STOP Framing "us"

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

Archive for the tag “Frank Luntz”

Why Good People do Bad Things: The Power of Names, Frames and Personality Factors

A recent article in the Business Insider, 27 psychological reasons good people do bad things, illustrates many of the common unethical behaviors experienced by people in our society.  Most people are familiar with the acceptance of small theft (#6) in the workplace, for instance, or the pressure to conform (#27) whenever attempting to ‘fit in’ to an existing peer group.  Others, such as obedience to authority (#12), foot in the door (#16), and the blinding effect of power (#13) tell a somewhat different story.  These psychological characteristics appear to stem from something other than minor unethical hiccups, and may have their root in personality factors, as discussed below.

Knowing these psychological tendencies exist may be useful fun facts to discuss at parties or other social gatherings, but they don’t tell us what we really want to know.  What about deliberate attempts to influence people to (unknowingly) act in an unethical manor, or take an immoral stance on an issue?  Does this happen? If so, who is more susceptible and why?  The power of names (#2) provides some initial insight into answering these questions.

2.  The power of names.  When bribery becomes “greasing the wheels” or accounting fraud becomes “financial engineering,” unethical behavior can seem less bad. The use of nicknames and euphemisms for questionable practices can free them of their moral connotations, making
them seem more acceptable
.

The power of names reveals the use of language can literally change the meaning of something, thus leading one to an immoral choice in behavior.  Beyond nicknames and euphemisms is a more sophisticated technique, known as framing.  In a nutshell, framing involves the deceptive use of language to convince others to support immoral choices.  A “frame” has the ability to not only change the meaning of something, but to literally alter one’s perception of reality.  Unfortunately, far too many people fall victim to the powerful effects of framing, and end up taking stances on issues contrary to their own beliefs! Take the “clear skies” initiative, introduced by GOP politicians under the Bush administration.  The so called “clear skies” plan, “would loosen Clean Air Act standards for most of the nation’s power companies. And it has taken the pressure off companies that violate the law, cutting inspections staff and reducing Fines and criminal charges against polluters.”

Basically, this law allows more harmful and toxic chemicals to be dumped into the atmosphere, polluting our lungs and the air we breathe.  I’m confident no one would knowingly believe this is a good thing, much less openly support such a position when provided the chance to voice their opinion at the polls.  Hence, a frame is intentionally crafted that serves the purpose of convincing people to vote in favor of a policy position that is actually detrimental to their health and well being.  Those on the left side of the political spectrum refer to this phenomenon as “voting against one’s self-interest.”

Now that we know framing occurs, who is responsible, and what motivates an individual or group of people to manipulate others in such a fashion?  The obvious answer is money, but in this case it’s much scarier than that.  The use of framing (ie, deceptive language) has been used recently in politics to advance an ideology that is consistent with the special interests of the ruling elite in this country.  This immoral behavior is being carried out by unethical pollsters and politicians in Washington, who happen to share a similar disposition, known as the authoritarian personality.

Shortly after the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany, researchers in the field of psychology attempted to understand what led people to openly display such hideous behavior under fascist rule, including increased levels of anti-Semitism and prejudice against the “other.”  The result of this endeavor was a personality syndrome labeled, the authoritarian personality, which was later turned into a book under the same title, written by Adorno, et al. (1950).   Adorno and colleagues discovered that this personality syndrome was characterized by pro-fascist, antidemocratic attitudes, coupled with complete submission to authority figures.

Modern day polls can also be traced to this time period.  Due to the stranglehold widespread propaganda had on certain elements of the population, and the ease at which the repetition of lies led to blind submission to fascist authority, Gallup and others developed polling techniques to assess public perception.  Today, these techniques are being used by unethical pollsters like Frank Luntz, who craft frames, poll test the language, and focus group approve the final product for use by right wing authoritarian (RWA) politicians, and other true believers to manipulate public perception in favor of this authoritarian ideology.

Right wing authoritarian (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to social conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them.  They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.”

“Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity…they are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and report that punishing such people is satisfying for them.  They tend to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities and homosexuals.

History has already proven what is capable of happening when RWA’s are in positions of power, but what many people may not be aware of is that the modern day GOP are right-wing authoritarians!  Simply take a look at the 2012 GOP party platform.  Many of the personality characteristics mentioned above can be seen in the actions taken by GOP lawmakers.  For a glimpse of how this ideological agenda is being carried out, let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Radical right wing governors across the country are actively implementing laws to discriminate against minority groups by suppressing their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.  To get people on board with this radical agenda, the frame “voter fraud” was created.

GOP politicians are passing laws to ship our jobs overseas.  The frame used in this case is “illegal immigrants” are taking our jobs.

GOP politicians are passing laws that force us to work for less, and take away our rights to fight back when our wages and pensions are raided by vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney.  This is being framed as “right to work.”

GOP politicians are implementing laws to control women’s reproductive health, framed as “religious freedom.”

GOP politicians are spending taxpayer money to enrich the super wealthy elite, framed as “tax relief.”  Coincidentally, the funneling of taxpayer money to the richest among us is being framed as using taxpayer money to give to “welfare recipients.”

Perhaps even scarier than the GOP taking total control of our government and convincing people with clever framing to vote against their own interests and well being, is the very future of our planet if these RWA’s continue to gain momentum and firmly implement their dangerous ideology.

“In roleplaying situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative. In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth’s future entitled the Global change game. Unlike a comparison game played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war. By the end of the high RWA game, the entire population of the earth was declared dead.[15]

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The George Orwell Party (GOP) is Stripping Away Our Right to Vote, While Pretending to Solve a Make Believe Problem!

Voting is fundamental to our democracy.  It enables each citizen to have a say in how our nation should be governed. We have faith in this process, and expect those we elect to represent us to stand up for our interests on a variety of issues that directly impact our lives.  We all want to be happy and healthy.  We all want clean air to breathe, safe food to eat, and non-contaminated water to drink.  We all want a proper education for our children, someone to keep us safe from harm, and an equal opportunity to prosper in life.

However, since our founding, the very voting rights that enable us to have a say in how we are governed were not always a given. Voting rights in the United States were strictly limited to the privileged class when this country was founded.

“In most states, only white men with property were permitted to vote (freed African Americans could vote in four states). White working men, almost all women, and all other people of color were denied the franchise. At the time of the American Civil War, most white men were allowed to vote, whether or not they owned property, but literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests were used in various places, and most white women, people of color, and Native Americans still could not vote.”

Ever since these voting rights were successfully won for poor whites, blacks and women, the Republican Party has adamantly fought to disenfranchise and suppress these voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

Instead of encouraging the right to vote for all citizens in this country, as seen in other nations like Australia, where the voter turn-out is greater than 90%, our Republican politicians are busy devising strategies to take away the right to vote for certain populations.  Today, those populations are the poor, minorities, the elderly, and the younger generation.

I’m afraid that this is what the GOP means when they say they want to “take this country back.”  They want to take it back to an era where only a select few privileged folks get to determine what happens to the rest of us.  Perhaps, if we encouraged active participation in our democracy by modeling nations with a proven track record in near full voter participation in the democratic process, then we wouldn’t need to waste time focusing on make believe attempts of people trying to vote more than once at the polls.

There is absolutely no evidence supporting the GOP claim that individuals are engaging in some type of purposeful act of misrepresenting who they are come election time. In fact, according to an article in think progress, “In the wake of the 2010 elections, numerous GOPcontrolled states have adopted so-called “voter ID” laws to target the entirely fabricated problem of in-person voter fraud. Such voter fraud is so uncommon that a voter is 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to actually commit fraud at the polls.”

Despite reality, this does not stop Republican politicians from pretending there is a problem.  This is what the GOP, or the new party of the pretenders does.  They hire unethical pollsters and language manipulators like Frank Luntz, who poll tests and focus group approves language that is proven to resonate with those on the left, right and most importantly, independent voters.  Let’s face it.  No one likes “voter fraud.”  No one likes “illegal immigrants.”  Everyone likes “fair elections.”  This is the type of language Frank Luntz consistently arms the party of the pretenders with to manipulate public opinion in favor of supporting an ideological agenda that serves to do the very opposite of what they pretend to be in favor of.

One such pretender went as far as writing a letter to the attorney general, Eric Holder taking this make believe idea to a whole new level by insisting that this type of behavior is occurring.  In his letter, Congressman Rooney (R-Fl) stated, “Florida has uncovered a widespread problem of illegal and erroneous voter registration, exposing as many as 182,000 registered voters as non-U.S. citizens.”

This outright blatant distortion of reality goes hand in hand with the attempts of the radical right wing governor Rick Scott to suppress the vote of 182,000 poor folks, elderly and young-adult citizens, who are inclined to vote Democratic.

Part of the GOP strategy to advance their ideological agenda is to evoke the appropriate language that resonates with the left, right and center every time they are faced with a question on an issue central to their vision for America.  In this particular case of voter suppression, that language is voter fraud, and fair elections.  As reported by the Miami Herald, when questioned about his decision to engage in voter suppression, Rick Scott not only tried to place blame on the Obama administration for his decision (GOP strategy 101), but consistently evoked the frames mentioned above by saying, “We need to have fair elections. When you vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote. That’s what I care about.”

This is the party of the pretenders in action.  They pretend to want fair elections and protect our right to vote, among other rights and freedoms, when all they are really concerned with is doing the opposite by taking them away from us.  Pretending to be in favor of what matters to us is an effective strategy of advancing an agenda that actually requires the denial of our rights, freedoms and protections under the law.

The Solyndra Frame Exposed! How Mitt Romney and the GOP are Framing reality.

In a speech given last Thursday, Mitt Romney broke out the GOP Solyndra frame once again, but this time while standing in front of the now vacant plant in Freemont, California.  His of way of giving people a visual image to go with the framing, perhaps.  In a nutshell, the Solyndra frame involves the literal framing of President Obama for actions that both former President Bush and the ‘wannabe’ president Mitt Romney are guilty of committing, such as giving taxpayer money to wealthy donor friends (ie, Bush tax cuts) and engaging in ‘crony capitalism’ or Mitt Romney’s specialty (ie, vulture capitalism). This type of immoral behavior regularly practiced under the Bush administration and characteristic of Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital days were projected onto President Obama during this brief speech.

The very first question asked after three solid minutes of misinforming the public was, “In 2005, President Bush signed the energy policy act that created the government loan guarantee (ie, putting taxpayers on the hook when companies fail) doesn’t he get the blame for this?”

Instead of answering the question, which is based on facts, Mitt Romney continued framing this issue by deflecting attention away from who is truly responsible by making it appear as if President Obama was to blame for the failure of this single company. The untold reality is that the circumstances that led to the use of $535 million dollars of taxpayer money (a mere 1.3% of all loan guarantee amounts) was implemented by former President Bush, hurried along by GOP politicians, and backed by the super-wealthy Walton family, who have donated millions to GOP politicians over the years.

As reported by Stephen Lacey and Richard Caperton, It’s often claimed that the Solyndra loan guarantee was “rushed through” by the Obama administration for political reasons” In fact, the Solyndra loan guarantee was a multi-year process that the Bush administration launched in 2007.”  They go on to note that “Rather than “pushing funds out the door too quickly,” the Obama administration restructured the original loan when it came into office to further protect the taxpayers’ investment.”

This reporting is backed up by Politifact, who noted, “The Energy Department’s loan guarantee program was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by Bush.”
 To make matters worse, President Bush touted the bill as a success at the time, while using many positive sounding words to provide the illusion of responsible governing.

President Bush: “This bill will strengthen our economy and it will improve our environment, and it’s going to make this country more secure. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is going to help every American who drives to work, every family that pays a power bill, and every small business owner hoping to expand.” What President Bush failed to tell the American people is that this positive sounding language is an intentional act of deception that conceals the GOP’s true intentions of minimizing the risk made by wealthy investors who donate to his campaign, while maximizing the risk to unsuspecting taxpayers. This two-faced political strategy of the GOP involves taking credit for initiatives they frame as strengthening our economy and helping Americans, while blaming the opposition for any market failures that occur as a result of gambling with our tax dollars.

This win-win strategy is a product of the memo Frank “The Liar” Luntz crafted with the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, in the mid 1990’s, called Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.  Ever since then, the GOP began using positive sounding language when describing any social, economic or political position advocated by the GOP, regardless of any immoral or devastating consequences to the public, while simultaneously using negative sounding language when describing any social, economic or political position in opposition to their ideological agenda.

So, when Mitt Romney breaks out the Solyndra frame and says that “It’s a symbol not of success but of failure, and that “the president was taking money from the taxpayer to give freely to his friends”, he is partially correct.  It just so happens the serious conflict of interest and the decision to line the pockets of wealthy donors was a result of the immoral actions committed by Bush, not President Obama. This is what the modern day George Orwell Party (GOP) does.  They literally frame the opposition for actions they are guilty of committing.

When the market fails, or when the immoral and reckless behavior of a select few causes catastrophic conditions for the rest of us, people like Mitt Romney and other corrupt politicians step in and use it to their political advantage by framing the issue, and focus media attention and blame on the very people who are trying to protect the public from the abuses of crony capitalism.

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.

Scott Walker and his Billionaire Buddies are Framing us!

Thanks to a loophole in Wisconsin state law, Governor Scott Walker is able to raise unlimited amounts of money from out of state donors in order to bombard Wisconsin voters with a massive misinformation campaign.  Billionaires like the Koch brothers and other special interest groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have contributed to over two-thirds of the $25 million dollars Scott Walker has raised in order to spread misinformation about the Governor’s plan to inflict austerity on Wisconsin workers.

The consequences of Scott Walkers’ proposed austerity plan are already being felt, and have led to an overwhelming pushback from those who realize the harm he is trying to inflict on workers in Wisconsin.  Fortunately, a recall effort has been launched with the goal of removing this radical Governor from his position of authority and to to prevent the forced austerity measures that have already contributed to the worst jobs record in the nation.  Since taking office, Governor Scott Walker’s failed austerity plan, currently being embraced on a national scale by Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP, has led to the most job losses anywhere in the country.  Under Scott Walker’s watch, over 30,000 jobs have been lost in Wisconsin.

This is where the misinformation and framing comes into play.  Scott Walker’s abysmal record of 30,000 job losses is being spun by countless television ads, Fox news appearances, and backing by billionaires to conceal this reality in favor of misinformation that frames Scott Walker as a job-creator, as opposed to a job-cremator.  In this fictional framed version of reality created by billionaires like the Koch brothers, Scott Walker is portrayed as protecting working Americans, and somehow having added the same amount of jobs he actually destroyed.

Another tried and true method used in the billionaire-backed war on workers is to “frame” harmful legislation that will strip away people’s rights as laws that will supposedly protect people from abuses of power.  This “right to work” law being advocated by radical right-wing Governors across the country is purposely designed to fit that frame. In reality, this law will force people to work-for-less and strip away their rights to fight back (ie, collectively bargain) once this occurs.

The National Right to Work Committee, another right wing group backed by ALEC, 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 consultant/pollster who specializes in the creation and use of deceptive language to convince the general public to vote against their well being 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.  This question is framed in such a way as to practically guarantee the desired response.  Responses are then used to justify implementation of radical legislation that destroys the very rights and freedoms the GOP claims to be protecting.  It is important to note that this survey by Frank “The Liar” Luntz was commissioned by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, whose motto is “Defending America’s workers from the abuses of compulsory unionism since 1968.” With a slogan like this, no wonder they commissioned a professional liar to make sure their biased “facts” fit the frame.

This “right to work” frame will be endlessly repeated via the right wing echo chamber, just like Scott Walker’s abysmal jobs record, to ensure that as many people in Wisconsin as possible hear this distorted version of reality which suits the needs of special interests and billionaires.  If repeated often enough, neuroscience research tells us that many Wisconsin voters will likely reject the facts in favor of the frame, since this is how framing works! For a glimpse of the disastrous effects that work-for-less laws actually have in states where framing efforts were successful, take a look at the research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.

For those who believe there is no need to participate in politics, think again! Watch this Unbelievable demonstration of how Clueless conservative representatives are becoming, thanks to framing.

The common reason people tend to give about why they are reluctant to get involved in politics, much less pay attention is because it doesn’t affect them.  All of this is about to change once you watch this brief interview on Jon Stewart’s the daily show. Aasif Mandvi conducted an interview with Wanda Brown, a member of Missouri’s State House of Representatives regarding the ridiculous notion of workplace discrimination against gun owners.  Besides the fact that this is not taking place, federal law already protects the rights of gun owners.  In what is clearly a demonstration of utter ignorance, Wanda Brown is not only unaware of what is happening in her own state’s House of Representatives, but apparently is unaware of her own actions in voting against a real discrimination issue.

This interview is a perfect illustration of how utterly misinformed conservatives are becoming, thanks to the echo chamber on the right spoon feeding them their talking points.  More importantly, people like Wanda Brown are becoming elected in state after state with the help of special interest money, courtesy of the citizens united Supreme Court decision, and are blindly introducing and passing laws once they get into office that will have a detrimental impact on our lives.  In this particular case, her actions have a negative impact on the gay community. Tomorrow her actions may have a negative impact on women, and the day after that her actions may have a negative impact on those too disabled or elderly to work. Such attacks are already occurring in state legislatures where Republicans are in positions of power.  This clip not only reveals the true priorities of the Republican party, but also sheds light on what’s to come in the future if we keep electing people like Wanda Brown to positions of leadership.

This interview reveals how critically important the ideological divide has become in this country, and provides a glimpse into how this divide is being strengthened daily by those on the right to force their ideology onto the rest of us.  With the help of the right wing echo chamber, conservatives are “framing” Government as being a failure in order to prop up state’s rights, so special interest groups like ALEC can slip in the back door and pass model legislation across every state in the nation.  This is a win-win strategy for conservatives.   They get to use Frank Luntz talking points to blame Washington for our problems, while they sneak in the back door and carry out the very actions they are literally “framing” Democrats for.

In essence, the right wing think tanks have discovered that they can literally use ignorant people to their advantage by convincing them, (via framing) to introduce nonsensical legislation.  In this case, the bill introduced by Wanda Brown is already protected under the 2nd Amendment of the constitution, as pointed out by Aasif Mandvi during this interview. It appears that unbelievably misinformed people are being sought after and encouraged to run for public office, while special interest money is used to prop them up in the public eye as being competent to represent their interests.  A few examples that immediately come to mind include Sharon Angle from Nevada, Sarah Palin from Alaska, and who could forget “I’m not a witch” Christine O’Donnell from Delaware.  Once these Wanda Brown’s get into office, they blindly follow the direction they are provided by ALEC and other special interests, who fight to keep them in positions of power (as seen in the case of Scott Walker in Wisconsin).

Framing our unconscious: How language can be used to influence your thoughts, actions and beliefs beyond what you could ever expect (consciously)

Theoretical physicist, Leonard Mlodinow appeared on the Dylan Ratigan show today to discuss his new book Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior.  Prior to introducing this guest, Dylan stated, “Revolutionary new neuroscience is proving that the way that our brain perceives so called facts in front of us dictates our emotional and overall experience in reality” Leonard Mlodinow discussed the implications current neuroscience research has on our very thoughts, actions and behaviors.  Since most of what we do is essentially determined unconsciously, the author notes, the brain is using whatever data it has available to inform your conscious mind about what decisions to make.  This readily available data, in the form of current topics in the news, for instance, combined with our previous experiences impacts the way we see the world, what we believe, and how we relate to others.

According to the author, the way you see the world isn’t the way the world actually is, it just so happens to be the way you feel about things based on your previous experiences, and the information you are exposed to.  Therefore, being able to tap into these feelings by controlling the information that is readily available for people to consume, according to current neuroscience research, has the ability to impact our entire belief system.  It just so happens that the radical right wing has spent billions of dollars in think tanks to figure out exactly how to tap into these feelings.  This is why they hire people like Frank “The Liar” Luntz to craft specific language that is purposely designed to influence us on an unconscious level, so that the “frame” becomes the reality we see.

To make matters worse, the media itself, from the newspapers we read, radio shows we listen to, and news stations we watch are almost entirely corporately owned and controlled.  Taken together, the influence of the “corporate media” combined with the “frames” Frank Luntz uses to manipulate us, is having a major detrimental impact on our culture.   Ironically, those in the “privileged sector” who are responsible for this pure and utter immoral manipulation are successfully using framing language to also convince us that we should blame “illegal immigrants”, “welfare recipients”, and “latte sipping liberals” for the problems they are responsible for creating.

When we accept the right wing “frames”, we tend to believe that those who are born ‘privileged’ in this country actually earned their money, and so we shouldn’t “punish the rich.”  We tend to believe that a healthcare system that would actually provide healthcare for all is somehow a “Government take-over of healthcare.” We tend to believe that asking people in the privileged class to contribute to our Democracy by helping to fund the very public services and resources that they utilize more than the rest of us is “class warfare.”  As an alternative, we tend to believe that giving more of our tax dollars to the privileged in this country is providing “tax relief” to those we tend to believe are “job-creators.”

Belief in these frames enables the status quo of income inequality to continue without objection.  The danger in not objecting is that more of us are sinking into poverty, losing our jobs, our homes, and experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It explains why were eating too much, smoking too much, drinking too much, and committing more crimes, all while those at the top are being showered with the wealth that we all help to create.  Despite all of this evidence, and the fact that the United States is still the richest nation on the planet, the frame “we’re broke” that is being used to perpetuate all of the immoral and devastating effects of income inequality persists.  Of equal importance is the fact that any attempt by progressives to reverse this disastrous trend is framed as a “Government intrusion into your life.”

This is why we all need to understand the power of language in shaping not only who we are, but who we are becoming as a nation. America works together, not in isolation from each other, where one privileged class prevails at the expense of everyone else.

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.

Why Newt Gingrich can’t believe he is not the front-runner for the GOP, especially since he is doing everything right! (to manipulate people, that is)

Newt Gingrich has certainly come a long way since the early 1990’s when he teamed up with Frank “The Liar” Luntz to craft a memo called, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control“, which he then circulated to every member of the Republican Party.  The primary purpose of this memo was to educate fellow GOP members on how to effectively use language to manipulate voters into supporting legislation that is detrimental to their health and well being.  This is accomplished by “framing” issues that are important to the average voter in such a way that demonizes Democratic proposals, (ie, use of negative language) and praising anything put forth by the GOP (ie, use of positive language).

Since then, Newt Gingrich has learned how to perfect this framing technique, or art of manipulation for many of the key issues affecting our livelihood, including how to secure a job (ship them overseas) educating our children, (no need, just reinstitute child labor laws, and have poor kids clean up after the rich kids) providing healthcare to our family members when they get sick (let the for profit insurance companies can handle it) and ensuring our parents and grandparents are taken care of when they retire (take away our safety net by handing over the Social Security purse strings to the Wall Street casino).

In the process of learning how to better himself when it comes to manipulating the rest of us, Newt Gingrich has also become a natural at deflecting attention from his own immoral acts and redirecting the focus on the issues that he wants us to pay attention to by virtue of “framing” them.   A classic example can be seen in the opening Presidential debate when he was asked about his “open marriage” request with regards to his ex-wife.  His response, taken straight out of the memo was, “I think the destructive vicious negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. I’m appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”  He cunningly tried to redirect the focus of this reasonable question by using the “liberal media” frame.

Although the issues he “frames” may appear to make sense on the surface, deep down they actually serve to enrich the most privileged members of our society at the expense of everyone else (ie, the people he is framing).  This is why Newt Gingrich is scratching his head wondering why he is not the front-runner of his party.   After all, he is ahead of his time in the sense that he has learned how to successfully use language to manipulate people into thinking we should reinstate child labor laws, end Medicare, dismantle Medicaid and Social Security, and continue to give our hard-earned money in the form of tax cuts to the upper class in the “privileged sector”, who are benefitting at our expense at every turn.   Can you blame him for not wanting to take credit!  In his mind, the ruling elite he his helping to enrich owe him at least a spot in the White House.

Paul Ryan’s “Path to prosperity” for the upper class is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan and members of the GOP recently released their budget plan for America.  They are referring to this plan as a “path to prosperity.”  What they really mean is a “path to poverty” for everyone who is not in the top 1%.  After all, in the land of George Orwell, the “path to prosperity” can only mean one thing, it’s opposite, or a “path to poverty.”

This “path to poverty”, or GOP inflected austerity, is destructive to the working poor and middle class in this country, since it transfers wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” primarily by eliminating our social safety net.   This is accomplished by taking away guaranteed benefits currently being provided to protect the most vulnerable among us, including the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly populations, in order to give guaranteed benefits to the wealthiest among us, by permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for instance, which will add trillions more to a deficit “they” continue to pile on the backs of everyone else.

The irony is that the George Orwell Party has already “framed” the issue of taking from one group to give to another in their often-repeated “transfer of wealth” frame.  The radical right wing constantly repeats this Orwellian frame to convince the rest of us that Liberal Democrats are somehow taking from the rich to give to the poor.  In reality, the Paul Ryan budget plan and the rest of the GOP is in favor of what you would call Robin Hood in reverse, since their agenda is all about taking from the poor and middle class in order to protect and enrich the upper class.

Interestingly, the GOP’s plan for the money that will be generated by making drastic cuts to vital services affecting the working poor and middle class, such as ending Medicare, and handing over the Social Security trust fund ($2.6 Trillion) to the Wall Street Casino, will not be used to pay down the deficit, but rather to further pave the “path to prosperity” for a select few.  In this sense, Paul Ryan and members of the GOP are not necessarily lying when they say their budget will create a “path to prosperity”, they just left out the part about who will prosper and at who’s expense.

In order to get people on board with taking away guaranteed benefits that have been enormously popular ever since they were first enacted to protect the people from the abuses of the “privileged sector” in the past, the GOP must hide their true intentions by using positive sounding language when describing their budget plan and vision for America, and negative sounding language when describing anything that conflicts with their agenda.  It really is that simple!

In line with the memo Newt Gingrich crafted with the help of Frank Luntz, the GOP is using language such as “save” and “strengthen” in relation to Social Security and Medicare to present the illusion of being in favor of these programs.  In reality, the GOP is adamantly opposed to our social safety net, and regularly refers to such programs that benefit disabled children, the elderly, and the working poor, as “entitlement programs” that should be eliminated.  So, why should we believe Paul Ryan or any other Republican politician in Washington who claim they are in favor of helping our senior citizens, disabled children, and those who are trying to survive on non-livable wages?  The short answer is that we shouldn’t.

 

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