Tuesday, August 22

Finding the words...

Yeah, these panties do say "pee pee" at the crotch.
Listen, guys, I don't make 'em, I just post 'em.


August is a slow news month, trust me, Jon Benet would not get this kinda coverage in late October. Time for a more serious political post, though.

Talking Dog
recently interviewed Blue Gal fave George Lakoff re his reframing ideas and the Iraq war. You may remember Lakoff from his "Don't Think of an Elephant!" book, a kind of political Bible for the Democrats a couple years ago, but now they've forgotten all about it because the party is too busy talking about Lieberman. Really Howard, let's make a statement that Ned Lamont is the Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut and "we will not talk about the opponent." Period.

Back to Lakoff. He has the best analysis of the whole "war on terror" talking points I've read:


The Talking Dog: How would you reframe the "war on terror", and in particular, WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT, for one thing? Am I correct that in your view the fastest way to frame the Iraq war is to frame it as THE IRAQ OCCUPATION, to wit, when flight-suit-wearing President Bush gave his "mission accomplished" speech on the carrier Lincoln, we had, in fact, already won "the war", and left us with "the occupation"?

George Lakoff: There is no question that the occupation is and has been a disaster. ...We also have to get a handle on definitions. You can't have a "war on terror". Terror is an emotion-- it is not an army who fights to control territory-- the definition of a party that you have a "war" against. That's not what terrorism is about... Terrorism is more like organized crime. Indeed, immediately after 9-11, Colin Powell suggested that the 9-11 attacks be treated as a crime, and responded to as a crime, albeit a huge one. When we've been most successful against terrorism, it's been when we've treated it like organized crime -- combating it with spies, infiltrators, and with international police and intelligence cooperation. This is not an issue of war... it is more like busting a syndicate.


We seriously need to re-frame this "war on terror" "9-11" Republican talking point. In the same vein that I wrote about reframing the abortion issue, let's go over some ideas and please, please, let us all know your own suggestions in comments. Thanks.

1. Any student of US history remembers "the Communist threat" which led us to Vietnam and the same kind of quagmire we're in now.

I love bringing up the commies and I love the word quagmire and I love the Vietnam angle.

2. This war is putting our troops in harm's way only to benefit Halliburton and the members of the Republican party with ties to the oil industry.

Ditto the negative terms here: Halliburton (hiss), Oil industry (boo, hiss), and now, of course, the Republican party. (Bwa ha ha.) BTW don't just make this about lame duck Bush. Don't say "the President". This is about every single Republican member of Congress who held up their stupid purple fingers at that State of the Union Address and claimed success. Take your purple finger and stick it up your pee pee. Oh, and we threw your stuff out on the lawn. Get out.

3. This one from Hertzberg in The New Yorker (8/21, page 21) "George W. Bush's war of choice in Iraq is a catastrophe." To which we must add, constantly, "Why is Donald Rumsfeld still Secretary of War Defense?"

I like re-framing "war on terror" to "George W. Bush's war of choice." And Rumsfeld should have been cut loose immediately after Abu Gahrib. If Rumsfeld were to be cut loose now it would be an admission of a problem and it's too late for that. That's the point. But this "I'm the decider let me stick my head up my ass one more time for fun" is over. Incidentally, each member of this administration needs to be slapped about the head and shoulders with a twelve-pound fish.

Any other ideas?

(tip of something tasty to The Heretik)

9 comments:

  1. I suggest candor, rather than rhetoric.

    We have been fed almost 100% propaganda and rhetoric from Dubya and the old boys. Why not frame things in terms of the broader picture?

    Fact: Oil dependency isn't just as easy as terrorists versus Americans. It is a hugely complicated, extremely convoluted, immensely global issue.

    Furthermore, I would explain why the economies of oil exporting Arabic states are closely tied to the success of the American economy.

    I would also explain that the economies of Russia, China, India and other developing second world countries are at this point too dysfunctional to effectively process, distribute, and utilize petroleum to the degree which the US is able.

    It is not as easy as just shifting to ethanol and/or hydrogen fuel. It requires a lengthy handover that depends largely on the development of the economies of said second world countries.

    I read a report the other day that said that it would China 100 years to develop as efficient an interstate highway system as ours. Until that day arrives, it is not economically feasible for them to need multiple automobiles.

    I immensely regret how dumbed down the analysis from both sides has been up to this point. Both sides want to reduce this down to clever soundbites and talking points, and things are rarely that simplistic.

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  2. The concept of treating terrorism as crime rather than war was used against Kerry in 2004. While it's accurate, I'm afraid it just gives Republicans another opportunity to twist the meaning of what our side says.

    This is war, 9/11 changed everything, calling terrorism a crime is pre-9/11 thinking, cut and run, cut and jog, coward, traitor, al Qaeda lover, evil evil evil etc.

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  3. Anonymous6:02 PM

    ok I get to throw Tom Tancredo's stuff out on the lawn, and smack Alberto Gonzales with the fish. I called it first. Great writing, BG.

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  4. Thanks, anon. Tom Tancredo is the Colorado republican who suggested nuking Mecca if Iran nuked us. Real mature.

    His opponent, Bill Winter, is a veteran and one of the fighting Dems.

    I guess we'll have to give you the Gonzales fish slap privilege, but if it comes down to it, I'm auctioning Cheney.

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  5. If only one could set up fish-slapping rights for the former administration as a fund-raiser...

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  6. Study the Newt himself on the subject-

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm

    His memo is a concise lesson on controlling the language and reframing the debate.

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  7. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Your 1st point, (Any student of US history remembers "the Communist threat" which led us to Vietnam and the same kind of quagmire we're in now.)has a serious problem. The Repubs have been proclaiming very loudly and ad nauseum for 15 years that they won the Cold War. As for Viet Nam, they claim that the "politicians" kept us from winning it. I don't think that your point will gain any traction until we've countered the degree to which these absurd fictions have taken hold in the public's mind.

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  8. Anonymous1:43 PM

    Your 1st point, (Any student of US history remembers "the Communist threat" which led us to Vietnam and the same kind of quagmire we're in now.)has a serious problem. The Repubs have been proclaiming very loudly and ad nauseum for 15 years that they won the Cold War. As for Viet Nam, they claim that the "politicians" kept us from winning it. I don't think that your point will gain any traction until we've countered the degree to which these absurd fictions have taken hold in the public's mind.

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  9. "reframing" is really 'adjusting the definition of..' is it not?

    I've no advice for on the reframing issue, but here's an observation ABOUT the biggest issue--THE WAR-- that might serve the more politically articulate her on this blog thingie what you all have.

    Before a war can be won it has to be defined BY BOTH SIDES. Each has to agree as to the cause and purpose of the war and thus each can determine the success or failure the winning or losing of the war. For instance if the US goes to war with Iraq because it has WMDs but Iraq DOESN'T have WMD's then Iraq will respond to the attack, not the reason behind it. Having no WMD's Iraq is confused and so is their response to the attack. The US then discovers that Iraq doesn't have WMDS and is equally confused. With no mutual understanding of why the war has been started each side then has to forumalate some metrics that will determine a win/loss/draw. But if one side then changes the premise of both cause and victory ( as the US did) the other side then has to accept the change, or stick with their own premise of why they were attacked and re-invent their own metrics to figure out what consitutes and win/loss/draw from their perspective.

    If the two sides can't agree what they are fighting about in the first place, and if then one side changes their premise how the hell are either of them going to be able to figure out who is winning or losing or who has won or lost?

    Sorry it's a little long but there you go. To win a war the opponent has to admit to having lost based upon a mutual understanding of what constitutes winning and losing. A war conducted upon cross purposes provide, The point is that warfare in principle is not chaotic unless the war is conducted based upon cross purposes, in which case eaqch side can claim a win or a draw at worst and regroup to fight again. And so it goes.

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I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!