare the “privileged sector” feels entitled to receive, and focuses on improving the livelihood of the vast majority of the population.  The Budget for All plan focuses on putting Americans back to work, as opposed to putting the burden on the backs of Americans.  The Budget for All reduces the deficit by focusing on the true cause of our deficit and rising debt levels, (ie, the transfer of wealth that is taking place from all of us to a select few of them).  This transfer of wealth is primarily occurring in the form of unsustainable tax cuts for the super-rich, out of control military and war spending, and many other types of corporate welfare to sustain the high society, upper class lifestyle the richest among us have become accustom to.

Amazingly, this progressive vision for America was shot down in the House of Representatives in a 346-78 vote, while the regressive, immoral budget plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 235-189.

Now what?

Poll-tested, Focus group approved! How Frank Luntz manipulates public perception.

The Motto Frank Luntz uses is “Its not what you say, It’s what people hear.”  What this means to Frank Luntz is that he is not manipulating the public if they choose to believe what he says!

In his “dial sessions” Frank Luntz asks people what their deepest thoughts, feelings and emotions are about whatever issue his corporate masters want him to focus on in order to manipulate public opinion to support their radical agenda of maximizing profit at the expense of the people.

Once he discovers how we really feel about these issues, he attempts to “frame” language in such a way that will bring about support for positions favorable to those who are paying him to manipulate public perception.  This is accomplished by using the feedback he receives from one focus group on another group of unsuspecting people in order to test this language to see how well it works!

Once he is confident, based on visually witnessing his manipulation tactics in action, (seen below) Frank Luntz then runs straight to the corporations, GOP, and other members of the “privileged sector” to brag about how well he did his job, and how effectively the use of certain language can be at manipulating people into supporting an agenda that is detrimental to their own well being.

The following clip is a great illustration of Frank Luntz’s dirty work in action!

Watch how excited he gets (like a kid in a candy store) when he discovers what language will work to manipulate the next batch of people with.

“This is going to work, watch. This will work.”

“I told you, the words work, the words apply to the policy, this is how were going to sell it!”

“LOOK AT THIS”, he says.

He then brags to the person interviewing him, “I will be able to walk to this electricity company on Monday and be able to say to them your policy makes sense and here is the language to explain it.”

The next step Frank Luntz takes to ensure he can effectively manipulate public opinion is to cunningly craft questions using the language that worked in the focus groups to create surveys, or polls to further test these frames.  Interestingly, Vice President Joe Biden is catching on to the GOP’s use of such tactics.  Vice President Biden recently gave a speech on C-span where he called out the GOP for their use of Frank Luntz style poll-tested language to sell Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the top 1% plan.  After all, he says, “today’s new Republican party is fixed on one thing, additional tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

The feedback Frank Luntz receives from both the poll-tested language and focus groups are later used against the public at large through the right wing echo chamber.  This is where all forces unite, so to speak, against the public, in a well-coordinated fashion to endlessly repeat (ie, echo) the latest batch of Frank Luntz “frames.”  The echo chamber consists of the corporately controlled media, radical right wing talk show hosts, and members of the GOP, all of whom are ‘believers’ in this radical agenda of placing profit over people.

Since this agenda primarily benefits the “privileged sector”, or those in the top 1%, Frank “The Liar” Luntz’s services are required in order to manipulate public opinion in favor of this radical agenda by creating the perception that the status quo of income inequality is somehow good for us, despite actual evidence based research that proves the opposite.  In this sense, the “frames” Frank Luntz ends up crafting are Orwellian in nature, since the exact opposite of what the frame suggests is true!

A prime example is the “liberal media” frame.  In reality, a handful of corporations control the media, including what we read in newspapers, see on television (particularly Fox news), and hear and the radio (90% of which is right wing).  Therefore, what we have in this country is a “corporate media” that benefits the radical right wing, not a media that is controlled by the left, which is what the Orwellian “liberal media” frame suggests.

H.R. 5: The GOP plan to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, otherwise framed as a plan to “save” Medicare.

Paul Ryan admitted on C-span that the George Orwell Party’s (GOP) plan to “save” Medicare involves one of the top 5 priorities of the Republican Party since taking control of the House of Representatives.  The 5th bill introduced by GOP members of the House (H.R. 5) as soon as John Boehner took over as speaker, is designed to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, which has absolutely nothing to do with Medicare.  Many people getting their news from the corporately controlled media, especially Fox news or some radical right wing talk show host, however, will not be aware of this reality.  Instead, they are likely to believe that this bill will “save” Medicare because the plan to “save” Medicare is the latest “frame” being endlessly repeated by members of the GOP in order to convince people of this Orwellian lie!  In reality, the GOP wants to end Medicare, not “save” it.

As can be seen in the details of this bill, H.R.5 is designed to shield the “privileged sector” from any liability or accountability for their actions.

What this means is that any future act of wrongdoing on the part of callous corporations to knowingly and willingly put people’s lives in danger amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  By limiting the liability of damages caused by corrupt and willfully negligent corporations, H.R. 5 actually encourages immoral behaviors, and encourages the cost cutting measures that put people’s lives at risk, since the only punishment the “privileged sector” will receive is a measly fine of $250,000.  In short, this bill protects the “privileged sector” from prosecution.

Successfully holding corporations accountable for their immoral actions by awarding large sums of money (ie, class actions lawsuits) to the victims of such egregious violations of the law sends a message that these actions are not tolerated in a civilized society.  However, rather than discouraging the reckless and callous behavior of corporations by increasing the penalty and holding corporations accountable for their actions, the “privileged sector” and their advocates in the GOP have a different message they want to send.  A message that encourages this sort of immoral behavior due to the impact it has on the bottom line, not to mention limiting the amount of damages they have to pay, once their cost cutting measures inevitably fail, and we the people pay the price!

A clear cut example of attempting to protect the “privileged sector” can be seen in the recent BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Instead of demanding answers from the CEO of BP at a House congressional hearing on this matter, a GOP member of Congress, Joe Barton, R-Texas, apologized when we attempted to hold BP accountable for their actions.  Joe Barton had this to say, “I’m ashamed at what happened in the Whitehouse yesterday, I think it is A tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”  This of course, was in reference to the restitution payments BP was being required to pay for the damage they were responsible for causing.

Amazingly, as seen in this short video clip, Joe Barton’s top priority and concern was not for the people who died as a result of BP’s willful disregard of safety standards, nor was he concerned about the catastrophic damage these callous actions caused to the environment.  Instead, this ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s primary concern was apologizing to the CEO of BP.  This example clearly shows what members of the GOP really care about, protecting the “privileged sector.”

In the end, the GOP’s plan to “save” Medicare is nothing more than a frame designed to divert our attention away from their real agenda of protecting the “privileged sector” from prosecution. Unfortunately, GOP members in both the House and the Senate are not only helping the “privileged sector” get away with profiting at the expense of the people, but they too are actively receiving a piece of the action!

George Lakoff on the Santorum Strategy: Why we’re all in trouble if this strategy is successful in 2012.

George Lakoff wrote an article recently in the Huffington Post describing what he calls the Santorum Strategy.  He began this article by stating, “The Santorum Strategy is not just about Santorum.  It is about pounding the most radical conservative ideas into the public mind by constant repetition during the Republican presidential campaign…It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America.”

A perfect illustration of pounding radical conservative ideas in our heads can be seen by examining the speech Rick Santorum gave in Missouri after winning the Minnesota primary.  (Pay particular attention to the amount of times the words listening, he knows better, rights, and freedom were used)

Rick Santorum began his speech by thanking your average Fox news viewer and all of the “smart idiots” for helping to build the conservative party.  “Tonight was a victory for the voices of our party, conservatives and Tea party people, who are out there every single day in the vineyards building the conservative movement in this country, building the base of the Republican Party, and building a voice for freedom in this land.”

This was immediately followed up by continuously repeating language to evoke the “frame” that President Obama “knows better” than you.   This is illustrated by the overwhelming number of references being made to President Obama not listening to the voice of the American people (14X’s), because he knows better than you (5X’s), and is using the Government to run your lives by taking away your rights (10X’s), and freedoms, (12X’s).

In addition to the linguistic framing mentioned above, Rick Santorum is also literally “framing” President Obama for his actions, since it is Rick Santorum who believes he knows better.  I would argue that this too, is part of the Santorum Strategy, since it represents another common tactic the George Orwell Party (GOP) uses against the American people to convince them of a radical conservative view of reality.

In order to fully appreciate the Orwellian nature of this literal frame, take a look at what happens when we make a couple of substitutions to this frame.

Rick Santorum is not listening to the voice of the American people because he knows better than you and is using his radical conservative evangelical religious beliefs to run your lives by taking away your rights and freedoms.

The problem, as pointed out by George Lakoff, is that continuous repetition of language expressing radical conservative values leads to more and more people accepting those values and becoming politically active, as alluded to by the opening lines in Rick Santorum’s speech.  The unfortunate reality according to Lakoff is that, “Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems.”  (For more on these individual moral systems, see the article)

In reference to how Conservatives were able to get a majority of Americans to vote against President Obama’s health care plan, for instance, George Lakoff points to the Conservative effort to re-frame this issue by claiming that this plan will lead to a “Government takeover” and will include “Death panels.”

As indicated by George Lakoff, President Obama’s health care plan had strong public support.  This is primarily due to fact that it helped solve the major problems people experience when dealing with health insurance companies, such as their refusal to cover pre-existing conditions, and denying coverage in order to reap enormous profits at the expense of people’s health.

George Lakoff notes that conservatives never argued against any of the realities associated with the provisions designed to help the American people, “Instead, they re-framed; they made a moral case against “Obamacare.” Their moral principles were freedom and life, and they had language to go with them. Freedom: “government takeover.” Life: “death panels.”Republicans at all levels repeated them over and over, and convinced millions of people who were for the policy provisions of the Obama plan to be against the plan as a whole. They changed the public discourse, changed the brains of the electorate — especially the “independents” — and won in 2010.

Bottom line: If the Santorum strategy is successful in 2012, we’re all in trouble, since our rights & freedoms will be taken away by the very conservatives who mistakenly “frame” us to believe we should blame Liberal Democrats, (who are actually trying to prevent such actions from occurring).  The only way to ensure that freedom and liberty are protected is to advocate for a progressive vision for all Americans, not a radical conservative future advocated by the modern day GOP, where only the “privileged sector” prevails

David Cay Johnston explains why it pays to be a bus driver in Sweden: Made possible by the ‘S’ word – “Socialism”

You hear it every day on right-wing talk radio, Fox news, and even by Conservative politicians, who repeatedly say that we are headed down a path toward “Socialism”, or President Obama is a Socialist, and favors Socialist policies.  Republican Presidential candidates are also chiming in.  Mitt Romney accused President Obama of adopting policies based on what he called, “European style Socialism”, and Newt Gingrich claimed that the Obama administration is a “Secular Socialist machine.”

As pointed out by Peter Dreier, Distinguished professor of politics at Occidental College, there hasn’t been a significant socialist movement in this country for decades.   However, “After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the word “socialism” started making a comeback. But it wasn’t because the socialists were gaining momentum. It was because Obama’s opponents — the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the right-wing blogosphere, the Chamber of Commerce, and conservative media gurus like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh — labeled anything Obama proposed, including his modest health care reform proposal, as “socialism.”

The “Socialism” frame is one based on fear.   The modern day George Orwell Party (GOP) is trying to convince the American people that a distribution of wealth that disproportionately benefits the super-wealthy elite, (those in the top 0.01%) at the expense of everyone else is fine, but anything that remotely resembles a benefit to average working families is condemned as supporting the ‘S’ word.

The use of the word “Socialism” in reference to President Obama is intended to evoke the image of a totalitarian dictatorship, where the rights and freedoms of the people are not protected.

This is the image that the radical right wing wants people to associate with our current President.  However, as illustrated in a recent article by Peter Dreier, this strategy may backfire!

In reference to the Pew Research poll released in December 2011, it was determined that the majority of Americans (77%) agreed that “there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and corporations.”  In addition 83% of 18-29 year olds shared this view.

Joseph Schwartz, a Temple University political scientist made it clear that “Many young people associate capitalism with inequality, big corporations, and poverty,” and “If young people have any image of socialism at all, it is probably northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. They know that northern Europe has less poverty, more equality, and more social mobility.”

For a realistic picture of what life is actually like in countries that adopt “European style socialism”, take a look at David Cay Johnston’s recent interview describing how it pays to be a bus driver in Sweden.

This is made possible, as David Cay Johnston points out in this clip because:

“They organize their economy to provide what Adam Smith said in the wealth of nations an economy should do.  Any policy that benefits the majority must be good policy.”

“We organize our economy on the theory that the very, very richest among us, the multi-billionaires don’t have enough, and unless we give them more our economy cannot grow.  That’s just nonsense!” Hence, the reason we are being “framed” to believe socialism is bad, and capitalism is good.

 

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