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Over the past couple of weeks, the NY Times has been reporting on results from the cognitive and brain sciences that confirm past research in those fields partly by me and partly by my community of colleagues. What makes this of general, not personal, interest is that the scientific results are especially important for understanding what has been going wrong for the Obama administration and for liberals generally, and what has been going right for conservatives. I’m going to start out with some science, and get on to the politics after brief discussions of three important NY Times articles and what they mean scientifically.

It’s always satisfying for a scientist to see his or her predictions proved right experimentally (which happens often) and actually discussed in the press (which happens rarely). As a cognitive scientist and linguist, it’s been a good couple of weeks for me and my colleagues, especially in the NY Times.  Experiments are hard to do and I celebrate all the experimenters cited.  Experiments are also hard to report on, and I praise the journalists at the Times for a fine job.

Metaphor and Embodiment

Back in 1980, Mark Johnson and I, in Metaphors We Live By, demonstrated the existence of metaphorical thought and argued that metaphor and other aspects of mind were embodied. That book, and our 1987 books, my Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things and Mark’s The Body in the Mind, helped to start a cottage industry in the study of embodied cognition.

The experimental results confirming our theories of embodied cognition have been coming in regularly, especially in the area of metaphorical thought.  Natalie Angier, on February 1, http://www.nytimes.com/...  summarized some of the recent research very clearly.

• A University of Amsterdam study showed that subjects thinking about the future leaned forward, while those thinking about the past leaned backward.  This was predicted by the 1980 analysis of common European metaphors in which The Future is Ahead and The Past is Behind. This is not just a matter of language, but of thought, as Johnson and I showed.

• At Yale, researchers found that subjects holding warm coffee in advance were more likely to evaluate an imaginary individual as warm and friendly than those holding cold coffee. This is predicted by the conceptual metaphor that Affection is Warmth, as in She gave me a warm greeting.

• At Toronto, subjects were asked to remember a time when they were either socially accepted or socially snubbed. Those with warm memories of acceptance judged the room to be 5 degrees warmer on the average than those who remembered being coldly snubbed.

• Subjects asked to think about a moral transgression like adultery or cheating on a test were more likely to request an antiseptic cloth after the experiment than those who had thought about good deeds. The well-known conceptual metaphor Morality is Purity predicts this behavior.

• Students told that that a particular book was important judged it to be physically heavier than a book that they were told was unimportant. The conceptual metaphor is Important is Heavy.

• In a parallel study with heavy versus light clipboards, those with the heavy clipboards were more likely like to judge currency to be more valuable and their opinions and their leaders more important.

• And in doing arithmetic, students who used their hands to group numbers together had an easier time doing problems that required conceptual grouping. This is predicted by the analysis of mathematics in Where Mathematics Comes From by myself and Rafael Núñez where we show how mathematics from the simple to the advanced is based on embodied metaphorical cognition.

These results don’t happen by magic. How can these results be explained?

Johnson’s and my 1999 book, Philosophy in the Flesh, incorporated a neural theory of how embodied metaphorical thought works. What a child is regularly held affectionately by its parents, two distinct brain areas are activated simultaneously — one for temperature and one for affection. The synapses in both areas are strengthened and activation spreads along existing pathways until the shortest pathway between the areas is found and a circuit is formed. That circuit is the neural realization of what is called a “primary metaphor” that is embodied.  Hundreds of such cases are formed unconsciously and automatically in childhood.

My Berkeley colleague, Srini Narayanan has shown what computational properties such circuits must have. In still unpublished work, he has shown that the relative timing of first spikes across a synapse predicts the directionality of elementary metaphors in all known cases.  The very idea that such low-level phenomena at the level of neurons can result in the vast range our metaphorical thought is truly remarkable.

A crucial part of the story of embodied cognition comes from the neuroscience of the 1990’s, which showed that the same brain regions used in actually moving and perceiving are used in imagining and remembering moving and perceiving. These results led Jerome Feldman to the crucial idea that meaningful thought expressible in language is mental simulation that uses the neural structures of the sensory-motor system to imagine what is embodied, usually below the level of consciousness.

These are experimental findings and theories based on considerable evidence. Taken together they explain the results of the experiments: Primary metaphorical thought arises when a neural circuit is formed linking two brain areas activated when experiences occur together repeatedly. Typically, one of the experiences is physical. In each experiment, each subject has the physical experience activating one of the brain regions and another experience (e.g., emotional or temporal) activating the other brain region for the given metaphor. The activation of both regions activates the metaphorical link. Thus, if the metaphor is Future Is Ahead and Past Is Behind, thinking about the future will activate the brain region for moving forward. If the metaphor is Affection is Warmth, holding warm coffee will activate the brain region for experiencing affection.

Angier did not seek out the theoretical studies that allow these explanations — and led to the performance of the experiments in the first place. That’s too much to ask of a NY Times article. But it was nice to see some of the relevant experiments reported on in the NY Times, even if the explanations were left out.

These cases don’t have any direct political implications in themselves, but they are indirectly important, as we shall see.

Words and Polls

The past week in the NY Times was also pretty good for me with respect to predictions.
There was a CBS/NYTimes poll http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/... that showed support for ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” varied considerably depending on whether “homosexuals” or “gay men and lesbians” was used in the question. “Gay men and lesbians” gat a lot more support — in the ball park of 15% more, which is a HUGE difference on a poll.

Those of you who’ve read my Don’t Think of an Elephant!  and The Political Mind will be familiar with the basic results of frame semantics, developed by my Berkeley colleague Charles Fillmore and others within the cognitive and brain sciences.

The first basic result: The meaning of every word is characterized in terms of a brain circuit called a “frame.”  Frames are often characterized in terms of the usual apparatus of mental life: metaphors, images, cultural narratives — and neural links to the emotion centers of the brain. The narrow, literal meaning of a word is only one aspect of its frame-semantic meaning.

The second basic result is that this is mostly unconscious, like 98% of human thought.

On the inherent link between semantic and emotion, see my discussion in the Political Mind (Chapter 1) and the excellent books by Antonio Damasio (Descartes’ Error) and Drew Westen (The Political Brain).

“Homosexual” is simply defined via a different frame than “gay men and lesbians.” Professor Geoffrey Stone of the U. of Chicago, writing in the Huffington Post on February 13, describes the difference:

"Homosexual" conjures up dark visions of filthy bodily acts that arouse deeply-rooted feelings of disgust and ancient fears of Sodom and Gomorrah and hell and damnation. "Gay men and lesbians," on the other hand, increasingly reminds us of people we know -- sons and daughters, cousins and classmates, nieces and nephews, coworkers and neighbors.

In short, there is a big difference in meaning — the framing difference between the thought of gay sex and the idea of the civil rights of people in your community. The consequences are political, as Professor Stone observes:

When we hear religious leaders or politicians referring to "homosexuals in the military," "homosexual marriage," or "special rights for homosexuals," we must recognize what they are doing. Especially for the 15% of Americans who react so viscerally to the term "homosexual," they are trying to chew their way into the worst parts of our psyches in order to manipulate our beliefs and values and make us worse people than we really are.

I’ve been writing for years about how effective the right wing has been at framing, and how progressives often use right-wing language, even in polls. I have had numerous discussions with well-known pollsters who did not get the point and could not distinguish commonplace language from commonplace language that activated right-wing frames.

The cognitive science matters here. The CBS/NYTimes poll results were to be expected given our current understanding of how words get their meaning by being neurally linked to frame-circuits.

Blinks, Worms, and Spankers

Nick Kristof, in his February 14 column http:// www.nytimes.com/..., discusses three experiments distinguishing conservatives from liberals.

• In one experiment, the strength of blink reflexes to unexpected noises was measured and correlated with degrees of reactions to external threats. Conservatives reacted considerably more strongly than liberals.
• Another experiment was based on the fact that disgust reactions create glandular secretions that change skin conductance. Subjects were shown disgusting images (like some eating a handful of worms). Liberals reacted mildly, but conservative reactions went off the charts.
• A third study showed a strong correlation between attitudes toward spanking and voting patterns: spanking states tend to go Republican. The experimenters correlated spanking preferences with what they called “cognitive styles.” As Kristof reports it, “Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable and under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between “us” and “them,” and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups — and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms.”

All three results follow from a cognitive science study called Moral Politics, which I published in 1996 and was reprinted in 2002.  There I observed that conservatives and liberals had opposite moral worldviews structured by metaphor around two profoundly different models of the ideal family, a strict father family for conservatives and a nurturant parent family for liberals. In the ideal strict father family, the world is seen as a dangerous place and the father functions as protector from “others” and the parent who teaches children absolute right from wrong by punishing them physically (painful spanking or worse) when they do wrong. The father is the ultimate authority, children are to obey, and immoral practices are seen as disgusting.

Ideal liberal families are based on nurturance, which breaks down into empathy, responsibility — for both oneself and others, and excellence: doing as well as one can to make oneself better and one’s family and community better. Parents are to practice these things and children are to learn them by example.

Because our first experience with being governed in is our families, we all learn a basic metaphor: A Governing Institution Is A Family, where the governing institution can be a church, a school, a team, or a nation. The Nation-as-Family version gives us the idea of founding fathers, Mother India and Mother Russia, the Fatherland, homeland security, etc.  

Apply these monolithically to our politics and you get extreme conservative and progressive moral systems, defining what is right and wrong to each side.

There is no moral system of the moderate or the middle. Because of a neural phenomenon called “mutual inhibition,” two opposing moral systems can live in brain circuits that inhibit each other and are active in different contexts. For a nonpolitical example, consider Saturday night and Sunday morning moral systems, which coexist in the brains of many Americans. The same is true of “moderates,” who are conservative on some issues and progressive on others, though there may be variations from person to person.

Kristof doesn’t mention Moral Politics, though he got a copy at a Democratic Senate retreat in 2003, at which we both spoke. If Moral Politics is still on his bookshelf, I suggest he take a look. I also recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the difference between conservative and progressive moral systems.  

Conservative Populism and Tea Partyers

After the Goldwater defeat of 1964, conservatism was a dirty word and most Americans wanted to be liberals, especially working people who were highly unionized. Lee Atwater and colleagues, working for the 1968 Nixon campaign, had a problem: How to get a significant number of working people to become conservative enough to vote for Nixon.

They intuited what I have since called “biconceptualism” (see The Political Mind) — the fact that many Americans have both conservative and progressive views, but in different contexts and on different issues. Mutual inhibition in brain circuitry means the strengthening of one weakens the other. They found a way to both strengthen conservative views and weaken liberal views, creating a conservative populism. Here’s how they did it.

They realized that by the late 60’s many working people were disturbed by the anti-war demonstrations; so Nixon ran on anti-communism. They noticed that many working  men were upset by radical feminists. So they pushed traditional family values. And they realized that, after the civil rights legislation, many  working men, especially in the South, were threatened by blacks. So they ran Nixon on law and order.  At the same time, they created the concept of “the liberal elite” — the tax and spend liberals, the liberal media, the Hollywood liberals, the limosine liberals, and so on. They created language for all these ideas and have been repeating it ever since.

Even though liberals have worked tirelessly for the material benefit of working people, the repetition of conservative populist frames over more than 40 years has had an effect. Conservative ideas have spread in the brains of conservative populists. The current Tea Party movement is an attempt to spread conservative populism further.

Sarah Palin may not know history or economics, but she does know strict father morality and conservative populist frames. Frank Rich, in his February 14 NY Times column, denied David Broder’s description of Palin as “perfect pitch populism”  and called it “deceptive faux populism” and a “populist masquerade.”  What Rich is missing is that Palin has a perfect pitch for conservative populism — which is very different from liberal populism. What she can do is strengthen the conservative side of bi-conceptual undecided populists, helping to move them to conservative populists. She is dangerous that way.

Frank Rich, another of my heroes, is a perfect pitch liberal. He assumes that nurturant values (empathy, social and personal responsibility, making yourself and the world better) are the only objective values. I think they are right values, values that define democracy, but unfortunately far from the only values. Starting with those values, Rich correctly points out that Palin’s views contradict liberal populism and that her conservative positions won’t materially help the poor and middle class. All true, but … that does not contradict conservative populism or conservatism in general.

This is a grand liberal mistake. The highest value in the conservative moral system (see Moral Politics, Chapter 9) is the perpetuation and strengthening of the conservative moral system itself!! This is not liberal materialism. Liberals decry it as “ideology,” and it is. But it is real, it has the structure of moral system, and it is physically part of the brains of both Washington conservatives and conservative populists. The conservative surge is not merely electoral. It is an idea surge. It is an attempt to spread conservatism via the spread of conservative populism. That is what the Tea Party movement is doing.

False Reason and Real Reason: The Obama Mistake

It was entirely predictable a year ago that the conservatives would hold firm against Obama’s attempts at “bipartisanship” — finding occasional conservatives who were biconceptual, that is, shared some views acceptable to Obama on some issues, while keeping an overall liberal agenda.

The conservatives are not fools. Because their highest value is protecting and extending the conservative moral system itself, giving Obama any victory at all would strengthen Obama and weaken the hold of their moral system. Of course they were going to vote against every proposal and delay and filibuster as often as possible. Protecting and extending their worldview demands it.

Obama seems not to have understood this — or wants to appear that way.

We saw this when Obama attended the Republican caucus. He kept pointing out that they voted against proposals that Republicans had made and that he had incorporated, acting as if this were a contradiction. But that was to be expected, since a particular proposal that strengthens Obama and hence weakens their moral view violates their highest moral principle.

Such conservative logic explains why conservatives in Congress first proposed a bipartisan committee to study the deficit, and then voted against it.

That is why I don’t expect much from the President’s summit with Republicans on February 25.  Why should they do anything to strengthen Obama’s hand, when it would violate their highest moral principle, as well as weakening themselves electorally. If Obama thinks he can shame them in front of their voters, he is mistaken again. Conservative voters think the same way they do.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama used framing perfectly and articulated the progressive moral system (empathy, individual and social responsibility, making oneself and the world better) as well as it has ever been done.

But he changed after the election. Obama moved from real reason, how people really think, to false reason, a traditional view coming out of the Enlightenment and favored by all too many liberals.

We now (finally!) come to the point of going through all those experiments in the cognitive and brain sciences.  Here are the basic differences between real and false reason, and the ways in which all too many liberals, including Obama during the past year, are wed to false reason.

Real reason is embodied in two ways. It is physical, in our brain circuitry. And it is based on our bodies as the function in the everyday world, using thought that arises from embodied metaphors. And it is mostly unconscious.  False reason sees reason as fully conscious, as literal, disembodied, yet somehow fitting the world directly, and working not via frame-based, metaphorical, narrative and emotional logic, but via the logic of logicians alone.

Empathy is physical, arising from mirror neurons systems tied to emotional circuitry. Self-interest is real as well, and both play their roles in real reason. False reason is supposed to serve material self-interest alone. It’s supposed to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?,”which President Obama assumed that all populists were asking. While Frank Luntz told conservatives to frame health care in terms of the moral concepts of freedom (a “government takeover”) and life (“death panels”), Obama was talking about policy minutia that could not be understood by most people.

Real reason is inexplicably tied up with emotion; you cannot be rational without being emotional. False reason thinks that emotion is the enemy of reason,  that it is unscrupulous to call on emotion. Yet people with brain damage who cannot feel emotion cannot make rational decisions because they do not know what to want, since like and not like mean nothing. “Rational” decisions are based on a long history of emotional responses by oneself and others. Real reason requires emotion.

Obama assumed that Republicans would act “rationally” where “rationality” was defined by false reason — on the logic of material self-interest. But conservatives understood that their electoral chances matched their highest moral principle, strengthening their moral system itself without compromise.

It is a basic principle of false reason that every human being has the same reason governed by logic — and that if you just tell people the truth, they will reason to the right conclusion. The President kept saying, throughout Tea Party summer, that he would just keep telling the truth about policy details — details that most people could not make moral sense of. And so he did, to the detriment of all of us.

All politics is moral. Political leaders all make proposals they say are “right.” No one proposes a policy that they say is wrong. But there are two opposing moral systems at work in America. What moral system you are using governs how you will see the world and reason about politics. That is the lesson of the cognitive science behind Moral Politics and all the experiments since then.  It is the lesson of all the research on embodied metaphor. Metaphorical thought is central to politics.

Finally, there is the lesson of how language works in the brain. Every word is neurally connected to a neural circuit characterizing a frame, which in turn is part of a system of frames linked to a moral system. In political discourse, words activate frames, which in turn activate moral systems. This mechanism is not conscious. It is automatic, and it is acquired through repetition. As the language of conservative morality is repeated, frames are activated repeatedly that in turn activate and strengthen the conservative system of thought — unconsciously and automatically. Thus conservative talk radio and the national conservative messaging system are powerful unconscious forces.  They work via principles of real reason.

But many liberals, assuming a false view of reason, think that such a messaging system for ideas they believe in would be illegitimate — doing the things that the conservatives do that they consider underhanded. Appealing honestly to the way people really think is seen as emotional and hence irrational and immoral. Liberals, clinging to false reason, simply resist paying attention to real reason.

Take Paul Krugman, one of my heroes, whose economic sense I find impeccable. Here is a quote from a recent column:

"Republicans who hate Medicare, tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time, have been scoring political points by denouncing proposals for modest cost savings — savings that are substantially smaller than the spending cuts buried in their own proposals."

He is following traditional liberal logic, and pointing out a literal contradiction: they denounce “cuts in Medicare” while wanting to eliminate Medicare and have proposed bigger cuts themselves.

But, from the perspective of real reason as conservatives use it, there is no contradiction. The highest conservative value is preserving and empowering their moral system itself. Medicare is anathema to their moral system — a fundamental insult. It violates free market principles and gives people things they haven’t all earned.  It is a system where some people are paying —God forbid! — for the medical care of others. For them, Medicare itself is immoral on a grand scale, a fundamental moral issue far more important than any minor proposal for “modest cost savings.” I’m sorry to report it, but that is how conservatives are making use of real reason, and exploiting the fact that so many liberals think it’s contradictory.

Indeed, one of the major findings of real reason is that negating a frame activates that frame in the brain and reinforces it — like Nixon saying that he was not a crook. Dan Pfeiffer, writing on the White House blog, posted an article called “Still not a ‘Government Takeover’,” which activates the conservative idea of a government takeover and hence reinforces the idea. Every time a liberal goes over a conservative proposal giving evidence negating conservative ideas one by one, he or she is activating the conservative ideas in the brains of his audience. The proper response is to start with your own ideas, framed to fit what you really believe. Facts matter. But they have to be framed properly and their moral significance must be made manifest. That is what we learn from real reason.

The NY Times is home to a lot of traditional reason, often based on false principles of how people think. That is why the reporting of those experiments brightened my day.  Perhaps the best way to the NY Times mind is through the science of mind.

Kudos once more to the Times’ science reporting on those experiments.

George Lakoff is Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book is The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics.

Originally posted to George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 01:05 AM PST.

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  •  Tip Jar (186+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sdf, Kitty, Alumbrados, boydog, vicki, Trix, Rayne, CalifSherry, jbilger, tiponeill, Emerson, mrhelper, wu ming, billlaurelMD, Byron from Denver, eeff, the awful truth, TX Unmuzzled, Gustogirl, bronte17, afox, Helena Handbag, understandinglife, ScantronPresident, peace voter, highacidity, altoid, fumie, semiot, arreay, high uintas, pat7724, psnyder, emmasnacker, Miss Jones, businessdem, grannyhelen, crackpot, kj in missouri, riverlover, econlibVA, ybruti, side pocket, Limelite, Gowrie Gal, Julie Gulden, rapala, radarlady, greycat, CTPatriot, Independent Musings, sc kitty, daulton, chidmf, EJP in Maine, devadatta, boofdah, Chaoslillith, Bill White, LNK, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, Rogneid, the fan man, Land of Enchantment, xaxnar, Jim R, kumaneko, Keone Michaels, ainwa, RustyBrown, dopper0189, Yellow Canary, smokeymonkey, TPain, abe57, Naniboujou, Wary, arlene, dewey of the desert, kck, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, StrayCat, mozartssister, happy camper, ER Doc, soccergrandmom, hlsmlane, Phthalo, profh, means are the ends, blueoregon, DanC, Hedwig, ms badger, markthshark, Eryk, thatwhichisgood, anotherdemocrat, dotsright, Loudoun County Dem, blue armadillo, bigjacbigjacbigjac, linkage, Van Buren, FishOutofWater, rgjdmls, some other george, Matt Z, Jimdotz, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, certainot, DWG, artisan, jamesia, jnhobbs, Sarea, journeyman, LWelsch, Jahiz, TomP, kafkananda, alkalinesky, Clio2, Louisiana Fiddle Gal, TheFatLadySings, spacejam, geez53, bula mommy, Judeling, jamess, Seamus D, glendaw271, CitizenJoe, allie123, SolarMom, maggiejean, J Ash Bowie, Michael James, earicicle, heart4idaho, TuvanDrone, Leslie in KY, Little Flower, Leftcandid, LookingUp, ruscle, smileycreek, ppl can fly, Jez, elginblt, DrFitz, kalika, addisnana, pashupat, Unenergy, otter 8, Onomastic, cranquette, DemDad, anyname, island in alabama, princesspat, VTGenie, david graeber, Lorikeet, Wolf10, theone718, Ojibwa, muddy boots, merrily1000, tardis10, LSmith, Grandma Susie, nokomis, poliwrangler, Dbug, zenox, RLMiller, Regina in a Sears Kit House, chparadise, Farmer Labor, WesEverest, OHknighty, foucaultspendulum, delmardougster
  •  Wow, just wow. It's late, I'm (39+ / 0-)

    tired and will re-read this post tomorrow  I am, however, impressed with your work and hope it gains some traction.  I don't even remember how many copies of Don't Think of an Elephant I purchased to share with people who felt as I did.  I also can't tell you how many people who read the book thought it was off base.  I didn't think so then, and I don't think so now.  Hey progressives, let's get on message.  Our message is good but we have no idea how to deliver it.

    Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong. Molly Ivins

    by maggiejean on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 01:23:20 AM PST

    •  Yup one thing you learn in business (20+ / 0-)

      is that you can have a great product but if you can't market it no one will buy it. This is one thing the business class of the conservative movement understands and since they pay the bills it's how the rightwing works. Too many progressives think great products sell themselves. History is littered with technically superior products that lost to inferior ones that had better marketing. Yes if something your competitor is selling completely falls apart quickly your superior product will sell itself, but if their product "seems" to work even somewhat a superior marketing machine can still win out.

      So yes many progressive read "don't think of an elephant" and dismiss it as unnecessary because "they" "know" our ideas are better, they refuse to realize that marketing is getting other people who don't know to understand and buy into your argument. Marketing isn't meant for you it's meant for your customers.

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

      by dopper0189 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:10:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glen Beck says that 'Progressiveness' is the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maggiejean

        disease that has infected American politics!!!  is that the simplistic message people advocate?  is that how to get through to the low information voter?.  That is a rhetorical question, by the way, asked out of disbelief.

        •  If I remember correctly he called it a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kj in missouri, maggiejean

          'cancer' which is kind of funny in a way--and typical Rovism--go for your enemy's strengths. Progressivism is hardly cancerous; what has been cancerous in every sense of the word is runaway neo liberalism and neo liberal ideas about Capitalism.

          That particular conceptual cancer has infected most of the world breaking out in deadly symptoms in the United States, The European Union.

          Cancer thy name is neoliberalism and runaway capitalism. Only an idiot would claim that the tumors of destroyed markets via laissez faire capitalism were caused by progressives--in fact, progressivism is probably our last chance at a cure, or at least a shot at putting our cancerous world into remission.

          But you'd have to have a functioning brain and a reasonable world view to get that. Beck has neither.

          90% tax on everyone earning a million or more: a simple solution to funding Healthcare Reform, extending Social Security benefits and other budgetary concerns.

          by DelicateMonster on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:00:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In the clip I saw on one of the Sunday (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kj in missouri, maggiejean

            blab fests, he used the word 'disease'.  I did NOT watch the keynote speeach, needless to say!  To give him due, if any is due, he did blame both Democrats and Republicans as being infected with the disease of Progressiveism.

            I am certainly not going to spend my peaceful Sunday parsing Beck's words or analysing his brain.

  •  Applying this to the campaign to discredit the (35+ / 0-)

    science of climate change, the media is using this type of narrative.
    Words like hoax, fraud, scam, deception, lie, hysteria, followed up by statements such as :
    global warming dead
    collapse of global warming 'consensus'

    The intent of the first lot of words is to trigger feelings of some great wrong having been perpetrated, the second that it's OK, we've exposed it and it is all over.

    The timeline of the attacks using those emotive words above followed by the claim of finality definitely a variance in the themes you explore above.

    How to gain back the momentum towards the change which needs to happen, well I've a few ideas and just picked up a few more, but I certainly agree that cold hard facts alone will not do it when it is so easy for those tasked with avoiding any mitigating efforts to exhibit a willingness to create their own facts.

    Long diary, but well worth the read. Thankyou.

    Those folks who are trying to get in the way of progress - let me tell you, I'm just getting started. I don't quit. I'm not tired; I'm just getting started.

    by Unenergy on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 01:24:58 AM PST

  •  Frustration here (9+ / 0-)

    This is all well and good, but WTH do we do to change it all to OUR advantage? We need the operational tools to change this.

    It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

    by fumie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 02:10:23 AM PST

    •  work out like a fighter (6+ / 0-)

      with whatever martial art you like and when they push - - stand ground, don't abandon the field and be willing to take them to the mat whenever wherever necessary.... we learned it all on the playground long ago but seemed to have forgotten it

      We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

      by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 02:26:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Daily meetings and briefings (12+ / 0-)

      are what keep Republicans on message and schools them as to what language they are to use.  This makes their message loud and clear.

      Repub after Repub appear with talking heads and they are all repeating each other.  Liberals show up with various arguments and counter-arguments and their message gets lost in all the sound and fury.

      Just a smidge more discipline on the part of Democrats won't amount to lock-stepping, which seems to be one notion that prevents them from presenting a unified front.  

      And, just as a side note, these Republican daily briefings didn't just happen.  They are the result of longer-viewed conservative think tanks that review strategy regularly.  

      We need more such coordination in order to take control of the message.

      The only constant is change - Heraclitus

      by Gustogirl on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 05:25:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What We Can Do (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, daulton, Matt Z, TheFatLadySings

      I know a few things we can do.

      1)Stop using the euphemistic frames of right-wing conservatives.  I cringe when I hear "climate change" as that is a euphemism for global warming.

      1. Use terms people can visualize.  It's challenging to understand single-payer if you're not already involved in health care reform.  We might be better off calling it "Medicare for All" but then there's the problem of being associated with growing old.  Some single-payer advocates call it Health Care for All, but, that got co-opted by the idea of mandated health insurance.  We need better framing here.
      1. Challenge the media when they use right-wing or obfuscating language.  Hey, "excessive force" means torture.
      1. Don't use positives with negatives because you cancel yourself out.  Example:  More wars create more enemies.  Better:  More wars breed more enemies.
      1. Understand that framing is just part of the pie, not the whole pie.  Issues matter.  

      Marcy Winograd Progressive Democrat for CA-36

      by marcy winograd on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:56:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i'm less convinced that "climate change" (4+ / 0-)

        is a conservative euphamism. global warming might be what's happening at the system level, but the effect that everyday people deal with is not simply more heat but rather startling change in the climactic patterns they're used to.

        tom friedman, usually a total blithering idiot, was onto something when he tried to coin the awkward phrase of "global weirding" to talk about the link between global warming and huge snowstorms and unseasonal cold snaps. "climate change" works to address strange things without opening up a space every winter for denialists to spout off about cold weather disproving global warming.

        generally, though, i agree with your larger point.

        surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

        by wu ming on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:12:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Framing and issues aren't two choices (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri

        Understand that framing is just part of the pie, not the whole pie. Issues matter.

        This is actually a common argument against the science and activity of framing, that it is marketing-speak replacing substantive issues. No one is suggesting that we replace talking about real issues with feel-good babble. The entire point is to frame issues appropriately—to form and trigger liberal frames while avoiding conservative frames. It's a way of using language that resonates with how people actually think, something republicans are unfortunately very good at.

        Lakoff: progressivism = empathy, responsibility, and improvement

        by J Ash Bowie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:46:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes (0+ / 0-)

          there is an art to creating a simple, strong frame.   simple, strong frames are not-- by any means-- a celebration of simplistic thinking.  creating frames that resonate takes excellent listening and observational skills.

          i think of Matisse's Blue Nude with Hair in the Wind or The Circus (Jazz).  simple, strong frames that trigger emotion requires a Matisse level of skill.... even if the end result looks like something a kid did with his mother's scissors... :-)

          "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

          by kj in missouri on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:48:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Medicare (0+ / 0-)

        Most of us, it seems to me, would jump on the "Medicare for all" for a single-payer program. But when Lakoff tells us how conservatives work against Medicare:

        But, from the perspective of real reason as conservatives use it, there is no contradiction. The highest conservative value is preserving and empowering their moral system itself. Medicare is anathema to their moral system — a fundamental insult. It violates free market principles and gives people things they haven’t all earned.  It is a system where some people are paying —God forbid! — for the medical care of others. For them, Medicare itself is immoral on a grand scale, a fundamental moral issue far more important than any minor proposal for "modest cost savings." I’m sorry to report it, but that is how conservatives are making use of real reason, and exploiting the fact that so many liberals think it’s contradictory.

        I have to wonder whether pushing "Medicare for all" would have been successful. Lakoff seems to be great at telling us the theory behind all of this, but he doesn't tell or maybe doesn't have a clue as to how we operationalize this, how we reframe Medicare, for example.

        It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

        by fumie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:27:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Very good point. Right-wing media dominates. (7+ / 0-)

      Framing is important, but how can we frame when we have so little access?

      How do we break through the tin-foil curtain while Fox, Clear Channel, et al control media access, and controls the frames.

      EXAMPLE.  An NPR program with one real climatologist, and one oil company hack, reinforcing the frame that climate changes is a 50/50 issue. To reflect the reality of the debate, they should have had 1,000 real climatologist, and one hack.

      EXAMPLE. The National Inquirer reports on John Edward's affair. It's still news. The same source reported on Sarah Pallins past affair with her husband's business partner, and Mrs. McCain's current affair with another man.  Nada in the news.

      BTW: If are lucky enough to have a progressive radio or other meida in your area, call them and ask how you can help (bumper sticker to start, tell your freinds, etc).

      •  It would be great if the report was stated (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri, daulton, Matt Z

        90% of the climatologists working for the .....Agency believe there is significant climate disruption.  And, 85% of the climatologists working for extraction industries state that use of carbon-based fuels does not create climate change.

        The ratios and percentages are not stated in reports such as the examples you show.  This is one of my great frustrations with NPR.

        "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

        by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:29:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is a battle for the Hearts and Minds (2+ / 0-)

      for the "average" Independent Voter,
      and Dems likely to lose that battle -- AGAIN!

      Because in my opinion, we Don't Know How
      to put our arguments into simple, memorable language.

      We need to Keep It Simple Stupid! (KISS principle)

      We need choose language at the 10th grade level. (or less)


      The Conversatives have this language technique down:

      Some examples:

      Why doesn't Govt "live within its means"?

      How does Chinese Underwriting, fit into into our overall Debt Picture?

      What about the Fed, creating Trillions, by "divine fiat" -- out of thin air?


      The TeaPartiers are skilled in using simple, image-laden words,
      to get "average" folks, to jump on their bandwagon.


      Dems are skilled using million-dollar collegiate words,
      which tend to raise the eyebrows, and shrug the  shoulders, of those same "average" Indies.


      Personally, my eyes, glaze over, as soon as someone

      says "-illions"  (and I'm a data-geek)

      If you are going to start throw numbers around,
      please include the Spreadsheets, and some the Pie Charts --
      so we can "see" what the hell you mean!


      See How to dumb it down, in my recent posts on so Dems will quit losing this all-important Framing War:

      Frank Luntz: a one man wrecking crew, without a conscience
      Feb 19, 2010

      CPAC generates some New Talking Points -- Will Dems respond in kind?
      Feb 20, 2010

      AGAIN!

      In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act -- George Orwell

      by jamess on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:21:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  if debate about conservative demographics (12+ / 0-)

    is limited to philosophical, existential, linguistic (with all due respect to working out the behavioral psychology of 'contrary', 'brutal' natured people who will annilihate anyone or anything that will not conform to their beliefs ) we lose......

    if instead the weight of the debate went to the GOP/neocon/libertarianism policies in the real world the consequence of their destructive economic political policies... that would clear the air.... the people who self identify with these policies and politics across the socio-economic spectrum have something in common - they believe in brutality..... they believe to solve the problem of who is right and who is wrong requires beating their opposition down to use the cliche - might is right.......

    if pundits pull their punches the crowd you have studied so well see it as a sign of weakness will seek to dominate and demean 'intellectuals' and anyone else who disagrees with them.... they don't care what you think of them or about them....

    they believe in the fist they are the bullies beating whomever they feel hostile to.......

    we have to stand up to them and take some punches when they throw them and then throw some knock out punches back....

    and talk about the GOP/neocon/libertarian policies in the real world frequently and loudly so the public can choose for themselves ... that's democracy.... if the majority are brutal bullies the government will be brutal....

    we have a window of opportunity during this neocon/GOP/libertarian depression to connect the dots for the public educate the public they should know clearly who is squeezing them to death....

    sidebar:

    [ Recently as I was aggregating the following information for my blog and read the review for 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman' though I was familiar with the book several years ago I looked at it with 'fresh' eyes..... what jumped off the page was that the loans were made to other nations knowing they could not afford them .... therefore they defaulted and the banks would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements... in similar way the banks gave subprime loans to American borrowers they knew would not be able to make payments when the mortgages adjusted and the economy downturned so the banks and Wall Street/Developers of the Derivatives are taking back the properties... familar story ]

    http://gov.ca.gov/...
    Governor Schwarzenegger Establishes Council of Economic Advisors

    http://www.megwhitman.com/...
    Meg Whitman's Economic Task Force

    Milton Friedman - Hoover Institution - Consequentialist Libertarians in the Real World

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/...

    http://www.muckety.com/...

    Core Advisers for Schwarzenegger & Whitman - Hoover Libertarians

    Michael J. Boskin – Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Professor, Stanford University
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    * John F. Cogan – Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Professor, Stanford University
    http://people.forbes.com/...
    http://www.muckety.com/...

    Milton Friedman - Hoover Institute CA - Consequentialist Libertarians in the Real World

     

    Consequentialist libertarians do not necessarily see all cases of initiation of force as immoral and never see it as inherently immoral. Unlike libertarian moralists, who limit their advocacy to that which does not constitute initiation of force, consequentialists advocate actions and institutions they believe maximize liberty regardless of whether these constitute initiation of force.

    Milton Friedman, David D. Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek are consequentalist libertarians.

    The New Road To Serfdom

       In the early ’80s, as Margaret Thatcher attempted to hack away at England’s substantial public sector, she found a frustrating degree of public resistance. The closer she got to the bone, the more the patient wriggled and withdrew. Thatcher doggedly persisted, yet her pace wasn’t fast enough for right-wing Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, her idol and ideological mentor. You see, in 1981, Hayek had traveled to Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s Chile, where, under the barbed restraints of dictatorship and with the guidance of University of Chicago-trained economists, Pinochet had gouged out nearly every vestige of the public sector, privatizing everything from utilities to the Chilean state pension program. Hayek returned gushing, and wrote Thatcher, urging her to follow Chile’s aggressive model more faithfully.

         

    In her reply, Thatcher explained tersely that "in Britain, with our democratic institutions and the need for a higher degree of consent, some of the measures adopted in Chile are quite unacceptable. Our reform must be in line with our traditions and our Constitution. At times, the process may seem painfully slow."

       The Hayek/Thatcher exchange is one of many revealing historical nuggets unearthed in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein’s ambitious history of neoliberalism. Hayek isn’t the star of The Shock Doctrine—that dubious honor goes to his protegé and fellow Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. But Klein’s totemic, capacious and brilliant alternate history of the last three decades of global political economy can best be understood as a latter-day response to Hayek’s classic right-wing manifesto, The Road to Serfdom.

    The Chicago School Of Economics

       

    The Chicago School began to enjoy broad establishment support after the end of the Cold War, when the sole remaining superpower no long needed to win the hearts and minds of the world by reining in systemic exploitation of the weak by the strong. The function of government shifted from protecting the weak from the strong, to freeing the strong to cannibalize the weak under the doctrine that survival of the fittest strengthens the specie.

       

    Economically, the shift began when Milton Friedman became policy advisor to conservative Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in his 1964 unsuccessful presidential campaign against Democrat Lyndon Johnson.

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

       

    Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn't afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco.

       The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn't do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes.

    Disciples of Milton Friedman

       Pinochet did not have an economic plan of his own, and by 1975 inflation would run as high as 341 percent. Into this crisis stepped a group of economists known as "the Chicago boys."

          The Chicago boys were a group of 30 Chileans who had studied economics at the University of Chicago between 1955 and 1963. During the course of their postgraduate studies they had become disciples of Milton Friedman, and had returned to Chile completely indoctrinated in free market theory. By the end of 1974, they had risen to positions of power in the Pinochet regime, controlling most of its offices for economic planning.

       

    The arrangement was a new one in the history of governments. Although Pinochet was a dictator, he turned the economy over to the Chicago boys, and his only role was to suppress political and labor opposition to their policies.

    Milton Friedman's "Chilean Miracle"

       The Pinochet dictatorship's chief economic advisors, known as the "Chicago Boys," had been trained in the University of Chicago's economics department, where Friedman was the most important figure. Friedman wrote the dictator advocating a "shock program" for the Chilean economy.

    Shock Doctrine Capitalism

     

       The Shock Doctrine, takes the argument an important step further. Neoliberal capitalism, Naomi Klein argues, thrives on catastrophe: Not only are fortunes made from the misfortunes of the masses, but the global dominance of free-market capitalism is built on the infliction of disasters on the world's less fortunate.

    Doing Well By Doing Ill

    ~~ WIKI: Initiation of Force - Economic Coercion

       Economic coercion: If someone is the owner of the only water supply, then the owner can compel the thirsty person to pay an exorbitant price for that water or have him perform enormous labor. This is also referred to as a form of exploitation. It has been argued that as the global economy has expanded greatly in scope, economic coercion has replaced other forms of coercion such as coercion involving physical or military force.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/...

    http://huppi.com/...

    http://dollarsandsense.org/...

    http://www.naomiklein.org/...

    http://www.amazon.com/...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

    by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 02:17:04 AM PST

    •  I think the other side is 'risk adverse' (6+ / 0-)

      they like people like George Bush / Dick Cheney / Bill O'Reilly so on so forth 'who are dead certain'

      they like dead certain because they are risk adverse

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

      by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 02:22:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your analysis, (8+ / 0-)

      in my opinion, should be considered in parallel to the diarist's, not in competition with it.

      Language has always been a critical tool for those in power to keep and further consolidate power. Not only use but control of language. In Orwell's 1984 dystopia, control of language was achieved by constant rewriting of the dictionary; the ultimate goal was a language in which seditious thought would be impossible -- no words for it. As things stand in the actual world today, control of language is achieved largely through controlling the way things are described in  mass media -- in sound bites that are down to 2 words and do less than little to foster understanding.

      •  lies have to be neutralized (0+ / 0-)

        they other side lies their core neocon/GOP/Libertarian elite beliefs instruct them to lie to the public to get what they want...knowing just how to control the spread of lies is what linguists and progressives could have in common if they work on it

        the way evil people twist the public around is to tell them 'what is right is wrong' and what is wrong is right.... ask Ayn Rand.... it was her core belief; variation of  Orwellian doublespeak, and Nazi double talk ..... work will make you free ...

        and Goebells... was it Goebells think so ( I tend to think of all of them in the same basket ) that taught the BIGGER THE LIE the better... little lies no one believes he said... have to use BIG LIES....

        wish I had some Leo Strauss quotes at my finger tips  I'll have to see if I can look up a few of and post later

        We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

        by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:51:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Edward Bernays (0+ / 0-)

        "BIG LIE"

        The one Hitler so approved in Mein Kampf that it became the center-piece of Nazi informatics; perfected (until Cheney and the Busheviks) by no less an eminence than the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, but which actually was invented by Edouard Bernays (Freud's favorite nephew), the "father of Public Relations," (described by someone once as 'the art of the felicitous falsehood') who probably more than any other single individual was responsible for the entry of the US into "Woodrow Wilsons War," WW I.

        The BIG LIE is one of the most--if not THE most--effective, single propaganda strategy ever devised. Of course, it needed the perfection of the mass-media to become REALLY effective. Without the means of spreading lies across all strata of a society, in many locales, simultaneously, political 'lies' must necessarily have been local and, therefore, subject to local remonstrance and rebuttal. That's easy to do, locally, where pretty much everyone lived in a fishbowl, and proven liars were often ostracized. But since 1900, with the total domination of the information universe by mass communications (and related, evolutionary technologies), no propaganda device has been used more often, or to greater effect, than Bernays' BIG LIE.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

        by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:47:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This comment contains good info, but... (12+ / 0-)

      ...is long enough that it should be posted as a separate diary.

    •  Remember Thatcher also said (10+ / 0-)

      that the creation of the UK's national healthcare system turned many working class voters who used to support them into Labor (progressive) voters. Conservatives are against Obama's healthcare reforms not because they think it won't work, but because they fear that if it does that it will make the USA a more left leaning nation. Lakoff didn't touch on this point above but I think it's very important to understand.

      Just as Mr. Lakoff points out that one of the highest values conservatives value is the continuation of the conservative world view, anything that counters this is evil. Liberals in general tend to value pragmatism very highly, and will act in the exact opposite way.

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

      by dopper0189 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:18:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  very, very true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        highacidity, kj in missouri

        and one reason why the GOP has been trying to dismantle social security for decades as well.

        surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

        by wu ming on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:13:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  shock doctrine captialists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri

        base their politics on lying ( Leo Struass - Milton Friedman)  to the public deceiving the public in anyway and everyway possible to get what they want- -   whatever variety of tactics shock doctrine capitalists  do to wedge the base we have to stay united and work together and  to make sure their lies are always immediately neutralized.....

        We should stand up and say let's work together until we finish defeating the left and then we won't have to work with them as much. - Newt Gingrich

        by anyname on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:41:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We take back the moral high ground (20+ / 0-)

    by creating our own narrative instead of being sucked into thiers.

    We have been chasing that rabbit like a greyhound who will never catch it and eventually just give up.

    Our mantra should be reframe, reframe and reframe until we tire them out.

  •  I'm leaning forward because.... (4+ / 0-)

    I can't see well and what a pity because this looks so interesting.

    My wish = K.I.S.S. Summaries with pictures. Something for the "Readers' Digest" level.

    Thank you.

    Now all we have to do is get better people elected, improve the system...using all this information.

    Suggestions?

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 02:42:25 AM PST

  •  My dear George Lakoff: (9+ / 0-)

    My latest diary got rescued.

    This one needs to be rescued.

    You and I are talking about the same thing, but you have the formal education, and are hashing out the details, and dealing with the short term past.

    I am self-educated, and my level of education is simply not as detailed as yours.

    I am writing about the future.

    But we both are writing that changes in the way millions of people think, and vote, the change is real over the years, and has a big effect on the world.

    In my diary, I propose changes, radical changes, to rescue humanity from disaster.

    And my few commentors doubt that change is possible.

    Your diary shows change that has, indeed, been powerfully accomplished.

    Implied in your diary is the possibility and in fact the certainty of further change.

    I attempt to suggest the direction I want to see in that change, and I am told, no way Jose.

    Oh well.

  •  All well and good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, island in alabama

    But I want the practical application. IMHO, Theory doesn't tell me how to implement squat.

    It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

    by fumie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 03:04:10 AM PST

    •  Good point. We need "Step 2." (2+ / 0-)

      Step 1. Understand how to effectively craft our message out. (This diary.)

      Step 2. Bring this to the attention of Obama, et al.

      Step 3. (?) Our own "talking points memo" web page?

      Step 4. (?) Exhort the Dem leadership to get their best speakers to speak up. ("Meet the Press" has become "Meet Newt Gingrich." Where are our bulldogs? Get them out there.)

      Step 5. Do something about the right-wing control of the media. (Here in Ohio, we have zero progressive radio, and plenty of demand for it.  Don't believe the myth that radio has to be right-wing.)

      Step 6. ?

  •  Brilliant (10+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    Thoughts: Inductively, may I ask...if

    The Future is Ahead and The Past is Behind
    Affection is Warmth
    Morality is Purity
    Important is Heavy

    What would be your intuition about

    Right (conservative) is Right (correct, moral)?

    and

    Left is the Opposite of Right?

    Do you think it might be smart to choose different political descriptions, not automatically use the conventional Right and Left?

    Along roughly the same lines (on the level of secondary metaphor), do you have any thoughts about about elelphants and donkeys? For instance, Elephants are definitely Heavy and the cartoon cliche is that they have exceptional memories (elephants have gravitas?)...While to call someone a donkey, when I was coming up, meant they were stubbornly stupid. Should progressives mindlessly embrace these symbols just because they are traditional? (And/Or should we take care humorously to remind people that elephants are notoriously afraid of mice?)

    It occurs to me that Democrats could possibly be saddling themselves with a tangible handicap by assuming that the above long-standing conventions are neutral in their effects. Do you know if they have ever been looked at in that light?

  •  Thank you. This was a teaching diary. n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 04:34:47 AM PST

  •  He's not trying to shame them (12+ / 0-)

    Some people have very weak mentalization abilities, unable to think broadly about the thoughts of others.

    Decety has shown that emotional empathy exists on a spectrum, and that some people with highly skilled motor empathy or cognitive empathy almost completely lack emotional empathy.  These people may even have high performance of theory of mind tasks, but are unable to utilize them in the moment to moment decisions with other people.

    Social neuroscientists like Decety talk about them as having low emotional empathy.

    Cognitive neuroscientists talk about the mirror neuron contribution to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex as being low activity.

    Psychiatrists (until the DSM-V is finished anyway) refer to this group as being on the Narcissistic or Cluster B spectrum.

    They are also a large component of your "Conservative Populist" base.

    Obama isn't trying to shame the GOP Congresspeople.

    He's using a frame where they demonstrate they don't really have shame like the rest of us do.

    He's not debating them so they voluntarily surrender.

    He's not even aiming for the 20% that form their base, or the next 20% that are "bi-conceptual," to make them feel ashamed or to see the GOP shamed.

    He's giving them a chance to not show up at all.  And they are falling right into the trap.  Even if they physically go, they won't be able to cooperate.  

    At which point he turns to the 60% at the top of the emotional empathy spectrum and says, "We are all in trouble.  You all know someone in pain right now.  But we can do this.  We have the power.  I will reluctantly agree with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid.  We must now use the power given to us, reconciliation, to do what we must to help ourselves become stronger as a nation.  The GOP is against our coming to reconciliation, but we have waited long enough for a better way."

    Some of the bi-conceptuals will even back this reluctantly, not because he "speaks to their empathy," but because he has shown the GOP to be weak in their intransigence.  That won't make sense to the 20% at the bottom of the emotional empathy spectrum, but that's because, as you point out, they don't have sufficient mirror neuron activity in the right places to make it compute.

    And he'll keep hammering the message that the GOP opposes "RECONCILIATION," a coming together.  And so will they.  They will have no choice.  They'll try to call it something else, like a nuclear option, and the lame left-wing pundits will try to rebrand it as something else or argue with the GOP about how they used it ...

    But it's called Reconciliation.  Perfect for an empathic framing of working together, no?  Sounds better to the ear than BIPARTISANSHIP.

  •  Wow! (5+ / 0-)

    Brilliant summary of a complex subject.  I hope everyone will rec this up.

    My reaction is that we should respond to all Rethug talking points with the phrase, "I am sorry you were abused as a child".

  •  Don't think of an Elephant (8+ / 0-)

    inspired me to use the strict father/ nurturer father example with conservative friends.

    All of them were offended when viewed in this manner.  For instead of them being good, I was now good.  It put them on the defensive and they began to come up with nurturant values that they held.  

    It was so much fun.  

    Framing is an incredibly valuable method to use when trying to change peoples minds.  Thank you for continuing to educate us all on the value of real reason.

    •  Of course the ambiguity of real life sets in. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      daulton

      I have more than a few Republican relatives who are morally "straight" people who tend to see the world in black and white, who aren't "spankers" by any means, and have nurtured well rounded children (not Rod and Tod Flanders by any means) who have been taught

      a nurturing attitude...empathy, responsibility — for both oneself and others, and excellence: doing as well as one can to make oneself better and one’s family and community better.

      Those are their values, not the values of liberals.
      What they see in many other Americans is a lack of personal responsibility and a religion of individualism, which they see a relic of the "me now" 60's and liberalism. Somehow, even the excesses of Wall Street aren't seen in terms of regulation or lack thereof, but of a complete sense of personal irresponsibility and need for instant gratification.

      •  And to add, personal resposibility... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rlharry, the fan man

        ...is also a liberal value.

        We would like to see Wall Street executives take responsibility for themselves.

        (As Biden pointed out, we live in a capitalist society for the poor and middle class, but a socialist society for the rich.)

        This gives us an opportunity to open the conversation...we AGREE with personal responsibility...but for everyone.

        Always good to start with what we agree on.

  •  This diary is so true... (6+ / 0-)

    It explains what good teachers have always known.  No matter how technical or advanced your subject matter, you have to teach with your heart as well as your head and engage students at both the intellectual and emotional levels.

    "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end they always fail. Always." -Gandhi

    by Grandma Susie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 05:31:22 AM PST

  •  Brilliant! (6+ / 0-)

    My only complaint is that I wish there were more examples of what the administration/we should be saying.

    While what we should not be saying/responding with is useful and helpful - I am a weak vessel and need more direction!

    The only constant is change - Heraclitus

    by Gustogirl on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 05:32:25 AM PST

    •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl, daulton, Matt Z

      the example of the effects of using the word homosexual vs. gay men and lesbians is great because it is an easy thing we can all use. A follow up diary with other specific things like that would be great.  Or maybe a deconstruction/critique of a recent campaign that would illustrate how to apply this specifically to campaign messaging?

      And it occurs to me Mr. Lakhoff has probably already written all this but he were willing it would be great to have it posted here in diary form.

      If you live on Chicago's north side get involved Northside DFA. www.northsidedfa.com

      by citygirl on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:26:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dr. Lakoff, thanks for this great post. (4+ / 0-)

    In my dissertation, I argued that three root metaphors are very basic, for evolutionary reasons:

    Sound - often associated with what to do or not do. My argument is that it's an omni-directional sense, and the metaphor evolved with signaling and speech in hunter-gatherer societies.

    Sight - often associated with what is or is not present. Similar to above, the metaphor evolved in early mankind, and has been extended (by what Kenneth Burke would call "cauistical stretching") to mean "what is true or untrue." So, "seeing is believing."

    Smell - often associated with social acceptability or unacceptability. The metaphor probably evolved with reference to food.

    I'd be curious what you think of these hypotheses.

    "Who am I to give science the brush?" Sugarpuss O'Shea

    by semiot on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 05:48:12 AM PST

  •  the business of making the leap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, the fan man

    from biochemical processes to feats of imagination like metaphors lost me.  neural pathways are what they are and do what they do.  but "metaphor" is a idea construct with no physical representation in our brains or anywhere else.

    so the idea that neural pathways bear any direct relationship to metaphors strikes me as a bit of a stretch.  metaphors are a higher cognition language function, i.e., we can't even think about metaphors without knowing words.

    i think Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth and The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot (?) have more direct bearing on the ideation of metaphor than anything our synapses our doing.  "there is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy" and all that.

    thanks for this diary - definitely interesting.

    People are upset Obama hasn't solved all the problems yet. C'mon, he's only been in office one year...the man went to Harvard, not Hogwarts. - Wanda Sykes

    by Cedwyn on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 05:57:30 AM PST

    •  Functional MRIs may be the phrenology of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billlaurelMD, Cedwyn, daulton

      our age. I go back and forth on this. Neurosurgeons can light up a pin point in your brain and you think of your mother or God. It's a 3 pound universe for sure.

      •  Neuroimaging is not the equivalent of phrenology. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        A good portion of my own work involves functional imaging. Imaging is a broad field that involves PET, MRS and fMRI. The field is based in biomedical engineering and physics. It is the translation of our knowledge of the metabolic needs of neurons (glucose and oxygen utilization etc) in response to increased cognitive demands.

        These changes are interpreted in the context of what is hopefully a well formulated experimental design. Part of this methodology is that the imaging findings should correlate with some external phenomena in other well defined areas of scientific inquiry such as the known findings regarding working memory, attention, linguistics, reaction times, etc.

        There are certainly some shortcomings associated with any new field but it is certainly not phrenology.

        when you ask Americans why the poor are poor, they always say it's because they don't work hard enough... They act like poverty is a character issue."

        by smartdemmg on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:07:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know that, I mean it in the sense that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cedwyn, smartdemmg

          researchers overreach with conclusions, further exacerbated by science reporters looking for sensational headlines. Perhaps the better comparison is "lie detectors".

          When lay people read "MRI detects lying" or "Gay men and women share same brain responses" I'd say the field is too young to draw such conclusions, however valid the methodology may be at this point. I'm open to the research, which is nothing if not fascinating.

          •  Agreed on the over interpretation aspect. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn, the fan man

            In a comment below I asked the diarist to include links to the articles he cites on recent findings for that very reason. While the diarist's interpretations are intriguing, I prefer to see the direct source material myself and not a third party interpretation.

            when you ask Americans why the poor are poor, they always say it's because they don't work hard enough... They act like poverty is a character issue."

            by smartdemmg on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:49:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  After Having Read Diary and Your Comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      daulton, kck

      I am wondering how much of that which we feel to be closer to the truth in explaining ideas, human behavior, and other phemnomena depends on neurological activity associated with self-preservation in the most basic biological sense.

      Identity -- who we think we are -- is probably very closely related to self-preservation.  For instance, we know of cases when people's identity is destroyed (as in prison camps) by various means (including and excluding physical torture) and they "lose their minds," their sense of self, identity.  Their ability to preserve the self is shattered.

      Could not unconscious neurological function underpin that which we accept in argument, and that which we reject due to the biological imperative for self-preservation, corporeally and ideologically?

      In short, if an idea seems threatening to what we think, value, and believe, it probably is threatening to us in terms of primordial self-preservation.

      "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

      by Limelite on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:18:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i think such would be an extreme case (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daulton

        i mean, i'm no shrink, but i imagine torture and such would sap one's will to survive.  

        but i don't think self-awareness is any prerequisite for preservation.  all animals have survival instincts, even bugs.  hell, even amoeba will move toward/away from environmental stimuli.

        i'm not sure what you mean by "unconscious neurological function," but if your premise there is accurate, it's a higher-order perception triggering a reaction in the reptilian brain; well adjusted folk aren't threatened by ideas.

        People are upset Obama hasn't solved all the problems yet. C'mon, he's only been in office one year...the man went to Harvard, not Hogwarts. - Wanda Sykes

        by Cedwyn on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:54:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't self-preserv'n the highest order metaphor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Limelite

        That's an essential element in this diary. Humans can't survive without nurturing - either there's a milk producing nipple somewhere from which we can be nurtured or we get very angry and finally fail to thrive. Protection is required for that feeding to take place (e.g., time, shelter).

        After that have-not have condition (i.e., live or die)  the brain develops in degrees based on the quality of self, of the preserving. A different brain develops based on whether the nipple suckled is happy or not happy (e.g., warmth, embrace) and/or a healthy one (e.g., nutrients, taste, volume). If the infant cries for a moment before finding a nipple the biological thread is very different (i.e., changed brain) than is the infant cries for hours and hours before finding the nipple - the quality of feeding impacts the degree of self-preservation as well as develops metaphors mediate brain pathways and memories forever.  

        Similarly, if the protection that enables the nipple to be present also comes with a slapping response when we cry or loudness while we nurse, the brain develops differently than a protective, warm pair of arms that rock us to sleep. Such infant memories/experiences later stimulate their pathways (reflexes?) and are added to the complex of expression in the adult of any age/size as they're approached by larger, louder adults.  

        HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

        by kck on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:55:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Yale Coffee Study (6+ / 0-)

    That explains everything to me. I've always found that those people getting cold coffee drinks at Starbucks are a lot nastier than those drinking warm coffee.

    And as the song and dance begins/The children play at home with needles/Needles and pins

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:00:35 AM PST

  •  Yow! IF Ever an Argument (6+ / 0-)

    against attempting to compromise with conservatives existed, I can't think of it.

    If ever an analysis disclosed the flaw of Obama's conciliation and capitulation to Big Pharma as signaling the conservatives that they'd "won" on the HCR issue before the battle was joined, I haven't read it.

    BTW, I added "teaching" to your tags.

    "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

    by Limelite on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:28:33 AM PST

  •  Great diary but I think you are missing the point (14+ / 0-)

    of the Feb 25th summit. It is not aimed at convincing conservatives but rather at beating them in front of the children, thus undermining the perception of Republicans as strong father figures. I think Plouffe understands your concepts quite well.

    The vulnerability of the Republican approach is that when they are forced into public debate and can't compete, they look stupid, weak and even evil. They have done as a great favor at CPAC by providing hours of great TV soundbites for political ads. Evil frothing Cheney urged on by whacky supporters who crash planes into public buildings contrasted by the cool collected Obama masterfully controlling a room full of angry Republicans.

    I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

    by TheFatLadySings on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 06:49:37 AM PST

  •  A really wonderful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    and insightful read this morning. Thank you!

    I did notice a similar result - about reinforcing conservative thought via frame negation - during Bush's run against Kerry. Liberal parodies of Bush were often mocking, but nearly always resulted in reinforcing he was the 'right' candidate to elect. Which frames and/or metaphors were activated is beyond me, but it's clear that's what was happening!

    For a while it seemed like Obama was attempting to rebrand liberal ideas in conservative-speak, like linking the public option with competition. I gather that you're proposing something much different, though.

  •  If any educators were reading this... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boydog, daulton, ainwa, Matt Z, Leslie in KY

    George, I am a fan, and have enjoyed your books and used them as a resource in my blog, Wisdom of the Hands. If any educators were reading your post it would alert them to how stupid we are in designing schools. Having kids sit still in classrooms when their whole bodies are longing for meaningful engagement is criminal. Suppressing that vital bodily compulsion to learn and to grow is completely absurd, when it could be utilized as the first resource in education. The father of pedagogy, John Amos Comenius(28 March 1592 – 4 November 1670) said,

    "Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them."

    And so we ignore the wisdom presented from the past, and have created schools in direct conflict to children's innate bodily learning capacities. Is it any wonder that we have failing schools, an epidemic in the underperformance of boys, a huge dependency on drugs for adjusting boys and some girls to school discipline, and that we have a conservative class so completely destructive of democratic principles? You can read more about hands-on learning and the strategic implementation of the hands in learning through my blog, Wisdom of the Hands.

    •  but why has (0+ / 0-)

      change been so impossible to implement?  Is it because we continue to be dominated by the strict father authoritarian mindset in institutional schools? Is it because with compulsory attendance laws schools have a monopoly and no incentive to have more diverse models?  I really don't have an answer and neither have a lot of educational reformers who have come before us.

      This isn't the first time someone has noticed these things.  Look at the "free school" movement and John Holt for example.  John Holt (in the 1970's and early 80's)and J.T. Gatto (Dumbing Us Down, 1990's) were both teachers who sounded this theme and both gave up on expecting any real change in schools and decided to spend their time with people who chose alternatives, like myself. Other people started "free schools" like Sudbury Valley.

      I am a speech-language therapist and worked several years in public schools and left, never to return, and unschooled my own kids (now happy adults).

      I don't know if you've read any Gatto but he is interesting-- although I don't agree with everything he says.  But he analyzes why and how we adopted many of these authoritarian methods from Germany.  And he has great things to say about what meaningful education looks like.  Very inspirational. Start here:

      J.T. Gatto page

      but be sure to click on the link at the bottom to The Underground History of Education, free online book.

  •  This is essential (and fascinating) info. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    Related, to this, GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO DELIVER THE MESSAGE.

    Ever notice that "Meet the Press" has become "Meet Newt Gingrich"? He is a bald faced slimy liar, but he knows how to frame.

    Start getting our best communicators to get out there and deliver the message.

    (And, as Woody Allen pointed out, most of winning the game is just showing up. Get out there and get talking.)

  •  The difficulty with your prescription, Dr. L., (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    is that it requires us to simply accept that human beings are so utterly irrational that the only way to engage in rhetorical persuasion is to cater to our audience's cognitive incapacities.

    nations are NOT families and governments are NOT parents, the compelling metaphor notwithstanding, and in fact the metaphor is horribly broken. it's an analogy that cannot support or sustain a wise and thoughtful understanding of how collections of humans ought to order their social institutions.

    thus, i can only adopt your scheme for controlling the debate by abandoning any real respect for my fellow citizens -- by lying to them about what i personally believe and understand. and having thus abandoned any respect for them -- having decided to win their support by abusing and manipulating them "for their own good" -- i become just another benevolent despot: confident that my own particular wisdom is both of extraordinary quality and beyond the comprehension of my flock. leo strauss might approve.

    if i must despair of my compatriots' wisdom, i prefer to do it straight up. we're doomed either way, because if people are as immune to rational, honest persuasion as you insist they are, we're all going to hell together.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:06:27 AM PST

    •  Real reason requires emotion (2+ / 0-)

      Real reason is inexplicably tied up with emotion; you cannot be rational without being emotional. False reason thinks that emotion is the enemy of reason,  that it is unscrupulous to call on emotion. Yet people with brain damage who cannot feel emotion cannot make rational decisions because they do not know what to want, since like and not like mean nothing. "Rational" decisions are based on a long history of emotional responses by oneself and others. Real reason requires emotion.

      This has been proven in the laboratory by the neurophysiologists.

      I suggest reading

      Antonio Damascio
      William Calvin
      Oliver Sacks

      Governing well shall be the best revenge

      by Bill White on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:21:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i'm not arguing that we should exclude (0+ / 0-)

        emotion from our considerations.

        i'm arguing that we should exclude bogus, mythological emotion -- such as the Nation As Family, Government as Parent, Planet as Schoolyard metaphors. if i can't ever make a negative argument, because my audience is so helplessly under the control of their internal biophysical metaphorical cognition that the arguments -- the logic -- simply melt away under the heat of "activated frames", then i'm living in a society and a civilization (and indeed, a species) that has no hope of long-term success.

        we humans have far too much power at our disposal to go on indulging in fantastic delusions.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:51:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bogus, mythological emotion is how the other side (0+ / 0-)

          thinks

          A metaphor for what I see as the take home message of this diary:

          We are arguing in French to speakers of German. Therefore, it does not matter how good our arguments are because we are speaking different languages.

          And telling "the Right" that German is a stupid language (or, you are enslaved by bogus mythological emotion) isn't a good way to win allies.  

          Governing well shall be the best revenge

          by Bill White on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:41:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  PS -- you well may be correct, (0+ / 0-)

          about the consequences of internal biophysical metaphorical cognition.

          After all we are the 3rd species of chimpanzee and have only been reading and writing for ~8,000 years and we are playing with nuclear firecrackers and the ability to alter our climate so as to provoke a mass extinction event.

          And we do not really understand how brains actually work. Our collective failure to grok how our internal biophysical metaphorical cognition actually works could very well result in our self-extinction, as a species.

          That is a distinct possibility.

          Governing well shall be the best revenge

          by Bill White on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:45:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think the point is to level the playing field. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie in KY

      If we allow the Republicans to use emotional, while we ignore it, we are giving them an advantage.

      But both sides use emotional+rational arguments, we win, since the Republicans are are light on the rational side.

      And emotional is not necessarily bad. For example, 45,000 Americans dying each year because of health-care neglect should be more than a statistic. Remember the suffering and pain, and give it it's emotional due.

    •  What lies would you have to tell? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:18:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    We can be policy wonks in private if we like; but in public we need to talk about future states that change people's lives and deliver more security, more freedom, and more prosperity.  

    Our elected leaders must take charge and BE authoritative leaders, not compromisers.

    Conservative voters will respond more positively if Democrats say - "We are going here to make you more secure, more free and more prosperous.  Fearful republicans will not stand in our way.  We were elected to lead and we will take you there".  

    The 'hows' of policy are completely irrelevant.  

    "The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." Marcus Aurelius

    by Mosquito Pilot on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:09:43 AM PST

  •  I love your work and have been using it to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    teach communication classes and debate for nearly 30 years.

    Thanks for posting and putting everything in such an easy to understand format.

  •  I disagree with most of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    As usual, I think you over-intellectualize these things and give undue weight to the crazies.  You also fail to factor into the mix the force of stupidity.  I should clarify that, it is more a sonambulism.  

    I believe that the situation is really much simpler and primal than all of this would indicate.  And that the human race in general functions at a lower level than we would like.  Call it the ignorance of crowds.  Republicans understand this and Democrats don't.  I think this is what you are picking up on.  This  is because the modern Republican party was built by cynics, who are counting on the ignorance of their base.  There simply aren't enough rich people to win elections.  Therefore they had to figure out a way to manipulate rather dull people's emotions.  So they have become experts at exploiting the emotions of crowds.  

    Liberals on the other hand, believe that they have superior ideas, and that  these ideas should appeal to people.  That the superiority of these ideas should be self evident to anyone over the age of eight.  

    The problem is that crowds really are stupid things.  Even crowds composed of people where 'All the children are above average'.  They are emotional.  Particularly after traumatic events.  

    When something bad happens or is happening, a crowd will demand a simple narrative with a bad guy, a good guy and a solution.  And if you don't give them that, either someone else will or they will make it up.

    This was Obama's primary mistake.  The Kumbaya bullshit.  He needed to pound the red meat narrative about who the villans in this piece were from day one.  And he needed to be on the right side of the inevitable populist backlash to whatever was going to be necessary to right the ship.

  •  So "heterosexual" conjures up bad images too? (0+ / 0-)

    "Homosexual" conjures up dark visions of filthy bodily acts that arouse deeply-rooted feelings of disgust and ancient fears of Sodom and Gomorrah and hell and damnation."

    Sounds like a particularly Christian rooted viewpoint which makes it suspect from the get go.

    Ignoring that problem, would heterosexual have the same "bad" meaning vs. what, "straight" men?

    I'd guess that it was more the scientific language vs. the slang that was the difference in reactions. Like young kids being taught to refer to their genitalia by "baby talk" names vs. penis or vagina because the scientific names bother the parents as being too adult.

    Plus gay tends to contradict the idea that metaphors are hard wired because use of the word gay for homosexual is very recent and was chosen by homosexuals because gay had a positive meaning not a sexual meaning prior to being chosen.

    •  Maybe the respondents thought gay meant happy. (0+ / 0-)

      I definitely understand your point, but for that 15% that responded differently to the question, I imagine the word "heterosexual" is hardly ever heard. "Homosexual" is heard in fire breathing church meetings and out of the mouths of TV evangelicals, where "fag" may be considered too rough. For them, the opposite of "homosexual" is "normal". not "heterosexual".

      •  Gay DOES mean happy. Exactly the point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daulton

        Which is why the diary...hmm....has no point when it expresses....shock...shock...that people would react differently to scientific, clinical word vs. a word that means happy.

        The next VERY SERIOUS diary on the topic will no doubt intone how on 1st graders react differently when the school nurse asks about their penis (frown) or their po-po (giggle).

  •  With Due Respect, I Think This is Facile (11+ / 0-)

    And dangerously so.

    While I think that many of the findings regarding framing provide useful, indeed invaluable insights into the way the mind works, I believe many of the conclusions presented in this piece have gone far beyond the experimental foundation upon which they are supposedly based and I think that the result is a caricatured view of conservatives that is as likely as not to cause an underestimation of our opponents.

    If I understand correctly, Prof. Lakoff posits that there are essentially two basic moral systems that, contradictory though they may be, can coexist within the human mind.  I don't really have any objections so far as this, but when it comes to the next assertion I am a bit perplexed.  Essentially these systems are "Conservative", by which we mean modern American movement conservatism and "liberal" by which we mean essentially the progressive left.  Some people think in one of these two ways.  Others think in the opposite way.  Moderates think in both of them and the game of politics is played and won by successfully activating the circuits for your moral network in the "biconceptual" people.

    The problem is that this framework posits the total hodgepodge of progressive left positions as well as the hodgepodge of movement conservative positions as intellectually consistent.  But what has abortion to do with gun control, race relations, tax rates, the size of government or attitudes toward the projection of military power abroad?

    In his book, Don't Think of an Elephant, Professor Lakoff himself addressed this issue, and in fact wrote that his thinking on exactly this problem led him to the conclusion that all of these apparently unrelated issues were in fact related at a more basic level, within the human psyche based on how people see the world.  And so we have the Conservative Stern Father and the Liberal Nurturing Parent.  Presto.  Circle squared.

    Except that it isn't

    If these political alignments are indeed, as Prof. Lakoff posits the result of the basic structure of the human psyche then the logical conclusion is that we should see the same alignments of issues repeated cross cultures and times.

    A survey of American political history makes clear that this is not the case.

    Feminism was once closely identified with the temperance movement and prohibition.  Now feminism is part of a movement that generally favors the legalization of marijuana.  Evangelicals were once at the forefront of abolition.  Now they tend to identify with a party whose increasingly open hostility to minorities grows by the day.  Southern racists were once reliably economic populists and formed a crucial part of the New Deal coalition.  Eugenics and immigration restrictions were once favored by those who pushed for primary elections, women’s suffrage and the direct election of US senators.  Throughout this country’s history there have been odd groupings of issues on which identifiable groups of people held very strong views and saw those views as natural alignments.  Those alignments now look contradictory to many in our own age.  They are the products not of some psychological attitude toward one’s parents or toward the world at large.  They are the result of political expedience.

    Would this theory allow us to predict people's feelings about issues such as the national bank, internal improvements, ethnic cleansing, temperance, territorial expansion or the extension of slavery?  Because all of those issues were once very deeply linked in the minds of many Americans and for a very large number of them, to think one way on one issue was a satisfactory predictor of how one would think on all of the others and it's not the sort of alignment that might appear natural from our current viewpoint?

    Theodore Roosevelt, a man so aggressively masculine as to be a caricature is also a man whose name is closely associated with the foundations of progressive politics in our country.

    The fact is that coalitions of interests form in politics.  When they do they have a need to define themselves in opposition to their opponents.  The reason for this is simple, identity keeps coalitions together when simple interest will not suffice.  This tendency is even more important in the United States where the coalitions that form are unlikely to share ethnic, cultural, or religious backgrounds that could provide the framework for a stable identity.  Americans need a political identity more than most other peoples and that has long been reflected in our politics.

    Therefore, if there is indeed anything basic in the human character that is causing movement conservatives and progressive leftists to stay together, I believe it will more likely be found in the capacity of human beings to create bonds of trust, where bonds of mutual interest will not survive.  And that is a question related more to identity formation than moral perception.

    The upshot of all of this is that if we content ourselves with the idea that "the highest conservative value is preserving and empowering their moral system itself," we can very easily miss a lot of what is going on.  We can miss opportunities to drive a wedge into the coalition arrayed against us, which I do not believe is the result of deep unconscious drives, but rather is the result of pragmatic political calculation.

    There is no question that, as Professor Lakoff has written, the manipulation of deep unconscious drives is a very important element in movement conservatism.  It is an absolute requirement that those drives be manipulated constantly and skillfully.  But the reason for that is that the coalition itself is not inherently stable.  If it were, there would be no reason to continually reinforce it.  It is the product of political expedience and it can be torn apart if attacked shrewdly.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:31:53 AM PST

  •  This Is All Routine Intuitive Natural Behavior (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SW, wu ming, daulton, Matt Z, Benintn

    of strong leaders.

    Look, everything you say is obviously true, very well researched and documented. It's excellent insight into some of the aspects of leadership.

    But we make a mistake if we conclude that the reason Obama and the Democrats are executing it badly is because they're uninformed or mistaken.

    They're executing badly because they intend not to motivate strongly as the Republicans do.

    The Democratic Party is a conservative party. They govern for big money, but they're compassionate conservatives so they also govern for the people wherever big money doesn't object.

    The Republican base passionately shares the goals of big money, but the Democratic base opposes them.

    So Democrats who like all politicians need big money patronage to have viable campaigns, can't afford to energize voters with a passion for their interests, because Democrats have to govern for big money first.

    In the American system all major parties have to be conservative, and the most compassionate conservative party must be milquetoast.

    That has nothing whatever to do with cognitive science, it's the pure arithmetic of a primitive frontier system of government up against an advanced global information age economy.

    Cognitive science while it illuminates how our side is weak, can do nothing under the sun to make it strong. A strong progressive party violates the combination of the Constitution with the laws of economics.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:32:22 AM PST

  •  So (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    Humans don't like freezing to death. Interesting piece certainly but the science borders on the trivial.

    Harry Reid's lack of backbone is an act, his obstructionism isn't.

    by stevej on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:41:53 AM PST

  •  Could you include the links for the studies (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, the fan man, Matt Z

    listed citing the work in cognition and linguistics.

    A University of Amsterdam study showed that subjects thinking about the future leaned forward, while those thinking about the past leaned backward.  This was predicted by the 1980 analysis of common European metaphors in which The Future is Ahead and The Past is Behind. This is not just a matter of language, but of thought, as Johnson and I showed.

    • At Yale, researchers found that subjects holding warm coffee in advance were more likely to evaluate an imaginary individual as warm and friendly than those holding cold coffee. This is predicted by the conceptual metaphor that Affection is Warmth, as in She gave me a warm greeting.

    • At Toronto, subjects were asked to remember a time when they were either socially accepted or socially snubbed. Those with warm memories of acceptance judged the room to be 5 degrees warmer on the average than those who remembered being coldly snubbed.

    • Subjects asked to think about a moral transgression like adultery or cheating on a test were more likely to request an antiseptic cloth after the experiment than those who had thought about good deeds. The well-known conceptual metaphor Morality is Purity predicts this behavior.

    • Students told that that a particular book was important judged it to be physically heavier than a book that they were told was unimportant. The conceptual metaphor is Important is Heavy.

    • In a parallel study with heavy versus light clipboards, those with the heavy clipboards were more likely like to judge currency to be more valuable and their opinions and their leaders more important.

    • And in doing arithmetic, students who used their hands to group numbers together had an easier time doing problems that required conceptual grouping. This is predicted by the analysis of mathematics in Where Mathematics Comes From by myself and Rafael Núñez where we show how mathematics from the simple to the advanced is based on embodied metaphorical cognition.

    While these summaries are intriguing, I prefer to read the source studies directly to evaluate them for their scientific accuracy and value.

    when you ask Americans why the poor are poor, they always say it's because they don't work hard enough... They act like poverty is a character issue."

    by smartdemmg on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:49:20 AM PST

  •  Classic Confucianism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, Matt Z

    Because our first experience with being governed in is our families, we all learn a basic metaphor: A Governing Institution Is A Family, where the governing institution can be a church, a school, a team, or a nation. The Nation-as-Family version gives us the idea of founding fathers, Mother India and Mother Russia, the Fatherland, homeland security, etc.  

    There is a lot more to ancient Chinese wisdom than we realize.

    Help new teachers to grow and love their work at www.newteachernetwork.net

    by Mi Corazon on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:59:24 AM PST

  •  dems can't frame over RW radio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, Matt Z

    has left been able to frame anything last 20 yrs? since reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine?

    thanks prof Lakoff, but again, dems can't frame over RW radio. the left is strategizing in a talk radio vacuum.

    unless the left recognizes 1000 radio stations and all that coordinated repetition can frame over anything dems try to do, theyre going to keep playing catchup in the media.

    it is big mistake by the left to assume they can frame anything major. truth and common sense cut through some of the right's last 20 years of uncontested framing but the left has nothing to compare.

    obama could do some framing while on the campaign trail because there was plenty of media and focus on him.  now all issues can be separated and isolated and the think tanks and lobbyists feed the talking points to limbaugh and hannity and sons for continuous distortion- adding on to all the general RW framing they've been able to do  for the last 20 years while being completely ignored by the left.

    the left must recognize the radio problem. progressive orgs on all issues need to consider the local limbaugh/hannity/beck megastations as framing factories and headquarters for all things GOP and recognize that need to be picketed. otherwise they will continue to get a free speech free ride.

    US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

    by certainot on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:02:54 AM PST

    •  Very good point! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, certainot

      One frame I keeping seeing, even HERE, is that leftie radio can't make it...a frame promulgated by RW radio.

      Here in Ohio, we have zero progressive radio, although the state went for Obama.  We once had three progressive stations in the state, on Clear Channel...the one here in Columbus was on their weakest signal.

      Clear Channel killed all three for "business reasons"...and all three dropped of the ratings charts (earning only an asterisk, instead of numbers).  

      Funny. Clear Channel did not then return them to progressive "for business reasons."

      We are an occupied nation, listening to the equivalent of Radio Moscow, and every car in the country is a RW talking point machine.

      •  as if 90% of americans want to hear RW liars and (0+ / 0-)

        fools all day long, after Obama won so big.

        before nov. the dem party needs to make major local and national RW talkers transcripts available, if legal, or at least be doing daily analysis so dem candidates can respond before the frames are established.

        the local limbaugh megastation here is already starting to play in the primaries. all over the country the GOP think tanks are probably working the primaries, not only for the GOP candidates but doing the usual to help corporate dems beat progressives.

        the dem party needs to keep track of what's happening radio wise and make it available to us if they were smart.

        US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

        by certainot on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 01:41:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You need to read "The Authoritarian Dymanic" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton

    George,

    If you haven't already done so you need to read The Authoritarian Dynamic by Karen Stenner.  Your chocolate and her peanut butter would make an even better candy bar!!

  •  I find this argument problematic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Benintn

    My problem is with the whole framing of this argument/debate.

    There is a tendency in certain cognitive science circles to think of identity and behavior as resulting from rational choices of disconnected brains (I use "rational" not in the strictest sense of adhering to perfect logicality). Either an argument is rational or irrational based on a particular logic, experience, or memory of the brain.

    This article argues that people can be classified into a category of "liberal" or "conservative" based on whether their brain accepts or rejects a particular issue/idea/behavior because of some predilection of their individual, particular brain cognition resulting from individual experience.

    What this type of argument ignores is the massive role that social behavior and inclination plays in the decisions of individual human actors.

    Someone who at one time might identify with this label of "liberal" can easily at other times of their life identify as "conservative" depending on such a change in the identity of their peer group at different points in their life. This would refute the argument that liberal/conservative procedes from differing parenting styles or pre-determined ideational proclivities of individual brains.

    The reason a person can hold some views which are deemed "conservative" and other views which are deemed "liberal" is not because they are mixed-brain, or however it could be described-- but rather because certain social group identities are formed through the use of ideologies which choose one or another position/idea in order to distinguish and strengthen that identity.

    My problem isn't with the fact that particular words and phrases have certain connotations, but do these connotations arise from the word itself, or- as I admit is alluded to to a certain degree in the article- are the connotations socially determined/constructed?

    My approach to achieving growth for "progressive" causes by bringing people over to our side wouldn't just be through persuasion of argument or choosing to use "this word" instead of "that word", but by forming more and stronger social connections with people who identify as "conservative". Make them like you and connect to you, and in so doing they're more likely to accept this or that position/idea.

    Of course, my own solution is problematic because it would seem to against the social tendency for people to want to congregate with others who are like them- especially as it pertains to identification with a particular social group. But that's a whole other diary waiting to be written...  

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair via Al Gore; -6.62, -5.28

    by bluejeandem on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:20:55 AM PST

    •  Bingo. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      "The heart has reasons that reason cannot understand." - Pascal

      And this is not simply saying what Lakoff is saying.  It's saying that the metaphors we live by are built in such unique ways that they cannot be manipulated.

      Framing doesn't fix what's broken with the human heart.  And the truth is, that's not Obama's problem anyway - he still has much more favorable poll numbers than the Congresscritters on either side.

      "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

      by Benintn on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:10:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this excellent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor

    essay.

  •  you're right, but the economy is the problem... (0+ / 0-)

    George - you're right about progressive problems with framing, but that's not our biggest problem right now.  By that, I agree that we need to address larger problems with how we frame progressive governance, but the biggest problem we have is the economy.  If unemployment were at 6%, or even 7%, the GOP would be on the verge of being wiped out in 2010 and 2012.  But, with unemployment at 9.7%, the average American will vote against us in 2010.  2012 will be better, but 2010 will be a killer.

    Really, we needed to pass a MUCH larger stimulus bill, and we should have called it a jobs bill (better framing!).  When the GOP tried to filibuster it, we should have exposed their delaying tactics, told Americans that conservatives wanted the economy to collapse so they could regain power, and then changed the filibuster rules via the "Constitutional Option".  

    Obama took another route.  He passed a "stimulus" package that was too small in order to get it passed quickly and avoid a chance of complete economic collapse.  It was the safe and risk-averse choice.  But, I think it was the wrong choice.  In politics, you have to try and knock out your opponents when you get a chance.  The biggest threat to this country isn't Al Qaeda, it's the national GOP.  They needed to be understood as the threat they are to our common prosperity, and completely discredited.  Instead, the awful economy, which Bush caused and Obama is fixing (slowly), is killing us politically.

  •  "Nurturance"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, Eryk

    I know that Prof. Lakoff uses this word to describe the "liberal moral model"; I also know that he doesn't necessarily recommend using the words he uses in public discourse.  But I still wonder about this word--by now it has a VERY BAD rep, especially since lots of people don't seem to have the same understanding of the word that the Professor does.  "Nurture" shares four letters (including the first three and the last) with "nurse"; when I try to discuss this with others, I have to point out that "nurture" doesn't mean "coddle".  ("Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer...")  Again, though I know it's not the sort of word you'd use in a speech to begin with, I have to ask:  Is there some other word available?

    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

    by Panurge on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:28:02 AM PST

    •  The Left had tougher rhetoric (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      in the industrial era (roughly 1815 to 1945). Strike. Overthrow Capitalism. Revolution. It takes muscle to do these things. But the manufacturing base got sent overseas and liberals lost their Manpower.

      •  OTOH... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eryk, Matt Z

        ...would we want to lose the softer touch we have right now?  If we go for the Real Man theme, will we lose our soul?  Will it just turn into more hippie-punching?

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:47:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a good point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z

          Compassion and cooperative values are indeed the soul of the movement. A political philosophy with a paramount concern for human needs. We just need to remember that bipartisanship is not a human need and it isn't a virtue if we accomodate selfishness and make deals with the oppressor. We are the weak partner, collaborating with bullies, if we do this.

          It isn't hippie-punching if we punch conservatives.

  •  Careful About Advising Not To Fight Back (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, Matt Z

    Every time a liberal goes over a conservative proposal giving evidence negating conservative ideas one by one, he or she is activating the conservative ideas in the brains of his audience. The proper response is to start with your own ideas, framed to fit what you really believe.

    Some might interpret this to mean that conservative bullshit shouldn't be called out. That didn't work so well for Mike Dukakis. Didn't work so well for Al Gore. Didn't work so well for John Kerry. And it hasn't worked in HCR.

    Sometimes you have to call the opposition on their bullshit, and sometimes it works. Not doing so gives the perception of weakness, and nobody likes to feel weak.

    It's time to speak truth to crazy.

    by TX Unmuzzled on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:28:57 AM PST

    •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

      I think we run into problems in the way we call them out. I think we have to call them out, I wish I knew the best, most effective way to do it.

      For example, we keep trying to knock down the birth certificate nonsense over and over again and haven't been able to kill it. We show them the birth certificate and the birth announcement over and over again, etc. Granted much of the reason for this nonsense to even exist is racial, but now when about 58% of Republicans polled question President Obama's birth or aren't sure about the veracity of his birth, I am just flabbergasted. We know it's nutty, but I'm concerned that when the percentage is over 50%, granted of those polled, others will start believing this nonsense...that "well the majority believe...so it must be true" starts seeping into the more general population.  

      It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

      by fumie on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:48:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this article... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, marabout40

    It helped me to understand many things. I do not have your credentials, for sure, but I am well aware of the power of "language" in creating worlds (frames). The "unconsciousness" of it too is a fact. Meanwhile you are also right about the liberal failing when it comes to the role of "emotions" in reasoning. We end up here with the Cartesian divison which left us suspicious of "emotion" of any kind. "Objectivity" demanded the elimination of "subjective" emotions thus we have been "reasoning" on a two legged stool since then, figuratively speaking. "Emotions" are indeed the third leg of the reasoning stool without which we fall flat on our faces. Thank you again for this very informative diary.

    I do have a few questions though when it comes to what Obama is doing with his bipartisanship efforts. I don't think it is about the belief in persuading the Republicans by speaking the truth and reasoning with them. He knows they won't. Most of them, anyway. I suspect he's got a different fish to fry and we haven't seen the results of it yet.

    For example

    We saw this when Obama attended the Republican caucus. He kept pointing out that they voted against proposals that Republicans had made and that he had incorporated, acting as if this were a contradiction. But that was to be expected, since a particular proposal that strengthens Obama and hence weakens their moral view violates their highest

    moral principle.

    To me the real target audience of that caucus move was not the Republicans. It was instead his own base and the ones in the middle, who are not necessarily ruled by that conservative moral mindframe. And from what I saw on liberal and democratic blogs, it worked to awaken his supporters to what the Republicans were really about.

    That is why I don’t expect much from the President’s summit with Republicans on February 25.  Why should they do anything to strengthen Obama’s hand, when it would violate their highest moral principle, as well as weakening themselves electorally. If Obama thinks he can shame them in front of their voters, he is mistaken again. Conservative voters think the same way they do.

    Again, I disagree in terms of Obama's purpose involving the summit. To me, he is "exposing" what is going on (and you are correct about everything you said about the Republican moral mindset frame)to anyone who is not controlled by that mindset.One of the things the Republican language wizards (rhetoric chicanery)have been trying to do since the election is to turn Obama's base against him. These exposees thus to my opinion are mainly designed to change that. To me, then, the summit has great potential to gather support among his real target audience than convincing of the Republicans into appreciating him by the means of reasoning. They won't, and I suspect he knows that. But they will be exposed to greater numbers of people. Will he apply "emotions" while rationalizing with them, and the public? I think the emotions will be utilized by the public audience who would be witnessing the "unreasonable" Republican behavior. I think the prez is quite brilliant and nowhere near "anti-emotion" as many of us liberal minds are (it is interesting that we care more about the empathy and caring for the others). The problem is that his type of work takes time and in our instant communications driven times, we are attempting to micromanage his job, on daily basis. Our constant yeah, boo rollercoaster reactions remind me of the stock market insanity in which we are on top of the world one day and at the botom of the hell, the next. Both, of course, are illusions.

    About his successful 2008 election campaign, his framing strategies worked because they were not just created to persuade but they were honest, original and intended what they said.

    Those two (opposite)systems of morality do battle in America, I agree, and the false reasoning does confuse even the best of us, but I don't think there is an observable sharp divide in between those two opposites (that's where it gets tricky). Like in Escher's art, they are very distinguishable in the extremes but in between where they meet and blend, they are not as easily identifiable.I think Escher would put not a line or a wall but a "pause" in between such opposites. The "entanglement" theory of quantum physics come to mind, also. As our conservatives and liberals are entangled with one another, the way to freedom out of this entanglement lies not in new "frames" maybe but where the frames merge cancelling one another like the quantum waves interacting: the pause. It is an unconscious process of course. I don't think we are aware of that pause, consciously.

    I have great hopes for this country and for this president's success. A success that will eventually add the conservative morality frame spice into the proverbial soup pot. And when we taste the final product (if there is any), we would not be able to distinguish the taste of the cumin from the curry or the oregano from basil. Conservatives don't like the idea much of course but I don't think they have much choice..lol!

    Regards

    •  In other words... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      To my opinion, the forward success of this nation does not depend on the complete failure or success of one or the other of those two opposing mindframe values. Even as a liberal, I wouldn't deny the role of the conservative values (they supply the negative side of the equation)in a vision of successful America. This nation is United and thus it will survive only in unison.

      The "how" of it is not easily describable, however. We do our best (50% of the work) and the "unconscious" completes the rest...

      Regards

  •  If I understand this correctly, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, Matt Z, marabout40

    all the snarky, sarcastic patter by Olberman, Maddow and many here and elsewhere reinforce the conservative frame, not weaken it.  It would be better to keep pounding what progressive policies do for people and that conservatives are working against people in favor of corporations.  I wonder what the Olberman and Maddow shows would be like without the snark and without relying so much on what conservatives are doing.  The same goes for dailykos.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:44:15 AM PST

  •  Glad to read this here. TY. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, Matt Z

    Professor Lakoff, I hope that you will participate in comments to this or future postings.

    There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

    by srkp23 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:47:48 AM PST

  •  Really good article (0+ / 0-)

    But I wonder why you didn't describe the interconnection between language and morality ("Every word is neurally connected to a neural circuit characterizing a frame, which in turn is part of a system of frames linked to a moral system", italics mine) in terms of constructions, which are more general than words and actually more interesting.

    Cheers,
    Greg Shenaut

  •  Obama's missed opportunity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CTPatriot

    was right at the start of the healthcare debate. As soon as charges of "government takeover" appeared, he went into defense mode, which forced the "discussion" into just the box that the Republicans want.

    He should have vigorously promoted the "government as solution" frame, using the same arguments that helped enact a host of progressive initiatives  (Medicare, Social Security, civil rights legislation, etc.) Instead, a defensive posture just reinforced the "government is the problem" frame, which made reasoned consideration of the public option (not to mention single-payer) virtually impossible.

  •  Why I dislike this diary: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, marabout40

    You are reinforcing a frame that runs contrary to the Democrats.  When you say, "Democrats and Obama are failing to frame properly," you reinforce the frame that the Democrats and Obama are incompetent.

    So, while you are posting about how the Dems can improve their messaging, you're doing it in a way that claims your own personal superiority (appeal to elitism  = "I know better than those stupid politicians") and

    You honestly think you know better than the Democratic Party how to strategize?  Have you actually engaged Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, or anyone else in a direct way?  What have been the results of that engagement?

    Because there is a huge and profound difference between what you're doing (saying what's wrong with Democrats and Democratic strategy) and what the Democrats are actually doing (building the base by organizing and extending the base by reaching to universal principles and common interests).

    At the end of the day, today's Democratic Party leadership is sick and tired of the whole "framing" game.  And they're not trying to push "our ideology" as much as they're trying to say that the ideologies themselves are idols and distractions from actual progress.

    President Obama ran on a post-ideological message: "There are no red states and blue states.  There is the United States of America."  We have more in common than we might initially claim, and even Republicans should be able to agree that increased efficiency will shrink the size of government.

    Your framing is off, Dr. Lakoff.  And the sooner you change it, the better for all of us.  Stop attacking the Democratic Party for not playing the Republican game, and start working on changing the game itself.

    "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

    by Benintn on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:06:01 AM PST

    •  couldn't agree with you more, Benintn. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, Benintn

      see my comment below: http://www.dailykos.com/...

      If not for that section of the diary, I would have happily tipped and rec'd.

      Please help StopRushLimbaugh. Because hate should not be profitable.

      by marabout40 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:27:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is Exactly the Kind of Arrogance (0+ / 0-)

      ...that has cost the Democrats 3 elections already and will probably lose them one or both houses of congress in the next election. It is precisely because of the Democratic party's inability to frame issues, to effectively debunk Republican frames, and to continue following DLC consultants' advice over all others even as the middle and their base desert them.

      It's well past time that Democrats understand that, like it or not, they need to develop the same expertise at word crafting and issue framing that Frank Luntz does so deviously and effectively for the Republicans.

      What is saddest to me of all is that Luntz's health care strategy white paper was leaked to the media for all of us to see before it ever was put into action. And yet the Democrats did nothing to develop an effective counter attack. Instead, they ceded both the issues and the language to Republicans over and over as they courted that mythical bipartisan victory.

      And so we sit here with no public option, no medicare for all, and a real fear among far too many rational people that government is trying to takeover our health care. It is inexcusable and unforgivable that Luntz and the Republicans were allowed to get away with such dishonest framing.

      This wouldn't happen if the Democratic "strategists" spent more time listening to Lakoff and less time listening to folks like Kaine and Emanuel.

  •  This makes me think of two things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    One is a book I am reading by Max Blumenthal called Republican Gomorrah in which Blumenthal discusses the effect of the religious right's suggestion that parents beat their children with a neutral object, i.e. a belt or strap, until the children genuinely cry, the allow the child to come to them to be comforted.  Blumenthal suggests that this gives rise to a confusion of love and pain and leads to what Eric Frome called a maschoistic personality.  I am not a pyschologist, but his argument seems right to me and likely to be true.  

    The second is that NLP, coming from a different direction, foreshadowed these experimental results.  One of the findings of NLP is that the words people use reflect their internal processing.  This was just an observation at that point and to my knowledge didn't have any experimental evidence behind it, but it was quite clearly true.  The evidence which shows developmental linkages between associated experiences and concepts makes the concept clearer.  When we think of something like a more important value, we link to an image which holds that value either "higher" or "basic" meaning a lower image, or closely held, meaning closer to ourselves. Extend this example to all metaphorical language and you gain an insight into someone's internal processing just by listening to the language that they use.

    One question that comes up for me when considering the theory of neurological linkages is, can we change?  Or are the sado-maschoists in the republican party hardwired and therefore doomed to live their entire lives in this state?  And are we doomed to live ours in our state.  

  •  Our frames, our words, from the Left (0+ / 0-)

    I support the Communist Party USA and the Democratic Socialists of America because there is no liberalism without socialism. There is no center-left without the left. And the center moves to the right if the left is weak.

    The left was created and is sustained by proud socialists who call themselves socialists, and who use the word "capitalist" as a term of abuse. Everyone and everything else is helping the right by snubbing the left.

  •  Fear/Wonder (0+ / 0-)

    Well, the neuro-science stuff is I believe leading towards an understanding of the sort of bifurcation in the manner in which organisms approach the unknown.  A certain fraction of the population looks at the unknown with an initial emotion of wonder.  Of inquisitiveness.  A desire to understand and figure out.

    Another fraction of the population is hardwired to react to the unknown with fear.  That is their first emotional response.  

    We can learn to overcome these pre-dispositions.  They are often counterproductive to ourselves situationally.  

    They seem to exist in many populations of organisms, not just human beings.  

  •  Barack Obama has always been and will always (5+ / 0-)

    be about bridging the gap between ideologies, cultures, people... you name it. That has always been his style. It is who he is and he's not going to change because some of us don't like it or see it as a weakness.

    If you know anything about his background, if you read his books, if you REALLY listen to his speeches, you will understand this.

    I am tired of the complaints about his attempts at bipartisanship with Republicans. We want him to apply diplomacy/reach out to foreign countries/leaders - even those who are hostile towards us - yet we don't expect him to do the same thing with the other American political party??? I don't understand that.

    Here is Barack Obama making his Presidential exploratory committee announcement:

    Listen to what he's saying:

    ...it's not the magnitude of our problems that concern me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America has faced big problems before, but today our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical common-sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions. That's what we have to change first. We have to change our politics and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans. This won't happen by itself. This can only come from you. From people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it...

    This was more than 3 years ago. His goal, his vision for changing the politics in Washington has not changed. And unlike some of us, he's not willing to give up trying after just one year.

    Please help StopRushLimbaugh. Because hate should not be profitable.

    by marabout40 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:25:33 AM PST

  •  I agree that you have supported your ideas well. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    understandinglife

    But I take issue with statements such as:  

    The experimental results confirming our theories of embodied cognition have been coming in regularly, especially in the area of metaphorical thought.

    My study of science suggests that theories can be supported or largely refuted but not "confirmed" or proven.

    It's not that I disagree with your conclusions, as long as they aren't put out as being true beyond any doubt.  In fact in about 1977 I also concluded that reason may be impossible in the absence of emotions.  At the time I was trying to figure out how artificial intelligence could be produced and decided to not use human intelligence as a model.  In thinking generally about the idea of reasoning toward solutions of problems I found no way that it could happen in the absence of some type of emotional stimulation.  

    Of course the fact the I could find no such path may simply be due to the limitations of my own imagination.  I would not advance this as having been confirmed by either my analysis or the type of research that you have mentioned that I also found to be exciting.

    I also wonder about interpretations of this result:  

    In one experiment, the strength of blink reflexes to unexpected noises was measured and correlated with degrees of reactions to external threats. Conservatives reacted considerably more strongly than liberals.

    In my experience is seems that self-identified conservatives react strongly to threats by other groups of human beings and anything that seems similar to such threats.  In the process they are often willing to accept considerable damage to their environments that could be more problematic to them in the long run than are the perceived threats.

    OTOH, liberals tend to react strongly to threats that could produce lasting damage to their environments and tend to think that problems among groups of people can be resolved.

    Both groups are reacting to fears, but they fear different things.

    This plays out in a certain way when it comes to science.  Both groups seem to value science, but my study of history suggests that they have different motivations (emotionally driven reason) for this.

    Conservative want to protect their groups and dominate others that they fear.  Technology can help them to do this.  But the development of technology, especially when it comes from science, threatens their ability to control what they want to protect.  Innovation always threatens existing institutions.  Consequently, they seek to control and to limit science and technology.

    Note that every nation has its scientific and technological secrets.  Also things  like restrictions on stem cell research are shots across the bow of science that say "don't got to far.  We're watching you!"

    The science of evolution and climate science particularly induce fear in typical conservatives.

    Liberals want to use the results of science to help people.  They have less fear of find out about something new and threatening than they have about not fining out about it and not being to anticipate it.  Yet many still fear the negative outcomes of technology as it acts on the environment and will support some limitations in science in the hope of preventing some of the environmental harm.

    Anyway, thanks for the stimulating diary.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:41:30 AM PST

  •  I don't know whether my profound disagreement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    understandinglife

    with this op-ed in thr NYT's by Thomas Friedman belongs in
    this comment thread, but my perception of its lack of understanding of President Obama's first year strikes me as a cognitive issue.

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    Basically as i read it Friedman is saying that Obama's big mistake was to lay the entire menu of the massive problems and things that he felt needed changing on the table at one time. That Americans are incapable of dealing with more than one course at a time. Meat, first, then potatos, then the peas, then the gravy, and then the dessert and coffee.

    That by presenting climate change, health care, bank bailouts, saving the global financial system, DADT, Jobs, stimulus, energy, two wars, and by trying to get Congress to do the job it is constitutionally mandated to do, he has failed in his mission to be a transformational president and all he had to do was to find the right note to sing to us.

    I totally disagree with this thesis (if this is what Friedman is actually positing) I believe that ONLY by trying to convey to the American people and the world that everything is connected and we have run out of time to fix things one step at a time that in fact President Obama has done the only thing that possibly may change the world and be a transformational leader.

    It's worth reading anyway, especially if you want to hate Friedman's simplistic  perspective as I did when I read it..

  •  More facile self-promotion from Lakoff. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wytcld

    "Reason" is a term for how people OUGHT to think, not a description of how they do.  People do in fact commit all kinds of fallacies, but that doesn't make this kind of reason any more "real".  Being a PROGRESSIVE, to me, means trying to PROGRESS toward how things ought to be, not just acquiescing in how they are.  You're incredibly cavalier about abandoning the enlightenment ideal of rational political culture and fighting things out on the conservatives' home turf.  Your psychologism is short-sighted and deterministic.  

    My fellow Kossacks: don't be so flattered by this guy and don't be so easily convinced by his magic bullet ideas about how we can win every policy battle if we'll just read his book and "frame" everything just how he says.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 10:47:56 AM PST

    •  Lakoff isn't saying we should be illogical (0+ / 0-)

       he's just saying that in the real world, thinking can't be separated from feeling, not should it. I thought the most compelling point here is that people incapable of emotion can't solve logical problems either.

       I'm not sure what Lakoff thinks on this, but I myself see no reason why adopting this idea of reason is a rejection of what's actually progressive about the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers embraced reason as a way of casting doubt on unthinking obedience to constituted authority - hence Kant's famous argument that an Enlightened person (well, he said "man" of course, but let's say person) is one who, when confronted with a piece of information which he doesn't know whether or not to believe, will not take into consideration who is telling them (their teacher, their mother, the Pope, some wino on the street), but only the plausibility of the information itself. The abstract notion of reason they came up with was supposed to provide the means to do so.

      The urge was anti-authoritarian and it makes sense, perhaps, that conservatives, who love authority, find it easier to reject that tradition and fall back on flagrant appeals to emotion and "values" with no real interest in factual accuracy at all. However, it's not like progressive values are born only of some kind of abstract "reason," seen as pure scientific logic, or somesuch. After all, we have to start by asking: why do we dislike constituted blind authority anyway? Because it stands in the way of Truth? So what's so important about Truth? Why do we get mad when Sarah Palin tells whopping lies? Because we value truth, we like truth, we desire a world where people don't get away with lying like that. Enlightenment reason, at least, in the form Lakoff is describing, can't really account for its own appeal, which if nothing else shows we need to put it on a little firmer foundation.

      •  ... (0+ / 0-)

        Kant thought that ethics could be founded entirely on rationality.  In this he departed explicitly from Hume, who famously argued that reason is the slave of the passions and for a sentimentalist meta-ethics.  I'm more or less with Hume.  However, the feeling aspect of morality is limited in scope.  How is it that we generalize from the feelings we have for our family, friends, countrymen to wider obligations?  How did some people's feelings about slavery change during the 19th century?  I think that the moral sentiments are expanded by reason, that the way we arrive at a sense of wider obligation is by recognising that the properties of our intimates which we passionately value are shared by
        distant individuals.  

        See CL Stevenson's response to the objection that emotivist meta-ethics makes no place for moral disagreement for a thorough account of how Hume's intellectual heirs have tried to sort through these issues.  In "Freedom and Reason" RM Hare gives an account according to which ethics is not grounded in rational recognition of universal imperatives, according to which we have freedom to adopt our own basic imperatives (a subjectivity which suggests a connection to Hume), but which employs a Kantian inspired notion of universalizability to deal with these same issues.

        My distaste for Lakoff's approach is grounded in some previous suggestions he's made.  I find some of his work in philosophy/cognition/language interesting, if sometimes overly simplifying certain issues.  But his dabbling in politics is often wreckless and un-empirical, guided by his arrogant sense that he's unlocked the key to human thought.  For example, he recently suggested something along the following, admittedly charicatured lines, reframing of the health care debate in religious, nationalistic terms: Call it the "Jesus loves America Plan".  Ok, that wasn't quite it and I don't want to dig through his past diaries, BUT my point is just that even though nationalism and fundamentalism evoke strong emotions it's shortsighted and plays the game on the Rs home court to make these appeals.

        To be sure, the relationship between reason and emotion in moral cognition is complicates.  I'm not endorsing the Kantian pure rationalist position in meta-ethics.  However, I am saying that we need to be very cautious about short term expediency in terms of the kind of political culture we strive to create.  Furthermore, I wish to make it clear that Lakoff's rampant psychologism is remarkably naive for an academic of his stature and completely insensitive to some complicated meta-ethical disputes that have been widely discussed by philosophers.  It's always surprising and disturbing to me when cognitive scientists or biologists think they've cracked through "confused philosophy" and arrogantly proclaim theses that fail to respond to obvious philosophical objections.  Again, it's not that I don't share some of the basic Humean point of view with Lakoff; I just find his a remarkably unsubtle development of that point of view....  But, of course, I'm just ranting off a bit here and maybe I need to give more of his stuff a closer read; it's just that nothing I've seen so far gives me any reason to read more, nor does it justify the high regard folks around here hold him in.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 08:32:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And btw... (0+ / 0-)

        Computers can be programmed to solve logic and probability problems.  Our emotions and associative thinking actually often get in the way of solving them well.  A very well documented phenomenon, among several similar cases, is the conjunction fallacy:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        This stuff is all widely documented in the psychological literature.  It's language and culture that help us to think clearly about things like probability, not innate emotion.  Proper logical and probabilistic reasoning are learned and require conscious reflective effort to employ.  Logical and probabilistic reasoning are also normative -- it's how we ought to reason, not the psychology of how we do reason.

        Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

        by play jurist on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 08:38:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives with Taliban-style thinking? (0+ / 0-)

    Would it make sense to link this conservative moral system to other, more rigid examples of moral systems in history? Would that accomplish the tenet Lakoff explains, "every word is neurally connected to a neural circuit characterizing a frame, which in turn is part of a system of frames linked to a moral system. In political discourse, words activate frames, which in turn activate moral systems. This mechanism is not conscious. It is automatic, and it is acquired through repetition." However, linking torture or big, bad, greedy banks to the Republicans hasn't seemed to work. What would work? The Taliban? It seems also our execution is lacking too. Reminds me of Marshall McLuhan's "the medium IS the message"

  •  Lakoff jumps the shark? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david graeber

    There is no moral system of the moderate or the middle.

    So, there is no Buddhist "Middle Way," there is not Aristotelian "temperate man" ... just because Prof. Lakoff sees only the "strict father" and "nuturing parents" bifurcation as the only existing moral-metaphorical structures, he believes it a point of fact that nobody else could see or think with a moral-metaphorical framing of a different architecture. Since it's difficult to prove a negative, he just establishes this by decree. He's being the strict father with us on this one. We must simply accept his authority. After all, even the Times has articles on issues of science which can be incorporated into his world view - as if all of us with developed worldviews don't constantly find confirmation in such stray details in popular writings. So he goes on to claim:

    The highest conservative value is preserving and empowering their moral system itself.

    Again, we're to accept this because of the paternal authority which is George Lakoff. It's true because he has pronounced it such. There's neither argument nor evidence for it on offer here. It does however fit in a long-standing frame. The other side wants power. Our side wants capability. It's very hard for us to see that this is the mirror image of how the other side sees us and themselves. From the conservative POV for instance climate science is distorted to serve the cause of liberals gaining more power in the world, whereas they want to preserve the capabilities of businesses. From the liberal POV climate change denial is about preserving the power of, say, the oil companies, while a carbon tax is about enhancing the our capabilities for planetary survival.

    The "capabilities" story, from either side's POV, is about nurturing them. The other side is presented as living out a "power" story in which they wish to crush the ability to nurture whatever is at issue. Lakoff's whole "strict parent" analysis of the conservatives is the same framing the conservatives project onto Obama - that he is seeking, through all his actions, to consolidate power. As a liberal, I can clearly see that Obama's not doing that - it's not how it looks from our frame. But what we have to understand is that from the conservative POV it's not true that what the conservatives are about is centrally power, is centrally "preserving and empowering their moral system," as Lakoff orders us to perceive it - power for the sake of power. That is always the framing from a POV in opposition to a group's efforts, From any group's POV, it's a story of seeking to enhance capabilities, a story of nurturing.

    Let me say clearly, I love Lakoff and Johnson's work. It's incredibly important stuff. But Lakoff's attempt to be the big political daddy is at once too simple and too authoritarian - the echo and embodiment of what he claims to oppose. Obama's people will do well to take his rant with a grain of salt.

    •  I think your critique is insightful (0+ / 0-)

      but I also think that Lakoff's analysis is obviously correct. Yes, saying there is a value in moderation, that many see it as a value, is clearly true and he does seem not to notice this. On the other hand, Obama's constant appeal to such virtues has been a flop. He won the election by appealing to ideals, and the cold rationality of interests he's started to appeal to since has been a continual disaster. We can all speculate as to why he did so - my guess is because he was being completely dishonest, during the election, about what his actual values really were. In which case the packaging is a bit of a secondary issue.

  •  Now I get why Markos must be gay. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CalifSherry

    Markos is continually berated in the Saturday hate mailapalooza offerings as a "faggot." I understand why Kos disgusts the right wing, but now I get their obsession with this particular slur.

    It's the strongest frame for inducing visceral disgust a right-winger can muster.

    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat. George Carlin

    by smileycreek on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:25:29 AM PST

  •  Mr. Lakeoff, please bear with me... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poliwrangler

    I am far too besotted with your diary to just shut up and go away so even if you are not reading my comments, I am going to keep posting a few more. The following is a gem

    The highest value in the conservative moral system (see Moral Politics, Chapter 9) is the perpetuation and strengthening of the conservative moral system itself!! This is not liberal materialism. Liberals decry it as "ideology," and it is. But it is real, it has the structure of moral system, and it is physically part of the brains of both Washington conservatives and conservative populists. The conservative surge is not merely electoral. It is an idea surge. It is an attempt to spread conservatism via the spread of conservative populism. That is what the Tea Party movement is doing.

    I would translate this passage as the highest value in the conservative moral system is winning at the expense of the "other," because from what I gathered in your diary, that's how conservative mind functions. I fully agree. They see separations between their perceived "self" and their "other" while at the same time perceiving their self as under constant threat form their perceived other. Thus they are in a perpetual psychological state of war (to me their outward agression is the sign of their inner psychological battle)in which the patriarchial (male) dominated existence is a necessity for security and the survival. In other words, they live in a world of constant need for survival from the "enemies." In this black and white world there is no room for in between, gray bypartisanship when translated to the political dimension.

    What I like to add here is that this inflexible value of anti-bypartisanship is an outward manifestation of the conservative mind's inner battle against itself which also must be won against the self, unbecknown to it. Hence the psychology of self hatred. Thus their battles of winning for the sake of winning ultimately have no place to go but turn against themselves, sooner or later. Their last battle will always be the one which they will have to wage against themselves: self demise. They have only one real way for survival and that is to compromise, as we all do. That's what I have been observing from my humble corner.

    We saw this when Obama attended the Republican caucus. He kept pointing out that they voted against proposals that Republicans had made and that he had incorporated, acting as if this were a contradiction. But that was to be expected, since a particular proposal that strengthens Obama and hence weakens their moral view violates their highest moral principle.

    Such conservative logic explains why conservatives in Congress first proposed a bipartisan committee to study the deficit, and then voted against it.

    When Obama was pointing out to the contradiction in their voting against their own proposal, he was actually pointing out to the fact that the conservatives were violating their own moral principle while trying not to weaken their own moral principle which means they were turning against themselves in their efforts to save themselves. This is a paradox, of course, but it is also a fact. They can't free themselves from this "entanglement" without compromising. No one can. They are doomed if they stay in their course and it won't be the liberals or Obama who would get them. It'll be their own doing. This is the law of physics, the way I see it.

    Thus Obama is not making a mistake by "exposing" this fact. I think he sees it, otherwise he wouldn't be pointing it out. In the same token, his compromising attitude and efforts in bypartisanship strenghtens his long term success whether the Republicans get the message or not

    Best regards

    •  And this is part of the problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenox

      Z, your point is well made but a problem is that the populace doesn't think quite as deeply as you.  And this is a more far-reaching problem for the Democratic, and even more-so Progressive base.

      Americans as a whole are not deep thinkers.  They're too busy trying to put the next meal on the table.  They respond as Mr. Lakeoff has pointed out to far more basic stimulus-response mechanisms.

      Democrats suck at utilizing this.

      Why?  It's lack of cohesiveness in the big tent of Democratic values.  It's because the majority of Americans are really left or center left but there is the big "D".  And that is Diversity.  That. Disperses. Focus.

      So we need simple messaging.  Simple framing.

      Please see anything congressman Alan Grayson has said in the last six months.

      Need I point out how even Tea-Partiers will eagerly get in line to self-destroy their own interests in the name of freedom?  It's all because of messaging.

      Every voter out there needs to have things explained to them in a language that they understand. Academics and platitudes ring hollow.  If I have to feed my three kids tonight what do I care if Wall Street is up or down?  If health care reform is passed or not.  It just doesn't matter.  Maslow's hierarchy.

      I will risk my meager standing on these boards to agree that Obama is not making a mistake with the summit.  It's actually a master move.  He's playing very close to the edge.  About freakin' time!  I believe it'll be a win.

      It only remains to be seen if the other Dems have finally gotten "it" and will go bold.

      peace out.

      It's easy to be a destroyer.

      by poliwrangler on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:48:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  wading through the sewage of critical comments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme

    on kos is something i do less and less. self-anointed geniuses, i wonder more and more these days if there are more numbers here from the army of republitrolls than actual progressives. you can almost measure the quality of a diary based on the proportion of negative bile.

    diaries like lakoff's are saving this site. i spent more time reading, re-reading and digesting this diary than the last sixty combined.

    anyone who has tried to reason with conservatives has experienced the bewilderment and frustration of trying to argue facts with people who don't care about them. again and again and again. it goes nowhere and that is by design.

    anyone who has listened to progressive talk or spent time on the progressive blogs can see how much time and energy is spent on republican talking points and frames, which only serves to give them more exposure. we talk much less about why we make sense than we do about why they don't.

    it sometimes makes one feel a little insane. and then along comes lakoff to explain it. it's deep and its instructive on what progressives are doing to damage themselves. why a discredited, minority party is still calling the shots, and why the media plays along.

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