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400 plutocrats and their 30 million surrogates

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    "A man with a conviction is a hard man to change.  Tell him you disagree and he turns away.  Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources.  Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." -- Leon Festinger, Stanford University psychologist, the 1950s.

    I lifted the above quote from Chris Mooney's latest book, The Republican Brain.  Festinger at the time was referring to a small group called the Seekers whose members believed they were able to communicate with aliens from outer space. Some 60 years later, the quote could certainly apply to many of today's extremists that call the Republican Party their home...the Tea Partiers, the birthers, the Climate Change deniers, the religious right, the militias, white supremacists, homophobes, islamophobes, racists, the Obama haters and many more. But it also applies to many ordinary good hard working Americans that lead their lives honestly...model citizens...and the "God and country" folks of rural America depicted by Norman Rockwell that also call the Republican Party their home.

    I am one that has felt the frustration that Leon Festinger felt in the 1950s.  Making arguments based on facts and logic simply doesn't work with some people.  I can understand that impossible task in dealing with the extremist elements of the party, but for the some 30 million Americans that call themselves Republican, most do not fit into the extremist profiles of those malcontents.

    I previously discussed this enigma after reading Thomas Frank's book, What's the Matter With Kansas, in which Frank made the observation that the poorest county in America in the great plains of Kansas voted overwhelmingly (over 80 percent) for George W. Bush in the 2000 election.  I have since delved into books that address the emotions and psychological traits of the American public because in my rational progressive mind, I just cannot see how any poor or middle class American could possibly vote for a Republican. Calling it "cognitive dissonance" doesn't even adequately describe some of the more emotive mean spirited words people choose to mock and demean our President. It is more than just willful ignorance.

    When I examine closely the Ryan/Romney proposed budget that would further exasperate the wealth and income gap between the richest Americans and the ordinary working class Americans, I think is should be a "no brainer" that inspires every American, except perhaps for the super rich, to vote for President Obama. When I look further at how the Republicans want to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, cut funding for public education, cut Pell grants, increase interest rates on student loans, privatize Medicare, cut funds for Medicaid, shutdown the Department of Housing and Urban Development, end funding for the Community Development Fund, slash the post office and eradicate the postal union, cut Veterans benefits, cut funding for Department of Energy research, eliminate USAID, repeal the Affordable Care Act, slash the food stamp program for the poor, cut funding for Planned Parenthood, eliminate grants for high speed rail, and more..all cuts that benefit poor and middle class working class Americans under the guise of an "austerity budget" but really are just ploys to cover the costs of even more and bigger tax cuts for the super rich. Well it just blows my mind. It's insane.

    Then there is the Republican War on Women. Wow! That would require a whole new thread, but it boggles my mind how any woman in America can find anything positive to say about how the Republican men think they own women's bodies and can pass BIG GOVERNMENT legislation to control your bodies.  But hey...each to his own.

    However, I have to hand it to these plutocrats...they are very, very smart in devising ways to divide the middle class and poor against itself, including women...tactics that have been insanely successful. But just who are these so called plutocrats? In the provocative title to this post I had arbitrarily used 400 of the wealthiest Americans. Forbes puts out such a list, but that list includes some more liberally minded rich like George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet.  And as far as plutocrats go, the list isn't even complete. People like Mitt Romney didn't even make the Forbes list...not yet anyway. Also in examining the list after about the first 40 or so, I was struck by how few names I recognized amongst the 400 billionaires.

    Maintaining anonymity is important to the plutocrat's cause. With the possible exception of the Koch brothers, they mostly work behind the scenes using front organizations such as Karl Rove's American Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, The John Birch Society, ALEC, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, and others to advance their selfish interests always at the expense of middle class and poor.

    Their real enemy is American liberalism and what it represents...equality of opportunity.  Driven by greed, they use an "anything goes" strategy of lies, misinformation and dirty tricks to divide the poor and middle classes on cultural and religious issues. They employ plutocrat Rupert Murdoch's vast propaganda machine, Fox News, to spread the lies. And somehow only in America can Rush Limbaugh, America's "Tokyo Rose," be allowed to demonize and otherwise vent his hatred towards our Commander-in Chief on Armed Forces radio...subsidized by the tax payer. Take a look at this sample of anti-Commander-in-Chief Limbaugh talk documented in the Daily Kos. I mean Al Qaeda and the Taliban couldn't do a better job of undermining our military goals...it's a kin to aiding and abetting the enemy. But that's okay with the plutocrats that also seek to undermine our President at every opportunity. Party first.

    While Republicans have been leaving the party, there are still some 30 million self-identified Republicans despite the party becoming more radical, moving even further to the right since the Cheney/Bush presidency and McCain's recent candidacy. I don't believe the movement to the right has been spontaneous, any more than the Supreme Court's move to the right has been spontaneous. There is some big money and power politics working to undermine our President and our democracy, not only at the federal level but at the state and city level as well.  Just look at Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Florida and you'll get a snapshot of what the next Republican Presidency will bring. What's going on in Michigan with unelected city managers can best be labeled "fascism."

    Veronica, CBB, Guy Dwyer, that guy from Arizona, gymrat22, sbfriedman, others and I have discussed these points at times in this website so none of this is a revelation. I am reiterating these points now because some "surrogates of the rich" feel compelled to come on this website to demonize our President and Democrats in general, regurgitating the totally debunked talking points about George Soros, Barack Obama, Attorney General Holder and others. For them all I can say is visit and learn, but if your cognitive dissonance is too much to handle real facts, then maybe you can find another website that is less demanding.

    I am challenged in exchanges with intellectual conservatives that want to debate such issues as the war in Afghanistan, spying on Americans, closing Gitmo, immigration policies, prison populations, drug laws, debts and deficits, as I can always learn from these exchanges. However, I am tired of responding to people that cannot contribute anything to the discussions other than "bad mouthing" and do not have any interest in learning...only attacking. I may as well be talking to aliens from outer space. Ha!

    Okay I'm really just ranting again and expect push back, but at least my positions are fact based. Bring it on!



  • Democrat
    Charlotte, NC
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    Hey schmidt!no push back from me...I agree with what you said and more. One of the favorite ways now for the bright reds to undermine a completely democratic vote, I outlined in an article called "The invalidation of your vote" It touched on the same subject...that the wealthy have,for the longest time,attempted to somehow or other,get some control over this "fickle" electorate.The example I stressed on,there are MANY others...was re-redistricting,in favor of the Re-Pubs.And voter ID laws,which disproportionally hit the lower and middle class. 
          I'm going to try a link to my our site again, but I get the feeling that the powers that be here,are upset with me for trying,I guess in their view,to publicize a site that I am affiliated with.Although no one has ever made a nickle off this site,and almost certainly never will.For proof of the above,I only need to point out, that I write for this helpless site,and one will recognize quickly,we have NO writers. sigh  Oh well,being a famous writer would probably be a pain anyway,people always asking your opinion,wanting autographs,cute women giving their phone numbers,etc. sigh  http://downbythedocks.net  It didn't work, I think they have me blocked,I have no idea why,I'm about as liberal as they come. Oh well.

          I put up a post this afternoon on the inequalities in the Social Security tax system,got one response basically calling me crazy(which he may have a point)and another one telling me how to make paragraphs(for which I was very grateful)
      Anyway,enough on my problems,back to your article(We couldn't convince you to put one or fourteen articles on Docks,could we.The pay is pathetic,and benefits worse,but it's a soapbox).You make a great point,that anyone who is worth less than,say,$5million and votes Re-Pub,is for all practical purposes,casting a vote against themselves,and their families.I too have tried reasoning with these poor folks,tried statistics,articles of impeccable sources, anything I can think of,to point out to them...it's not just the money,it's the free and democratic system that is in jeopardy here.I have had about the same success that you have.None.
      I think one of the problems is that nobody has the "time"to examine the Ryan Plan closely.And THAT,is exactly what the bright red extremists are banking on.(pun intended)And I will admit,congressional budgets aren't my favorite weekend reading material either.EXCEPT,when maybe,just maybe the future of this country as we have known it...is at stake.Then it should,underline should,be a tad bit easier to get through to some of the people.
      This response is turning into another one of my 2000 word articles.I like the quote you began with.Allow me,my friend,to end this with a quote that says basically the same thing,but from a different time.And I firmly believe that the GOP extremists have read and taken to heart,both.  "One sure way to create a fanatic is to inspire before you instruct" Voltaire  PS, I still can't understand why the link I put in,doesn't link. Oh well. great article schmidt!
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Just a quick reply on the link.  I copied and pasted your link into Google and was able to access.  To test it in this website, I copied the title, On the invalidation of your vote, and then did the link by 1)highlighting the text as shown, 2) clicking the link icon just above the text, 3) copy/pasting the link from your website into the designated space, and then 4) clicking enter.

    It works. Click on the link above.

    I'll comment on the rest later but just wanted to get that mechanics out of the way. 

  • Democrat
    Charlotte, NC
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    In all that verbage, I never did say thanks for the compliment,and I'm sure as the others,veronica, etc also appreciate it.Was a good article.Now, all we have to do...is convience the voters,and we're home free.I still maintain that in this election,it's not going to be enough to win.We must crush the TEA Party,and make it so that it can't rear it's ugly head again.Easier said than done,I know.But we have six months.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I made this post back in April, and in light of several right wing trolls recently becoming members of this website disrupting the intellectual discussions with Fox News platitudes, I thought I would bring it back from the archives.

    I stand by what I wrote in April. It applies even more so today.

  • Democrat
    Brookline , MA
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    SCHMIDT - Am speechless here.  I could not add anymore to what you have already summed up on this article.  Impressive.  For the intellectuals who has reasonable brain to comprehend this is food for thought to aspire to do more to help the President get elected this coming election.  To all what you have said on this article you gave a clear picture what would become of us for a Romney win.  It's true, it's real, it's scary.  But the big question is, how can we, the more responsible people, make these crystal clear to the masses?  It sometime breaks my heart when I am around people and start talking these issues you just stressed here on this article, and people just don't want to listen...you give them a copy of this article and they won't even bother to read, just very complacent to what is going on around them today.  They have no idea that this election is not just some kind of ordinary election like in the past....this is like do or die, reign of good against the forces of evil, and as for me, speaking for myself, you'd find me in the church praying for our President.  And doing the best I can like my two daughters, get President Obama re-elected.  We need him now more than ever.  Gad! I got goose bumps reading this article.  And also all the other articles presented herein.  Thanking you once again for these lesson of the day. 
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Sorry to haul out an old thread, but I was going down the list of all the good things that President Obama has proposed in his State of the Union Speech and thought that these should all be things that our elected officials embrace. At least they made sense to me, although I admit they will be a hard sell. Then I browsed what Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Republican Representatives and Senators, and conservative journalists, had to say about the speech, and wow...did they watch the same speech as me? Hardly a positive word, full of vitriol, except that they acknowledge that he gives a good speech.

    It certainly gets back to the Republican Brain that Chris Mooney so aptly described in his book. These guys just think differently. There will be no persuasion of facts that will get them to change their minds. Psychologists suggest we have to play on their emotions, which for most conservatives is driven by fear. Fear trumps all critical thinking, and in some cases leads to hate. I believe that many of those that want to block everyone of President Obama's initiatives, have 100 percent certitude in their convictions. Marco Robio's rebuttal speech when analyzed carefully is just a repackaging of all the same points previously made by of Romney, Ryan and others. It's all the same stuff...a different cover and presented with a different face. They are incapable of thinking differently. Marco Rubio's voting record so far qualifies him as one of the most conservative members of Congress. Why would anyone think that he is more moderate....his pleasant face?

    I don't have answers, but I hope that Obama keeps up the offense on them in these next four years. They've hit him hard in the first four years and I want him to push back and GIVE EM HELL...and not make nice. They don't respond to "nice." Make them fear him.

    Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    Schmidt:


    Good thoughts, and I especially agree with your first paragraph.

    As I've mentioned before, I somehow got on the mailing list of a conservative newsletter called The Personal Liberty Digest.

    One of the regular contributors is a self-described Libertarian named Wayne Allen Root, who had predicted a landslide victory for
    Willard last November. His take on Obama's speech will have you scratching your head, starting with the statement that our country
    is $100 trillion in debt. Ironically, one of his closing comments very well sums ups a lot of the folks that possess "the Republican brain":

    "you can change a lot of things in this world, but you can’t fix stupid".

    http://personalliberty.com/2013/02/14/obamas-state-of-denial/
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    "schmidt" all excellent pieces; the only question I have is what in your opinion will happen in 2016. Looking at the result of this election then the gap is not that big; thus how come related to your piece is that so many Americans do not see the "light" ? I've got the impression the only thing what drives them is : They are billionairs so I want to join that group so I can become one too!!
    The funny thing what I saw on TV is a picture of the worlds biggest private yacht docked in Manhattan NY; it belongs to a Russian billionair, who seems to have earned that in the oil and gas industry. I'm kind of surprised that in a former strict communistic country this is possible; thus in other words the American "greed" disease is spreading rapidly around the globe. Too bad they do not have a "shot" invented to fight that disease.
  • Democrat
    Meridian, MS
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    Dutch, I have to say "not to worry" about the 2016 election. A good number of the Tea Party were ousted in 2012, and those that remain are certainly already being identified as the real trouble-causers, mainly in the House. I'll be so bold as to predict the Democrats will end up having control, 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House, in addition to the Presidency, after all the votes are counted. Americans will flush the Tea Party and the NRA, at least significantly enough to win total control.
  • Democrat
    Meridian, MS
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    Also Schmidt, check your messages please.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Dutch, Michaels and Arizona--

    Good comments and good questions. I'll elaborate upon my opinions, which as usual are subject to discussion, disagreement and debate. This is another long winded post, and I'm sure I'll be repeating myself from what I have said in other postings, but like many of us that write in this website, I have had nothing but frustration in trying to change any conservative's view on a whole host of issues when I'm just being a "nice guy with facts." It's the same for Obama in contending with Republicans in Congress. It doesn't matter what the issue is... climate change, immigration, minimum wage, everything that Obama proposes is automatically rejected. TV pundits and others have made similar observation as well. Republicans are the "Party of No," and I do think many are largely sincere in their beliefs, no matter how illogical. But why?

    There are many ways one can dissect and subdivide the worldviews of Republicans. Joy Reid once said on the Ed Show, that the Republicans can be grouped into three factions: the plutocrats, the evangelicals, and the Archie Bunker types, but for me that seems an over simplification. There are many factions besides the Tea Party that are really driven by a single issue, such as guns or gays. However, the one group that is consistent over generations of Americans are the plutocrats (some refer to them as the Oligarchs). They are principally corporate in nature, but also include "family wealth," (e.g. Koch brothers, Walton family, etc.). They are the real power brokers as they control the purse strings...and many appear on the Forbes 400 list as per my original post. They are certainly driven by greed, but I also think that their overall brains are hardwired more into "fear" ...fear of losing their wealth and power. Since they themselves are driven by fear, they have become very smart and accustomed in how to use fear to control the overall political dialogue. Right wing messaging in radio (e.g. Rush Limbaugh) and television (Rupert Murdoch's Fox News) as well as numerous websites continually hit people with a barrage of misinformation and lies colored with a heavy dosage of fear and phony outrage. It sure seems to me that it must be all planned that way.

    "The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side." -- Jedi Master Yoda, Star Wars

    Behind all this well planned and orchestrated messaging are political scientists and media psychologists that are employed by the corporate plutocrats to change the mindsets of people that might otherwise identify with the Democrat's social and economic agenda. As the psychologist George Lakoff has articulated in his book, The Political Mind, this is being done via what he describes as "cognitive policy." It is not done over night...just a slow a constant dribble, day after day of right wing paranoia and emotive metaphorical phrases repeated over and over again until the mindsets of the populace start changing. The most notable of these "mind changers" is Frank Luntz, who states:

    "80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think." "If I respond to you quietly, the viewer at home is going to have a different reaction than if I respond to you with emotion and with passion and I wave my arms around. Somebody like this is an intellectual; somebody like this is a freak." "It's all emotion. But there's nothing wrong with emotion. When we are in love, we are not rational; we are emotional." "...my job is to look for the words that trigger the emotion." "We know that words and emotion together are the most powerful force known to mankind.."

    "Frank Luntz speak" is indeed what the Republicans practice as it is almost humorous to see all the right wing pundits move in unison on the new cliche of the day, compliments of Luntz. Nevertheless, some pundits still see our society as having a natural progression to the right, but I am one of those that sees Frank Luntz and others as part of a more concerted deliberate campaign that is driving this right wing movement. While class conflict goes back hundreds of years, the impetus for the modern era of middle class workers buying into the mind boggling kind of "corporations are people" philosophy has as its roots the former Supreme Court Justice, Lewis F. Powell, who wrote his infamous Powell Memorandum before he came a Supreme Court justice. The memo reveals Powell's alarm about how the country at the time was shifting more to the left..or as he described it, a "broad attack" by the left wing against corporations. Bill Moyers talked about the Powell Memo or Manifesto in his program. Quoting Moyers:

    Moyers and Company, September 14, 2012: The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations

    "By 1971, future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell felt compelled to assert, in a memo that was to help galvanize business circles, that the “American economic system is under broad attack.” This attack, Powell maintained, required mobilization for political combat: “Business must learn the lesson . . . that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.” Moreover, Powell stressed, the critical ingredient for success would be organization: “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”"

    It appears to me that this is exactly what has been happening since the 1970s. Whether Powell intended for his call for an "assiduous cultivation" of corporate power to include a campaign of deliberate lies and misinformation against liberals and liberalism is not directly evident from a careful reading of his actual memo, but the fear mongering certainly oozes from his writing. And that promotion of fear has fostered our climate of hate and anger, such that critical thinking and an intellectual dialogue is virtually impossible.

    "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. -- Jedi Master Yoda, Star Wars

    And yes, I think some of them that have wallowed in fear, hate and anger for so long are suffering. Many are perhaps beyond redemption, but sometimes hitting bottom can be a form of enlightenment to get out of that gutter...to let the long suppressed emotion of empathy take over.

    Meanwhile, to get their fear mongering message across, the corporate plutocrats target the Archie Bunker types that listen to Limbaugh and watch Fox News with hidden "fear messages" and innuendo playing on race, religion, elitism, patriotism, class distinctions and more. Ronald Reagan's fictitious "welfare queen" is an example that divides the middle class against itself. God, guns and gays are there also as a part of that cognitive policy. However, the fear of losing one's job is probably the biggest factor in the control of mindsets. Fingers are pointed at unions, academia (elitists), scientists and "big government" with the word "socialism" often appended to everything that Democrats do...in other words, just plain fear mongering...classic Frank Luntz. Big businesses are portrayed as the job creators...the "makers," while liberals on the government payroll are the "takers." It's a simple narrative and it resonates. "Fear the takers...support the makers."

    The plutocrats also target the evangelical mind by casting liberals as "godless" as Ann Coulter writes in her book, or maybe "baby killers" as per Bill O'Reilly's campaign against the abortion doctor, Dr. Tiller..."Tiller the baby killer" repeated again and again on O'Reilly's program until one of those nut jobs killed Tiller while he was attending church. They fear liberals and their social agenda, and that fear often transforms itself into anger and hate in the case of the murder of Dr. Tiller. Fear has transformed a city like Wichita, Kansas, at one time a solid blue collar city, but now as red as the Koch Industries that make it their headquarters. True blue Democratic blue collar workers in the 1980s evolved into solid Republicans in the 1990s as cultural war issues were forced into their living rooms daily...and they became afraid.

    Getting back to Obama's agenda for his second term, I would certainly like to see less of him "making nice" with those Republicans who actually hate him. However, I also understand that it is not in President Obama's personality profile to be mean and hate like they do. It would be a fine line that Obama crosses to show even a hint of anger. On the one side they try casting him as "weak" but in typical Frank Luntz fashion, they would love to cast him as "the angry black man." In effect the Republican spin machine is holding the sermons of Reverend Wright over his head.

    Nevertheless, to a certain extent, we are seeing a more assertive President Obama now than in the first four years in which he practiced his "we are not a red state...we are not a blue state" ideology that was exploited by Republicans. His inaugural speech and his State of the Union speech suggest that, but I still think that he has to be a lot tougher on Republicans, calling the obstructionists out by name, if for no other reason than to energize his loyal base. He lets too many of them operate in relative anonymity in obstructing progress that could help America build a better economy and middle class.

    Right now some of the newly elected Senators like Ted Cruz do not respect or fear President Obama, and hence can get away with crazy stuff. I think President Obama should take some of these guys on...nip their rhetoric in the bud before it becomes even more contagious. Turn the fear back on them using their same tactics. They don't respond to "nice" but they will respond to "fear."

    If President Obama can go more on the offense instead of defense, and manage to shift the trend of the way the "fear game" is played in the next two years, Hillary Clinton will pick up the ball in the next two (2014-2016) and ram it across the goal line. So Michaels, yes under that described scenario, I am also optimistic about 2016. Hillary will play hardball with them like they have never seen, and I don't think a Ted Cruz and his cronies have the balls to take her on. They fear her.

    My opinion...