Professor Smartass

Thursday, December 15, 2005

FRAMING: conflict + honesty = attention getting

I have often complained about the "happy talk" approach many Democrats, and especially the DLC take to presenting their case, and am invariably immediately accused of supporting the lies and personal attack tactics of the GOP.

I think there's a clear difference between stating the facts, including about who is opposing you and why, and lying and smearing your opponents.

People not only need facts, they need a STORY with good guys and bad guys and CONFLICT to get their attention. I didn't event this, it's as old as humanity and outlined by Aristotle, but for some reason, many Democrats stubbornly ignore this and want to pretend we are all one big happy family, and their pitches get about as much attention as those sappy watercolor birthday cards with a duckpond and frilly writing on front.

I'll use global warming as example because while serious, it can easily be presented in a deadly dull way.


Scientists agree global warming is a serious problem. We need to do something someday that doesn't offend anyone too much, so the Eskimos and penguins can play happily in their winter wonderland, and Florida continues to exist at high tide as well as low.


We need to do x,y, and z about global warming, but my opponents are being paid by some of the largest corporations in the world to pretend it doesn't exist in spite of overwhelming scientific consensus. We have the facts, they have the money and PR agencies. I care about how this will effect you and your family. They care about how fixing it will hurt their corporate donors. If you think your family's health is more important than corporations making a few extra points of profits, I need your support.


We know that global warming exists and is intent on destroying our way of life, and will do so within 30 days if we do not act. My opponents willfully drive Hummers to intentionally destroy the ozone. They hope that this will destroy the earth so they can meet Jesus in the sky sooner and the rest of us will be killed in the climate change apocalypse. In spite of their religious agenda, they have sex with farm animals and worship Joseph Stalin's exercise of naked power. Now you must decide, are you with us or on the side of the evil-doers?


Iraq is another constructive example.

The DLC and pro-war Democrats are lying by repeating the GOPs happy talk talking points.

But it is not enough to say we must get out. We have to show why some will oppose it and have a vested interest in staying.

You can't win over everyone, but even though you can be honest about who is opposing you, you can still give them room to join you and propose things that are fair to them without harming the rest of us.

Right now, letting oil companies and corporate America drive our foreign policy is like giving the keys to the family car to a drunken teenager. It's bad for everyone. Will you look mean if you don't let them drive the car? Yes, temporarily. Does that mean the kid will hate you for the rest of their life? No. They will respect you more.

The difference with corporate America is they are not that teenager.

They are like the Sopranos with more money, better lawyers who can write the laws to make their crimes legal, and PR firms to convince people to like their crimes.

It is even more dangerous to accomodate the Sopranos without acknowledging the harm they do and monitoring their actions to insure they don't continue to do it.

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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:58 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The threat of the United States being occupied by a foreign power

It's ironic that these guys who are "strong on defense" have actually harmed our reputation in the world and our military by pursuing wars more motivated by corporate profits than actual threats to our security going back to at least Vietnam, and apart from Korea, World War II, and the Civil War, all of our other military actions were about hostile take overs of country's assets.

Marine Corps General and Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler said:
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

Our lack of success in occupying Iraq tells us exactly what the threat is of another country invading and successfully occupying the US. China, Russia, and the EU would be the only entities even remotely capable of trying, and they would have supply lines stretching across oceans, and at the end of them would be 290 million well-armed civilians who would make the Iraqis look quakers and Gandhi.

To calculate the odds of someone invading us, consider how gingerly we tiptoe around getting into a land war with China after Korea. In Korea, they were poorly armed and technologically well behind us, but they came close to chasing us off the Korean peninsula, and invading China itself would have been impossible.

We were so chastened by the experience that in Vietnam we didn't send ground troops into the North for fear of triggering another conflict with China.

Hitler and Napoleon had similar experiences with Russia. It was easy to invade and impossible to occupy--and they had the advantage of being able to walk there. If someone tried to invade us, they would have those oceans to contend with. And for what? Our oil supplies are declining, and if they want our coal, I think most countries have plenty of their own. The cost of trying to occupy us would break them if we can't afford to occupy a country the size of California.

The only reason another country would attack us is they perceive us as a threat to them. If communists (a boogie man still pulled out from time to time) or terrorists attacked the US, they would win no sympathy for their ideology, and in the case of terrorists, outright occupation would be impossible anyway. The terrorist threat is at best like a neighbor's rabid chihuahua. It might bite your ankle, but it ain't going to take you down and kill you. No amount of terrorist attacks will take down the US.

And of course, once an attack on the US starts, we would burn the attacking country off the map with our nukes, and still have plenty left over for their allies, neighbors, and the rest of the world, which is why no government would use or give to terrorists they thought even might use, nukes on us. The country using or who gave away the nukes that were used would be incinerated before the mushroom cloud formed here.

Those who are "strong on defense" are more worried about securing and occupying the world's oil reserves, making sure the banana pickers in Central America and the sweatshop workers in Haiti don't demand a living wage, and that all accept the privatization and corporate control of their electricity, water, and probably the hole they shit in. Read a history of our interventions in Central America, South America, and the Middle East, then watch the film THE CORPORATION.

Then look at how we react to a democratically elected president who tries to use his country's wealth to improve the lives of his people like Hugo Chavez. We have already backed a recall and a coup against him, and there's no chance Venezuela is ever going to try to invade the US or even attack us.

I have great respect for the military, their patriotism, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for us. I wish the civilians in charge, who are so eager to use them and profit from their efforts, were as admirable.

They incite fear so they can use our military to make money, and nothing else is going on.

We spend more than enough on the military for defense. For the purpose that it is used though, no amount of money will ever be enough.

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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:47 AM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, December 10, 2005

FACTS that are missing from the Iraq debate

I don't know what the best way to end the war in Iraq is.

Some of the facts I have in mind have been covered in the press on page A13 or further back, but have only been acknowledged by a handful of Democrats, not the leadership, and NO republicans.

I'm willing to listen to any proposals provided they squarely and upfront acknowledge the FACTs. Conversely, the less I hear about these things, the more I suspect the person talking is lying.




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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 1:15 PM | link | (0) comments |

Monday, December 05, 2005

COUNTERPUNCH: What did the Democrats Know before Iraq War?

Like most people, I was glad that John Edwards admitted he was wrong to vote for the Iraq War resolution, but the excuse that he gives, that the Senate was not shown the same information as the president, while true, is dishonest.

The former chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham asked the obvious question of the CIA before the war:

If Saddam had nukes (or other WMD) would he have the will to use them against us?

CIA director George Tenet answered honestly:

He said


Saddam would only use them if attacked. Like every other country that has nukes.

Graham insisted that a version of Tenet's letter scrubbed of classified information be made available to the public and it was in the New York Times in October 2002, five months before the war. You can see it here:

Democrats on intelligence like Edwards saw the classified version of this in committee.

But you didn't need to be an intelligence expert to know that. You merely needed to be old enough to remember the Cold War and the last fifty years of the nuclear era. We had rough nuclear parity with the Soviets, and that was enough to keep us from attacking each other. If a bit player like Saddam got his hands on a dozen or even a hundred nukes, he would know that if he launched one at us, he would be dead and Iraq incinerated off the map before he even knew if his nuke hit us.

Every congressman and senator knows this calculus. Retarded people don't get elected to Congress (and only once to the White House).

My point is not to exonerate the GOP, but to be careful which Democrats we pin our hopes on.

If someone is still lying to us about why they voted for war, they are likely to tell lies to continue it or to start the next one when the oil companies ask for it.

December 5, 2005
What Did the Democrats Know and When Did they Know It?

The Lies of John Edwards



Edwards declared in an op-ed column in the Washington Post on November 13, 2005: "The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war." Sounds simple enough. "Had I known then what I know now, etc." Poor John Edwards was deceived. But was he? How was it that 21 other Democratic Senators and 2 Republicans were not deceived and voted against the war?

Part of the answer arrived in another op-ed the Washington Post one week later, November 20, 2005, by another former Senator, Bob Graham, entitled: "What I knew Before the Invasion." Like Edwards, Graham was a member, in fact the chair, of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in the period leading up to the war and on October 11, 2002 when the vote on the war on Iraq was taken. In a nutshell, Graham tells us that everyone on that committee knew that Bush was lying about weapons of mass destruction. Graham begins like a good, loyal Democrat, telling us that his colleagues were deceived, at least "most" of them. But he then tells us that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee knew better. Here are some of Graham's words:

"At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used Senatorial authority, I directed completion of an NIE."

"Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE".

"There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked."

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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:38 PM | link | (0) comments |

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