Politics10

Three Cups of Tea                       Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin           May 2007
The Audacity of Hope                 Barack Obama                                                   Aug 2007
Bad President                               R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett & Rob Battles        Aug 2007
unSpun                                         Brooks Jackson & Kathleen Hall Jamieson       Sept 2007
The Politics of Deceit                   Glenn W. Smith                                                 Nov 2007
Fair Game                                    Valerie Plame Wilson                                         Nov 2007
Webcast: What Orwell ~Know    New York Public Library                                  Nov 2007
                    
     
Three Cups of Tea            Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin           May 2007
     
Mortinson was returning from a failed attempt to climb K2, regarded by many as the most difficult mountain in the world to climb.  He had 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 effort on the mountain.  He was too exhausted to notice that he took a 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 slowly coming down.  Then he lost the porter again but he wandered into a small village where he was welcomed, given food and drink, and a bed for the night.  The villagers sent a runner to fetch the porter, 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 he returned to the village to finish his recovery.  His profession 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 days he asked the village headman to see the school.  There they saw 78 boys and 4 girls kneeling on the ground in the open.  They village 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 studying by themselves, it wasn't their day for the teacher.  He had planned on buying some books or something like that for the school with his remaining money when he got back to Islamabad.  He realized that 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 a school.

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 in 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 to survive on and raising money to build a school.  He finally found a major sponsor who gave him sufficient money.  Then he went back 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 built 55 schools.

At one point he was approached by villagers from northern Afghanistan to help them build some schools.  He could not respond to their needs at that time because of Taliban control and the danger to Americans.  After the Americans and others took control from the 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 9/11 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 were 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 active and was able to make friends and travel with his wife and child.  One man, without government support, was able to live and work 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.

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The Audacity of Hope             Barack Obama                   Aug 2007
                Subtitled:  Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

Prologue  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 do you 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.  This is not the only tradition.  We have a tradition that extends back 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 problems.  

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.

C1  Republicans and Democrats  The first chapter opens with a description of the magesty, the 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.  He tends to agree with the Democrats more often than he agrees with the Republicans - but he is a Democrat.  He lives in the real world.  Democrats make mistakes - perhaps not as many as Republicans.  Many Republicans are honest, thoughtful men and women who feel 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 harsh, take no prisoners policies of Gingrich, Hastert, DeLay, Rove, and Norquist.  The years since the elections(?) of George W. Bush have 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.

C2  Values  He starts 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.  In 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 off for two blocks.  An immense change.  Meeting President Bush, a friendly, warm man who sometimes shows an almost messianic zeal and mission.

On rereading the chapter I kept thinking about ways to summarize the chapter, and I got frustrated.  I could restate every paragraph, but that isn't much of a summary.  Then I realized what was going on.  Lakoff and Obama are really saying the same thing on values, 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 gets it.  Our most basic value is empathy, seeing the world from the other persons eyes, walking with his shoes.  Evaluate our ideas and thoughts by how they effect other people.  Sometime what the 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 these judgments and sometimes we make the wrong decision, but we must try.

C3  Our Constitution  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 reading good poetry or a passage from Shake spear, wonderful and moving writing.  The rest of the chapter describes the construction of the Constitution, how it is used, and some of the threats it has weathered.  A marvelous chapter, if you don't read anything else from this book, read this chapter.

C4  Politics  The first message of this chapter is name recognition.  The second is the 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, or may not support you.  How every statement you make is subject to criticism.  The predilection of the press for conflict.  A complaining chapter - is it justified, probably, still not something I like reading.

C5  Opportunity  Again, a mishmash of examples from all  over the block.  One of the 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 Smith and 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 Sachs 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.

C6  Faith  Obama grew 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 of his life.  He has also seen the good and the bad that faith can produce.  I think that the problem is in the definition of faith.  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 be evil, it depends on the practice and the practitioners.

C7  Race  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.  What would have she made of the difference in compassion?  

There are a lot of aspects to race.  Discrimination of course, but jobs, immigration, schooling, employment, politics, differences and conflicts between races.  A lot of problems, a lot of solutions - 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 was sent to Hawaii for schooling and to live with his grandparents.  He then briefly discusses the history and politics of Indonesia since the 1970's.

Next is a brief description of American foreign policy since the beginning.  Then came 9/11.  He discuses his feelings and the happenings in Iraq and in Washington DC since then.  He ends the section with a description of a trip he took to Iraq in 2006 as a Senator.

Finally he discusses his ideas on foreign policy.  First in Iraq 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 that 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 said, ". . . we make take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed."

C9  Family  He 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 a good job of weaving in some of the issues faced by families and especially wives in our current society.  

Epilogue  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 he loves.

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Bad President             R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett & Rob Battles        Aug 2007

A picture and words book, sort of like a comic book.  The normal 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 them were written by James Friedman.  Friedman recommends a number of 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.  

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unSpun                            Brooks Jackson & Kathleen Hall Jamieson       Sept 2007
          Subtitle: finding facts in a world of [disinformation]

Introduction  A World of Spin  "We live in a world of spin."  "Spin is a polite word for 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 your 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 that 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.  The most famous purveyor was Clark Stanley who called himself the Rattlesnake King.  In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed.  In 1915 they analyzed his product, found that it contained mainly light petroleum oil and no actual snake oil.  He was charged with violating the law and fined $20, he did not contest the charge.  Have we come a long way since those days?  Absolutely!  Snake Oil cost $0.50 per bottle ($10 in todays dollar) and now we 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.

C2  A 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 vs. Amdahl, spyware, Microsoft.  Bush selling the invasion of Iraq, gun control, anorexia nervosa, Nigerian email, and more.

C3  "Tall" Coffees and Assault Weapons - Tricks of the Deception Trade  How big is a "tall" coffee, what does a politician mean by "cut"?
C4  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 that we are wrong, therefore we just ignore the evidence or rationalize it.  Cognitive dissonance - when deeply held beliefs are confronted by negative evidence.
C5  Facts Can Save Your Life  The chapter opens with the story of a California physician who 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 and lost his medical license.  The moral: don't let bad information go unchallenged.
C6  The Great Crow Fallacy - Finding the Best Evidence  Do 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 car runs over it once does not mean the crow planned it.  It has been said, "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.' "  One observation does not truth make.  Remember the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant.  Each one sees only what he sees.  We all saw the pictures of "smart" bombs during the 1991 Iraq war.  The truth is that many of the "smart" bombs missed and only 8% of all munitions used were "smart" bombs.

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.

C7  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 said.

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.  

C8  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.

Conclusion  Staying unSpun  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.

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.  

Sources  A full set of footnotes for this book can be found at www.FactCheck.org/unSpun

Favorites:    www.cdc.gov  Center for Health Statistics of the CDC
                    www.ConsumerReports.org  Online Consumer Reports
                    www.oensecrets.org  Center for 'Responsive Politics
                    www.cbo.gov  Congressional Budget Office
                    www.kff.org  Kaiser Family Foundation for information on health care
                    www.bls.gov  Bureau of Labor Statistics
                    www.census.gov  Census Bureau
                    www.ela.doe.gov  Energy Information Division of the Dept. of Energy
                    www.quackwatch.org  Dr. Stephen Barrett's "Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud ...
                    www.gao.gov  Government Accountability Office
                    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.

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The Politics of Deceit
              Glenn W. Smith                     Nov 2007
        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" receive.  

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 and world.

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 separately."

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 others.

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 pastime.
  1. Progressive reformers sought to replace political patronage with civil service based on rational selection of workers.
  2. As the Civil War was forgotten the public lost its taste for campaign spectaculars such as military parades.
  3. Increased class divisions decreased the feelings of unity on behalf of a candidate or party.
  4. Progressives established business practices that seemed to replace corruption with ability.
  5. New leisure activities such as baseball and vaudeville became popular.
  6. 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.
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.

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 transfer.

Five prediction about voting behavior (Gani Aldashov):
  1. Citizens acquire more political information when the elections appear salient to them.
  2. They acquire more information if they get higher benefit from social exchange or political conversations.
  3. They acquire less information if the cost of getting informed is higher.
  4. Citizens from the same social neighborhood acquire similar amounts of political information.
  5. Informed citizens vote more readily.
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.

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 equals?  

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 solving.  

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Fair Game                  Valerie Plame Wilson                         Nov 2007
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 is released when she agrees to testify.  Scooter Libby is indicted.  More attacks on them by Republicans.  In January 2006 she resigns from the CIA.  They try to decide where to live when they leave Washington.

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 Valerie.  

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 officials.  
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Webcast: What Orwell ~Know    New York Public Library                      Nov 2007

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.

Speakers:

George Lakoff:
 
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 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 thoughts.
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 right.
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 it.  

The Democrat's Arguments for troop withdrawal
These arguments activate the Republican frame
This is a coherent consistent frame, just by negating this frame you invoke the original frame.

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.



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