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One of the posters at Rockridge was a tad conservative, and occasionally his koolaid would start to dribble.

On this particular thread, he lost it, and I decided to use his post as a punching bag.

I'm trying to apply Suzette Haden Elgin's work to the political discourse with a diary series here at dKos Links 1 , 2 ), and I've been urging Kossaks to do some homework.  Since I haven't done that much homework myself, the post at Rockridge by Professor "X" was just too good to pass up....

original post by cwolman

...I am struck by the blandness, the lack of urgency, the academic tone .... Even ... the topics [show] a lack of salt.

Have we Americans lost our saltiness, our ability to call a spade a spade, tell it like it is, be salted with fire? Where is the outrage...?

Saltiness is not Enough
Submitted by Professor X

Salt, in a Biblical sense, serves to preserve, flavor, cure and has the effect of stinging or being repulsive if used in excess. What I have seen in this discussion has a lot to do with saltiness generated by frustration and anger. That's not enough either. Adolph Hitler was frustrated, angry and certainly his rhetoric had salty power. Like many of you, Hitler argued by repeating mantras based on dearly held convictions. Germany's problems were the fault of France, England and the Versailles Treaty. Jews, communists and socialists had "sold out Germany" during the Great War. Jews, slavs, gypsies, and homosexuals were polluting the purity of Aryan blood. He was convinced and he expressed those convictions with power...he was one salty fuhrer.
Likewise, you "progressives" keep saying the same things, but are they substantive or do they repeat tired, worn out shibboleths from the now bankrupted vault of New Deal liberalism? For instance...

  • BUSH LIED. A lie is when one claims that something he knows to be untrue is, in fact, true. Example: "I did not have sex with that woman Monica..." You get the picture. Bush based much of his arguement for undertaking Operation Iraqi Freedom on intelligence which indicated Saddam had a viable WMD program. Every major intelligence service, including those of Britain, Russia, Israel and Egypt reached the same conclusions. Certainly the Gulf states believed Saddam had such weapons given that much of their defense spending was for chem/bio suits and Patriot PAC 3 anti-missile systems. Bush did not lie.

  • The War in Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom is a theater in the Global War on Terror, not a distinct war unto itself. The GWOT is a total war. Our enemies are al Qaeda, groups that support them like Hezbollah and Syria and Iran. Iraq is not torn by civil war, as "Tom in PA" claimed. Rather, Iraq has a democratically elected government which includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds along with other factions. The terrorists who are slaughtering mostly innocent Iraqis are mostly from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iran with a comparatively small number being former Saddam supporters who want to go back to those halcion days of torture and rape chambers while Saddam sells oil to his good buddies in Europe and Russia to finance his thirty-three palaces while the Iraqi people starve. This is no civil war. We are the liberators.

  • Carol Wolman mentioned "unanswered 9/11 questions." The 9/11 Commission did a very good job of answering questions, if your read their report. Of course you might be reading religion and philosphy professor David Ray Griffin's "The New Pearl Harbor" which claims the Bush administration, the military, the CIA and the Israelis were behind the 9/11 attacks. He claims the Pentagon was struck not by an airliner (despite hundreds of eyewitness accounts) but by an air-to-surface missile. He claims the CIA rigged the Twin Towers with explosives so that they would collapse after being struck by airliners flown by the Bush administration's co-conspirators. He also claims Flight 93 was shot down AFTER Todd Beamer and his brave friends retook the plane to keep the subdued hijackers from being interrogated. This has real appeal in that parallel paranoid universe where Kim Jung Il meets Lyndon Larouche and with Howard Zinn, Richard Falk and with that well known national security issues expert, Rosemary Radford Reuther, the Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology at the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California.
What you are really upset about is that George Bush was elected in 2000 and then re-elected by a substantial margin four years later despite your salty protestations. You cannot stand it that the Republicans control both the House and the Senate and a majority of governors seats across the country. And you are really distraught that these Republicans, since they have won every major election for more than a decade, are now going to put conservative programs in place. Well, if you don't like it come up with better alternatives and if the American people agree, you'll be back in power. But let me give you some advice, if I may. Gay marriage, cowering before our enemies, increased taxes so failed government programs in welfare and education can expand to wreak even more havoc than they already have, and pacifism are NOT going to appeal no matter how you "reframe" them.

Very Respectfully,

X. X. X, Jr.,PhD
Professor of History
Some College

And from chriscol in defense/attack

I'd like to thank Professor X ..
for presenting me with such a classic right-wing verbal attack for analysis.

While I have no doubt that Suzette Haden Elgin could do a much better job at this analysis than I can, (and I am sure she would be kinder) I do appreciate the opportunity.

In the first paragraph, Professor X begins in classic Computer Mode with a banal review of historical uses for sodium chloride. He then neatly twists a trivial strategy of all politicians into an implied equivalence between liberals and Adolph Hitler. To exaggerate and further illustrate, one might offer the following triviality, also perfectly truthful: Professor X, like Adolph Hitler, breathes oxygen and had a human mother.

The brief second paragraph, by putting "progressives" into quotes, implies dishonesty among people who call themselves progressives.  The second sentence is a nice distraction from the honesty issue; it lobs an implied doubt of the intellectual depth of those progressives and then spins it with a dig at a Democratic hero.  The tiny bit of truth in the sentence cavalierly skips over an elephantine question: If the New Deal, like Enron, is going bankrupt--then WHO is the Government's Ken Lay?

Paragraph three is purportedly a "fact" that supports the implication of intellectual laziness from paragraph two.  X neatly distracts his readers from a simplistic definition of "lie" by using an inaccurate quote straight from the Democratic Achilles' heel. While his readers are still reeling in embarassment, he attempts to make his case that Bush has not lied, packing his sentences with technical details that suggest personal expertise.

We now have a verbal example of the hazards of an unsupported attack.  Just as the Bush Team attempted to overwhelmingly crush the Iraqi resistance, but finally lacked the resources to properly secure the peace, the respectful professor forgot to do some of his homework.

* Bush based much of his arguement for undertaking Operation Iraqi Freedom on intelligence...

Any freshman poli sci debater making such a sweeping statement about WHY a government took a particular action would normally be expected to support and to document his position.  A discerning professor would also expect a student to investigate opposing views, and either acknowledge the limits of their credibility, or debunk them.  We all understand the limitations on a professor's time, of course, and that is why I am offering my help.  Complete information about the "Downing Street Memo", including the full text and official validation, can be found at . This information clearly states that the goal of war with Iraq drove the "intelligence", and not the other way around as Prof X has suggested. That the British Government has conceded that validity of the transcriptions, despite their negative implications about the government itself, strongly suggests that the contents are truthful.

* Iraq...This is no civil war. We are the liberators.
Again, an unbiased reporter with a high regard for the truth might have looked beyond the White House press team for information.  When a primary source has a stake in the information, most readers would expect the reporter to (at a minimum) offer corroborating evidence from a second source, preferably with an opposite bias.

* Carol Wolman...The 9/11 Commission did a very good job of answering questions, if your read their report. ....parallel paranoid universe"

This paragraph is a salad of skilfully packaged innuendo. Since Ms Wolman's credentials are good, Professor X challenges by implication. He presents the possibility that Ms Wolman may not have read the complete 9-11 report--but he offers no evidence. He then offers a highly unlikely alternative -- that she had instead been reading a much less reputable report by someone most of us have never heard of--and fails to support THAT!  Even more strangely, he neglected to mention the much more obvious source for any unanswered 9-11 questions--those questions raised by Kristin Breitweiser and Mindy Klineberg before the commission first met. (The full 911 Report and the two statements may be found in the US government archives at the following sites:

Jung suggested that the sins we do not face within ourselves we will project upon the Other.  Jesus suggested something similar with the parable of the person who tries to remove the splinter in his neighbor's eye before removing the beam in his own.

Bearing Jung and Jesus in mind, Professor X's wrap-up is telling: "What you are really upset about... You cannot stand it that .... And you are really distraught that .... "  

Unsupported accusations, whether explicit or implicit, are therefore grounds in and of themselves for distrust of those accusations.  I hope all of us in this discussion will take a deep breath and once again resolve to be kind and to be careful before we post. We want to salt our bread, not each other's wounds.


Originally posted to chriscol on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:25 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Since this is my homework-- (none)
    Give it your best shot!

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:22:06 PM PDT

  •  pack of lies, quite fittingly (none)
    I would like to start with one that is not normally rebutted.

    X parrots the point "every major intelligence service including those of Britain, Russia, Israel and Egypt reached the same conclusions."

    Britain and Israel joined us in disinformation campaign, so their "conclusions" are not worth much.  Russia flatly denied that there is any evidence for WMDs in Iraq, and I do not recall Egypt supporting such claims either.  Neither did France or Germany.

    By the way, did we sell Patriot system to any Gulf country?  Or were there only our systems, (used to shoot down a British figher, Patriots are really good anti-aircraft defence.)  In any case, anonymous support by pocket allies is not corroborating anything.


    The other thing is that Bush made a lot of claims that were unsupported even by intelligence services actively involved in disinformation campaign.  There was no evidence for nuclear program in Iraq, and there was no explanation why such a program would remain undedected during four months of thorough inspections.  No cute theory about trailer-born centrifuges roaming around Iraq.

    Claims based on "aluminum pipes" and "Niger documents" were refuted by the respective international agency right after they were made, and yet they were repeated ad nauseam.

    There was no evidence that Iraq may send drones bearing WMDs to American territory.  Inspections duly uncovered a small plane model capable of flying several miles.  Bush made claims about those drones.


    Another class of lies about the intelligence was that that data we possessed left no room for doubt.  Opposite was true.  We had testimony of defectors that weapon programs were dismantled shortly after the first Gulf war, we had numerous examples of verified lies by the providers of the opposite testimony, and we knew that none of the sites where we alleged that weapon activity was conducted had anything of the sort.


    Note one thing.  British intelligence quite enthusiastically supported all WMD claims, which makes the content of "Downing St. memo" a tad strange.  Author of the memo knew that the claims originated from disinformation campaign, and not from genuine analysis.  This is how he knew that we are making the facts fit the conclusion -- I do not thing that someone informed him "we will invent this and that".  Much more plausibly, Brits were heavily engaged in inventing this and that, and thus their agent could recognize invented claims very well.

    •  Of course it was a pack of lies. (none)
      And you know your facts.

      I want you to think carefully, however, about the effectiveness of your debunking.  

      Your reasoning is beautifully appropriate to a sane, "let's find the truth here", discussion.

      But it won't go anywhere with this guy.

      Hence, the rather off-balance attacks I used.

      If you want to learn judo instead of pound-and-pummel boxing....

      Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

      by chriscol on Fri May 20, 2005 at 08:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  talking to closed minds (none)
        I have hard time thinking how to do it, I kind of understand how those people think, but it is a very indirect understanding.

        The key to maintaining a close mind is to (a) refuse to accept information, but perhaps even more importantly (b) refuse to make inferences from the accepted information.

        How is it achieved?  Probably, by linking the refusal to self-esteem etc.  Perhaps it goes like that: I am not an idiot.  If Bush was lieing all the time and I was accepting it, I would be an idiot.  Ergo, Bush was not lieing [note reasoning leap] at all.

        Possibly, off balance, a person may forget to start the reasoning from "I am not an idiot" premise.  I truly do not know.

        If I had my way, I would ask: you say that A = (all major intelligence agencies in the world reached extensive conclusions with absolute certainty and all of that turned to be totally wrong), we have A -> B, B = (stop trusting any word they are saying) and B -> C,
        C = (save 20 billion per year by scapping the intelligence budget in its entirety, and no harm
        will be done).  If we do not agree with C, we
        must find a flaw in A.

        The answer would probably be that I am an enemy of Western civilization and a friend of fascists, haters of freedom etc. who pathologically etc.

  •  Logic is too much a direct approach (none)
    They are expecting it; they have their answers ready, and they don't really hear you anyway.]

    You have to catch them from an unexpected direction.  

    Maybe I need to analyze my response so people can see why and when it worked?

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Sat May 21, 2005 at 02:28:23 PM PDT

    •  attack self-esteem (none)
      I understand that you criticise X as a bad writer.  He/she starts with Nazi parables, which, besides anything else, puts the author in the league of Sen. Santorum, not a mental giant.  Taking arguments from Bush's statement is bad scholarship.  Etc.  The text suggests that the author fancies himself as a stylist and a scholar --- perhaps it is easier to put such a person in a defensive mode by attacking from that angle.
  •  Worse than just a bad writer (none)
    I'm attacking his credibility as an "expert"
    For example...

    >Any freshman poli sci debater making such a sweeping statement about WHY a government took a particular action would normally be expected to support and to document his position.  

    Worse than a freshman....

    >A discerning professor would also expect a student to investigate opposing views, and either acknowledge the limits of their credibility, or debunk them.  

    Has no discernment; fails to apply the standards to himself that he expects students to meet

    >We all understand the limitations on a professor's time, of course, and that is why I am offering my help.

    and lazy....

    All without actually STATING any of the above.

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Sun May 22, 2005 at 03:03:26 PM PDT

  •  Nicely done. (none)
    But don't take my word for it -- consider Tilford's response to your critique at the Rockridge forum.  He has nothing to say so instead hurls an insult.  And earns himself a chastisement from the moderator.  

    I'm subscribing to your diaries.  I don't have the time to devote to this kind of "liberal homework," but I'm eager to read yours!  

    •  It took him two days to frame that. (none)
      But I was not guiltless.

      I posted the following in response to the moderator:

      And I need to apologize to the Professor....

      While I was steamed by his comments, I laid into him much harder than was necessary--if correcting him had been my goal.

      The ironic thing is that my goal was exactly what I said it was: to show how to take apart a right-wing verbal attack.

      I wanted to show people how to identify the components.

      However, I also wanted to demonstrate a way to turn the tables and attack the other party. My goal was NOT to pick on Professor X, however--I think his post was sort of a reflex reaction on his part, not fully thought out. And where I owe him the apology was that I never made that clear. He isn't the bad guy here. The bad guys are the people who sold him the koolaid he posted.

      I do believe that lefties need to recognize verbal attacks and respond to them appropriately.

      One way to respond to an opponent's bluff is to fold and leave the game. Democrats started with this tactic, but it hasn't been effective.

      So what I did was call Professor X's bluff--and then trump him.

      Not because I want to be abusive toward him personally, but because America needs to see the bullies slinking away from the game in defeat.

      I was abusive to him personally, however. And I apologize for that now.

      Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

      by chriscol on Mon May 23, 2005 at 03:54:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Category (none)

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Sun May 29, 2005 at 06:18:50 PM PDT

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