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

HERBERT W. SIMONS hsimons at temple.edu
Thu Sep 18 07:55:11 EDT 2014

very perceptive. YES, there's a pattern here.

On Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

> At 84 I've given up out-living the Age of Neoliberalism. One of my reasons
> for this glum  conclusion is the preponderance among men and women of good
> will of the views expressed by Ed Appel below, which he nicely summarizes
> in the following words: ". . . 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. . . ."
> This is, I fear, the standard liberal understanding of the Democratic
> Party: They see that party as "opportunist," "cowardly," even "stupid."
> They fail to see that the DP is, as Glen Ford of Black Agenda puts it, "The
> More Effective Evil." It is the DP, primarily, that has determined U.S.
> policy over the last half century. (Consider the analogy to "Good Cop / Bad
> Cop." It is the Good Cop (the DP) who does the real damage. Three acts by
> the Carter Administration marked the all-out assault on the working people
> of the U.S.:
> 1) Carter's virtual signing of of Bishop Romero's Death Sentence
> 2) The Deregulation of Air lines and trucking
> 3) The appointment of Volcker as Fed Chairman
> Subsequent administrations have but filled in the dots. Some of the high
> poits:
> Reagan's crushing of PATCO
> Clinton's pushing through of NAFTA
> Clinton's Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act
> Unanimous Congressional Approval of Afghanistan and Iraq aggressions
> Senator Warren's aggressive support of Israel War Crimes
> As to Obama, he richly exemplifies Noam Chomsky's observation that "War
> Criminal" is part of the job description of U.S. presidents.
> Ed is certainly correct that no Left exists in the U.S. Earmarks of a
> hypothetical Left:
> 1. Liquidate the Prison System
> 2. Withdraw all U.S. troops from the world
> 3. No U.S. Foreign Aid (it is all open or disguised military aid to
> tyrannies)
> 4. Open Borders. No human is Illegal.
> Carrol
> -----Original Message-----
> From: kb-bounces at kbjournal.org [mailto:kb-bounces at kbjournal.org] On
> Behalf Of Edward C Appel
> Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 1:58 PM
> To: wessr at onid.orst.edu
> Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
> Subject: Re: [KB] "Trivial Repetition," "Dull, Daily Reenforcement"
> 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.
>         Ed
> --------------------------------------------
> 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.
>  What
>  identifications might the left try to repeat ad nauseam?
>  What might Burke advise?
>  Bob
>  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  with,  >
> 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  going  > 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  > BODY OF  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  dollar  > 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  >  to!
>  >
>  >     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  dispiriting.
>  >
>  >
>      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  four  >
> 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  NYTimes  > 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  a  >
> half-century from now), loss of  thousands of American lives, tens of  >
> thousands of maimings and woundings, and destruction and  shattering  > 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,  before  >
> 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  “war  >
> 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  conflict,  >
> 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
>  one.
>  >
>  >
>  >     Ed
>  >
>  >
>  >
>  >
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Herbert W. Simons, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Communication
Dep't of  Strategic Communication, Weiss Hall 215
Temple University, Philadelphia 19122
Home phone: 215 844 5969
Academic Fellow, Center for Transformative Strategic Initiatives (CTSI)
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