Sleight of blog

George Lakoff is a student of propaganda and influence who uses his learning to take shots at moderate and conservative Americans in the interest of his left wing values. His method is pretty transparent once you’ve seen it a couple of times. He ostensibly tosses out a theory of journalism that attempts to wring some controversy over the practice of finding the story behind the story, and then he maps a theory of politics on top of that. The theory of politics holds that the right appeals to a “battered child” instinct, while the left is virtuous and pure. But that’s not really the message, it’s the misdirection that’s calculated to get an emotional reaction from the reader, which suspends his critical reasoning and therefore enables Lakoff to get into their heads with some warped perceptions, such as these:

…the national Republicans [made an] effort over several years to make Davis look bad by hurting the California economy…energy deregulation was brought in by Republican governor Pete Wilson…there was no real “energy crisis.” It resulted from thievery by Enron and other heavy Bush contributors, thievery that was protected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission run by Bush appointees. The Bush administration looked the other way while California was being bilked and went to great lengths not to help California financially in any of the many ways the federal government can help. Arnold had had a meeting with Ken Lay and other energy executives in spring 2001 when Lay was promoting deregulation, but denies any complicity in the theft. Arnold is now promoting energy deregulation again.

The energy bill that was passed in 1996, while Wilson was governor, was written by the man who would become Davis’ finance director, Steve Peace, and approved unanimously by the legislature. If Steve Peace, a Democrat, wrote a bill that was intended to get Davis recalled, he was pretty far-sighted about it, as nobody had any idea that Davis would someday be elected governor and then would attach conditions to the bill through his PUC that would make it suck, and cause a crisis in California before Bush was elected President.

If the architects of the deregulation were so clever, how come they didn’t realize Enron would be bankrupt by the time Davis was recalled? Only Lakoff knows for sure. But there’s more:

…California’s Republican legislature also went out of its way to make Davis look bad, refusing to support reasonable measures for dealing with the budget problems…the recall petition was paid for by a wealthy conservative legislator… signature gatherers were paid handsomely… some signatures were from out of state, which is illegal. [There was] an enormous amount of money and organization put into the Schwartzenegger [sic] campaign by Republicans.

California’s legislature had comfortable Democratic majorities in both houses throughout the Davis governorship, of course. The recall petition, which started as a grass-roots effort by Ted Costa, was certainly accelerated by Darrell Issa’s $1.6M contribution, about ten cents a voter. But how does that compare to the $60M Davis spent on his re-election and the $25M he spent fighting the recall? Like what it is, nothing.

But there’s more:

The Republicans manipulated the media using some of the frames we have discussed to hide facts and create false impressions. From the perspective of the facts we have discussed, the election does seem to fit the Right-Wing Power Grab frame.

Except, gee whiz, the media were relentlessly pro-Davis and anti-recall. Not only did the LA Times assign an unprecedented squad of 24 to dig up dirt on Arnie, all the major papers editorialized against the recall. So where was this media manipulation, on the Fox News channel watched by, at most 500,000 California voters out of an electorate of 9 million?

The people recalled Davis and elected Arnie because they, unlike Lakoff, aren’t fools, and they can’t be manipulated by fools all of the time. It’s called “democracy” and that’s what you ignore at your peril.

Hat tip to Doc Searls.

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