[KB] "Trivial Repetition," "Dull, Daily Reenforcement"

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Wed Sep 17 14:57:55 EDT 2014

Bob and All,

	Your list for “trivial repetition and dull, daily reinforcement” by the left would be as good as mine.  Maybe we could start by taking a cue from Teddy Roosevelt, much on the agenda at PBS the last three nights.  TR comes across as a ridiculous, I’m-altogether-right-and-you’re-altogether-wrong, heroism-obsessed blowhard in some ways, but as also a great man, great leader, and great egalitarian spirit, as well.  (Not perfectly egalitarian, for sure, but wondrously so for his time.)

	Roosevelt’s mantra about the Constitution being for the good of the people as a whole, rather than vice versa, a strait jacket into whose supposedly tight 18th-century constraints all contemporary common sense has to be bound, should be our guiding principle, too (see Burke on the “Dialectic of Constitutions,” GM).

	The first question I’d ask, though, is, where do we find the USAmerican political “left?  I know one place I can find the left-wing US commentariat.  See the amalgam of voices gathered together on CommonDreams.org, for instance.  But among our political leaders?  Maybe Warren and Sanders, but even Sanders echoes Obama on the taxation question: The wealthy ought to be paying “a little bit more.”  A LITTLE bit more?  When their contribution to the commonweal has gone from 51 percent of earnings 60 years ago to about 16 percent today, less than the average middle-class earner?  When average CEO pay has burgeoned from 40 to 1 to 400 to 1 in respect to average salaries in a given industry in the past three to four decades?  When a candidate for the presidency can get away with disclosing one, and only one, tax return, at 13 percent (!), and still run for that highest and supposedly exemplary office, and get away with it?

	I don’t see much of a “political left” in our nation, or much of a sense of what a “political left” should look like, among our citizenry.  (See Donald Barlett and James Steele, The Betrayal of the American Dream, for requisite numbers; see Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas, on how Democrats have become only “marginally better” than Republicans; see a study by Martin Gilens [Princeton] and Benjamin Page [Northwestern] on how “’the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,’” [“Disease of American Democracy,” Robert Reich, 8/21/14], as the result of the takeover of political outcomes by Congress’s and the executive’s  corporate paymasters.)

	But, if we had a “political left” of some dimensions (let’s fantasize!), what would be the three most salient issue-positions I’d recommend a strong, repetitive, dull, daily emphasis upon?  It would be the two I recommended in “Democratic Narrative” and in my post on the nefarious Iraq War, to wit:

	Drum home “agaaaiiinnn and aggaaaiiinnn and agaaaiiinnn” (I can hear FDR exclaiming it!) what’s happen, by DELIBERATE policy on one side of the aisle, and culpable acquiescence on the other, to USAmerican jobs, USAmerican taxation, and USAmerican debt, over the last three and a half decades.  American jobs have been exported to low-wage sweat shops in Asia, Indonesia, Mexico, and beyond, to the economic benefit of the entrepreneurial class, who can then sell their products to consumers worldwide.  They don’t need Americans to make their goods, nor do they need them as much to buy their goods.  Manufacture cheap and sell across the globe.  You lose your high-paying factory job as a result?  Go work for McDonalds!

	And while we’re at it, let’s cut taxes to the bone.  “Starve the beast!”  As Reagan insiders Donald Stockman and Bruce Bartlett have revealed, the idea was to cut taxes to such an extent, and run up deficits so onerous, Congress and some future administration would be forced to dismantle the “welfare state.”  George W. Bush admirably followed suit, at the outset of his dubious war, no less!---and there’s reported evidence on things that Bush privately said that indicate he was just as deliberate.  (See Venomous Speech: Problems with American Political Discourse on the Right and Left, pp. 109-116, for ample documentation.)
	Democrats left fingerprints over all of this chicanery, as well.

	Who’s got clean-enough hands to pound home this narrative, repeatedly, in our day, and the political courage to boot?

	More, later, on the other two mantras, and how Heath and Heath might simplify the tale---and on the "identification" angle.


On Mon, 9/15/14, wessr at onid.orst.edu <wessr at onid.orst.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] "Trivial Repetition," "Dull, Daily Reenforcement"
 To: "Edward C Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
 Date: Monday, September 15, 2014, 9:58 PM
 Ed, Burke is surely right
 about the power of repetition. The  
 advertising industry leaves no room for doubt
 about that.
 identifications might the left try to repeat ad nauseam?
 What might Burke advise?
 Quoting Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>:
 > Burkophiles,
 >     I asked in a
 chapter in Praeger’s Venomous Speech last year, “Where 
 > Is the Democratic Narrative, FDR
 Style?”  That piece had mainly to  
 do with the polemical malfeasance of the Dems in dealing
 > rhetorically pretty much
 ignoring, what globalization has done to  
 > aggravate the income gap in USAmerica the
 past three and a half  
 > decades. 
 (Tax policies are culpable, too, we know, in multiple  
 > ways.)  Senator Warren appeared on Moyers
 on PBS last Sunday.  She  
 > listed
 four Democratic proposals she thinks are winning issues
 > into the Fall elections. 
 Moyers asked her why, then, aren’t we  
 > hearing more about them from Democratic
 candidates and their  
 spokespersons?  Warren really had no good answer.
 >     Burke says in
 the Rhetoric (p. 26), “Often we must think of  
 > rhetoric not in terms of one particular
 address, but as a general  
 IDENTIFICATIONS that owe their convincingness much more to 
 > trivial repetition and dull daily
 reenforcement than to exceptional  
 rhetorical skill” (emphasis in original).
 >     I monitor Fox
 News daily.  That propaganda network masquerading as  
 > a news channel (I know, we can say the
 same thing about MSNBC) is  
 near-fanatically repetitive in promoting its conservative, 
 > anti-Obama agenda.  Fox is
 relentless.  Case in point: Bill O’Reilly  
 > has invidiously targeted the President in
 his opening “memo” for as  
 > many
 nights as I can remember.  Another: Wish I had even one
 > for every time I’ve watched
 our consulate in Benghazi burn on my  
 Channel 48.  They don’t let up.
 >     Add this mantra to the list: Bush 2
 “won” our righteous “War on  
 Terror” with the surge in Iraq.  Obama came into office,
 took our  
 > troops out of that country,
 and now has “lost” a war that Bush,  
 > Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz had
 brought a U.S. victory and peace  
 >     The
 rhetorically inept, more accurately altogether missing, 
 > response by Obama in his “leading
 from behind” speech on Wednesday,  
 and in his fumbling precursors to that address, are
     First and foremost, Obama was and is uniquely
 situated to  
 > characterize the Iraq
 War for what it plainly was: A mendacious  
 > military adventure, foisted on USAmerica
 by subterfuge and  
 > deception, a
 cynical exploitation of the shock of 9/11, not merely a 
 > “dumb war.”  Fifteen Saudis and
 four Egyptians, under the leadership  
 of a wealthy Saudi, trained in Afghanistan, highjacked
 > commercial jetliners and
 perpetrated the mayhem of that frightful  
 > day.  Saddam, we knew even then, had
 nothing to do with it.  Nor did  
 > his
 chemical weapons, if they even had existed and they
 didn’t, nor  
 > did his so-called
 “mushroom cloud” potential, pose any real threat  
 > to this nation.  Again, we knew even then
 that Iraq’s nuclear  
 > ambitions,
 even if real, were as yet no more than hope, if not  
 > fantasy.  And, for anyone paying
 attention, the Bush-Cheney  
 fear-mongering had already been shot down in an op-ed in the
 > by Ambassador Wilson, and by
 clear-headed reporting
 >  by the
 McClatchy News Service.
 >     So, what happened after waste of a
 trillion dollars (it will be  
 > three
 trillion or more after medical expenditures are exhausted
 > half-century from now), loss of
 thousands of American lives, tens of  
 thousands of maimings and woundings, and destruction and
 > of this jerry-built
 nation of warring sects that only a tyrant like  
 > Saddam could hold together—what happened
 after the candidate who  
 > promised to
 end the Iraq War came to power?  He stopped calling the 
 > war what it really was and started
 treating it pretty much like a  
 somewhat legitimate enterprise we had to bring to an end 
 > “responsibly.”  Obama was even
 planning to keep fifty thousand (or  
 was it eighty thousand?) troops in Iraq in perpetuity,
 > al-Maliki said “no way”
 to our insistence on military immunity.   
 > (And Obama doesn’t even defend himself
 on that issue.)
     You may object that Obama had to metamorphose into a
 > president,” since he was
 then Commander-in-Chief.  Can’t in any way  
 > imply that our soldiers died in vain in a
 conflict subversively  
 > motivated by
 oil, Israel, Bush family score-settling, or plans for  
 > victorious re-election in 2004 by a
 flight-jacketed president after  
 “Mission Accomplished.”
 >     Upshot: There exists a corrupt
 context to what Obama and USAmerica  
 face in the current chaos of the Middle East.  It is a
 context that  
 > requires repetition and
 more repetition still by leadership that has  
 > some semblance of the near-self
 -destructive insanity of America’s  
 vaunted “War on Terror.”  As he takes us into yet
 another phase of  
 > this
 resource-draining, quick-sand tugging, tar-baby of a
 > someone with a megaphone
 has to stand up and shout down the McCains  
 > and Foxies who current occupy the
 rhetorical terrain uncontestred.
 >     I have no hope that Obama’s the
 >     Ed
 > KB mailing list
 > KB at kbjournal.org
 > http://kbjournal.org/mailman/listinfo/kb_kbjournal.org

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