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Published by George F. Greene on Tue 20 of Jan., 2015

A core conservative frame is that wealth is proof of hard work and therefore grants moral authority to the wealthy. Anything that interferes with one's ability to amass wealth in any quantity is morally wrong. There is also the persistent assumption that government is inherently more wasteful and inefficient than the market (the tremendous waste of the Great Depression and Great Recession notwithstanding). Lowering taxes is morally right because it keeps government from wasting the hard earned tax dollars it "takes" from citizens.

Because taxes are inherently immoral, it becomes immoral to even suggest that a minimum amount of funding is necessary to keep public schools, roads, the environment, parks, air traffic control or anything else we as citizens have decided work best as government investments running. It is also complete heresy to suggest that those who benefit most from those investments should pay more in taxes.

It does not take a genius to see where dis-investment leads -to the erosion and eventual destruction of those investments and the control of crucial infrastructure placed in the hands of those for whom profit trumps any other consideration.

Why has the public, who one presumes likes driving on roads and sending all kids to school, not stopped conservatives by voting them out? Perhaps it's because we are coasting on the investments we made many decades ago. Bridges are falling down, but not too many just yet. Schools are starved, but kids still get on the bus. Air traffic control is operating on antiquated equipment, but, thanks to heroic controllers, few airplanes are yet falling from the sky.


Of course, wrecking most public investment is the goal of conservatives; it opens the way for for-profit companies to take over those functions. This is why 80% of charter schools in Michigan are run by for-profit corporations, why prisons are privately run and why our armed forces are more and more comprised of mercenaries.

Because there is no accounting for greed in the "free market", public investments can easily suffer the same fate as our own investments did when we let the banks do whatever they pleased with them. Our economy was bled dry by irresponsible and immoral bankers yet these are the very people conservatives consider most moral.

The constant cry from conservative strategists is lower taxes, not lower taxes at all costs, because they don't want you thinking about costs. The fact that everything has not collapsed just yet suggests to voters that everything is fine and conservatives may be right that we should reward the wealthy and give them implicit authority over our government.

Privatizing profit from infrastructure and important services is one thing; the socialization of cost is another. Polluters are exempted from cleaning up their messes because that happens in the future. Wal Mart racks up record profits and offers abysmal wages because they can coast along on government services provided by local, state and federal governments to feed and house their employees. I suspect they're not thinking much about the destruction of those things they so much depend on because business decisions are often made to enhance profit in the next quarter or next year, not 25 years from now. They'll deal with that then, if they think about it at all.

The fact that everything has not collapsed just yet supports the illusion that everything is fine, government truly controlled by citizens is unnecessary and that conservatives may just be right that we should reward the wealthy and give them authority over our government. Pay no attention to the destruction ahead -or the man behind the curtain.


Published by George F. Greene on Tue 20 of Jan., 2015

People think of the parties as uncontrollable, monolithic and perpetual. But the reality is that political parties are made of very small numbers of regular people -the ones who show up. In my congressional district there are about a million people and there are maybe a few hundred on a good day who do anything within the party. These are precisely the people who get off their lazyboys, go to caucuses or show up at party meetings and become delegates and eventually endorse candidates. Look at the GOP, where extremists took over the party. They simply showed up and changed their party from within.

Not that it's a cakewalk to change things, but it's way easier than most people think. Over two election cycles a decade ago, my friends and I -all low level volunteers- took over our congressional district leadership, trained people in issue framing and ran people for office, some of whom won. Other progressives around the state did the same and now Minnesota is more progressive than just about anywhere -and we're still just regular old unpaid volunteers.

The sad reality is that though anyone can do this, and should, only a vanishingly small number ever do. I guess it's just easier to sit back and complain about how powerless they feel. If the Democratic party is sucking wind across the nation, the blame lies with the disengaged and the ineffective communication of Democratic "startegists" that fail to inspire voters or teach them our worldview.

Though it is said that legislators can be bought, all the money spent on campaigns and negative advertising is spent to influence voters. The manipulators of media and elections know that in the end it all comes down to what voters do -at least the ones that the GOP has not prevented or discouraged from voting. Voters can vote out bad politicians -or destructive ideologies- anytime they want to, if they care enough to do so.

The fact that our nationalk leadership embraces ineffective communication accounts for the fact that many voterts do not fully comprehend the opposite and competing worldviews of the two major parties. Our job as progressive activists -the people who care enough to do, not just bloviate is to do what the GOP did: make our worldview comprehensible to voters and dominant, or at least competitive, in the media. Watch leaders who get it like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich and Paul Krugman to see people doing it well. Our messages and core values strongly resonate with voters -we just need to proudly own them.


Published by admin on Wed 06 of Aug., 2014

Lost in the media images of righteously indignant protesters at US
border facilities is the fact that all these children stuck there
are war refugees. In their home countries it matters not that the
belligerents are drug kingpins and police. Day by day, year in and
year out these children see their neighbors and family left dead
in the streets. Imagine the constant terror. So they come by
themselves, or are sent north by terrified relatives.

Our hearts go out -until they hit the border. Publicly the
protesters' fear is that the cost might come out of their pockets.
Privately the feelings are a stew of racism, xenophobia and
extremist right wing ideology. Children of immigrants themselves,
they don't make the connection that those kids could have been
their own ancestors just decades ago. In this narrow mental space
it's no longer about terrorized children: we simply must
air drop these kids back into the war zone.

How cruel. Helping refugees is fine if it's happening somewhere
else, a check in the mail, seen on CNN. Get too close though and
"my brothers keeper" goes right out the window.

Published by admin on Tue 15 of July, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

Consider this. What would happen if you told the ISPs that they cannot have a two tiered Internet?

Comcast will not go away. Trust me they'll make plenty of money, if my ever rising cable bill is any indication. The other ISPs will not say, oh well then, we're closing up shop -too bad, no more internet for you. The Internet will go on - with or without the current ISPs- simply moving all speech, all business, all religion, all social justice, all books, all news, all video -all everything- just as it does now: free flowing with opportunity for everyone on an even playing field.

In my country, the citizens are supposed to run the show. If we want to say you can't take over the Internet then that's just tough beans for Comcast. You are working for us, not them.

But if you do go ahead with this historically monumental bad idea then at least protect the citizens by 1) forbidding lawsuits against any governmental body, from the feds on down, that wants to build citizen owned Internet services, and 2) requiring every ISP to pass citizen owned internet data at the fastest speed possible on their network. I won't speculate as to your motives for wanting to give the ISPs what they want, or the President's motives for giving tacit support for killing Net Neutrality by his stunning silence and lack of leadership but, if you do cave to industry pressure and take the Internet away from citizens, then the activism must begin for Congress to override that poor choice with new law.

This is not an issue of trade or technology; the Internet is a fundamental evolution of human communication. Ask yourself this: are the ISPs really that much more important than citizens? Your choice is to go down in history as the public servant who set the precedent for free speech for the ages or as the guy who screwed the pooch for everyone.


Published by admin on Thu 15 of May, 2014


Published by admin on Wed 14 of May, 2014

Benghazi's back, but not because there's any news. This is really about messaging. The conservatives want their base fired up so they employ what I call the ZOMBIE ATTACK!!! -a claim that keeps resurfacing after being conclusively proven false. It's just one of a number of new conservative propaganda tricks I've been cataloging. Here they are:

"Poof!" When the going gets tough, the tough just make something up like “Clean Coal”! Also known as PIOOTA-(pulled it out of their a$$), The Poof is a close cousin to the "Well my dad says" tactic (below).

"I'm rubber and you're glue”. Whatever you're doing wrong, just accuse the other guy of doing it. Conservatives are largely successful with this one because 1) they anticipate these charges and accuse progressives first and 2) progressives have not learned to ignore these taunts. Instead we get apoplectic and sputter some denial or defense or, heaven forbid, a string of facts. It's not pretty. Example: "Progressive's just want to give money to people who don't deserve it" -Uh, Wall Street bailout, corporate subsidies, tax cuts for billionaires?!

"The Chrysler Codpiece". Just as some men need to offset the diminutive size of their manhood by parading about in an urban assault vehicle (or sending their trophy wife to Sam's Club in it), likewise when conservative ideas aren't supported by the facts they put together a "think tank" to make it appear as if they are. Examples: The Discovery Institute, The Greening Earth Society.

"Well, my dad says" A corollary to The Chrysler Codpiece above, this trick involves
creating "facts" where there are none. Example: Tobacco and chemical industry "research".

"These are not the Droids you're looking for." A Svengali-like move that mesmerizes the ill informed, the Droid trick makes the hearers ignore the real issue. Examples: While actively deploying voter suppression, conservatives shout about protecting  the vote through Voter ID laws. Or any Republican sponsored legislation with the words "clean" or "fairness" in the title.

"ZOMBIE ATTACK!!!" A zombie attack is a narrative or message that persists long after it has been proven false. Famous examples are Dick Cheney's continual claims that WMDs existed in Iraq, claims that Al Gore said he invented the Internet or that it was government and irresponsible homeowners, not Wall Street that wrecked the economy. Zombie attacks can persist for decades (climate change deniers) or even centuries (Creationism).

The point of initiating a zombie attack is not to actually assert that a claim is true but, in true Zombie fashion, it's simply aimed at capturing more BRAINS! The continual repetition of the story spreads the infection and, of course, once bitten, those who believe the claim, in turn, become Zombies and infect others. The danger of infection is greatest at Tea Party rallies or Mega Churches. On the left it can be spotted at anti-vaccination rallies.

Zombie attacks are particularly effective because reason and facts are useless as defenses. Unfortunately the accepted method of dealing with zombies -a chainsaw to the head- is ill advised for all the obvious reasons. The best defense is a good offense: protect your brain and the brains of your loved ones by cultivating a healthy skepticism and practicing critical thinking.

"Release the Krakken!" Last ditch conversation stoppers thrown in when conservatives have quite obviously, rhetorically and/or factually lost an argument. Examples are "
But, but... 9/11!", "Why do you hate America!?"and the ever popular "Benghazi!"

Edit: Bill Maher picks up on the Ziombie theme with Zombie Lies in his New Rules.

Send any tricks you've discovered to unclegeo at myaurora dot org.


Published by admin on Mon 13 of Jan., 2014

How we talk to voters about economic issues is very important. It is crucial to step back to basics and "frame" the issue to provide context and to communicate our core values.

The central frame conservatives use when talking about the economy is that the free market is inherently benevolent. Tinkering with it only degrades its ability to create good. If you just leave it alone everything will be fine.

Like many conservative frames, it's black and white, simple and direct; that is why their frames have broad appeal. Yet history -recent history even- has shown time and time again the tragic results of such an orthodox faith in the free market. The issue, of course, is much more complex.

A society where citizens cannot legally direct or correct market misbehavior and inequities is defenseless against greed. Kings, churches and aristocracy have traditionally sought to reduce constraints on their actions and concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The Founders knew the dangers of concentrated wealth having power in government -that is why we do not have a House of Lords. We are empowered by the Constitution to make decisons about anything that affects our lives. We are allowed to check distructive market forces.

Conservative strategists know all this and deflect criticism by throwing the blame on government (while dismantling market protections like Glass Stiegel). Explode the basic coinservative premise: "I don't believe democratic self government is inherently evil and I don't believe an unfettered free market is inherently good. Both need checks to keep them from getting out of control."

Good progressive frames for this issue are fairness, opportunity, common good, protection and strength (see "Our Progressive Values" in the left column). For example:

  • Is it fair that a few very wealthy people can gamble with our entire economy and put everyone else in danger?
  • Is it fair that workers work harder and harder for no increase in pay?
  • When wealth accumulates into fewer and fewer hands opportunity shrinks for everyone else.
  • Our Constitution empowers citizens to make decisions that protect the common good.
  • Good jobs for all and protections against the tragedies of greed create a healthy economy that moves America forward. (The underlying values of common good and progress are implied here.)

Facts are facts and they're obviously important (and on our side), but humans most often make decisions on deeply held beliefs; if the facts don't fit they are discarded. All issues get easier to discuss when you back away from the details, misdeeds and statistics to focus on the underlying values.

Try framing any issue in terms of these core progressive values:

  • Citizen Participation and Responsibility
  • Opportunity & Fairness
  • Strength & Progress
  • Freedom & Equality
  • Commonwealth & Investment
  • Protection & Security
  • Justice & Accountability
  • Decency & Dignity
Published by admin on Tue 20 of Aug., 2013

You really want to get scared, read The New Jim Crow by Michelle
Alexander about how the Republican initiated War on Drugs was built to
take the place of Jim Crow laws so they could continue to routinely
disenfranchise millions of African Americans by conviction and
incarceration while at the same time leading poor whites to understand
that African Americans -not the power/money elite- were the one's
screwing them. Cleverly, Republican framing was not overtly racist
and tended more to their modern fear mongering and hate of democratic
self rule. Under those frames Democratic legislators and presidents, not
wanting to appear weak, went along with it.

In some cities, half the African American men cannot vote -in or
out of prison. Through various police tricks and legal cover, African
Americans are arrested and convicted far out of proportion to crime
rates. Drug possession is actually more likely in white communities of any economic class, yet 3/4 of those imprisoned for it are black.

The take aways are that voter suppression and institutional racism is
certainly nothing new for conservatives and that if this was being done
to whites there'd be a rebellion.

I'm also sick about the Court's interpretations that weaken or negate
constitutional protections as they could just as easily be applied to
political enemies. The same court will decide voter supression laws and
I'm not hopeful they'll rule in citizen's favor. Add in domestic spying and any thinking person should feel chills up their spine.

Published by dapitzrick on Mon 15 of July, 2013

a Children's Game he'd be Where's Waldo:

Where's Eric?

Public town halls - can't find him!

Public debates with challengers - can't find him!

Don't be shy, Erik, we're only your constituents!

A UPS driver - he might understand what it's like to be  UPS driver who pays a higher percent in taxes than the UPS CEO.

Paulsen with UPS Driver

Honest, he wouldn't take credit for a highway he voted against.

A voter in CD3, he or she'd be mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!


Published by admin on Tue 28 of May, 2013

This short TED talk with Nick Hanauer is a tidy unpacking of the conservative frame that rich people are "job creators" and therefore deserve special tax rates and privileges.

Note especially the framing behind "job creators" at 3:50. It calls to mind the supermen construction of Ayn Rand that those who attain wealth are, by definition, better than those who simply earn a wage and, therefore, deserve not only tax breaks but special freedoms as well as a kind of deference.

Anyone who just witnessed the trashing of our economy by extremely wealthy Wall Street bankers is living through the facts that explode that particular bit of hogwash.

Nick Hanuauer is worth watching here and elsewhere!





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Learn to frame effective messages on all the issues in The FrameShop

Our Progressive Values

"We all do better when we all do better"
-Paul Wellstone
  • Citizen Responsibility
  • Opportunity & Fairness
  • Strength & Progress
  • Freedom & Equality
  • Commonwealth & Investment
  • Protection & Security
  • Justice & Accountability
  • Decency & Dignity

Free Framing Downloads

Downloads these books on framing from Cognitive Policy Works:

Thinking Points
by George Lakoff

Progressive Strategy Handbook