don’t think of a rove elephant

Since I can’t decide what to clip, here’s George Lakoff’s entire post as left at Arianna Huffington’s site:

For a while last week, the Democrats were doing better at framing the issues. The poll numbers showed that Bush’s approval rating was down, that around 60% of the voters had turned against the Iraq War, that support for Bush on his handling of 911 and terrorism was lower, but still pretty high.

They correctly recognized in the numbers that the public had begun to separate Iraq from 911, and they recognized the relevance of the Downing Street memo in showing that Bush had betrayed the trust of the American people in sending troops into Iraq on false pretenses. They had begun to form an anti-Iraq-War caucus and to hammer home the consequences of these developments. And even staunch Republicans were listening to their arguments and coming to Bush to suggest withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

In short, the Democrats had begun to use the basics of framing issues in terms of their own values and principles, the lessons arising from research at the Rockridge Institute. Had they continued to argue with unity on the difference between 911 and Iraq, and on the fact that George Bush betrayed our troops and is weakening our country, they might have made it impossible for Bush to once again link Iraq with 911.

Then they lost it. Karl Rove outsmarted the Democrats again. And he used the most basic trick in the book to do it.

The first lesson of framing is not to activate the other guy’s frame. Negating a frame activates it in the minds of hearers, as Richard Nixon found out when he said “I am not a crook” and everybody thought of him as a crook. The very title of my book, Don’t Think of an Elephant makes the point: if you negate a frame, it reinforces the frame.

Rove managed to link Iraq with 911 again, and to delegitimate the Democrats in the process. And he did it with the Democrats’ help.

Rove achieved this brilliantly — in one sentence!

“Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” [NY Times, 6/23/05]

When the Democrats took the bait, Rove reeled them in. Here’s what he achieved:

1.Rove changed the context of discourse, from Bush’s disaster in Iraq, to support for Bush in the wake of 911.

2.The Democrats had had the Republicans playing defense; Rove put them on offense and the Democrats on defense.

3.With the words “savagery” and “attack”, Rove evoked the frame in which war is the appropriate response. He thus made Bush the heroic Commander-in-Chief in the war frame, while making “liberals” wimps for wanting to deny Bush unlimited war powers.

4.Rove thus evoked the conservative branding of liberals as weak and conservatives as strong.

5.When the Democrats attacked Rove for his remarks and defended themselves, they wound up expressing support for Bush’s going to war after 911, and with it implicit support for Bush’s position in Iraq.

6.Rove made putative Democratic weakness the issue, and by negating the frame, the Democrats played right into his hands.

7.Moreover, using the word “liberal” and not “Democrat”, Rove made it look like any Democrat attacking his remarks was a lily-livered liberal, and that the party had been taken over by weak-kneed chickens — anyone against Bush’s use of the military.

8.This enabled the right-wing message machine to go to work, attacking the Democrats as being controlled by na

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

shoplifting alert

I refuse to buy it, but if you have an extra, or happen to find a copy somewhere (like under your coat), I’d love to review the soon-to-be-released Left Behind “Real Time Strategy” game for the next issue of Crimewave. (via metafilter)

Posted in Church and State | 5 Comments

musical genius people

I’m back from Minnesota.

I was there with four of my friends, writing and recording what will eventually (after about a year of fighting and procrastinating) become the eleventh record by the world’s only one-day-a-year-until-we’re-all-dead band, The Monkey Power Trio.

I feel like I should say something about the experience, but I can’t seem to muster the energy… not even the little bit that it would take to tell you about the Mall of America, where me and the rest of the band went to recharge our “batteries of hate” before stepping into the studio.

(For those of you who care about such things, the official recording of last year’s session should be available in time for Christmas. I was thinking that we should call it, “John Peel Liked Us and Now He’s Dead,” but I suspect that my bandmates will want something a bit more tasteful, like “In the Wake of Janet Jackson’s Nipple”… Actually, I think we’ve already decided to call it “Spiders in the Blood Supply,” but that might be a secret. Anyway, I’ll let you know when it’s available.)

I wish I had something from this year’s session for you to listen to, like a 6-hour podcast of the entire thing from start to finish, complete with the fights over lyrics and the stupid kinds of dick jokes that middle-aged men in one-day-a-year bands make, but there’s nothing. Maybe, once our kids are old enough, we’ll put them in charge of doing such things. (Wouldn’t it be cool if we could stream the whole thing live and let people mix their own tracks?) In the meantime, we’ll just stick with the same old system that’s worked so well for us these past ten years:

The Monkey Power Formula for Success

1) spend lots of money we don’t have to meet one day a year

2) lock ourselves in the smelly basement studio of a stranger with lots of beer

3) hit “record”

4) yell nonsense for a few hours while beating on instruments

5) leave basement, sober up, and all go our separate ways

6) sink into a pit of depression for a few months (at least for me)

7) finally muster up the courage to listen to the tapes of the session

8) argue for a month or so about which songs are most likely to stand the test of time (while not embarrassing us too much in front of our loved ones)

9) press about four of the songs written at the session on vinyl… a format that fewer than one in ten thousand even have the wherewithal to play

10) repeat until dead

In the way of context, I should let you know that the non-Clementine kid featured in the last post (Leah) is the daughter of my old high school friend, and bandmate, Dan, and his wife Jen. It was their family that graciously hosted this year’s reunion.

Oh, one last little anecdote… As Linette, Clementine and I were leaving their house, Jen told us that Leah had just picked up a piece of lint off the bathroom floor and said to her, “I think this is from one of daddy’s friends.” Then, after a moment of pondering it, she added, “…probably Mark.” I’m not sure what I’d done to give her the impression that I left a trail of lint, but I thought that was funny.

Posted in Monkey Power Trio | 6 Comments

clementine and her friend leah in minnesota

Posted in Photographs | 3 Comments

state news agency

Frank Rich hits the nail on the head in today’s New York Times. The real threat to Public Broadcasting isn’t that it might have it’s funding cut, but that the Republican party might be forcing them into the role of state-run propaganda machine. Here’s a clip:

Here’s the difference between this year’s battle over public broadcasting and the one that blew up in Newt Gingrich’s face a decade ago: this one isn’t really about the survival of public broadcasting. So don’t be distracted by any premature obituaries for Big Bird. Far from being an endangered species, he’s the ornithological equivalent of a red herring.

Let’s not forget that Laura Bush has made a fetish of glomming onto popular “Sesame Street” characters in photo-ops. Polls consistently attest to the popular support for public broadcasting, while Congress is in a race to the bottom with Michael Jackson. Big Bird will once again smite the politicians – as long as he isn’t caught consorting with lesbians.

That doesn’t mean the right’s new assault on public broadcasting is toothless, far from it. But this time the game is far more insidious and ingenious. The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers’ expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations – or thrilled to the “journalism” of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies – you’ll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio.

Posted in Art and Culture | 7 Comments