Mike the Mad Biologist

I See Stupid People: The John Boehner Edition

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This transcends absurd: Republican Rep. John Boehner, the House Majority Leader, stated on national television that Al-Queda and Saddam Hussein were linked, even though President Bush himself has admitted no connection. Keep in mind, Boehner isn’t some councilman in a podunk little town. He is one of the most influential members of Congress. And he is utterly delusional. On behalf of the Coalition of the Sane, I ask, can we please have our country back?

Comments

  1. #1 SkookumPlanet
    September 28, 2006

    Dub and Vee Dub built that linkage into the physical environment that Americans live in. Literally. So for many people it’s simply a fact of life, like the sun rising in the east. For people who don’t think, or don’t rationally analyze data from various sources, or who wouldn’t even know data if they sat on it, this is how they know the linkage is true. I bet Boehner has enough of these idiots in his district, he’s got a safe seat. So he’s one of the “it’s all about terrorism” memecarriers for this election.

    They built that linkage into the physical environment that Americans live in? Literally? Yeah. I explained it in Led to War by Proximity Soundbites at Chris Mooney’s last spring.

  2. #2 Michele
    September 28, 2006

    Resign yourself to the fact that the government is full of stupid people. You are faced with stupid people at every turn. Speaking of stupid and government …how about this from Tony Snow:
    The Bush administration vs. the founding American principles
    As has been clear for some time, the Bush administration lacks an understanding of and/or a belief in the most basic principles of our system of government.

    Here is Tony Snow today (via Atrios), defending the president’s “signing statements” and responding to this question: “But isn’t it the Supreme Court that’s supposed to decide whether laws are unconstitutional or not?”

    Snow: “No, as a matter of fact the president has an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is an obligation that presidents have enacted through signing statements going back to Jefferson. So, while the Supreme Court can be an arbiter of the Constitution, the fact is the President is the one, the only person who, by the Constitution, is given the responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend that document, so it is perfectly consistent with presidential authority under the Constitution itself.”

    Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Papers No. 78: “The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts … It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.”

    James Madison, in Federalist Papers No. 47: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

  3. #3 bigTom
    September 28, 2006

    Everyone.
    SkookumPlanet is brillant. Follow his link, and read the entire set of responses, paying especial attention to everything SkookumPlanet says. The team running Bush, has excellent grasp of how to manipulate the thinking of the non-analytical public, and clearly nop scruples about using this “technology” to win elections, and push policies.
    Guys like Boehner, have attached themselves to this wagon, because they think winning the “culture war” is so important, and admitting that Bush&co have tottaly blown the whole security/terrorism thing would set back their cause immensely.
    They say the first step in facing a problem (like alcoholism say) is admitting you have the problem. We have to bring the people to realize how they’ve been fooled (manipulated via psychological/emotional marketing techniques), only then will the whole nasty enterprise unravel. I keep thinking we have to be close to some sort of critical mass (of upset over the fact that the whole world is falling apart, and coming out against us), that people just might be receptive to some thinking/analysis.

  4. #4 Michael Hopkins
    September 28, 2006

    I have had dozens of lawyers and tax specialists look at our ministry and tell us that we are not breaking any laws and the three charges they brought against us are bogus…

    Let me guess, dozens of lawyers and tax specialists who are either hired by Hovind to say those things and/or fellow nuts who will say anything Hovind asks.

    Snow: “No, as a matter of fact the president has an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is an obligation that presidents have enacted through signing statements going back to Jefferson. So, while the Supreme Court can be an arbiter of the Constitution, the fact is the President is the one, the only person who, by the Constitution, is given the responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend that document, so it is perfectly consistent with presidential authority under the Constitution itself.”

    Mr. Snow, the president does has the obligation to protect the Constitution. The way the Consitution gave the president a way to deal with laws he thinks are unconstitutional. It is called the veto. And if by some chance Congress overrides his veto, he can challenge the law in courts.

  5. #5 Michael Hopkins
    September 28, 2006

    Sorry folks, the Hovind bit did not belong here — obviously.

  6. #6 SkookumPlanet
    September 28, 2006

    Mad Mike
    I shouldn’t have avoided this blog for so long. Clearly you have the most insightful, intelligent, and discriminating commenters in the blogosphere.

    bigTom
    Thank you for the free advertising. If I ever publish a book, you can write the lead jacket blurb. I want to add something, extend, argue against or whatever the idea[s] at the end of your comment. First, your metaphor of alcoholism is a good one. It’s basically the idea that first you must define the problem correctly, or risk that everything that follows is for naught. Science is well aware of this concept.

    But only speaking of, and only doing, “people [how] to realize how they’ve been fooled” isn’t, alone, enough. And that even needs be done very selectively. Naming the device can be really effective because many of these techniques are designed to work sub-consciously. Making them conscious to the manipulatees cripples them.

    An example. In the Mooney thread I didn’t specify what the Democrats could have done when the Republicans began using the term “Death Tax.” But the Democrats did nothing. So, if you see a massive, coordinated effort to arbitrarily rename/rebrand something, you don’t need to know why [generally]. They obviously have a reason, so while you are trying to figure it out, you simply counter-campaign with, “Something’s up folks. The Republicans are trying to rename the Estate Tax.” Then you are at least keeping the old brand in the public’s attention. How hard is that to figure out? You might also add, “Who knows what kind of slick snakeoil they are trying to sell, but hang onto your wallets!” Meanwhile, analyze what’s up and devise counter strategies.

    It’s a grossly demoralizing indicator that none of the Democrats could figure this out, and they still can’t.

    But here’s what’s missing in your comment. This is very sophisticated technology and there’s more and more of it. It can be very subconscious. It can’t all be named and explicated. The left would have to buy entire seasons of series scheduling slots on all the networks to have enough time, and no one would watch. It’s critical that this stuff be counter-campaigned in the same arena, at the same level. Otherwise, it’s the same thing as the death tax. Standing aside and watching while the other side operates.

    Here’s an example I’ve used before that’s far distant from the sexier stuff in the Mooney thread. There are so many items, like this one, that make up the gestalt of a voter’s emotional feelings about politics and power that most of it is, for all practicality, inaccessible to them, to all of us really. Here’s a minor example.

    During the Republican convention that nominated Reagan the first time, numerous media people commented on-air about how strange the convention hall looked. All the red, white, and blue were strangely off-hue, I don’t remember how it was described. And these media people had all been told by the party’s PR that the reason was this — these hues were picked to present the correct, perfect, etc. red, white, and blue on a television screen! Camera’s and CRT’s don’t reproduce color accurately and these colors would look right. [I actually know a bit about this, and the RGB technology was chosen early on because it was best at displaying skin color. No, I don't know whose skin.]

    Why should this matter? Likely numerous reasons, here’s one. An undecided voter who watches both conventions won’t recognize there’s a difference in the red, white, and blue. Actually, almost no one outside of those who use color professionally will notice anything. But the Republican convention will look more patriotic, more American, brighter and more optimistic. So, it reverses. It will actually be the Democrats who will look off-hue, rather, will seem off-hue, who will seem off.

    I’ve got a similar example about testing laundry detergent box colors in the fifties. Another [if I rewrite it from memory] looking at a specific camera shot-setup used to make the fake reality in biomedical and science video press releases seem more real, that everyone sees and never notices, where it comes from and why it’s used, and how I watched Nightline institute it for several months, and then drop it. These techniques, some we see daily and never notice, actually do effect how we perceive the data coming in. Otherwise the industries using them wouldn’t do so. The battle has to be engaged at this level.

    I’ve been accumulating examples of the far right’s process manipulation of the press and have 6 or 7. These are, and will always be, invisible to the public, and most of us. Somebody, somewhere has carefully analyzed how, say, newspapers work, day to day, internally and then identified weak points/inflection points that could be used to influence media content way, way, way before it gets to consumers.

    This is what I’m addressing, or trying to. The only way to counter this is get in the game. There is a severe limit to how many things can be put before the American people at one given time. Maybe half-dozen to a dozen. Matthew Nisbett said, “The media, policy, and public agenda can be said to have a “limited carrying capacity”, which I think an excellent metaphor. There’s huge competition to get in there. No way giving citizens a seminar on the right’s process manipulation of the press is important enough to expend the resources to get it there. As far as I know, the left is doing little, very little of this type of approach.

    Why? Because the left is having a giant debate, as it dies, about which previous mistakes are most important to make again next. All their energy is absorbed in this. There’s a tiny bit of discussion in the realm I’m addressing, the so-called framing approach. It’s astounding that the left could be plummeting into irrelevancy so rapidly. and essentially no one is saying, “Hold it! Stop! Nothing is working. We’ve tried everything. Maybe there’s something going on we don’t understand, don’t even know about.” I don’t mean no one’s figuring out is that’s true. I mean the thought is not even in anyone’s mind.

    Meanwhile the other side is in a completely different part of the landscape, sailing along their own agenda on their own timetable with nothing ahead to slow them down. I’m trying to get someone, anyone, a few, to break their obsession with the current debate about all the old things that were thought most important. Just to look long enough to see what’s actually going on.

    That’s all I got. The rest is up to the individual who hears something, then turns around to look in a new direction. And who then says to themselves, “I don’t know.”

    Is the Reagan color gambit dishonest? It is actually providing a “real” color experience. The use of psychomarketing does not have to be in any way incompatible with ethics and truth and ideology. But refusing to play at this level allows the opposition to pillage at will. The far right is actually, over a long time span, setting up Americans’ individual mental environments so that, in essence, they are pre-conditioning how people treat new incoming information. Later, when you make fact-based information available, it never makes it through the front gate.

    So, the biggest obstacle to the left returning to political power is a massive refusal to look at and understand how the far-right has been successful, learn from it, and join the 21st century. This, I’ve unfortunately come to believe, is the most difficult, intractable problem possible because it’s composed of this block in everyone’s own individual psyche. I fear the left needs to change individual by individual. And even worse, to do so, individuals will have to, some way, come to the conclusion that everything they think is important about political life, isn’t. Finally, even when individuals change — I guessing here — they can’t simply return to the old debate. Everyone else is still looking in the wrong direction and the new thinkers will be right back into the fray. It’s the debating forum that’s wrong, so how do you argue that idea if you are in it? The psychological transaction involved is that you are arguing what you are doing [presenting the argument] is wrong. If true, I don’t have any idea how to solve that.

  7. #7 Mike the Mad Biologist
    September 29, 2006

    Skookum,

    now if only I could live up to the standards of my commenters…

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