If you were to guess which of the following publications this graphic came from which would you choose?
The answer and some , maybe, hopeful news on the flip..
The answer to the question is , the Readers' Digest. The underlying story leads with this:
[Cross posted at TexasKaos]
Outrageous! Politicians Kissing Up for Cash
When politicians and big donors get cozy, the rest of us end up paying for their sweetheart deal
We've come to a point where no candidate for office can be competitive without a personal fortune or access to many wealthy people ... When you follow the money and the tiny fraction of mostly wealthy Americans who donate it, you understand gas prices, health care, student loans, taxation, defense contracting and pretty much every other policy in a whole new light.
You don't need a map to know that Florida is a long way from Alaska. But that didn't stop Don Young, a Republican and Alaska's lone Congressman, from making a February 2005 trip to the Sunshine State for a fund-raiser that added $40,000 to his political coffers. Among the hosts: a wealthy Florida developer with an interest in a transportation bill drawn up by a committee Young chaired.
Shortly after the event, that bill got a little tweak -- slipped in after Congress approved the legislation but before the President signed it. Ten million dollars originally meant for general improvements to Florida's Interstate 75 was earmarked for building an interchange at a specific spot, along Coconut Road. The site just happens to sit near 4,000 acres owned by that Florida developer -- property that's likely to soar in value if the interchange is built.
Look at the 2008 White House race, shaping up to be the most money-soaked ever. The cost of TV advertising alone could reach $3 billion. That puts huge pressure on candidates to take cash from wherever -- whomever -- they can.
Obama comes in for some shots as well, but the lead is a Republican and I don't know if that would have been true in 1985 for two reasons. One, the Dems still had a stronghold in the House and were awash in their own complacent fat-catism. Additionally, the decades of Republican organization and planning was now paying off. They controlled the White House and Reagan was very popular, indeed his critics called him the Teflon president. No gaffe stuck to him, no evidence of his gross incompetence could survive a Republican backlash against the offending media outlet. Increasingly , stories in the MSM were told with Republican framings - Government corruption, welfare queens, evil empires, government incompetence were the reigning presumptions.
I can't pull up back issues of either Reader's Digest or my other bell weather publication, Parade Magazine. As I recall they echoed to their largely working and middle class audiences exactly these themes. With apologies to Lord Grey (he speaking just before the outbreak of WWI), it appeared to me that "The lamps are going out all over America and Europe; and that we would not see them lit again in our lifetime."
What had happened was the Republicans had joined an electoral victory witha cultural and intellectual offensive based in their think tanks (Heritage,AEl, etc) that succeeded in redefining how the media covered political events. In the heyday of the Great Society, the frame was liberal. The stories persumed that government could and should act to hold corporations accountable, to advance the cause of social justice and racial equity. By 1985 that was all a thing of the past. Richard Murray had told us that the New Deal and Great Society had actually ruined us.
"In the early 1980s, the Manhattan Institute sponsored and heavily promoted two publications that urged the elimination of federal anti-poverty programs. George Gilder's book, Wealth and Poverty, contended that poverty was the result of personal irresponsibility coupled with government programs that rewarded and encouraged it; Charles Murray's Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 extended the argument, stating that AFDC and other anti-poverty programs reduced marriage incentives, discouraged workers from accepting low-wage jobs, and encouraged out-of-wedlock births among low income teenage and adult women. These books were followed by Lawrence Mead's Beyond Entitlement: The Social Obligations of Citizenship, which blamed governments for perpetuating poverty by failing to require welfare recipients to work."
So, what about today? If the Reader's Digest and Parade Magazine were bell weather indicators of the defeat of liberal framing then what are these indicators saying now?
I looked at both these publications over the last year or so. Here is what I found:
Readers' Digest stories framed favorably to progressive change: 95%
Parade Stories and coverages framed favorably to progressive change 76%.
The change was most dramatically illustrated in my survey of the weekly Parade Magazine. The tide turned in April and simply exploded progressive by my analysis.
This is all very unscientific and impressionistic. I know that. I counted as favorable for progressive change stories that skewered corporate abuses, covered Democratic personages favorable, called the Iraq war into question, spoke favorably of environmental causes. I counted against the progressive causes reportage and stories that quoted administration/Republican persons favorably or without any balancing challenges, that put their framing on these the issues in the last sentence.
So what does all this mean? If I am right, Bush and the Boyz have so tarnished the Republican/Conservative brand that the public discourse and framing of these middle to working class publications are now echoing the change. They are preparing the boarder population for a sea change progressive election in 2008.
Here are some of he headlines from the Readers' Digest:
Do voting machines work as well as they should?
If you eat organic, recycle, and do your best to conserve water and electricity, you're already an eco hero in our eyes!
Read more about the environmental toll of bottled water
Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires ( Well I said they were not favorable!)
The Heroes of the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse
A Tragedy Waiting to Happen
It didn’t look like a bridge. No towering arches or majestic cables. Just a seamless stretch of concrete. But this section of Interstate 35W connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul was one of the most heavily traveled spans across the Mississippi—141,000 vehicles crossed it daily. Beneath its smooth surface, however, cracks and corrosion and weight and weather had slowly transformed the bridge into a tragedy waiting to happen. On Wednesday, August 1, at 6:08 p.m., at the height of rush hour, it collapsed.
Is Your Boss Spying on You?
A wave of refugees is bringing new life to a dying American town.
Let me end with two comments in one of the reader response sections. Granted these are online and most of the readers of these publications are not netizens, still that these went unchallenged strikes me as significant.
Comments attached to article, April ,08 : Outrageous! Politicians Kissing Up for Cash
When Nancy Reagan explained her opposition to the replacement of FDR with her late husband on the dime, she said that Ronnie considered FDR to have been the greatest president of the 20th century (probably the only thing he and I ever agreed about). The fact that he released capitalism from its control by democracy (the "deregulation" scam) shows just how cynical he was in serving his corporate puppet masters.
When democracy controls capitalism, everybody benefits; when capitalism controls democracy, fascists benefit.