9-10-04 - 1


All this politics stuff just makes me so furious I can hardly write about it, I begin composing thoughts, and then I start to twitch and foam at the mouth and have to jump and yell and punch something and then I can't think clearly anymore.

I watched a little bit of "Out Foxed" , the documentary on Fox News. I couldn't watch all of it, because it just made me so mad. It's also all stuff I already knew; you just have to watch Fox for a minute and you'll see these incredibly disgusting manipulative tactics, blurring reporting and fiction, presenting propaganda as fact, mixing messages in an intentionally confusing way. The heads of Fox News, Moody and Ailes, intentionally spin the presentation to benefit the Republicans, and they refer to this as "Patriotism". The sad thing about this kind of movie is that the people who really need to see it are the people who watch Fox News, and of course they won't watch it, and they'll call it "liberal black helicopter shit". Furthermore, there's sort of a nasty media balance at play here. If you make some outrageous lie, even if it's not true, it has a lot of impact, a lot of publicity, it sticks in peoples' heads. Now if someone else comes out and goes "wait, he's lying", that is pretty boring, it doesn't even makes the front page. The result of the whole exchange is that people remember the lie.

A good example is this whole "Swift Boat" bullshit. Of course John Kerry served admirably; maybe his Purple Hearts weren't really deserved, but that happens all the time, lots of sort of marginal hearts are given. George Bush got a sweet-heart deal to stay in the US to avoid the war and didn't even show up for his National Guard service. The "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" are clearly a hired gang representing the Republicans and intentionally spewing lies to smear Kerry. Reasonable people know that, but for the average American, the original lie is stronger in their memory.

There's sort of an interesting thing that happens in a debate. You need to debate in a way that sways your audience. Consider the difference between lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court or a Grand Jury vs. lawyers arguing before a normal jury of peers. In the former case, the lawyers know their audience is wise and won't be swayed by theatrics, so they have to win on substance. Before a jury, the truth of the case hardly matters - it's about who makes a more impactful statement, who seems more believable. This is the situation of politics.

One of the problems with liberals in politics is they're far too reasonable. The Republicans are destroying the liberals using tactics that the liberals find disgusting and cheap. The liberals don't use those tactics, and it's killing us. We need to fight fire with fire, we have no choice but to drop to their level. Some of the general things you have to do -

  • Unwavering party loyalty. Never say anything bad about anyone in the party. Of course this is ridiculous - reasonable people within the party will disagree and there should be a wide variety of views, but this has to be stopped. You must have a clear strong single message and present a unified front to the simpleton public. Individual people in the party can actually go around and say totally conflicting things, but you never admit that they're conflicting. In fact, you can promise different things on different days if you're clever, but you never admit they're opposing.

  • Never admit a mistake or a change of mind. No matter how clear it was you made a mistake or changed your mind, you claim it was what you meant to do all along. This is the Pee Wee Herman school of showing strenght - ("I meant to do that").

  • Use slanted/biased media, and don't point it out. This is one of the big failings of the liberals - they're far to virtuous about using questionable media. Michael Moore and his like are doing a great thing by countering the Republican message; yes, it's slanted, so what? So many liberals speak out against his reporting - don't do it! You never see the Republicans saying anything bad about Fox News! Rather, you should say things like "a lot of what Michael Moore says is true".

  • Create nasty stereotypes of Republicans and push them over and over. We need a few archetypes of unlovable Republicans, and we have to keep casting them in those stereotypes. The Republicans have destroyed the liberals with the "upper-west-side jewish, rich, out of touch, pretentious" image. We should counter primarily with one sinister image - the "fat-cat abusive rich corporate corrupt spoiled trust-fund boarding-school capitalist". Often that image is true, but it's important to push it over and over, even when it's totally absurd, or your candidate actually fits it more, it doesn't matter.

  • Politicians should be actors. Actually qualifications don't really matter; what you need is a guy who can believably represent the image you want - the common man, strong, masculine, decisive, etc. Qualities like experience and intelligence are as much a liability as an asset.

  • Use plausible deniability and proxies. If you ever want to do something that you don't want to take the heat for, have an underlying do it, and then claim you had nothing to do with it. This lets you get away with vicious, ridiculus attack adds against the opponent, which you should use without mercy. Attacks are also best done with a counter-punch, let him attack first, and then you counter-attack hard.

  • Repetition. Make a few simple messages and repeat them over and over, like "fat-cat Republicans are getting rich off your labor!". The shorter the better, and just keep saying them, regardless of their relevance or how ridiculous they may be. If you say things enough, people believe them. You can say marginally truthful things like "Dick Cheney's company is getting rich from the war in Iraq". Sure, it's not really quite true, but you also can't say it's false, and if we say it over and over people will believe it and it will affect them. Another good one is "George Bush is driving you into debt!", again sort of true, if you look at the average debt of Americans or the national debt, the good thing about this kind of message is it sounds bad and it sounds personal, and it lets people blame their own problems on politicians.

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old rants