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Citizens United, Undue Influence, The BITE Model

This has been a surprisingly difficult post to write. I attribute this partially to what I am doing at work, which consists of speed learning. Not that I’m complaining (as long as my contract keeps getting renewed) but my mind has been busy retraining some circuitry and that means some other stuff has to join the queue.

The other reason it has been difficult is because I can’t believe no one has covered this territory before. If could be that others’ have but I don’t have the time right now to put in a lot of research as to how much it has been fleshed out. I know that some Twitter people have been busily picking up on the language and words used to describe the candidates. It’s good to see they’re being proactive but it’s probably not enough. So, I’ve had a difficult time figuring out how to jump into this topic.

And then there is the left blogosphere that seems to be dragging itself into the Hillary Clinton camp somewhat reluctantly. Sometimes, I see the briefest flashes of “snapping” out of their eight year self-imposed trance but I can’t tell if this is due to genuine insight or whether there are marching orders from party leadership or a little bit of both. Having read David Brock’s book Blinded by the Right, it’s my guess that the Media Matters people and affiliated blogs are more aware, to one degree or another, of the concept of undue influence, regardless of how much smoke got in their eyes in 2008. I can read between the lines in some blog posts. There is groupthink to some degree but there is also an underlying independence of thought that I think needs to be encouraged. In any case, there are some signs that the snapping might be real because connections have been made.

So, why am I grouping “Citizens United”, “Undue Influence” and “The BITE Model”? Let me tell you a little story about a conversation I recently had with a relative. I really like this person. He’s a senior but he’s interesting, smart and a little bit weird. But I can also tell where he gets his news. So, we were talking about health care and I mentioned that I don’t really have insurance. Oh, I have something that barely meets the requirements of the ACA but it’s not really insurance. And he says indignantly, “Why don’t we have insurance like they have in England where everyone is covered?!! That would be so much better than Obamacare.”

This was interesting to me because that sentiment should set off alarm bells in the right wing media empire. That is definitely NOT what they want their voter base to be thinking about. Because, what would happen if there was a politician who would somehow figure out a way to show these voters that getting what they want is not an impossibility after all?

I pointed out to my relative that in the US, we have several kinds of alternate health care models to choose from that match what he wants. Medicare and Tricare popped immediately to mind. He thought it would be great if we could all have Medicare but politically, it could never get passed. (BTW, I’m not advocating any particular model without cost controls on hospitals and providers. That’s probably the real impediment.) So, I pointed out to him that we would probably not get a real affordable health care system as long as Republicans were in charge.

His immediate response was: “All politicians are alike. It doesn’t matter what party they belong to.”

That, my friends, is a thought stopping idea and it was planted there by someone who has undue influence on a whole bunch of voters. The reason why I know this is that it was so quick. He may have a point in that Democrats hide behind Republicans in order to not offend their donors but I don’t think his thought process on the political reality was that well developed. I suspect he’s been trained to respond to the trigger about Republicans. Because you can bring up any subject and the minute you say “Republicans don’t like the idea you like”, the “All politicians and parties are the same” sentence flies out of their mouths without thinking. Republicans are going to be able to use that trigger in the upcoming election cycle. Anybody else is going to have to think of a way to get around it. And that’s going to be a problem because Citizens United has made it much easier for people with money to buy the means to apply undue influence.

“Duh”, you say, “Tell me something I didn’t know”. Ok, here’s where the connections are not being made: that money is being very effectively used to buy undue influence in a way you might not have considered before.

You may be wondering what I mean by undue influence. Undue influence originates from the law and since I am not a lawyer, I’m not going to discuss what that means exactly. The easiest way to understand it is to think about how elderly, possibly infirm people might be manipulated by their caretakers to sign over their estates. But the term is now being applied to mind control and can refer to any person or group, religion, political party that has the ability to influence others. Check out this video on Undue Influence 101 from Steve Hassan’s site Freedom of Mind to get a better understanding of what undue influence is.

What the Citizens United ruling did was allow a flood of money to infiltrate media and PACs. If you have the money, you now control the microphone. And if you control the microphone, your information is going to be able to influence the thoughts and emotions of your target audience. And once you are able to control their thoughts and emotions, you can control their behavior. There are many methods of carrying information. The obvious ones are TV, radio and newspapers. These are the primary sources of information for seniors. But more of them are now using Facebook (God knows why, I hate that thing). The more ways that money can control the means of disseminating information, the more thoughts and emotions can be influenced, the more behavior can be controlled. And now, the right wing controls almost all of the relevant information resources.

This is what is involved in the BITE model shown below:

Again, you may be saying to yourself that this is not new information. You already saw the correlation years ago or you’re starting to really get annoyed by it now because you’re finally starting to see what the New York Times has been up to with regard to covering presidential candidates.

But you would be missing the big picture. The big picture is that this is the way cults indoctrinate their devotees. These people do not know that they’ve been indoctrinated. They don’t know that they’ve had thought stopping ideas implanted in them. They don’t know that their fears of death, hell, abandonment, shame or ostracism have been tinkered with. They don’t know that the outrage over the so-called “War on Christmas” serves a very useful purpose. They don’t know that David Brooks is a master at writing posts that enforce “learned helplessness”. They are totally oblivious to it. They’re walking around like a bunch of Moonies spewing crap about “parasites” and “slackers” and “government is bad” when deep down inside, there is a conscience that objects to injustice but keeps getting strangled by thought stoppers.

This is what our Supreme Court majority allowed when they ruled on Citizens United. These are five smart men (interesting how they are all men). It is incomprehensible to me that they didn’t know what they were doing when they made this ruling. I’m sure they knew EXACTLY what was going on, especially John Roberts. What they did was allow the cult-like indoctrination of an entire country by people who have a lot of money and can buy more and more microphones, infiltrating every bit of information that comes though every media source and the “friends” you accept on Facebook .

That’s my first attempt at showing why we can’t have nice things. I’m not letting Democrats off the hook on this. What happened in 2008 was unconscionable. I’m delighted to see some bloggers in consternation about how they are supposed to defend Hillary Clinton when they’re up against this incredible media resistance and how irritating it is that all these young Ivy League graduates are jumping to the head of the line in major media publications to plant nasty trigger words about Hillary in the minds of their readers. Ha! Just wait until those same reporters start writing about how all those bloggers have tired interfaces or are catering to their older, elite demographic or something to that effect. Suddenly, their pretty little posts will lose their freshness and relevance. It’s going to happen. You heard it here first. It won’t matter how intelligent or pithy you are.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

There’s a tsunami of money headed your way.

12 Responses

  1. Really good, RB!

    Here are some off the top of my head thoughts from last time around.

    In the midst of the GR, as much as 75% of the population didn’t have access to the internet except as dial up. Utube and even still picts often wouldn’t load. Therefore, as most of the debates were on Cable, most people in the US did not watch them. This situation has improved moderately. Near the end it became difficult to find texts of the debates online, as papers like the NYT got slower about providing them. I still think there is a place for blogging that is mostly text and faster to load.

    I don’t like Facebook either, but it is one way to reduce the information access problem.

    Topix is terrible but can be managed if there are dedicated workers. Topix is important because it is attached to many small town newpapers and is owned and used as a manipulation by the right.

    Newsmax is an abomination and their pop ups must be managed, either by deleting their ads from the blogs, and/or balancing the ad ratio. (That didn’t appear to be successful last time.

    It must be assumed that media will minimize or eliminate any information, so alternate methods must be employed. what about flashdrives, as an example?

  2. I’m in favor of a “news diet”. That is, no cable or network news, no radio, limited online newspapers, no accepting friend requests from people you do not know.
    Do not accept flash drives. You never know what’s on those things. Be careful of blogs or online news aggregators. Read everything carefully. There should be a site that has the “trigger words of the week”.
    Also, stay away from any site or organization that doesn’t let you make up your own mind. We have a trigger word filter on this blog that will exclude comments that may be using well known trigger words. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know what they are. The reason they’re excluded is because they were used to bully people on other blogs and make them feel badly about their independent choices.
    In short, we don’t like short cuts around thoughts. If you have something to say, you’re going to have to reason it out and you can’t throw bullying accusations at people around here in order to shut them up.
    If you find a blog that rates comments, rewards certain users with extra ratings privileges, love bombs or mobs users, AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE.
    That blog has the potential to become coercive.
    But mostly, I’d like to see a nationwide news diet. Not only nationwide but timed randomly. I’d like to see what that does to the powers that be.

  3. Yep, yep, I agree flash drives are tricky. A site with trigger words of the week is good. I don’t like short cuts myself. Somehow, the actual debates, in their entirety, of candidates must be disseminated so that folks CAN make up their own mind.

    • I disagree about the debates. The media has made them almost meaningless by setting up candidates, throwing softballs to the ones they like, encouraging personal attacks, Etc. they’re no longer informative. Look at how many people believe that there was no difference between the candidates in 2008. Maybe that’s because Obama always went second. Think about that.
      Also, I used to watch C-Span for my debate coverage because they used to present them without much commentary followed by Q and A. That stopped when C-span started having the guys from Politico doing post debate commentary. So, you know, they control the horizontal and the vertical.
      Nowadays, I just read the transcripts. Speaking of which, I read Hillary’s speech from today and I’m going to douse it with some cold water. Unpleasant but necessary.

      • I wasn’t clear. I meant the texts of the debates, because as I mentioned above, 75% of the population never saw them. I was there RB, and wrote blogs about this. That’s why I spent all that time trying to find and plant them in places where they could be read. In any event, I think the texts are generally better, because, on live debates folks often get lost in the scene and miss the words.

        I just did a search of Clinton on SFGate, NYT and several of the McClatchy papers. I will do the rest. Of 12 papers, so far, her announcement run by AP is on 3 small lines on the front page of the Star Telegram, the Bellingham Herald, and the Whichita Eagle.

        • So, of 30 McClatchy papers, 12 had Clinton front page tags. Two of those had pictures of which only Kentucky had a photograph and writer indicating they had been there.

        • At 5:30 PM, ET, NYT finally got something on the front page about HRC.

          • Yeah, the NYT really hates Hillary with a white hot passion. I wonder what that’s all about?

  4. Excellent piece, RD.

    There was so much cult-like Internet groupthink going on in 2008. I was new to political blogs then and didn’t realize what was happening. I’ve learned from that experience. I’ll be thinking for myself this time.

  5. I’m going to stick up for the old guy.

    Maybe his answer was so quick because it is based on a lifetime of experience with the legacy parties.

    I agree with him – the difference between the parties is not sufficient for me to spend time paying attention to any legacy party politician. And the Democrats are going to have a hard time convincing me otherwise because after six years of the Obama bait and switch, I don’t believe anything any of them say.

    Seriously, this is a party that had to go outside their actual membership to find a Senator to play good-guy in the primaries.

    I guess those of you with kids feel like you have to pay attention, but for me, every minute spent listening to a legacy party politician is a pure deadweight loss. And that includes Bernie now that he is running as a Democrat.

    • He’s not saying “legacy parties”. He’s saying ALL politicians.
      So, in essence, if a politician came along who was genuine and effective, he would not be able to trust that person. That person would be indistinguishable from any other politician. They’re all the same.
      That is the very definition of learned helplessness. If they’re all untrustworthy and indistinguishable then why bother?
      Why indeed? You have to wonder why so many like minded people end up voting for Republicans then.
      Do you want to explain it to me? If they’re all bad, why vote for Republicans? Shouldn’t you just randomly pick a lever if they’re ALL equally bad?
      What is the reasoning behind the selection process?
      Don’t try to wiggle out of it. Now you must clearly state how you choose one party over another if they theoretically are not different.

      • I’m not disagreeing that thought-stoppers are a mechanism used by Fox and Republicans. If your relative falls into that category then maybe that’s what is going on. But there is another way to get to the same level of learned helplessness based on the actual terrible record of the leadership of both legacy parties. If the Democrats ever tried not sucking, the thought-stopper process would be harder to maintain.

        As for me I don’t choose one party over another. I rarely vote for a member of either legacy party any more, except a handful of local candidates I know personally. Of those I know personally, a majority are Democrats but not all.

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