Pete's Prep: Monday, Feb. 5, 2018

Media getting a bit giddy over coming "Democrat Wave"

As Republicans took control of state legislatures and governorships across the country over the past decade, it was never seen as a repudiation of President Barack Obama or the Democratic Party. 

With some recent Democratic victories in state races and special elections, there appears to be great hope-- er... I mean... great analysis about why it's happening.

From the New York Times:

As national Republicans dig in to defend their majorities in Congress in the midterm elections, party leaders across the country have grown anxious about losses on a different front: state legislatures. Over the last decade, Republicans have dominated most state capitals, enacting deep tax cuts, imposing new regulations on labor unions and abortion providers, and drawing favorable congressional maps to reinforce their power in Washington.

Yet that dominance appears to be fraying, strained by the same forces taxing Republicans in Congress. National strategists in both parties see the landscape of legislative races expanding, especially in areas around major cities where President Trump has stirred an insurrection among liberals, and college-educated voters and white women have recoiled from Republicans.

Over the last year, Democrats have snatched away Republican seats in more than a dozen special legislative elections from Seattle and Tulsa, Okla., to Atlanta and Miami, in many cases electing female and minority candidates with strong turnout on the left.

Republicans will not be easily dislodged: In many states, Republican governors have built powerful machinery to defend their allies, and Mr. Trump remains popular enough across much of the Midwest and South to limit Democratic gains. In 31 out of 50 states, Republicans command the entire legislature; in 25 of those states, the governor is also a Republican.

This was the article that NC Governor Roy Cooper's Communications Director, Sadie Weiner, tweeted out over the weekend... with a description of the NC Republican legislature as crazy.

And Democratic House Minority Leader Darren Jackson responded...


Democrats have been making this dishonest argument for more than a year - that voters seeing a judge's party on the ballot means the "judiciary is politicized." Historically, Republican judges tend to win more than Democratic ones. Leaving party affiliation off the ballot helps Democrats.

Norms are eroding, says Salon

Before you think this is some sort of introspective piece, examining the cultural iconoclasm of the progressive movement, remember that this is Salon.

Levitsky and Ziblatt identify “two basic norms” as their primary focus: mutual toleration, meaning “accepting partisan opponents as legitimate,”and “forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power.” Norms of forbearance “unraveled during the Civil War,” they write. 

This seems legitimate. I'd say the second stems from the first. One tolerates opposing views, because his own views are, likewise, tolerated.

But that is not what we see among the modern progressive movement. Virtually all progressive arguments stem from a belief that opposition is due to racism, bigotry, and prejudice. 

The author proves this point a few paragraphs later:

What Levitsky and Ziblatt fail to do, in my judgment, is three-fold: First, they don’t appreciate or explore how Democrats are ideologically constrained by a commitment to norm preservation, which makes them utterly unlike Republicans. As the party of government that believes in making government work for people, Democrats are fundamentally invested in preserving those norms and making them work as they’re supposed to. Republicans, quite simply, are not. 

To the author, norm preservation IS government.

So, as progressivism expands government into more areas of our lives, it all becomes "norm preservation." This is a dangerous idea, as it normalizes anything done in the pursuit of more government control.

And then there's this part - about North Carolina's own demagogic cleric - Rev. William Barber...

When I interviewed Barber in 2016, he explained that his work was modeled on the example of the First Reconstruction. "Right here in my home state of North Carolina, a white minister and a black minister worked together in 1868 to write the constitution whose moral language has guided our 21st-century movement," he told me. "Our coalition built power as they did in the late 19th century — by helping people who are often pitted against each other see that we are stronger together."

To the author, Paul Rosenberg, Barber is held as a symbol of unification and "norm preservation" - only because norm preservation means government growth.

This is a hideous twisting of the language in service to the state.

Barber has spent half a decade attacking Republicans as evil, racists, bigots. If Barber represents the norm to which progressives aspire, then they've abandoned both of the two basic norms.

POLITICO is very interested how a story becomes big

The folks at POLITICO wanted to know why the social media hashtag campaign #ReleaseTheMemo was able to force its way into the public consciousness. If a story doesn't originate from one of the legacy media outlets or "respectable" publications, then it's very important to figure out how it happened, I guess.

Computational propaganda — defined as “the use of information and communication technologies to manipulate perceptions, affect cognition, and influence behavior” — has been used, successfully, to manipulate the perceptions of the American public and the actions of elected officials.

The analysis below, conducted by our team from the social media intelligence group New Media Frontier, shows that the #releasethememo campaign was fueled by, and likely originated from, computational propaganda. It is critical that we understand how this was done and what it means for the future of American democracy.

The tone of the piece tells you WHY the reporters wanted to figure this out. But the analysis is worth reading and understanding, as it shows how foreign actors use social media to influence elections.

I'm glad to see a reporter take an interest in how stories are pushed to the top of the news cycle.  It's the new "earned media" method, perfected by activist groups. But in the past, the right has been ineffective at getting stories to "break through" the media wall.

Obviously, some on the left will not see this as a positive development, as they've had greater access to promoting stories via more-traditional and institutionalized methods.

A perfect illustration of this the GOP-passed tax bill. Most Americans think their taxes are going up. How did that happen?

Democrats won "messaging."

And what does that mean?

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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