Your Brain On Politics

Daily Dose: Why Are Trump’s Lies So Effective – And Democratic Efforts To Counter Them So Ineffective?

www.frame4future.com By Scott Wittkopf Frame4Future.com (9/12/17) The fact checkers have been all over Donald Trump since before he officially announced his candidacy. The New York Times even has an entire online page that documents every “outright lie” he told since taking the oath of office. According to Politifact, nearly 60% of Trump’s statements fact-checked by the media organization have been some level of false. Contrary to what some media commentators have suggested, Trump does not lie because he thinks people are stupid. He lies because he knows that it will strengthen his message. He also knows that his opponents are currently incapable of providing an effective counter to…

Read More

George Lakoff: Why Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech

  By George Lakoff GeorgeLakoff.com (9/8/17) Freedom in a free society is supposed to be for all. Therefore, freedom rules out imposing on the freedom of others. You are free to walk down the street, but not to keep others from doing so. The imposition on the freedom of others can come in overt, immediate physical form — thugs coming to attack with weapons. Violence may be a kind of expression, but it certainly is not “free speech.” Like violence, hate speech can also be a physical imposition on the freedom of others. That is because language has a psychological…


Daily Dose: The Dream Act Is About Our Morals & Beliefs As A Nation & People

www.frame4future.com   By Scott Wittkopf Frame For The Future (9/6/17) It’s time for our representatives in Congress to choose a side – a moral side, not a partisan side. After all, politics are moral. And the outcome of the debate on The Dream Act will say a lot about who we are as a people and society. Progressives and Democrats would do well to make the debate about what we value and believe. It would be a mistake to make the Democratic argument based on statistics, policy that favors one group of people over another, or about “job creation” – because none of…


Bugged: Lefty Icon Cornel West Accidentally Smears Self & Charlottesville Antifascist Protesters

Inattention to framing can hobble, dilute and vaporize the best of political efforts. You can even wind up promoting your opponent’s arguments.   By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (9/4/17) Before I begin, take a moment – and a deep breath – to check your emotional reaction to the following word: cockroaches So now… First off, let me say Cornel West is one of my heroes. The man is one of the sharpest intellects to be found and speaks truth to power with unique moral clarity and courage. Unlike many partisans, West challenges republicans and democrats alike in the name…


Daily Dose: What’s The DNC Thinking…Because It’s Definitely Not About Progressive Values

www.frame4future.com By Scott Wittkopf Frame For The Future (9/1/17) We learned today that the Democratic National Committee reported “abysmal” fundraising numbers: “The $4.7 million it raised in April was the lowest for that particular month since 2009. The $4.3 million raised in May was the worst for that month since 2003. And now the $3.8 million raised in July is the worst for any month since January 2009.” (Washington Post) As we head into a holiday weekend to celebrate labor and the sacrifices progressive people made so that we all can have a better quality of life, I pose the question that…


It’s Possible To Step Out Of Our Comfort Zone & Connect With The “Average” Trump Voter

www.frame4future.com By Scott Wittkopf Frame for the Future (8/24/17) There were quite a few comments on social media about yesterday’s blog (pointing out that progressives and Democrats have a largely unconscious “salient exemplar” bias that gets in the way of connecting with the average Trump voter) from progressives who adamantly disagreed with me.  I found it interesting that in disagreeing with me, they provided a stark example of their own bias (salient exemplar) – to the point of using metaphors to de-humanize all people who voted for Trump. Here are some examples (names omitted). Consider how these quotes reflect a bias which apply…


Want Affordble, Universal Health Care? Then Change The Debate & Redefine Solution

  By Scott Galindez Reader Supported News (8/26/17) One of my heroes, Paul Wellstone, used to say: “In the last analysis, politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. Politics is what we do. Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine.” Imagine a country where you go to the doctor, he treats you, and the bill gets paid for by your tax dollars. We can create that world if we lead! It is time to stop worrying about labels. It…


Dunk Shot: How Progressives Can Simply & Properly Frame The Issue Of Paying Taxes

“Taxation is paying your dues, paying your membership fee in America. If you join a country club or a community center, you pay fees. Why? You did not build the swimming pool. You have to maintain it. You did not build the basketball court. Someone has to clean it. You may not use the squash court, but you still have to pay your dues. Otherwise it won’t be maintained and will fall apart. “People who avoid taxes, like corporations what move to Bermuda, are not paying their dues to their country. It is patriotic to be a taxpayer. It is…


George Lakoff: If Democrats Want To Win They Need To Understand How To Speak To Americans

  (Editor’s Note: If you are an activist who has heard some of the chatter about messaging and “framing” political messages, this article and the links provided will give you a quick and useful introduction to the work of George Lakoff – the dean of messaging. – Mark L. Taylor) By Daphne White Berkeleyside.com (6/2/17) George Lakoff, retired UC Berkeley professor and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant, is one of a very few people in Berkeley who does not underestimate Donald Trump. “Trump is not stupid,” he tells anyone who will listen. “He is a super salesman, and he knows…


Before We Can Challenge Entrenched Power We Need To Find The Right Language Of Resistance

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (6/29/17) The release of the republican senate Trumpcare bill was yet another stunning piece of sociopathic class warfare. In this case the result would be tens of millions of the most vulnerable losing their health coverage and nearly everyone else seeing their rates and annual deductibles go up and coverage go down. Meanwhile, senate republicans would hand the 400 richest families in America a $33 billion tax cut over ten years. What, many of my acquaintances ask, are they thinking? How could they? Don’t they realize the harm that would be done?…


Sad: Humpty Trumpty’s Rules For His Fake Language

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master-that’s all.’”  — Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll By Christopher Brauchli Common Dreams (6/17/17) It does not take a serious student of the English language to recognize the similarity between the discussion that Alice and Humpty Dumpty had about the meaning of words used by Humpty Dumpty, to recognize that as…


Your Brain On Politics: A Conservative Republican Candidate Has Her “I Am Not A Crook” Moment

  By George Lakoff GeorgeLakoff.com (6/7/17) During Watergate, Richard Nixon famously said, “I am not a crook.” And, immediately, Americans coast-to-coast thought of him as a crook. This incident inspired my book title Don’t Think of an Elephant!” What does the title make you think of? Why does negating an idea so often have the opposite of the effect negation is assumed to have? My late colleague, Charles Fillmore, the great linguist who discovered frame semantics, observed that every word is cognitively defined (unconsciously) in terms of a conceptual frame. Frames are structures of ideas. Ideas are carried out in…


George Lakoff On Disaster Branding: The Importance Of Giving Donnie His Due

By George Lakoff George Lakoff’s Website (6/4/17) Donald Trump knows the power of branding and actually makes huge profits by selling the use of his name. But the power of naming and branding can be a double-edged sword: when a president creates and perpetuates real human disasters, we can truthfully attach his name to them and allow well-earned disaster branding to spread naturally. Mr. Trump uses the word “disaster” metaphorically for policies and practices he doesn’t like. But there are real, literal disasters in the world: huge fires, devastating, floods, deadly storms, major droughts — disasters caused systemically by the…


Orwell On The Politics Of Language

“Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.” – George Orwell, Politics and the English Language”, 1945   (Commoner Call cartoon by Mark…


The Firing Of James Comey: Psychology Helps Explain What Trump Got Wrong & Why People See It The Way They Do

TheCommonerCall.org By Robert Jervis The Conversation (5/16/17) Why has President Trump failed to convince anyone other than his ardent supporters that he was justified in firing FBI Director James Comey? Even more, why did he fail to realize that the firing would call up strong objections, not only from Democrats, but from many Republicans? The psychology of perception and decision-making helps us here. As I have shown in several books, assuming people are completely rational will mislead us. We need to grasp what people see – and what they miss – if we are to fathom why they behave as…


Memorial Day Thought – In A Militarized State The First Thing To Be Conquered Is The Language

“Traditional slang terms for a soldier – GI, dogface, ground-pounder, grunt – used to be humorous and mildly self-deprecating designations connoting a citizen who happened to be uniform performing an onerous task. Now the preferred term is “warrior,” a term not often heard before in American history in reference to our soldiers. In tribal societies warriors as members of a caste, like priests and aristocrats, and the term does not seem fitting in a constitutional republic. I am still unsure whether “warrior” is a popular coinage that emerged on its own or whether Pentagon public relations operatives inserted it into…


Powerful Interview: Author Tom Ricks Brings The Lessons Of Churchill & Orwell Onto Today’s Stage

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (5/25/17) Former Washington Post Pentagon reporter Tom Ricks has been a long and careful observer of the American military machine. In the course of that work he has covered the four generals – James Mattis, secretary of defense; John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, H.R. McMaster, national security adviser and Michael Flynn, the national security adviser – who have been at the heart of much of the drama and scandal of the bumbling Trump administration. He has interviewed all four and, in fact was in a conference with several other journalists in Michael…


The Right Is Worried As Left Accurately Rebrands Environmental ‘Regulations’ As Essential Environmental ‘PROTECTIONS’

  (Editor’s Note: This is a fascinating column in that it shows the radical libertarian right is rattled that progressives are finally beginning to grasp the importance of linguistic framing. They are rattled because they have been using it for 40 years to devastating effect. There is an emotional difference between “regulation” and “protection”. The first is propaganda and the second, in the terms of the impact on daily life, is the truth. – Mark L. Taylor) By Ronald Bailey Reason (5/12/17) “Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections,” declares a March 28 headline in The Washington…


The Firing Of James Comey: Psychology Helps Explain What Trump Got Wrong And Why You See It The Way You Do

  By Robert Jervis The Converstaion (5/16/17) Why has President Trump failed to convince anyone other than his ardent supporters that he was justified in firing FBI Director James Comey? Even more, why did he fail to realize that the firing would call up strong objections, not only from Democrats, but from many Republicans? The psychology of perception and decision-making helps us here. As I have shown in several books, assuming people are completely rational will mislead us. We need to grasp what people see – and what they miss – if we are to fathom why they behave as…


If You Want To Understand What Motivates The Trump Movement & How To Respond, Read And Let This Sink In…

  (Editor’s Note: This is an important article. If you want to understand the madness that has taken root in Washington and how to counter it, please follow the link below and read the whole article.  What is happening stretches way, WAY beyond party politics. – Mark L. Taylor) By Bill Blum HuffPost (5/8/17) I don’t always agree with Bill Maher (witness his views on Islam and the death penalty), but the comedian was at his best on the April 28 installment of “Real Time,” his Friday night HBO talk show. In both his opening interview with Massachusetts Democratic Sen….


George Lakoff: Don’t Fall Into An Opponent’s Language Trap

  By George Lakoff George Lakoff.com (2/18/17) Journalists are bravely standing up to Trump’s attacks on the free press, as they should. Yet one way in which they’re expressing their solidarity and resistance shows how little most journalists know about political framing and messaging. Case in point: Trump has labeled journalists as “enemies.” So, journalists have responded by labeling themselves “#NotTheEnemy.” This hashtag is currently trending on Twitter, which is unfortunate. Adopting this slogan is a big mistake that helps Trump. Anyone who has read my books or taken my classes at Berkeley will immediately understand why. For those new…


Death By Euphemism: Washington Post Can Identify The ‘Far Right’ In France– But When It Comes To The White House, It’s Merely ‘Conservative’

The CommonerCall.org   By Jim Lobe LobeLog.com (4/24/17) There are no major ideological differences between White House strategist Steve Bannon and French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Yet it seems that the Washington Post considers them to be very different. According to the Post, Bannon and his backers are “conservatives.” Le Pen and her National Front, meanwhile, are “far right.” Of course, the whole notion that Bannon is “conservative” is ludicrous on its face. A typical “conservative” would not boast of being a “Leninist” who “want[s] to destroy the state [and] … bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of…


Edward Bernays: Engineering The Consent & Blind Obedience Needed For Empire

  The Empire Files (6/4/16) With thousands of advertisements seen by Americans everyday, and a corporate media that reinforces the needs of Empire, propaganda in the U.S. is more pervasive and effective than ever before. The manipulation of public opinion through suggestion can be traced back to the father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, who discovered that preying on the subconscious mind was the best way to sell products people don’t need, and wars people don’t want. To get a deeper understanding of how propaganda functions in today’s society, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Studies…



Now More Than Ever: The Lessons Of George Orwell’s ‘1984’

  Empire Files (2/1/17) Their are very few literary masterpieces that can transcend generations. There are even fewer that serve as a blueprint for the future. One of those books is 1984, one of the most prolific novels of our time. The author was born Eric Arthur Blair, but was probably most know by his pen name, George Orwell. George Orwell was one of the greatest visionaries of the twentieth century who identified himself as a democratic socialist. Under the Soviet Union he was forced to flee under communism suppression of socialist dissidents. War is Peace Slavery is Freedom Ignorance…


Orwell’s Newspeak: Control The Language, Control The Society

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by eactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. “Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s…


The Science Of ‘Blue Lies’ Helps Explain Trump Supporters’ Orwellian Level Of Loyalty To Lies

  By Jeremy Adam Smith Scientific American (3/24/17) President Donald Trump tells lies. His deceptions and misleading statements are easy to unmask. In the latest example — after hundreds of well-documented lies — FBI director James Comey told Congress this week that there is “no information that supports” Trump’s claim that President Obama tapped his phone. But Trump’s political path presents a paradox. Far from slowing his momentum, his deceit seemed only to strengthen his support through the primary and national election. Now, every time a lie is exposed, his support among Republicans doesn’t seem to waver very much. In…


Gas Lighting America: How To Resist By Keeping Your Sanity In Trump’s Crazy Making America

“One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality. Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy.”   By Ariel Leve The Guardian (3/16/17) Right now, many Americans listening to their president are experiencing what I experienced frequently a child. Nothing means anything, and reality is being canceled. There is confusion, there is chaos, everything is upside down and inside out. When facts and truth are being discredited, how is it possible to…


Here’s How Gas Lighting Works In Every Day America: Twisting The Meaning Of A Single Word

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (3/20/17) Every victim of a crazy, abusive relationship or childhood suffered at the hands of an abusive parent knows what it means to be the target of “gas lighting”, even if they have never heard the term. It is taken from “Gaslight”, a 1944 Oscar-winning mystery-thriller movie starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into questioning her reality and making her believe she is going insane. Gaslighting is when someone in some position of relationship or power lies with a boldness then denies…


Your Brain On Politics: Why Piling On Facts Is Not Enough In The Battle Against Fake News

By Shankar Vedantam NPR (3/14/17) As the country has become increasingly polarized, we increasingly seem to disagree not just on policy but on the facts themselves. So how do you get people who believe false things to change those beliefs? The usual tactic is to offer information or evidence. But new social science research explains why this approach is often counterproductive. To explain all this, we’re joined by NPR’s social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Shankar, good morning. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel. MARTIN: How can more information be counterproductive? VEDANTAM: There have actually been a number of experiments over the…


Sanders Supporters Were Targeted & Played By Russian Trolls Who Continue To Infect Left-wing Online Conversation

  By Ryan Grim & Jason Cherkis The Huffington Post (3/10/17) WASHINGTON ― Last June, John Mattes started noticing something coursing like a virus through the Facebook page he helped administer for Bernie Sanders fans in San Diego. People with no apparent ties to California were friending the page and sharing links from unfamiliar sites full of anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda. The stories they posted weren’t the normal complaints he was used to seeing as the Vermont senator and the former secretary of state fought out the Democratic presidential primary. These stories alleged that Clinton had murdered her political opponents and…


Your Brain On Trump’s Lies: Guess Who Wins

It doesn’t matter how implausible the statements are; throw out enough of them, and people will inevitably absorb some. Eventually, without quite realizing it, our brains just give up trying to figure out what is true.   By Maria Konnikova Politico (Jan/Feb 2017) All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook, yet he orchestrated the most shamelessly crooked act in the modern presidency. Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra deal; there’s evidence he was. Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman; he did, or close enough. Lying in politics transcends…


A Deep Look At What Ails Us: Healing Our Collective Sickness

  (Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )   *****   We always know that a civilization is breaking down when it excludes recognition of and social response to its own degenerate trends.   (Editor’s Note: The political, economic and environmental collapse are about more than bad actors, political action groups and elections. There are deeper psychological and spiritual dimensions creating a feedback loop of sleepwalking into destruction and denial. Author Paul Levy provides a deeper assessment of what is really happening to our world, and each of…


Mike McCabe – The Lesson For Democrats: Messaging Alone Won’t Win

By Mike McCabe Blue Jean Nation (2/8/17) In this post-truth, alternative-fact world, “messaging” is a popular buzzword in political circles. Those who win are convinced superior messaging is the secret of their success. Those who lose are convinced that faulty messaging was their downfall and all they need to do to win is get better at it. There are messaging gurus on both sides. They get a lot of attention and make a lot of money doling out advice. Messaging has become something of an obsession, especially on the Democratic side. To hear Democratic insiders tell it, bad messaging is why…


Trump’s Two-Step Strategy For Hostile Takeover Of The Truth

By Robert Reich RobertReich.org (1/22/17) Donald Trump is such a consummate liar that in coming days and years our democracy will depend more than ever on the independent press – finding the truth, reporting it, and holding Trump accountable for his lies.  But Trump’s strategy is to denigrate and disparage the press in the public’s mind – seeking to convince the public that the press is engaged in a conspiracy against him. And he wants to use his tweets, rallies, and videos to make himself the only credible source of public information about what is happening and what he’s doing….