Tim Roemer, Republican Noise Machine Member

Dave Johnson uncovers something extremely disturbing about Tim Roemer:The Mercatus Center, for example, at George Mason University describes itself as promoting the

"use of market-based tools and analysis to discover workable solutions to pressing economic problems."

And just look at who is funding them, as well as the amounts! (Click here, and see the reports linked at the end of this post, for some background on who these funders are and what they stand for. Carthage Foundation is a Richard Mellon Scaife (more here) foundation, for example.)

As I wrote above, before this update, Tim Roemer is "a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University." Roemer's bio at Mercatus also states:

"Roemer is a key spokesperson for the Mercatus Center's Capitol Hill Campus outreach and education program, which seeks to improve public policy outcomes by teaching economics and policy analysis to congressional staff."

Scaife is known in conservative circles as one of the "Four Sisters." Along with a handful of other uber-rich donors, his funding serves as the backbone to the "think tank" branch of the Republican Noise Machine. He has personally donated over $340 million to conservative causes. Adjusted for inflation, that total rises to over $620 million. And Tim Roemer is one of the people he is funding.

It gets worse:

Dear Fellow Democrats,

I would like to encourage you to join me in Philadelphia on February 4th and 5th, 2005 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for the 2005 Chief of Staff Retreat. This Retreat is probably the best opportunity of the year for gathering with other senior-level congressional staff both from our party but also with our colleagues across the aisle.

The Retreat is hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. I have been affiliated with this organization for the past two years in an effort to promote sound economic thinking that leads to a more prosperous and fiscally responsible America. The Mercatus Center is a non-profit and non-partisan group that seeks to educate congressional staff about markets, global prosperity for the poor and economics as they relate to the issues you are working on in your congressional or committee office.

This year's program is highly relevant to the issues facing the 109th Congress. We will discuss topics ranging from drug reimportation to Social Security, tax and pension reform, to understanding learning disparities between black and white children. I will be there to discuss national security and intelligence reforms. While we have made important progress in modernizing our intelligence system, there are several important issues confronting congress.

At a time of partisan divide, this is an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas. Any time that you can get away from the Hill to view issues from different angles, you should do it. I look forward to seeing you there.

If you are interested in learning more, or registering, please click here:

http://www.mercatus.org/capitolhillcampus/article.php/933.htm

Best regards,

Tim Roemer

That's right--Roemer is actively encouraging Democratic congressional chiefs of staff to drop their partisan attitudes and come to a swanky retreat in Philadelphia hosted by a foundation supported by the ultimate right-wing donor to learn about, among other things, market-based solutions to Social Security. Dave Johnson asks:Here are some things that this humble blogger would like to know. What will be going on at this "retreat?" What kind of "sound economic thinking" is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting at the retreat? What sort of "Social Security, tax and pension reform" is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting to Democratic Chiefs of Staff? Who is funding this retreat (and why?)? And, most important to me, what is a candidate for head of the Democratic Party doing working for this crowd? Anyone interested in the race to become head of the Democratic National Committee deserves answers to these questions, and a full explanation. While we are trying to save Social Security, Tim Roemer is actively working to destroy it on behalf of the Republican Noise Machine. I will be personally organizing a protest against this retreat starting later today. I will not allow people to get away with this shit when it happens in my party, especially when it happens in my city.

Most Important Voting Rights Case in Decades Now in Courts

As soon as the family Christmas parties ended, I became rather ill. This will mean light posting today, and probably tomorrow as well. I am also unilaterally moving the Book Club discussion on The Republican Noise Machine to January 5th. Sorry, I just can't write a summary today--Chris

Felony disenfranchisement laws have been on the books for decades. With the massive upswing in the prisoner population over the past twenty-five years, these laws have contributed to a systematic disenfranchisement of minority communities. As the Sentencing Project notes:

Nationally, more than four million Americans are denied the right to vote as a result of laws that prohibit voting by felons or ex-felons. In 48 states (with the exception of Maine and Vermont) and the District of Columbia prisoners cannot vote, in 35 states felons on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and in 14 states a felony conviction can result in a lifetime ban long after the completion of a sentence. This fundamental obstacle to participation in democratic life is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in an estimated 13% of black men unable to vote.It is not a coincidence that the rise in the prison population was concurrent with the rise in conservative politics nationally. By disenfranchising millions of potential Democratic voters, conservatives titled the electorate in their favor. However, these laws are now being challenged:

There's more...

Social Security is Healthy and Successful

Via Kevin Drum. The title to this piece is how we fight back against this problem: I'm not sure the older liberals who run the show quite understand how overwhelmingly important it is to keep the "there is no crisis" message front and center in the Social Security debate. Most of the young people I know -- including myself until very recently -- have been taken in by a decades-long effort on behalf of privatizers into believing that Social Security is in "crisis," and that if we do nothing the system will "go bankrupt" before we retire, meaning that the system will somehow collapse and we won't get any benefits. Growing up, I bought into this as well. Right now, many more people are probably buying into it, considering the media fix is in to claim there is a crisis. I mean, how many people do independent research on Social Security? If all you hear in news reports are conservatives and libertarians (who are identified as experts rather than conservatives or libertarians) claiming that there is funding crisis, why wouldn't you believe it? These people are experts, after all.

Let's fight back with frames that tell the truth and express our beliefs. Social Security has been, and still is, successful in its goal to keep seniors from starving in poverty. Social Security is a healthy program that is fully funded for the next fifty years, and even then it will only take small changes in revenue to keep it fully funded for several more decades. Any attempt to privatize Social Security is a right-wing power grab on behalf of wealthy investment firms that are lying in order to destroy a healthy and successful program. In countries where Social Security has been abolished, senior poverty is skyrocketing.

I will be attending a family Christmas party on Sunday, and if the subject of Social Security comes up, this is the frame I will be bringing with me. I suggest you do the same if you are with relatives this weekend. Granted, my generally liberal family probably will not be arguing for the destruction of Social Security, but at the very least they might find this frame helpful in their discussions with others. Here are some other framing tips to follow when engaging in political discussions.

Taking Down Sinclair

We beat them once: Sinclair drew controversy -- and the ire of Democrats -- in October, when The Times reported it planned to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," a film critical of Kerry, on all its stations just days before the tightly fought election.

The network backed down after the publicity led to threats of an advertising boycott, complaints from Democratic politicians and threats of shareholder action. On Oct. 22, Sinclair aired what many analysts called a largely balanced news program about Kerry on about 40 stations.

Now, it is time to widen the attack: A coalition of liberal political groups is launching a nationwide protest against Sinclair Broadcast Group, charging that the 62-station TV broadcaster, which was also the target of intense criticism during the presidential campaign, is misusing public airwaves with partisan news programming.

The groups, led by Media Matters for America, today will announce a campaign to pressure Sinclair's advertisers with letters. The groups, however, are stopping short of demanding an advertiser boycott.

The campaign is one of the first broad attempts to reenergize liberal political activists in the wake of the Democrats' electoral defeat in November. Others involved include MoveOn.org, Free Press, Campaign for America's Future, Working Assets, Alternet, MediaChannel, and filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who made "Outfoxed," a film released in the summer that alleged Republican bias at Fox News Channel.

The anti-Sinclair campaign will be run through a new website, SinclairAction.com.

There are many ways to counter the Republican Noise Machine. Bringing down Sinclair would be an important step. Stay tuned and get involved.

Countering the Republican Noise Machine

The Republican Noise Machine was in rare form yesterday when it came to Social Security, as Atrios and Kevin Drum both point out. Whether these networks were suckered by the right-wing noise machine or were simply engaging in crap reporting is open to debate, since both happen on a regular basis and both are often present in the same "reports." Either way, both CNN and CBS are fueling the ongoing conservative invention of social security crisis, which is being used not only as a means of increasing people's dependency on an aristocratic corporate oligarchy, but also to position Republicans as the party of reform. No wonder conservatism remains ascendant.

This post is not about Social Security, which I am just using as an example because of its prescience. The Republican Noise Machine is not about this issue or that issue, but instead is a permanent mechanism of conservative persuasion that is at the heart of the large ideological advantage conservatives enjoy over liberals. In order to close the national gap between the competing ideologies, liberals and progressives need not only to counter the Right Wing Noise Machine, but indeed to surpass it.

Fortunately, this is something people in the party are very interested in doing. Along with a few other bloggers, I just talked with former Michigan Governor James Blanchard, who is exploring a run for DNC chair. Many of us were concerned by the shocking effectiveness of the Republican message machine, and Blanchard he concurred with the basic sentiment in what I wrote above. While he "didn't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist," he vociferously complained about how the how conservatives seem capable of duping the media on every issue, such as creating a non-existent crisis in Social Security as a means of destroying the safety net. In so doing, the RNM has been able to create a national conventional wisdom on seemingly every single issue that is always favorable to conservatives. Blanchard argued that the DNC needed to begin to take an aggressive stance toward the media by telling them they "have been had," and immediately begin creating a permanent, large-scale message developing and distribution network of our own.

Other people have ideas on how to counter the Right Wing Nosie Machine. Back in July, Matt Bai wrote in the New York Times Magazine about the ongoing effort among extra-party Democratic operative such as Rob Stein and Simon Rosenberg to both reveal the operation of the Right Wing Noise Machine in all its glory to wealthy donors and to simultanesouly find entrepreneurs with new ideas about how counter the RWNM with a left wing noise machine. The entrepreneurial aspect of this plan needs to be emphasized, because it specifically involves new organizations pitching their plans to uber-wealthy liberal millionaires and billionaires who will then decide whether or not to pony up millions of dollars in what amounts to venture capital in order to allow the new organizations to flourish. While this is an encouraging development, I must admit that when I reread Bai's piece last night it also felt rather dis-empowering, largely due to its reliance on a small collection of individuals with extreme wealth.

As a true grassroots believer, I remain in the search for what groups of plebeian volunteers can do on our own to counter the Republican Noise Machine without the assistance of million dollar donations. Blogs are certainly an important element, but among other things the significant decline in post-election traffic many of us have incurred has convinced me that they are nowhere near enough. We are not growing fast enough to become a significant counter to the mainstream anytime soon. However, I do have another idea.

Last month, based on recent articles by others on the net, I wrote about a possible permanent progressive organizational plan in an article I titled Ding!.

We can run a fifty-state strategy while simultaneously breaking through the cynicism of marketing and win people to the Democratic cause by using Meetups as places to coordinate precinct-by-precinct House parties that are hosted by "influentials" who are volunteers but are given at least some guidance by the national and/or local party. The House Parties would focus on the Democratic Party itself. We could do this in every precinct in the nation. We could do this in off years. In fact, we could do this without much money at all! Two weeks later, I printed out an eight-page outline of the reasoning behind this plan, brought it to the Philadelphia Democracy for America Meetup. I gave it to Anne Dicker, the Meetup host and member of the Philly for Change steering committee. Two days ago we met over tea and came up with an outline on how to use the House Party plan I proposed:
  • With the election so far off, instead of being either a means of direct action toward fundraising and elections, the House Party plan should focus on being a means to distribute the progressive message.

  • We can use House Parties either as a reading group that focuses on important political books, or as a means to train people to use progressive linguistic frames developed by the Rockridge Institute in their discussion of important political issues.

  • Change the name "House Party" to "Talking Liberally,""Writing Liberally,""Reading liberally," or some combination of the three.
At the January DFA Meetup, we are going to give the idea a test-run by breaking people into groups and having the m discuss the Rockridge frame on taxes. Afterwards, we will have them write a letter to the editor using the frame, probably in the context of Social Security since that is the biggest issue these days.

We need to find as many ways as possible to break through the Republican Noise Machine and the Great Backlash narrative. I think this plan can serve as one means of countering it, while simultaneously being a great organizing tool. Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments, or clue me in to other ideas you are working with or have read elsewhere.

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