Saturday, April 13, 2013

Peering Through The Overton Window

The Overton Window is a political theory which describes as a narrow "window" the range of ideas the public will find acceptable, and states that the political viability of an idea is defined primarily by this, rather than by politicians' individual preferences. It is named for its originator, Joseph P. Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. At any given moment, the "window" includes a range of policies considered politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too extreme to gain or keep public office.

A selection of comments I've read this week follow. These relate, broadly, to the "chained CPI" Social Security issue (mentioned in Thursday's post) which might turn out to be the first proposal to find trouble squeezing through that Overton Window. What will it take for the people of the USA to finally wake up? Maybe we shall find out soon. Links to relevant article is included, where still available. The Digby piece has, oddly, disappeared from Common Dreams, where some of these comments appeared so a link to Digby's own website - Hullabaloo, instead.

Obama is presiding over the single biggest shift in the Overton Window in history. He's doing far more damage in that capacity than Romney would have done. At least with Romney everyone would know who to blame. But this master propagandist and manipulator has a lot of people fooled, and those who are not fooled are scared into voting for him by virtue of the corps putting up even crazier more far right people as the alternative. It's classic and expected and all going according to plan.(Steve Purcell's comment from Digby article, when published on Common Dreams).

Obama slaughters a bunch of Afghan children, and lefties turn a blind eye because he might support gay marriage or appoint a "liberal" supreme court justice like the pro-Monsanto Kagan or the former prosecutor and corporate lawyer Sotomayor. Obama decides to cut social security and democrats accept it because why?

When millions of so-called "liberal" democrats won't stand up against the mass murder of innocent Muslim children, women, and men, how can you expect them to have any political impact? Same with social security.

I also agree with Mr. Faux's observation of a seething cauldron of resentment among the lower classes that will explode one day. And I agree that because we have no functioning left in this country, when it explodes it could explode in a nasty far right wing way.
(One of Tom Carberry's comments on piece by Jeff Faux "Where's the Change?" at Common Dreams.)

It's hard to imagine what Obama and the Democrats in Washington could do to finally persuade liberals and some progressives that they never gave a crap for a truly liberal and progressive agenda. If you take away his speeches, all you have left in Obama is a non-Tea Party Republican and a hardcore liar.

Liberal and progressive supporters of Obama: wake up. It's one thing to say that you have to keep the Republicans out of the White House, but if you think Obama actually cares about what you care about, then you are deep in self-delusion. On war, whistleblowers, support of dictators, drone killings, indefinite imprisonment without charge, enriching Wall Street and corporations, and just generally sticking it to the working class, I defy you to tell me that Obama is actually better than your regular garden variety Republican.

Yes, his speeches are progressive. But there's only one word to describe someone who believes Obama speeches are more real than his actions: delusional.
(Comment from Geez Jan also on Digby piece, when at Common Dreams)

Commenter, "Jimbo" at Common Dreams a few weeks ago presented a list of some of the achievements of the Democrats during what he termed "Obama's Lesser Evilism Reign of Terror Traveling Road Show." The list is not exhaustive by any means.
The Overton Window has proved no barrier to any of the following:
Used an Executive Order to create a Cat Food Commission stacked with anti-Social Security/SocialProgram corporatists.

White House was opposed to bringing back Glass Steagall

Possibility for a Public Option or Universal Health Care killed off for at least another generation

Blocked re-regulation of big banks and credit cards

Expanded Drone assasinations

Reinforced provisions of the Patriot Act

Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, Indefinite detention
without charge or trial, Targeted killings of suspects by drone,
without any pretense of due process (even if they are US citizens)

Bernanke - Geithner - Holder

Monsanto @ FDA

Linking Social Security to the Deficit

Attacks Whistleblowers, a la Bradley Manning & WikiLeaks

Employee Free Choice Act killed in the crib

Shielded BP after its Gulf Disaster

Pushes through the Trans Pacific Partnership

Supported the right of mining companies to strip mine everywhere, including on government lands

20,000 Airstrikes in the President's First Term Cause Death and Destruction From Iraq to Somalia

Signed the NDAA into law - making it legal to assassinate Americans w/o charge or trial.

Initiated, and personally oversees a "Secret Kill List"

Waged war on Libya without congressional approval

Started a covert, drone war in Yemen, escalated the proxy war in Somalia, CIA drone war in Pakistan

Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia

Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia; opened military base in Chile

U.S. troops sent to Niger to set up drone base

Approved $50 million to assist France in Mali.

I'll include this final comment because it's food for thought:

The plan that was in place all along. If you don't believe that "Package O" was put in office by the corporate elite, you have you head somewhere the sun doesn't shine. He was sold like last year's i-phone. A billion dollars buys a lot of mind washing advertising propaganda.

Election 2008 was designed for him to win, running against a worn out Vietnam vet and an airhead ex-governor that quit her job.

Election 2012 was a sure thing as his 'opponent' this time was a Wall Street Millionaire and a radical conservative. Exactly what was NOT going to be elected.

2008-2012 was to set up the Police State by Executive Orders and Midnight New Years legislation.

2012-2016 is to take down the social safety net which could only be done by a handsome, intelligent, black Democratic president that didn't have to be concerned with re-election. And to finish the takeover of the internet and all banking activities prior to the collapse.

If there is an 'election' in 2016, the winner has been already selected. If O succeeds in his part of the project, the next prez will be a Republican who will finish off what O started. The alternate plan is a world war - and O never leaves office in 2017. Wait and see. (Comment by Makati1 on the Digby piece when at Common Dreams.)


Anonymous said...

I agree totaly with all these statements, especially the last one except for the "hansome. intelligent Democratic" part...Barry is none of these. He will leave office and become part of the 1% which was his gift from his "handlers" for doing their bidding while conning his supporters. Where is OWS now? It was nothing more than a clever marketing ploy by Alexelrod and Co. for the 2012 election and where are the demonstrators now when it comes to Social Security and Medicare? What until ObamaCare kicks in. The Left and the Democratic Party will be finished for years to come and Barry and his Madame(maybe, I have my doubts about those two as a couple)will be vacationing, golfing and shopping on our dime. The contract will be met.

Anonymous said...

It never fails to amaze me that for every citizen that feels one way about an issue, there is at least one, if not many, that feel the opposite.

Obama and his CPI proposal for social security would have been bigger cuts and probably privatization under Romney. I saw little difference between the two men's policies during the presidential campaigns and I see little difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Both parties *seem* to be on different paths, but both paths meet in the middle down the road.

Call it what you will, but we the citizens are responsible for our government and future. If we are too busy being divisive, too caught-up with our Twitter and Facebook accounts or watching yet another reality TV show, to research issues and make our own individual decisions, then we get what we get. Few people are willing to put their butts on the line and make a difference. Unfortunately, this aspect is being exploited and manipulated by groups that want to sway public opinion and the Overton window.

Astrologically, the positions of the planets ruling the masses that affect society on the whole are analogous to what we are facing. These positions and aspects do not recede for several more years. Expect more of the same, only of a greater and more urgent scale. Regressive, non-cooperative thinking is here for a while more.

Twilight said...

Anonymous @ 11.34AM ~
The full effects of both Obamacare and anything passed affecting Social Security presently won't emerge for a while - it'll take time for it all to sink in. The next few years could see a few eruptions of public anger, but whether it'll be enough to make a difference is hard to say.
I'm on much the same page as you on this.

Twilight said...

Anonymous @ 11.51AM~
Only thing is, under Romney there'd have been a lot more outcry from the left. Might not have made much difference but we'd probably have felt better.

Are the citizens responsible though? Do elections make a difference nowadays in the USA? I suspect not.
I suspect voting is an exercise in futility - in national elections anyway. There is no opportunity for third parties to get a look in - the duopoly have it stitched up, bought and paid for by corporations and other wealthy entities. Oligarchy.

I agree with the astrological points you make - yes! I've thought for a while that it'll be somewhere between 2020 and 2025 when things really begin to change - light at end of tunnel and all that. ;-)

LB said...

Many thanks Twilight, not only for this post but also for having the courage to use your blog in such a meaningful way. How many among us will glance at this post and not bother to read it, either because it's not entertaining enough or because it asks too much.

You ask the question, "What will it take for the people of the USA to finally wake up?" I also wonder what it will take for people to become more actively involved, to actively *care*. And to stop relying on the same old corrupt players and self-serving systems, systems that support social injustice and abuses of power and that perpetuate the spread of misinformation and false values.

We humans love our illusions. We want so badly to believe in the inherent rightness of something (or *someone*) outside of ourselves, we unwittingly lose touch with our own inner guidance, thus making ourselves vulnerable to the machinations of those who would have us pledge our allegiance to their own false gods and solutions.

We've been indoctrinated to believe in the false logic of either/or scenarios - if option A is false (or less desirable), then option B must be true, when in fact, both options might be equally false. We see this play out in our current political system, where if what the Republicans are offering doesn't sit well with us, then what the Democrats are selling must be right, in spite of evidence to the contrary. This way of thinking dooms us to a lifetime of false choices in which we never learn to fully exercise our powers of discernment or compassion, nor do we develop our right to independent thought. Life can be overwhelming and going against popular thinking can be not only lonely, but frightening. It's much easier to align with the group and then let someone else do most of our thinking for us. The powers that be depend upon this being the case, just as they depend upon our remaining uninformed and/or apathetic. Out of curiosity, I googled "Oprah speaks out on proposed cuts to Social Security". I got nothing.

I talk to people all the time and while they might momentarily express disappointment and/or disgust with what's going on, they still continue to support the same old corrupt systems and players, even going so far as to make excuses for them - thanks to whichever side's propaganda machine they happen to be listening to; mainstream media sources (and our celebrity heroes) support the rhetoric by only talking about certain issues while ignoring others as well as the root causes. I read a great article in The Huffington Post yesterday titled, "The Elephant in the Room: Militarism".

Much as I wish it wasn't so, many of us are either too consumed with our daily survival to care, or we just don't care *enough*; nor do most of us fully grasp the important role each of us might play in shaping the future, although I continue to hope.

Thanks again, Twilight!

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for the support and such a super comment, LB! :-)

I've been puzzled for a while as to why the bits and pieces of leftist parties in the US don't get together under one umbrella, a single name and a leader we recognise (though that doesn't really matter). It would give people who feel as we and others do (I suspect there are many others) something to rally around. The left is so fragmented, represented by several small parties: The Democratic Socialists of America, The Socialist Party of USA, The Justice Party, The Green Party are four I know of, there are probably some others.

With a point of focus, some friendly journalists, A-list bloggers and even a few "celebs" to make a new noise it could bring more people into awareness, give them hope that something could change. But it'd take time, their help and their unfailing interest and support. As things are at present, there really is no hope at all of escaping from the two-headed party of corporatists, and nothing to encourage people to even make some attempt to effect change.

I think this "coalition" is the next essential step, and if it doesn't happen fairly soon, it'll be too late for 2016 when a new party could make itself known, even if only to be crushed by the monster duopoly initially, it could fire up a new band of support and continue to grow until 2020.

LB said...

After reading some of the comments regarding healthcare reform, I have to add how I still talk to people who believe the President's Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will provide a form of Universal health care. It won't.

The Affordable Care Act is a complicated insurance mandate filled with loopholes designed to leave millions of Americans (including some who need it most) without access to affordable healthcare. It also won't guarantee uniform pricing or coverage - those who can pay more will get more; those who can't will see higher deductibles and less covered services.

One of the bill's significant features is that it provides for the expansion of Medicaid, which, on its face sounds great. Only in reality it's far more likely to compound the problem, since the court has ruled states have the right to *reject* the expansion, potentially leaving many of our country's low-income, working poor or uninsured vets without resources. As it stands now, many physicians either don't accept Medicaid patients or assign them a much lower priority.

LB said...

Sorry Twilight! Once again, I left another comment without catching your response.

Yes to everything you said. It would be great to join with other kindred spirits with similar values - even if we agreed to disagree on certain issues. It would give me hope and encourage me.:) I felt encouraged reading your post this afternoon, not so alone.

Twilight said...

LB ~~ Yes, Obamacare is said to be ridiculously complex - beyond the understanding of lay people, and filled with potential loopholes. It'll be some years before people can fully appreciate its effects in practice. The Medicaid provision left to states is the first of many problems. I understand our (OK) state Governor has already refused to accept the provisions. It should never have been left to the states, in my opinion - poverty is poverty wherever one resides. States could have been offered an alternative way to administer the provision, but not the ability to refuse to accept it.

I've just been reading an article at Common Dreams
Obama’s Proposal Hurts People with Disabilities
by Mike Ervin
The comment currently at the top of the thread, by "DaDoRunRun" about a mentally disabled brother is so sad and makes me very angry.

PS -Yes - forgot to say, I read the "Elephant in the Room" piece yesterday - good one!

I'm trying to think who'd be best to write to on the subject of a coalition of leftist parties.
Anybody with clout likely doesn't read their own e-mails though. Any ideas? Cornel West? Jill Stein? Dr.West could probably appeal better to the socialist parties?

LB said...

I have no idea who -if anyone- could gather like-minded people together and inspire them. Although I respect Cornel West and agree with him on many issues, he initially had the same blind-spot many Americans continue to have when it comes to Barack Obama - who might be fine as a next door neighbor, but not as our President.

Chris Hedges is another thoughtful intellectual whose observations and opinions I generally respect and always appreciate. Having said that, I haven't heard much from him in terms of encouraging us to pursue a particular strategy or course of action, maybe because he feels it would be pointless.

I continue to believe non-violent, practical action (as opposed to voting for the lesser of two evils) combined with speaking out in ways that inform and encourage, *might* eventually make a difference, especially if enough of us organize our efforts and agree on the message.

Politics is a corrupt business. Maybe what we're most in need of is a moral and spiritual leader who will challenge and inspire more of us -including our political leaders- in the same way Martin Luther King Jr. did during the 60's, and some of the well known abolitionists did prior to and during the Civil War. Even then, some corrupted the message to suit their own purposes. Profound change is never easy.

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

LB said...

In retrospect, I realize I kind of misread your last comment/question about who best to organize a coalition of leftist parties. I was thinking more along the lines of someone outside of politics (and without any political aspirations of their own) who could first motivate more of us to care. It would be a first step towards getting people to think differently by considering other possibilities.

Unless that happens, I don't think it will matter how united the more progressive parties are, since most people won't be listening.

Twilight said...

LB ~~ Thank you for your further thoughts as to the idea of some kind of a coalition of the left. I "slept on it" and realise that it must have already been suggested or attempted - I cannot possibly be the first to wonder why it has never come to pass.

As you say, politics is a dirty business - could be dangerous too in these times, as in the past. Still, I remain curious.
I see that on Cornel West's own website there's a facility for contacting him with comment.
I'll compose a brief query - as to whether the idea of a left coalition has ever been attempted, and maybe direct him to this blog in case he thinks I'm some kind of spy. Names, address and all contact details are required, anyway. Also - I noticed from their website that Dr West is an "honorary chair" of the Democratic Socialists, so although he may well retain certain loyalties to the Prez, he is not tethered to the Dem party.

Chris Hedges is a good guy, but his writings can be very depressing - I even began to avoid them for that reason.

Dennis Kucinich, though out of congress now, still is probably tethered to the Democrats and would tun for office as a Dem again if an opening appears in the near future. So though I admire him, always have, he'd not be the right person to ask about this.

I'm a great believer in the saying you've quoted ("When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.") or a variation on it that I've quoted myself many times -
"Cometh the hour, cometh the man".

The hour, now, is surely nigh, but sadly, so far, the man isn't.

Anonymous said...

I'm *Anonymous @ 11.51AM*
Reading the later comments here, there are many potential leaders, but most will have to survive the character assaults prior to delivering their message, such as the recent Mitch McConnell taping of his method for eradicating Ashley Judd. Sadly, the American public is easily coerced by smear rather than substance.

I was encouraged by a segment I saw on Williams' Rock Center, featuring Laurine Jobs and her effort to reform immigration. She is the perfect person for this cause, as she is little known, except as the wife of the late Steve Jobs, therefore presents a positive, public bias. She's rich, has political clout, and appears driven by this purpose. I won't be surprised if she pursues other humanitarian objectives in the future, too.

There is Elizabeth Warren who survived her character assault to become an outspoken senator. She has much to say regarding social security, the banking industry, and just about anything regarding the robber-barrens of the poor. She managed to achieve her position playing the Democratic party.

The parents and survivors of the Newtown massacre have a distinct message to deliver in their time of utter grief. Their loss is the fuel of their pursuit. It's difficult NOT to hear them.

There are many fine examples of individuals that are infiltrating the *system* to the detriment and gall of the old guard elite. Some are aspiring their goals through politics and some are by-passing politics and delivering a direct message without regard of offense.

Twilight said...

Anonymous "@11.51" ~ Hi again.

I didn't know of Laurine Jobs, but found a report about her stand on immigration after reading your comment. She's one figure to watch for the future, yes.... Ashley Judd too - I think she'll bounce back at some point.

Elizabeth Warren would have all the right (the best) credentials, her connection to the Democrats is now a huge snag though. I don't see that "working inside the system" will help the cause now - things are too far gone.

I agree, there are voices on individual issues being raised, all the time - like the Newtown families on gun control, Ms Jobs on immigration, Jim Carrey on gun control, Dennis Kucinch's anti-war stand, numerous voices on the gay rights and abortion issues. It's the overall situation lacking prominent voices advocating change, advocating a return to REAL choice between right and left, instead of what we have at present.

Maybe I'm impatient, maybe it's not yet the right time, and things will have to get worse before they can begin to get better.

LB said...

"Also - I noticed from their website that Dr West is an "honorary chair" of the Democratic Socialists, so although he may well retain certain loyalties to the Prez, he is not tethered to the Dem party.

Chris Hedges is a good guy, but his writings can be very depressing - I even began to avoid them for that reason."

Morning Twilight - When Dr. West campaigned for Obama during his first run for President, I think he tried to see the best in Barack Obama, wanting to believe in his message as well as his potential as a leader - but then the cracks began to show and they parted ways. West talks about his disappointment and disillusionment here:

Chris Hedges' speaks the truth, and the truth is sometimes harsh and very difficult to hear. Hard as it is for the listener, it's even more difficult for its messengers to bear. Hard not to lose hope or the capacity for joy in the telling. And hard to hide the overwhelming sense of frustration and sadness, which is probably what you pick up on when you read his thoughts.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Good morning/noon to you too!
Thanks for reminding me of that article, I think I read it back in 2011, but reading it again was quite uplifting in a perverse kind of way, because Dr. West said everything we are saying now. Chris Hedges did us a favour by writing that piece!
I think you're right about Chris H's usual style - he feels so deeply and his feelings of despair seep through.

I've tried three times to get a comment through to Dr. West via his website, but the comment facility provided just isn't working. I'll have to think again.....or maybe join the Democratic Socialists. I've considered doing that in the past, then decided it'd be pointless - but maybe not.

LB said...

" . . .quite uplifting in a perverse kind of way, because Dr. West said everything we are saying now."

I know what you mean.:) If you and I felt that way, I imagine Chris Hedges must have too. Those kinds of insights are more validating coming from a former 'insider', albeit one who really wasn't inside at all. They help us to feel less alone.

James Higham said...

This is what the global socialists work by. They know certain ideas are what they want in place, they know the public will only accept them if couched in certain terms so they begin redefining the terms and educating the public in the new usage, e.g. equality.

DC said...

I agree with LB on well as with you in your post...funny how the reflection of Bush vs Obama is playing out these thing I can say in Bush's favor (and I'm rarely ever inclined to do so) is that at least he didn't put a lot of thought into hiding his divisive policies and actions....he was up front about the crux of it...unlike this "poser" we call a "good guy" i.e. Obama.
Americans can truly and easily become sheep to the powers that matter the party in charge. The think tanks on both sides are really smarter than the public at large. That much seems obvious.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ I'm not sure what you mean by "global socialists", James.
From where I'm standing it looks more like global fascism.

But it does seem that the public, already fairly well brainwashed from decades of subtle effort, is being trained to accept, without challenge, a level of "change" against which previously they'd have protested strongly, maybe even caused outright revolution.

Twilight said...

DC ~ It's hard not to see it as "all part of a plan" - as set out in the last comment in my post (the one coloured mauve). Even if it didn't start out planned that way, someone spotted the potential at some point along the way.

People will surely wake up when conditions begin to affect them personally. It could be too late by then to attempt change, but once they do wake up they'll never forget what they eventually learned. They'll pass on the knowledge to the next generation - that's when change will become almost inevitable - or at least, that's how I see it.

LB said...

I wanted to amend something I said in my comments, which is that although I generally respect Chris Hedge's opinions on *certain* issues, there are times when even he misses the mark. Like most humans, he's not immune to the kind of either/or thinking which obscures the truth, and sometimes I'm deeply disappointed.

Twilight said...

LB ~~ It could be that Hedges is up too close to the issues 24/7, in his writings, and so occasionally his vision of things becomes a little blurry - or his eyes and mind simply get tired? It'd not be surprising - as constantly filled with drama as things have been during past years.

LB said...

Twilight - I think that might be it. Up too close and maybe too emotionally invested in a particular viewpoint always being true. Sometimes we see what we want to see.