Daily News/Blog Posts

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald Tells Truthout How the Koch Brothers Endanger Democracy and Our Health . BuzzFlash at Truthout first got to know Robert Greenwald when he and Earl Katz, who is now chair of Public Interest Pictures, were trying to get a film about the theft of the 2000 presidential election, "Unprecedented," off the ground. That was over a decade ago (4/12)

NYT Unloads on Scott Walker: The Wages of Ideology. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is struggling to fight off a determined effort to replace him in an extraordinary recall election scheduled for June 5. The original reason more than 900,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to get him out of office was his signature on a bill that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights (4/12)

Walker's snotty weak campaign start reflects his real personality. . The one benefit Scott Walker will see from the recall election, will be the dilution of protesters at his many stops throughout Wisconsin. It will be hard to keep up with him (4/12)

Mitt Romney's 'Women for Romney' surrogate is not for equal pay for women in Wisconsin. As he shakes the Etch A Sketch, Mitt Romney is trying hard to boost his appeal among women, after fully embracing the war on women just to keep up with Rick Santorum (4/12).

Walker flees Wisconsin people, Hides with Charlie Sykes. Even though everyone deserves to know exactly when Scott Walker first knew about the secret e-mail system run out of Walker's county executive office during his 2010 campaign for governor, don't look for a town hall question-and-answer session or a press conference on the topic (4/12).

Walker sends out conspiracy theory lackey to stall FBI “John Doe” investigation that continues to boil. It’s been pretty obvious that the database holding signatures of those who signed the Walker recall petition are becoming more about McCarthyistic techniques to make it a black list proving that the signatory is not a sucker for Walker (4/12)

Republican "War On Women" Is Not A Left-Wing Invention. The Dane County Democratic Party (web site) hosted a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum at the Concourse Hotel in Madison featuring Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette and Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (4/12).

Paul Ryan's Cynical Catholic Claims. Following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Graeme Zielinski in response to claims made by Paul Ryan to justify his radical budget (4/12).

Struggling Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble Tops in Waste of Taxpayer Dollars For two men who pound their chests as fiscal conservatives, Wisconsin Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble certainly can blow through hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in no time flat. And, for seemingly no return (4/12).

Mitt Romney’s Campaign on Whether Romney Supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: ‘We’ll Get Back To You On That.’. On a press call this morning, Mitt Romney’s campaign was asked if Mitt Romney supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Their response to the question was, “We’ll get back to you on that.” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate released the following statement on the Romney campaign’s initial failure to take a position on pay equity for women (4/12).

No War on Women in Wisconsin?. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 202, essentially a reversal of Wisconsin's Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (Act 20), into law on April 5, 2012, more than a month after the bill was passed (4/12).

Wendy's is the 6th Firm to Say It is No Longer a Member of ALEC. Wendy's International, the parent company of Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburger, is the sixth corporation to say that it is no longer a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the past week (4/12).

George Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges for death of Trayvon Martin. Prosecutors Wednesday charged a neighborhood watch guard with second-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed US black teenager that sparked nationwide anger amid suspicions it was racially motivated (4/12).

John Mellencamp informs Gov. Scott Walker of his liberal beliefs. Liberal rocker John Mellencamp wants Gov. Scott Walker to know he supports collective bargaining and union powers and says Walker should be aware of that before using his song "Small Town" on the campaign trail (4/12)

4 Ways the Big Banks are Still Screwing Homeowners — And How They're Fighting Back. Here's how the banks are still doing exactly as they please when it comes to homes. But there's hope (4/12).

Meet the Rising Republican Star Who Would Love to Punch Hillary Clinton in the Face In case you haven't noticed, Wisconsin's been fraught with untenable political tumultuousness since one-man Human Centipede Scott Walker was elected governor. He's bullied teachers, attacked gay couples' hospital visitation rights, signed a repeal of Wisconsin's equal pay law, and rolled back sex education to an innocent time when kids thought storks brought babies (4/12).

Ryan's Recycled "Tipping Point" Scare Tactic Divides Americans, Hides Hypocrisy. . Have you seen the Paul Ryan headline yet? "Ryan says U.S. at financial and cultural 'tipping point'" Hmm, that late breaking headline sounds really familiar. Oh my gosh, here’s that same story as summarized so perfectly by Dana Milbank way back on March 20th (4/11).

For what you do, no bud for you. Bud Selig is the commissioner of major league baseball. The lords of the game pay him an enormous salary to do very little. Very little. Selig has a chair at the University of Wisconsin history Department. How did that happen? (4/11)

Republican "War On Women" Is Not A Left-Wing Invention. Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican "war on women" is "phony" and "invented" by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage. (4/10).

GOP Panicking on John Doe Criminal Probe . One Wisconsin Now sent letters today to 9 current Wisconsin State Senators asking them to revoke their membership in the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Senators would join the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit and Kraft who earlier announced they've pulled their support. The letter also asks that the nine refund the tax dollars that were used to purchase ALEC memberships on their behalf (4/11).

What is going on? If you need to know what’s wrong with American conservatism in the early 21st century you have only to look at their view of the Girl Scouts. You would think that legislatures would want to honor the 100th anniversary of an organization like the Girl Scouts but empowering women isn’t exactly what the patriarchal GOP is about (4/11).

Russell gets new lawyer in Doe case. Timothy Russell, the former Scott Walker aide facing felony embezzlement charges, has a new lawyer with Republican leanings. The attorney is Dennis Krueger, a former state prosecutor who recently joined Milwaukee attorney Michael Maistelman's law office. Krueger pops up in court records as one of Russell's lawyers as of Friday, the same day another lawyer -- John Birdsall -- withdrew (4/11).

Democrats question legality of running as a 'fake' candidate. Undaunted by claims that running as a fake Democratic candidate in the recalls constitutes criminal election fraud, six such candidates filed paperwork Tuesday to run in the May 8 primary (4/11).

UWM professor predicts Scott Walker will be GOP's VP choice. UWM Political Science Professor Mordecai Lee is making a bold prediction for the Republican VP candidate: Scott Walker. (4/11).

Paul Ryan's Cynical Catholic Claims. Following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Graeme Zielinski in response to claims made by Paul Ryan to justify his radical budget (4/11).

A little word game for the Fake Democratic Candidates... . Let’s see if the illegal and unethical electioneering by the Wisconsin Republican Party will stand up to a little test I came up with (4/11)

List of Bills Walker Signed Into Law Last Week. It's been well documented for some years now that abstinence based education *increases* the number of teen pregnancies AND that when you tell teenagers the truth about sex, as they do in Europe, not only do you get fewer pregnancy, you actually get fewer teenagers having sex in the first place (4/11).

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March 2012
Propaganda: Carrying
Walker’s message
by Bill Breitsprecher

Wisconsin propaganda - FitzwalkerstanPart 1 in 2-Part Series.  Many confuse persuasion and propaganda. The former is an attempt to inform people of an idea that can be regarded as "true". The latter is about promoting an idea regardless of validity or truth.

It can be argued that propaganda is always dishonest because when truth is on one's side, there is no need to adopt extreme rhetoric and propaganda techniques. By definition, propaganda is aimed at the masses and seeks to convince large numbers of people, motivating them to take action, often directly against their own self-interests.

Here's the critical point: propaganda can only exist when mass communication media enables it. Those with dishonest motives and means are powerless to dispense propaganda without the compliance of others, the mass-media.

Let's look at 5 propaganda techniques and how Scott Walker uses them to advance the political/economic interests he represents. Remember, Walker is not the real problem. He is promoting the interests of others, a very small elite group that has been influencing politics for many generations and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

The bigger problems are (1). A media network that is linked, often owned outright, to one side of the economic/political debate, the far right wing. (2). The increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, making even more media control and powerful propaganda possible.

There are many "Scott Walkers" waiting in the wings. To defeat the economic terrorism they promote as "shared sacrifice", we have to address points 1 and 2 above. While this article focuses on Walker, it is not about him. It's about the environment and media that makes his propaganda effective.

1. The Big Lie: So large it must be true. On February 11, 2011, Governor Scott Walker proclaimed "We are broke…" and proceeded to launch his "Budget Repair Bill," claiming his misrepresentations about Wisconsin's fiscal house and resulting policies to offset a deficit he contrived were non-negotiable. Many on the right, including Paul Ryan, use the same intellectual dishonesty. In each case, not only are alarmist claims false, when one looks at their policy proposals, deficits get much worse.

On January 31, 2011, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo to Legislators Robin Vos and Alberta Darling regarding non-partisan conclusions about Wisconsin's condition, page 2 shows a budget surplus, even after the statutory required balance of $65 million, of over $56 million. The state was not "broke".

There was no deficit until Walker implemented his February corporate tax breaks. He created the deficit and then demanded an "emergency budget repair" to "fix" the financial train-wreck he created. While the Fiscal Bureau memo did forecast a much smaller deficit in the future because of a national recession, revenues were projected to grow by about 4% over the two bienniums. Those concerns could have been addressed without demanding austerity for the masses while giving corporations and the ultra-wealthy more tax cuts.

Responsible public policy would have followed previous practices of returning funds back to the General Fund. In fact, $79 million was available to offset deficits projected in the future.

Budget Adjustment Legislation, introduced in April, 2011, kept millions untouched in the DOA budget, which would otherwise have been returned to the General Fund. Wisconsin would have had a balanced budget if:

There was no need to cut services or demand employees give back a dime. How did Walker get away with this?

The media presents these lies as objective truths and the lies are simply too bold for many to question.

2. Card-stacking: Build a highly-biased case for your position. The notion that tax cuts results in more revenue and job growth has been proven wrong. It did not work under Reagan, Bush I actually raised taxes, and Bush II's eight year economic disaster fully-prove that Walker's "cut taxes" and "increase jobs" rhetoric is wrong. We still hear this at all levels of government and the media echo-chamber continues to promote tax cuts for "job creators" even though the largest tax cuts in US history can be objectively shown to have crashed the US and global economy, resulting in unemployment not seen since the Great Depression.

3. Character Assassination: Destroy the person. This is done in many ways. To many, nothing is more offensive than attacking victims for unfortunate situations. After Walker's Budget Repair Bill passed, the state saw six straight months of job losses (and still counting), more than any other state, but Walker insulted those hurting by proclaiming at an exclusive forum for CEO's in September 2011 that the unemployed are not trying hard enough to find work. In similar fashion, he repeatedly insults peaceful Wisconsin citizens expressing concerns about his policies as "outside agitators."

4. Glittering Generalities: Use power words to evoke emotions. In difficult economic times, what word is more powerful than JOBS? Walker repeatedly and dramatically used the word JOBS in his State of the State address, causing state Representative and former budget committee co-chair Mark Pocan's statement on Governor Walker's speech tonight:

"The Governor used the word 'jobs' 32 times in his speech this evening which is more jobs than he's created in the last six months. The fact that Wisconsin has the worst record on job growth in the nation in the last six months, with six consecutive months of job loss, is a sad testimonial to Walker's record."

Pocan's zinger is literally true, but most citizens of Wisconsin and most media reports focused on the repeated and forceful "power word" regardless. Note: Maybe better is the use of balancing budget for children and grandchildren.

5. Name-calling: Denigrating opponents. A regular part of Walker's closed-to-the-public addresses to highly-selected crowds, is that "Big Government union bosses" are actually in-charge and running everything. He follows this with statements that "Wisconsin Democrats" act as their subservient underlings"

These statements get worded in different ways; the quotes above are from a February 16, 2012 fundraising letter directly from Scott Walker himself. Walker takes no responsibility for anything and denigrates others with statements like:
‘Big Labor operatives and money men who'll spend tens of millions to twist and distort, misrepresent and outright lie about our record of reforming state government"

Walker is the only party spending millions of dollars - almost exclusively from out-of-state. In fact, David Koch said, "We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years. We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."

Clearly, the facts are not on Walker's side when he talks about who is running government (his party controls all branches in Wisconsin) and the "big money" is coming in for his side. So what does he do? Distract with name calling to enhance the misinformation he is spreading. But remember, the problem is the media that amplifies and echoes this propaganda.

Later this week, a companion post will be on our blog.  Please stop by and let us know what you think or share examples of propaganda you have seen.

In April, we will run Part 2 and look at 5 more propaganda techniques:

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