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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:

"The Poof!" When the going gets tough, the tough just make something up like “Clean Coal”! Other examples: big media conglomerates operating in near monopolies claim they are in a " low competition" industry. 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 negative 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!"

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!





Published by admin on Wed 01 of May, 2013

A bogus tweet caused computer controlled trades to cause a major dip in the market last week. From news reports it appears the programs monitor news feeds and react all by themselves. And even though the AP Tweet was was wrong and malicious in it's origin, you can bet your sweet bippy someone made a profit.

Warren Buffet says he invests in companies that make products and pay dividends over time. Computer trading, on the other hand, is all about minute changes in the market for fractional (but huge in the aggregate) gains. Creating and maintaining successful businesses that employ people and make for a healthy economy are simply not factors in the algorithms.

This and other examples of computer trading have shown that the entire economy can be surprised with disaster in mere seconds. A micro tax on every trade has been suggested that would not hurt a real investor but would hurt the millions of daily computer trades that make a penny or two in nanoseconds. It's a tax though, so we'll never see it passed in the conservative controlled Congress.

Contrary to the bogeymen of taxes and the hating of government (a particularly disturbing form of self loathing in a democracy), Wall Street greed has cost my business, my home equity and my family far more than any possible increase in my taxes. An unfettered free market has no protections for society and no accounting for the evils of greed except that the evildoers might (unless you are a bank) see their gravy train derailed.

Yet many still seem to a believe the fairy tale that the market is composed of rational actors and, if left alone, is inherently benevolent. It's tragic that so many people don't seem to get who actually screwed them and I don't see any great enlightenment coming in the near future. For this reason I will not be investing in torch and pitchfork futures.


Published by dapitzrick on Mon 29 of Apr., 2013





Published by admin on Wed 24 of Apr., 2013

A new Pew study based on census data shopws that if you were wealthy bbefore the Great Recession, you are getting richer now!

"From 2009 to 2011, the average net worth of the nation’s 8 million most-affluent households jumped from an estimated $2.7 million to $3.2 million, Pew said. For the 111 million households that form the bottom 93 percent, average net worth fell 4 percent, from $140,000 to an estimated $134,000, the report said.

The changes mean that the wealth gap separating the top 7 percent and everyone else increased from 18-to-1 to 24-to-1 between 2009 and 2011. Overall, the most affluent 7 percent of households owned 63 percent of the nation’s household wealth in 2011, up from 56 percent in 2009.

The biggest difference between the most-affluent group and everyone else, Pew said, is that the wealthiest households have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial instruments, while others’ wealth is concentrated in their homes."

It's comforting to know that the top 7% is doing so well. The rest of us -still stagnating or falling behind as we have now for a few decades -eh -not so much.

Same as it ever was. Or, as I like to say, those who learn from history are bound to repeat it anyway.


Published by admin on Tue 09 of Apr., 2013

Progressive candidates and legislators often feel the need to move rightward to win an election. Others feel they can't always say exactly what they mean or they'll lose middle of the road votes. As the conservative worldview has come to dominate the national psyche and the media, it's hard to argue with that. Campaigning is grueling, intense work. It takes up one's entire life -for house members it never stops. Why go through all that if you can't win with a progressive message? And if our people aren't elected we'll get nothing accomplished at all.

Tactically it makes sense. Strategically the danger, of course, is that our candidates actually end up voting that way. Every time our candidates hesitate to articulate a progressive thought is one less opportunity for voters to know who we really are (and not who the GOP tells them we are). You can see where this is going: as Harry Truman said "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time". We may win battles but we lose the war. Moving right is an ultimately self defeating strategy. 

It's often said that voters themselves have moved rightward, but if you poll Americans about the fundamentals of most issues, they tend to agree more with progressives, sometimes by large margins! However, if you tell those same people that these are Democratic positions, support drops. If you tell them they're President Obama's positions it drops even further!

How can this be? If voters share our values, why is our worldview not the dominant one? How can the conservative world view so dominate the political landscape and the media? Why do voters vote opposite to their beliefs and against their own self interest? How can a tea partier hold a sign that says "Keep your government hands off my Medicare" and not realize progressives support Medicare and conservatives would drown it in a bathtub along with Social Security every other social program? How did our candidates get put in this position? 

It's not really a mystery. When progressives give money and time they want to see it benefit people, not devoted to think tanks and PR people. We've respected voters and assumed they'd consider the facts and reject the propaganda conservatives dish up. On the other hand, conservatives -really the wealthiest conservatives and industries- are just fine investing in whatever it takes to get voters to vote for conservatives. Fourty years of effort and billions of dollars have certainly paid off. Conservatives have also embraced something we've ignored, which is surprising since Progressives are much more likely to trust science than conservatives.

Cognitive science has studied human behavior for a long time and the mechanisms are well known and validated. The science tells us that humans fit new knowledge and events into patterns or “frames”  they already know and their actions reflect these frames. Those frames can become so strong that if a fact does not fit the frame it's disregarded! If you control the frames -if you build them in voters' minds- you can influence their behavior. (A fact PR and advertising firms know well).

Conservatives have known and acted on this for decades and have carefully built and relentlessly articulated a simple and internally consistent worldview (that this manufactured worldview is a smokescreen for a hidden agenda of supporting accumulated wealth no matter the consequences is a topic for another time). For going on 40 years, the values behind the conservative worldview were repeated over and over. Think tanks were funded to provide "experts" for the media on every issue, propaganda was ginned up in massive quantities, and fear and prejudice were employed when they served conservative ends; all to clearly articulate the worldview they wanted built in voters minds. And now the conservative worldview dominates -sometimes even among progressives: if you've ever uttered the words "tax relief" you've repeated a Republican frame (and therefore strengthened it).

Progressives need to learn framing. I'm not saying we need to deceive anybody. With most Americans sharing our values (whether they know it or not) we don't need to. I do think we need to pay attention to the science and learn how to make our worldview dominant. Tactically I get that we need to win battles. Strategically however we need to articulate our values clearly and over a long period of time if we are to win the war. This is the only way we can prevent our candidates and legislators from feeling a need to shift right to win.

We need to get to the point where conservatives feel they need to move left to win.

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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