The Facts Always Fit the Frame

Speak truth to power!” – a common mantra to any justice seeking, accountability lovin’, truth teller out there. A typical scenario would go like this, Citizen A decides to get active around a certain issue, maybe they have a personal experience with it, maybe it just strikes their passion. No matter; Citizen A usually tries to get at least a bit educated about it. Citizen A then often tries to spread awareness and information about their selected issue. They have a laundry list of facts and figures that support the necessity to change the behavior of others – let’s say they want you to write a letter to Congress or stop buying bottled water. Citizen A might have an exhaustive list of facts derived by the best of scientific methods and all information points to the need for you to do this change in behavior, what is it that could actually make you do this new behavior? Continue reading

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How to Influence People Pt. 1: Conversation about the Conversation

Don’t mistake the map for the territory

Much has happened since I last posted, including some housekeeping around web hosting which ran into technical difficulties. This might have led you to believe that CivilTongue had vanished or I had been spirited away due to my outspoken nature. It hasn’t, and I haven’t – apologies for the delay. Resume civil discourse.

 

There’s the conversation

Then there’s the conversation about the conversation.

That is, we all engage one another on a daily basis, and political topics (in the broader sense of politics) are quite likely to arise. We talk to our family, we talk to our community, and sometimes we talk to strangers. We even find ourselves in sort of one way conversations with the media we listen to, view, and read, when we shout “Hogwash!” to no one in the room after hearing some news or opinion. Most of us don’t sit around speaking campaign-ese all day – matter of fact, we go out of our way to avoid campaign propaganda. The fact is that most decisions about voting do not happen due to a campaign ad that we know is designed to push our buttons, we tend to make decisions that relate much more to our social circles and community – the groups we associate ourselves with.

These conversations that happen in grocery stores, coffee shops, offices, and schools almost never are blatant appeals for votes as in, “I’m voting for ______ and you should too. Here’s why…”. These everyday conversations are about our own families, problems, jobs (or lack thereof), and activities, but in talking about these activities, we instinctively read between the lines the political implications.

For instance if someone refers to a parochial school in their kid’s life, you start to mentally infer that that person is religious. You might also begin attributing other beliefs and values to that family based on your knowledge of the particular school or church. This happens even if the person in question never directly talks about their beliefs and values. Or let’s say that you know someone works for a company that has a majority of union workers; you might begin to assume that they will be for or against a particular agenda or that they have more money than their non-union counterparts. If you don’t like unions, you might begin to inject your opinion while learning about them – maybe you think they are “spoiled” with too many benefits; if you are not religious, you may think parochial school is filling a child’s head with “fairy tales”.  If you hear that someone lives in a particular part of town or a particular club, it is often taken as a footnote in your brain that they are more or less monied, or agree with the mission statement and activities of the club mentioned.

These are politics on the ground.

Then there is the conversation about the conversation. This is for the persuaders, the influencers, or the wanna be influencers. This conversation is for those people that care so much about their cause or candidate that they take it upon themselves in a voluntary (or paid) capacity. This conversation should not be mistaken for the “politics on the ground”.

Another way of putting it is “the map is not the territory” (apologies if I’ve borrowed this phrase without proper crediting – I don’t know who to credit). No one wants to be told that there is a strategy that others are using to more effectively communicate or to “sell you” on (even though it happens throughout each and every day). So to be an effective communicator, you need to know the difference. The conversation is the territory, the conversation about the conversation is the map. There are some excellent “maps” out there right now; I’d like to share some with you over the next few posts.

When one takes offense at a study or expert that tells you “liberals are X” or “conservatives are Y”, it is usually because these two frames of conversation are getting confused with one another. Don’t make that mistake. Know when you are discussing and learning effective communication (usually from teachers or “allies” that want to help you promote your ideas), and when you are “on” – trying to nudge someone to your way of thinking. If you make errors and mix the conversations up, you are likely to have poor results. The reason being that in one conversation there is an established level of trust and alignment and in the other there is an established level of distrust and misalignment.

You really do have to establish some semblance of trust or respect before a conversation will go anywhere in the real world. Assuming that your target audience (your real world, on the ground conversation) is the ideological equivalent of Ann Coulter or Michael Moore will get you two steps back and zero steps forward. Obviously calling names and insulting your audience – or their values – will also only set you back.

Truly a scientist, psychologist or observant layman can test language reactions, test ideas, or observe the “natural” phenomenon that is communication between humans. The data gathered is just data. Data isn’t biased, it just is. Now an experimenter might be biased or the experiment may be flawed or designed to reach a particular conclusion, that is fair game to question and become suspicious, but we can’t blame the effort to test theories out or analyze data. We can engage in a deeper on the ground conversation with the information.

Who is Worthy of Love?

This originally posted on June 6th, but I’m reposting in light of the announcement of Paul Ryan for VP.

This video on Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and a foremother to our current extreme right politics, is educational to me. It’s outrageous really, she says that a weak man or woman is beyond love. The interviewer asks:

I: If a man is weak, if a woman is weak, he is beyond, she is beyond love?

Rand: He certainly don’t deserve it, he certainly is beyond.

I: There are very few in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love?

Rand: uh, unfortunately yes, very few.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/s7zwO88nRH8]
The video was created by Think Progress, an unashamedly progressive but non partisan info center. Even though Paul Ryan has recently turned against her, her work is still undoubtedly read, seen (Atlas shrugged came out on film last spring), and admired by a healthy portion of the Republican leadership and constituency. From a National Review – an unashamedly conservative magazine – piece this spring:

“You know you’ve arrived in politics when you have an urban legend about you, and this one is mine,” chuckles Representative Paul Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, as we discuss his purported obsession with author and philosopher Ayn Rand.

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

Several have called Ryan out on his rewrite, such as Lawrence O’Donnell here. O’Donnell’s delivery is a bit dramatic (to a discredit), but start watching at 5:00 to hear an expanded version of Paul Ryan’s own speech on Ayn Rand. The post, The Hording Hoarde discusses the clash of Rand’s philosophy and that of Jesus.

Rand eventually found it necessary to accept social security and Medicare. Her thoughts were recorded in a paper she did called, A Question of Scholarship:

The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.

It does indeed sound like a paradox. Talk about getting the facts to fit the frame! I wonder if she still found herself worthy of love while she had cancer from smoking too many cigarettes? Jesus would have.

Chart courtesy of UPWORTHY.com.

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More Mom and Pop, Less Lobbyists and Loopholes

Mom and Pop Shop closing – photo credit Fredricksburg.com

Thanks to all of the kind words and support I have received from readers since I let you in on my own personal struggles in this economy. Things are looking up for me, I may have more detailed updates in the future. I am busy working on some other things at the moment so I would like to offer this article from POLITICO by Elizabeth Warren.

 

Stop rigging system against small business
By: Elizabeth Warren
August 5, 2012 10:56 PM EDT
I meant what I said.

I stood before a group of voters in Massachusetts last year and talked about what it would take to move forward as a nation. I laid out how we all needed to invest in our country, to build a strong foundation for our families today and make sure the next kid with the great idea has the chance to succeed.

But too often that kid can’t succeed because the system is rigged against him.

Small-business owners bust their tails every day. They’re the first ones in and the last to leave, six and often seven days a week. That’s how my Aunt Alice ran her small restaurant, where I worked as a kid. My brother and my daughter both started small businesses. And I’ve visited and talked with small-business owners across Massachusetts. From the insurance agency in Brockton to the coffee shop in Greenfield and the manufacturing plant in Lawrence — all started and run by people with good ideas and a determination to succeed.

I believe in small businesses. They’re the heart and soul of our economy. They create jobs and opportunities for the future.

Washington politicians line up 10-deep to claim they support small businesses, but they avoid talking about a harsh reality: The system is rigged against small business. These owners can’t afford armies of lobbyists in D.C., but the big corporations can. It’s those armies of lobbyists that create the loopholes and special breaks that let big corporations off the hook for paying taxes. While small businesses are left to pay the bills.

We’ve got to close those loopholes and end the special breaks — so small businesses have a level playing field and a fair chance to succeed.

When small businesses grow and flourish, we should applaud their success, and the companies should benefit from their hard work and clever ideas. But here’s my point: If a business makes it big, the reward shouldn’t be the ability to rig the system to stop the next guy.

If a business takes its profits to the Cayman Islands, ships its jobs overseas or finds a loophole to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, then that business now has a leg up over every small business and start up that can’t take advantage of those loopholes. Sometimes the big can get bigger not because they are better but because they can work the system better. That’s bad for every small business in America.

Asked recently about news that Mitt Romney had money in offshore tax havens, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally…. It’s a game we play. … I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game.”

Graham is right about one thing — it’s a game for some. It’s a rigged game that benefits big corporations and billionaires who can deploy armies of lobbyists and lawyers to create those tax loopholes and then exploit them.

The game is rigged to work for profitable oil companies, who made $137 billion in profits last year — and still collected billions of dollars’ worth of government subsidies. The game is rigged to work for big multinational corporations, which get tax breaks to ship U.S. jobs overseas and park investments abroad. The game is rigged to work for hedge fund managers and billionaires, who pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Meanwhile, their Republican allies are making sure the rules stay rigged in their favor.

But for the tens of millions of working families and small businesses left holding the bag — it’s not a game. For the small businesses that can’t spend millions of dollars to hire lobbyists who get them special deals or hire armies of lawyers to move their money overseas or restructure their operations to take advantage of every loophole, it isn’t a game.

Washington is rigged to work against their interests with real-life consequences. They compete against the big companies, working hard to hold on to the American dream of providing a better life for their kids and grandkids. They see how the game is rigged.

We face a real choice in this country between the Republicans’ “I’ve got mine,” approach and the belief that, as a nation, we reward success and hard work — keeping the playing field level so that everyone with a good idea, a dream of making it big and plenty of determination has a chance to make it.

We must be committed to the American dream, the approach that made us the most prosperous and strongest country in the world and built a future of opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

The choice is ours.

Elizabeth Warren is running as a Democrat for the Senate in Massachusetts, against Republican Sen. Scott Brown. She served as chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP and as assistant to the president and special adviser to the treasury secretary for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

© 2012 POLITICO LLC

Winning an Argument (with an Elephant)

When a dog is happy, it wags its tail. If you try to wag the tail for the dog, it does not make the dog happy, it’s not the same thing at all. You cannot force happiness by waving a tail around.

The same is true for actually winning someone over to your way of thinking. No amount of waving around “facts”, “reasons”, or “rationale” will get your audience to align with your side. You cannot state a rationale that makes sense to you and expect it to move someone else unless you’ve done the hard work of building trust and rapport with that audience first.

Every salesman knows this already, it is no secret, so why is it so hard to accept in other realms of “selling” ideas?

When it comes to politics and morality, we think we are more rational than we are. In order to get to the rational, reasonable parts, we must- at first – ignore those factual arguments. What follows is a proven method for persuading someone to your side – which may or may not be the same thing as “winning” the argument. Continue reading

Starve the Beast and Watch it Eat Itself

The following piece appeared in Addicting Info by Don Hamel (link here). I took some editing liberties in my reprint. The first point is relevant, there is a big hoo-hah about whether we are a democracy or a republic (note the root words for our two party system – they’d both like to be the driving value that is considered to be ultimately American). The truth is that we are a constitutionally limited democratic republic.

This term “constitutionally limited democratic republic” means that #1 the Constitution is our founding document and authority, #2 we have a representative government – each individual citizens does not vote on each piece of legislation, so we elect people to act on our behalf, and #3 those representatives are supposed to be elected democratically – by the people for the people.

I agree with the author that the heart of our nation lies in democratic ideology. Indeed many of the current movements – Move to Amend, Occupy, Transition Towns, even many Tea Partiers are all about increasing citizen empowerment – they’re about democracy. The Citizens United ruling that granted corporate personhood is the backdoor that allows a corporation to pretend like they are also a citizen that is looking for some individual empowerment and wants to take liberties (and oh boy do they!).

I know some readers love to point out the disadvantages of having government involved in our daily lives, my question is, would you rather it be replaced with an entity just as large – or larger – but with a mission statement that clearly does not have the best interest of humans in mind. This question is especially poignant in the case of that entity providing human services. Also my question is: does their ideology make them comfortable with watching people suffer and die as a result of losing those human services if the “beast” really could be drowned in the proverbial bathtub?

My value system does not allow me to be comfortable at all with our status quo. My ideology and value system is outraged at every life taken by military force whether it is through direct targeting, “friendly fire”, or the poison that is put into the earth and slowly kills those around it. My values are insulted at every belch of toxic waste onto this beautiful planet. My conscience screams out as cyclical poverty leads to ignorant, desperate people, who hurt each other in their struggle for survival. My religious upbringing tells me to love my neighbor, feed my people, and to give and forgive. My spiritual being feels sucker punched when I see our prison industrial complex, our military industrial complex, and all of our our fear based industrial complexes. I am deeply disturbed at how our collective greed and laziness have allowed disposable gadgets to outweigh the value of the human being – depending on what socio-economic benefit can be rendered from them.

That’s why I can’t stay silent about the injustices happening to me and my fellow humans. What follows is Don Hamel’s piece; here’s what he has to say about it: Continue reading

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Pot Juice, Kenny Rogers Meets Terminator, and A Word from Our Sponsors

Three interesting stories that might make you go hmmmm.

Who knew? Pot juice is even more medicinal than pot smoke. So medicine, juice/salad, recreation, and a sustainable strong fiber source – what are the reasons against it again?

[youtube=http://youtu.be/qgEP9FdIzT8]

In other news…

In case you missed it, robots are getting more humanoid than ever. This in conjunction with the mosquito drone story make me want to go all Ewok Warrior on this new wave of biologically modeled robots. Watch to the end where he talks about his human zoo.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/UIWWLg4wLEY]

The Top 5 Most Hypocritical Sponsors

And now for something more based in our everyday reality – the craziness of mismatched sponsorships. I’ve always wondered about non-profits that have sponsors who get crazy amounts of advertising for their “generosity”. In any other setting it is simply called “buying advertising”.  If a company truly wants to support a cause to give back to the community, they should not insist on emblazoning their logo everywhere they can find, or creating another pile of plastic promo crap that folks don’t use after event day. If they really want to market themselves that way, then let’s just be frank  and call it a marketing strategy.

This article calls out a current obvious mismatch of McDonalds and Coca-Cola being major sponsors of the Olympic Games with an unbelievable quote from the mayor of London:

…Despite the on-going debate, McDonalds and Coca-Cola are still sponsoring the Games. On the day before the opening ceremony, London’s mayor Boris Johnson responded to the criticism by telling reporters, “This is all just bourgeois snobbery about McDonald’s … It’s classic liberal hysteria about very nutritious, delicious, food — extremely good for you I’m told — not that I eat a lot of it myself … Apparently this stuff is absolutely bursting with nutrients.”

The Pepper Spraying Cop gets Canned – finally

Remember this guy?

[youtube=http://youtu.be/8vjNc5P-I60]

He was finally fired.
His name is John Pike, the the now former Lieutenant with the UC Davis police force. His 2010 salary was listed at just over $110k and he’s been on paid leave (aka vacation) since the incident – that’s ten months (see the article here). The police Chief Annette Spicuzza “retired in April after an independent panel issued an investigative report that severely criticized her leadership of the Police Department and found fault with much of the university leadership during the crisis.”

So a ten month paid vacation and a retirement – boy, those are some serious…ly pathetic consequences for hurting the people you were tasked to protect and serve. And, those are the only two that have been made known publicly – there is a lawsuit pending now around making the identities of the other officers public.

It is difficult to determine what was so difficult to determine in this investigation. The students did disobey a police order, but they were seated with linked arms and were completely non-violent. If you see the video, not a one of the seated protesters look like they even approach 200lb – I’m quite sure they had assumed they would be arrested and removed one by one by the officers in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience.

So many of us have nothing but our bodies to use in our fight for our values. Many of us do not believe that violence solves problems and follow in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. When the ideas of the minority butt up against the ideas of the powers in charge, the playing field is obviously quite slanted in favor of those already in power.

It is cowardly for those in power to use violent chemical forces in response to ideas and words. It is cowardly to hurt someone when what they want is a seat at the table to take part in a real discussion. This interaction is a microcosm of what is happening to many unarmed simple citizens of the planet that will not be a doormat for the powers that be.

Why was UC Davis so afraid of the protests? Why did they not channel the energy into a forum where folks could be heard? Why the riot gear and extreme measures. What was the threat that the students presented? Who was being protected? How many police officers across this country empathize not with the students, but with the sprayer, John Pike.

Some of the pepper spray victims are suing Pike, the university and others. I think he should have to give the paid leave money back anyway.

CEOs get to ruin companies and parachute away with millions, politicians can shoot people and get away with no questions asked, the 1% can pay someone to arrange subsidies for themselves instead of paying taxes. Where does one get beknighted or step through this looking glass of privilege? Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules or face the consequences?

Good riddance John Pike. I hope you have a conscience and it does what our justice system has not yet done.

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Life Suck

As contractions of the national and global economies grow more severe, their impacts are felt more painfully by more people. The same is true here at Civil Tongue. Blog creation is not a money making venture, most bloggers blog out of the need to share something, the need for community. As always, I, your lowly blog author, am available for all sorts of analysis, research and writing – please inquire by posting a quick comment (I can then respond to your email), but my own personal struggle against this economy is not just philosophical – it is also painful in reality.

The last time I had full time employment was before 9/11. My industry was heavily affected by the attacks and I was laid off, then rehired part time. This was adequate for many years because I had my first child four months after 9/11, and my next a couple of years later. Before 9/11, my husband and I were comfortably middle/upper class.

Ten years later and I no longer own a home, we have both been laid off, and are definitely in the low income tax bracket (when we can get work at all). The descent has taken an absolutely devastating toll on my family in other personal, less quantatative ways. We are a poster-childish family of how things fall apart in the current economy involving nearly every major collapse that has happened in the last decade (hey, at least we didn’t have huge investments).

It’s time to stop pretending that I am doing “just fine”, I’m not. This hurts like hell. It is very sad and difficult for me to guide my children and family to a more positive and secure future. Their education, interests, and personality are all relative to how well they will do in the future and I no longer have the resources to provide what’s best or even mediocre.  It’s time for us to let our friends and family know how bad it really is. It’s time to walk across the street to the Joneses’ house, knock on their door, tell them that we can’t keep up with them anymore, offer a truce (like a dinner invitation), and make real friends that don’t compete materialistically – friends that share and support one another in tough times.  I know it may be severely outside your comfort zone.

I’m writing this outside of my comfort zone, but also necessity. I no longer can promise daily posts. My resources are limited and while my heart is in this work, I may have to scrub toilets, stand waving in a Little Ceasar’s costume, or be a gopher for someone. I am taking any and all work that I think I can physically complete – and even that work is few and far between. The work is often poverty wages, so I will likely be busier and busier – probably just fine with corporatists that would like a loud mouth like myself to just shut up and go away (or die- I certainly don’t have health insurance though I have some serious health issues).

For my fair and loyal readers, how I might work this out is to have a few “real” posts per week where I attempt to analyze and make some relevant points on political framing and the current news of the day.  The rest of the days I will do less time consuming posts and just line up some of the poignant news stories that I wan’t to elaborate on, but don’t have time.

As always, I welcome guest posts – especially well thought out and well written ones that are different than my belief system. If you have one, again, let me know by comments.

Government is not bad or good inherently, it is necessary to live together with billions of strangers with some basic universal concerns collectively though through. When those governments cease to help the People, it is time for them to change.

Here are a few stories that I have strong feelings about, how about you?

Mosquito Drones

A team of researchers at the vaunted Johns Hopkins University - in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Arlington, Va. – is helping develop what they are calling an MAV (micro aerial vehicle) that will no doubt have loads of uses, up to and including the usurpation of privacy rights by the Leviathan State.

Initially though, it’s thought that MAVs will be incorporated for use by the military, for situations when stealth is of the utmost importance. The tiny drones could effortlessly infiltrate urban areas, where dense concentrations of buildings and people, along with unpredictable winds and other obstacles make it impractical, if not impossible, to use a standard-sized drone. Domestic uses include search-and-rescue operations and, of course, observation.

How small, exactly? Well, a graphic on the site of the Air Force research agency features what looks to be an electronic mosquito.

Oregon Man Gets Jail Time for Collecting Rainwater on His Own Property

Collecting rainwater can get you in legal trouble in Oregon. A court has sentenced a southern Oregon man to 30 days in jail, and a fine, for maintaining 3 illegal reservoirs on his property. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Gary Harrington has told the court, and newspapers that he was just storing rainwater to use for wildfire protection. But rainwater is what fills most of the rivers in Oregon, says Tom Paul with the Oregon Water Resources Department. And you can’t divert its natural flow it without getting permission first.

Paul: “If you build a dam, an earthen dam, and interrupt the flow of water off of the property, and store that water that is an activity that would require a water right permit from us.”

Paul says one of Harrington’s dams was 15 feet high. And the dams were capturing water that flowed into a nearby creek, which belongs to the City of Medford. Harrington is appealing his jail sentence and fine.

Learn more: http://nwpr.org/post/southern-oregon-man-sentenced-jail-time-illegal-rainwater-reservoirs#disqus_thread

Is Algebra Necessary?

This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, we’re actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.

The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.

a definitive analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that in the decade ahead a mere 5 percent of entry-level workers will need to be proficient in algebra or above.

See the opinion piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Weak and Wimpy Candidates

Wow! What fireworks! The gloves are off, fists are flying, the big guns have appeared: the wimpy words.

The world may be focused on London and I suppose gaffes that recall the prime minister’s backside are super offensive to some (for the rest of the world it sort of proves the stodgy stereotype of the English), but the overseas gaffes are nothing compared to what is now going on.

There is a storyline building about Mitt Romney that is fatal to any Republican (and probably any other) candidate, and unless he does some fancy posturing, it is threatening to stick. Romney is being painted as a wimp.

Anyone recall another “wimp” president? It could be argued that the moniker of “wimp”, was the impetus of George W. Bush‘s presidency – to return honor to the family after his dad was labeled with the charge.

The word “wimp” or “weak” is the harshest disparaging remark one could make about a conservative and the charge has now been leveled at Romney by Newsweek – the same publication that put the nail in the coffin of George H. W. Bush‘s presidency. The idea has online news sources chattering as well, like in this article Mitt Romney’s Wimp Factor. The article points out how Romney seems afraid and running every time he’s pressed on an issue. Perhaps this kind of talk is what has him posturing as Commander in Chief this week while he snuggles up to Israel and sabre rattles in Iran’s direction.

We already know how sabre rattling turns out when it is nothing but cover for a non-existent domestic agenda and insecure self image. It’s not good. A war with Iran would surely be the beginning of an entirely new era – one that could make our current economic, environmental and political situation look like a Sunday School picnic.

Testosterone and attempts to prove manliness in the face of scrutiny or ridicule have acted as a genocidal force on our planet. Letting “the wimp factor” factor into military decisions takes away the trust that the People – Americans in this case – have in the Commander in Chief and the mission. We’ve stopped doing military in defense; we are now seen as the world aggressor.

Dick Cheney fully remembers what happened to George Bush Sr., he was Secretary of Defense. He also is fond of profiting from war as he did with Haliburton/KBR (and perhaps still does) he also is a big fan of fracking, helping to create the loophole that exempted fracking from the Safe Water Act in 2005 (article here) – which he also did to stuff the pockets of Haliburton.

Perhaps that’s why a day or two after “the wimp factor” story came out about the new Newsweek cover, Cheney decided to start getting loud about how he thinks Obama is one of the weakest presidents ever. He’s worried. You don’t really hear a lot our of Cheney these days – he lays low, doing his profiteering thing until a campaign needs someone to stir up the hawks, then he steps out to remind us that we do need a “strict father” that is focused on making money and kicking some butt.

Why are the words “weak” and “wimp” so significant? For conservatives, they are the reddest of flags that let them know that they don’t like a person. “Weak” and “wimp” say that the subject is not strong, is not decisive, and cannot be relied upon. They are not manly, have no nerve, and “chicken out” of fighting. Instead of seeing diplomatic measures as being a pragmatic way to save lives, money, the environment and energy, is seen as nuanced weakness. Conservatives operate on more of a black and white decision making system, if you’re not into “fight”, you must be into “flight”.  Progressives understand that every circumstance has multiple issues and causes at hand, learning about the situation and making deliberations are likely in order when deciding something as destructive as war.

Note the wimpy words, they are a little different than typical political mud slinging. Candidates can be called dumb, arrogant, selfish, evil, dishonest, manipulative, womanizing, ugly, disconnected…there are lots of descriptors flying around but the wimpy words are harder to shake – American’s don’t want a weak president.

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