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[EDIT 12/2/2014 - We got slaughtered in the midterms. But I didn't see or hear about anyone trying these 6 ideas. So to prevent future slaughters, let's start trying these now!]

The November 4th mid-terms are fast approaching. A lot of Democrats and disillusioned progressives have already written them off as a lost cause, particularly in red states.
It doesn't have to be that way!
We can not only keep the Rethugs from taking the Senate, we can even take back the House too. And we can replace a lot of GOP Governors while we're at it.
But in the absence of big money, it will take some hard work and effort, along with some fresh creative strategies. Here are six of mine. If you have ideas of your own, or ways to improve mine, please share in the comments.

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Ever heard of the Media Research Center? They are one of several right-wing groups with the focus of "exposing and stopping liberal media bias", i.e. - pressuring mainstream media to move even further to the right.
I subscribe to their newsletter to keep tabs on them. And I always get a good laugh reading their latest examples of big, evil "liberal bias", as it's always transparently weak, misrepresented, or easily debunkable.

But this is no laughing matter. These right-wing pressure groups have got the mainstream media cowering in fear, walking on eggshells to avoid further accusations of "liberal bias", and ignoring or downplaying any stories (like man-made climate change) that might raise the ire of their far-right accusers.

It's because of right-wing pressure groups like this that Dan Rather lost his job for a Bush story that turned out to be true while those responsible for fiascoes like the 60 Minutes/Benghazi hoax go unpunished.

It's because of right-wing pressure groups like this that most independent voters believe the IRS targeted only conservative groups, the Affordable Care Act is causing more harm than good, both parties share responsibility for the gov't shutdown, etc.

And it's because of right-wing pressure groups like this that a good community organization like ACORN no longer exists, drummed out of business by fake pimp videos and fake voter fraud stories the mainstream media was all too willing to uncritically accept as real.

And it's only going to get worse if we don't stop them.
Here's the latest example of what they're up to:
They've "amassed more than 226,000 signatures from patriotic Americans demanding that news media outlets stop censoring the truth", they are "hand-delivering the petitions to the major news outlets (ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN)" and are sending "certified letters to all the board members at each network."

By contrast, what kind of pressure do you think the news networks are getting from progressives?
If you guessed little to none, you're probably right.
And this needs to change.
We need to regain access to the mainstream discussion. Retreating to our own progressive alternative media doesn't do us any good, as it has no influence on the vast majority of voters. We need to get out there and debunk, discredit, and destroy right-wing propaganda wherever it rears it's ugly head.
If we fail to do this...

We lose.
It's really that simple.

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Next time you hear a right-winger accuse the mainstream media of "liberal bias", please feel free to forward, cut and paste (keep in mind the links are abbreviated & will need to be re-typed), or edit the below response:

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Talkers magazine just released the 2013 edition of the "Heavy Hundred", the top 100 most important talk-radio hosts in the country. (tabulated using a variety of data, including estimated audience size)
Interestingly, only one Wisconsin host made the list.
Charlie Sykes? Nope.
Frequent Limbaugh fill-in Mark Belling? Nope.
Vicki McKenna or Jay Weber? Nada.
It's the guy in WTMJ's 12-3pm slot, Jeff Wagner.

"Jeff who?", I've heard a lot of progressives say.
While we in Wisconsin are all well aware of the bomb-throwing (and fact-deficient) ravings of Sykes, Belling, and McKenna, Mr. Wagner seems to be flying under our radar.
And it's easy to see why. Unlike his loud, belligerent, and obnoxious comrades, Jeff Wagner comes across as just your calm, soothing, and avuncular nice guy next door, dispensing his pearls of homespun wisdom and good old-fashioned "common sense"...

Which makes him even more dangerous.
For underneath the friendly facade, Wagner, a former federal prosecutor, is spewing from the same toxic, deceptive, right-wing propaganda playbook his talk-radio pals are. Selling the exact same lies, but packaged for those who find the vein-popping stridency of Sykes, Belling, and McKenna too distasteful.

For example, Wagner loves to bash social programs for the poor, often putting a spotlight on rare occasions of welfare or food stamp fraud and making them seem like a huge out-of-control epidemic. While, of course, conveniently sweeping the much-larger problem of corporate welfare under the rug.

He's kind of like an "Evil Mr. Rogers" of Milwaukee talk. So let's make sure this low-key slimeball doesn't escape our scrutiny.

Here's his blog page:
If you'd like to leave comments there, let me know and I'll back you up.


This morning on FOX and Friends, they had another one of their fear-mongering "anti-God secularists are coming to get you" segments. The big horror this time, apparently, is that the Daughters of the American Revolution (a lineage-based membership organization for women who are directly descended from those who fought in the Revolutionary War) are considering replacing the word God in their motto, "God, Home, and Country", in order to be more inclusive.

Of course, this is an Outrage! An outrage, I tell you! Especially in this case, since the organization in question are descended from the very founders of the USA. Founders who, as every good Christian and FOX viewer knows, were devoutly Christian and intended this to be an exclusively Christian nation, right?

And then our favorite Doocy-bag unloads this nugget of knowledge:
Our founding fathers were "the ones who put 'In God We Trust' on the walls and on the money."

Oh really, Steve? So in all of your 56 years, including several at the University of Kansas earning a Journalism degree, no one ever told you that "In God We trust" wasn't added to our coins until 1864 and wasn't added to paper money until 1957? 1957! Nor did anyone inform you that the phrase itself didn't even exist until it appeared in the lyrics of a song written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. After most of the founding fathers were gone. So I highly doubt the founders put this phrase "on the walls" either.

Yet this idiotic myth that "In God We Trust" dates from the very beginning of our nation persists, no matter how many times it keeps getting debunked. It's safe to assume the actual founding fathers would not approve of the phrase's use as a national motto.
Founding fathers, by the way, who were mostly deists and secularists. Not Christians! (Deism was the belief that there was an intelligent creator, but the creator had no involvement or concern in human affairs. Had Darwin's research on evolution existed then, most Deists likely would have been atheists.) Here is just a small sampling of what the founders thought of Christianity:

Thomas Jefferson:
"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched.  Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
"We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication."

John Adams:
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."
"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there  were no religion in it."

Benjamin Franklin:
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
"Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist." (i.e. - NOT a Christian)

Thomas Paine:
"The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense."
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church,  nor by any Church that I know of.  My own mind is my own Church.  Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
"The Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any."
"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity."
"All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for imposters to preach and fools to believe."
"Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! This is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!"
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half of the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God.  It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind."
Uh, could this hero of the American revolution be any f***ing clearer???

Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War Hero:
"I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not."

As for our first president George Washington, he was very private about his beliefs, but Jefferson wrote in 1800 that "Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself" and historian Barry Schwartz writes that "George Washington's practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian...  He repeatedly declined the church's sacraments.  Never did he take communion, and when his wife, Martha, did, he waited for her outside the sanctuary...  Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative."

So will FOX's gullible viewers ever learn these facts?
Only if we take the effort to venture inside their bubble and tell them.
(see )

You can also inform Mr. Doocy of his error at his own Facebook page:


[ A follow up to and ]

In the last couple years I've sent a number of emails to WISN's Mark Belling to correct his on-air lies and challenge him to invite the targets of his bile (or their defenders) on his show to debate. I've never received a single reply.
However, his program director at WISN and occasional fill-in host, Jerry Bott, did respond, both via email and on-air.
Here's our exchange:

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This is the follow-up to

If reading this disgusts you as much as listening to it disgusted me, then join us at , sign our petition to the FCC, and help us fight back against hateful one-sided propaganda on OUR public airwaves!

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This past May, as part of my work with the Media Action Center (, I had the opportunity to monitor and record two weeks of the Mark Belling show. Mark Belling is one of five (!) popular local right-wing talk radio hosts in Milwaukee, WI. If you've heard the nationally-syndicated guys (Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, etc), then you know the formula: Lies, distortion, hatred, hypocrisy, projection. Wash. Rinse. nauseum.
(Belling is a particularly cretinous case. His voice drips with such smug, arrogant, venomous bile that even when he's waxing on his favorite sports teams he sounds like a pompous jerk. How anyone could stand to listen to him mystifies me. So the fact that he has a sizeable fanbase says a lot about the depths of right-wing hatred in today's Wisconsin)

At the time, I decided to kill two birds with one stone & make a Facebook page to document and debunk the specific falsehoods I heard on each day's show.
That was 6+ months ago. So to keep my work from falling permanently down the facebook memory hole, I've collected it together here.
If you're looking for good ammunition to use against common right-wing BS arguments (particularly in Wisconsin), then I hope you find this useful:

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Nov 29, 4:28 PM EST

NASHVILLE (AP) -- In a stunning development that has rattled both Music City and Langley, Virginia, Nashville hitmaker Toby Keith revealed today that he is actually a Russian agent named Yuri Stankopov, and his entire career has been a deep-cover operation to discredit the United States internationally while also promoting public support for budget-draining military boondoggles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keith/Stankopov, 51, reveals that he was born in what was then Leningrad, USSR, and was recruited by the KGB in his early 20's. (After the Soviet Union collapsed, the KGB program that employed Stankopov continued under Russia's new spy agency, the SVR) The young Russian then spent several years in Moscow training to mimic and exploit the basest, most repugnant stereotypes of American redneck culture.

In 1991, armed with only a guitar and a fictional Oklahoma back story, Agent Stankopov was planted in Nashville, TN to begin his assignment: A career in Country music. After establishing success in this entertainment field, Keith was to begin incorporating the belligerent jingoism and political ignorance that the singer is now so well-known for.

When asked why he's admitting this today, Keith says, "I just can't take it anymore. I need to clear my conscience. I never expected the American public to be this brain-dead and gullible. It's like taking candy from a baby. There's no challenge in it anymore. The stupidity in this country astounds me. If I have to keep this charade up any longer, I think I'll lose my fucking mind... Look, I've done my part for Mother Russia. The American empire is in irreversible decline. Now I'm ready to quit and get the fuck out of here. I'd really like to see my mother in Viborgskiy before she dies."

When asked what the Russian operative's specific goals were, he said, "It was twofold. One - To make Americans look as ugly, arrogant, and xenophobic as possible to the rest of the world, thus turning world opinion against the US and in favor of Russia and her allies. Two - To increase American public support for costly military misadventures overseas. That's what all those flag-waving ass-kicking bullshit songs were about. You know, 'we'll stick a boot in your ass, it's the American way'. I'm particularly ashamed of that one. But it did the job, didn't it? Thousands of your men died needlessly while your treasury was decimated. There's a reason they call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires. You guys suckered us into that quagmire back in the 70's and 80's. So we figured we'd do the same to you. I just didn't think it would be so damn easy. You dumb-ass Americans have the memory of a goldfish."

But what about the music? As Toby Keith, the Russian agent has sold over 50 million records in his two-decade career and charted twenty #1 Country hit singles. "Honestly, I can't stand playing that crap. I never put a minute's thought into any of the songs I wrote. I was trained how to use the contemporary country songwriting formula and that's what I did. I just kept writing the same shit over and over again and re-packaging it into a new album every year. Take, for example, my big hit song last year, 'Red Solo Cup'. If you threw a microphone in front of any average 10-year old, I guarantee you they could improvise something on the spot that's just as good. And just as intelligent. Yet you Americans bought that shit by the truckload like it was something special. In Russia we have a saying -  What the fuck?!?"

Because Stankopov, as Keith, engaged in no actual espionage during his 20-year assignment in the US, no charges will be brought against him. He plans to return permanently to Russia by the end of next week. The singer's label, Universal Music, could not be reached for comment.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM PDT

How to Win the Wisconsin Recalls

by AndrewR9

In the latest letter from DFA all their subscribers received, Kaili Lambe first tells us, "A new poll out this week shows right-wing Gov. Scott Walker just a few points ahead. But more importantly -- it shows there are virtually no undecided voters left in the recall race".

True. But then Kaili prescribes this as the solution:
"This is a base election and whoever best turns out their supporters wins".

This makes no sense. Kaili correctly points out that Walker's base is now larger than ours. But then suggests that all we need to do is get out our base to win.
Am I the only one who notices the fallacious logic there?

Trust me, Walker's supporters are just as passionate and committed as we are, and they will have no trouble turning out their base. All we have to do is look at the 2011 Recall results (when Walker's support was lower than it is now!) to know this is true.
So if we resign ourselves to having only a "base election" - WE WILL LOSE.

First off, we need to ask ourselves: How did Walker's base of support grow so large? How did Walker get to 50% approval, with ever-growing approval amongst independents? Even with so much intense and passionate opposition to him from our side?

The answer is crystal clear and should provide an obvious lesson to all of us:
Unlike us, the Walker campaign and it's supporters ventured outside of their existing base and put enormous focus on messaging and persuasion of the majority of voters who are persuadable. And this has produced incredibly successful results for Walker & his GOP allies.

In other words, the very reason there are almost no undecideds left is because Walker took them all to his side. So for us to win, we need to get them back! (and then some)

This should be obvious to all the professionals at DFA, We Are Wisconsin, & the Dem party but shockingly & distressingly isn't.

Mark my words: If all we do is focus solely on our base, while Walker continues to GROW his base, we will lose all 6 recall elections on June 5th.

It doesn't have to be that way. We CAN turn this around in time. But to do that, we need to employ smart, strategic actions to persuade not just the few remaining undecideds, but even a good chunk of Walker's current base. Think about it: A lot of Walker's base used to be undecided before the pro-Walker propaganda persuaded them. We can get them back!

But how, you might ask?
I offer several ideas here:
Don't like my ideas? Fine. Come up with better ones. And use them.
After all, what do I know? I'm just a high-school dropout. I'm sure the well-educated pros at DFA and the Dem campaign leadership could come up with some great ideas for expanding the base if they simply saw the urgent necessity of it. Why don't they???


Am I wrong?

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| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 02:09 PM PDT

What's Really Going On Here?

by AndrewR9

I wrote this piece because I've been frustrated by the scarcity of material written by progressives with the purpose of persuading conservatives and undecideds. So much of our writing is directed only at the choir.
So I'd like to offer this as an example of something that can be sent to one's Republican/conservative friends, family, co-workers, etc. Feel free to use it as your own or to edit, expand, or change it as you wish.
And if you have similar ideas, please share them.


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Last year, a month before the predictably disastrous 2010 midterms, I posted my first diary urging us to focus more on outreach strategies and less on preaching to the choir/calling only the base, and I warned that if we didn't start implementing creative outreach strategies, we would lose big.
Nobody listened.

I even included a poll where 57% disagreed with me and thought that mobilizing the base through calls and canvassing would be enough to hold both houses.
Clearly, they were wrong.

And unfortunately, I was right.

But have the Dem campaigns learned anything from that failure?
Here in Wisconsin, apparently not.
In the lost judicial race (Prosser/Kloppenburg) and in the just lost Recall elections, all that the Dems and the Union groups could think to do was the same old predictable phonebanking and canvassing (i.e. - annoying the base over and over again while they're trying to eat dinner until they can't stand you anymore). In fact, they actively discouraged doing anything else! The poverty of imagination within the Dem campaigns is truly disheartening.

And when I begged and pleaded with the campaigns to try newer, better strategies (like the ideas in my previous diary), they blew me off. One campaign manager even insisted that "the research shows that canvassing and phonebanking are the most productive ways to increase voter turnout".
Uh, how would you know if you've never tried anything else?
And how's that "most productive" strategy working out for ya lately? As Dems rack up loss after humiliating loss?

When will we ever learn? The Republicans have. Long ago. And that's why they keep handing us our asses. The GOP has been much smarter and more strategic in their efforts these last 40 years and that's how they've managed to move this country so far to the right. Shortly after the Lewis Powell memo of 1971, the GOP realized the importance of persuasion, of getting their message out beyond the base, and changing the public's mind. And it's been working brilliantly for them. When will the Dems ever learn this lesson?

Our #1 Priority needs to be:
Reaching out beyond the base! Changing hearts and minds. With messaging tailored to both the undecided and resistant voter. And with open dialogue and debate. Thus increasing the size of our base, so that our base is bigger than their base. Then we win elections.
D'uh, right? Shouldn't this be a no-brainer?
So why are we doing everything but that???

We have the most powerful weapon on our side:
The Truth.

So why aren't we wielding it?
Why aren't we challenging and debunking right-wing propaganda (on radio, in print, online, and in person) every chance we get instead of just preaching to the choir and patting ourselves on the back for being amongst the enlightened few?
Why aren't we reaching out to independents and undecideds? Why aren't we approaching Tea Partiers and offering to meet/debate/dialogue with them in a friendly and civil manner? Instead of just shouting at them from across the street at counter-protests, which only serves to harden their resolve.

It's the very powerful, pervasive, and well-organized right-wing lie machine and the hateful polarization it causes that's destroying our country and turning the Dems' natural constituency (the working poor and middle-class) against us. We need to start thinking and fighting back a lot more creatively if we ever expect to turn the tide in any significant and long-lasting way.

I'm going to include the same poll I used a year ago. Let's see if the results are any different...


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