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Keeping Fear Alive

Posted by George Greene on Tue 26 of Oct., 2010 CDT 10:59:13 AM

My 19 year old son is an adopted Korean and on the autism spectrum. He is very smart and has been looking forward to casting his first ever vote. He couldn't find his drivers license in time to register with his civics class so I told him we'd just register at the polls.

Then he asks "Well, I heard about the Tea Party challenging voters; won't they challenge me?" Uh, oh.  Social situations are tough for autistic kids and confrontational ones even more so. I assured him that I'd be there and that as long as we had the right IDs he'd be fine. He was, however, certain that, because we did not look alike, they'd single him out.

Well, teachable moment I figure, and I mentioned that the very point of Republican  challengers was, in fact, to scare people and if we avoided voting then they'd get away with it. I told him Democrats station challengers of their own for the opposite purpose of ensuring that people eligible to vote can actually do so.  Unfortunately, what might have been two or three people involved was now a picture of a growing crowd. Any parent of an autistic child can see this is going nowhere. I'll be taking him to City Hall instead to vote absentee. This way he won't associate voting with fear.

What does it say about today's extremist Republican Party that my son -or anyone else- has to even worry about this? They claim tey want to eliminate raud, but in typical Republican fashion, the problem is ginned up. There is no evidence that election fraud is rampant but it is a great wedge issue and justifies their camaign to prevent voters from voting. Republicans arefamous for this: their famous felon list in Florida, the questionable Diebold machines and the intentionally caused lines at polling places in Democratic precincts in Ohio.

It's not enough to have crashed the economy, locked up government, and ravaged the middle class; now, using fear, they want to keep people from having a say about it. Shameful.

Proud Father Update: My son told me he would go to the polls, registered at the polls, kept an eye on the GOP voter prevention guy and voted for the first time. That's my boy!

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Trickled On economics

Posted by George Greene on Fri 10 of Sept., 2010 CDT 03:04:30 PM

I was speaking with my pal Carol the other day and said, "Gee, i wish I could just say what I want to say to voters".

"What's that?" she asked.

"Well, I'd like to tell them the truth in plain language; that Republican's largely controlled government for close to 30 years and the result was basically "You work harder and harder, we'll take the extra profit and when our unrestrained greed crashes everything we'll blame it on someone else, reward ourselves with bonuses, move our money to the Caymans, your job to China and keep our Svengali hold on you with bogus inflammatory social issues."

"Well, why don't you?"

"Because it essentially says to the voter that they've been fooled. They may not want to vote for my candidates if they think I've insulted them."

Carol got me thinking. Just how do you tell someone they've been fooled? I don't have a good answer but I know people need to know this truth. I threw the idea out to ourPocketProgressive Framing Team and challenged them to think of a catch phrase that would sum this up; Here are a few:

  • I actually like calling it "trickle down economics". It is an old moniker, thoroughly discredited, and I think it already evokes the frames we want. That the wealth going to the middle and lower classes is a byproduct of their primary efforts, and is not really their concern. "We (the Republicans) will take care of wealth, and if some of it trickles down to you (the unwashed masses), we can live with that." -Steven

  • I know that one.....uh, uh, uh (waving hand furiously in the air)....it's trickled on economics by Saint Ronnie Rayguns....right???? -Cheryl

  • Tricked Again economics? -Betsy

  • I think dodo economics is more accurate. -Jules [or doo doo -Ed]
  • It's, It's... Anyone? Anyone?...wait for it, wait for it....something d-o-o economics...It's Voodoo Economics! .....Bueller? Bueller? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmxpftPFXZg -The Professor

Any other ideas? This is, I think, the biggest issue. Democrats have been loath to call the GOP strategy what it really is -distraction and deception- and that has given it legitimacy. Comments?

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Net Neutrality Now

Posted by George Greene on Thu 26 of Aug., 2010 CDT 04:16:29 PM

Net Neutrality Analogy:

You've been driving on the freeway your whole life at the speed limit like everyone else. Now the guys who built the road have up and decided they're gonna stop everyone at the on-ramp and demand a bribe; the more you pay, the faster you'll be allowed to go. If you don't pay they'll stick a thing on your car that keeps it from going over 30. If they don't like you or your car, they'll just throw you off the freeway entirely. If you get that, you'll get Net Neutrality.

Right now all web content travels the same speed on the Internets whether its Aunt Martha sending you a birthday email or YouTubes? sending this week's cute kitty vid to your laptop.

Now note that TV and Internet are the same thing -it's all ones and zeros and it all travels over the same wires (or waves)! Also note that cable companies get 120 bucks a month for Cable TV but only 50 bucks a month for Internet. See the problem? The cable and telecom companies -all part of, or soon to be part of large media conglomerates- are terrified that their 80% profit cable TV services will give way to you watching TV online (Netflix, Hulu). Now note that the conglomerates also own the content -and if anyone can publish text or video online, where does that leave them?

You can bet your booties they're shakin' in theirs!

Their solution is to extort money from content providers: In effect, though my business website has been up for 15 years and my content has been delivered for all this time at the same speed as all the other web content, now they will slow down my site if I don't cough up enough cash for every telecom that might pass my data to end users. Think of what this means for non-profits and political speech.

The other big deal is that Comcast has already been caught red handed restricting delivery of content they do not like. With Target giving to candidates that support concentrated wealth, how long might it be before they decide Democratic websites don't need to travel fast -or get delivered at all?

And, not to bring you down, but all these companies lobbied for the right to charge you for building high speed Internet -which they never really did (but they kept the money anyway). They call it high speed but we lag far behind other industrialized nations.

What the Telecoms want is nothing short of owning and controlling the Internet. Two FCC board members of the five support Net Neutrality and some of us saw them last Thursday with Mark Ritchie and Al Franken. Two others will almost certainly vote against it (guess what persuasion they are). The Chair, Julius Genachowski, was a strong supporter of Net Neutrality but after closed door hearings with the telecoms, he clammed up and held his own hearing with Amy Klobuchar a couple of days ago.

Al says this is the free speech issue of this century. He's right: the Internet is nothing less than a major step in the evolution of human communication. Net Neutrality has been an Internet tradition and has made the Internet what it is today. It needs to be law. What the FCC does now will either preserve this remarkable human invention or ruin the open flow of ideas and choke off opportunity for millions of entrepreneurs.

I'd hate for the Internet to end up just another sad story of what might have been.

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Secretary of State Mark Ritchie Makes Voting Easy for Military Personnel

Posted by CarolWoehrer on Sun 08 of Aug., 2010 CDT 08:30:28 AM

From Bob Malecki

I’m a Vietnam veteran who applauds Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for his efforts to ensure that all of our state’s military personnel can successfully exercise their right to vote.  Mr. Ritchie worked hard to move the date of Minnesota’s primary election to August 10th in order to allow more time for military personnel serving overseas to submit their absentee ballots.  He was the first state official to form a partnership with the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation to provide a one-stop, Minnesota-specific website featuring a user friendly absentee ballot application, the answers to frequently asked questions, and contact information for local election officials.

By making Minnesota the leader in ensuring that our military personnel can successfully exercise their right to vote, our Secretary of State has created a model for other states to follow. For example, in 2008, Mr. Ritchie’s efforts were rewarded by a 300 percent increase in successfully cast absentee ballots by military personnel.

Mark Ritchie has also launched the Vote in Honor of a Veteran program which pays tribute to veterans by reminding citizens that the right to vote has been ensured by the sacrifices of military personnel.

I urge all patriotic Minnesotans to reward Mark Ritchie’s efforts by voting to re-elect him in 2010.

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Down the Tubes

Posted by George Greene on Thu 05 of Aug., 2010 CDT 10:09:52 AM

<img src='tiki-view_blog_post_image.php?imgId=32' border='0' alt='image' />

Al Franken is leading the charge to save the Internet from being handed over to a few media giants. The issue is Net Neutrality and its defeat will have profound effects on free speech, small business, non profits and the economy. We al must fight to protect the Internet now before it becomes a vast wasteland of media controlled garbage like Cablem TV. If you know what Net Neutrality is, sign Al's petition.

If you've not heard of Net Neutrality, you need to know why this is the sleeper issue of the decade and why you should care.

Right now every website, e-mail, tweet and YouTube? video travels the Internet at the same speed. My small business website gets to my customers as fast as Sony's. You SD website gets to voters as fast as the RNC's. This is called Network Neutrality -all data travels at the same speed no matter where it came from. This free and open system has spawned an amazingly vibrant Internet where the flow of ideas and business has entered a new and exciting era in human endeavors.

However, companies like Comcast and AT&T, who built the lines the data travels on (with plenty of help from taxpayers)  are looking for more ways to charge for their services so they've come up with a new idea -they want to have content providers -the websites, Twitter, the YouTubes?, etc. pay for how fast their content will be delivered. They also want to decide what data gets sent and what does not. Don't snooze on me here!

If the Internet really were a superhighway this would be the equivalent of requiring drivers of trucks, cars and mopeds to pay to drive at the speed limit. If you could not afford to pay the higher price they'd relegate you to the slow lane or the backroads -or be prevented from driving at all. What would that do to our transportation system and our economy -or your vacation plans?

Now, think about what do you do when you get to a website that takes forever to load: you go somewhere else. Small business owners should be very scared -when the internet companies intentionally slow your site down you are going to lose customers. It won't be just businesses; non profits and personal websites will also slow to a crawl unless you pay the trolls.

Unfortunately the FCC and the Obama admninistration, who earlier fought hard to protect Net Neutrality, have been holding closed door meetings with the Telecoms and we know, when this happens, the companies end up getting what they want.

Now are you ready to sign Al's petition

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Not With My Money

Posted by George Greene on Wed 04 of Aug., 2010 CDT 10:49:54 AM

I have not set foot in a Wal Mart in ten years. I didn't like like the way they had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into treating their employees and suppliers like human beings. My dollar's a vote and I don't vote for Wal Mart.

In January activist conservative judges on the Supreme Court unwisely decided that corporations can spend unlimited dollars supporting -or tearing down- any candidate they choose. It's no secret that corporations see Republicans as their protectors and Target, Best Buy, and others are losing no time spending huge sums on Republican Tea Party candidates like Tom Emmer while Democratic candidates nationwide brace for what will certainly be an unprecedented onslaught of corporate funded negative advertising.

Quite literally any dollar spent at Target or Best Buy supports candidates opposed to my values, trashes candidates I support and dangerously increases the influence of corporations and wealth in elections. I see no reason to buy anything from Target or Best Buy.

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Other People's Money

Posted by George Greene on Thu 15 of July, 2010 CDT 11:47:31 AM

For all the talk about how government needs to be run like a business, Tim Pawlenty has done anything but. He only seems to get one side of the income and expense equation. He cuts expenses with wild abandon. Of course there's only so much you can cut essential services without causing other, more expensive problems down the line. Cities are starved, schools have closed, bridges have fallen -Republican dis-investment has been going on for years now.

Now, he should be looking at the income side of the books but, of course, Pawlenty will not even think of asking the wealthiest 10% of Minnesotans pay as much as the other 90% of us do in taxes.  Greed is rewarded in Pawlenty's world and any utterance to the contrary is heresy at best, unpatriotic at worst. He also has his eye on the White House and he needs to cater to the Tea Partiers -heck for all intents and purposes he is a Tea Partier.

Today's more extremist Republicans have no practical solutions for any of our crises. They have no plan for runaway health care, they want no regulation of the banking and investment industry that got us into a global economic meltdown and they think that since cutting greenhouse gasses will cost companies money therefore global warming can't be real. They have no solutions and "No" is all they say here or in Washington.

Now Minnesota faces a three billion dollar deficit. By some projections, maybe even a 5-7 billion dollar deficit. Our own Audrey Britton, running for house in 43A made a very interesting point in an e-mail last week; a point that that does not seem to be reported much in the media: the Governor is required by law to submit a balanced budget -and he has not done so.

I suppose we can all sympathize with his plight. If your only solution is to cut expenses and you are ideologically opposed to raising revenue you only have one option -borrow. It would not be surprising if this was Pawlenty's plan all along. After the Bush Administration spent like drunken sailors they found the perfect solution -put the bill off on someone else -our children and children yet unborn.

It will be interesting to see what Pawlenty does. He's backed himself into a corner; if he does put our children further into debt, he risks the voters finally understanding the insanity of his approach -and this could seriously hurt his chances to go to Washington. On the other hand, if he does not put the bills on our kids credit cards it's hard to see how he could deliver a balanced budget (assuming he intends to). Stay tuned.



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Why People Believe Weird Things -The Science

Posted by George Greene on Wed 14 of July, 2010 CDT 10:45:49 AM

A couple of articles, a study and an NPR show I caught yesterday profile what they are calling "backfire" -the idea that rather than change a belief people will disregard facts. Luckily someone on the SCC saw these too and saved me the work of rounding up the links:

How cognitive biases affect our interpretation of political messages

Cognitive dissonance, and the persistence of belief

Another cognitive bug: Attempting to correct a misperception often reinforces it

The Effects of Semantics and Social Desirability in Correcting the Obama Muslim Myth

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions

NPR: Talk of th Nation

This is all presented as if new and little mention is made of Lakoff or the century of cognitive science research that reached these conclusions long ago.

Note that "cognitive dissonance" is a term that is being slung around a lot lately and I fear that it has already been misused and that the misuse will stick. Cognitive dissonance is the tension between competing beliefs in one's mind or between one's beliefs and their actions. The theory by Leon Festinger posits that people will try to minimize cognitive dissonance by 1) clinging to their beliefs and disregarding facts, 2) changing their mind in light of new facts or 3) changing either their beliefs or their actions to bring them in line.

The action part is important; behavior strengthens learning. One interesting finding of Festinger's research was that, say, if a person takes the action of donating to a candidate, no matter how much, or even saying they will vote for a candidate, they are far more likely to actually vote for the candidate.

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Responsible Republicans

Posted by George Greene on Tue 13 of July, 2010 CDT 05:55:15 PM

How timely! If you read yesterday's Aurora E-mail Alert, I noted that Audrey Britton (MN House candidate for 43A) called on the Governor to submit a balanced budget and put aside divisive party politics that have gridlocked both Washington and St.Paul. And today, former Republican Governor Arne Carlson pretty much says what Audrey has been saying!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has wondered, amidst all the really wacky stuff we see in today's GOP -the Creationism, the climate change deniers, the Birthers, Michelle Bachmann(!)- just where the responsible Republicans are. We know they are there. Just like we know there are Christians who don't believe Christ's central message was to forget the poor, make as much money for yourself as you can and send most of it to a televangelist.

And, though we believe solidly in our Progressive worldview, only crazy people believe that America will someday become a nation of citizens who agree on everything. If we are to have opposing views, better they come from thoughtful people grounded in reason and willing to work out their differences for the common good.

In Minnesota, former Governor Arne Carlson has led this effort for "old style" Republicans and in a stunning rebuke to Tony Sutton calls out today's GOP leadership for vindictive politics and charges that Tim Pawlenty has chosen to "sidestep his responsibility" by not submitting a balanced budget as required by law. Here's a link to the letter:


It is very interesting reading and if we see more of this, and responsible Republicans somehow regain control of their runaway party, there may be hope that gridlock and hyperpartisanship could be someday be on the wane.

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GOP is Bad for Business

Posted by George Greene on Fri 09 of July, 2010 CDT 11:09:40 AM

Here comes the inevitable "Obama is anti-capitalist or anti-business. It's a straw man of course, like the notion that our only choices are unfettered free markets and Socialism. The left does not want Socialism any more than the right (though the right wants everyone to believe that).

Those of us on the left make a distinction the right studiously avoids between incentive, which allows citizens to build a business, hire employees and make the world a better place, and greed which inevitably destroys economies and brings misery to millions.

And what's more anti-capitalist or anti-business than to allow greedy bastards to crash the world economy?! That is exactly what happened under Bush and I cannot believe that so many people want more of the same dumb policies that got us into this mess.

We Lefties believe citizens have the right to protect themselves from catastrophies of greed. If that means regulations to keep high flying money jockeys in line, or inheritance taxes to prevent our government from being controlled by dynastic wealth and the power it brings  (another thing our founders rebelled against) that's not socialism -just common sense.

Just to put the final nail in the coffin of lefties being anti-business, Lefties actually believe we should invest tax revenue in things like roads, schools and courts that provide entrepreneurs with a valuable foundation for success.

Here's a fun video. This is perhaps the most concise overview of economic perspectives I've ever seen. The animations make it very enjoyable and this guy David Harvey is a great speaker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0&feature=player_embedded (external link)


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