Instead of:

  1. "Intelligent Design" use "Ignorant Denial".
  2. "Intellectual Property" use "Intellectual Capital"
  3. "Digital Rights Management" use "Digital Rent Management"
  4. "Tax Cuts", use "Revenue Reductions"
  5. "Conservative" use "Reactionary"
  6. "Borrow and Spend" use "Borrow and Squander"
  7. "Mainstream Media" use "Top Down Media"
  8. "Pro-Choice" use "Pro-privacy"
  9. "Abortion rights" use "Privacy Rights"
  10. "Wealthy" use "Privileged"
  11. "Free Trade" use "Labor Arbitrage"
  12. "Tax" use "Recapture"
  13. "A Tax", use "a drag"
  14. "Christian Right", use "Christianist Right"
  15. "War in Iraq", unless you mean the entire cycle, "Occupation of Iraq"
  16. "Social Security Crisis" use "Budget Crisis"
  17. "Defense spending" use "military spending"
  18. "Capitalism", use "Corporatism".
  19. "Corporate", use "Pyramid"
  20. "Social" use  "Public" or "National"
  21. "Bush Administration" use "Bush Executive"
  22. "Fiscal Liberal" use "Fiscal Libertine"
  23. "Alternative Energy" use "Sustainable Energy"

All the whys below the fold.

1. Ignorant Denial

There is nothing more obvious than not using an enemies positve frame, but instead using a negative frame for the same concept. Behe and Dembski don't study intelligent design, they couldn't pick out genetically modified corn, artificial selection for a pesticide or any other sign of human intervention in the environment going on right now - they promote "ignorant denial". Since that is their job, let's say so.

2. Intelllectual Capital

Property is a paradigm, property is yours forever. However, the US constitution treats some classes of creative work, not as property, that is, not an intrinsic right under the constitution, but as a monopoly granted for public purposes by Congress. That is, under the constitution, there is no such thing as Intellectual Property, and this is spelled out in black letter terms.

Capital is something that must constantly be improved, and whose value is determined by the market. Since the important societal purpose is to press for creative work, and not for protecting the pipes, there is no social value to "Intellectual Property". More over the "IP" tag is hypocritcal. If copyright industry demands an absolute right to have the society track the bits they are said to own, but ordinary people are not being given one jot of protection if someone steals their intellectual work, or objects that are licensed. Someone steals your iPod - which is valuable because of a license you purchased, good luck in getting the DCMA to be enforced - its vanished into the air. In otherwords, priveleged groups have a right to the bits, but they want to treat your rights as being attached to the object. This is a tremendous, and absurd, disparity in "rights" before the law, because consumers are then told they cannot use the object in anyway they see fit.

3. Digital Rents

This is also a straight shot. Rights are good, people want rights to be expanded. But the copyright industry's expansion of their legal power isn't increasing rights, that is protections of people, but reducing them for most people. "Fair use" is a right, and yet, by definition, expansion of copyright industry privileges and monopolies reduces your rights as an individual.

This means that we are not seeing a management of rights - because software protections do nothing to ensure "fair use" or other rights of consumers - but instead the enforcement of "rents", without regard to their actual legality or constitutionality. People don't like rents they pay, and they don't like renting their culture from others.

4. Revenue Reductions

A tax cut requires that there be an actual reduction in spending, or a corresponding increase in other taxes, or an increase in efficiency - say by reducing corruption. Even Robert Barro - the most import right wing macro-economist of the last 30 years - admits that revenue reductions in the present imply, to rational economic actors - tax increases in the future, with interest. If the right wing can admit this, why shouldn't we say it?

5. Reactionary

As even many conservatives are beginning to realize, the Bush executive is not conservative. It isn't interested in smaller government, it isn't interested in truly lower taxes, it isn't interested in doing more with less, it isn't interested in reason, reduction of interference in personal rights by the government. Quite the contrary, it is doing less with more, raising the size and scope of the Federal government, creating new entitlements, and bloating the defense budget.

Conservative is something people think is good, conservative planning, conservative estimates, conservative statements - all imply discretion, caution, care, planning, attention to detail - which the current crowd in control isn't. By shattering the conservative reactionary bond, it will de-energize or even flip one of the most potent group of attack dogs the right wing has had. We aren't going to get the libertarians and rock ribbers to love Democrats any time soon, but we can get the middle of the country to stop identifying with the Republicans, and the libertarians to become the right wing equivalent of the Greens, people who hate the center party because they see it standing in the way of their version of their wing of the political spectrum.

6. Borrow and Squander

This again, should be a no brainer. We haven't gotten spending, we've gotten cronyism and corruption. "What has the government done for you lately?" is the question we have to get people to ask, and realize that the answer is "high gas prices".

This isn't a new realization, Bob Rubin was calling it "Borrow and Squander" some 4 years ago. If he can say it, we should too.

7. Top Down Media

One simple rule is never to use the other guy's frame. You use the Gingrichian "Democrat" as an adjective do you? So what is this with the devotion to "Mainstream Media"? What, you don't want to be the mainstream?

The reality is that if you look at the times that "mainstream media" has shown up in the major news outlets, it has been because of a right wing attack on the narrative. The "mainstream media" over reported mayhem at the Superdome is the latest example.

While nailing oneself to a cross may feel good when you feel like you are on the outside, the reality is that winning power in a Democracy means being the majority. The right wing believes that they will always hold power by deception, force, guile and militancy - we don't. We believe that if the public were well informed, that most of the time they would choose progressive government and progressive solutions.

If you want to be the majority, it is necessary to marginalize your opponents. People don't like feeling like they are on the bottom, heck, KFC is even selling insta-smeared chicken as "You are in charge!" Mainstream implies lots of ordinary people choosing something. Top Down implies a big ugly them forcing it.

Which do you think is a better frame for getting the large media outlets to change their tune in our direction?

8. Pro-privacy

There is an orphaned amendment to the Constitution, namely the 14th Amendment. It grants sweeping rights to Americans - and has been systematically gutted for 140 years. The right to privacy is part of that 14th Amendment's assurances. It says that states cannot take away rights that the national citizen has, even if that citizen is "resident" in a state.

The reality is that the last 30 years have seen the Republicans take control by telling Americans that the Republicans will limit the excesses of liberalism - and so a coalition of conservative and reactionary is formed. The reality is the Republicans take that mandate to ram through a radical vision of society. It is essential to convince Americans that there must, instead, be a coalition of the sane against the insane.

To do this requires that they feel that rights they are clear about are under threat. Americans are queasy about their daughters having sex, and abortion. If the fight seems to be over that, they will vote insane every time, because these are issues that they are emotional about, not rational. However, if the issue is their own right to their own lives, they will vote the other way, because they don't want a three in the bed with the local district attorney.

9. Privileged

This is one of the most important. People want to be wealthy, even rich. Wealthy is a good thing. It implies to Americans that someone worked hard and got rewarded. Privileged is a bad thing. People know they aren't privileged, and even if they are, they don't want to think of themselves that way. Never, ever, ever, talk about the rich or the wealthy - Americans want to be both, and can be convinced to vote to be nice to rich people as a way of increasing their chances of being rich. Being nice to the privileged, however, implies corruption, cronyism and closed back room deals.

Americans don't like those, they know they aren't in on them.

10. Labor Arbitrage.

I am a free trader, but free trade isn't what we've gotten. NAFTA is hated by many, but its effects for the US have been largely positive. Many of the people who hate NAFTA the most are people who have been helped the most - they think that jobs moved to Canada and Mexico would be here in the US, where as the reality is that without NAFTA, both would have been moved to China.

Be that as it may, we haven't seen any free trade for some time. Instead, what we are seeing is simply labor arbitrage. In free trade, investment should have flowed out of the US, instead, it flows in. In free trade, US manufacturing jobs should have shifted to other manufacturing jobs - instead  they have shifted to construction jobs, which are not something that competes with the outside world. In free trade, American technology jobs should be shifting to competitive places, instead, they have been shifting to internal defense work.

CAFTA is the crowning insult, it isn't "free trade" but a copyright agreement. And WIPO will be even worse. The reality is that there are core developed states, states they have to buy from like China and Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the world that is being squeezed to pay for it.

11. Recapture

Recapture is the public recapturing the economic value of public investment - more roads that lead to more activity need to be paid for. The government has several information advantages over businesses for investment. One of these is that it can recapture value that a corporation might not be able to. A business plan has to not only create value, but force people to pay for it, a public investment plan merely needs to prove that it will produce more activity on the other side that shows up as income, which allows it to recapture the value.

The reactionary paradigm is that everything government does is free and invisible, and paying for it is a grevious burden. As if we came to this continent and found an interstate high ways system already in place.

Use "tax" only for those occasions when you mean that the government wants to discourage the activity. Sin taxes for example. Or the sex tax. Or the poverty tax to apply to higher risks imposed on poor people by government policy, like say being uninsured.

Hence, not "Estate tax" but "Estate recapture" - paying the public back for the chance to have been rich.

12. "A Drag"

This fits with the above. Right wingers love to call anything which blocks economic progress "a tax". In reality - hard economic terms - it is only a tax if the government is benefiting.  Inflation can be a tax, if the government is improving its net economic position by the inflation, but not otherwise.

13. Christianist

People would like to be more Christian, they don't want to be more crazy. The sooner Americans understand that Roberts and people like him don't represent better versions of themselves that they aspire to be more like, but instead an alien culture which is based on misreadings of old texts and the genuine belief that we would all be better off in 1000 BC, the better.

14. Occupation

We aren't at war with a counter order - we are occupying Iraq. The issue isn't war in Iraq, since the war is over, but our occupation of a country which is now involved in a civil war that we ignited. The probability is that, as with Cambodia, our intervention is going to have truly nasty consequences, but our occupation isn't going to change the likelihood of their happening.

People don't like to think of America as an occupying power, you don't win occupations, you survive them. War is football, war is competition, defeating the evil dewers in favor of Johnny Walker - sorry couldn't resist the drinking metaphor with an alcoholic executive.

15. Budget Crisis

This is simple reality, Social Security isn't the problem, it is that social security has been funded by consumption taxes, yes taxes because they are supposed to reduce inflationary pressure at the consumer level, and these have been pillaged to pay for operating expenses in an environment of revenue reductions. The crisis isn't with social security, it is with how we are not paying for current spending.

16. Military.

Most of the money isn't being spent on "defense".

17. Corporatism

As much as this is going to pain so very vocal people on the hard left, Karl Marx is not now, nor is he ever going to be, a great hero to Americans. Nor is Lenin. Mao and Stalin are right out. While in intellectual circles it will be reasonable to talk about Marx and Lenin as part of intellectual and political tradition - Marx was, if nothing else, an important classical economist in the tradition of Smith, Riccardo, Malthus and Mills - they are not going to be popular icons.

Similarly, the demonization of Adam Smith is a fruitless politica project. In fact, if you read Adam Smith, his problem is very similar to our own: he faces a monarchical oligarchy which corruptly feeds its friends, squelches industry in favor of monopoly, while getting bogged down into an unpopular occupation of a distant land which has grown a native rebellion. He is far more like a modern liberal than a modern conservative or modern reactionary. He believed in taxing ground rents, breaking up monopolies, public education and a host of other virtues that would be recognizable to modern progressives. While he has been coöpted as an icon of looter-faire, he wasn't. More over, he founded an intellectual tradition which was intensely hostile to large concentrations of wealth. People on the left might revile Riccardo for coming up with comparative advantage - the theory which drives free trade - but Riccardo called land lords "parasites", and was a good deal more hostile to crony monopolism than you might expect.

The right wing has pulled a fallacy of equivocation, they argue that since Smith was suspicious of his government, and they hate their government, therefore Smith was a right wing nut. Instead, Smith's George is very much like ours - fitfully sane and commanding enough to stick to bad decisions, and often off his rocker.

And honestly, the powers that be aren't capitalists. They aren't holding power by superior capital, but by collusive arrangements, protections passed into law, back door agreements, no bid contracts. All things familiar to the Earl of Sandwich. Yes that one, the man who started ordering meat between slices of bread so he could continue to gamble without stopping to eat and without getting grease on his fingers. He was a war profiteer who built inferior ships for the British navy and pocketed the difference. Were he alive now, he'd be Vice-President Sandwich. Which makes me wonder what culinary innovation we will get from Dick Cheney.

Thus we need a word. Plutocracy doesn't roll off the tongue, and it greek to Americans anyway. Stonger words don't work, because they aren't believable. It may seem strange that, just as with Christian, adding "ism" makes a good thing bad. But that is the reality. People want Christianity, but they don't want it to run their every waking moment. People like corporations - the root for them on the baseball diamond every summer, get their paychecks from them, and festoon themselves with corporate logos - but they don't like the idea that corporations run them.

18. Pyramid

Another tough one. On the hard left, corporate has become the replacement for capitalist as the all purpose "them" perjorative. People like corporations, because corporations pay them. It's really simple. The corporate system isn't going away any time soon. It needs a major overhaul, for the reasons pointed out by Berle and Means in "The Modern Corporation and Private Property", but it isn't going to be obliterated. Small may be beautiful, but size sometimes matters.

However, people don't like the idea of a large group of people that they carry around on their backs. Top Down is a perjorative across the political spectrum, and it coöpts all the anti-big government, antu-bureaucracy memework that the right wing has done. Convince people that burdensome big is bad, in whatever form, and we are a long way to breaking up the idea that piratization of the government will solve our problems.

19. Social

Socialism is a swear word in America. Social is also phonetically soft. Soft is bad to Americans, they believe they have to be tough to take the abuse of dead end jobs and hard conditions, so they think of socialism as softism. This ties in with the big mommy meme - namely, the left is a soft nanny state of womanly permissiveness, as opposed to the masculine hard edged decisiveness of the Republican Party and the Reasonable Realists of the Right. The win is not to have a "mommy state", but instead to convince Americans that the left and the Democratic Party are the "good father" against the Republicans abusie "drunk dad."

Social, for this reason, has to be used carefully, as a way of softening hard ideas - the way Social softens Security. But in general it should be eschewed in favor of Public and National - two words which are strong, have powerful Americanist overtones, and which are inclusive rather than exclusive. Society is still "themish" to Americans, rather than "the public" that they are part of.

20. Executive

This is an important shift. First, the word is technically correct, and for the first half of the history of the Republic, the word "executive" is used more than "adminstration". Lincoln referred to the constitutional role of the executive. In short, it is a 100% unobjectionable word.

Yet it has two important points. One is it denies legitimacy. There are many people, including former President Jimmy Carter, who have stated publically that the 2000 election was incorrectly decided. Which is a nice way of saying stolen. An "administration" and a Presidency confer a legitimacy which is eroding underneath Bush. While the 2004 election makes it difficult to have the same 'tudinal stance with respect to Bush's tenure as the executive - it is still semantically correct, while being politically incorrect.

The second point is that it reinforces the corporatist meme. Corporations have Chief Executive Officers. The "Bush is an out of touch CEO" meme is spreading fast, and there is no reason not to help it along.

21. Fiscal Libertine

The conservatives, having hammered America with their absurd fantasy that there is a continent full of indians to kill to expand the American economy into - are now trying to blame Bush on liberalism. Again, we aren't going to get the looney tunes Libertarians to like Democrats or real liberalism. For them liberalism ended back when liberals wore wigs and owned slaves. However, it is essential to differentiate Bush from "liberalism". As is often case, the right wing wants a fallacy of equivocation. They want "liberal" to mean - free spending - and then confuse that with the liberalism of the 20th century, whose root is freedom, not profligacy.

Fortunately the genius of English is that it has, or will steal, the right word for anything. Bush isn't a liberal, not in his policies, approach or ideas, but he is a libertine - licentiousness for his cronies has run riot, and there is a pervasive permissiveness in the White House towards all sins. Moderation in pursuit of sanity is not their virtue, and the country is caught in a vice of their extremism in pursuit of corruption.

22. Sustainable

Alternative implies something that is rough edged, but has some small advantage that you can't get from the supermarket. It is "not ready for prime time" by definition. Crude, or at least unrefined. As we used to say in my college years, its "granola", which is one step more acceptable than "hempy" - meaning really of the beaten track.

The reality is that our energy system isn't looking for "alternatives" to the extraction economy and the carbon based energy system, it is looking for a fundamentally different paradigm and measure of real efficiency. The real fight is a sustainable economy against an extraction economy. The right wing wants to dump trillions into keeping the extraction economy alive for one more generation, so long as you and I foot the bill. The argument "it's not sustainable" is powerful, because it tells people that unless they are 65 year olds with millions of dollars and a heart condition, it might give out at any time underneath them, and it is a waste.

Originally posted to Stirling Newberry on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:20 AM PDT.

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