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One of the quirks of my personality (yes, I know you thought my whole personality was the quirks) is that I tend to think that nothing I do well is particularly unique. I am under the impression that everyone can write, that baking is a merely a matter of reading and that if people took the time everyone could analyze stacks of data and come to a rational understanding of how inputs and process interact to determine output quality. These are all skills that I have spent a little time and effort to develop, so I figure anyone could duplicate what I have done.

Where I don’t expect people to be like me is in what they think. I assume that people are going to be of a different mind on some issues than me, we are all different in experience and temperament, so how in the world could we be similar in our views, even in large numbers? Yet the Republican base and many of its elected officials can’t seem to get their heads around the idea that most of the nation does not agree with them and their agenda.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

Take Sen. Cornyn’s assertion that the public's view of the criminal former President Bush is rising. It is not even close to empirically true. Take a look at this chart from Brendan Nyhan of the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) of the approval rating of President Bush from the various news organizations.

6a00d83451d25c69e201348589fa56970c-450wi

Even those polled by Fox news, the unabashed mouth-piece for the Republican Party, have found that the former President is not worthy of their approval. This is not the only place where Republicans fail to understand what the nation is really saying when it is polled. Right before the HCR bill was completed the Republicans were going around saying that a majority of the people did not want this bill passed. What they failed to recognize was the large percentages of Liberals and Progressives who were willing to let the bill die because it did not go far enough. It was not that the people did not want HCR, they wanted more.

There is also the Republican faux obsession with the deficit and the national debt. The issue of extending unemployment benefits has them up in arms about our trillion dollar plus deficit and our 14 trillion dollar debt. Yet for all the talk that the American people are concerned about it, recent polls have shown conclusively that the people want these extensions and want them now.

This contrasts shockingly to the Republicans adamant position that the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (the top 2% of all earners, if you aren’t making a million plus a year, this isn’t you!)  including allowing no taxes to be paid on billion dollar plus estates’ must be extending and made permanent. The fact that it will put $55 billion a year back into the coffers of a cash strapped nation seems to be a real problem for them. Not to mention the on-going cognitive dissonance of claiming that revenue you don’t collect pays for itself through some visit form the Tax Fairy.

All of this leads to the question, how can they believe and say these things in the face of reality? Chalk it up to the idea of epistemic closure. Not the technical term but the usage coined by blogger Juan Sanchez. This is idea that there is a narrowing of the belief of anything but the preferred source of information. On the Right this defines itself as a total faith in Fox News and other conservative sources like the Drudge Report and Red State.

It is not that they do not look at other media, but rather that conservatives have a bed-rock belief that other media is biased and can not be trusted. So while you might see some conservatives reading Daily Kos or Fire Dog Lake or watch MSNBC or CNN  they are not there for a new opinion but rather to confirm their belief that these places are all hopelessly and completely biased against reality. This means every time there is something that challenges their world view, it only feeds into the idea that these sources can not be trusted.

We know for sure that the conservative media outlets influence Congressional Republicans, if only from the way that Reps and Senators will quote the wacky and completely incorrect conspiracy theories from these outlets. The idea that China is exploring for oil off the coast of Cuba is one that has been debunked time and again, yet we have Republicans like Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida who claim they are doing so.

The conservative movement has just about shut itself off from reality. The danger in such a closure is not only does the policy that comes out of it fail to match reality, but there is an amplification of intensity. The echo chamber is great for making your message seem more important than it really is, but when the chamber is closed, the echoes amplify each other becoming louder and louder. This is what is going on inside the Republican Party right now.

They see the anger of the Tea Party section of their base and think that just because the rest of the nation is unhappy too that the reasons for the anger are the same. This is a mistake brought on from their information closure. However what is really dangerous about this anger is the echo effect. We are seeing more and more instances of conservatives who live in epistemic closure getting so angry they lash out violently at society. From the man who flew his plane into the IRS building to the man involved in a shoot out with police in Oakland, Bryon Williams, all have something in common; they are believers that the nation is being taken over by Socialists. As much as my Socialist friends would love that,  it is so far from reality to make them laugh and weep at the same time.

This meme is one that is hit on a daily basis by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh but it is not only these "shock-talk" hosts. Elected officials like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Jon Kyl are willing to say the same and not even question the validity of it nor the danger presenting such a warped view of reality presents. This makes sense if they are all living in the same information bubble and can not or will not accept new data that might contradict their position.

Conservatives are not the only ones who suffer from the failure to accept new data. Everyone of us knows someone who holds a belief that is contradicted by the facts. The difference that I see is that liberals don’t have a single orthodoxy like the conservatives do. Without organizing principles like less taxes and smaller government that is the hall conservatism, liberals are more likely to think for themselves or at least be open to the idea that they don’t have a lock on the truth. Of course that is a generalization and so it will be wrong in certain specific cases, but in the main it seems to be true.

What, then, can be done when a large segment of the population and the political party associated with it has closed itself off from reality? I just don’t know. Without the ability to process information that you don’t like there can be no compromise and no growth. The good news is that the increasing the intensity of purity inside the bubble will drive more and more folks willing to talk about the facts, not just their version of the facts, out into the larger reality. The bad news is there is a certain hard core that will never be convinced. They are angry, they believe their nation is being overrun and they accept that they are in the wrong.

This is the cost of allowing a propaganda machine to grow in your nation. The success of talk radio and Fox News in spouting right wing view points has left us in a state where there is a significant minority of the nation who can not be reached by facts or reason.

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:22 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (23+ / 0-)

    Ideas on how to break into the echo chamber that will let reality flow in?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:21:52 AM PDT

    •  Dems MUST claim some sort of media outlet (7+ / 0-)

      The GOP has the bulk of it.

      Of course, it is the nature of conservatives that they want to hear somebody else tell them what to thing, while liberals want to talk about what they think.

      Dems and liberal think "another world is possible"

      Conservatives think "I can steal this world and do what I want: who the fuck is going to stop me"?

      Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:41:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is the problem in a nut shell, there is (4+ / 0-)

        not really a critical mass of liberals who will adhere to a single channel. Sure MSNBC has moved direction in prime time but even there not every liberal likes Keith and Rachel, et al.

        The real issue is that other news outlets should call each other on their shoddy work. As long as they are not willing to call each other out, they look like they are all about the same level of veracity.

        Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

        by Something the Dog Said on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:44:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I Don't See How a Reality-Based Major Outlet Is (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        liberalis, millwood, Aquagranny911

        possible, never mind progressive.

        Any business large enough to reach mainstream audiences must be a large corporation. Corporations in the communication business have their own special Constitutional freedom from virtually everything, including responsibility to the interests people or any kind of rationality (other than libel).

        They've got to promote the corporate agenda.

        I don't see where it can be physically possible to have journalistic news serving large mainstream audiences under the 1st Amendment.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:50:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          liberalis, millwood

          Capitalist propaganda cannot tolerate truth or reality.

          Dems aren't going to grab that tiger by the tail.

          Not when they, too, are enriched by the beast.

          Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:00:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly, a Dem media outlet would have no (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said, millwood

        effect on rightwingers who live happily (well, at least smugly) in their disinformation bubble - that 30% of the electorate is lost for good.  Even now, as the diary mentioned, they watch CNN (!) and MSNBC to gather "proof" that media outside their bubble is distorted and untrustworthy.  If anything, Dem media would provide even more "proof" for their goofy and wrong-headed reality.

        Perhaps a Dem media outlet could at least provide a forum for progressive ideas and a counterweight to Fox message machine.  Maybe centrist/left politicians would not be drawn off course by Fox framing and the MSM would be pulled in two directions, not just list to the right.

        Not that corporate money would like this concept, but money will go where money can be made. Perhaps MSNBC will continue to move left. Fantasy:  Jon Stewart starts a cable news outlet.  It would be profane, intelligent, outrageous, unpredictable, chaotic, and sublime!

  •  More and more, the conservative in Congress ... (5+ / 0-)

    ... remind me of King Louis in the movie "Start the Revolution Without Me" -- especially the part where he shows up at the ball wearing a chicken costume and telling everybody "I thought it was costume party." I'm hoping that, like Marie Antoinette, the voters say "I changed my mind."

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:37:34 AM PDT

  •  Nan and Harry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    millwood, Aquagranny911

    allowed Bush to leave office without any charges.

    NAn became Bush's bodyguard - she took it upon her self to single-handedly ensure Bush was not soiled by any of the charges he earns during his crimewave of a presidency.

    Even those polled by Fox news, the unabashed mouth-piece for the Republican Party, have found that the former President is not worthy of their approval. This is not the only place where Republicans fail to understand what the nation is really saying when it is polled.

    Every day Bush walks free is a reminder that Dems are masters of snatching defeat from the mouth of victory.

    Democrats are soft on crime, at least when it is from a minority like the GOP.

    This is the cost of allowing a propaganda machine to grow in your nation. The success of talk radio and Fox News in spouting right wing view points has left us in a state where there is a significant minority of the nation who can not be reached by facts or reason.

    Dems have not risen to the occasion by finding a way to control some segment of the American Media. The Repubs have the lion's share and use it powerfully.

    I guess they are afraid of being called names if they do something, you know, successfully.

    Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:39:32 AM PDT

  •  First: speak up! (3+ / 0-)

    people need to ditch the quaint notion that politics aren't discussed in polite company.  People need to assert the facts of the situation in family and neighborhood gatherings- whenever lots of people are gathered in one place.  No need to get all up in anybody's grille; just quietly make points designed to puncture bubbles and move on.  I would be willing to bet that in any group of people you are a part of, several people will be either simpatico, sympathetic, or moveable, doubtful of their righteousness.  As for the hard cases, the entrenched, fully invested righties, this approach will erode their defenses and slowly move them away from their position, even if imperceptibly at first.

    People are fungible. You can have them here or there. - Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding

    by peterborocanuck on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:39:42 AM PDT

    •  Grayson and Franken can't do it all. (4+ / 0-)

      Other Dems have to say UNPLEASANT THINGS.

      Like
      The GOP sucks" and other harsh factiods,

      Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:42:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (4+ / 0-)

        I'm suggesting that rather than carpet-bombing your conservative friends with unpleasantries at every turn, a simple expository statement, uttered in passing as unimpeachable fact can be very effective at modifying people's opinions.  The idea isn't to get any individual to adopt your world-view after a single conversation- most people's egos inhibit that outcome- but rather to shape their opinions without them realizing it.

        People are fungible. You can have them here or there. - Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding

        by peterborocanuck on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:52:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Asking questions is a good strategy. (3+ / 0-)

          Not that I use it as often as I should, particularly with my rightwing mom.  But I've found that some conservatives have just not thought through their ideas.  They hear something on Fox, sounds goods to them, it's more or less what they'd like to believe, and they go for it.  This technique works really well with my Republican boss - provided my questions don't sound smart ass or hostile.  My boss is a smart guy but sometimes it is jaw-dropping amazing how much Fox propaganda he'll swallow unchewed. Not that I ever get the forehead thumping "Oh, now I get it!" response but many times thinking it through has stepped him back from a long dive off the deep end.  

    •  Yes, and preach to the kids (3+ / 0-)

      I focus quite publicly on the 16 - 24 year olds. These folks are the present and future of politics.

      I have never seen people more plugged in online or more historically uninformed in my life. To some extent, while their beliefs about race, creed, and gender seem quite unencumbered, quite a lot relative to previous generations, they also seem to live in smaller spheres or silos, sort of unintentional modern digitalized ghettos.

      They're heads have already been filled and this is an uphill battle. I can't begin to count the number of young people in Ca who have told me they're voting for Prop 19 and the eBay woman for Gov. I hear Jerry Brown called "that old guy" and the evil-government-pensioner and anti-tax myths already have roots.

      Preach to the kids! Use bumper stickers and pins. And speak up.

  •  it looks like (3+ / 0-)

    CNN was a rising poll, so somewhere sombebody is thinking better of him, or they did a bad job with the sample.  

    Every human has a tendency to reinforce core and deeply held beliefs, change is hard, on an individual level and a societal level.   But the right wing has taken ignoring facts they don't like, which in their case is almost all facts, to an art form.  

    The problem is definitely talk radio and Fox News, but it doesn't end there, the print media, network news programming, they have all abandoned real journalism.   They don't even try anymore.   Fact finding is apparently no longer the purpose of MSM, they are opinion makers.  Almost the entire MSM has become a mere propaganda arm of the GOP.

  •  Our System Is Premised on the Overwhelming (5+ / 0-)

    majority of people supporting reason and factuality. It was not designed to have 30-40 percent philosophically opposed to them, and regarding thinkers and another 1/3 of the population as enemies.

    There can't be a graceful way to deal with them within our system. They're going to have to be regarded as political enemies, and defeated or contained. Otherwise they're going to defeat us and reason and the Constitutional system.

    What's hobbling the Democrats is that almost all of them need support from the interests that back the Republicans 100%. So they can't fight the Republicans strongly because that is to fight their own patrons.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 06:53:42 AM PDT

  •  I don't trust polls or MSM either... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    All our media keeps telling us that 70% of people in AZ favor SB1070.  I have been registering voters here of all races.  I've talked to hundreds of people over the last several months, most are solidly against that law.  

    Some people who said they were for it changed their minds when I explained the reality of this law to them and the folly of making laws that rightfully belong in the Federal domain.  In my discussions with people who are pro SB1070, I focus on the economic fallout, stress to law enforcement already overburdened by budget cuts, etc. rather than on the emotional and human aspects.  Our state is just about broke.  We can't afford expensive law suits, loss of tourist dollars, etc.

    Anyway, this is what I do.  When most people really understand SB1070, they are against it.  This is my informal poll.  A poll is always about how you ask the questions and which answers you discard if they don't fit the poll.

    Thanks, Dog for another great diary.  Some one should be paying you to blog. I am a great fan of your writing.

    •  Well, like you said, polling only gets the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquagranny911

      answers to the questions it asks. If the question assumes that people are really up on what the law says and does and they are not, then the poll is going to be skewed.

      That is why the national polls are so high in favor of it. People don't want informal immigration, so anything that proposes to curtail it gets a presumption of being a positive.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:28:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, most people agree that we need (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said

        immigration reform, that we need to stop border crime and need some policy for migrant workers from Mexico.
        What some people do not understand are the societal and especially the economic implications of a law like 1070.

        My guess is that of the percentage of those polled about this law, only about 20% had actually read the law and really understood it.  BTW, law enforcement, with the exception of a certain Maricopa county sheriff, are almost universally opposed to 1070.  They have also called out our Gov for her lies about crime here.

  •  Fox News is as good of a tool as the "loony left" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    Fox News is a goal post. Its notoriety as FalseGOP News is increasing to the point it is becoming a colloquialism for the wackoid RW messenger machine it is.

    When jokes receive the targeted audience response without cue cards or laugh tracks the framing is planted and that's what's happening to Fox News. It's a good thing.

    The attempts at exploitation of DailyKos as Fox News' pixelated evil twin - the "loony left" - is no accident either and amplified with pixilated clubbiness on our own rec list. Daily.

    Fortunately, for our side, at the end of the day Fox News is religiously restricted to one script and doesn't deconstruct into thousands and thousands of rabid lambs...

  •  note (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    The greatest trick the devil every pulled was convincing half of America the GOP gives a damn about them

    by blingbling65 on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:59:14 AM PDT

  •  if 1000 radio stations repeat it w/out challenge (4+ / 0-)

    it must be true- that is the single most important and critical component of the right wing propaganda machine than the one that has made the difference the last 20 years, since reagan killed the fairness doctrine.

    believing this:

    On the Right this defines itself as a total faith in Fox News and other conservative sources like the Drudge Report and Red State.

    is a mistake.

    every day the heritage foundations and chamber of comerce and BP and GOP set up soapboxes on every corner of the country and call liberals liars, thieves,  whores, and murderers and the left does nothing.

    fox is nothing without radio to do the groundwork- fox can't  do the uncontested repetition. those media outlets are ticks on limbaughs ass. they put icing on the radio lie turd pie.

    the alternate reality created in the think tanks and prechewed by limbaugh and hannity and spawn for mass consumption by the rest of the media (which is incapable of the same level of coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition) starts at our local right wing radio stations, and they need to be picketed and their local sponsors need to be asked WTF on a regular basis.

    Progressives will lose all major messaging battles until they picket the limbaugh/hannity megastations and boycott those stations' local sponsors.

    by certainot on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 08:50:57 AM PDT

    •  And there's the pulpits, the Facebook posts, (0+ / 0-)

      the viral emails.  It's a soup to nuts meal of GOP propaganda.

      Only I think the "high brow" GOP vehicles (Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, National Review) are being shoved off stage by the "low brow" outlets.  Who needs intellectuals to run the show when blowhards works so much better?  In fact, I think we're seeing signs that the GOP intelligentia is beginning to worry big time - hence Julian Sanchez' piece on epistemic closure.

      •  i know heritage is a major food source for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seethruit

        the limbaughs and hannitys. they regularly read/quote/use distortions and out of context material produced by heritage for the purpose of dividing and fostering hate. i wouldn't put heritage in the high brow category.

        rove and his bunch were probably final/major word for the limbaugh and spawn daily topics list when they were in the white house but i suspect they're getting pulled around a bit- not as coordinated. they got a bit loose, exposing their dittohead army as the teabaggers and are dragging the  party over the cliff. they might drag the US over with them though.

        Progressives will lose all major messaging battles until they picket the limbaugh/hannity megastations and boycott those stations' local sponsors.

        by certainot on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 12:35:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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