Politics9

The End of Poverty                    Jeffrey D. Sachs           May 2007
Dark Ages America                   Morris Berman              June 2007   Link to database
Framing The Debate                  Jeffrey Feldman            June 2007



The End of Poverty                    Jeffrey D. Sachs           May 2007
      Subtitled:  Economic Possibilities for Our Time

C1  A Global Family Portrait  He arrives at a small village in Malawi, about an hour outside the capital, women and children are out with water jugs and gathering fuel wood.  The weather is hot, it is dry, and the crops are withering in the fields.  But there are no young men or women in the fields.  "Where are the workers?" the answer is "AIDS, they are nearly all dead."  One woman is raising 15 grandchildren.  He asks about their health, she points to a four year old girl and said that she came down with malaria last week.  She carried her to the hospital (10 km) but there was no medicine.  She carried her back.  She did the same thing the next day but there was medicine.  Incomes are around 50 cents per person per day.  He discusses similar stories from Bangladesh, India, and China.  

What is the problem?  "If economic development is a ladder with higher rungs representing steps up the path to economic well-being, there are roughly one billion people . . . who are too ill, hungry, or destitute even to get a afoot on the first rung of the development ladder."  The extremely poor (about 1 billion) and the poor (about 1.5 billion) make up about 40% of humanity.  Another 2.5 billion make up the middle-income population, they are on their way up but they could "fall off" the ladder given bad luck.  The final 1 billion are rich, mostly in the  west or in the larger cities of Asia or South-Central America.  The focus of this book is on the 1 billion of the extremely poor.  Most of them are in East Asia, South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa.

The author believes that we need to immediately begin providing developmental assistance to them, to ensure that all the world's poor have a chance to begin climbing the ladder of development making sure that we do not set barriers in the form of inadequate development assistance, protectionist trade barriers, destabilizing global financial practices, poorly designed rules for intellectual property and others that keep them from progressing.  To this end all 191 members of the United Nations signed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2002.  These goals would cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and end it by 2025 while not raising financial help an extreme amount.  The promised aid is 0.7% of GDP of all nations.  They have all promised this amount.

C2  The Spread of Economic Prosperity  What has happened in the past?  He presents the normal "J" curve of population increase and adds an almost identical curve of per capita income.  The beginning starts at year Zero (AD or Common Era).  His discussion almost matches exactly the area under the curve, almost nothing until 1500, slow rise until 1850 or so and then lots of discussion from then on.  Call it recent history of the last 200 years.  This typifies my problems with economists.  Primates were doing very well 35 - 20 mya, Homo arose approximately 6 mya, Homo sapiens approximately 150 kya, modern history started about 20 - 12 kya, cities started perhaps 8 - 6 kya.  There has to be a very good reason to start your curves at any other point.  The world average per capita income is express in 1990 international $.  Evaluate the differences in humans at 15 kya,  6 kya, 3 kya, 2 kya, and 1 kya using these criteria.  I believe it is meaningless.  I recommend calorie intake, life span, chronic diseases, cultural artifacts, etc.  Money only makes sense when everyone has some.  It is a useful comparison artifact in industrial societies where all (or at least some of) the commerce is carried out with money.  I would make a rough guess that 10 - 20% of all financial transactions in my county occur without benefit of formal accounting - ie. Uncle Sam and the IRS don't know.

C3  Why Some Countries Fail to Thrive Most people in most countries of the world are experiencing economic improvement.  Why?  Savings, Trade, Technology, and Increase of Resources.  Why are some people in some countries failing?  Lack of Saving, Absence of Trade, Natural Resource Decline,  Adverse Productivity Shock (flood, pests, disease), Population Growth.  Why do some countries fail to achieve economic growth: Poverty (inability to save), Physical Geography, Physical Trap (government cannot afford to build infrastructure), Governance Failure (fail to provide a good business climate, safety, judicial systems), Cultural Barriers (womens opportunities, discrimination, etc.), Geopolitics, Lack of Innovation, and The Demography - Fertility trap.  A table of many of the countries of the world categorized by economic growth, income, and fuel exporting was presented.  Reasons why countries grew and failed to grow were presented.  The basic conclusion was that even somewhat poor countries can make economic progress but that they cannot be extremely poor.  Countries need to have a basic level of investment before they can start to grow.

C4  Clinical Economics  The author's spouse is a physician.  Todays economists often prescribe economic therapy on a one size fits all theory.  Sachs likens this to eighteenth-century medicine, prescribe leeches to draw blood for all problems.  He presents five lessons from modern clinical medical practice which he feels are relevant to clinical economics.
  1. The human body is a complex system.  Many things can go wrong and a failure of a single system can cause failures in additional systems.  Each system must be kept functioning at an adequate level.
  2. Complexity requires a differential diagnosis.  All possible causes should be examined, however the most likely causes should be examined first.  There may be multiple causes.
  3. All medicine is family medicine.  You must examine the environment of the patient.
  4. Monitoring and evaluation are essential to successful treatment.  The first diagnosis is not always correct, tests may be wrong, there may be multiple conditions.
  5. Medicine is a profession, and as a profession requires strong norms, ethics, and codes of conduct.  Service must be provided with the best interests of the patient in mind, not the needs of the clinician.  
The author gives examples from each of these lessons and shows how economic orthodoxy has lead to incorrect treatment for economic problems.  He presents a Checklist for Making a Differential Diagnosis.  For anyone preparing to perform an economic analysis I would strongly recommend that this Checklist be used as a starting point.  Perhaps additional items could be considered but no fewer.  The only problem that I have with it is that it should probably be duplicated for each "area" of a country where needed.  Many "countries" in Africa and Asia were arbitrarily put together by colonial powers.  The boundaries often cut across environmental and cultural area.  It makes no sense to evaluate areas which have no commonalities.  Perhaps the economist cannot rearrange country borders to suit himself but he needs to be aware of these problems.

He breaks the questions into seven general areas.  1) the extent of extreme poverty, 2) economic policy, 3) fiscal framework, 4) physical geography and human ecology, 5) patterns of governance, 6) cultural barriers to economic development, and 7) geopolitics.  For his full checklist view the linked page.

C5  Bolivia's High-Altitude Hyperinflation
 His involvement with economic development started in July 1985.  He was invited to the new government of Bolivia to assist in some of their economic problems.  He consulted for Bolivia for about four years with some successes and some failures.  He learned several specific points that would be useful later.
C6  Poland's Return to Europe  Sachs visited Warsaw, Poland in April 1989.  Shortly thereafter began consulting with their leaders.  Again, some successes, some failures but buy in large Poland's economy survived and became much healthier.  His efforts were devoted to 5 areas.
Lessons learned:
On receiving help, the US received French support during the War of Independence, Europe and Japan received help after WW II, Korea 10 years later, Israel has received vast financial support and Germany and Poland had their debts canceled.

C7  Reaping the Whirlwind:  Russia's Struggle for Normalcy  He was involved with Russia from 1990 until the beginning of 1994.  He views it primarily as a failure.  Some proposals were made but they rejected by the west and by elements of the Russian government.  Conservatives were rising in power in the US with Cheney and Wolfowitz drafting the Defense Planning Guidance which saw Russia as a rival to be weakened.  The IMF and the G7 were not going to forgive any debts owed by the Russians and Russia was breaking apart.

C8  China:  Catching up after Half a Millennium  He had nothing directly to do with China's economy.  China made a series of poor financial and social decisions beginning in 1434 and 1977.  In 1976 the Great Leap Forward of the Cultural Revolution ended and China began to take part in the culture of the rest of the world.  China was able to succeed because it had no foreign debts, it had a large coastline for low-cost access to international trade, it had access to overseas Chinese communities, it had no major economic downturns, and it was able to build its industry using modern technology.  China still has problems, primarily one of shifting from a single monolithic government to decentralized control.  It is still struggling with the conversion to democracy.  

C9  India's Market Reforms  The Triumph of Hope over Fear
 India has a long history of being conquered and being ruled by people who were not interested in the people of India.  India received independence from Britain in 1947 and partly in reaction to WW II and the Depression and chose the route of state planning and state control.  False statistics from the Soviet Union played a part.  After an initial bloom and bad planning debt became excessive.  In 1991 economic policy changed and Sachs became involved with India in 1994.  They are slowly making progress but it is hard because of debt an the vast amount of need.

C10  The Voiceless Dying:  Africa and Disease Africa is currently the poster child for bad government and corruption.  The minor difficulty that the IMF and the World Bank has virtually controlled the economy of most of the continent since the late 1960's and that the continent is poorer now than it was in the 1960's doesn't seem to matter.  For the past 500 years Africa has been a source for slaves, raw materials, and political infighting for the West.  He disagrees with all of these evaluations, Africa's problems stem from isolation, lack of infrastructure, disease, poverty and the transfer of resources to the West.

C11  The Millennium, 9/11, and the United Nations In September 2007 the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations took place and all of the 191 members accepted the goals.  One of these was the agreement that the richest countries would contribute 0.7% of their GNP to Official Development Assistance (ODA) - direct financial aid to poor countries.  Then came the tied election of Bush, the end of the stock market boom, corporate scandals, and 9/11.  At first it seemed that Bush would support developmental efforts.  In November 2001 at Doha, Qatar he supported revising the trading system to benefit poor countries and in March 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico he reaffirmed support for the 0.7% aid package.  This was pretty much anyone heard about development assistance.

C12  On-The-Ground Solutions for Ending Poverty The first step in a solution is to observe poverty.  The second step is to realize that the poor are not lazy or corrupt, they just need sufficient infrastructure and assistance in taking the first step towards economic self-sufficiency.  Following a visit to the people in Sauri, Kenya.  They, as well as the UN Millennium Project, identified the following basic problems:
  1. Agricultural inputs - fertilizers, "extension", storage facilities.
  2. Investments in basic health - antimalarial nets and medicines, HIV/AIDS medicines, other health services, skilled birth attendants and sexual/reproductive health services.
  3. Investments in education - meals, vocational training, infrastructure maintenance, personal hygiene, computer and mobile phone availability.
  4. Power, transport, and communications services - electricity for lights, pumps, milling grain, refrigeration.  A village truck for transport.
  5. Safe drinking water and sanitation - women would be spared hours of transporting water every day.  Pure water would reduce disease.
For a population of about 5,000 the estimated costs are about $350,000 per year or about $70 per person.  Within a few years improved crops would pay for the agricultural inputs and after perhaps 10 years the village could likely support these improvements and build on them.  Corruption still exists, mainly from political holdovers.  If donors were to work with local officials in creating pay scales that were enough to live on and design systems that provided accountability the occurance would rapidly go down to levels found in most developed countries.  Many cultures have built-in monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.  If donors will work within the existing systems progress will be much faster than if new "Western" mechanisms that are not understood are used.

C13  Making the Investments Needed to End Poverty  The extreme poor lack six major kinds of capital:
  1. Human capital: health, nutrition, and skills needed to be economically productive.
  2. Business capital: machinery, facilities, and motorized transport need for business and services.
  3. Infrastructure: roads, power, water, air and seaports, telecommunications.
  4. Natural capital: arable land, good soils, biodiversity, functioning ecosystems.
  5. Public institutional capital: commercial law, judicial systems, government services, policing.
  6. Knowledge capital: scientific and technical know-how.
He displays some elementary systems models of how these fit together.  The chapter ends with several examples of how investments in these factors have been beneficial in other countries.  

C14  A Global Compact to End Poverty  It must be realized that there are two sided to these contracts.  The recipient countries must carry out their part by having a serious plan of action and carry it out in a transparent and honest manner.  Donor countries should help all poor countries if the will is there and not to use their help for political purposes.  There needs to  be a system in place that can handle the money and the reporting requirements of such a system.  These plans must have the following five parts.  1) A Differential Diagnosis - the policies and investments that the country needs, 2) An Investment Plan - size, timing, and costs, 3) A Financial Plan - the financing needed and how much the donors need to pay, 4) A Donor Plan - the multiyear donor commitments needed, and 5) A Public Management Plan - the mechanisms of government and public administration needed to help implement the investment strategy.  He goes into considerable detail on each of these points.  

There are several issues that need to be solved at the international level, these are:
  1. The Debt crisis - the poorest countries cannot possibly pay the debts of loans offered by rich countries, these need to be written off.  
  2. Global trade policy - "trade not aid" is wrong.  Extremely poor countries need both.  Only after trade has become self-sustaining can aid be reduced.  
  3. Science for development - many scientific breakthroughs are aimed strictly at the developed world.  Money and research needs to go into a) prevention and treatment of disease for the poor and tropics, b) tropical agriculture, c) energy systems for remote areas, d) climate forecasting and remediation for climatic change, e) water management - desalination, small-scale irrigation, recovery of damaged aquifers, and f) sustainable management of ecosystems.  
  4. Environmental Stewardship - most climate change attributable to humans is caused by the rich nations.  They need to help the poorer nations to cope with the changes already here and to come.  Since people in poor countries typically live closer to the land and the sea they will be effected most by these changes.
The UN would seem to be the only organization with the capability to manage this activity.  It will need greater support from the rich nations.

C15  Can the Rich Afford to Help the Poor? Can the rich afford not to help?  His proposal is only to help the extreme poor and is only asking for a small amount of money.  Why is the level of required support so small?
  1. The numbers of the extreme poor have declined rapidly, now the proportion is only about 1/5 of the population, 20 years ago it was about 1/3, 40 years ago it was closer to 1/2.
  2. The goal is only to assist only those in extreme poverty.
  3. Success will be easier than it sounds, the goal is not to reach the levels of affluence of the first world, only to where they can begin making economic progress.
  4. The world today is vastly rich.  Even a generation or two ago there was not that much money available.  Now there are enough riches to get the job done.
  5. Our tools are more powerful than ever, we can accomplish much more with less effort.
He recommends a needs assessment approach with the following steps:
  1. Identify the package of basic needs.
  2. Identify, for each country, the current unmet needs of the population.  Additional personal recommendation: break down the needs by appropriate area within the country if the country is not completely uniform in topography, climate, and culture.
  3. Calculate the costs of meeting the unmet needs through investments, taking into account future population growth.  Additional personal recommendation: elsewhere he mentions that certain investments are cheaper because of the lower cost of labor.  Construction standards for certain infrastructure should be adjusted for specific use and timing.  I personally live in the rural mountain west.  During "spring breakup" while roads and roadbeds are wet, heavy vehicles are not allowed on the county roads.  This allows for lesser construction costs while only restricting travel for a short period of time.  Another example are the so called "hoot owl" logging restrictions.  During fire season no heavy equipment is allowed to operate in the forests except for early morning hours, say 1 am until 9 am and watchers must stay in the forest where they have operated to watch for possible fires.
  4. Calculate the part of the investments that can be financed by the country itself.
  5. Calculate the financing gap that must be covered by donors.
  6. Assess the size of the donor contributions relative to donor income.
His recommendations for a package of basic needs include:
  1. Primary education for all children, with designated target ratios of pupils to teachers.
  2. Nutrition programs for all vulnerable populations.
  3. Universal access to antimalarial bed nets in at risk regions.
  4. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
  5. One-half kilometer of paved road for every thousand of population.
  6. Access to modern cooking fuels and improve cooking stoves to decrease indoor air pollution.
He goes on to discuss these factors with respect to developing countries, target populations with some members at slightly elevated economic levels, specific proposals for three countries, total estimated cost breakdowns for meeting the needs throughout the world, comparison of his estimated costs compared with other estimates, and the overall affordability of the package.

C16  Myths and Magic Bullets  He begins by repeating the half truths and outright lies about aid using Africa as the "bad" example.  They simply are not true.  Some of the criticisms are listed below:
Money down the drain:  "We have spent trillions and there is nothing to show for it."  In sub-Saharan Africa the entire world spent only $30 per person in 2002.  Of this total amount only $12 per person was actually spent in Africa.  There was no "vast amount" of money and this small amount was fragmented.  Of that total, the US only gave six cents.  Of course we can't find any results.
Aid programs would fail, Africans have no sense of time: This is simply black prejudice.  They have the same abilities "we" do.  They know what their problems are.
Corruption is rampant:  Corruption is another term for poor governance.  Poor countries that cannot pay for good governance have poor governance.  African countries have no better or worse corruption than countries elsewhere in the world who are equally poor.  With good transparent governance corruption falls rapidly.
African countries are not democratic:  In several cases white minority governments imposed authoritarian governments.  Many of the corrupt and incompetent leaders who replaced them were not democratic.  Most of the countries are slowly working their way to full democracy.  However they are still saddled with debts and need help to industrialize.
Lack of modern values:  Virtually every country that was once poor has been criticized for being lazy.  Surveys show that fewer Americans value hard work than do Nigerians, South Africans, or Tanzanians.  
Africans need economic freedom to prosper:  Free economies outperform centrally planned economies.  But all economies need the basic infrastructure to progress.  Without the basics like health, education, social security, water, power, roads, and rail neither can progress.  
There is one single factor that explains economic progress and it is X:  There is no single factor, there are many contributing factors.
Africans have no morals, look at the aids epidemic:  Again, a convenient excuse.  There is no evidence that Africans have more sexual partners than any other peoples.  It is true that there is more HIV/AIDS, we simply don't know why.
Why save hungry children who will only grow up to become hungry adults:  They will grow up to become workers.  Where health is adequate and education is available birth rates rapidly decrease.
A rising tide lifts all boats:  The rising tide doesn't reach the mountain tops or the interior of Asia or Africa.  The free-trade zones of Asia are all on coasts with harbors.  Interiors still need access to transportation.
"Nature Red in Tooth and Claw":  Economic life is rough, live with it.  Neither entirely controlled economies (communism) nor total laissez-faire economic freedom work well.  Freedom tempered with cooperation and governance provides the most fertile ground for economic progress.

C17  Why We Should Do It  There are basically two reasons why we should support a reduction in global poverty.  The first is that we said we would.  Numerous times the United States has pledged to provide 0.7% of our GDP to reduce poverty.  We need to keep our word, to "stay the course" as it were.  We have made these promises, we have failed to keep any of them.  The second reason is that most of the problems in the world originate in extremely poor countries.  This is where terrorists are bred and raised.  Virtually every case of US military intervention abroad since 1960 has taken place in a developing country that had recently experienced a state failure.  

As a matter of historical comparison, following WW II the US provided between 1% and 2% of its GDP every year to help rebuild Western Europe from 1948 through 1952.  The maximum expenditure during the Marshal Plan was over 2% of GDP.

C18  Our Generation's Challenge  Four overarching ideas of the Enlightenment have inspired democracy as we know it today.
  1. Thomas Jefferson and the other founders of the American Republic who were the disciples of John Locke and David Hume:  "Governments are instituted among men . . . to secure the rights of 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.'"
  2. Adam Smith in his The Wealth of Nations described how market forces work an devoted most of Book V "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."
  3. Immanual Kant argued that peace among nations could be achieved if self-governing republics linked through international commerce replaced monarchies.  Market forces behind commerce are incompatible with war.  The CIA Task Force on State Failure found that "open economies are less likely to fall into state failure than are closed economies."
  4. The French philosopher Marie-Jean-Antoine Condorcet wrote that "the real accumulation of truths forming the system of empirical, experimental, and mathematical sciences can grow constantly . . . the progress of useful arts . . . is bound to follow that of the sciences upon which they depend."  Scientific advances would join with the economy to continually produce "progress in medical care, healthier nutrition and accommodation."  He put enormous stress on public education.
Sacks believes that it is now our turn:
  1. To help foster political systems that promote human well-being, based on the consent of the governed.
  2. To help foster economic systems that spread the benefits of science, technology, and the division of labor to all parts of the world.
  3. To help foster international cooperation in order to secure a perpetual peace.
  4. To help promote science and technology, grounded in human rationality, to fuel the continued prospects for improving the human condition.
He has mixed feelings toward the antiglobalization movement.  Many of the proponents of globalization have been very self serving and have failed to take into consideration the welfare of the extremely poor.  The opponents of globalization have been responding to superficial targets.  They are responding only to the abuses and not the promises.  It is true that many of the abusing companies have behaved very badly.  A serious case of throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sacks ends the book with nine steps that we need to take to end extreme poverty:
  1. Commit to Ending Poverty: halving it by 2015 and ending it by 2025.
  2. Adopt a Plan of Action:  See Chapter 15
  3. Raise the Voice of the Poor: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. did not wait, they asserted their call in the face of official arrogance and neglect.
  4. Redeem the Role of the United States in the World: we have recently become the most feared and divisive nation in the world.  We need to reverse our direction.
  5. Rescue the IMF and the World Bank: they are needed.  They have been badly misused as creditor-run agencies instead of champions of economic justice and enlightened globalization.
  6. Strengthen the United Nations:  we have gotten the UN that (mainly) the US has wanted.  We need to fund the UN appropriately and make sure it performs for the benefit of the world.
  7. Harness Global Science:  Science is paid for by the rich for their needs.  The UN, governments, and private organizations need to pay for more research to benefit the poor.
  8. Promote Sustainable Development:  Continued environmental degradation can and will destroy all of our progress.  We must do a better job of using our resources wisely.
  9. Make a Personal Commitment:  He quotes from a speech of Robert Kennedy (Address at the University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
He closes the book with 3 pages of works cited, 4 pages of further reading, 9 pages of notes, 12 pages of index, and a page of credits.

This is a little stupid.  Some time ago I watched (on UCTV) a talk by Sachs.  I made some notes about some of his major points.  Just the other day I found the second page of my notes.  I will put them in at this point and if I find the first page I will also put it in.

Sachs Notes from a recorded lecture which took place on 5/13/2008 at UCSB


7.  Stop putting our foot into the gas tank.  NOW!

8.  75-80 million people net population increase each year is not sustainable.  Have girls stay in school, have children survive so parents are confident about reducint fertility, have family planning available, contraception.  Resume our contribution to the UN population fund and start championing it again.

9.  He seems to have forgotten to discuss this one.

10.  Get the US back on the side of the world in solving these problems.  We are all signed up in supporting the Millenium Development Goals.  President Bush has said that phrase one time in the last 8 years.  We promised to devote $0.70 out of every $100 toward this fund (all of the worlds developed countries promised also).  We are now spending $5.00 / $100 on miitary.  We are now spending $0.16 / $100 (the losest level of all the high income countries of the world.  Take out the part going to war zones $0.035 / $100.  

"I want to see the Millenium Development Goals in the Inagural Address."

He believes that Kennedy's speech at American University in June 1963 to be the greatest speech of a modern Americal President.

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Dark Ages America                   Morris Berman             June 2007
             Subtitle:  The Final Phase of Empire

Another "Bad People doing Bad Things" book.  From the inside front cover, "A sobering work that reveals how America has entered an inescapable social, cultural, and economic Dark Age."  After struggling through the book my emotional conclusion was that the author should dig a big hole, attach a rope to a convenient tree, hold onto said rope while leaning over the edge of the hole, shot self.  Other than refilling the hole it would save him and us a whole lot of pain and effort.  As you might be able to tell,  I was not impressed by the book.  Very negative, no meaningful evaluation as to how we got here other than "bad people", and no suggestions as to what we might be able to do to solve or at least ameliorate out problems.  I will go over the book just to show that I actually read it.  There were certain facts that I didn't know but I go back to my original point, just give me (and the world) a comprehensive database of facts and people so that a good lawyer could bring a lawsuit against the guilty party.   I found the book a very literary (and literate) review of "Bad People" and the "Bad Things" that they did - and why these things are bad, without the ability to quickly search a database for people or activities to pick out patterns.

Later note (Mar 15, 2009) In the Feb. 11, 2008 issue of The Nation there is a link to web site maintained by the Center for Pulic Integrity.  It presumably contains a database of 935 false statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld et al. in the two years fllowing 9/11 (I haven't checked it out).  It is at http://www.publicintegrity.org/WarCard

Introduction  When you are at the height of your powers the only way left is down.  There are four main markers of this:
  1. The Triumph of Religion over Reason - Bush believes that he is on a mission from God and faith trumps empirical evidence, he seems incapable of acknowledging a mistake.  One of the founders of the Moral Majority, Tim LaHaye and his co-author have sold more than 62 million copies of the Left Behind series.  Loyalty is becoming more important than ability.  
  2. The Breakdown of Education and Critical Thinking - More and more school children and adults are ignorant of all but basic facts.  More and more subjects are left out of basic education because they are controversial.
  3. Legalization of Torture - We associate torture with the Dark and Middle Ages.  Now state sponsored torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and techniques such as "water-boarding" are common topics of political discussion and and the man who wrote the legal briefs supporting torture is the head of the Department of Justice.
  4. Marginalization of the United States on the World Stage - Our health care system, once the standard of the world, is now rated as a third-world country, we are losing our edge in science to Europe and China, we have huge foreign debts, and there are more similar facts.
This is not all the fault of Bush, these trends have been on the way since the 1960's or 1970's.

C1.  Liquid Modernity  The name of the chapter comes from the name of the book, Liquid Modernity, by the Polish-British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman who defines it as the condition of a society that lacks a clear sense of orientation.  Berman criticizes our society in four main areas, work, the media, children, and community.

C2  Economy, Technology  The economy is discussed with regards to the Bretton Woods agreement.  At the end of WW II this established the World Bank and the IMF and set the stage for the recovery of Europe and Japan.  The beginning of its repeal by America starting in 1972-75 set the stage for the eventual decline of the American economy.  The author has a love-hate affair with technology.  He finds some technologies useful but doesn't like others.  He reminds me of some religious groups, they pick a certain date and all technologies existing at that time are good and later ones are bad.  How do you pick the date?  It is usually the date when the founder was a child.  My 16 year old granddaughter certainly has a different outlook than I do - and I was a computer programmer.  What date should we choose?

C3  The Home and the World
 This chapter is about two topics, the relationship between the West and Islam and the rise of imperialism in America.  He has an interesting set of comparisons between the West and Islam.
  1. The West champions individual freedom over relationship, or group (tribal) loyalty; Islam does the reverse.
  2. The West, at least theoretically, separates church and state; Islam does not.
  3. The West developed the notion of the "corporate body," the senate or representative assembly; Islam did not.
  4. The West, in a secularization of the Catholic corpus mysticum, eventually developed the idea of the corporation that lies at the heart of capitalism; Islam did not.
  5. Western science has the notions of the fact-value distinction, genuine critical analysis, and provisional truth; Islam keeps reason subordinate to faith.
These seem basic, and they are, but in fact only item 3 is more than 4 or 5 hundred years old.  They are not basic to the original faiths.

Some writers trace American imperialism back to Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson who were referring to American imperialism with regard to North America and perhaps North and South America.

C4  Pax Americana  A somewhat brief (43 page) summary of American foreign policy since WW II.

C5  Axis of Resentment:  Iran, Iraq, and Israel  After WW II America picked up the policies of Great Britain, especially with regard to the Middle East.  In doing so we inherited all of the problems and resentments of the people living there.  The chapter ignores the first 100 years of British involvement in the Middle East and starts in about 1908 but not in much depth until after the end of WW II.  He makes an interesting point at the end of the chapter.  The middle eastern peoples do not take well to military force, they do not forgive and forget.  Just mention the world "Crusade" and see what it gets you.  You cannot invade a country in this area without expecting retaliation for many, many years.

C6  The Meaning of 9/11  The chapter is broken into 3 sections.  The first, "The Lies", describes the political maneuvering, the half truths, and the outright lies that were used to justify the war in Iraq.  He also spends a fair amount of time on the destruction and looting of the archaeological treasures of Iraq, my original reason for deciding that the Iraqi invasion was a poor idea.  The second section, "The Costs", discusses the costs born by the US for the Iraqi war, the foreign prestige loss, the payoffs to politically favored businessmen, the destruction of the perceived impartiality of the press, the loss of credibility of the CIA, the establishment of torture as a standard practice of the military, the loss of freedoms in the US (the Patriot Act), and the transfer of money from social, economic, and cultural programs to the military and military contractors.  The final section, "The Choices", briefly talks about the choices America has made and is still making.  He reports that one commentator said, "the people of New York were collateral damage of American foreign policy."  We created the antagonism in the Middle East with our policies and we are now seeing the results of these policies.  The policies we are making now and in the future will determine how others will react to them.

C7  The Roads Not Taken  It took me some time to come to grips with this chapter.  There is a somewhat lengthly intro and then four sections, The American Character, The Car Culture, The Sub/Urban Landscape, and The Restored Environment?  It just didn't jell for a long time, there were too many big words put together in creative ways to really figure out what he was saying, then it came to me, he is really discussing feedback.  In all four of these sections he is saying that Americans found something that worked, and continued (sort of like compound interest or exponential growth, the same thing - just different languages).  It worked once, try it again and it still works, so keep on trying it forever.  Unfortunately forever comes sooner than we expect.  Its called positive feedback.  Negative feedback, as invented in steam engines, starts slowing the process down when the process hits a design point.  Negative feedback can be applied either internally (as in the steam engine) or externally (in biology when a population of organisms expand when they are presented with a rich food source but starts to decrease as the food source is consumed and decreases).  America has been expanding for more than 300 years and every time we have hit a temporary barrier we have found a new replacement and our expansion has continued.

America has been a land of unstoppable growth ever since the first.  This has effected our view of other cultures (we are growing - they are not - therefore we are better then them).  Automobile use expanded rapidly even before railroads quit expanding.  Our cities were designed with respect to automobile culture.  Now that the first real limitations of negative feedback are hitting most of us lack the knowledge, experience, or intellectual ability to realize that negative feedback means that things will have to change.  The author points to our feelings of superiority and our attachments to cheap energy and automobiles and their impacts on urban and suburban design and complains that these are our problems.  He also exhibits a very definite anti-technology bent.  In my view these are just symptoms of a failure to realize that positive feedback inevitably leads to crash and that negative feedback is essential.  The technology of any given age is just the background for the system performance.  

C8  The State of the Union  He finds the state of the Union abysmal.  He documents this by pointing to a number of authors who agree and by pointing to a number of examples in several areas which he calls Emptiness, Alienation, Violence, and Ignorance.  Ignorance gets the best set of documented examples.

C9  Empire Falls
 The author starts out with the suggestion that America can solve its own problems.  Some feel that the rhythm of American history is one of action/reaction or thesis/antithesis (did we forget synthesis?).  He calls these wishful thinking and points to a number of factors which he considers evidence that we have "passed the tipping point".  Perhaps, not owning a crystal ball I can't tell for sure but the election of 2006 would seem to be a reasonable counterpoint.  He next goes on to examine three areas to examine whether there is hope.  In his first, "Democrats versus Republicans" he compares the foreign policy of Clinton vs. the policies of the surrounding Republican presidents.  I wouldn't say that Clinton is the only voice that Democrats listened to or that the fact that Clinton was faced with 6 years of a Republican majority in Congress had nothing to do with Democrats today.
 
In his second area, "China versus Europe", he presented an interesting table.  Not that I was totally unaware of it, I had just never seen the figures all in one place before.  It is a list of the trade deficits of the US in 2001.

China $86.0 billion
Japan   68.0 billion
European Union countries   60.0 billion
Mexico   30.0 billion
South Korea   13.0 billion
Israel     4.5 billion
Russia     3.5 billion

He is making the point that America is loosing ground compared to Asia and Europe and that one of these days the countries in these areas are going to call in their debt and when they do there is going to be a major problem.  This is really hard to argue with.  Exactly what this means is a lot harder to evaluate.  Is there an antithesis to this thesis or perhaps even a synthesis?  Who knows, but we should take these figures and their more recent cousins very seriously and take some actions.

In his final area, "Liberal versus Radical", he quotes a number of sources but ends up with, "My own belief is that there is no warding off the Dark Age; all the evidence points in that direction."  To avoid total pessimism he concludes by saying that we don't need action, we need theory.  Well, when I got this book I was sort of hoping to get such a theory.  There goes my optimism.  The books by Lakoff and Sachs do have such theories, maybe they aren't completely accurate but at least they try.

The book is very well documented with 41 pages of notes in fine print and 13 pages of index.

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Framing The Debate
                 Jeffrey Feldman            June 2007
Subtitled: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (and Win Elections)
Blog Frameshop

Introduction: George Lakoff  Barry Goldwater was perhaps the last Republican presidential candidate to run for office without the voters being saturated by conservative frames.  For 40 years conservatives have been framing political debate, as well as moral systems, values, and ideas.  They have spent more than $4 billion on think tanks, media, training, ad agencies, etc.  Their values and ideas have become widespread.  Despite the Democratic victories in 2006 these values and ideas are not going away.  Progressives need to frame their ideas in ways that can speak to American voters.  

Frames are mental structures that characterize ideas.  Conservatives have been framing their ideas for 40 years, only since Don't Think of an Elephant and Thinking Points in 2004 have Democrats started framing their arguments.  Feldman points out the differences between framing and messages, framing: one's moral worldview, core values, and underlying principles.  They are often unconscious and rather uncommon in progressive discourse.  Messages are specific communications - particular policies, programs or events.  Spin is the use of language to mislead and to get out of an embarrassing situation.

Lakoff lists a number of traditional American values and how they lead to traditional American moral and political ideas:
The heart of conservative thought is moral authority: there is an absolute division between good and evil.  Authority derives from being good and authority has a duty to impose moral order.  Individual discipline is required for moral action.  If you obey legal authorities and know right from wrong the social order allows you to become a moral authority.  People tend to maximize their self interest and if all obey this principal then profit for all is maximized.  A free market is the outcome of this process.  Individual discipline is rewarded by the market and lack of it is punished by poor monetary rewards.  Government can only interfere with this process.  America is inherently good so its interests serve good in the world.  Therefore America is the moral authority for the world.  Following are some of the conservative activities that follow from this:
The Progressive argument is that progressive ideas about government help people and that conservative ideas about government harm people.

Preface
 Progressive is an old political term.  Teddy Roosevelt founded a progressive party in 1912, Robert La Follett, Sr. in 1924, an Henry Wallace in 1948 (FDR's former vice president).  The progressive movement since 2004 has been to elect Democrats.  This has developed on two fronts.  The first is a large number of citizens getting involved in the day-to-day activities of the Democratic party.  The second is a massive effort to identify and understand the principles of the Democratic Party and find the best way to communicate them persuasively to the American people.  "Framing the Debate" is seen as a major part of this effort.  This has been called a "laptop revolution" referring to the emergence of politics driven by blogs, media, and internet communications.  This book is written to help Americans evaluate political statements and react to them in ways that clearly apply American progressive values to the debate.

C1  Framers and Framing  Framer or framing?  Is this a new term?  NO!  It is a very old and honored term.  One of the definitions of framer is "One of the people who wrote the U.S. Constitution."  The people who wrote the Constitution built the frame, the structure of our country.  The Articles of Confederation failed because the framework wasn't up to the job.  To frame your arguments means to put them in a structure that is consistent and holds together, not just isolated ideas.

Framing the Debate means the presentation of political ideas and principles so as to encourage one interpretation over another.  Perhaps on way of visualizing this is to imagine touring a traditional mansion built between 1880 and 1920.  There are many pieces of furniture and artwork that are from the same period.  Then in some of the rooms there is a single additional avant garde or abstract painting or sculpture.  It just doesn't fit, even though individually the pieces might be great.  Your overall impression remains one of a very elegant traditional mansion with some distracting works of art.  For the last 40 years the Republicans have been building their mansion.  Democrats have been adding new artwork but leaving the structure in place.  We need to build our own house and show that it fits the needs of the American people better than the old Republican building.

Framing in Five Steps  Democrats need to stop going into the same old Republican rooms.  We need to create our own.  This is not easy, the Republicans spent 40 years and over $4 billion on their effort.  However their policies are not working to support their politics.  We have better policies, we just need better politics.  The author recommends five steps to change our politics - to better frame the debate in our terms.
  1. Stop Repeating their Words:  You can't use their tools, their words, to make our point - every time we use one of their words (Welfare Queen, Death Tax, Tax and Spend, etc.) we reinforce their point, we need to use our own terms even if they are just words out of the dictionary.
  2. Go to Another Frame:  Our problems are not new, others have thought about them in the past, use their ideas and terms.  The book is devoted to examining the words of a number of US Presidents.
  3. Build a New Frame:  Republicans may look at a given problem in a particular way, look at the problem in a different way.  Feldman examines Social Security.  Republicans see this as giving money to older people,  perhaps if they would have saved the money this wouldn't be needed.  A different frame would be to see this as protection for older people and to gradually and humanely lead them out of the work force to make room for younger workers.
  4. Break It Down:  A frame is a big narrative painted in broad strokes.  It needs to be broken down into small pieces that can be used easily.  Just as a room is made up of many individual boards, nails, etc., a new frame will take many small phrases.  This is difficult and will take much trial-and-error.  We must do it now or be prepared to spend another 40 years in the wilderness.
  5. Repeat Our Words:  Once we have a message and the words necessary to get our message across we need to repeat them many times.  Most of us remember repeating our times tables.  Practice really does make perfect.  We need to convince the undecided population of our ideas and it will take many repetitions before our message gets across.
Framing Is Action  Ideas, values, morals, beliefs, etc. are stored in the brain.  Through 40 years of hard work Republicans have implanted many of their ideas in peoples brains.  The way to change these ideas is to implant new ideas.  The way to do this is to understand how the process works and then repeat our ideas until they become established in the brains of those who are not dedicated to Republic principles.  With the internet, bloggers, cheap phone calls, and other aspects of modern communications we no longer have to wait for news and information to slowly work its way to newspapers and radio-TV outlets.  The citizens of the US are becoming a very powerful force for spreading new information.  

American Roots  It is false to say that progressive ideas were a part of America since the beginning.  They ARE the country.  Those who did not want to rebel from England were the Royalists and many of them fled the country into Canada.  Those who led the Revolution were the progressives.  They had differing ideas but they all agreed on the basic principles - see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

In writing this book Feldman selected parts of 15 speeches by Presidents of the US.  Some he uses as good examples, some as bad.  He evaluates the speech and then analyzes it from 3 points of view, as a politician, as an activist, and as a citizen.  He also points out some of the keywords from each speech.  Most of the full text of the speeches can be found on the web site of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, http://millercenter.virginia.edu , under their Scripts heading.  Other speeches can be found in the presidential libraries or government archives.

C2  Voice of the Country  George Washington, First Inaugural Address (1789)  Keywords: calling, country, humble, obedience, servant, voice.  Washington says that he was called to serve his country.  This invokes religious obligation as in God calls Abraham and Moses to have them follow his instructions.  However Washington does not hear the voice of God, he hears the voice of his country.  This could be interpreted as a religious duty, he could not say no.  By being called he is subservient, he is not elected to be the King of Emperor, he is President and he does not rule over the people, they rule over him.

Politician  Recent presidents have picked up the "guest star citizen" habit where an uncomfortable citizen is introduced during a speech, discussed, and then shuffled off for someone else.  Washington used the "humble servant" frame to compare himself to the "voice" of the country.  

Activist  Washington describes how he was "called" to the service of his country.  As progressives we should tell how we were "called" to the service of our country.  What caused us to change and devote a portion of our life to this service.

Citizen  Washington made it clear that he would not accept payment for his service to his country.  He is saying that he has received enough from his country and this additional service will not add to his wealth.  The point that we can make is that we can expect leaders (of government and business) to forego enriching themselves while there are millions of Americans in poverty.

C3  Wise and Frugal  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)  Keywords: frugal, government, metaphor, noble, list, unity, wise.  Looking at word frequency Jefferson uses the word "government" many times.  One of his most telling phrases is "wise and frugal government."  This sounds more like describing a person.  Almost like describing a "wise and frugal uncle", someone stand beside you and guide you, not someone to rule you, not someone to be used, but a guide.  He talked about government as being the key piece to ensure life, liberty and happiness in American society.

Politician  Jefferson talks about a "wise government" that completes the circle that ties together our lives.  "Wise government" provides many essential pieces, an example would be so Social Security that ties together parts of our lives and makes it possible to live more comfortably.

Activist  Jefferson was very big on principles.  A principle is like a plan without the details.  Jefferson had a long list of "principles of our Government".  Feldman recommends that we all tape a copy of this to our refrigerator door and refer to it daily.  Individual items can be used in nearly every political occasion.  This paragraph from his speech is reproduced from his inaugural address.

Citizen Law and order.  Jefferson was big on law, he mentions, "under the will of the law and unite in common efforts for the common good."  Given the illegal behavior, the indictments, and the lack of punishment for many people in and out of the government quoting Jefferson and others regarding the rule of law would be useful.  Link other quotes about law and justice.

C4  Of the People  Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)  Keywords:  action, ground, liberty, memory, message, sacrifice, war.  How does on evaluate this speech?  Most of us had to memorize it at some point during our school years, and it is still as powerful now as it was then.  First, look for frames - look for repeated words or phrases.  Perhaps the most important is his repetition of "people" in "of the people, by the people, for the people."  This defines the whole speech.  The war was about preserving the government of the people.

Politician  A leader could invoke Lincoln's vision to define when soldiers are asked to die for their country, it should only be in defense of the values that the country is based on.  If they are asked to die for monetary gain it is a betrayal of our heritage.

Activist  Talk about service.  All to often progressives use the cliché, "I support the troops, but I am against the war." NO!  Talk about service, talk about the dedication to service of the military, talk about how this service has been betrayed by oil companies wanting guards for the oil fields and refineries they have stolen from the inhabitants of the countries and how this negates the very concept of service.

Citizen  How do you respond to Republican relative who wants to "talk about the war" over the dinner table.  "I am opposed to the war on principle."  "It was OK to go after the bombers of 9/11 and their leaders but not the innocent civilians or the country of Iraq.  True, Saddam was evil, but never before have we gone to war based on the suspicion that a foreign nation may at some time in the future attack us.  When we attack a foreign country because of monetary gain that is not the country that Washington and Jefferson founded and Lincoln defended.  That is not the America that I was born in or that my parents were born in."  The main thing is that you oppose the war - or other illegal activity - because of principle, not because of the policy of free oil (or whatever).

C5  The Muck Rake  Theodore Roosevelt, Address on the Cornerstone Laying for the Cannon Building (1906)  Keywords:  character, corruption, cleaning up, cynicism, lies, progress  The address chosen was the famous "Muck Rake" speech of TR.  It is probably his most famous speech attacking corruption in Washington.  He is attacking corruption with an outraged moral - almost religious fervor.  We need to acknowledge and clean up the filth on the foundation of the nation but we need to keep our eyes on the sublime and strive to reach it.  

Politician  In 2006 the Democrats talked about a "culture of corruption" in the Republican party.  Roosevelt is saying that these individual acts of corruption are not the important parts, what is important is that we can't let ourselves be dragged down into cynicism, we keep our target on the great truths of our nation and not just on the illegal acts.

Activist  When disagreements arise during a campaign it is best not to just attack the attacker.  It is better to admit that there is a problem and to honestly try to work with the other party to solve the problem or at least to determine just what the problem is.  Use the term "honesty" to raise the level of the debate.

Citizen  When you are discussing the views of candidates and someone asks you about his/her positions on the issues,  it is better to rephrase the question so as to deal with the principles of the candidate and show how their positions on the issues follows from their principles.

C6  Highways of the World  Woodrow Wilson, War Message (1917)  Keywords: danger, freedom, highway, international, security.  Wilson's purpose was to describe the actions of the German government and request that the Congress declare war on Germany.  He was also trying to convince the American public that this was the correct action.  He accomplishes this by reporting that German warships (submarines) are targeting passenger ships and killing innocent Americans.  The Germans are a threat to America and all nations.  German submarines strike without warning and innocent people have no chance.  These submarines are acting as outlaws.  

Politician  The reasons for war:  Wilson documents his case against Germany, a nation has specifically targeted our citizens and we must make them stop.  The difference between 1917 and 2001 is that in 2001 Bush did not refer to the principle that was at risk, that of the governments ability to protect its citizens.  Bush just kept talking about the threat.  Wilson talked about what it means for the nation to be secure, Bush just talked about going to war.

Activist  The Danger we face:  Regarding the War in Iraq, Republicans have continually referred to the dangers of Terrorism.  Progressives should refer to the dangers here at home.  Since the war began there have been many more people killed by terrorists and why our efforts have not reduced terrorism either in Iraq or in other countries.

Citizen Think Big:  Both Wilson and Bush went after the direct cause of conflict but very rapidly Bush changed his target from Bin Laden to Iraq.  We need to re-examine our priorities and go after the real threat.

C7  Happiness is Achievement  Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933)  Keywords;  confidence, employment, fear, money, profit, success.  The "money changers" have convinced us that happiness was doing well in the market place.  FDR says happiness lays in the joy of achievement, the thrill of creative effort.  We need jobs but we need confidence in ourselves.  We need to reorganize our economy.  

Politician  Health and Happiness:  For FDR the problem was employment, now a similar problem is health care.  The "money changers" have seized healing instead of the banks.  We shouldn't try to "fix" the insurance companies, we need good health.  We need caring people.

Activist  War is "Joining Up":  We need to break the link between war and killing and replace it with emergency and recruiting citizens to join together to solve the problem.  We need to inspire people to service, not to violence.  

Citizen  Creativity versus Money:  It is not a contest between big business and people as to who is responsible for negative results.  Frame the debate by saying that with all the money these big corporations make off of their customers they should be creative enough to assist us to make the right choices.  It is not enough to earn money for their stockholders and general officers.

C8  Us Against Them  Harry Truman, Inaugural Address (1949)  Keywords:  belief, enemy, faith, opposition, orientation, threat.  Truman gave the speech at the beginning of the Cold War.  He describes the principles that America is based on, then contrasts these with the principles of Communism, and explains why these two philosophies cannot coexist.  It is an excellent example of the "enemy" frame.  The difference between the Truman "enemy" and the Bush "enemy" is that Truman spells out a number of ways that Communism is opposed to American values.  Bush doesn't explain the differences other than to say that we are enemies.  

Politician  Get Oriented:  To fight terrorism we must learn about them, what makes them terrorists, work with our allies, and fight them smarter than they fight us.  We must be honest and realistic about how and why they work and hit them where they are vulnerable.  

Activist  Strong and Fast:  We must be smart, we must anticipate the moves the terrorists will make, and we must work with our allies to defeat the terrorists at their own game.

Citizen  Burning Building:  Since 9/11 our enemy does not stand and fight.  We can't defeat him by standing still.  He is like an arsonist starting fires in buildings.  Once he starts a fire we commit ourselves to putting it out while he escapes and we are seen in the burning building.  We must build buildings in which fires do not start.  Only when he is seen trying to burn buildings which are built to resist fires will we win.  

C9  Balance in Progress  Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961)  Keywords:  corporations, diplomacy, defense, research, judgment.  Eisenhower saw that America was changing and he wanted us to maintain a proper balance between the many forces that pushed our nation in one direction or another.  We needed to keep these forces in balance.  This is is "military-industrial complex" speech.  He is using the "balance" frame first used by the framers of the constitution when they set up three branches of government.  He saw powerful new forces pushing the government and he was saying that they should be evaluated carefully.  He wasn't a Luddite, rejecting progress, he just wanted every option evaluated carefully to make sure that it was consistent with our goals as a nation.

Politician  Corruption as Imbalance:  When high officials are corrupt and favor specific companies over other companies they do more that waste money.  They destroy the basis of government.  When officials stop working for the people of the US and start working for private groups they begin to destroy the government of the nation.

Activist  The Front Door:  The best way to explicitly describe issues is a written document or a web site.  When we are standing at the front door of a prospective voter we are attempting to sell ourselves - not the issues of the campaign.  Democracy is based on participation and input from all and it is important that we balance the information from all people to come up with the best alternative.  We need their input so that we can evaluate all sides and come to the best decision.

Citizen  Kitchen Table Generals:  Many people see any argument as a simplistic "nuke 'em or not" or perhaps "Whup 'em upside the head or to cut and run".  We can always answer those questions with a, "Yes, but is that the smartest thing to do?"  We can't fight everybody all of the time.  If we can get most of what we want by diplomacy, without killing American soldiers, wouldn't that be the best thing to do?"  We should balance a strong military with the option of negotiation with others, we might get what we want without killing anybody.

C10  Ask and Answer  John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address (1961)  Keywords: call, contrasts, country, personification, service.  One of the most famous speeches in American history.  "Ask not what your country can do for you --  ask what you can do for your country."  The subject of the speech is service, not just paid duties for the government, but service as answering your countries call.  In many cases he repeats a phrase, but he inverts the second phrase, a call to arms < > a call to bear the burden, or a call to battle < > embattled we are.  He repeats himself many times to drive the metaphors home.  Again the point is that Americans must "begin anew," and cast off traditional notions of service to embrace a new idea. In the future service must means that we ask as Americans what we can do for other Americans, we ask as free citizens of the world what we can do for the freedom of people in general, and that our elected leaders join us in the same high principle of service.


Politician  Resetting the Clock:  The administration of of Bush - 2 was one of confrontation and intimidation.  The task of Democrats in the new Congress and hopefully the new administration will not be to change policies but to inspire the nation to embrace a new style of governing.  We need to start again and begin to solve the current problems without bringing along the old arguments that have plagued us recently.

Activist  Activism as Asking:  To get voters to support our candidates we need to create a personal connection between an activist and a constituent.  One way is to point to problems in government and say that our candidate is willing to stand up to (whoever or whatever) and if we all can join him and government can move from being the thing that we complain about to being something that we can do something about.  We can ask people to "join the conversation" and "stand with" the candidate.

Citizen  Explore the Stars:  Kennedy ask us to explore new options, to "think outside the box."  We don't want to merely argue about the price of gas, we want to talk about how America can become energy independent and invent and market new technologies that we can sell to the rest of the world and not destroy our environment.  

C11  Build a Society  Lyndon Johnson, University of Michigan Commencement Address (1964) Keywords: cities, classrooms, decay, environment, opportunity, poverty.  This is his "Great Society" speech.  One of the reasons why it is a great speech is that it discusses vision and values rather than policy.  He talks about building a Great Society in three places, in our cities, in our countryside, and in our classrooms.  He uses the metaphors that (government program, social policy, cultural policy, and moral value) is a building.  Instead of specifying specific policy proposals he talks of the decay of urban centers being declining values, pollution and deforestation is the withered "spirit" of each citizen, and the lack of growth in our education system as a description of the flagging quality of American public education.  Citizens were not just voters, they were builders.  Johnson's legacy is not the legislation, it is the defining of progressivism in terms of building society in terms of strengthening the character of the nation.

Politician  Building, Not Blueprint:  Today progressives are continually asked for their "plan", what are their proposed policies.  This is a trap.  The best use of a politician is to set goals, to determine the tests for the completion of these goals, and to hire the appropriate people to determine the steps (policies) needed to reach these goals.  He should ask What am I building?  Where am I building?  Why am I building?  Johnson perhaps would have answered these questions with regard to education in the following way, Why? > The world's best schools.  Where? > In classrooms.  Why? > A bright future for every child.  Expressed more fully:
Comment: When politicians lay out new "visions" strictly in terms of programs and policies there is a great likelihood of these programs being designed to maximize the profits for their friends.  Two recent examples of this are the War in Iraq and No Child Left Behind.  In both cases the goals, the vision, was not clearly articulated and there were no criteria to evaluate the results.  After the fact there were patriotic sounding "reasons" for each.  However in both cases a select few companies made vast amounts of money and there was no way of determining if the goals were being met in a reasonable time frame.  

Activist  Progressive Values:  Republicans commonly talk about "Family Values" and most Democrats are at a loss to answer them.  The debate is framed and we are on the loosing side.  Republican "Family Values" are more about restrictions, about rules and requirements.  Democratic "Family Values" are more about community and neighbors and communion with nature.  A sample set of values that Democratic workers could discuss are the following:
The specific values that a given campaign wishes to discuss can be decided in brainstorming sessions and will differ from campaign to campaign and candidate to candidate.  They need to be stated not as rules for conduct but as beliefs in the moral purpose of activities that enrich the lives of American citizens.

Citizen  Soulless Wealth:  All progressives share in the belief that excessive material wealth for its own sake is anathema to a healthy society.  Two possible uses of this:  1) A discussion of the stock market and how well it is doing.  Ask if a sizable portion of this money, these profits, which are derived from the American consumer should not go towards solving some of the problems we are having, health, environment, energy, and religious conflict.  2)  What is money?  Why not use barter?  I make good bread, you raise good cows, why not trade some bread for some meat?  Well, in a complex society like ours I don't know anyone who makes automobiles or refines oil.  We use money so that we can "barter at a distance."  But when we barter for bread and meat I don't expect 100 pounds of steak for one loaf of bread, and I certainly don't expect to receive 1 pound of hamburger for 100 loaves of bread.  Why do some people expect millions of dollars for the time they spend helping to build a car or refine oil.  Everyone has a right to a reasonable standard of living, why do some people expect over 400 times as much as others in the same business?  Progressives believe in capitalism, but in a capitalism based on principles, not on a capitalism based on nothing but principal.

C12  I have Succeeded  Richard Nixon, Resignation Speech (1974)  Keywords:  association, boasting, misdirection, spin, work.  An example of the difference between framing and spin.  Nixon uses three rhetorical devices that constitute spin, Misdirection, Boasting, and Association.  Nixon's resignation was brought about by charges related to criminal behavior, his speech invokes the "work" frame, "I have never been a quitter.",  "America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress.",  and "I will not be here in this office working on your behalf."  He uses misdirection to talk about his work when the country is concerned about the crimes that he committed.  It was successful, many conservatives still don't believe he committed any crimes.

The second spin device used was boasting.  He boasted of four major foreign policy achievements,  Ending the Vietnam War, Diplomacy with China, Diplomacy with the Middle East, and the Nuclear Treaty with the Soviet Union.  The fact that he did his job is somehow an excuse for breaking the law.  This was a speech about his accomplishments - tragically cut short by Watergate.

He also claimed a relationship to Teddy Roosevelt.  Roosevelt had made a speech in which he said that great men always have critics who find fault with him.  He is claiming an association with Teddy Roosevelt and claiming that he (Nixon) is a great man when in fact he escaped being charged with crimes only because he resigned and Ford pardoned him.  The spin is not the only reason many conservatives still say good things about Nixon but it served as a starting point for their reasoning.

Politician  Swiftboating:  Swiftboating refers to the practice of having a group, not directly associated with a campaign, spread lies about an opposition candidate.  Bush supporters lied about Kerry's service as a swiftboat captain in the Vietnam war and it was successful probably because Kerry did not fight back quick enough.  It is risky, Patrick Murphy was attacked this way in his run for congress in 2006 but he fought back and he later won the election.  The goal here is the same as the misdirection of Nixon.  It is to shift discussion away from the real issues and redirect the discussion to falsified personal shortcomings of the target.  Feldman feels that the best defense is to attack the motives of the person making the attack,  to accuse the person/side doing the attack of using political gangs who are trying to silence the people.  The candidate should immediately go to the attack on the person/group doing the attacking and call attention to their lies, their attempt to change the focus of the debate, and to reiterate his reasons for holding his positions.  He gives examples that could be used against Bush and Cheney but might be limited in their usefulness against others.

Activist  Trolls:  Trolls are conservative agitators who visit progressive online communities and use inflammatory language to disrupt and derail discussion.  Again their object is to misdirect.  In the online community they want to start a "flame-war".  They are trying to disrupt the campaign and redirect the discussion towards their own purposes.

Citizen  Trains Run On Time:  This reflects the claim made by Mussolini that he made the trains run on time.  The point here is that a crooked politician can claim that even though he made a few mistakes, his good work is more important.  The important fact here is that the crooked politician is using boasting and misdirection to change the debate.  The answer here is, "Yes, he did some good work, but he is still a criminal and that is what we are discussing."  Remember that the goal is not to defeat the diehard supporter, it is to influence others that may not have made up their mind.

C13  Down that Path  Jimmy Carter, Televised Address to the Nation (1979)  Keywords: crisis, confidence, doubt, energy, progress, vision.  One of the most difficult things for any President to do is to tell the nation that he has bad news.  He was faced with rising energy prices and increasing interest rates.  In this speech he is trying to balance the markets, shore up supplies, and give people a sense of direction.  He is saying that the nation is on a path that leads downhill, a path that is lead by a lack of confidence.  The solution to this crisis is a path out of the hole.  

Politician  Talk to the People:  Instead of pointing to individuals in the audience and talking about them, one should actually talk to people and report on what they said.

Activist  Faith in Progress:  "Faith" is a difficult word for progressives.  The Republican party acts like they own faith and religion and attacks progressives for conducting a "war" on religion.  Carter is proposing the frame that Confidence is Faith in Progress.  Faith is more than religion,  Americans have the faith that our children's lives will be better than our own, faith in good government, faith in democracy and faith in each other.  Progressives have never lost that faith and they work hard to maintain it in our country.  

Citizen  Smear Campaigns:  The "October Surprise" is well known to progressives.  Late in the campaign the candidate is hit from the side with a smear campaign attempting to discredit him.  "Swiftboating" is one response to such an attack, another is to point out that progressives look forward, not back.  The important thing is to focus on the future, what can be, not what someone may have said at some time in the past.

C14  A Small Story  Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation (1989)  Keywords:  Audience, communicating, grandfather, policy, promise.  Reagan was known as "The Great Communicator".  Not so much because of what he said but how he said it.  He was a past master of framing the debate.  This particular speech used the frame of a wise old man telling stories around a blazing fire.  He used story telling to put his listeners back in time and he was able to spin out a story so that the listeners critical facilities were never engaged.  The author calls Reagan warm of manner but brutal of policy.  It would be very helpful if more progressives could tell a story in which the small things could have a great meaning for their policies.

Politician  Set the Stage:  Most progressive politicians jump right in and start talking policies.  A more successful strategy is to set the stage by laying out a particular frame around which a policy is set.  He uses another example, John Edwards in his 2004 Democratic Convention speech.  He discusses how his hardworking parents helped him go to college and how all Americans need these same opportunities.  Setting the stage is much more than a little narrative dressing:  it is the essential act of grounding the frame in actual, lived experiences to create a bridge between the ideas and the listener.

Activist  Big Meaning, Small Things:  In the 1960's and 1970's progressive protests of hundreds of thousands of people was seen as the way to achieve political change.  Recently it has been more of "big meanings" in "small things".  Probably the best example of this was the quest of Cindy Sheehan to talk to Bush about her son who was killed in Iraq.  Her actions let people identify with her and her personal tragedy.  Reagan had the ability to do this by telling a small moving story.

Citizen  The Dinner Table:  Reagan's "all great change begins at the dinner table" ties into the frame of a happy family around a laden table.  Progressives all to often see politics as beginning in the public square.  We need to be more willing to discuss politics in much more informal settings.  You don't do this by defending your side loudly,  you need to foster debate by asking why or how a particular issue is important and what it means.  Ask the person to explain what he means.  

C15  Government is a Person  Bill Clinton, Second Inaugural Address (1997) Keywords:  building, forward, future, journey, responsible.  His speech talked about how government can best serve the people by helping people move forward.  

Politician  Begin at the Beginning:  Progressive speechs generally discuss situations that lack something or in need of repair and then describe how we can make it better.  Conservative speechs often discuss a situation that they view as a hindrance and want to remove it.  Progressives want to move forward, conservatives want to move backwards.  Clinton's speech asked,  Where we are now?  Where are we heading?  Are there obstacles ahead?  Thinking in these terms forces a progressive candidate to orient and establish their vision.

Activist  Elevator Speech:  An "elevator speech" is a short, one sentence statement that explains what it means to be a progressive.  They are an old sales technique and sales teams have then on hand at all times when they don't have the time for the full sales pitch.  An example from The American Prospect is the Republican elevator speech for the last few years.
We believe in freedom and liberty, low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong defense.
Feldman describes a technique that can be used to produce such a sentence.  An example is the following:
We believe in prosperity and opportunity, strong communities, healthy familys and the world's best schools.
An example from Clinton's Second Inaugural is:
"Once again, we are building stronger families, thriving communities, better educational opportunities, a cleaner environment ..."
They will differ with different circumstances but building one is a great way of building unity.  They can be printed on cards, memorized, and used in the field.  This process will clarify our thinking, making it easier to communicate our values to others.

Citizen  Connect to Progressive Speakers:  In his second Inaugural, Clinton referred to Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech.  He showed that King's comments were very similar to what he was saying.  In a sense he was receiving help from King on the podium.  This technique can be used in dinner table conversations as well as in inaugural speeches.  The following factors are used in this effort.
He gives several examples of how this can be used in normal discourse.

C16  Evil Will Attack  George W. Bush, State of the Union (2002) Keywords:  doomsday, either-or, repetition, selling, terror.  One of the hallmarks of Republican speeches during the Bush era has been the ideas of Frank Luntz.  Luntz has spent much time and money determining the words that elicit the proper response when repeated by Republicans.  Every month or so a set of words defining a particular frame are given to Republican organizations and these phrases and words are repeated endlessly by Republican political figures.  They are led in this effort by the past master of repetition, George W. Bush.  He, seemingly endlessly, repeats his central points over and over and over again.  He has based his whole presidency on the issue of Iraq and an "us" or "them" mentality.  The concept of compromise is totally excluded.

Politician  Ticking Bomb:  We need torture to get information out of terrorists before we are bombed!  It sounds good, but it doesn't work.  I am either missing something or his description is lacking something.

Activist  Magic Words:  Progressives must become more adept at finding out the Republican keywords and evaluating how they can be countered.  One way to do this is to examine all of Bush's speeches by going to the White House website (http://www.whitehouse.gov), finding words and phrases that seem to be "magic words" and then compare them to other sources (blogs, Yahoo news, Washington Post, Fox news, conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation) and evaluate them to see what bigger ideas they invoke.  As a final step, progressives need to post these "magic words" in a public place - like a blog - to warn others about them.

Citizen  Turning on the Lights:  One of the most effective frame that the conservatives use is the fear frame.  One way to counter this is to compare an event, like 9/11, more close to home, like the number of deaths due to drunk driving incidents or heart disease - both of which kill more every year than 9/11.  Another way is to ask the question,
 "Why do Republicans talk about terrorist attacks the most when Democrats are leading in an election or in opinion polls?
The strategy is to focus attention on the politics of fear.  It may not always work, this frame has been used so much in the last 10 years that it is deeply ingrained.  However every time we counter the fear frame the less effective it becomes.

C17  The Three P's of Progressive Politics  We need to listen to and process the words we hear in newscasts and other media.  We need to pay attention to the words and phrases used and scan for significant or "magic words".  Feldman uses as an example the report of a presidential speech.  In this several words jump out as being significant, "protect", "terrorism", and "voted against".  Our progressive framer checks several articles in the morning newspaper, sure enough "protect" and "terrorism" show up in them.  Then she goes to the White House web site to check the recent speeches of the President, there they are again.  On her way to work our progressive framer thinks about a few questions running through her head, Who is making this claim?,  How are the words "protect" and "terrorism" being used:  What is the unspoken logic being driven by this statement?  Which words will I use to reframe this idea?  Framing the debate is not just about finding the one campaign slogan or the perfect political ad, it is a set of daily habits.  It is ongoing, daily, and long-term, and involves three key concepts -- participation, principle, and promise.

Participation -- "Bottom Up" vs. "Top Down"  The Republican party has been working on the "top down" approach for some time.  The Republican National Committee collects lists of keywords and key phrases.  These are evaluated and the "best" are distributed to the Republican leadership.  Then Bush gives a speech with these words and phrases and the Republican leadership chimes in by repeating these words and phrases.  These are also passed on to conservative journalists (?) and often picked of by the regular media.  

The new progressive framing takes a "bottom up" approach.  Ideally attempts at framing the debate start off with local discussions of a particular issue.  This generates comments or short essays which travel through progressive infrastructure (email lists, websites, blogs, etc.) and end up at the in-boxes of political staffers.  As these pass up the line officials and candidates craft messages influenced by these ideas.  "top down" is the method of a dictatorship, "bottom up" is the message of a Lincoln, Of the People, By the People, For the People.

Principle  Participation is important for progressives but even more important are the principles that can be understood in reference to the following basic questions:
The answer to the first was so eloquently stated by Lincoln, "of the people, by the people, for the people".  Feldman goes on to offer more comments on a similar vein by Jimmy Carter, Teddy Roosevelt,  Lyndon Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Bill Clinton but Lincoln still said it best.  The only thing that we should additionally understand is that "the people" should be extended to all people of all nations.  We should always fight against government of the few, by the few, for the few which all too often is the motto of those in power.  In terms of specific issues we can't just blindly quote Lincoln's phrase, we need to consider the issue and evaluate the possibilities but the answer should always meet the test that Lincoln puts forward.

Promise  The Conservative movement over the last several decades has made a number of promises to the American people.  Then they have established policies which they say will fulfill these promises.  Unfortunately the actual results have been more in line with their real goals, not what they said.  Their real goals have been to increase the wealth of themselves and their co-believers, to offer military protection for their financial assets and initiatives outside the boundaries of the nation, and to provide an environment where their religious beliefs and values control the culture of the United States.

Promises Policies Results
Material Wealth Tax refunds, market deregulation, union busting Concentration of wealth
Military protection Weapons spending, military expansion, preemptive strikes Irresponsible use of the military
Control over cultural values Promotion of religion and prohibition of certain behavior Cultural divisiveness

What is the Progressive promise?  There are three primary elements of this promise:
This promise frames American politics in terms of a vision of responsibility, opportunity, and security to be codified in a core set of measures:
While these goals point out the flaws in our current policies the main purpose of them is to offer a new standard of evaluation, how the old policies have failed and a way to evaluate possible new policies.  The author discusses the War in Iraq, health care, and election reform and offers some specific policies which advance the above goals and would have the effect of increasing the faith of America in the ability of the government to be a positive force in their lives.  

The 3 C's of Conservative Control  The last four Republican presidents have all attempted to force America into their vision of morality, Nixon fought hard for unlimited executive power, Reagan very strongly pushed his "trickle down" economics, the "No New Taxes" of George H. W. Bush, and the tax cuts and and conservative theology of George W. Bush.  The result has been many measures which serve to penalize the poor, deregulate market rules that protect small investors, and undermine labor laws.  They have operated to push what Feldman calls the 3 C's:
Our goals, as progressives, must be to turn around these efforts and move to habits, principles, and a vision that carry our American tradition into the future.

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