Friday, November 30, 2018

The DPCC Messaging Needs To Defeat Trump-- How Will Ted Lieu, Debbie Dingell And Matt Cartwright Manage?


Liz Cheney, considerably to the right of her father, now holds his old Wyoming House seat. Recently, she leap-frogged over all her colleagues into House GOP leadership as Chair of the House Republican Conference, the 3rd highest-ranking job in the GOP caucus after McCarthy and Scalise. She bumped Cathy McMorris Rodgers out of the position. Jonah Weiner’s piece for the New York Times Magazine, Why The Director of ‘Anchorman’ Decided To Take On Dick Cheney isn’t exactly a celebration of the Cheney family.

Adam McKay, the filmmaker behind Anchorman and Talladega Nights and, more recently an Oscar-winning adaptation of Michael Lewis’s financial-crash caper The Big Short has a new film, Vice, “a grim account of the life of Dick Cheney, with Christian Bale-- smoldering beneath prosthetic jowls and the ample weight he gained for the role-- in the lead.
Far from a grateful tribute, Vice-- which co-stars Amy Adams as Cheney’s wife, Lynne-- proceeds in a spirit of frenetic and ferocious irreverence… Vice is, in tone and form, one of the wildest movies he has made-- and one of the wildest movies ever made about politics, period.

…What is unambiguous, by the end, is McKay’s conviction that the American right, in its post-Reagan consolidation of power, has set our country and our planet on a path to ruin-- and that no single figure illustrates this better than Cheney. “He was the expert safecracker who opened up the safe,” McKay said, alluding to Cheney’s deft dismantling of checks on executive power, “and now the orangutan is in there, throwing around the money and the jewels.” McKay knows that a conservative backlash to his film is very likely, and while he emphasized how diligently he grounded the film in research, he also argued that making a less confrontational movie, hewing to a measured realism would have felt not only boring but also incommensurate to the task.

“I’ve never dealt with a tone like this, and I don’t think it’s by accident,” McKay said. “We’re living in a world with a tone that none of us has ever experienced. Pipe bombs are being sent to the leaders of a political party, and the guy who made Dilbert is saying, You know the bombs were really made by left-wingers because they didn’t work.” He made an incredulous face. “So, you’re claiming the assassination attempts are a false flag operation while slamming the liberals and you’re the guy who did Dilbert?” When it came to the movie’s protean tone, he said, “All I can tell you is that we were very conscious of it, we knew it was challenging and indefinable-- and we knew it had to be.”

This was true, he added, not in spite of the material’s seriousness, but because of it. “I’m suspicious of anything that feels like an old form,” he said. “We’re discovering new styles and forms, because this era we’re in demands it. The world has gotten so cartoonishly exaggerated and over the top. Why be subtle anymore?”

…Like many self-identifying progressives, McKay-- who grew up on food stamps and was raised in suburban Pennsylvania by his waitress single mother (his father, a musician, left the family when McKay was 7)-- has grown steadily disenchanted with what he calls “the corporate left.” This summer he joined the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. He thinks that capitalism must come under greater, Scandinavian-style regulatory control, “especially if we’re going to do anything about climate change.” Earlier this year he left Funny or Die, a comedy website he co-founded in 2007, after it entered into a sponsored-content agreement with Shell, a deal he called “disgusting.”

…In The Big Short, the narrator, played by Ryan Gosling, puts it this way: “Mortgage-backed securities. Subprime loans. Tranches. It’s pretty confusing, right? Does it make you feel bored? Or stupid? Well, it’s supposed to. Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do. Or, even better, for you just to leave them the [expletive] alone.” Last year, McKay directed the pilot for and served as an executive producer on Succession, an HBO drama about a Murdoch-style media-empire patriarch and his reprobate heirs-- their nefarious business dealings and abject power moves.

In Vice, he uses Cheney’s life to tell a broader tale about what McKay describes as “the Republican revolution and how it changed our country.” He sees Cheney as a “Zelig-style” figure of the right. His career in national politics began in the Nixon administration as a congressional intern and then apprentice to Donald Rumsfeld and, from there, intersected and coincided with the rise of key conservative figures: among them the Fox News founder, Roger Ailes, who first floated the idea for a conservative news network while working for Nixon; right-wing megadonors like the Koch brothers; conservative strategy shops like the Heritage Foundation; and, finally, George W. Bush, over whose administration-- and over whose decision to invade Iraq after Sept. 11, despite paltry intelligence linking the two-- Cheney exercised unprecedented influence for a vice president.

One of McKay’s models was The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s landmark biography of Robert Moses. “He’s in the middle of all this stuff,” McKay said of Cheney, “and finally he gets his hand on the wheel.” Unlike Caro, McKay had to tell his story through a camera, and so there are compressions, elisions and metaphors in Vice that reflect both a filmmaker’s desire to enthrall the crowd and a prosecutor’s desire to nail the defendant. Reading journalistic accounts of Cheney’s move, in 2000, from the private sector back into public service, we learn that he took elaborate steps to divest from Halliburton, the oil conglomerate where he was C.E.O., to avoid the appearance of conflict; here, the relationship between Cheney and the energy sector is presented as one of clear cronyism. Or take Sept. 11. In Barton Gellman’s play-by-play of that morning in Angler, it’s strongly implied that Cheney usurped Bush’s authority, ignoring the chain of command and giving fighter jets the O.K. to shoot down commercial airliners if they appeared to be hijacked. The official White House version was that Bush gave Cheney permission to pass along this order, and Gellman, poring carefully through communications records and notes taken by administration staff members, leaves open the extremely slim possibility that this is true. In Vice there is no such equivocation. We see Cheney give the order to take out the planes himself. Compression, of course, isn’t the same as distortion: Jane Mayer, the investigative journalist, described this scene to me as “a perfect gem,” and told McKay, after he screened the movie for her, that he “got it right.”

One way McKay might have buttressed Vice against possible charges of liberal bias would be to include the sorts of political critiques he readily offers up in conversation. “When Clinton was elected, he cut welfare and deregulated banks, just like a Republican would have done,” he said, from his couch. “Obama waged a war against whistle-blowers, he let the banks off the hook and he expanded executive power.” McKay did tinker for a while with stitching points like these into Vice-- making it “the story of Dick Cheney and the rise of the Republican Party, and how they got so big they swallowed the Democrats.” To this end, he pieced in footage of Hillary Clinton supporting the Iraq war. “But it’s hard,” McKay went on. “The audience only has a certain amount of oxygen in their lungs.” As he said earlier: “I could have made the movie three and a half hours long, but you can thank me that I didn’t.” (The film runs just over 130 minutes.)

…On the subject of villainy, McKay said: “Cheney and Bush did kill, conservatively, half a million civilians in Iraq. Some estimates have it at more than a million. So he’s pretty bad.” But, he said, “I think you have to humanize him, because unless we see how a regular human being can go down these roads, it’s useless.” (McKay has heard nothing from the Cheneys, who did not participate in the making of the film, although he noted that Mary started following him on Twitter.)
Is Vice part of the story Democrats need to be telling between now and 2020, when there’s an historical imperative that Trump be sent packing in no uncertain terms and certainly no with any kind of uncertainty that will encourage fascism to rear its ugly head in our country again any time soon? Wednesday, the L.A. Times published an interview with George Lakoff on what Democrats don’t understand-- and Republicans do-- about how voters think. She kicked it off by asking him about what the story Democrats have to tell to voters for the next two years.

Thursday the Democratic caucus in the House elected Ted Lieu, Matt Cartwright and Debbie Dingell co-chairs of the DPCC-- the Democratic Policy and Communication Committee. It’s their bailiwick. This is what Lakoff would like them to know:
The story has two parts, and they have to do with progressive values. One of them comes from Abraham Lincoln, that in a democracy, you have a government that is of, by, and for the people.

“Of” means the ordinary folks are in charge, and “by” means that the people who are governing you have the same life experiences that you have and understand that, and “for” means that the role of the government is to take care of people.

The second thing is that the private depends on public resources, both private life and private enterprise. You can’t have a business without public resources like roads and bridges and airports and the electric grids. But private life is like that too. You need the same roads and bridges and airports and electric grid and much more. Without public resources, you can’t have private enterprise or private life.

And that's something that is rarely said. If you ask a Democrat if that’s true, they’ll all say yes and they’ll give examples. But if you ask them, “Have you ever said it?” the answer is, no.

And that’s the point. They haven’t said it.

…Every Democrat should deliver the same messages and repeat them over and over and over. Not only that, they should repeat them every time they have a policy, and they should point out how the policy relates to these values.

You want to say this over and over so that people understand, after a couple of years of hearing it-- maybe getting tired of it. But the point is that they would understand that’s what democratic values are, and why they are so crucial.

…It’s not just democratic values. It’s the values of living in a democracy. You can’t have a business without public resources; that affects every business. It affects Republicans as well as Democrats. When you talk about what Lincoln’s words mean-- of, by and for the people-- that affects all sorts of people, Republicans as well as Democrats.

There is a way of talking to people, to say, “Imagine that you don’t have public resources. Imagine that there were no roads, that there were no airports, that there were no air traffic controllers and so on. Here’s what a public resource is. Imagine that it wasn’t there.”

And the Republicans might just say, “Well, privatize them-- privatize roads, privatize airports.”

All very nice except that that won’t happen. If you privatize them, they become a matter of profit for people, and since you absolutely require them, [the private owners] can bilk you for as much as they want. That’s why they’re public resources.

Framing is a concept you brought to the table-- the way you tell the story, the way you make your point. Democrats don’t seem to be as good at it as [Republicans]. Democrats don’t know how people think. It’s really sad. The problem is what I call the Enlightenment reason. [Former President Barack] Obama, in his [recent] speech, talked about the importance of Enlightenment reason. And a week later, Hillary Clinton is talking at Wellesley about how it was important that Wellesley teach Enlightenment reason.

Enlightenment reason says everybody reasons the same way; that’s what makes them human. Whereas if you have different world views, you’re going to reason differently. Enlightenment reason says that all you need to do is get the facts, and everybody will reason to the right conclusion, since everybody has the same reason. No. If they have different worldviews, they’ll reason to different conclusions.

Enlightenment reason does not recognize different worldviews. Enlightenment reason doesn’t admit framing. It doesn’t admit metaphorical thought. It doesn’t admit the way people really work.

The Democrats don’t understand this. They think that if you just tell people the facts, they will all reason to the right conclusion. That’s why they keep coming up with fact after fact after fact, rather than framing things in a way so that people will understand why these things are important.

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At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheney is, indeed, a true villain. You cannot humanize he who is not now nor has ever been human. He married pure evil. He sired purer evil. the implication, supported by the trump crime family, is that evil is hereditary AND it gradually gets worse and worse.

He was a founder of PNAC, which was formed to justify aggressive war for oil. He named himself, unconstitutionally, W's veep. He either invented or facilitated or both the anthrax attacks that killed people. He fabricated false proof and conducted propaganda campaigns to make American idiots support an invasion of Iraq for oil and regional hegemony... all in pursuit of PNAC's explicit yearnings.

He is an obscene war profiteer from the war he started for no other reason than to profiteer.

"Cheney’s deft dismantling of checks on executive power"

This is also, of course, true. He was not alone. There was newt also.... but, not mentioned, naturally since that is not the intent of this site, is that while cheney was imploding checks on executive power (including inventing a 4th branch of government for himself as veep), Pelosi had the gavel in the house, Kucinich had put forward articles of impeachment on him, and that Pelosi both refused to check cheney (or bush or anyone) and refused to allow those articles to be heard in committee nor on the house floor.

So, all you sheep, remember that cheney could not do all that himself. He had help from his side AND he had even more help from Pelosi's "side".

"All that is required for evil to flourish is for good (people) to do nothing".

But you won't ever see that perspective here.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger ryan said...
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At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

only the flattest of EEG flat liners on the left will ever believe ANY democrap party messaging until the democraps DEMONSTRATE that they are NOT the fully-owned and operated subsidiary of corporations.

As a fully-owned and operated subsidiary of corporations, the democraps CAN ONLY lie about it. They'll never ever act against their own interests.

Anyone who can produce even the slightest little bump on their EEG knows this.

If you want the democrats to win with regularity, not just after a total fuckup of a shit show, they'll have to produce actual results... not just talk out of the side of their mouths that doesn't have a corporate penis in it.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because a Democrat says something doesn't mean it is a "fact". One of the problems with Party boosters is that they are twisted sociopaths that can not discern fact from fiction.

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats talk a great deal. They just never DO anything about the topic presented.

Look at everything they ever said about Cheney and Dubya, and even Obama. They brag in the media about what they are going to do, and their opposition takes steps to prevent any of this from happening.

Imagine if Eisenhower had shipped all of the plans for Operation Overlord direct to Rommel. This is what the Democrats do. Even the few good ones have yet to learn not to telegraph their punches.

So to all the Democrats, STFU. SHOW ME through your actions and stow the blather. No one believes what you say much anymore anyway. Less time for action wasted.

I'm waiting . . .

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not waiting on the democraps any more. I stopped waiting in about '85.

Right now I'm waiting for some sort of organic leftist movement to coalesce or for me to die. I'm not holding out much hope that the former will occur before the latter. But I won't care, will I??

It's a shame americans will never rejoin our previous striving to "a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility... promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity".

Instead all we americans will ever do will be to serve our moneyed overlords. The Nazis will believe they are forcibly maintaining their God-given white supremacy; the lefties will believe that those servants of the overlords they elect are really altruists and/or the only possible buffer against the Nazis.
The lefties are delusional, of course. At some point their decades-long fantasies will be betrayed by reality... but not soon enough.

But I'm sure I'll be dead... so whatever. I tried.

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our founders are all dead, fortunately for them. If they were alive, they'd all be weeping.

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

imagine if the democraps ONLY gave a flying fuck about 'messaging' in 1932.

We'd all be "Seig Heil"ing toward Munich more times per day than islamics have to pray/prey ever since 1939. The Japanese would never have HAD to attack Pearl.


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