I think this is the conclusion. But this isn’t easy stuff, and the preceding parts (see below for index) were meant to set you up for the finale. And fireworks, we got! Strap in, pilgrims …
- Selling the New Nixon, part i (2011/12/01)
- Selling the New Nixon – A Clockwork Luntz (2011/12/05)
- Selling the New Nixon – What Ailes Us (2011/12/07)
- Selling the New Nixon – Pavlov in Action (2011/12/13)
And now, the conclusion …
i. NEWTERED! The New York Times provides one of the keys [emphasis added]:
January 26, 2012, 11:04 PM
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Back in 1994, while plotting his takeover of the House, Gingrich circulated a memo on how to use words as a weapon. It was called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Republicans were advised to use certain words in describing opponents — sick, pathetic, lie, decay, failure, destroy. That was the year, of course, when Gingrich showed there was no floor to his descent into a dignity-free zone, equating Democratic Party values with the drowning of two young children by their mother, Susan Smith, in South Carolina.
Today, if you listen carefully to any Gingrich takedown, you’ll usually hear words from the control memo….
This has been my point. Politics, as now practiced by the “Republicans” (who have morphed from the progressive party of Lincoln and Roosevelt to something that, even in their wildest paroxysms of Social Darwinism, have always found anathema: a party of low-minded bigotry and racial prejudice, which had formerly been the province of Southern Democrats, the Strom Thurmonds and Jesse Helms’ who became pillars of the modern “Republican” party, a party bearing only a spelling in common with the famed “Party of Lincoln”) as not practiced by Republicans, such AS Newt Gingrich, is confined exclusively to neuro-linguistic programming by repeated Pavlovian Conditioning of key words. Consider “Death Tax,” and “Entitlement Reform” or even “That statement is inoperative.” Or, “Tubercular,” or, most significantly, “failed presidency.”
Which brings me to this weekend’s Bill Maher “Real Time” segment.
ii. SURREAL TIME with Anton Pavlov
I want you to be aware of just how effective this tactic is. And I want to use Bill Maher’s closing monologue “Who The F*** Is Saul Alinsky?” to wrap up this series. If you’ve read up to this point, all the dendrites are properly reconnected and all we have to do is fire up your new neural grid. So, I’ll begin a few minutes previously in that program when the central interrupting shrew (seemingly a fill-in for a last-minute drop-out) was presented with the proper stimulus to activate her Pavlovian conditioning, à la “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
The discussion came around to religion, and Bill Maher was discussing how ridiculous the notion that Obama was a Muslim, when he obviously had attended a Christian Church.
If you’ve been conditioned using the Key Mechanism, you’re way ahead of me.
INSTANTLY, without an actual thought, the interrupting shrew snorted “REVERENT WRIGHT!”
Location of the Amygdala (“Reptile Brain”) in the Human Brain bottom view; forebrain at top
It was NOT a “debate point.” There was no “there” there. It was a conditioned emotional response. You can troll for it in the blogosphere. Merely state that President Obama is a Christian, and you will INSTANTLY get that conditioned response.
But we are NOT rats. That is what I’m trying to warn you against. We have to ACTIVELY fight the rat conditioning. Because, liberal, moderate or conservative; libertarian or communitarian, I don’t think ANY of us wants a nation in which the reptile brain determines national and foreign policy. Certainly there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers didn’t want that. “Mobocracy” has ever been a slander in American politics; not an Ideal. When they say “Death Tax” you have to INSTANTLY say: “No: ESTATE Tax” and, if you’re feeling frisky, or are you in FAVOR of an hereditary oligarchy? You know, actual barons and dukes and earls with or without titles? A permanent, hereditary rich class?
Some serious cognitive dissonance: “NANCY PELOSI Action Figure complete with Water Board” Hunh?
iii. Do words actually matter? Depends on what words.
When they say “Democrat Party” you must instantly stand up for the name of your party (whether or not you are affiliated, the Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world, and that is a prideful AMERICAN thing), just as you’d stand up if someone called the president a “nigger,” or the Energy Secretary a “chink” or the former Governor of Alaska a “retard.”
If we CARE about language, then we’ve GOT to care about this Skinnerian Conditioning of the Rat-race.
Because when the conditioning kicked in on Maher’s “Real Time,” THE CONVERSATION WAS DERAILED. “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
And that is intentional. Just as the anti-union Republican congress has gone on strike until and unless their demands are agreed to, so, too, “Conservative” speakers have been tutored in the “run out the clock” school of debate, by actively throwing out little conversation stoppers, as in the story of Hippomenes, who used three golden apples to distract Atalanta during their potentially fatal matrimonial footrace.
Only, what’s tossed out is less akin to golden apples than what’s in that burning paper bag that was left on your doorstep when the kids rang the doorbell and ran.
But Maher puts the argument in a nutshell. Although he uses the trope that the Republicans run against fake candidates, creating them inside their bubble — like the French War Criminal John Kerry. “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
My point. Except that I prefer the old “straw man argument” concept brought up-to-date.
GI JOE Action figure box
In front of Rachel Maddow’s Emmy, in her office, there is an Action GI Joe™ Figure box.
Now, if, instead of running against, say, Rick Santorum, you created all sorts of “Rick Santorum” qualities and then ascribed them to the action GI JOE and ran against (you don’t actually have to have anything IN the box), you would bed not merely creating a complete “straw man” argument, but y0u would be engaged in precisely what is being done to President Obama and a lot of other Democratic Party politicians.
“Tax and spend liberal!” fits nicely in that box. “Big spending, big government leftist!” ALSO fits in that box. Everything fits in that box that your serpentine strategist suggests would make the ACTUAL person represented by your rhetorical Voodoo Juju doll repulsive or unappealing to the electorate. Or, rather, to the electorate’s REPTILE brain.
Old Ivan Pavlov would be proud.
It gives the old football term as applied to politics “Getting your bell rung” a new and entirely appropriate meaning.
And that’s what we’ve got: you “define” the opposition candidate as an Action Figure — the “Failed President” Obama, Socialist Muslim Gun-Grabbing Wealth Redistributionist from Kenya Action Figure. (Burka and AK-47 sold separately.)
And now, they are relentlessly hammering home the Pavlovian points. Listen for them, and, when possible, reject them.
Actual Obama action figure for sale in 2008 note the multiple hand gestures sets
The fact that they’ve successfully revamped Social Security and Medicare (which we PAY for) as “Entitlement Programs” has put their ball on We, The People’s one yard line. Ask WHAT THE HELL DO MEN “ENTITLEMENT”? I pay my hard-earned cash INTO them. I’m OWED, not “ENTITLED.” Or the absurd (and I mean that literally: 1. at variance with reason; manifestly false 2. ludicrous; ridiculous) notion that’s been sold to everybody that SIMPLER tax codes = FAIRER tax codes.
Simpler criminal codes aren’t necessarily fairer criminal codes. OK: Ten years in prison for every misdemeanor, death for every felony. Simpler, yes. But fairer?
Our tax code is a monument and testament to the eternal craftiness of the Mitt Romneys and Newt Gingriches of the world to find the narrowest loophole through which to weasel out of taxes. And let me tell you, some of the dodges that they’ve come up are required study for anyone preparing to become an Enrolled Agent, licensed by the IRS.
Go to a “flat tax” — overturning a well understood concept of progressive taxation going back over two millennia to ancient Athens — and watch the weasels literally wallow in orgasmic ecstasy.
iv. More Reptile Brain Follies!
As the battle is lost at the reptile brain level, the whole notion of debate and discussion is subverted. And, as the notion that money buys air time becomes the determinant — barring such douchebaggery that even Republican primary voters can’t be convinced to go along in the name of Jesus Christ, the Founding Fathers and Saint Ronald of Ray Gun — our nation becomes not merely a crippled giant, but, as the world increasingly fears, a RETARDED giant, wandering after wills o’ the wisp amidst the wispy whippoorwills.
We are in an incredibly destabilized world as of 2012, and pitting childish fantasies against the real and immediate problems of a world economy not-quite-melted-down is incredibly dangerous. If you feel that placing your fate in the Invisible Hand of the Market in all things is the One True Capitalist Religion, that’s fine, but just remember how it bitch-slapped Atlas Shrugged — The Movie.
The mindset is not confined to “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
But recognize how insidiously you’ve been conditioned via jingles and commercials to prefer Coke to Pepsi, to “The King of Beers,” how drinking Dr. Pepper makes you different and original, or Dr. Pepper for Men is somehow good for chest hair, but antithetical to estrogenies.
Bill Maher continues to note that Newt used the choice between Apple Pie Patrioticism Flag-Flag-Reagan and “Saul Alinsky style radicalism” Here is the closing, in text [h/t Brad Blog]:
You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional President.
His name is Barack X and he’s an Islamo-Socialist revolutionary who’s coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries and taking his cues from Europe — or worse yet, Saul Alinsky!
And this is how politics has changed.
You used to have to run against an actual candidate. But now, you just recreate him inside the bubble and run against your new fictional candidate. That’s how Bush won in 2004: By running against John Kerry — a French war criminal.
And speaking of Bush, I know conservatives are saying, “Oh, Bill, come on, Democrats did the same thing to him!”
Say what you will about the Left’s hatred of Bush, at least we were hating on the real guy. We didn’t invent a bogey-man who tanked the economy, took us to war on false pretenses and tortured prisoners. That was the actual guy!
But run down the list of complaints about Fantasy Obama: He wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them; confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it; and read terrorists their rights — yeah, like he did Tuesday in Somalia…
… You see the difference is, the Republicans hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do, what he’s thinking, what he secretly wants to change. Anger with Bush was based on what he actually did.
What Bush was thinking didn’t matter, because he wasn’t.
And, in its way, that’s what I’ve been leading up to in all of this. The artificial creation of rhetorical bogeymen is a very dangerous tactic. (And, like that GI JOE box, you don’t need an actual action figure. You just need language to tell your voting audience what’s IN the box. Which may not exist at all, or is merely a series of gut language conditionings attached to the “action figure” you’ve created.)
KENYA! BIRTH CERTIFICATE!
(And note that I predicted this back in March of 2008.)
These are no more nor less than Skinnerian Conditioning: using language to create specific emotional responses in the architecture of the brain, specifically in the pre-mammalian portion we call the Amygdala, the reptile brain that associates cold beer with boobs, chewing gum and breath mints with kissing, and Marie Osmond with losing weight.
Madison Avenue has had no problem with the disgusting spectacle of this lowest-common-denominator psychological conditioning, and politics has devolved to the same thing. As any quick assay of the current GOP primary TV ads will tell you. “Mitt Romney: Blood Money” is running trailers in time for the Florida primary, Tuesday. But, creepy and plastic though Mitt may be (a plastic action figure, in his case, would be manifestly redundant), this is over the top, unreal and manifestly unfair.
It is not so much any ideology we have to excise from American politics, as it is a sophisticated system of screwing with the preconscious areas of the voters’ brains!
I don’t care for the hit job Brian Ross of ABC News tried to pull on Newt Gingrich last week before the South Carolina primary any more than I cared for his breaking of the “Reverend Jeremiah Wright” story in 2008 (or the Rahm Emmanuel story on Nov. 7, the day after Obama’s election), for the selfsame reason. In neither case did it work, but that’s not the point. Those tactics ought be condemned, and it is a particularly 19th century sort of mud-slinging, technology notwithstanding.
This attempt to subvert our votes via our reptile brain is EVEN MORE OFFENSIVE — no matter which party does it. Because it is extremely dangerous, on so very many levels.
Worse, if you REALLY do it right, some angry “Christian” anti-, say, abortion fanatic will assassinate you in church. The tissue-thin rationalization of “States Rights!” was used to send over 600,000 Americans to their death 150 years ago, and we’re not immune, by any stretch.
I fear, in fact, that Citizens United case may well be the Dred Scott blunder of our age, derailing our nation in a manner that only blood and fire can restore. But refusing to capitulate to this regime of “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” is not only a battle that must be fought, but is a battle that too few seem to realize is even a necessary struggle.
“You deserve a break today … so get up and get away …”
“My bologna has a first name it’s …”
“Fly the friendly skies of …”
“Roto-Rooter, that’s the name …”
“they’re magically de-licious!”
If you heard any jingles in your brain, you’ve been conditioned. If you know all the products not named, you’ve been conditioned, like any lab rat in any third-rate land grant university. And that OUGHT to offend you, at least a little.
v. Actors and poseurs, including a little acting tip from Old Hollywood
Just remember, Richard Nixon started this new Republican emphasis on politics-as-advertising, Ronald Reagan pushed it into politics-as-televised-theater*, and Bush the Smarter and Bush the Dumber took politics into Docudrama Fiction (think of the “mission accomplished” speech) as Newt took it into neurolinguistic programming of the Id.
[* I always appreciated Reagan’s Hollywood professionalism, as I equally despised the subterfuge. But he had learned the tricks of the trade and used them seamlessly. An example: one of the things I was taught by Harvey Lembeck was that for film or stage, you never hold an old-style phone as you would normally hold a phone. You cheat it back so that the camera can see your face.
Some disgruntled hippies maintained that this
was the actual Ronald Reagan, metaphorically
Why? Because, the prop phone generally DOESN’T WORK. And, as with fight scenes, a lot of human behaviors on film require trickery. (There is nothing “naturalistic” about film and video. You get “natural” looking shots by hard work, good light and good framing.)
You can get away with holding an old time phone’s mouthpiece all the way back on your jaw, and the audience thinks it looks completely natural. Like doing a two shot, with both actors cheated to three-quarters profile speaking “eye-to-eye” even though they’re not looking at one another except peripherally in real life. On film, it looks like a real staredown.
But if you’ll watch, a gazillion semi-trained, wanna-be actors grab that old phone and cut off half of their botox’ed puss.
Ronald Reagan, Hollywood veteran, knew exactly how to hold a phone for the camera.
Oval Office phone photo
George W. Bush, on the other hand, was what Washington D.C. THOUGHT Reagan was doing, but without a thousand Boraxo™ and Borateem™ commercials under his belt, he never really understood how to play sincere to the camera, and ofttimes had only three expressions during long speeches, as anyone who watched any of his SOTU’s can attest. He was never up to the level of a dinner-theater actor, although he could do the large crowds thing.
And, as Oregon politics taught me, in an age of microphones, it’s utterly ATROCIOUS how many politicians have NO IDEA of how to speak into any microphones, let alone the new-fangled chest-high “microphones for idiots,” which they insist on getting right up to their face and yelling into, even as every speaker in Harris Hall crackles from overload.
If you’re going to be in front of cameras, learn how to present yourself to them. And if you’re going to do political yak for a living, learn about microphones. As in Ancient Athens, rhetoric IS politics, pure and simple. All laws and speeches and transcripts and regulations are words. So, learn about microphones. Please?]
Selling the “New” Nixon – 1968
And Roger Ailes, who runs Faux Nooz™ signed on with Richard Nixon in 1968 at the beginning:
“It’s a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this to get elected,” Mr. Nixon is supposed to have remarked to Mr. Ailes. “Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is, you’ll lose again,” Mr. Ailes is supposed to have remarked to Mr. Nixon. And there the modern conservative movement — not the ideological entity but the telegenic one — was born.
Roger Ailes @ left, unaccustomedly
And Ailes was determined to get GOP news on TV as far back as the Nixon Administration:
Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 07/01/2011
Richard Nixon and Roger Ailes 1970s plan to put the GOP on TV
By Melissa Bell | The Washington Post
[…] A memo entitled “A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News,” buried in the the Nixon library details a plan between Ailes and the White House to bring pro-administration stories to television networks around the country. It reads: “Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.”
It’s just one 15-page section in a 318-page cache John Cook, at Gawker, pulled out from the Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush libraries….
Karl Rove, Faux Nooz™ commentator and former “Bush’s Brain” now runs GPS Crossroads and related entities. He is planning to spend somewhere north of $250 million conditioning voters to vote Republican in this election cycle. Probably by claiming that Obama “looks French” and “has two black children.”
Karl Rove of American Crossroads
vi: What Finally Ail(e)s the Body Politic
The rational mind had better get ready to face down the Id, or, the savage instinctual brain, if you wish. But the only way that “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” is defeated is by using language intelligently, even if it means chanting counter-memes.
And, MOST disturbing (I heard it twice just this morning , once from Mitt Romney; once from a South Florida Retiree-atrice in the street): “Take him out.”
Which, in every action movie of the past couple of decades means: KILL him. You don’t “take out” an American president. You kick him out of office, or make him a “one-term president” (another conditioning meme), but “take him out”? Retards. (And not the elementary recess bullies who dominate political debate with “I know you are but what am I?” and its close relative “I’m rubber, you’re glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you,” but, rather, the comatose media who does not challenge such outrageous language.)
And, OK, I apologize for the term. Either words are important or they aren’t. Both sides agree that they’re important, but not on WHICH words are important:
“Jeremiah Wright” or “Food stamp president”? “Orientals” or “Asian-Americans”? “Failed president” or “socialist”? “Chairman” or “Chairperson”? “Feminist” or “Feminazi”? “Obama lowered America’s credit rating” or “Tea-partiers nearly brought the nation to a standstill and one jittery credit agency lowered our credit rating from AAA to AA+”?
The only way that “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” is defeated is by countering that “control mechanism” language. (And, are you noting how “Big Brotherish” that specific title formulation is? Language sometimes reveals more than was intended by its wielder.)
By comparison, Aristophanes’ caricature of the Sophists seems almost noble in contrast:
By Aristophanes 423 BC
[FATHER] Go, I entreat you, dearest of men, go and be taught.
[SON] Why, what shall I learn?
[FATHER] They say that among them are both the two causes—the better cause, whichever that is, and the worse: they say that the one of these two causes, the worse, prevails, though it speaks on the unjust side. If, therefore you learn for me this unjust cause, I would not pay any one, not even an obolus [small coin] of these debts, which I owe at present on your account.
Now, we accept lawyers as a matter of course. But people who intentionally screw with the mechanism of your brain?
Meet Action-Figure Obama, from the people who brought you Action-Figure Bush:
If you ever hear Mitt Romney’s stump speech creating the Action-figure Obama (and I can pretty well guarantee that, eventually, you will), you may be astonished that you don’t recognize the person he’s painting, or that nearly all of his charges are grandiloquently, ponderously, pachydermously false — a form of pachydermatitis or pachyeczema, seemingly.
I began this series when I heard one of the slytherines from the National Review using that term “tubercular” very specifically, if ham-handedly, to create a conditioning repetition in the brains of the listeners about the Occupy protesters. (Based on a single news story claiming that at one camp in the USA, someone had tuberculosis.) November 29, 2011, KCRW, Santa Monica, California:
RE: Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review, @charlescwcooke
A reader writes:
Plea to the producers and Mr. Olney: Please be prepared to counter slander and unsupported claims from guests, especially when you ask for comparisons. Charles Cooke’s snide, off-hand denigrating of the OWS protestors as compared to the Tea Party because, among other things, “rape” and “murder” and “tuberculosis” accompany OWS, implies that the OWS movement is comparatively unsanitary and unsafe. This sort of generalization is, to say the least, not well founded. Blaming the protesters or their tactics for the criminal actions of one or a small number of people is unfair, as Mr. Cooke acknowledges it would be unfair to blame the protesters for the behavior of someone who is mentally ill. Yet he portrays OWS in a poor light in comparison to the Tea Party on just this basis.
Here is the download link for the above-encoded mp3: http://download.kcrw.com/audio/803115/tp_2011-11-29-153115.mp3
Or this from The Ticket via Yahoo news:
By Chris Moody | The Ticket – Thu, Dec 1, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Republican Governors Association met this week in Florida to give GOP state executives a chance to rejuvenate, strategize and team-build. But during a plenary session on Wednesday, one question kept coming up: How can Republicans do a better job of talking about Occupy Wall Street?
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about “income inequality” and “paying your fair share.”
Yahoo News sat in on the session, and counted 10 do’s and don’ts from Luntz covering how Republicans should fight back by changing the way they discuss the movement.
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”
… and so forth …
The point is to pound a word or a phrase repeatedly into the minds of the listeners, which will act as a rhetorical virus, constantly coloring the political question as in “Entitlement Reform” …
Kind of like I’ve been doing by repeating this in boldfaced blue: “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
“Where all is but dream, reasoning
and arguments are of no use,
truth and knowledge nothing.”
~ John “inalienable rights” Locke
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.