Category Archives: Political Bullying

Will the Real Transparency Bill Please Stand Up?

This airfare from shows the per-person price of this flight--including the fare, taxes, and mandatory fees. Alas, luggage fees and other optional fees might still apply, but the customer does have some choices with those.
This airfare from shows the per-person price of this flight–including the fare, taxes, and mandatory fees. We can thank the Department of Transportation’s 2012 full-fare rule for this information. Alas, luggage fees and other optional fees might still apply, but the customer does have some choices with those.

Since 2012, I’ve enjoyed being able to look up airfares online and know right away what a given flight would cost–fare, taxes, and mandatory fees. Alas, the airlines provide the full fare apparently not from a desire for good customer service because of a 2012 Federal Department of Transportation rule requiring them to.

I say it’s apparently not motivated by the airlines because the airline lobby and unions are trying to get Congress to undo that rule. Doing so would allow airlines to go back to showing us only the fare upfront and then socking us with the taxes and fees late in the checkout process.

What do they call the bill that would make it harder to me to know what a flight would cost me? The Transparent Airfares Act, of course!

This is an example of Orwellian language: the name says the opposite of what it means. Advocates use Orwellian language when their position is weak.

Because the name its supporters use is dishonest, it’s important that the bill’s opponents avoid using it. What should opponents call it instead?

  • The Obscuring Airfares Act
  • The Airfare Surprise Act
  • The Airfare Bait-and-Switch Act

Or something else?

I learned about this bill from this informative Omaha World-Herald story and Christopher Elliot’s Seattle Times article.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), at right, introduced the Real Transparency in Airfares Act to counter the airline industry’s Orwellian bill. In this photo, he is receiving the foreign minister of Singapore, K. Shanmugam.

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D) has introduced an alternative to the industry-sponsored bill called the Real Transparency in Airfares Act. His bill would leave the full-fare rule in place and double fines on companies that violated it. At first, I was uneasy with this name because it includes the Orwellian name of the industry bill, but this framing makes sense to me now.

Strictly speaking, though, the Menendez bill doesn’t seem to increase airfare transparency, just toughen the rule’s enforcement.

But we can do more than use a different name. We could point out that the full-fare rule protects customers, and that airline profits have been at record highs since the rule came into effect! Coincidence? Probably, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the airlines.

Furthermore, this is another case in which wise government regulation creates confidence between an industry and its customers. Confidence is good for business. While airlines might make more money if the full-fare rule were scrapped, that might come at the cost of trust. Loss of trust increases the chance that travelers would look for other options.

What do you think? Should the industry bill be known as the Airline Industry Shoots Itself in the Foot Act?

The Truth about Union Bosses

While reading a book about framing that I highly recommend, Frank Luntz’s Words that Work, I found the common phrase union bosses on page 91. It brings to mind a time when some labor unions were thought to be closely associated with political machines and organized crime. I haven’t heard of such associations being a big problem today. Have you?

Besides deceptively bringing to mind long-gone bad old days, union bosses also might confuse the listener about who the boss really is: the elected leaders of labor unions or management.'s management

If you share this concern, please consider talking about duly elected union leaders when others mention union bosses.

What do you think? Does it matter if Framologists accept the phrase union bosses?

This Post Is Un-American, Part 2

Progressives are no more communists than conservatives are Nazis. Namecalling is unacceptable. Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc
Progressives are no more communists than conservatives are Nazis. Namecalling is unacceptable.
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

As mentioned in a previous post, progressives are sometimes labelled “collectivists.” This is meant to tar them as communists. The implication that progressives want government to own and control everything is false and unacceptable.

How should Framologists reply? How about:

Using that word is namecalling, a form of bullying. That’s got to stop. Progressives do believe in working together to solve community problems. We also believe in strong government whose wise oversight helps create trust between businesses and customers. We believe that government should protect citizens from abuse and neglect by unscrupulous businesses.

How do you think progressives should reply when called collectivists?

This Post Is Un-American

Billionaires Charles and David Koch have spent millions to influence elections and government policy.
Billionaires Charles and David Koch have spent millions to influence elections and government policy.

Democrats are working to frame some of this year’s elections as about Charles and David Koch. As Peters and Hulse report in the New York Times, these billionaire brothers are spending a lot of money to influence elections across the nation.

Mr. Hulse’s interview with On the Media discusses using words like un-American to describe the Kochs and collectivists to label progressives.

The word un-American should be used sparingly, if at all–especially when describing a person. Unless used very carefully, it’s name-calling and probably attributing evil motives to someone who doesn’t mean harm.

I do think that some behavior might be considered un-American, but because people have different views of our country’s interests and values, that’s also tricky. It’s best to avoid the word.

Do you think it’s appropriate to label people as un-American? Is there such a thing as un-American behavior? Why or why not?

Political Bullying Is Wrong. There, I said it.

Bullying’s long history in American politics doesn’t make it right. I just re-read the About page and remembered that this blog’s focus is on standing up to political bullying of progressive Americans. Because some posts refer to conservatives or radicals, I’m going to make clearer that Framology’s opponents are not conservatives or even radicals by revising these terms to bullies, political bullying, etc. in past posts. It will take a little while, and if I miss some, I’d appreciate it if you would point them out.

As stated in the About page, America has always had a range of political opinion, and that’s as it should be. I wouldn’t want Americans to all believe alike.

This is the bold vision of Framology: American politics as a bully-free zone.
Photo Credit: Eddie~S via Compfight cc

But bullying fellow Americans to advance political agendas is wrong. And the only way to end political bullying and create a more civil politics is to stand up to it without bullying in return. Framology’s role is to help progressive Americans find the words to confidently do this.

What is political bullying? Here’s the beginning of a list:

  • Name calling
  • Using deception intentionally to advance one’s goals
  • Using law, police or military power, intimidation, or other means to take away the basic human rights of others
  • Attributing evil motives to others without evidence
  • Slander
  • Perverting political or judicial processes to serve the narrow interests of a party, religion, socio-economic group, or other faction instead of the country we all love

What do you think of this list? What’s missing? Do you think some should be removed?

When They Make It Personal, Return to the Issue

As Slate blogger David Weigel has reported, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas (an Orwellian name) challenges Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) about an amendment he proposed to the Voting Rights Act.

Weigel observes:

There is no mention of the “Voting Rights Act” in the intro. It’s called “a part of federal law that gives Eric Holder the power to approve election law in 16 states,” and Sensenbrenner’s amendment is called “legislation to give [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder back power over state elections.” Framed that way, what conservative could possibly support it?

From a framing point of view, what strikes me is that O’Keefe’s language makes Eric Holder the issue. This seems like an attempt to repeat the success the right has had in discrediting the Patient Protection Act by calling it Obamacare. As I’ve pointed out, this name makes President Obama and people’s feelings about him the issue instead of the law’s contents.

When bullies try to make an individual (such as Attorney General Eric Holder) the issue instead of the policy, return the subject back to the values at stake. As far as I know, birds are still not allowed to vote.
Eric Holder Photo Credit: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Develop via Compfight cc
Voting Booth Photo Credit: seeingimonkey via Compfight cc

VotingBoothSo how should Framologists reframe personalization? Instead of just saying that it isn’t about Eric Holder, we should make clear the values and principles at stake. I think these are:

  • Equality. No state or county should be allowed to discriminate against voters based on race or language.
  • Protection. The American government has a responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens. In this case, the federal government is the proper level because some states have a history of racial discrimination in voting.
  • Freedom. An abstract right to vote is meaningless if states or counties make it too hard to exercise. Protecting this right creates the freedom to vote.

So Framologists would explain that the amendment is about equality, freedom, and protection of Americans’ right to vote without discrimination. I’d recommend not naming Mr. Holder by saying, e.g., “It’s not about Eric Holder.” As George Lakoff has pointed out in Don’t Think of an Elephant, putting a no or not in front of the topic doesn’t stop people from thinking about the topic and their feelings and mental associations with it.

If it seems important to defuse the Eric Holder association, we could say something like, “If the amendment became law, of course we would expect the attorney general, whoever that might be, to enforce it. He should not only because it’s his job but because he would be protecting our right to vote and supporting freedom and equality.” That returns the subject where it belongs.

What do you think? Am I making too much of this?