American Political Integrity Is in a State of Collapse

The woman who went on every major Sunday-morning news program after the Benghazi terrorist attacks and told flat-out falsehoods about its nature and motivations is now lecturing America about integrity.

.. A person who was one of the chief national-security officials when the Obama administration was spinning false narratives about the Iran nuclear deal

.. watching Demcrats spill crocodile tears over the Supreme Court, convinced that Neil Gorsuch was basically stealing Merrick Garland’s seat. Yet every sentient being in Washington knows that if the roles were reversed and, say, one of the liberal justices stepped down or passed away in the final months of a Republican presidency, the congressional Democrats would have behaved in the exact, same way

.. In fact, none other than Joe Biden made that same promise more than 20 years before.

.. The president and his team have repeatedly issued false denials about contacts with Russians, and the president himself keeps tweeting allegations and assertions that are most charitably described as incomplete, imprecise, and sometimes just outright wrong. Even when he’s “vindicated,” it’s often a strange kind of vindication, where his actual words were wrong, but something still happened. For example, wiretapping becomes “incidental collection.” Millions of illegal votes becomes millions of illegal registrations.

.. All of this nonsense is justified, excused, and indulged through the sheer force of tribalism. Unilateral honesty is seen as unilateral disarmament.

.. In one of John Adams’s most famous letters, he wrote that “our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

.. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”

.. America needs political virtue. Where will she find it?

How can I respond to Whataboutism?

The three general approaches to convincing people are:

  1. Overwhelming evidence.

    This was discussed on “You’re not so smart” podcast covering Backfire effect, in essence, there’s a threshold at which that cognitive system breaks a dam, so to speak, and starts incorporating conflicting facts.

    But one, or two, or three, facts, would not be enough.

  2. Use proper framing.

    According to Moral Foundations theory; conservatives and liberals are swayed not by different facts; but by different framing of the facts.

    E.g. to convince a conservative, you frame things in terms of loyalty and patriotism; to convince a liberal, in terms of “fairness”.

  3. Don’t use facts.

    Experts on persuasion generally state that facts are the weakest way to persuade someone. Emotions etc… are far more effective.

    If you don’t believe experts on persuasion becsause they weren’t persuasive enough, here’s a fact for you: psychologists confirmed that finding.

  4. Stop using personal attacks, or things that seem like personal attacks.

    “Donald Trump’s racism” – to anyone who voted for Trump for reasons other than being racist, this mainly sounds like you are accusing THEM of supporting racism. This sounds cathartic and profound among your circle of Trump opponents – but has absolutely the opposite effect when talking to a Trump voter.

Shields and Brooks on immigration ban court defeat, Democrats’ confirmation hearing opposition

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the decision by a federal appeals court to deny the Trump administration’s request to reinstate an immigration ban, President Trump’s comments attacking judges and the contentious battles in the Senate over Cabinet nominees.


Lamar Alexander limited questions of Betsy De Vos to 5 minutes.

Americans have seen the last four presidents as illegitimate. Here’s why.

It’s tempting to see the entirety of Donald Trump’s story as unprecedented, but when he is sworn in today as the nation’s 45th president, he will be our fourth consecutive leader to assume the office with a segment of the electorate questioning his legitimacy. On that score, Trump doesn’t represent a new crisis for American democracy but rather an escalation of one that’s been building — one that we’ve all played a role in creating and that he has deftly exploited to his advantage.

After the 1992 election, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole said President-elect Bill Clinton did not have a mandate to press ahead with any sweeping changes because he’d obtained only 43 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race.

.. There was no disputing the mandate conferred upon Barack Obama by his resounding 2008 win, so the questioning of our first African American president’s legitimacy swirled around the underhanded, racially motivated and absurd allegations — peddled by our current president-elect, among others — that Obama wasn’t a natural-born citizen. Newt Gingrich spoke for many in 2010 when he accused the president of being beyond the American mainstream, pursuing instead a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview.

.. Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, unlike those that came before them, had to navigate in a political environment shaped by

  • the close of the Cold War,
  • the rise of instantaneous, doomsday-style political fundraising,
  • the emergence of a highly balkanized and ubiquitous 24/7 media, and
  • the disruption of traditional politics by the Internet and social media.

.. It is much easier to get people to send you $20 if you accuse the president of being a threat to the American way of life instead of an honorable man with whom you happen to disagree on a certain topic.

.. Fox News launched in 1996 to challenge the cautious objectivity of CNN