Fellowship of Punditry

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Cul Heath

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The Fellowship is accepting new members. Inquire within.

The Sages

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  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.


    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Sunday, July 25, 2004

    The Secret of the GOP's Political Success

    By Nick

    No matter what, don't think about pink elephants.

    Without a doubt, I'd say that you just thought about pink elephants. In order avoid thinking about pink elephants, you must first think about a pink elephants. George Lakoff+ ,A professor of cognitive lingustics at UCLA, uses that pink elephant to introduce his students to cognitive frames. Lakoff observed that Richard Nixon would never have infamously declared "I'm not a crook" had he taken cognitive linguistics.

    GOPs success in the last decade is largely a result of them tailoring their message to the cognitive frames of a typical conservatives. The Democratic party's failure to gain momentum among the electorate is a consequence of their ignorance to the power of cognitive frames.

    Frames are mental structures which help us define relationships between words. For example, the word "pink elephant" is both a word and a frame. Any attempts to block the frame require you to activate the frame. For example, the reader might be unconsciously expecting me to reveal a pink elephant in the room that no one is talking about- that is the "pink elephant" frame at work.

    Lakoff's research found the political worldviews of progressives and conservatives could be understood as opposing franes of an ideal family. Conservatives are understood through a strict father family model were as progressives are understood by the nurturing parent family model*. Embedded within these models are systems of morality which create powerful frames for every political issue.

    The Strict Father Frame Conservatives: 

    In strict father family views the world as dangerous, unfriendly, and immoral. To the strict father, the survival of his children depends on them having discipline, a strong sense of morality, and a good work ethic. The strict father views himself as the supporter and protector of his family. His strong sense of moral authority creates a need for him to control the women in his family, especially in matters of sexuality and reproduction.

    The strict father believes that the pursuit of self interest is a moral undertaking. If everybody pursued their own self-interest, the self-interest of all will be maximized. Thus, he views those who are unsuccessful as being undisciplined, and lazy. For him, it is better to allow them to suffer so that one day they might acquire the discipline required to succeed in the world.

    If we translate this view into politics, the conservatives view the government as a strict father. The purpose of government is to support (maximize wealth) and protect (strong military and strict criminal law). To the strict father government, there are two types of citizens: Mature and disciplined citizens who should be left alone, and lazy and immoral citizens who should grow up.

    Domestically, the strict father wishes to preserve and extend the power of his morality. This translates into opposition to social safety nets (I work hard so why should I support the lazy),  opposition to reproductive rights (people should be held accountable for their promiscuity), and support of strict criminal laws (If the punishment is bad enough, worthwhile people will be compelled to not break the law). The strict father does not believe the wealthy should be taxed, as they have worked hard and deserve their full reward. Needless to say, the strict father supports the church's influence government,  as he views religion as the ultimate protector of morality.

    In foreign matters, the strict father sees the power of the United States as evidence of its moral superiority. He won't stand for weaker nations (which are presumably lazy and immoral) that attempt to interfere with our just and superior will.
    Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans are experts in utilizing cognitive frames. The strict father model was likely the end result of the billions of dollars which flooded conservative think tanks after the Goldwater debacle. A comparison between GOP's agenda and behavior to Lakoff's strict father model reveals a neat little package.. The strict father provided the GOP with a cognitively-unified message; framing was the key to their success.

    Toward a Unified Frame for Progress

    The Democrat's ignorance of framing has led them to repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot. Lakoff gave a rather telling example; consider the below statement.

    I'm against Bush's plan for tax relief .

    The word "relief" evokes a frame of heroic rescue. In this frame, a hero (Bush), relieves the victim (Americans), from an unendurable affliction (taxes). Thus, the above statement in blue is in fact saying, "Americans should continue to suffer their affliction." Yet, Democrats ignorance to framing has led to them constantly declaring opposition to the tax cuts by using Bush's frame of "tax relief".  In a sense, by doing so they are providing the GOP a nearly priceless gift.

    Kerry desperately needs to re-frame his agenda. His incessant barrage of equivocating remarks: "a stronger America", "a better future",  all need to boxed away to gather dust in his rhetorical attic. The Democrats tiresome message tends to be issue by issue, and cut between various interest groups. They needs to show moral fervor in the way that Republicans do.  

    Lakoff attempted a rough draft of the progressive frame, but I found it to be uncompelling as a whole. Its greatest weakness, for lack of a better word, is its overwhelming femininity. It relies to heavily on words like "empathic" or "nurturing". A nascar dad would look upon it as a view for "dandy idealists".

    However, he did provide us with a some good places to start. In regards to abortion, progressives should re-frame the debate away from a question of "balancing morality with woman's rights" and more toward a moral cause for protecting freedom. The state should not be involved in a womans pregnancy. We must preserve the freedom of women to choose when, if, and by whom they will have children.

    In post-September 11th politics, progressives should re-frame the word "security". Security includes keeping our harbors, cities, and air ports safe. It also includes safe neighborhoods and schools (gun control). Security is having safe water, air and food (environmental reform).  Safety implies being able to live healthily (help for uninsured, social security, etc.)

    Perhaps the most powerful frame from progressives is "our children's future". It covers everything from deficit spending, to better education, to environmental reform, to the dismantling of nuclear arms.

    However, progressives will need to work together to formulate this view. Lakoff gave us wise last words of advise:

    Articulate your ideals, frame what you believe effectively, say what you believe and say it well, strongly and with moral fervor.
    Re framing is telling the truth as we see it -- telling it forcefully, straightforwardly and articulately, with moral conviction and without hesitation. The language must fit the conceptual re-framing, a re-framing from the perspective of progressive values. It is not just a matter of words, though the right ones are needed to evoke progressive frames.

    And stop saying "tax relief."

    +A large number of ideas discussed in this post were adapted from
    Framing a Democratic Agenda. By George Lakoff
    *Lakoff's label reveals unquestionable bias

    posted by Nick at 7/25/2004 02:34:00 PM |

    Comments: Post a Comment

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    "Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik

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