August 18, 2006

Attacks on the Judge

Attacks on Judge Anna Diggs Taylor started immediately. For those who want to respond to these vicious attacks on the judges experience, character, and expertise, here is a link to her bio on the Eastern District's web site:

Prior to her appointment to the Federal Court in 1979, Judge Taylor was a private practitioner, a legislative assistant, an Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, an Assistant United States Attorney, an Adjunct Professor of Law at Wayne State Law School, and an Assistant Corporation Counselor, City of Detroit. She is a 1950 Graduate of the Northfield School for Girls, East Northfield, Massachusetts, and received her B.A. from Barnard College in 1954 and L.L.B. from Yale Law School in 1957. Judge Taylor was appointed to the bench on November 2, 1979.

She is a Trustee of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan and the Henry Ford Health System.

She is a member of the State Bar (Committees on Character and Fitness and on U.S. Courts), Federal Bar, Wolverine Bar, Black Judges Association and Women Judges Association.


Graduating from Yale Law is impressive for anyone. Graduating from Yale Law as a black woman in 1957 is amazing.

There are more specifics on her experience and awards the Sixth Circuit's web site.

Here is a story about the Judge in the Chicago Tribune:

Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was hardly the first time in more than four decades as a lawyer, prosecutor and federal judge that the civic-minded woman has stood up to powerful authorities, colleagues and lawyers said.

In 1964 she spent a summer in Mississippi as part of the National Lawyers Guild's civil rights program and was in Philadelphia, Miss., when three civil rights activists turned up missing. She and others faced down an angry crowd outside a sheriff's office.

"Judges are shaped by their life experience and world outlook. She grew up in the civil rights movement," said U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn.

Taylor, the first African-American woman to serve as a federal judge in Michigan, handled issues such as Eminem's lawsuit against Apple Computer and MTV over the use of a song, banned Nativity scenes on city property in Birmingham and Dearborn, Mich., and ordered former automaker John DeLorean to pay back millions of dollars.

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer said the 73-year-old Taylor "is a brilliant jurist guided by the facts and the law." A Washington native, she came to Detroit when she married U.S. Rep. Charles Diggs, a legendary Detroit Democrat, in 1960. Since divorced, she is now married to S. Martin Taylor, a University of Michigan regent and retired executive vice president of DTE Energy Co.

The right wing blogs and some in the press began the attacks almost immediately.

Bryan Cunningham, in a post at Nation Review Online called "Amateur Hour" says this:

But we cannot accept the stunningly amateurish piece of, I hesitate even to call it legal work, by which she purports to make our government go deaf and dumb to those would murder us en masse. Her bosses on the Court of Appeals and/or the United States Supreme Court will not accept it.

Considering the precedents set in the Hamdi and Hamdan opinions, this seems to be wishful thinking.

This is one of the more civil post found amongst the right wing blogs.

Those who value liberty above fear have a few thoughts as well. Greenwald has more to say here . Lambert at CorrenteWire has a great (but cautious) review here .

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.""

-- Abraham Lincoln

"Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.""

-- General Douglas MacArthur

August 18, 2006 in NSA | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (5)

NSA Warrantless Surveillance Decision

Some interesting excerpts from the decision:

For all of the reasons outlined above, this court is constrained to grant to Plaintiffs the Partial Summary Judgment requested, and holds that the TSP violates the APA; the Separation of Powers doctrine; the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and the statutory law.
...The Permanent Injunction of the TSP requested by Plaintiffs is granted inasmuch as each of the factors required to be met to sustain such an injunction have undisputedly been met.59 The irreparable injury necessary to warrant injunctive relief is clear, as the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Plaintiffs are violated by the TSP. See Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965). The
irreparable injury conversely sustained by Defendants under this injunction may be rectified by compliance with our Constitution and/or statutory law, as amended if necessary. Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.
As Justice Warren wrote in U.S. v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258 (1967):
Implicit in the term ‘national defense’ is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart. . . . It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of . . . those liberties . . . which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile. Id. at 264.

NSA warrantless surveillance decision

The judge ruled that not only does the NSA warrantless surveillance program violate the fourth amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure, it also violates the first amendment right to free speech because of the chilling effect of government monitoring of communications without probable cause. The separation of powers and the FISA law are also violated by this program. is important to note that if the court were to deny standing based on the unsubstantiated minor distinctions drawn by Defendants, the President's actions in warrantless wiretapping, in contravention of FISA, Title II, and the First and Fourth amendments, would be immunized from judicial scrutiny. It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another. It is within the court's duty to ensure that power is never condensed into a single branch of government."

Without warrants approved by the Judiciary, there is no check on the power of the executive. In ignoring the Constitution, FISA, and Title II, the President is ignoring the law as approved by the legislative branch. The Constitution divides the government into three branches to provide checks and balances so one branch does not have all encompassing power.

"The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputedly violated the Fourth [Amendment] in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well."

The President's power comes from the Constitution. He cannot choose to ignore portions of the document that provides the basis for his authority.

"The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no power not created by the Constitution. So all "inherent power" must derive from that Constitution."

Despite the writings of John Yoo, there is not a unitary executive. The separation of powers is one of the most important aspects of our government framework laid out in the Constitution.

The recent Hamdan decision by the Supreme Court reinforces this limit on Presidential power. Even Scalia, regarded as the most conservative justice, argued on a limited interpretation of judicial power in the 2004 Hamdi decision.

A view of the Constitution that gives the Executive authority to use military force rather than the force of law against citizens on American soil flies in the face of the mistrust that engendered these provisions.
But whether the attacks of September 11, 2001, constitute an “invasion,” and whether those attacks still justify suspen-sion several years later, are questions for Congress rather than this Court. See 3 Story §1336, at 208–209.6 If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime, it must be done openly and democratically, as the Constitution requires, rather than by silent erosion through an opinion of this Court.

*** The Founders well understood the difficult tradeoff between safety and freedom. “Safety from external dan-ger,” Hamilton declared, “is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they, at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free.” The Federalist No. 8, p. 33.

The Founders warned us about the risk, and equipped us with a Constitution designed to deal with it. Many think it not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national cri-sis—that, at the extremes of military exigency, inter arma silent leges. Whatever the general merits of the view that war silences law or modulates its voice, that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitu-tion designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it.

Scalia agrees that the Constitution is designed "precisely to confront war, and in a manner that accords democratic principles, to accomodate it."

This President cannot be allowed to ignore the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

"If the three powers maintain their mutual independence on each other our Government may last long, but not so if either can assume the authorities of the other."

--Thomas Jefferson to William Charles Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:278

"The idea of separating the executive business of the confederacy from Congress, as the judiciary is already in some degree, is just and necessary." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:131

August 18, 2006 in NSA | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

March 20, 2006

Right Wing Sales Job

Let's face it, the Right knows how to makes a sales pitch. While it clearly doesn't work on every one, it works on enough people to give them control of all three branches of government. People like Frank Luntz constantly tweak and review the "sales pitch" of the right wing. In order to better understand how the right wing does this, it helps to take a look at the research that exists on persuasion and influence.

Persuasion and influence are used every day in all of our lives. If we are not selling products or services, we are selling ourselves and our ideas or our politics. Someone is selling and someone is sold in every interpersonal communication. Either you sell yourself, product, service, or ideas, or the person you are communicating with sells you on the idea that they are not buying. In the last three national elections, the Republicans sold their message, and Democrats didn't. Despite all of these huge problems for Bush and his right wing lackies, the Democrat cannot sit back and hope the right wing self destructs. The message of the left has to be sold effectively, not morphed into right wing lite as people like Joe Lieberman would have us beleive.
Dr. Robert Cialdini is the Regent's Professor of Psychology at Arizona University. Cialdini admits in the opening of the second edition of his book "Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion" to being a "patsy" when dealing with sales people or, as he terms it, "compliance professionals". This admission lead Cialdini to study influence and persuasion as he became a social pychologist. This fascinating book covers in great detail the Six Principles of Influence and Persuasion he discovered in over three years of research. In my opinion, this type of information is critical to understanding how the left can do a better job of selling their message.

Cialdini lists the following Six Principles of Influence and Persuasion:

  1. Reciprocation

  2. Commitment and Consistency

  3. Social Proof

  4. Liking

  5. Authority

  6. Scarcity

Cialdini provides numerous examples of each from both his own experiments and research and anedotal evidence from readers of his books.

1) Reciprocation - "This rule says we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us." This principle of persuasion creates "uninvited debts" and a web of indebtedness. Cialdini cites culutral anthopologists and sociologists to demonstrate that this is a universal principle that is not culural specific. Examples range from the Ethiopian Red Cross donating money to Mexico after an earthquake based on a similar gift from Mexico 30 years prior to the success of the Krishnas found after they began to give a flower before soliciting for donations.

How does the right use reciprocity? How do they create their "web of indebtedness" with voters? I think the primary way is pandering to fundamentalist Christians. In my opinion, Bush, Cheney, and the rest could care less about these issues. They call a Special Session of Congress and get the President off vacation for the Schiavo fiasco to create this "web of indebtedness" by fundamentalist Christians. I am am sure many of you can come up with other examples.

2) Commitment and Consistency - According to Cialdini consistency is generally associated with integrity and intellect. Once a person has committed to an idea, product, or service, they will look for justification to validate that commitment, often while ignoring contrary evidence. Cialdini tells the story of surprising success the Chinese had with American POW's during the Korean War. A significant part of the success is attributed to the seemingly minor commitments the Chinese would get their prisoners to make. Even small commitments can lead to a big change in attitudes.

How do Luntz and Rove use commitment and consistency? The first thing that pops in my mind is the loyalty oaths that were often used at Bush campaign rallies. Crowd control is an obvious reason for using these "loyalty oaths" but perhaps the commitment of putting your commitment to Bush in writing is an additional benefit sought by Rove? Another thing that comes to mind is the naming of the "Patriot Act". Obviously, this name was chosen to set the frame of the bill, a frame that is difficult for any politician to come out against. Another way yo look at that is that the great majority of Americans have already made the commitment to be "patriotic". Using this name takes advantage of that commitment. I am sure there are numerous other examples.

3) Social Proof - Social proof and consensus is often used today in advertising, especially on television. Testimonials and customer quotes are common fair in commercials. The entertainment divisions use social proof to influence as well. Despite the fact that every knows that laugh tracks are canned laughter, programs that use laugh tracks are consistently rated "funnier" than shows that do not (even the same show).

The right wing megaphone, Faux News, is a big part of the social proof and consensus of the right wing message. The slew of right wing newspapers, columnists, and think tanks all add to this echo chamber. I think part of the point of this is to create the illusion of "consensus" amongst those in the know of right wing positions. One of the most frustrating things about arguing with a right wing zealot is their clear assumption that "everyone" agrees with the right. That is social proof at work.

4) Liking - Obviously you have a much better chance of being persuasive with someone who likes you. Cialdini states that physical appreance, similarity, compliments, and contact and cooperation all are part of using liking in the art of persuasion.

Despite the disgust Bush inflames amonst many, he obviously appeals in some way to many voters, and strangely enough, to the press. Apparently Bush is very personable and likable in person. This constantly amazes me, but happens nonetheless. Rove clearly plays this up at every opportunity. Of course, since this is by far the most obvious and used persuasion technique, every poitician looks for way to be more likable.

5) Authority - This is no surprise either. People in positions of authority or with clear expertise in a field have more credibility and are more persuasive than others. Cialdini points out just how little authority is required with his description of Stanley Milgram's Obedience experitments at Yale in the early 60's. On the instructions of an experimenter in a white lab coat, numerous people were asked to administer a series of shocks to a person in another room each time the incorrectly answered (or failed to answer) a question about word pairs. The shocks went up to 450 volts. The subjects were told afterwords that no electric shocks were actually used, and that the groans of pain and cries of agony were all recorded. Psychiatrists were asked to predict how many subjects would actually go up to 450 volts. One tenth of one percent were predicted to go all the way to 450 volts. That actual number was approxiamately 65%. Further, every subject went to at least 300 volts. The power and authority of an actor in a white lab coat apparently was enough to overcome the subjects vehement objections to administering powerful shocks to other people in two out of three cases.

Authority is probably the most used tactic by Bush, Cheney, et al. since 911. Bush pushes this farther than any other President. Ultimately, this is the fall back to all the other techniques used. If liking or social proof doesn't fly, the President's authority is always the fallback position. We see this in both the NSA spying scandal and the ports deal. I have seen a short film on Milgram's "Obedience" experiment. Watching it helped me understand much more the power of authority over many people.

6) Scarcity - "Only three days left" or "Just 3 models available at this price" are common tactics used by marketers and sales people to spur potential customers to action. Anything that is limited, available only for a short period, or rare increases in value. Whether it is antiques, a special edition sports car, or a dollar bill with no serial number, the rare and unusual are valuable in many cases simply becuase they are rare and usually unattainable.

I would like to hear from commenters on this one. The first thing that comes to my mind is how unavailable Bush is to the press. We assume its to limit the opportunity for him to make a huge gaff, and I am sure that is an important motivation. Is a side effect of this "scarcity" that the press values talking to him much more than another polictician who is often available?

(Full Disclosure: I originally wrote an article on Cialdini's book for a site on persuasion and sales
That article is focused on sales and  marketing, not politics)

As I read Cialdini's book and wrote a review of it, I found myself constantly thinking about how these techniques are used against us every day by the right wing noise machine. That lead me to revamp the review to take a closer look at how Cialdini's principles are used by the right against us. I hope this post leads to a discussion of these techniques used by Rove, Luntz, and others to sell the message of the right. The Democrats must also understand how these principles of influence are used, and use them ethically where appropriate to sell their own message. If the right continues it success at selling their message despite all their recent troubles, I do not see an end in site to their domination of our government and society.

For those that want further detail, here are some links that may interest you:

Wikipedia on Cialdini
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion on Amazon
Wikipedia on Milgram's experiments
A book by Milgram on Amazon

March 20, 2006 in Liberal Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

October 16, 2005

Jerry Kilgore

Read the truth about Jerry Gilgore at this great web site.

October 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2005

Speakers for the Dead of New Orleans

The dead of New Orleans have no voice. They cannot cry out "Why did I have to die?" Only the survivors of this horrible tradgedy can speak for them now. These kind of stories need to be read, they need to heard, they need to be experienced. We cannot let the stories of these survivors be lost amongst the political back stabbing and the ducking of responsibility. They speak for the those who cannot speak for themselves.

Thousands of Americans are dead. Babies and grandparents, children and pregnant mothers, nursing home patients and their caregivers. Their bloated corpses are floating in the toxic flood waters of New Orleans, hidden from view by the muck and sludge, their voices now silent, their cries for help unheeded.  We must listen to the voices of the survivors, we must look into their eyes, we must feel their pain and unending sorrow. These survivors have smelled death, they have tasted gut wrenching fear, they have witnessed the destruction of mother nature and the weakness, indifference, and incompetence of man. These survivors are Speakers for the Dead of New Orleans.

Charmaine Neville speaks for the dead in the Ninth Ward. Charmaine Neville is a member of the well-known Neville musical family from New Orleans.  She is an accomplished singer and songwriter and is well-known in musical circles.

Denise Moore speaks for the dead at the convention center. This is the story she told to her cousin Lisa. Lisa Moore is the editor of a book publishing company, RedBone Press.

Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 10:13 AM
Subject: a survivor's story: Katrina in New Orleans

I heard from my aunt last night that my cousin Denise made it out of New Orleans; she's at her brother's in Baton Rouge. from what she told me:

Her mother, a licensed practical nurse, was called in to work on Sunday night at Memorial Hospital (historically known as Baptist Hospital to those of us from N.O.). Denise decided to stay with her mother, her niece and grandniece (who is 2 years old); she figured they'd be safe at the hospital. they went to Baptist, and had to wait hours to be assigned a room to sleep in; after they were finally assigned a room, two white nurses suddenly arrived after the cut-off time (time to be assigned a room), and Denise and her family were booted out; their room was given up to the new nurses. Denise was furious, and rather than stay at Baptist, decided to walk home (several blocks away) to ride out the storm at her mother's apartment. her mother stayed at the hospital.

she described it as the scariest time in her life. 3 of the rooms in the apartment (there are only 4) caved in. ceilings caved in, walls caved in. she huddled under a mattress in the hall. she thought she would die from either the storm or a heart attack. after the storm passed, she went back to Baptist to seek shelter (this was Monday). it was also scary at Baptist; the electricity was out, they were running on generators, there was no air conditioning. Tuesday the levees broke, and water began rising. they moved patients upstairs, saw boats pass by on what used to be streets. they were told that they would be evacuated, that buses were coming. then they were told they would have to walk to the nearest intersection, Napoleon and S. Claiborne, to await the buses. they waded out in hip-deep water, only to stand at the intersection, on the neutral ground (what y'all call the median) for 3 1/2 hours. the buses came and took them to the Ernest Memorial Convention Center. (yes, the convention center you've all seen on TV.)

Denise said she thought she was in hell. they were
there for 2 days, with no water, no food. no shelter. Denise, her mother (63 years old), her niece (21 years old), and 2-year-old grandniece. when they arrived, there were already thousands of people there. they were told that buses were coming. police drove by, windows rolled up, thumbs up signs. national guard trucks rolled by, completely empty, soldiers with guns cocked and aimed at them. nobody stopped to drop off water. a helicopter dropped a load of water, but all the bottles exploded on impact due to the height of
the helicopter.

the first day (Wednesday) 4 people died next to her. the second day (Thursday) 6 people died next to her. Denise told me the people around her all thought they had been sent there to die. again, nobody stopped. the only buses that came were full; they dropped off more and more people, but nobody was being picked up and taken away. they found out that those being dropped off had been rescued from rooftops and attics; they got off the buses delirious from lack of water and food. completely dehydrated. the crowd tried to keep them all in one area; Denise said the new arrivals had mostly lost their minds. they had gone crazy.

inside the convention center, the place was one huge bathroom. in order to shit, you had to stand in other people's shit. the floors were black and slick with shit. most people stayed outside because the smell was so bad. but outside wasn't much better: between the heat, the humidity, the lack of water, the old and very young dying from dehydration... and there was no place to lay down, not even room on the sidewalk. they slept outside Wednesday night, under an overpass.

Denise said yes, there were young men with guns there. but they organized the crowd. they went to Canal Street and "looted," and brought back food and water for the old people and the babies, because nobody had eaten in days. when the police rolled down windows and yelled out "the buses are coming," the young men with guns organized the crowd in order: old people in front, women and children next, men in the back. just so that when the buses came, there would be priorities of who got out first.

Denise said the fights she saw between the young men with guns were fist fights. she saw them put their guns down and fight rather than shoot up the crowd. but she said that there were a handful of people shot in the convention center; their bodies were left inside, along with other dead babies and old people.

Denise said the people thought there were being sent there to die. lots of people being dropped off, nobody being picked up. cops passing by, speeding off. national guard rolling by with guns aimed at them. and yes, a few men shot at the police, because at a certain point all the people thought the cops were coming to hurt them, to kill them all. she saw a young man who had stolen a car speed past, cops in pursuit; he crashed the car, got out and ran, and the cops shot him in the back. in front of the whole crowd. she saw many groups of people decide that they were going to walk across the bridge to the west bank, and those same groups would return, saying that they were met at the top of the bridge by armed police ordering them to turn around, that they weren't allowed to leave.

so they all believed they were sent there to die. Denise's niece found a pay phone, and kept trying to call her mother's boyfriend in Baton Rouge, and finally got through and told him where they were. the boyfriend, and Denise's brother, drove down from Baton Rouge and came and got them. they had to bribe a few cops, and talk a few into letting them into the city ("come on, man, my 2-year-old niece is at the Convention Center!"), then they took back roads to get to them.

after arriving at my other cousin's apartment in Baton Rouge, they saw the images on TV, and couldn't believe how the media was portraying the people of New Orleans. she kept repeating to me on the phone last night: make sure you tell everybody that they left us there to die. nobody came. those young men with guns were protecting us. if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have had the little water and food they had found.

that's Denise Moore's story.

Lisa C. Moore

Share these stories with others. If you find other stories that speak for the dead, add them to this list and share them as well.

Make the voices of the Speakers for the Dead of New Orleans heard. Take a moment to feel their sorrow and loss, to see their tears and sadness, and to listen to their powerful story of destruction, violence, death, and survival.

Links to other stories of survivors:

September 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)

August 15, 2005

How to Talk to A Wingnut Part 3

A continuation of the examples in Part 2:

Belief Statement:
Liberal War protestors cause our troop morale to drop.

I think believing that exercising a constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble somehow weakens our military morale is very demoralizing.

If the war actually had been about WMD and 9/11, there might not be so much protesting.

If Rumsfeld had a real plan for pacifying the country after the "major combat operations ended" there might not be so much protesting.

It's great to hear you are so concerned about troop morale. Please tell me about all the things you have done to improve troop morale.

If lying about the reasons for the war, not using enough troops, not providing adequate equipment and decimating active, guard and reserve forces is not enough reason to protest the war, please tell me, what would have to happen for you to protest against the war? Do you have a limit, or do you beleive that the president not only has never made a mistake, but never will?

Can you think of anything that could possibly happen that force you to speak out against this war? Or do you believe that Bush us infallible?

Does it please you to believe the actions of those who disagree with you somehow hurt troop morale? Do you believe that if someone doesn't agree with one of your positions, that somehow hurts the country or our military?

Did you come up with that opinion on your own, based on facts, or are you spotung talking points from Limbaugh or O'Reilly?

If our military had been welcomed as "liberators" as Cheney promised and the "insurgency" was in the "last throes" would protesting still hurt troop morale?

August 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2005

How to Talk to A Wingnut Part 2

Here are some further examples for a different belief statement. Remeber, the key is to chain several of these patterns together. You will likely find that some beliefs fall rapidly, and you will discover core beliefs beneath them.

Belief Statement:
Liberal War protestors cause our troop morale to drop.

(I have seen this statement (and several variations) used many times in blogs and in the press.)

Which liberal war protestors? All of them?

Does protesting the war lower the morale for every military member? How do you know which ones are affected? Do you know of any military members who are not bothered by war protestors?

War protesters don't lower troop morale, the poor planning by the leadership lowers morale.

War protesting on the scale we see today is caused by the amount of festering dissent in society as a whole, and our military members are a part of that society. In fact, there are members of the military who have spoken out against the war.

I think it is obvious the reason you say that is you do not want to deal with the real problem:the war is not going well and the whole justification for the war has been a lie.

Isn't one of America's great strengths our freedom? Do you feel that it is acceptable to try to limit one of our core freedoms, the freedom of speech, because of a war?

Is it ever accptable to protest a war, or is it always wrong?

So if you think war protesting is hurting troop morale, and therefore weaking our national security, do you think we should use troops on war protestors?

If you believe that the military if fighting to protect our freedom, why are you against some people acting on that freedom to speak out aginst the war.

August 12, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

August 11, 2005

How to Talk to A Wingnut

A Liberal's Guide to Arguing with a Wingnut

Debating with ditto heads? Wonking with Wingnuts? Are you frustrated by the fact that "facts" just do not work with Neo-Cons? Or that they make up their own facts at will? Have you noticed how often (never) Right Wingers change the subject after you score a point? Do you hear the same points word for word from different people?

There is a technique you can use to argue with a wingnut. Analyze their complex equivalences and cause effect statements. Attack the source of their beliefs, use counter examples, or metaphor. Read on if you are ready to whack a wingnut up side the head.

Debating with winguts can be extremely frustrating. The (never) Right Wingers typically use a strict father frame for all political topics (see George Lackoff's Don't Think of an Elephant) and therefore will swallow any talking point handed down by the Right Wing Noise Machine. After you learn these techniques, you will undoubtedly be able to make even a neo-con zealot think about the talking points they spew, if not change their belief in them all togther. In my opinion, even making a wingnut actually think about neo-con talking points is a giant step forward.


I have learned a very effective technique for changing beliefs and overcoming arguments by using langauage patterns.

There are several ways to challenge a belief using language. First, I will review the structure of belief statements. Once you undertand the structure, you will be ready to review several tactics that can be combined together into an organized challenge to  neo-con talking points. I provide a specific example using five different tactics to challenge a example belief.

The Structure of Belief Statements
First, we need to analyze the structure of a belief statement. Beliefs are typically expressed as "complex equivalence" or "cause effect" statements.


Complex Equivalences - Complex Equivalences are statements which imply that two different ideas, actions, events, etc... are equivalent (A=B or A means B). These statements are used to make definitions of values and to state whether those values have been met.   
"The fact that Bush was elected twice means he has the support of the people" or "Liberals hate Bush, they are unpatriotic." are examples.


Cause-Effect - Cause Effect statements link a value to another idea, action, event, etc... Common verbs used in a Cause Effect sentence include causes,  forces, leads to, makes, etc... These statements are used to define the origins and outcomes of ideas, actions, or events.
"Activist judges lead to a weakened America" or "The Clinton Administration caused 9/11 " are examples.


In order to completely define a belief, complex equivalence or cause effect must be established. "Democrats don't care about America's security" is not a completed belief statement because the beliefs associated with this statement are not stated. Further questioning is required, such as "How do you know Democrats don't care about America's security?" or "What do you think the consequences are of democrats not caring about security?" or "What makes Democrats not care about American security?"


The answers to these questions will complete the belief statement. For example, "Democrats don't care about American security because they don't support the Iraq War" or "Democrats don't support the Patriot Act, so they don't care about our security"  or "Democrats lack of concern about our security means they will never be the majority again."


Each of the preceding statements are full complex equivalence or cause effect statements. Each represents a full belief statement which can then be challenged with the patterns that will be discussed in this series.


Now that we have reviewed how to recognize or elicit a completed belief statement, we can go on to how to challenge and change these beliefs with language patterns.


Once you have a fully structured belief, you can begin to challenge that belief.

The tactics utilized for attacking a belief are arranged into the following categories:


  • Breaking Down the Belief

  • Redefining the Belief

  • Attack the Intention of the Belief

  • Increase the Frame Size of the Belief

  • Use Metaphor


I have put together quick examples of five tactics you can use to verbally challenge a belief.


There are 20-25 different tactics within these five categories. I have chosen five of tactics to use as a demostration.


Belief Statement:
"Democrats don't support the War in Iraq because they don't support the care about national security"


First tactic - Drill Down on the source of the belief
Ask for specifics on each side of this cause effect statement. How, what, when, where, etc...
"Are you saying all democrats don't care about national security?"
"Which Democrats don't care about  national security?All of them?"
"How does not supporting the Iraq War mean that Democrats don't care about national security?'
"Is the Iraq War the only one that must be supported to care about national security, or do all wars have to be supported?"
"When is is acceptable to not support a war?"


Second Tactic -Redefine the parts of the belief
X does not cause y.
"Democrats don't support the War in Iraq because they do care about National Security"
"Democrats don't support the War in Iraq because it is weakens our national security."


Third tactic - Counter Example
Are you aware of any examples when X did not cause Y? Do you know of any time where X caused something other than Y?
"Do you have to support every war in order to care about national security?'
"Is it possible to care about national security and not support a war?"
"Not supporting the Iraq War doesn't mean Democrats don't care about national security, the Iraq War is not about national security."


Fourth Tactic - Change the original intention
You have this belief so you can X.
"Do you really believe that, or do you just refuse to listen to an opposing view on the Iraq War?"
"Are you against all dissent in war time, or just dissent by the opposition?"


Fifth Tactic - Environment of the Belief
Insist that the belief has undesirable consequences
"Is the belief that useful? How does it help to suppotr national security by stifiling discussion?"
"What is the real reason you feel the need to alienate half the country?"
"How does it serve national security to label and isolate millions of Americans?'

One more key point. You must chain these tactics together in order to be effective. One single attack on a belief will not break it free. Four, five, six challenges in succession will be very effective. You will often find that after three challenges, a new belief emerges, and the chain begins again. This progressively weakens the foundation of mud and sand on which most neo-con beliefs are built.

Many of you may have picked up on the fact the this technique is all about process, not content. I am not suggesting counter points to any specific arguments, I am elaborating on proven techniques that provide a process to challenge any belief. You can use to this process to effectly argue any topic. If you string three, four, or five of the verbal tactics together, you can challenge virtually any belief.

These techniques were originally developed by Robert Dilts, and are called Sleight of Mouth patterns. There is a book called Sleight of Mouth, though I believe it is out of print. If you want to dive into the jargon of lingusitics, external behaviors and internal states, google Sleight of Mouth.


August 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2005

A La Gauche

Another lefy blog here..

Here are a set of great quotes form the left column:

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. - William E. Gladstone
When fascism comes to America , it will come in the name of anti-fascism. - Huey Long
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. - Bill Clinton
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross - Sinclair Lewis
Republicans want smaller government for the same reason crooks want fewer cops: it's easier to get away with murder. - James Carville
There is no such thing as other people's children. - Hillary Rodham Clinton
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

August 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

American Samizdat

American Samizdat has quite a uniue liberal blog. The blog is described as "Rebel Scum since 2001". Here is a limerick form one of the blog post:

Dubya's Down Time 
By Madeleine Begun Kane 

George Dubya sure loves to vacation, 
And his workout time Dub rarely rations. 
He likes recesses too, 
For the power imbued 
To name refuse to wreck our fine nation.

This limerick is quite apropos, considering how many vacations Bush takes.

"The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush's time away from Washington even further."

Read more great stuff from American Samizdat below.

August 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)