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nellie On January - 14 - 2010

I’ve been thinking about the HP Truth Campaign for a few weeks. I’m very excited that we have such enthusiastic support for this project. I’d like to present the next installment.

None of this should be seen as set in stone. I’m hoping for a lot of discussion about how to proceed in order to make this project powerful and impacting.

The first things I think we should talk about are goals and objectives. What’s our big goal? What are the step-by-step objectives that will get us there? What do call the project? And how do we package it?

For me personally, the big goal is strong progressive participation in the November 2010 elections. All the negativity that we’re seeing from the left has a real potential to discourage progressives from showing up to vote, or to move them to vote for third-party spoilers that will hand elections to Republicans.

We can’t afford either of those scenarios. We finally have an agenda that, for the first time in 30 years, addresses real needs of average Americans. And even with the majorities in both houses of congress, legislation is squeaking through, and bills have been compromised so that they don’t deliver the strongest programs. Any dilution of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will only make this situation worse.

To achieve the overall goal, I see the step-by-step objectives as follows:

  1. Reveal the Republican Party for its ineffectiveness, obstruction of beneficial legislation, and obsession with irrelevant political games
  2. Expose inaccurate media memes that distort the current record and demoralize the progressive base
  3. Write to progressive advocates regarding destructive media memes with our concerns about progressive morale and possible brainstorming for criticizing without damaging progressive engagement
  4. Highlight the impressive democratic record of 2009
  5. Emphasize the difference between what has been accomplished and what we would like to achieve and, most important, talk about the best way to get more progressive programs passed in congress

My hope is that if PPOV can succeed in meeting these objectives, we can play a modest role in motivating the progressive community to stay energized and engaged—and to be excited about showing up to vote in November.

Objective 1

The article I wrote on The World According to GOP was my first contribution to Objective #1. Bito brought up a very important next step, which is to look at the legislative record of GOP candidates up for re-election this year. I think we should do the same thing for Democrats. To look at what these people actually accomplish in office, and try to spread the word about this — try to get people to talk about this.

I think it would be very helpful for us to have a good grasp on the electoral landscape—the incumbents, challengers, primary challengers, safe races, and potential turnovers—with a good understanding of the players and their records. One thing that helped tank McCain’s bid for the presidency was the rapid exposure of Sarah Palin’s weakness as a candidate, and the poor judgment McCain exhibited in selecting her.

Objective 2

Cher has done major work on Objective #2—exposing corrosive media. I know we tend to concentrate on HP when we talk about outlets that distort the record and discourage the base, but I think there are other outlets we can look at, such as AP and CNN.

A Rashomon summary and analysis of media headlines—developed so expertly by e’cat—would be a very persuasive aspect of this analysis. We could also compare headlines and content w the various Democratic and GOP talking points to see which sources are likely to be balance or to lend support to one side or the other.

Last week Arianna Huffington appeared on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, trying unsuccessfully to draw a false equivalency between Obama’s terrorism approach and the failed Bush strategies. Keith was having none of it, and kept pressing AH to discuss the idea that the Christmas terror incident may not have been an accident.

What was striking about Huffington’s commentary was not so much how anti-Obama it was, but how inaccurate it was. This just popped out in stark relief since I had read e’cat’s article, “It’s not just the politics,” which raises the issue of accuracy. I believe accuracy should be the centerpiece of our media objective rather than negativity or bias, since accuracy is a neutral issue and a very persuasive argument.

As part of this effort, we might want to look at people who are routinely called upon by mainstream media outlets to present the progressive perspective, and comment on whether these pundits are serving the progressive cause. It would also emphasize the constructive aspects of this project to point out people we would like to see have more exposure in the media—for example, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.

Objective 3

AdLib has suggested by email the following strategy, and I think it’s very smart.

I think it may be practical to divide those in the media between the intransigent and the possibly flexible. My suggestion is that the project should document and expose the agendas of the intransigent, such as the MSM (including HuffPo), while appealing to those who could be open to revising their views (Naomi Klein, Jane Hamsher, etc.).

There are high profile people who have built their bona fides on talking to progressive audiences about progressive issues. Progressives are the people who listen to and respect them. And yet, at a time when these respected voices have the opportunity to build the movement, solidify our progress, and push for policies we’ve been waiting for years to see a whisper of a chance to get through congress—too many are spending their capital on angry rhetoric that demoralizes the progressive audience and fractures the progressive community.

Here it is, the midterms—an ideal time to be campaigning for progressive primary challengers—and I’ve heard nothing about this aspect of progressive politics. No candidates, no districts where a challenger would have a good chance. I believe that one of the reasons Ned Lamont won the Connecticut Democratic primary was because of the work done on Air America by Sam Seder. We need to get focused.

I think we could engage/challenge some of the more prominent progressive commentators in this regard. The people I have in mind to write to directly are:

Glenn Greenwald
Jane Hampshire
Thom Hartmann
Arianna Huffington
Naomi Klein
David Sarota
Ed Schultz

Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote this piece in the December issue of The Nation, summarizing very well the current state of progressive politics. I like her assessment. Disagreement is a good thing. Dissatisfaction with the status quo is a good thing.

But—let’s use that dissatisfaction to stay motivated and energized, not walk away from the process. I’m not talking about being a yes-crowd like the GOP base. What makes the progressive community strong is its ability to think outside the box. It would be against our philosophy to squelch dissent. But we need to master a strategic discourse that respects free thinking while encouraging engagement and action—rather than chasing people away from the voting booth.

Objective 4

These stories never get enough coverage. The democratic congress has made important changes this year, as has the president. The public needs a reminder. As well as a reminder about how much of this kind of legislation is ignored when Republicans are in charge.

There has been so little coverage of what congress is doing that Republicans are getting away with saying that the Democrats can’t get anything accomplished. And this is such an easy talking point to refute. What might be more difficult, but more interesting, is to talk about how some of the new legislation passed this year has affected, or will affect, real people. Those stories are very powerful. And really give us a sense of accomplishment.

Objective 5

This may be the most important of the five objectives (as I seem them). We all know that the health care bill is far from the ideal legislation we would like to see passed. More important than complaining about it, however, is figuring out what to do about it. And no one seems to be talking about that. Complaining is pretty useless unless it leads to some constructive action.

How do we make the bill better? Who needs to be in office to do that? What organizations need to be involved?

And this problem extends to other legislation pending in congress—the climate bill, the banking reforms, the EFCA. There’s so much going on, so many places for progressives to be involved and fighting for better policies.

So that’s my take thus far. Can we use this thread for a brainstorming session on the goals and objectives? And once we seem clear on where we want to go, we can plan out the steps for getting there.

Thanks everyone!

Categories: ProjectPOV

100 Responses so far.

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  1. AdLib says:

    In light of recent developments, I think we should write a letter to President Obama urging bold leadership and opposing this move towards bipartisanship. We could have all interested members sign on and post/link at other sites as well to add signatures.


  2. escribacat says:

    Cher — I don’t know if you got this link from the main page today (for your collection):

    WATCH: Roy Sekoff on White House’s ‘Torrid Affair’ With Wall Street
    Sekoff: In Bed With Banks Is No Place To Be In 2010

  3. bitohistory says:

    Right now, if Coaksly (?) loses in Mass we can kiss HCR good bye. How do we GOTV in Mass?

  4. bitohistory says:

    nellie, on #1- I will start on looking into the voting records, monies, bills proposed etc.
    What I need is some input on a list to of people to work on. Any help? anyone?
    The Planet’s Top Ten List?

    • nellie says:

      I’m going to work on this over the weekend, bito. It’s going to take a little time to work up a list.

      I’m hoping to have the project organized so that it’s easy to navigate and keep up w the progress we’re making.

  5. KQuark says:

    I just put another example of Huffy spin in “Speaker’s Corner”. We also need to figure how to organize a place for refuting articles.

  6. PatsyT says:

    I have been thinking a lot about a
    ~Talk Back to the Talking Points~ thread

    You know those ‘points’ coming in from elected officials, hired pundits,
    unemployed pundits,
    “entertainers”, neighbors and family members that listen to ‘entertainers’
    think tanks, and yes, random trolls!

    These ‘points’ act like a virus and they mutate.

    This kind of thread could be popular with fellow bloggers/posters
    that may not have a lot of time to do research
    or people that are new to the process.
    They know something is fishy with a ‘talking point’
    but may not be able to quickly articulate this.
    Having good push back material (and funny stuff)
    that you can grab&go
    kinda like a drive thru…. could be helpful.

  7. Chernynkaya says:

    Nellie, everyone-- 💡 I just had a thought about the HP Truth Project, but don’t know how relevant it is. I was wondering if we should consider pointing out some of the right-wing advertisers regularly found on the site. I don’t know how wide-spread this practice is among other political sites, or even if it makes a difference in re what the objectives are, but it seemed to me to be odd-- to say the least-- that a so-called liberal site would sell so much right-wing ad space.

  8. SueInCa says:

    Ok, here is my idea, kind of piggybacking on to Patsy. We should identify all the relevant news groups, polititians running, and issues and divvy them up. That way whoever is assigned to that group can do their checks every day and report back. We should assign them according to individual interest as it would make for much better results. For instance, I like connecting the dots in the background, looking for relationships between key players, that sort of thing. I am not sure how broad the research is until it is known who can contribute on a regular basis.
    Some more ideas, look into the background of “contributors” etc. I saw a report on Tony Harris’s show yesterday and I was not really paying much attention until I recognized the name of this contributor. I had just read Rep Gommorah and it hit me, this guy was identified with the religious right. And he is a shady fellow, but there he was on CNN as some supposed expert on the topic. My husband started making noise and I lost what was being said so now I am trying to find the piece again, good luck to me. But the segment was on how Nigerians were not terrorists. And this guy is supposedly a Prince in Nigeria but he has traveled the world and been involved in some very shady monetary transactions where he stood to benefit from taking other’s money, especially in the area of Formula 1 racing, now who would think a nigerian prince would be involved in racing? I am still trying to find the piece he did with Tony. I tried to find Tony’s email but have not found it on CNN.

    Also it will have to be set aside as a portion of this site where info can be accumulated, data stored and retrieved to make sense of it all. I am in on this as I like nothing better than to expose these creeps, including the indomitable ms hairyanna.

  9. Hopeington says:

    I really think we have our fingers on the pulse. Did anyone one else catch these great remarks about AH and HuffPo on the Colbert on Monday?
    Seems he’s got her in his sights also.


    • Hopeington says:

      Just wanted to add this little bit from Salon.com
      Is there a crack in the armor of HuffPo? Or have they just been around long enough for the “honeymoon” to be over?

    • SueInCa says:

      I did and was very glad to hear them. This community bank trick is so blatant on her part, I just get angry thinking about it. It is not new, but rather stolen from comments over the past year on her own website. Oh shit, do not get me started………………………

      • nellie says:

        Sue, are you saying the community bank campaign is a trick because it’s not an original idea, or that the idea is flawed? Just want to be sure I understand.

        • SueInCa says:

          I am just saying on just about any of her banking stories, there are/were stories or comments from people over the past year that encouraged people to switch to smaller banks, community or CU and that her idea was not some new spark of genius, like the sheeple over there were trying to portray. It was like she said it, so they all fall in to line behind the Piper. Any comment I made directly in relation to this fact was scrubbed although it was a more than proper comment

          • nellie says:

            Okay — yes, this idea has been out there for decades, really. I mean, my dad used to talk about it. It’s strange that any one person would try to take credit for it. Mounting a campaign is one thing. I think that’s a great thing. Acting like the idea itself is your own invention — that takes a little hubris.

            • SueInCa says:

              Colbert made mention that it was a federal crime to encourage a run on banks, wonder if she could be in any hot water for the campaign?

    • escribacat says:

      Wonderful! You are right, Hope. I’ll bet Colbert will be on Arianna’s shit list now! I love the part where he points out her usual junk celebrity stories.

  10. PatsyT says:

    So glad that you and so many others are thinking along this way.
    Very well put together!
    I often have MSNBC on at home during the day while doing house stuff, making dinner and such.
    I know it is sometimes lightweight info but they still call out their share of BS.
    My DVR helps if someone is coming up that I want to catch say, Congressmen Weiner.

    What would you think of a MSNBC watch?
    One example….
    Whats up with Dylan Ratigan?
    Yesterday and today I noticed that the new Dylan Ratigan Show is rather fluffy,
    not as much substance as his morning show ….
    Is it just me? or is there more fluff on MSNBC as of late all over?
    and what happened to the real reason that he left CNBC? If that was the real reason.

    He went off on Debbie Wasserman Schultz in December.

    That was just rude. Save that for Liz Cheney or someone like that.

    and then he apologizes


    Creating buzz perhaps?

    Dylan Ratigan has the ability to talk the financial stuff -Is this how they are going to use him?

  11. KQuark says:

    I thought about adding a 6th objective geared at claiming the middle but based on the makeup of the users on the Planet and difficulty coming up with a plan I decided not to mention it. However the new CNN poll shows how little the progressive blog world resembles America.

    In general, would you say that President Obama’s views and proposed programs for the country are too liberal, not liberal enough, or just about right for the country?

    Not liberal enough 10%
    Just about right 42%
    Too liberal 46%

    It’s amazing that 99% of progressives talk about how Obama is not liberal enough for them when the reality is that the vast majority of Americans think he is “Too liberal” or “Just about right”. So in conclusion I think Dems need to claim the middle this election as well as the base.

    • nellie says:

      Those are very interesting stats, K.

      It’s hard for me to imagine how he is “too liberal.” That’s a surprising statistic. Could that be a Fox News influence? An MSM influence? Where is that coming from? Health care? I’m really at a loss to understand it.

      What about looking at what the administration is actually doing compared to what the public wants, according to polls? That could be useful — as well as educational for people like me — and could be included in objective 4.

      • KQuark says:

        It mostly speaks to what the political center of this country is. I can see it because I live down South where most people are way too conservative. It also shows how progressives are in a bubble about our influence and numbers. Both ends of the political spectrum are driving people away with all this hyper partisanship.

        I saw another poll that said for the first time in a while a plurality of Americans 49% favor their rep voting for healthcare reform. 59% in another poll support him sending more troops to Afghanistan even though people are turning against the war in general. I have forgotten the number but most Americans like the job he is doing on terrorism. The point is I think the president is doing what the people want and progressives are the people who are deaf to what the country wants.

        • nellie says:

          I think progressives are not so much deaf to what the country wants as they are stubborn about recognizing the mechanisms at work. I think most people in the country want single payer — and that’s a progressive mission.

          Most people, however, are not willing to turn over their senator or congressperson based on one vote — even if that vote is health care. I think that’s the reality progressives may not recognize. People like their representatives, unless something very dramatic happens. And so they may disagree with a vote — even an important one — but that’s not enough to turn them out to vote for someone else.

          • KQuark says:

            I agree that is the bigger problem for sure but there is a deafness on the issues as well. I think most people want progress but an example of being deaf is when I hear progressives say most people want to drastically changes the system. Saying most Americans want single payer is not true for example. Many want to keep the insurance they have, blame it on ignorance but there is a sincere resistance to major changes. Believe me conservatives are even more deaf to what the public wants like conservative Dems that won’t listen to the fact that most people support the PO.

            The upcoming election in MA will tell us allot about where this country wants to go.

            • nellie says:

              I thought some organization took a poll showing that 70-80% of the public favored single payer. I’m sure the numbers were that high for a public option.

              I tend to think the country is actually center left — when asked about issues in a way that isn’t leading, most people want to protect the environment, clean up pollution, respond to global climate change, make the tax system more progressive.

              It’s an interesting topic. We should post a new article and debate the issue!

            • KQuark says:

              I looked through those polls and yes the PO had ratings that high but I never saw hard evidence about that most people wanting single payer. In fact most polls showed people like what they had. There are reasons the polls were skewed that way because most people did not use their insurance much. But like the right people on the left saying people overwhelmingly supported single payer was wishful thinking.

              On policy I think the country is center left but that assumes people vote on policy. But definitely on image and voting patters the country is center right. We need to recognize in this case image is reality or conservatives would have not been in power so long.

            • nellie says:

              That’s going to be a raucous debate, Cher — which should be fun. I don’t think we’re going to come to any agreement as a group on that one. But it will be a great topic to discuss!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Nellie, I am still working on that article about whether or not Obama campaigned as a progressive. That’s not what you are talking about exactly, but it reminded me of that conversation we had a few days ago.

  12. SueInCa says:

    Great idea. Give me a day or two to think on ideas. How will we work this? Will all ideas stay in this area?

  13. KQuark says:

    Wow this is the most vapid it’s all about me article I’ve ever read. Guess who wrote it.


    • escribacat says:

      In the famed words of a resident of Southern California: Gag me with a spoon.

    • Khirad says:

      Is she aware it isn’t her diary, or is she, like many a previous folklore villainess such as Lady Bathory or the Mirror Queen, in their common quest for eternal “beauty” trying to be youthful by mimicking the new generations’ online habit of overshare in a desperate attempt to stay relevant and stroke her ego? Is it her own ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ -- where mods strip all the nasty comments, then show the positive ones back to the Queen?

      • KQuark says:

        I mean really on the biggest blog in the US that passes and an article. After reading all the well written, well researched, witty and well thought out articles on the Planet Aryanna’s article sounded just like one of Sarah Palin’s speeches.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Yep-- it’s a real snooze.

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