Three Cups of Tea
and David Oliver Relin
The Audacity of Hope
R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett & Rob Battles
Brooks Jackson &
Kathleen Hall Jamieson Sept 2007
The Politics of Deceit
Glenn W. Smith
Valerie Plame Wilson
Webcast: What Orwell ~Know
New York Public Library
Cups of Tea
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Mortinson was returning from a failed attempt to climb K2, regarded by
many as the most difficult mountain in the world to climb. He
made the climb to within 600 meters of the top before he had been
forced to quit. He was exhausted after almost 3 months of
on the mountain. He was too exhausted to notice that he took
wrong turn coming down a glacier and had to spend the night in the
open. The next day he found a porter and they spent 7 days
coming down. Then he lost the porter again but he wandered
small village where he was welcomed, given food and drink, and a bed
for the night. The villagers sent a runner to fetch the
whom Mortenson was to discover was on of the most famous high altitude
porters in Pakistan, arrived the next afternoon.
The porter helped him return to the lodge that the rest of the
expedition was staying in and he recovered for a few days.
Mortenson realized that the villagers had saved his life and
returned to the village to finish his recovery. His
was an emergency room nurse and he brought back all of his medical
supplies to assist them as best he could. After a number of
he asked the village headman to see the school. There they
boys and 4 girls kneeling on the ground in the open. They
didn't have the money to pay a teacher, $1.00 per day, so they shared a
teacher with a neighboring village. The children were
themselves, it wasn't their day for the teacher. He had
on buying some books or something like that for the school with his
remaining money when he got back to Islamabad. He realized
that sort of gesture just wouldn't do, and in a moment that could be
considered as madness told the headman that he would build the village
The rest of the book tells of Mortenson's life from the time he
returned to America from Pakistan in 1993 until the end of the book
which was published in 2006. It wasn't until he arrived back
America did he begin to realize how much of a job he had promised to
complete. He had a great deal of trouble earning enough money
survive on and raising money to build a school. He finally
a major sponsor who gave him sufficient money. Then he went
to Pakistan and had to learn how to survive in a strange culture while
trying to purchase supplies, get them transported to the village, and
get the school built. He made numerous mistakes, trusted the
wrong people, got himself into deep trouble several times, but in the
end he did get the school built. He had been asked by several
other villages to assist them in building and supplying schools so he
did not quit at this point but began trying to raise money for more
schools and other projects. By the end of the book he had
At one point he was approached by villagers from northern Afghanistan
to help them build some schools. He could not respond to
needs at that time because of Taliban control and the danger to
Americans. After the Americans and others took control from
Taliban he did journey to northern Afghanistan and after a number of
difficulties made contact with a local ruler and tried to help.
Mortenson was able to move mostly freely throughout the area
building schools and medical clinics. He was in Pakistan on
and he had to leave but he said that he felt safer in the villages of
that area because he knew that most would fight and even die to
protecting him. He had two fatwah's placed on him but they
both rejected by higher Muslim authorities, one went as far as Iran to
be rejected by the highest religious authorities.
One thing that I find very enlightening is that as I write this, July
12, 2007, the newspaper contains an article saying that Al-Qaeda is
becoming more powerful, especially in the areas on both sides of the
Afghanistan - Pakistan border where they are impossible to find and
eradicate. This is exactly the area in which Mortenson was
and was able to make friends and travel with his wife and child.
One man, without government support, was able to live and
with these people and join them in working with their authorities to
defeat Islamic fundamentalists where the American military cannot go.
Perhaps there is a message there about what kind of Foreign
Policy really works.
My only criticism of the book is the maps of the area in the beginning.
I would have appreciated much more detail, so that you could
follow his trips.
Audacity of Hope
Subtitled: Thoughts on
Reclaiming the American
When Obama was
running for office for the first time for the Illinois legislature,
people would ask him, "You seem like a nice enough guy. Why
want to go into something dirty and nasty like politics?"
Why? Why are so many affected with this cynicism with
politics and public service in general?
This has been nourished by a generation of broken promises.
is not the only tradition. We have a tradition that extends
to before our country was founded. We have a stake in one
another. What binds us together is greater that what pulls us
apart. If we work together we cane solve many of our
The rest of the chapter discusses his life after he decided to run for
U.S. Senator. The questions he asked himself, how he felt and
what this means to him and to others who watch elections and to those
who run for office.
The first chapter opens with a description of the magesty,
grandure, and the history of the Senate and ends with a description of
how most speeches are given before an empty chamber. "In the
worlds greatest deliberative body, no one is listening."
He then seems to shift back into the same old political litany of so
many writers, "Bad men doing bad things." However there is a
difference, his bad men and women area not so bad, just sometimes
misguided and they com from both sides of the political isle.
tends to agree with the Democrats more often than he agrees with the
Republicans - but he is a Democrat. He lives in the real
Democrats make mistakes - perhaps not as many as Republicans.
Many Republicans are honest, thoughtful men and women who
remorse when their policies turn out to be poor ones.
He then gives a brief, almost emotional, history of the US over the
last 50 years describing how our perceptions of politics and
politicians have changed. He especially hones in on the
take no prisoners policies of Gingrich, Hastert, DeLay, Rove, and
Norquist. The years since the elections(?) of George W. Bush
been the worst with the attitude of, "I won, I can do anything that I
want, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop me."
Obama doesn't want to just replace this "Evil Empire" with a new one
wearing a different color suit. He wants a broad coalition of
Americans, both Republicans and Democrats who share his beliefs that
government can be responding to the needs of all the people and that
for one group to prosper, another doesn't have to descend into poverty.
out by describing his impressions of the White House. Both on his first
visit, a walk around the outside in 1984 and on his first visit to it
as a guest of President Bush in 2004 as an incoming Senator.
1984 he walked right up to the gates with pedestrians walking by and
traffic on the street behind him. In 2004 there were armed
guards, checkpoints, dogs, and barricades. Traffic was sealed
for two blocks. An immense change. Meeting
a friendly, warm man who sometimes shows an almost messianic zeal and
On rereading the chapter I kept thinking about ways to summarize the
chapter, and I got frustrated. I could restate every
but that isn't much of a summary. Then I realized what was
on. Lakoff and Obama are really saying the same thing on
Lakoff makes a general statement and shows how the rest follow, Obama
describes a whole set of individual values or occurances and mostly
explains how they relate. In the end Obama finally really
it. Our most basic value is empathy, seeing the world from
other persons eyes, walking with his shoes. Evaluate our
and thoughts by how they effect other people. Sometime what
other person wants is truly what they need, health care or higher wages
- and sometimes its what they need, not what they say they want like a
serving of vegetables instead of dessert. We have to make
judgments and sometimes we make the wrong decision, but we must try.
Obama is hard to summarize, he jumps all over the place.
The heart of the chapter starts of by describing his first
meetings with Senator Robert C. Byrd. I felt like I was
good poetry or a passage from Shake spear, wonderful and moving
writing. The rest of the chapter describes the construction
the Constitution, how it is used, and some of the threats it has
weathered. A marvelous chapter, if you don't read anything
from this book, read this chapter.
message of this chapter is name recognition. The second is
amount of work you have to do, the long hours, and the amount of money
you have to collect. Then dealing with organizations who may,
may not support you. How every statement you make is subject
criticism. The predilection of the press for conflict.
complaining chapter - is it justified, probably, still not something I
a mishmash of examples from all over the block. One
first was a visit to Google and their difficulties in getting highly
skilled and educated workers and then a comparison of this to a group
of Maytag factory workers in Galesburg, Illinois, their profitable
factory was being closed down so that the profit margins would be a
little higher in Mexico. There is a real problem, how do we
remain competitive on the world market and still protect high paying
jobs (and maintain sufficient industry) in the US? He doesn't
have a real solution, except that the solution is not to ignore the
problem of factory workers. One observation. Adam
his series of books entitled,
"The Wealth of Nations",
is often cited by both conservative and progressive authors for his
"invisible hand" comment. What both sides forget (or never
learned) is that in Book V, Adam Smith spends most of the book on
"explaining why the state has powerful responsibilities regarding
defense, justice, infrastructure, and education, areas in which
collective action is required to complement, or substitute for,
private-market forces." We are reminded of this by Jeffrey
in his book, "The End of
Poverty" chapter 18. I must admit that I have
never read The Wealth
of Nations either but it seems out that the fiscal
conservatives bible could possibly be the fiscal progressives salvation.
up in an environment where faith played a very small part in his life.
As he has gotten older it has become a larger and larger part
his life. He has also seen the good and the bad that faith
produce. I think that the problem is in the definition of
Is it the faith that some people see in Jesus, the love and
forgiveness, or the faith of the Inquisition where Jews were told to
repent and be baptized or die? Faith can be good and it can
evil, it depends on the practice and the practitioners.
He is at the
funeral for Rosa Parks - but his thoughts keep returning to the
devastation left by Katrina and the seemingly small amount of concern
given to the poor and the blacks who lived along the coast.
would have she made of the difference in compassion?
There are a lot of aspects to race. Discrimination of course,
jobs, immigration, schooling, employment, politics, differences and
conflicts between races. A lot of problems, a lot of
they are just taking a long time to get put together, and some people
give up. We just have to continue working on solutions until
there is no problem any more, and it is getting better.
C8 The World
Beyond Our Borders
The chapter starts with Indonesia and his life in Indonesia.
He lived there from 1967, when he was 6, until 1971 when he
sent to Hawaii for schooling and to live with his grandparents.
He then briefly discusses the history and politics of
since the 1970's.
Next is a brief description of American foreign policy since the
beginning. Then came 9/11. He discuses his feelings
happenings in Iraq and in Washington DC since then. He ends
section with a description of a trip he took to Iraq in 2006 as a
Finally he discusses his ideas on foreign policy. First in
and then more generally what we should be doing in the world as a
whole. I think his feelings are best summarized in a speech
John Kennedy made at his inaugural, in the year Obama was born.
"To those peoples in the huts and village . . .struggling to
break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them
help themselves . . . because it is right." However as FDR
". . . we make take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we
cannot afford to be soft-headed."
describes a bit of his life as a Senator, his wife, Michelle, and his
life with her and their two children and her parents. He does
good job of weaving in some of the issues faced by families and
especially wives in our current society.
A summing up, a
few random thoughts, how he is sort of amazed that all of this has
happened to him, and how he wants to continue working for the country
R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett
& Rob Battles Aug
A picture and words book, sort of like a comic book. The
is three pages of 1 picture and a rude caption followed by a page
entitled, "The sad truth" which discusses the theme of the three
captions. The "sad truth" comments and the source notes for
were written by James Friedman. Friedman recommends a number
books on the Bush presidency through 2006 when the book was published.
These are Cobra
II by Michael R.Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor, Fiasco by Thomas E.
Ricks, The Foreigner's
Gift by Fouad Adjami, Against
All Enemies by Richard A. Clark, Jawbreaker by Gary
Berntsen and Ralph Pezzullo, The
Age of Sacred Terror by Daniel Benjuamin and Steven Simon,
Holy War Inc.
by Peter L. Bergen, Inside
al Qaeda by Rohan Gunaratna, the 9/11 Commission Report, Chain of
Command by Seymour M. Hersh, The Abu Ghraib Investigations
ed. by Steven Strasser, A
Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin, The Great Game by
Peter Hopkirk, The Price
of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul
O'Neill by Ron Suskind.
There are 3 pages of notes plus photo credits.
It really is a comic book with full color pictures plus some very sad
commentary. Useful for a few laughs and a few tears.
& Kathleen Hall Jamieson Sept
Subtitle: finding facts in a world of
World of Spin
"We live in a world of spin." "Spin is a polite
deception." Spin paints a false picture of reality by bending
facts, mischaracterizing the words of others, ignoring or denying
crucial evidence, or just "spinning a yarn" -- by making things up.
Spin can be harmless, like wearing your best suit instead of
usual jeans, or it can be criminal, like selling a slow acting poison
as a cancer cure. The "spin" this book is concerned with is
used by advertisers or politicians. As Senator Daniel Patrick
Moynihan was fond of saying, "You are entitled to your opinion.
But you are not
entitled to your own facts."
C1 From Snake
Oil to Emu Oil
Snake oil was popular in the 1890's and early 1900's.
most famous purveyor was Clark Stanley who called himself the
Rattlesnake King. In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was
In 1915 they analyzed his product, found that it contained
light petroleum oil and no actual snake oil. He was charged
violating the law and fined $20, he did not contest the charge.
Have we come a long way since those days?
Snake Oil cost $0.50 per bottle ($10 in todays dollar) and
have Emu Oil which cost $40 for three quarters of an ounce.
Another example, in 1923 Lambert Pharmacal Company began marketing a
relatively ineffective hospital antiseptic, called it Listerine and
claimed that cured halitosis, an almost unused technical term.
The chapter goes on to discuss a worthless HIV home test,
political claims from the Bush and Kerry campaigns, a movie (Fahrenheit
9/11), and others.
Bridesmaid's Bad Breath - Warning Signs of Trickery
Listerine again ("often a bridesmaid but never a bride."
The FUD Factor - fear, uncertainly, and doubt. IBM
Amdahl, spyware, Microsoft. Bush selling the invasion of
gun control, anorexia nervosa, Nigerian email, and more.
"Tall" Coffees and Assault Weapons - Tricks of
the Deception Trade How big is a "tall" coffee,
what does a politician mean by "cut"?
UFO Cults and Us - Why We Get Spun
By and large humans do not respond rationally, they respond
emotionally. It is painful to be confronted with evidence
are wrong, therefore we just ignore the evidence or rationalize it.
Cognitive dissonance - when deeply held beliefs are
- Trick #1: Misnomers Automatic weapons have been
illegal since Bonnie and Clyde. Size of coffee containers.
- Trick #2: Frame It and Claim It Estate Tax vs.
death tax and then the Paris Hilton tax cut. They have a few
complaints about Lakoff.
- Trick #3: Weasel Words "Up to 50% off", "You May
a Winner!" "Fruit Juicy Red" "Largely"
- Trick #4: Eye Candy Talking about side effects of
sweating, sexual, insomnia when the screen shows an attractive young
woman walking a dog. The pictures count more than the words
many. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the
- Trick #5: The "Average" Bear The "Average" tax
cut. Bush has been especially good with this.
- Trick #6: The Baseline Bluff Democrats are good
"Republicans propose to cut benefits by 30%!" Doesn't mean a
it means less than the Democrats propose.
- Trick #7: The Literally True Falsehood My burger
fat than yours - Yeah Right 47g vs 48g. GHW Bush was "out of
loop" in Iran Contra - not that he disn't know about it, he had no
- Trick #8: The Implied Falsehood Most Americans
Bush said that Saddam was involved in 9/11 - he never actually said
that, he just implied it a lot.
C5 Facts Can
Save Your Life
The chapter opens with the story of a California physician
fell for the story of a con artist who convinced him that through a
complex tax-shelter maneuver he could avoid paying income taxes.
It didn't work, he ended up spending time in a federal prison
lost his medical license. The moral: don't let bad
- The Moonbat Effect You want something so badly
can't believe it when it is proven wrong. A "barking moonbat"
someone who sacrifices sanity for the sake of consistency.
often applied to the left but it effects all political sides.
- The Psychology of Deception We embrace
supports our beliefs and reject evidence that challenges them.
also tend to overgeneralize from vivid, dramatic single examples such
as airline accidents. Amos Tversky, "Whenever there is a
error that most laymen fall for, there is always a slightly more
sophisticated version of the same problem that experts fall for."
We are all better than average drivers and "all the children
- The "Pictures in Our Heads" Trap We have
of what Republicans are for and what Democrats are for and evidence to
the contrary is often ignored.
- The "Root for My Side" Trap We are much more
notice infractions made by the other side than those made by our side.
The authors have many examples of this including statements
by General Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War of 1991.
Another name for this is confirmation bias.
- The "I Know I'm Right" Trap Often those who know
about a subject are most confident of their statements about the
subject. One phraseology of this is "Often in error but never
- The "Close Call" Trap Once we have made a
especially a hard decision, we become more and more convinced that the
decision is correct. Often when we are asked to do something,
will not do it. However if we are asked to do it "because" we
much more likely to do it, even if the "because" is completely
The Great Crow Fallacy - Finding the Best
crows drop walnuts in front of cars so that they will be cracked?
NO! Just because someone has seen a crow drop a walnut and a
runs over it once does not mean the crow planned it. It has
said, "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.' " One
does not truth make. Remember the story of the Blind Men and
Elephant. Each one sees only what he sees. We all
pictures of "smart" bombs during the 1991 Iraq war. The truth
that many of the "smart" bombs missed and only 8% of all munitions used
were "smart" bombs.
- The "Grey Goose Effect" Named after Grey Goose
They set the price much higher than the best selling Smirnoff
brand. Sales exploded because people thought they were
something special. Price is often a very poor predictor of
- Selling False Hope Many people prey on terminally
ill medical patients, mainly cancer patients.
- What Really Kills Women? There has been a lot of
of breast cancer. Actually most women die of heart disease.
Breast cancer (in 2003) was the fifth leading cause of death
women, killing only about 12% of number of women who die from heart
- Dangerous Ignorance Most teenagers greatly
their chances of contracting diseases through oral sex. They
greatly overestimate how many teenagers have sex. The same is
true for drinking and other beliefs.
- Facts Change History In the 1960's many more
people in the
South supported desegregragation than most people thought, the same is
true for ethical standards. Without serious study you just
know what people think.
- Fighting Words Several times the US (and other
have gone to war because of erronious information. Two
are the Iraq war in 2003 and the Spanish-American war in 1898.
a lesser degree was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in the Korean War and
the Iraq War in 1991.
- A Military Duty to Lie The military very often
to confuse the enemy, these also confuse the voters and
legislators back home.
Questions to ask about "Claims":
A number of examples: The number of
homeless in the US, the estate tax (the Farm Bureau has not been able
to find a single farmer that has lost his farm to the estate tax), the
number of abortions in the US, cold remedies, Sam Waterston
as a financial advisor, "most popular" brand.
- Who stands behind the information?
- Does the source have an ax to
- What method did the source use to
obtain the information?
- How old are the data?
- What assumptions did those
collecting the information make?
- How much guesswork was involved?
Osama, Ollie, and Al - The Internet Solution
Following 9/11 a report circulated widely that Oliver North
had warned Congress in 1987 that Osama Bin Laden was evil and that he
should be removed, it was reported that the questioner was Al Gore.
The truth was that Oliver North was interviewed by a joint
Senate-House committee on July 7, 8, 9, and 10 1987. Mr.
Nields was the questioner and Mr. North was referring to Abu Nidal. The
source is the Senate web site:
www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/ollie.pdf page 129.
There is a warning that the Republicans and the Democrats run their own
web sites and the committees of congress are run by the party in power.
However they are probably accurate quotes of what members
They report on some sources that are usually very reliable:
.gov is usually very good, .edu is usually good however
individual faculty or students (or staff) may post unreliable data.
www.cnn.com and www.nytimes.com are usually very good.
BBC News is excellent for international news. The
Associated Press is very good. Some of their favorites are
given at the bottom under sources. They do not specifically
recommend Wikipedia for fact checking as anyone can create entries.
It is fallible however it is a great place to start on an
unfamiliar subject. Blogs are also a good place to start but
their data should be checked.
Questions to ask of any source:
What are they selling?
What is their reputation?
Can I verify their information?
Who is behind it? Be careful on this, many very biased
organizations a very valid sounding names.
Who is paying?
Who are the people? Remember, non-partisan means they don't
give money to political candidates, not that they don't have a
particular political agenda.
Was Clarence Darrow a Creationist? - How to Be
Sure There is a quote in which Clarence Darrow
supposedly said that it was, ". . . bigotry for public schools to teach
only one theory of origins." In 1988 a UCLA graduate student
published a paper in which he followed the quote back to a then
deceased preacher who might have said it in Denver or Dayton.
Some of the general rules they follow at FactCheck.org.
Description of Gordon's Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii) and the various
spins that have accompanied this. It might work for reducing
calorie intake but there is no evidence yet.
- You Can't be Completely Certain
Unless you are dealing with pure logic or mathematics
(faith?) absolute certainty is elusive. Be suspicious of
anything that says "always" or "never".
- You Can be Certain Enough
You don't need absolute certainty to act in most cases.
"Measure twice and cut once."
- Look for General Agreement Among
Experts But watch out for the Galileo, or Newton, or Einstein.
- Check Primary Sources
- Know What Counts Be very
careful when people start talking about numbers. Bush is
counted as the forty-third president but only forty-two men have been
president (Grover Cleveland was the twenty-second and the
twenty-fourth), and that's just counting to forty-three.
- Know Who's Talking Who is
making money from the product? What politician is being
- Seeing Shouldn't Necessarily be Be
Believing Our eyes play tricks on us and so does our memory.
- Cross-check Everything That Matters
and weigh the evidence.
Sworn Testimony under oath is
Self Interest - does the person have a
financial or other interest in one side.
state facts contrary to self interest can generally be trusted in part.
Reputation of the Authority.
Transparency - can you
verify the facts.
Precision - are we actually counting or is
it an estimate, is the method of estimation reliable?
Convergence - when multiple sources say the same thing it is
more likely to be true.
- Be Skeptical, but Not Cynical
The main message of the book is "respect facts." The key is not
money or political advantage. The key is to find out the facts of
the issue and make your conclusion based on the facts.
A full set of footnotes for this book can be found at
Favorites: www.cdc.gov Center for Health
Statistics of the CDC
www.oensecrets.org Center for
www.kff.org Kaiser Family
Foundation for information on health care
www.bls.gov Bureau of Labor
www.census.gov Census Bureau
Information Division of the Dept. of Energy
www.quackwatch.org Dr. Stephen
Barrett's "Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud ...
www.widener.edu -> Libraries
-> Evaluate Web Pages for info on web pages.
In addition to the footnotes in the web site the book has 7 pages of index.
The Politics of Deceit
Glenn W. Smith
Subtitle: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction
Introduction "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right,
and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But
the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."
Thomas Paine - Common Sense.
Just because the colonists had been under British (King George
III) rule for a long time, and just because Americans have been under
the rule of the Republicans and Bush (?King George III?) for a long
time, doesn't mean that they couldn't (or we can't) throw off the Rule
of George. But the problem was (is) not George, it is the type of
rule. Self serving elites who believe that they have a God Given
Right to rule - and to control the information that the "masses"
In Texas, after Bush's ascendence to President focus groups in Texas
found that Bush was respected for his support of education but people
thought that education in Texas was a disgrace. This illustrates
a major problem in our political life: the disconnect between the real
and political life of the people and the methods and words the
politicians use. Both parties, lead by the Republicans, use an
abstract media that is afraid of taking a moral stand to blind us from
seeing the real issues of the day. We need to break through this
and bring the discussion back to the real issues that face our nation
C1 The Madness of King George III and our Contemporary Political Dilemma
Smith reports that King George III suffered from Porphyria - a
disease in which the peripheral nerves cannot connect with the central
nervous system. America is now suffering from a similar disease.
The media reports on the box scores of political arguments, our
leaders find it easier to govern if they do not have to report on what
they are doing, and citizens find it easier to just "tune out" the
political discussion than to go through the hard work of determining
what is going on.
Smith defines two types of freedom, freedom-to-will which is the freedom to ignore or impose restraints on others. Freedom-to-experience focuses on the elimination of such restraints. Freedom-to-will implies the ability to force others to do what he wants them to do, freedom-to-experience
implies the ability to do anything one wants to do as long as it
doesn't interfere with the freedom of another person. Spending -
conspicuous consumption - is seen as a way to prove your ability to
purchase status - your freedom-to-will.
He discusses a number of political theorists from both sides of the
political elite argument and expresses his opinion that only meaningful
two way political discourse will allow us to retake our government back
from the political elites. He believes that the internet and
organizations like MoveOn.org are are best chance at reform.
C2 Freedom What is
freedom? Is it better to die with a free mind or to live with
your mind in chains? Samuel Wardwell, the last man hanged on
charges of witchcraft in American history on Sept. 22, 1692 and Jan
Patoĉka the Czech dissident philosopher thought it was. Many of
our spiritual and political leaders agreed. Remember Benjamin
Franklin's "We must all hang together or we will surely hang
Smith defines freedom in two ways. Lakoff says that freedom is a
contested concept and he lists many aspects of freedom. Both of
these authors seem to agree that freedom has a basic idea that all
people agree with but when it gets down to specifics there are
contested areas. Smith is primarily interested in two aspects,
his freedom-to-will and -to-experience. For the purposes of his
argument this is enough.
Roosevelt described four freedoms in his speech to Congress in January
1941: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom
from want, and freedom from fear. These are all contestable
freedoms. Just compare these with what Bush (King Georgie III)
operationally define as freedom. Freedom according to Roosevelt
(and Smith) is a relational concept. It does not exist in
isolation. One's freedom is intimately tied to the freedom of
Freedom is definitely a contested concept. A part of the problem
is that as society changes that which is available to be free changes
also. 100 to 200 years ago the possibilities of freedom were
different. Today a contested issue is freedom to have appropriate
medical care. Several hundred years ago there was almost no
difference between the level of medical care affordable by the rich and
that affordable by the very poor. In religious states the concept
of freedom of religion is almost unknown.
Again, one of the most important definitions of freedom is whose
freedom? Is it the freedom of Bush and Cheney to tell us what to
believe or is it our freedom to believe in our own decision after
studying the issues.
C3 Shaking Bugs Bunny's Hand at Disneyland: Democracy Will Not Be Televised
The chapter is largely devoted to television advertising and its
effect of political campaigns. It does give a brief summary of
the changes in political campaigns since 1800. Perloff cited six
factors which contributed to the weakening of politics as a national
Smith is arguing in this chapter that the problem is not with bad or
immoral candidates, it is the structure of our political practices.
It is to demonstrate that the voters have become dissociated from
political practices and the deterioration of the public sphere.
It is also to suggest that we need to reform our campaign
practices through legislation and the courts and as free individuals we
must reenter the public sphere.
- Progressive reformers sought to replace political patronage with civil service based on rational selection of workers.
- As the Civil War was forgotten the public lost its taste for campaign spectaculars such as military parades.
- Increased class divisions decreased the feelings of unity on behalf of a candidate or party.
- Progressives established business practices that seemed to replace corruption with ability.
- New leisure activities such as baseball and vaudeville became popular.
- The press, which started out as extremely partisan, became more
non-partisan and unbiased. They became more interested in selling
newspapers than in promoting a particular political belief.
He discusses how advertising can change the voters perception of
reality. He ends the chapter with a description of the chapter
title. In 2002 a study was done on people who had visited
Disneyland as children. They were asked if they shook the hand of
Bugs Bunny. 16% of the people were very certain that they shook
his hand and reported being very excited. The interesting thing
about this is that Bugs is a Warner Brothers character and wouldn't be
caught live or animated at Disneyland. One of the important
messages is that advertising can create artificial memories. It
does this through repetition which "imprints" memories on the brain.
He ends by discussing possible ways of overcoming political
advertising. Groups like the Alliance for Better Campaigns and
proposals like those made by Senators McCain and Durbin are starts but
the task is massive because TV ads are so effective.
C4 Dead Pope Music: The Press and American Politics
Both political groups (progressive and conservative) believe that
the press is dominated by their opponents. In general the press
leans towards the status quo - somewhat conservative. They want
to sell their product to the most customers and they don't want to
totally alienate anyone. Attribute great conflict to minor
differences or better yet handle major differences as a horse race.
Candidates also do not want to alienate anyone. Both tend
to hide major issues behind bland platitudes. When the press
reports on a candidate unfavorably both sides are quick to complain
about their supposed violation. This is called "working the
refs." Perhaps next time they will be equally harsh on the other
side. The main problems are large concentrations of the press
being controlled by one side and the need for the press to satisfy
their owners and advertisers. This means access to money and the
poor have very little representation.
The early press was little more than campaign supporters publishing
tracts. In between campaigns the more well run groups needed
income to support them. They gradually became more and more
unbiased. This principle slowly played itself out for newspapers,
radio, and television and then to massive networks. There is a
dynamic balance, currently Fox and Clear Channel are very conservative
but forces push at them from both sides. Currently conservative
are winning the race in talk radio and liberals are winning in computer
based groups and blogs.
C5 The Threatened Habitats of Democracy
Candidates are elected by voters. To become elected you
need more voters than your opposition. This can be done by
increasing the numbers of those voting for you or by decreasing the
numbers of those voting for your opponent. Both techniques work.
Its just that being conservative is generally more attractive to
rich people and progressives tend to aim their programs at poor people.
The rich tend to be more active politically and the poor are less
likely to vote. It works better for Republicans to suppress
voting and for Democrats to "Get out the Vote." Republican
efforts to scare people away from the polls are typically aimed at
minorities and the poor. Some of the techniques are bribing
pastors of black churches to "sit and watch television instead urging
parishioners to vote (Webster Todd, brother and campaign manager for
Christine Todd Whitman), purge black voters from the voter rolls
(Florida 2000, a company hired by Sec. of State Catherine Harris),
threatening legal action if people voted if there was a question about
their registration (California 1934, New Jersey 1981, Texas 1982, John
Ashcroft - U S Attorney General and his "Voting Integrity Initiative"
in 2002, suppression of voting of felons after they have served their
sentences - Washington State 2007, and negative ads.
What does bring voters to become registered and to vote? The main
factor seems to be more high quality information about the candidates
citizens get - the more likely they are to vote. People are more
likely to accept information from face-to-face conversations with
people they know. It is important for this to be a two-way
Five prediction about voting behavior (Gani Aldashov):
People who trust others are better informed on political issues.
Those who own their own home and who are involved in voluntary
organizations are better informed. Religious people are much more
likely to vote than nonreligious people. Negative ads generally
work better for Republicans against Democrats than by Democrats against
Republicans however over-the-top attacks and those unrelated to job
performance don't work so well. Another problem with increasing
voter participation is the large gaps between elections. A
solution to this is year-round political engagement.
- Citizens acquire more political information when the elections appear salient to them.
- They acquire more information if they get higher benefit from social exchange or political conversations.
- They acquire less information if the cost of getting informed is higher.
- Citizens from the same social neighborhood acquire similar amounts of political information.
- Informed citizens vote more readily.
It is difficult to keep people engaged. Most people do not like
conflict. When Democrats are squabbling amongst themselves many
get "turned off." Republicans have been fomenting racial and
social conflict using the ideas of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.
Americans are slowly learning the problems of letting
conservative ideas take over our government but Democrats have been
exceptionally slow in leading this movement. Democrats are still
divided among the raise more money from big money sources and those who
want grass-roots involvement.
The social divisions caused by these policies tend to produce a
permanent underclass of poor and and ethnic communities. The
social and economic costs of maintaining these groups in poverty are
very expensive, in terms of health, crime, and freedom are immense.
The costs of ignoring these needs is almost always more than
preventing them: the old stitch in time saves nine syndrome. Why
not spend the money early? The author's hypothesis is that the
Republicans don't see it as a problem at all, it is a method of
enforcing the social order and they really don't care if the poor or
ethnic are sick or commit crimes among themselves. They can just
go live in gated communities and with a little luck the felons will
live in their own gated communities.
C6 Lantern Bearing and the American Covenant Tradition
Although it undoubtedly began earlier, the Covenant Tradition in
western thought traces back to the Old Testament. The Latin ford
for covenant, feodus, is the root ot the English word Federal.
Elzar defines it as: "A covenant is a morally-informed agreement
or pact based on voluntary consent and mutual oaths or promises."
Our earliest groups were based on family. As groups get
bigger we need something else to regulate our lives, the covenant
tradition was the result.
Alexander Hamilton in Federalist I
cited three types of relationships among people; hierarchical, organic,
and covenential. Hierarchical is based on power, from the
simplified organization based on the biggest and toughest being able to
beat up everyone else to the modern military organization. Organic
groups arise when people organize themselves by assigning leadership to
those who have the greatest skill in a given area becoming the leader
in that area. Families often have elements of hierarchical and
organic. In the covenant model a matrix or group of equal
individuals all interact together in common institutions.
Plato believed that a group of about 4,000 was about right for a
democracy based on mutual agreement. Aristotle thought that it
was possible for a democracy to be as large as 250,000. We are
still struggling with this today. How we balance the requirements
and the benefits of hierarchical organization and a covenant among
America organized as a society based on the covenant model. The
first covenants were within small groups of religious societies.
With growth in population and trade local and colonial
governments emerged. When their covenants were not recognized by
the British rulers they rebelled. However it was primarily a
covenant between free, white, men who owned property. In the
early 1800's with John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
this agreement was changed by partially dropping the property ownership
clause and the rise of a hierarchy based on previous laws.
The next major change started in the 1820's, 1830's and 1840's with the
antislavery movement. This culminated and focused on Abraham
Lincoln. The next major change was the Womens Suffrage movement.
This broadened the covenant by letting women participate.
The Civil Rights movement on the 1900's which finally focused on
Martin Luther King, Jr. completed this process begun in the
anti-slavery movement more than a century before.
Lincoln rebelled against the increasingly rigid body of laws supporting
slavery. By and large the Civil War was about changing the
restrictive but legal slavery laws and using a moral justice approach
to opening up the benefits of citizenship to additional members of the
covenant. In brief this is the same process involved in Womens
Suffrage, civil Rights, and Immigration Reform.
C7 The Other Superpower: The Internet's New "Interactivists" and the Public Sphere
How will the internet effect politics? This is very hard to
tell. The internet is still very new and still rapidly evolving.
It is a two-way medium instead of a one-way like the other media.
In this sense it should favor Democrats (whom the author thinks
are inherently bottom up) instead of Republicans who tend to be more
hierarchical or top down.
C8 Shooting Elephants: The Language of Politics
A brief summary of George Lakoff's ideas. You can't "not"
think of an elephant. Strict Father vs. Nurturant Parent, Bush,
"I am the Decider." Examples of nurturant attitudes (words) by
Democrats. Nixon, "I am not a crook." The tendencies of
conservatives to choke when their words are refuted by facts.
C9 Freedom and Religion: The Visions of Jacob and Orestes
Politics and religion. Rather negative towards many
religious practices and beliefs. Finds many religious leaders to
be morally challenged. Supports the founders of Christianity and
Buddhism. Explicit use of religion by political candidates.
Barbara A. McGraw suggests that a two-tiered public for to accommodate
religious and civic discourse exists. There is a Conscientious
Public Forum which discusses voluntary acceptance of moral principles.
The other is a Civic Public Forum in which legally binding
agreements are discussed. There are efforts to get rid of this
distinction between the two.
C10 In America Final
chapter. Complaints about the actions of the evil George Bush.
How Democrats can win if they just work harder on public outreach
and grassroots organization. Two techniques that should be used
are the use of the internet and the use of the methods of the
Industrial Areas Foundation. The prime rule of the IAF is to
"Never Do For Others What They Can Do For Themselves."
There are 9 pages of References grouped by chapters and an 8 page index.
I have mixed feelings about this book. There are times when it
was a "Bad Things about Bad People" book and some times when it
suggested methods of getting out of our current problems. Perhaps
if I hadn't read too many of both it would have struck me better.
I am not interested in abstract and fuzzy theories of what is
going wrong in America. I know what the problems are. I
want a technical study, an engineering design, for how to get out of
the problems that we are in. A good book on theory, for example a
Lakoff book, is welcome. However I have read Lakoff's books - I
need some down to earth, detailed, engineering based books on problem
Valerie Plame Wilson
Subtitled: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House
Note: All CIA employees must agree to submit any writings to the
CIA before publication. The publisher and Ms. Wilson choose to
leave the spaces blacked out instead of rewriting. The X's in ch. 2 & 3 are examples of this.
C1 Joining the CIA Her first days in the CIA, early training and more advanced training, heavily redacted.
C2 XXX Tour Her first tours of duty with the CIA, very heavily redacted.
C3 XXXXXXXXXXXX She becomes a useful and productive CIA agent. Less than 50% of the text remains after redactions.
C4 Love and the Island of Misfit Toys
She joins the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA and (perhaps -
redacted) meets Joe. Discussion of office politics, poor quality
of CIA leadership, she finds herself finally doing a job that is worth
the sacrifices that she has made.
C5 Motherhood Valerie
and Joe are now married, she becomes pregnant and has twins. In
many ways she was a very unprepared mother. She develops a very
serious case of postpartum depression and doesn't realize it. A
very good description of postpartum depression and how she was not
equipped to handle it and the problems of our medical system in
handling such disorders.
C6 Mother and Part-Time Spy
After approximately a year (redacted) she comes back to work on a
part time basis. She begins working on detection of Weapons of
Mass Destruction (WMD). She lists three pages of problems with
regards to Iraq's WMD position which were prepared by The Center for
Nonproliferation Studies (a nonpartisan group). She would have
been prohibited from saying which of these she worked on as a CIA agent
but her duties must have been close to these. She is having a
hard job being a new mother and working but it is working out.
She and Joe (Wilson - her husband) decide to relocate overseas as
soon as the children reach kindergarten age. Lots of redactions.
C7 Trip to Niger
Quite heavily redacted. She becomes quite heavily concerned
with chemical and biolotical weapons. She becomes acquainted with
the work of Ahmed Chalabi. She is appointed Chief of Operations
in the Counter Proliferation Division. A rumor is discovered that
Iraq has been seeking yellowcake uranium and she is surprised when
someone from the Vice Presidents office breaks with protocol and asks
for information about this at the junior working level in the CIA.
She responded to some of these requests. During this time
another CIA officer suggested that perhaps Joe could help as he was
familiar with many of the leaders in Niger. She and the officer
went to her supervisor who requested that Joe come to CIA headquarters
to discuss a possible fact-finding trip.
Joe had a meeting with about 10 CIA officers (which Valerie did not
attend) and it was decided that he would go to Niger for the CIA.
His trip to Niger took 9 days and he was debriefed at home by two
CIA officers in their home. One of the officers was the one who
suggested that Joe be sent to Niger. Valerie did not attend the
meeting. It was understood by all that a report would be drafted
and sent to the vice presidents office.
C8 Shock and Awe
Several days later she saw the completed report. It and
other reports concluded that Iraq had not tried to buy yellowcake
uranium from Niger. She resumed her work at the CIA and took
several fact finding tours of the Middle East. Her job was to try
to discover if Iraq had WMD's. There were many rumors but the CIA
never uncovered and specific evidence. The CIA said this in
memo's to the White House but many in the White House simply ignored
the CIA memo's and went with the rumors. Following this Joe
Wilson wrote his now famous op-ed piece in the New York Times on July
6, 2003. This was 4 months after the Iraq war began. The
vice president was furious and steps were taken that concluded with
Valerie Plame Wilson being "outed" by
Robert Novak a week later. The chapter is very heavily redacted.
C9 Exposed Discusses
the details of the period of time after the appearance of the Times
op-ed and the full description of Ms. Wilson's position at the CIA.
Too many specific details to list.
C10 The Only Washington Scandal Without Sex The immediate aftermath of her outing. Many personal details.
C11 The Year from Hell Joe publishes his book, The Politics of Truth.
Republican attacks on the Wilson's increase. Joe's
consulting business falls drastically, partially because of Republican
operatives. The CIA refuses security for Valerie and her job
relationships become very difficult.
C12 Stay and Fight
Their marriage begins to fail. She could not properly
support him because of CIA restrictions. She begins to explore
getting a new job and leaving the CIA. The Bush-Kerry election of
2004. Porter Goss takes over as CIA DCI. They decide to
leave Washington as soon as possible. Valerie continues work at
the CIA but her heart isn't in it.
C13 Indictment The
indictment and jailing of reporter Judith Miller. Judith Miller
released when she agrees to testify. Scooter Libby is indicted.
attacks on them by Republicans. In January 2006 she resigns from
the CIA. They try to decide where to live when they leave
C14 Life after the Agency
They take a short vacation in Mexico. Valerie starts
writing a book. More people are fired or quit the CIA.
Porter Goss is fired from the CIA. Someone removes bolts
from a deck on their house. They discuss filing a lawsuit against
Cheney, Rove, Libby, and others. They file a lawsuit.
Continued attacks from the Right. She finishes the first
draft of her book.
C15 Alice in Wonderland
CIA employees must have any material approved by a CIA committee.
At first they cooperated with Ms. Wilson but then the CIA became
very critical. In Sept. 2006 they were helpful but by mid-October
they became hostile. As negotiations proceed the chapter becomes
heavily redacted. The CIA begins censoring other authors very
closely. The CIA tries to reduce the annuity benefits for
C16 The Libby Trial and Farewell to Washington Descriptions
of the political and legal manouverings surrounding the Scooter Libby
trial. When Libby was convicted they finally felt free to leave
Washington. They had decided on living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She is invited to testify at a Congressional committee by Henry
Waxman. Her statement before the committee is included. She
finally leaves Washington to live in the west.
Epilogue Her civil suit
against Cheney, Libby, etc. proceeds. Oral arguments were heard
in May and on July 19, 2007 the case was dismissed. She also
filed suit against the CIA and this was decided in the government's
favor. On July 2, 2007 Bush commuted Libby's prison sentence.
Afterword by Laura Rozen
using material from interviews and public documents. The
afterword goes through the story of the book and attempts to fill in
details that the CIA has redacted from the draft copies. It is of
course not complete because she did not interview CIA officials
concerned and she did not have access to confidential material.
There is a twelve page appendix, and a page of postpartum depression resources.
An interesting, well written book. In places it was hard to read
and follow because of the redactions. It is a book that makes you
sick at your stomach because of the actions of high government
Webcast: What Orwell ~Know
New York Public Library
A webcast of a program given at the New York Public Library entitled, "What Orwell Didn’t Know",
the same name as the newly published book. The web page for the
webcast is: http://www.thereyougoagain.org/ . The particular
session that I was most interested in was called "DECEIVING IMAGES: THE
SCIENCE OF MANIPULATION" and it featured as panelists: George
Lakoff, Frank Luntz, and Drew Westen.
The moderator started off by playing a recording of FDR's Fireside Chat where he introduced the idea of Social Security in 1935.
Orwell slide: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.
From an Army Base somewhere in the South in 2007: Obedience is Freedom.
From Rudy Giuliani: Freedom is about Authority.
Framing is necessary to say what you believe.
Neuroscience: you think with your brain and most thought (98%) is below the level of consciousness.
The Orwell Fallacy.
The Enlightenment Fallacy:
Reason is 98% unconscious, it is not accessible to the conscious.
- Reason is conscious, universal, logical, literal, unemotional, disembodied, and interest-based.
- You just need to tell people the facts in clear language and they will reason to the right conclusions.
- The cognitive and brain sciences show this is false!
Reason requires emotion (it can be unconscious). You cannot
reason if you don't know how to evaluate the result, and this is why
reason is impossible if you have no emotions.
We don't all see the world in the same manner. All political
positions are made because some politician believes that the position
is correct and morally good.
Mutual inhibition - one area of the brain can inhibit another and the
reverse. We all have many sets of mutually contradictory
There is no ideology of the middle. Some democrats believe that
if you move to the right you will get more votes, WRONG! you will anger
the progressives and you will reinforce the positions of those on the
You always think in frames. Every word invokes a frame.
Don't Think of an Elephant.
Just using the word elephant activates the elephant frame.
When you activate a frame you draw attention to it and reinforce
The Democrat's Arguments for troop withdrawal
These arguments activate the Republican frame
- It doesn't serve our interests.
- The war is illegitimate based on false information.
- It is unwinnable.
This is a coherent consistent frame, just by negating this frame you invoke the original frame.
- We have vital interests in Iraq.
- War was legitimate (authorized by Congress); based on best information available.
Fairness is balance, you need two positions on the same issue.
Are you for the war on terror. What do you think of the death
tax? Whoever sets the frame sets the argument. Frames are
physical and you cannot erase them. The only thing you can do is
to present another frame or make fun of it or add context to the frame.
Why do Democrats surrender in advance?
Frank Luntz: It is not only about words, it is also about presentation.
John Edwards operates like a trial lawyer. He will stare at you
until you begin to nod and then go on to the next person in the room.
He thinks better standing than he is seated. This showed in
some of the debates in 2004.
Rudy Giuliani is always looking away and not making eye contact with anybody.
George Bush is not a good communicator, all he needs to do is to use a
noun, a verb, and some kind of punctuation but he still won.
Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President. When we
boo or disrespect a politician we turn off voters.
He has a number of clips of Clinton and Obama. Clinton is very
positive and she is very well organized. She knows how to stop on
time. There is too much hate in politics.
Drew Westen: Remember the
following pairs of words: Ocean - Moon, Waves - Glasses,
Space - Water. Now count backwards in our head from 100 to
95. When he raised his hand name the first automobile that comes
to mind. No concesus. Now shout out the first laundry
degergent that comes to mind. Usually between 75% and 90% of the
people select Tide. He primed us by activating a network of
associations (Ocean, moon, waves, tide) and (All, Fab, Cheer, and Tide)
Tide is the only word to appear in both sets of words.
He had just started talking about saying inappropriate things when you
are thinking of something when carrying on a conversation. Time
is 59:29 and I must quit for a while.