I recently wrote a diary describing what I would do if I had the wherewithal to mount an all-encompassing, relentless/sustained campaign promoting a progressive agenda. In my eyes, I see the steps I would take as common sense: I would set up public relations (counter-propaganda) offices in all 50 states and would task people with developing progressive "messaging" strategies for all different types of media (online, TV, radio, print); I would hire an army of researchers and analysts and would task them with deconstructing the mechanisms of the legalized bribery scheme both political parties operate under; then, I would organize "street teams" of activists tasked with organizing all kinds of activities meant to put pressure on the corrupt politicians, in multiple ways, including typical political activism, as well as more confrontational (but legal and peaceful) tactics.
Again, I see the need to do something like this as such a basic no-brainer, that I am, and will remain dumbfounded by the fact that organizations that do have the resources and influence to do it, like MoveOn, CREDO Action, for some strange reason, don't.
For sure, I know they don't do it with the same type of zeal and discipline as the fascist right wing.
To illustrate the point, let's revisit the issue of the Birchers Koch brothers single-handling financing of the attack against the Affordable Care Act:
New York Times: A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the PlanningThe emphasis is mine
To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.
The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.
The groups have also sought to pressure vulnerable Republican members of Congress with scorecards keeping track of their health care votes; have burned faux “Obamacare cards” on college campuses; and have distributed scripts for phone calls to Congressional offices, sample letters to editors and Twitter and Facebook offerings for followers to present as their own.
So by now it is common knowledge that these sadist, megalomaniacal, and greedy billionaires are behind the campaign to not only derail the ACA, but to undermine every single right we have in order to give corporations more power over our lives.
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.Here's the thing, some people may feel that after what appears to be a totally humiliating defeat in their campaign to derail Obamacare, these hideous and treasonous billionaires-funded right wing groups would show some contrition; but to the contrary, they double down, regroup, and continue the fight: these motherfuckers never, ever give up:
In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU? ...
New York Times: States Are Focus of Effort to Foil Health Care LawThe emphasis is mine
The federal government is again open for business, and Republicans in Washington are licking their wounds from the failed Tea Party attempt to derail President Obama’s health care overhaul. But here in Virginia’s capital, conservative activists are pursuing a hardball campaign as they chart an alternative path to undoing “Obamacare” — through the states.
His openness to expansion has aroused the ire of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group backed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Dressed in emerald green T-shirts bearing the slogan “Economic Freedom in Action!” its members are waging what the senator calls “an attempt to intimidate me” in Richmond and at home.
They have phoned his constituents, distributed leaflets and knocked on 2,000 doors in his rural district. When the Republican town committee met Monday night in Mr. Hanger’s home county, Augusta, Americans for Prosperity was there.
In Richmond on Tuesday, hundreds of volunteers in green shirts turned out for a commission hearing, bused in by the advocacy group’s field organizers, who provided Subway sandwiches for lunch.
At some level I'm in awe of this type of discipline, this type of commitment (if misguided), this type of zeal. These people, regardless of the wrongness of their views, and regardless of the fact that they are being manipulated (turned into useful idiots of the fascist billionaires), know what it takes to move their agenda forward. It takes a sustained (days, months, years, decades) and disciplined approach.
I know and fully understand the push back I get from Liberals and Progressives when I bring this issue up: "We don't march in lock-steps to anybody, or for any reason."
People on the Left also have an innate (and natural) distaste to the idea that to properly compete in a propaganda war you have to engage in it fully, and you do that with a disciplined and sustained counter-propaganda (i.e., "selling the truth" non-stop) campaign. And that means billboard ads, TV, radio, leaflets/flyers, social media, rallies, seminars, teach-ins, et al, all the time, non-stop.
I wrote all that above in an attempt to try to answer one very important question raised by Martin Wolf during an interview with Bill Moyersin the latest broadcast of Moyers & Company.
Moyers (18:34): Would you agree that the conservatives have really won the argument about government?I produced this transcript... The emphasis is mine
Wolf: (18:38): I think that is true. What has surprised me is what little push-back there has been from the Democratic side in arguing that the government did really had a very strong role in supporting the economy during the post-crisis recession, almost depression, that the stimulus argument was completely lost... the economics of it were quite clearly right; they needed a bigger stimulus, not a smaller one; it helped, but it didn't helped enough because it wasn't big enough, and they are not making the argument that government has essential functions that everybody needs in the short run... you can see that in the national parks; but also in the long run the strength of America has been built in my perspective, particularly in the post-war period, since the Second World War, on the way that actually the public and private sectors have actually worked together, with the government providing enormous support for research and development; it's been the basic support of America's unique position in scientific research.
If you look at the National Institute of Health which are the most important medical research institutions in the world; these are all products of the willingness of the United States to invest in the long-term interests. Then there is the infrastructure; think of the highway program, which was the most important infrastructure project under Republicans, interestingly, and those arguments seemed to have been lost. So I am concerned that the government that I think Grover Norquist once said he want's to drown in the bath--if you drown your government in the bath, in the modern world--we don't live in the early 19th Century; it's a different world... that the long term health of the United States will be very badly affected.
It's strange to me that a government which has obviously achieved very important things; think of the role of the Defense Department in the Internet... has achieved such important things, and that's just one of many examples, it should be now regarded as nothing more that a complete nuisance, and the only thing you need to do is to cut it back to nothing. And it does seems to me that the Democrats have, for reasons I don't fully understand, basically given up on making this argument, and so in a way, the conservatives, the extreme conservatives position has won, because nobody is actually combating it, so it's only a question of how much you cut, and how you cut it, rather than, well, what do we want government for? What are the good things about it? What are the bad things about it? How do we make it effective? And how do we ensure that is properly financed?
Here's some background information on Martin Wolf, from the Moyers & Company program description:
This week, Congress approved an 11th-hour deal to raise the debt ceiling, which threatened to push the global economy over the edge, but instead of resolving the debt crisis lawmakers simply delayed it. Bill speaks to Financial Times chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, who says the US debt ceiling is “the legislative equivalent of a nuclear bomb aimed by the US at itself.”The emphasis is mine
Wolf, who has been described as “the premier financial and economics writer in the world,” provides his analysis of the recent crisis and the potentially lethal impact that the politicization of the debt ceiling could have on the global economy. “I think [President Obama] is right that this is not a weapon that should be used,” Wolf tells Bill. “My own view is that the debt ceiling should be eliminated.”
For quite some time I've been as surprised as Mr. Wolf about how little push-back there has been from the Democratic party (and the president) regarding these issues. I've been surprised and disappointed about what it seems like an embrace of the Republican (extreme right?) talking points when it comes to the role of government.
After the 2008 Great Recession (Depression?), we should have been talking about jailing the Wall Street crooks, instead of appointing them to government positions. We should have been talking of re-regulating the financial market, breaking up the criminal too-big-too-fail banks, and taxing the rich and the corporations.
Instead, for reasons I (also) don't understand, the framing of these important issues seems to be dictated by the Neoliberal philosophy of undermining the public sector (i.e., democracy) in favor of private sector profiteers.
My advice? Well, we don't have to go along with that framing. We (the citizens, the voters) can put forward our own "Grand Bargain":
- Jail the Wall Street criminals, for the sake of re-establishing the rule of law and the concept of "moral hazard."
- Increase taxes on the one percent of income takers to 60, or 70% rates, even if only for five years or so in order to claw back many of the ill-gotten gains.
- Take Obamacare to the next logical step of universal, single-payer system, and make health care a right.
- Instead of talks of "reforming" so-called "entitlement" benefits, greatly increase all of them, including Social Security, food stamps, medicare, etc.
- Re-criminalize political bribery, which has now been legalized and fully taken advantage of by both major political parties.
- Pass legislation stating the obvious fact that corporations are not people, and money is no free speech.
- Breakup corporate media conglomerates which are now being used as a mind-numbing propaganda machine for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy ruling class.
- Launch a massive infrastructure campaign...
Bottom line: We don't have to accept the absurd extreme right's framing, nor the Neoliberal framing of the CorpoDems.