Sunday, March 30, 2008

IP - The "Incitement Push" - quasi - News Fact Rating. No Reliability; Entertainment, Marketing Only

A time for certainty. Time to label the news cans. Time to rate how much "news" there is in a presentation, and how much fact, how reliable is it, and how much is spin. See Joy of Equivocating: Fact Content Ratings for News Industry. Here are discussions of the type of "news" product known as Incitement News Push.
The persons engaging in this activity may be known as Pushers, or Spreaders; not "journalists" or "entertainers" because their intent is to get inside heads and squeeze.

Rating: IP - The Incitement Push.
The Incitement Push is an ersatz-News Product. Not news at all - the only news is how the spreader is doing it. What the spreader thinks is not news, but Opinion. Where the goal is steering people to an action or belief, not informing them, behold the Incitement Push.
The Incitement Push
  • omits facts that a reader reasonably needs in order to assess a situation, FN 1
  • derives from news events but will not provide a full report from which the Spreader has come to his or her opinion.
  • misquotes,
  • markets a viewpoint, in the guise of "news" FN 2
  • uses entertainment, and advertising, media
  • runs counter to the public good in a democracy, by depriving people of facts and background needed for fully informed decisions FN 3
Further identifying behaviors are set forth in FN 4.
This opinion pushing is also known as propaganda by Swiftboating, or Swiftboat by Omission and Emphasis.
The Incitement Pusher has an agenda that he or she will sell by any means, including hiding the lie under the free speech umbrella. Instead, it presents a disembodied, instant morph of a misstated event into great spins, like so many big tops in the air. Entertainment! Humiliations! Derision! Malice. Profit.
Thus the flash. The Push shall be identified by title, color or sign; but as this is unlikely, absence of such identification is conclusive evidence that the News Product is Push.
A Pusher will seldom self-identify, but the news fact ratings shall be established as
  • IP, Incitement Push,
  • little red flashing box preceding, or
  • the symbol X.
Third parties sponsoring or otherwise disseminating the product shall have the responsibility to identify the product as IP if the Pusher will not.

Related issues: The Addictive nature of the Incitement Push format, FN 4; enforcement FN 5;

.....................................................................................................
FN 1 Ease of fix. An Incitement Push summarizes and spins a news event without referencing a specific full News Report that is immediately accessible for reference by the viewer or hearer. This can be remedied by providing actual quotes, actual transcripts cited for comparison with the spin.

FN 2 Need for Public Education on Propaganda. The advertising, propaganda, entertainment and deception skills are substantial. The Incitement Push proceeds from spin to a View Leading to Incitement (call for a particular action), based on anything the Pusher or Spreader selects to rely upon, and those things need not be identified. Education may enable a population to avoid a hostile takeover.
FN 3 Proposed moderating remedy to Incitement Push: Require fiduciary standard to fact-dissemination, and only then permit Spreaders to Spread. The consumer relies on media for information, and has no comparable way of getting it except through the media itself, thus the special duty. See FodderSight, Fodder, Propaganda List. Once the facts and quotes are out, accurately, then let the spinners in and let the frenzy begin.
The Pusher can also be identified by various means, see FN 1. The process is like a force-feed as to consumers. See FN 2.

FN 4. Further Identification of the Pusher or Spreader.
A Pusher may attempt to portray himself or herself as an Advocacy Journalist, thus the Consumer must be wary. Pushers are often seen going to the bank, and acting and omitting as follows: The Opinion Pusher
  • provides only limited information to consumers of the News Product,
  • uses language of inflammatory nature, propagandizes (see Glossary)
  • creates headlines that argue a point rather than inform
  • relies on fabrications or factoids stated without foundation
  • places entertainment and profit above information
  • uses overt and covert persuasion techniques to prevent the consumer from further analytical or independent fact investigation activity, including humiliation, denigration, volume, repetition, YouTubing unflattering photos, and causing others to look an an opposing viewpoint with contempt.
  • forecloses dialogue or further investigation where a free change of mind may well be fostered,
  • sets the stage for "Battles" or other confrontations where there is ultimately a designated Loser and a designated Winner, and the Opinion Pusher shall be in each case the Winner.
  • demonstrates ubersubjectivity
  • no mirrors in dressing room
FN 5 Addictive Nature of the Push Product.

The Incitement Pusher pushes an adrenalin-laden, numbing while stimulating, addictive experience, affecting the independent thought responses of regular Consumers of the product. Pushers purvey addictive material. Research shows that, in particular, interior house painters tune in as a diversion during the day; but then acknowledge that they are apt to adopt the views so pushed. They are unable to resist the volume and spew, emanating from the radio or TV, and seek out further Push Fixes. These fixes drive them to continue to view, or anticipate, the humiliations of one's fellow citizens who disagree. Push junkies can also receive the ongoing "fix" of prefab points of view and opinion by osmosis, the skew du jour.

Forcers develop a taste for force; swallowers develop a habit of swallowing without thinking. The Pusher forces floating toxic viewpoints over the airwaves and libraries until they are indeed swallowed.

Opinion Foie Gras. This force-feeding procedure is also known as News Foie Gras, a/k/a NFG; or Opinion Foie Gras, a/k/a OFG.

FN 6 Enforcement. Any otherwise Advocacy Journalist or Opinionator may be requalified as Pusher where such Purveyor fails to provide immediate access to a full news report simultaneous with the Advocacy bit or Opinion.

........................................................................

OC - The "Opinion Commentary" Fact Rating: Unreliable as Neutral Information; Warn re Degrees of Skewing Possible

A time for certainty: labeling the news cans. See Joy of Equivocating: Fact Content Ratings for News Industry.

Rating: OP. Opinion Commentary.

This News Product references a full News Report that is simultaneously available at the Purveyor's website, elsewhere in the newspaper, or other easily accessible place simultaneous with the Opinion Presentation.

This News Product then proceeds to lay out an Opinion, Commentary or Incitement (call for a particular action). However, the Opinionator may select which facts from the NR he or she elects to weigh more heavily than the others, and those shall be identified.

The duty of care is the same as that of the Advocacy Journalist: fiduciary as to the Consumer in making the Report available and endorsing its contents; but thereafter, no fiduciary duty to the Consumer.

The Opinion and Commentary shall be identified as:
  • OC, Opinion or Commentary,
  • the little yellow box preceding, or
  • the dollar sign preceding and signifying what is really important here.

NA - The "News Advocacy" Fact Rating: Unreliable as Neutral Information; Warn re Degrees of Skewing Possible

A time for certainty: labeling the news cans. See Joy of Equivocating: Fact Content Ratings for News Industry.

Rating: NA - News Advocacy, Advocacy Journalism.

This News product refers to a full News Report that is simultaneously available at the Purveyor's website, elsewhere in the paper, or other easily accessible place.

The Advocacy Journalist chooses facts that support his or her position, but has a fiduciary duty to the Consumer in identifying and making accessible that other full News Report. The Advocacy Journalist thus cannot draw conclusions from his or her select facts unless the full NR is provided as well.

The purpose is not to inform,but to persuade, incite. As to that second function, the Advocacy Journalist has no fiduciary duty to the Consumer, but may serve the interests of the shareholders, or Purveyor-owner, as may be contractually required.

The News Advocacy Report shall be identified as:
  • NA, News Advocacy,
  • a little orange box preceding, as a warning of slanted material, or
  • the exclamation point preceding, an idea borrowed from Spain - to put the punctuation first. Watch out!

NT - The "News Tilt" Fact Rating: Unreliable Without Referenced News Report

A time for certainty: labeling the news cans. See Joy of Equivocating: Fact Content Ratings for News Industry.

Rating: NT - The News Tilt.

This News Product contains partial information of a news event, not always neutral in language, and as selected by a Purveyor, for purposes of influencing the reader's response to it. A news tilt may be brief for reasons of space; or in order to de-emphasize a topic, facilitate a mis-emphasis, or persuade by omissions.

Each News Tilt shall be identified as:

  • NT, News Tilt, little yellow box preceding, or
  • the slant left \, || uprights, or slant right / preceding, to show the general lean.
News Tilt must refer to an immediately accessible full News Report to which the Consumer may refer.

NR - The "News Report" Fact Rating: Highest reliability.

A time for certainty: labeling the news cans. See Joy of Equivocating: Fact Content Ratings for News Industry.

Ratings - NR for News Report; NJ for News Journalism, when an overview of responses is included.

1. NR. News Report. Highest ranking for reliability because it is reasonably comprehensive, not persuasive for a preconceived judgment.

This News Product contains full and neutral information of a news event, prepared by a Reporter with a fiduciary standard of care owed to the Consumer. It shall be identified as:

  • NR, News Report
  • With by a little Green box or flag preceding, or
  • With the Wavy, Peaceful sign (~) preceding.
2. NJ. - The NR plus overview of views on the topic.

The News Report may be supplemented and be re-qualified as "News Journalism."

In this case, the Reporter, still with fiduciary duty to the Consumer, augments the News Report factual content with a balanced view of the positions of others as to the News Report issues, affording roughly equal space to each and in neutral language. This becomes slightly less reliable than the NR because of the opportunity for selective reporting of others' views.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fact Content Ratings for News: Time to Label the Can

Truth in Labeling Extended
to the Media.


And soon,
to any transaction speech,
or persuasion effort,
by government, individuals, corporations, etc.

Where's the facts? Does the product you get have any in it.

Time to put a label on the can. The can that calls itself "news." Is it?

Truth in Labeling Hits the News. Industry Quakes.

Like foodies - you should have the right to know what it is in it and how it has been doctored before you lay out the cash.

Compare the Movie Industry: The Consumer going to the movies has substantial ability to determine in advance the nature of the film inside, and before exposing himself or herself to it. There are Ratings. Gore, Cuss and Flesh may make money, but at least the Consumer is alerted beforehand.

Therefore: It is in the Public Interest to provide Consumers of News Products a similar protection, so that News Products are Rated - labeled, with Notice of the ingredients. This does not abridge speech, it defines it. See further discussion of need for ratings at FN 1.

A.  Herein: Proposed News Product Fact Content Rankings, Applicable to Purveyors of News Products for Profit.

See also job descriptions, duties of care and disclosure standards, as further defined at PoseJuxta: Planks for People, Required Disclosures by Purveyors of News Products for Profit.

1. NR or NJ

News Report or News Journalism (the Report plus overview of views of others).
Color: Green.
Symbol:
~

See Joy of Equivocating, News Report.

2. NT
News Tilt.
Color: Yellow
Symbol:
\ or or /*
*symbol for Left-Leaning Tilt, Straight-Up, or Right-Leaning TiltSee Joy of Equivocating: News Tilt.

3. NA
News Advocacy
(Investigative Journalism, Advocacy Journalism)
Color: Orange
Symbol: !
See discussion at Joy of Equivocating: Advocary or Investigative Journalism.

4. OC
Opinion, Commentary
Color: Pinot Noir
Symbol: $

See discussion at Joy of Equivocating: Opinion Commentary.

5. IP
Incitement Push
Color: Flashing Red.
Symbol: X
Synonyms. Incitement Pushers are also known in the provinces and colonies, as "emoticon dominators" or "emoticon dominatrixes" (or dominatrices). See Emoticon Dominance at Joy of Equivocating: Emoticon Dominance.

See bewilderment at Joy of Equivocating: Incitement Push.

6. FN

Fake News
Color: Rainbow; or Black; depending on the Purveyor
Symbol: =
See Joy of Equivocating: Fake News. Note that this category includes public sector governmental stagings and other theater, spin and yo-yo exhibitions, as well as the more benevolent private sector satirical programming stagings and other theater, spin and yo-yo exhibitions.

............................................................


B.  In further support of Labeling and notice of news ingredients.

Who gets the driver's seat, or at least the front seat.

This ratings system enables Consumers to choose what kind of message he or she seeks first, and then ingest, if desired. At this point the reverse is true: the Consumer must engage the product first, by which time the damage-message is done. The News Product Purveyor is well aware of the phenomenon of emoticon dominance, whereby a view adopted out of an emotional response will withstand later revelations of fact; and so may well avoid providing facts that counter the desired response. See emoticon dominance theory at Joy of Equivocating, Emoticon Dominance Theory.

The need: Without the label, how does the Consumer determine in advance the fact content those invented products, apart from other ingredients like surmise, opinion, innuendo, hatchet-job, use of inflammatory words, planting little seeds.

There is little help there, except for a broad aversion to some channels overtly this or that, and some attraction to others.
Issues:
  • Shall we alert consumers to the spin ingredients in the materials that they buy into, as "news;" or,
  • Shall we continue to engage in airwave and pulpy voter-steering (the old "steerage"* category) without disclosing the direction to them before they are exposed and on board (hard to change your mind once made up); or
  • Shall we now, finally, put the voter behind the wheel. Car analogies, as boating and sports, get attention.
In sum, shall we continue to foster media as another governmental and special interest steering mechanism; or foster, through the media, accessible neutral information. You pick. Your life. Your country.

1. Hear the News Industry. It benefits the News Industry to refuse to label the ingredients of their product. They have special interests to push - at consumer expense. They want to persuade so their interests are furthered. And, so far, they are under no fiduciary obligation to provide "neutral" language news information.

2. Hear the Consumer. It benefits consumers to label the product. Consumers also have interests they would like to further, if only they could get straight talk about what to choose. They have no comparable access to original information. They lose to the spinners.

3. Hear the Government. They want us to believe what they want us to believe. Otherwise known as the wind blowing.

News Industry engenders a variety of News Products for Profit, on screen, in books, over the airwaves.

But, as with newspapers (a/k/a news tilters), the process usually is to listen or read first, then look everything up, by which time the emotional whammy of the non-news product has already made an impression. Time to balance the News Product Purveyor's interest in profit against providing complete information.

Would someone please invent a TIVO to blot out opinion? Money-making heads are welcome to give them, but must we be ambushed. Let us, as voters, hear a full speech for 40 minutes by any candidate rather than 40 minutes of ego-rodeos. The real thing Not as filtered.
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* Steerage - impecunious passengers jammed below-decks. See ://www.norwayheritage.com/steerage.htm. Do an "Images" search for "steerage"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Swiftboating by Literalism - Swiftboat Propaganda Tactic; Role of Media Industry In.

Swiftboating. The Swiftboat by Literalism.

Political tactics, Propaganda tactics. 

Here, The Swiftboat Effect:

Samantha Power said, so they say, that Hilary Clinton was a monster.  What?  Did she?  What they said, about what she said,  is different from the totality of what she said.  And media partisans, as their job, omitted the clarification by clever ellipsis.  Dot dot dot. 

Who is the media addressing?  A deficiently educated electorate that has not addressed in depth in school the difference between literalism, and metaphor, or analogy, figures of speech.  Is that elitist? No. Training in how to spot figures of speech is basic propaganda defense. Samantha Power:  Hilary Clinton is a monster.  No.  She will stoop to anything to get what she wants.  Different idea, and a matter of personal evaluation, not fact.  If she were a monster, she would be Grendel etc. 

Need for education funding, all voters. I did have an elite education.  The concepts of rhetoric vs. literalism can be learned at any level, and should. Go back to the old figures of speech from even elitist school days. 

Some ways of speaking are not meant to be literal.  They are meant to persuade, be figurative, and the hearers are supposed to know that. Go back to your English and classical Rhetoric courses. Find a list of figures of speech at ://www.nipissingu.ca/faculty/williams/figofspe.htm.

If your education did not include an awareness of the literal vs. the figurative, you are more vulnerable to propagandists than those who watch for the difference.

Moe: "It is raining cats and dogs!"
Joe: "Oh, no! Call Animal Control"

1. Example: The Swiftboating by Literalism of Samantha Power. See Samantha Power, Metaphor, Monstrosity.

The media and others take her words that are metaphors about monstrosity, literally, even though she went on to explain the sense in which she used the word -- anyone who will stoop to anything to get elected.  A good definition in politics.  Maybe not accurate as to a particular candidate, but an okay definition.

2. Example: The Swiftboating by Literalism of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor (past?? why passed over?) to Barack Obama. See article about his comments during sermons, America as to be d____ for killing innocents, and racist.

His use of words to point to the truths he saw about this country were "hyperbole," as the figure of speech for exaggeration for effect; and how they now are touted as literal - an ax job. See ://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/844447,CST-NWS-wright15.article. We should be asking how he was right, this Rev. Wright with his many years and laudable accomplishments, and learn something. Instead, it's tar and feather time. Look that up.

The media and other clowns (here, note the hyperbole by photo, for effect) who make a figure of speech into the literal, tout their lack of education, although their curriculum vitae are no doubt impressive. They show their keen pleasure in propaganda methods - exploiting their access to airwaves and people's brains, by taking words that are hyperbole,and saying they are to be taken literally.

Hyperbole: an exaggeration used to make a strong point, at http://volweb.utk.edu/school/bedford/harrisms/hyperbole.htm. "An extravagant exaggeration," at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbole

Look them up yourself.

People, we know better. This is manipulation. If we don't know it, then our educations and that of our children will put us in more jeopardy than we now imagine.

Next issue: The role of media in swiftboating - when do we have a right to know what is being aimed at us. See Fact Ratings in News Industry Products.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Figures of Speech. Monster Tactics: Story of The Empress' New Clothes - Political Ecosystems Part II. Metaphors Amok.

"Monster" Tactics and the Political Ecosystem. 
Use, Misunderstanding and Abuse of Metaphor.*

Part II. Lessons from The Emperor's New Clothes

An outgrowth of the wardrobe, Part I, at Joy of Equivocating, Political Ecosystems Part I.

Summary:  Political ecosystems and campaign tactics:  each sets up a framework for deciding what behaviors are acceptable, what will promote The Cause without backfiring. Each looks for advantage in misrepresenting whether a comment is to be taken literally, or is a metaphor for a larger concept.

Campaign tactic systems perpetuate so long as no-one speaks up and out.  Then, when someone does speak out a truth, he or she may well be carted off the stage, but the service of pointing out the truth is accomplished.
Join us the phenomenon at work in The Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Andersen.




Book opens, by itself, to the classic:

The Emperor's New Clothes
By Hans Christian Andersen
see http://www.deoxy.org/emperors.htm.

The reader makes a mental morph from The Emperor into The Empress instead, so it becomes "The Empress's New Clothes,"  And attend, gentle learner:

The Empress' New Clothes


Narrator: Once upon a time, there was an Attendant, an Empress, and a Seer. And many, many people.  The story begins with the Attendant, and the Empress:

"Oh," admires the Attendant, as the Empress stands before the mirror, "That tactic you wear is so becoming, it works so well with your goals. Surely the Empire will see and delight. The people will see that how you treat your opponents in a campaign is how you will treat international dignitaries in negotiations, and they will rejoice!"

"Yes," coos the Empress."I will say to them all, 'Shame! Shame on you!' And I will use innuendo instead of my own merit to overcome them, and I will belittle them and I will bully them to get what I want."

The Attendant eagerly nods: "And calling Texas a victory so fast, before the second stage of that proceeding - the caucuses - even completed their work. Brilliant! Even the media went along and failed to note Stage Two still to come. That was a fabulous use of Bandwagon; and Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, just like IBM did! See Hello, Fodder: Propaganda Techniques, paras.7-8.

Who will care now, if lots of those voters were Limbaugh-Clones making merry crossing lines, see http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/5589381.html! The ecosystem says fine! Whatever works!"

The Attendant continues, counting on fingers: "And hiding your tax returns! And calling people persecutorial names like Ken Starr for merely asking for what they are entitled to see. Fog, fog always wins. Just think of all that is in the returns. Information about conflicts of interest and sources of income - and White House records that would or would not show 'experience' and what kind, big deal in weighing claims and objectivity in policy. And for measuring accuracy of statements, and even unjust enrichments down the road, if that comes in issue."

The Empress, of The Empress' New Clothes. Here, Bojnice SK"Thank you, my dear," acknowledges the Empress.

"Yes," whispers the Attendant now. "By the time the facts come out, the people will be so firmly committed to your image, that the new information will fall like dry leaves before a desert wind! Can we find any more kodak moments? Surely we can!" And the Attendant clapped hands in joy.

"Yes," agrees the Empress, turning around. "I have learned this lesson well. Tell them what you want them to hear, hit the gut, not what they need to know to make a sound decision on facts. They are only voters after all."

Suddenly a figure appears at the doorway.

"Your Empressness?" politely interjects a young woman, whose image as a sleeping tow-head had been used in a commercial by the Empress against her Opponent, and who actually supports the Opponent. "I disagree. I have become a Seer, and your tactics are hollow, and see-through. They will fall of their own weight. Your Opponent need only stand by while the truth emerges. Just like me, arriving here now. And the people will see what is hidden in the tax returns, what else is being stooped. The people are not stupid. The big rock may well invade the Inn grounds, but people now want an Inn, not a rockpile." [referring, of course, to political ecosystems illustrated at Joy of Equivocating, Political Ecosystems Part I].

Narrator: And the Seer was right. Nonetheless, the Empress took her place in the parade, and as she was. And indeed, the people were not stupid, and pointed their fingers.

Unbeknownst to the Empress, the political ecosystem had indeed changed while she was stooping, and because her Opponent would not stoop in return.

"Look!" called out a Keen-eyed One in the crowd, "She is wearing the M_______ Suit!" "Hush!" cried those around her, and the Keen-Eyed one was hurried out of the way. Still, the whispers began - The Empress indeed is wearing all the wrong Tactics! She has made herself into a M_______! And the Empress heard, hid her face, and hurried home, distraught.

The parade itself had changed.

And she never noticed.

Narrator, closing the book: (Looking up at the rapt faces around)

Fortunately, she saw the error of her ways soon thereafter, and did a course correction so that the election could be held on new sound grounds, not her own dysfunctional (but effective as to some) Oldthink. She actually shelved the Monster Tactics, and directed all her elves to do the same.

Narrator, continuing: For some, the new information when it came out in the tax returns, and the ads, and the voters Rushing to the rigging of a ship, did not matter a whit, because some people cannot change their own positions. Brains etched.

That was the idea in the first place: to perpetuate an old, stoop-ed system because force is good. So, the Empress won as to them. And the Keen-eyed one? The one rushed away from the Parade? Some think she is a Monster. Many, many more don't. Depends on the ecosystem you buy.

........................................
* If a "monster" is a category, not merely a pejorative; but a category of being, only seen as such when it is outside its ecosystem, see //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster, think further. Then a monster who wreaks havoc outside its place (like Grendel and Beowulf), is acting in ways that would be seen as acceptable in its home environment, but not in the system of Beowulf. Let's look further. When is a "monster" not a "monster." Depends on the context - other "monsters" may see nothing amok. Those on the outside, on the receiving end, may well disagree.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Samantha Power. Hilary Clinton. Monster? Political Ecosystem I. Fighting Word, or mere Metaphor. Etymology. Function. Monster.

Political Ecosystem Part I
The Fog of Fightin' Words v Metaphor
Swiftboat by literalism

Monster
What does it mean, really?
Someone calls another a monster.  Need we panic?

Politics. Samantha Power in 2008 said, at some point, in some context, or did she? as to Hilary Clinton -- 

"She is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything." 

 That was said by one in one political camp (Obama) against the head of another camp (Clinton), but nothing is ever off the record, and it was aired. The Swiftboat ensued. The media took off. Take it literally, said the media, and the people (they hoped) would.

What?  A mere metaphor, that was defined further at the time by the speaker?

Look closer. What does monster really mean?  Educate voters to assess for themselves whether to believe what the media tell them to believe.  Here follows a little Monster 101 course. Free.

1.  Roots of Monster.  

To Warn.

Not bad at all.  Mee the roots - Monstrare - to point out, to warn, from the Latin, to reveal, to teach. See http://www.en.wiktionary.org/wiki/monstrare. Monere - to warn.

The role of the Monster is to remind us of the natural order, and that what veers from it, is threatening, see http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/3-1/3-1editorial.pdf

2.  Uses of Monster,

Monster as a idea can be metaphorical, rhetorical, functional, not a literal fighting word.

"She is a monster" should never have been interpreted as literal, "fightin' words." 

Communications include figures of speech. Go back to English class. Words can be metaphoric for emphasis and point, not literal. To take it otherwise and force that spin is Swiftboat by Literalism. Propaganda in itself. Saying something "is" something else, is a metaphor, not literal where the reference itself originates in legend. See metaphor at http://www.rhlschool.com/eng3n26.htm. The subjects can differ in most everything else, but -- in a way important to the speaker -- there is a likeness.

That is all it is. So find the likeness, here to the monster that deviates from the natural order of elections (that is the idea) and discuss that. Our collective education is at a low level where even this basic matter of the King's English is misunderstood by so many. The whole tempest should have remained in the teapot, as a metaphor with a debatable point, but folks with deficient English Lit backgrounds (this is an aspersion on our system, not the people) took it literally, and we lost out on a chance for meaningful dialogue. So here, and at Part II, is our dialogue opportunity. Discuss monster metaphor.

Look deeper at the scene in issue because it recurs in politics,  The word may not be the same, but the tactics of deliberate misinterpretation and propaganda that flow from reactions to it are standard. Study and vet: When is a "monster" not a monster, and when does a non-monster become a monster. What is a monster, anyway?

The Political Ecosystem Part I
The Scene

I. Trigger event. A report of a transcript:

Samantha Power, former adviser to Barack Obama, described the Opposing Hillary Clinton, and also, at the same time, gave her definition, Power's definition of, "monster:"  a monster in her context is someone who stoops to anything. See http://www.opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2008/03/such-an-in-tere.htmlRead a more complete context there.

We know exactly what happened then because of a mis-speak thinking it would be off the record, even though the full thought might be quite accurate as metaphor, and a leak. Both predictable. Fast forward to Uproar.

II. Uproar.

Blah blah.


III. Enter, Prudence.

Not so fast. Hold that emotional response until the facts come in. Fight emoticon dominance, see Joy of Equivocating, Emoticon Dominance Theory, and assert your internal discipline, wait and learn first. Before you, too, dismiss the whole business, see if there is something in the metaphor that is worth examining.

III. Define the terms first.

Define "monster."
There may be more there, as to roots of the concept, than you had thought. Who is a monster or not, is a matter of context. Its own relativity theory. And the idea is global.

Skip the specific image of the Hollywood zombie in gory-gauze. We can define monster instead more generally, and accurately, as a category, not just a description; and we can continue to define it by referring to its environment, where it is operating. Then see what fits- are we dealing with a monster or not? This is also known as Monstrosity Theory.

Definition: A monster is a "gross exception to the norms of some ecosystem."

This is one of many definitions of monster at a general site, at http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster.
By that definition, someone who is acting in ways contrary to, or who is otherwise not within, the norms of the system of the beholder, is a monster.

Stonehenge, England. Monster? Or happenstance. Depends on the viewer's predisposition, intended use of photo

Application. By that definition, this fellow is a Monster. Run!

This specific one also fits the monster list, worldwide, at ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Monsters. Each listed monster is somehow outside an ecosystem where it would be considered "normal." Thus, it is a "monster."

Out there, on its own, a road nearby where people are exposed to it, Run! Put it among others of its kind in its ecosystem, however, and you could not tell one from another.

Theory: Whether someone or some thing is a monster or not depends on its ecosystem, and whether its behavior is within the ecosystem's norms.

Need we be "shocked? shocked?" that someone considers another a monster in this sense? Do a role play for that at ://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/quotes, with a "find" for shocked, shocked!

No. Go back. First, find what ecosystem is being referred to, the Monster's operating arena.

IV. Monstrosity Theory in Ecosystem Reference Points:

An environment where politics is acted out, nurtured, constructed, has roles, interdependencies, is also an ecosystem. A political ecosystem. There are several stages, and types.

1) Same old political ecosystem.

The monster can be operating within the same old political ecosystem where hiding facts, swiftboating, misstating, paying PR people to do ads regardless, and bullying and humiliating are the norm, are expected, and are expected to work, and anyone who enters the ring unwilling to do those things is a WIMP.

By that definition, our hard-headed fellow at the top fits right in - not monstrous at all. Put him back with his fellows at the Stonehenge Political Ecosystem and all is right with the world. Whatever our grim fellow up there does is just fine, so long as it works. Nobody here but us chickens.

Stonehenge.  Is there a Monster here.  All in the viewer.






2) Emerging revisionist political ecosystem.

The monster can be operating, knowingly or not, within a new, evolving political ecosystem - but in the old ways.

We know the old reality and its strength of tradition. Look at the staying-power of Stonehenge. Nonetheless, some of us reject it, for the present and future, and consciously decline to participate in those ways. In that context, the monster acting like Stonehenge is indeed monstrous.

Look at a new context - like an Inn, compared to the rockpile. Enter Inn.

Mildenhall, Wiltshire, England. 

The big rock attack would be and is monstrous if this Inn-type place is the setting.

Welcome, wayfarer, practical stuff on the left, like the trash cans, a good road in front, bucolic (and real) thatch roof on the right, and this is actually the "Horseshoe Inn" in Mildenhall, Wiltshire, England. You knew that. Best food among all the Brits.

The Inn concept instead of the rockpile.

We choose instead: mutuality, means to shelter, transparency, basing statements on fact, not innuendo, community, treating others with deep respect, so that all of us can change our views without losing face, if we choose, and leadership by example, not push, or pulling in old debt-influence-chips. There are other, respectful, meanings for WIMP - underestimate not. See Joy of Equivocating: Govt. for Dark Matter Problems, WIMP.

Then there is the hoped-for:

3) New political ecosystem. The time of the broad acceptance, implementation and practice of #2. For those dreamers who think we are past #2 already. Think again.

V. Monstrosity is in the Eyes of the Beholder, from the Beholder's Vantage Point.

Monstrosity is relative - do as your buddies do, and nobody is a monster, to you and your buddies. You may well be, to others on the receiving end.

With that understanding, Samantha Power (if she only were not also an advisor in a public role at the time) has a point, her own point, from her reference point.

This gets fun.

Type 1 (the rockpile) feels right at home with #1 behaviors. There are no other choices. That is how the job is done. Condone and do it again. The "monster" is the one who does not play by the rules of the Type 1 world, in any-tactic-goes, and who criticizes the Type I's for doing what comes natcherly. The monster outside the ecosystem here is the #2 who comments on #1. Linear life. With us or against us. Zero sum. Me or you.

Type 2 (the Inn) has more flexibility: a Type 2 can see intellectually that the Type 1 is doing ok by Type 1 standards, but regret - even in public - that the Type 1 behaviors work against moving toward a goal of Type 2 as a political ecosystem. The Type 2 can feel that the Type 1 who barges into a Type 2 world with those behaviors is indeed a monster - as to the Type 2. Yet, if the Type 2 does what Type 1 does in response, then the Type 2 will never prevail conceptually. Circular and web. We can all get where we need to because life is a web, not a line.

For those not analytically inclined, it is easier. If the behavior has not moved beyond the old Type 1 and is not within the political ecosystem you like or want- or enough people think the ecosystem is due for an overhaul, then perhaps there is "monstrosity." Is there a message in the metaphor, beyond the literal. Some monsters are indeed worse than others and all are products of legend anyway.

Erudite discussion. If stooping to anything as a valid means to an end, if that is the political ecosystem of the rockpile, then Hillary Clinton as a rockpiler is not the "gross exception" but a Rovian-type mistress of it. Master of it? Let's say Expert. A different discussion.

So: Whether she is or isn't a gross exception to the ecosystem depends on the ecosystem in issue. We can control our own political ecosystem, supposedly, so we decide by our norms if she fits. This is not to say that using the word is politically astute, but it was only a metaphor, and with some message to it. You decide from your rockpile or Inn if there is truth to it. Your job.*

As to Samantha Power.: It was too late for the resigned advisor to resume her work in the immediate future; but as any woman knows, a moment of self-sabotage is not unusual in success, and we understand. And have done it ourselves, to ourselves. She should have tied the comment to the tactics, not made it personal, as a start. Monster tactics? Maybe. Part of our political ecosystem as it has evolved? Sure. Do we have to let it stay that way? No. We hope she will return because she is otherwise wise indeed, and just did a self-sabotage, like we all do sometimes.

Oo bla dee. See ://www.ceder.net/recorddb/viewsingle.php4?RecordId=1469.

See Part II on Political Ecosystems, "The Empress' New Clothes," a creative interpretive dance, at Joy of Equivocating, Political Ecosystems Part II, Empress' New Clothes

..........................................
* More on monsters:

More definitions of this legendary, mythological being. Start at an online encyclopedia, here ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster. Find the origins of the word in religious concepts - Latin "monstrum" or "omen," and that has its own roots with "monere" meaning "to warn," or even "prodigy" or "miracle."

Other uses of the word when describing a person are nasty but focused -

a) about the person's interior life and motivations, "morally objectionable;" and that we cannot tell except from how they act and speak; or

b) about their exterior presentation - "hideous" in looks, or a "biological sport" or "freak of nature." These refer to monsters that are sometimes shown as a human-animal hybrid of some sort. Not applicable. Both candidates are reasonably photogenic.

Other monsters. The larger context. Look further at monsters:

Modern monsters: There is a history here of size. Pre-WWI - human sized? Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Post-WWII - getting huge now. King Kong. Run up the staircase singing it. Getting huge now! Read the article to see if you agree. They ask for more info.

Contemporary Monsters. Who's scared any more? These have gone mainstream - an anchor for games, role-playing. Can even be friendly, or not understood, like Sesame Street's folks. See also musical themes - heavy metal, gothic etc. These ideas still from Wikipedia above. Remember the Monster Mash dance/song? Read about the origins of that, a gathering of the doomed, those to be executed. Wonderful.

Hysterical - Still not scared. Tabloids love stories about monsters. The reaction is not fear, but "Ooooo!" or "Ewwwww." Look at your local supermarket checkout line for your own headlines.

Horror movies. Your kids go to see who stays least scared. Hollywood's zombies get worse looking and the kids laugh more. We are numbed. We numb ourselves without number.
More contemporary - see the fearsome idea tamed into the banal. Use it to get a job. See www.Monster.com. Name your company after it. Energy drinks, clothing, sponsored teams. See www.monsterenergy.com. Also monsterarmy, monsterenergypro. Use it in your commercial slogan - "Unleash the Beast", see monsterenergy.

Add a sympathy factor, why a person becomes a "monster." Make a movie of that name, evil lady but soul-scarred, and "reasons," 2003, "Monster." Starring Charlize Theron amok, but glimpses of all of us. See://www.imdb.com/title/tt0340855/

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thin ice - Media: Free Ad Airings. Breach of Campaign Finance Laws. FEC? Answer the Phone

Blurring boundaries to make a violation of campaign finance laws deniable. Here, corporate-owned media repeating candidate commercial sales pitches, instead of reporting about them. A way to promote a cause, by flooding the airwaves with the actual ads, without seeming to. Who, me.

Thin ice only holds so long as nobody puts any weight on it. Nobody looks.

Thin ice and corporate-owned media - exploiting the law's proscriptions on soft money to candidates, by the corporation's giving candidates free air time for their commercials instead. Nice. Using people when they aren't looking: sneak in a partisan commercial in the middle of what they thought was going to be news, or even an "opinion." Free of charge to the advertiser.

It happened again. That phone rang (and was never answered, as Chris Matthews recently pointed out).

Evening news, and the Peacock reproduced yet again, as do other networks and cable, a commercial promoting Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the Wee Hours, a specialty of IBM, see Hello, Fodder: Propaganda Fostering FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt at point 8, favoring one candidate, diminishing by implication the other - assumed to be incapable of hearing a phone in the middle of the night.

Whatever your political leanings, corporations providing free air time to political commercials is breach of McCain-Feingold. Providing free air time for commercials is contributing "soft money" to a candidate. Visit the Federal Election Commission, see ://www.fec.gov/ and ://www.fec.gov/about.shtml. This is not about legit free speech - this is about corporate owners of media conspiring, or seeming to, to further the commercial sales agenda of a candidate by giving free air time. Doesn't matter which candidate. Repeating full or nearly full commercials is free sales.

What is permissible: Let them report on an ad, show a frame or two, even some 5 seconds of audio.

But to repeat it, for free, over and over, floods. Unfairly. Breachly. Intentionally skewing the audience exposure.

Did the flood during the four or five days before the recent primaries make a difference? How could it not.

Every network, every cable news loop - ring, ring. How many people who would not have seen the commercial in normal paid airings, saw it because it could not be escaped on TV free airings.

For each such showing of either side's commercial in substantial part - shaving off a few seconds does not save the day - means the corporation that owns the media has contributed to the campaign in the amount the ad would have cost the advertiser to air, with all the legal and other ramifications.

No more media as conduit for otherwise paid commercials - nothing objective or "fair" about presentations in commercials intended only to sell the product, at whatever cost. Impermissible unfair and fraudulent interference with the election process. Draw the line and hold: This is a commercial, beware. This is an opinion, thank you, and change the dial if it becomes vacuous. This is reasonable news, reasonable presentations of both sides. Stay.

Either side. Plank: see PoseJuxta: Free Ads, Breach, McCain-Feingold. Companion post when issue first surfaced, see Hello, Fodder: Media as Corporate Conduit, Candidate Promotions.