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Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language
UC Berkeley ^ | 27 Oct 2003 | Bonnie Azab Powell

Posted on 11/01/2003 8:01:22 AM PST by petty bourgeois

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

(Excerpt) Read more at berkeley.edu ...


TOPICS: Philosophy
KEYWORDS: berkeley; language; linguistics; linguists

1 posted on 11/01/2003 8:01:23 AM PST by petty bourgeois
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To: petty bourgeois; Constitution Day; dighton
Who's your daddy?
2 posted on 11/01/2003 8:03:09 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
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To: petty bourgeois
I'll bet the author isn't married. At least, to a man.
3 posted on 11/01/2003 8:06:44 AM PST by Paul Atreides (Bringing you quality, non-unnecessarily-excerpted threads since 2002)
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To: petty bourgeois
Another liberal trying to justify her own psycho-therapy as important academic discovery.
4 posted on 11/01/2003 8:07:18 AM PST by Snuffington
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To: Tijeras_Slim
petty bourgeois
Since Nov 1, 2003

HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

Link is for a totally different story.....

5 posted on 11/01/2003 8:08:13 AM PST by Arrowhead1952 (Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter are living proof that not all blondes are dumb.)
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To: petty bourgeois

Father knows best....
6 posted on 11/01/2003 8:09:22 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
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To: petty bourgeois
Geez, is this guy full of it or what?

The phrase "Tax relief" began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

7 posted on 11/01/2003 8:10:58 AM PST by Brian Mosely
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To: petty bourgeois
Berkeley Professor: Conservatives are "strict fathers"

Versus "absent" liberal fathers? Hmmm, I wonder which is best for the family unit?

8 posted on 11/01/2003 8:11:15 AM PST by geedee (Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim
I'm your daddy...and you need a SPANKING!
9 posted on 11/01/2003 8:11:34 AM PST by petty bourgeois
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To: Arrowhead1952
Link is for a totally different story.....

Yep, I caught that, too- hidden agenda, or honest error?

10 posted on 11/01/2003 8:12:15 AM PST by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trakball into the Sunset...)
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To: petty bourgeois
There's actually a whole other way to think about it. Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there's an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American.

I love this, and hope the Democrats adopt this strategy. It begs the natural question: what do the welfare recipients pay to be Americans? Nothing; in fact, their contribution is negative. Transfer payments aren't simply un-American, but anti-American.

Run with it, liberals.

11 posted on 11/01/2003 8:13:49 AM PST by Physicist
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To: Arrowhead1952
No, the quote from above is near the end of the linked article.
12 posted on 11/01/2003 8:13:55 AM PST by Brian Mosely
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To: backhoe
Yep, I caught that, too- hidden agenda, or honest error?

Troll incompetence.

13 posted on 11/01/2003 8:14:31 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
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To: petty bourgeois
Well, how big a boy are ya?
14 posted on 11/01/2003 8:14:54 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
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To: Arrowhead1952
It's my first post, what could go wrong?

Here it is, again:

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml
15 posted on 11/01/2003 8:15:00 AM PST by petty bourgeois
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To: petty bourgeois
"Right now the Democrat Party is into marketing. They pick a number of issues like prescription drugs and Social Security and ask which ones sell best across the spectrum, and they run on those issues. They have no moral perspective, no general values, no identity."

Hard to argue with that....

16 posted on 11/01/2003 8:16:13 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Liberalism - Better Living through Histrionics )
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To: petty bourgeois
Linguistic babble form a Chomsky clone.
17 posted on 11/01/2003 8:17:11 AM PST by CaptainK
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To: Physicist
Re: "This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for."

Notice how he couldn't bring himself to mention our wonderful military ?

Unfortunatly he's informed by the reality that liberals lothe any and all things military.

18 posted on 11/01/2003 8:17:39 AM PST by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
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To: CaptainK
John McWhorter used to teach linguistics at Cal. I don't know what happened to him. He may be in some sort of Symbionese or Sino-Viet re-education camp, undergoing mandatory sensitivity training.

He told me once he would speak at ANY campus but Berkeley when asked to do so/
19 posted on 11/01/2003 8:20:54 AM PST by petty bourgeois
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To: JoJo Gunn
He's also got this right:

Conservatives understand what unites them, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.

Meanwhile, all the libs do is whine and stomp their feet.

20 posted on 11/01/2003 8:22:18 AM PST by Brian Mosely
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To: petty bourgeois
Restored. Please use original article titles only. Thank you.
21 posted on 11/01/2003 9:17:12 AM PST by Admin Moderator
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To: petty bourgeois
This is the one I like: Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics. Utopian...
22 posted on 11/01/2003 9:48:42 AM PST by El Laton Caliente
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To: Physicist
I agree with you Physicist!

Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American.

It is way past time that all Americans pay for the programs that they have forced upon us. No exemptions!

23 posted on 11/01/2003 9:56:09 AM PST by Hunble
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To: petty bourgeois
The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good.

What's in question here isn't linguistics or framing. It's the nature of the world. There will be periods when the conservative view best sums up reality, and periods when the liberal view looks more plausible. Because of scarcity and the complexities of human feeling the liberal view doesn't last for long, and we have to return to conservative values -- to Kipling's "Gods of the Copybook Headings."

Nurturing parents are fine and necessary, but we can't all be nurturing all the time, and we can't be parents to each other forever. It looks to me like Lakoff's scheme is itself caricatured and childish -- the "Mommy Party" vs. the "Daddy Party." The sphere of adult interactions can't be paternalistically coddling. I can't devote myself to nurturing people who are in competition or combat with me. We have to expect that people will grow up and shoulder their share of the burdens. And that adult world shouldn't be tyrannically authoritarian either (whether the conservative view really is "authoritarian" also remains to be resolved).

Fully adult relations and are left out of Lakoff's picture. Maybe the adult world where we can't run people's lives for them forever is reflected in the libertarian view. That view can't characterize all situations we find ourselves in, no more than the authoritarian or nurturing models can, but it shouldn't simply be ignored.

"Framing" plays an important role in politics. So does positioning. Conservatives frame the situtation as they do, because they have positioned themself in a place that gives them something close to the view of the average citizen/voter/taxpayer. When they don't find that place to stand, their characterizations of events are less convincing. When liberals choose to take a point of view opposed to the average citizen/voter/taxpayer, they fail, and no amount of framing will save them. When they take populist positions in bad times, they can come off rather well, because many in the public come to think of themselves as victims and have moved to a place where liberal framings seem to make sense.

I don't quite think Lakoff is on target about "framing" as a tactic liberals haven't mastered. Take a look at the evening news, or listen to NPR. It's done there all the time. Whether it works -- whether the networks can convince people that liberal framing reflects reality and provides a point of view that they can share -- is another question, but conservatives learned most of what they needed to know about framing from CBS and the other networks.

Lakoff's thinking is characterized by simplistic black and white oppositions of the sort more common to political combattants than political thinkers. You can make a case that taxes are the price we pay for civilization (though sometimes it looks like they are the price we pay for barbarism). But that doesn't justify any level of taxation no matter how high. Ruination or spoilation isn't justified. So liberals can make the argument, but people aren't obligated to accept it in any given situation. That is what democratic freedom is all about -- the right of voters to accept or reject impositions on them by the government.

24 posted on 11/01/2003 10:08:25 AM PST by x
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To: CaptainK
Actually, Lakoff's psycholinguistics are intended to counter Chomsky's theories of generative grammar (although it's nothing that John McCarthy and Terry Winograd hadn't already made clear earlier). Whereas Lakoff is merely a psycholinguist, Chomsky is a psychotic linguist :)
25 posted on 11/01/2003 10:14:53 AM PST by RightWingAtheist
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To: Paul Atreides
He's married to rhetorician Robin Lakoff, who herself has made similar disparaging comments about "the way conservatives think" in some of her own works.
26 posted on 11/01/2003 10:18:10 AM PST by RightWingAtheist
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To: Physicist
More to the point-how are people supposed to get the money to pay the taxes to run society if they are being strangled by a big government which limits industrial productivity and wealth creation?

As usual with the left, there's a failure to distinguish between utopian libertarianism, and true conservatism, which is based in a system of checks and balances and a recognition that government is necessary, but that it is also necessary that government be limited in certain powers in order to keep things in healthy working order. Lakoff has done important work in cognitive linguistics (his Where Mathematics Come From, written with Rafael Nunez, has influenced me profoundly), but he obviously hasn't studied basic economics much...if at all.

27 posted on 11/01/2003 10:25:50 AM PST by RightWingAtheist (Philip Johnson is from Berkeley...surprise!...not!)
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To: petty bourgeois
"So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones — those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant — and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, "spoil" people by giving them things they haven't earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it. "

He is correct there. But of course he finds this view anathema.

28 posted on 11/01/2003 10:28:51 AM PST by mollynme (cogito, ergo freepum)
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To: petty bourgeois
Ping to Self (Gotta blog on this one...very juicy article!)

Gum

29 posted on 11/01/2003 10:36:25 AM PST by ChewedGum (http://king-of-fools.com)
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To: mollynme
"Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there's an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American. In addition, the wealthiest Americans use that infrastructure more than anyone else, and they use parts of it that other people don't. The federal justice system, for example, is nine-tenths devoted to corporate law. The Securities and Exchange Commission and all the apparatus of the Commerce Department are mainly used by the wealthy. And we're all paying for it."

There's that ever-present hatred of the rich, based on jealousy.

30 posted on 11/01/2003 12:03:15 PM PST by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: Physicist
It even begs a further question:

If this is the case, then why doesn't every American pay the same amount of tax? Don't we all use than infrastructure?
31 posted on 11/01/2003 12:06:28 PM PST by LeftiesBinWhinin (Warning: Voting for Democrats is hazardous and possibly dangerous to your health.)
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To: mollynme
The "strict father" vs. "nurturing parents" paradigm proposal is actually quite a useful one, most of all in that both conservatives and liberals tend to see >themselves< well described in the category to which he assigns them.

What's interesting to me is that each tends >not< to agree with that framework's description of the >other< side. In other words, I disagree that liberalism is particularly nurturing a way to bring up children, or society, in that it tends to strand people in dependency or degeneracy, without the lodestar they need to live happily and reasonably, and thrust upon society at large the costs of dependent and degenerate conduct. Liberals, similarly, don't credit conservatives with the altruism, self-sufficiency and egalitarianism which runs through the "strict father" framework's description. They prefer to believe that conservatives are animated by xenophobia and greed, and that conservative tendencies to authority are driven by a desire to dominate rather than a desire to be a loving provider and enforcer of guidance and standards.

The best and most useful frameworks are those with 360 recognition: useful for everyone to identify both themselves and everyone else. They provide a natural common ground, or at least rationalize issues down to a clear argument.

His "framing" argument is obviously true, as well, although less original (many of his observations are staples of rhetoric), but his suggestion that the left is systematically less competent at it seems unlikely to me. Liberals have successfully defended some fairly noxious policies (affirmative action, denying school choice to poor kids, state-enforced multiculturalism) with adept framing.
32 posted on 11/01/2003 12:10:20 PM PST by only1percent
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To: only1percent
I agree. Nurturing is not exclusive to liberals. Both groups can be "nurturing" but liberals err on the side of enabling while conservatives insist that behavior must have consequences.
33 posted on 11/01/2003 12:46:59 PM PST by mollynme (cogito, ergo freepum)
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To: x
I don't quite think Lakoff is on target about "framing" as a tactic liberals haven't mastered. Take a look at the evening news, or listen to NPR. It's done there all the time.

I agree with you. I always thought Liberals were the masters of framing - not using that term, of course, but using the terms "liberal spin", "liberal buzz words", "liberal agenda". This guy takes that concept to a whole other level. What Lakoff is worried about is that Conservatives are catching up to the Liberals in terms of think tanks, framing our political identity, TV&radio political programing, books published, etc. Our very existence impinges upon his world view as a liberal/progressive.

It's obvious that the Conservative presence is catching up to the Liberals (in some cases even surpasssing it, e.g. think tanks), and he is clearly worried. Apparently, the current Democratic candidates aren't using as much framing as Lakoff would like.

With this guy studying us, the Conservatives had better not slack off.

In 2000 Lakoff and seven other faculty members from Berkeley and UC Davis joined together to found the Rockridge Institute, one of the only progressive think tanks in existence in the U.S.

Surprised, but pleased, to hear that there's only one. :)

34 posted on 11/01/2003 12:49:38 PM PST by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: Arrowhead1952
Link is for a totally different story.....

The portion excerpted above is quite a way down into the article.

35 posted on 11/01/2003 12:58:45 PM PST by Bob
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Comment #36 Removed by Moderator

To: petty bourgeois
Ok, I read the article. I burst out laughing a few times. This nonsense about "framing" exposes this guy for the intellectually dishonest snob he is. Why can't he spit out what he really means: Conservatives invest a lot of time and intelligencia and money to try to keep political discourse somewhere near the truth. Liberals have lied and fooled for so long they think they still have a monopoly on the discourse. It turns out they don't, so they need to invest a lot of time and their version of intelligencia and money to learn how to turn their lies around so they will sound believable again.

The truth is non-negotiable. Liberals will forever be on the wrong side trying to bargain with the truth.
37 posted on 11/01/2003 1:36:59 PM PST by whereasandsoforth (tagged for migratory purposes only)
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To: x
Lakoff's thinking is characterized by simplistic black and white oppositions of the sort more common to political combattants than political thinkers.

My take is that Lakoff thinks his opponents succeed because of procedure. And so framing is just one more word for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development. No doubt procedure helps the propagandist, but the succesful marketing of a stupid idea is but torquing an old line from the People's Daily.

38 posted on 11/01/2003 3:07:08 PM PST by cornelis
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To: petty bourgeois
This guy can't be serious. I have said for years the Left controls the language of political debate. Don't believe me? Here are some examples.

Gay
Fairness
Diversity
Compassion
Tolerance
Entitlement
Star Wars
Choice
39 posted on 11/01/2003 8:46:15 PM PST by davidtalker
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To: davidtalker

I have said for years the Left controls the language of political debate

Not just the language but the major media infrastructure. I wonder how he thinks conservatives induce those TV and newspaper reporters to phrase everything in the conservative "framework".

40 posted on 11/02/2003 1:34:40 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: BartMan1
ping for observation
41 posted on 11/02/2003 3:02:54 PM PST by IncPen (So, which of you is a Moderator?)
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To: petty bourgeois
bump to read
42 posted on 11/02/2003 3:08:35 PM PST by Walkingfeather
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To: petty bourgeois
Linguistics is Marxism Ground Zero. How can you be sane today in that field? It's as twisted from reality as Soviet genetics. It's been totally polluted by extreme leftist politics.

Had the world been sane, I would be in that field today. It's my PASSION. That's my personal pet peeve against Marxists.

43 posted on 11/02/2003 3:15:59 PM PST by stands2reason (REWARD! Tagline missing since 10/21. Pithy, clever. Last seen in Chat. Sentimental value.)
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To: stands2reason
I've always been interested in linguistics, though in a less scholarly way than you, I'm sure. I remember my father lamenting the loss of words, even when I was quite young (I think I was in 5th grade and noted, in passing, that 'gay' meant more than one thing).
44 posted on 11/02/2003 3:56:31 PM PST by IncPen (So, which of you is a Moderator?)
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To: IncPen
I think the current tendency amongst the liberal elite who are defining the agenda for their party right now is that they are spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on the notion that it is the medium rather than the message that is at fault, inasmuch as they perceive they are not being properly understood.

Thus we see Mr. Lakoff lamenting the rise of conservative think tanks and conservative radio talk show hosts, as a sign that conservatives are better at getting their message defined and distributed than the "progressives". Mr Lakoff is obviously convinced that progressive ideas , if only properly packaged and marketed , would be a big seller amongst the electorate.

I would suggest it is quite the opposite. The very appellation ' progressive' represents 80 yrs of media capture by those who promote liberal ideas -- it is a term rich in symbolism , and drips dark with portent when spoken by an NPR host, or Peter Jennings , or Dan Rather, who understand that a progressive idea is always a good one if so labelled. After all, who can oppose something labelled as 'progress', when opposed against 'conservative', which is 'status quo' and stodgy and definitely not hip.

Ninety percent of media reporters describe themselves as progressive or liberal, and the number of university and college faculty members who describe themselves as conservative is in the single digit percentages -- they're all liberal or progressive. Its hard to make a cogent argument that there is not a cadre of influential citizens promulgating 'progressive' ideas right now -- the argument just doesn't wash, regardless of how many conservative talk show hosts or think tanks there may be.

The problem, as I see it is a lack of new progressive ideas -- ideas that go beyond those that have already been tried and failed, like the New Deal and the Great Society. The medium for transmitting these 'new ideas' , when they become available, is already in place. The current failure of progressive ideas is a result of their failure to capture the imagination and votes of the electorate, not a failure of the medium.

45 posted on 11/03/2003 6:34:03 AM PST by BartMan1
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To: BartMan1
Cancer is 'progressive'.

Let the red bast*rds keep the word.

46 posted on 11/03/2003 6:56:13 AM PST by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: BartMan1
I saw the author Tom Wolfe speak a couple of years ago, and one of his topics in a rambling two hour talk was "The Seminal Event of the 20th Century". He listed a number of things: cars, planes, computers, space travel.

But he settled on the fall of communism, because it was an idea that had haunted an entire century and claimed untold millions of lives. Yet it was put to death without a shot being fired by a man who his enemies labled a 'dunce', and the irrefutable proof was there for all to see.

That is powerful stuff. Subsequent movements to the left in this country have been stymied by unfettered communications among the masses (the internet).

Incidently, Wolfe spoke just yesterday at the Chicago humanities festival (and accepted an award, I'm told).

Asked if Bush is a 'great' president, he replied "The results aren't in. If he succeeds in Iraq and Afghanistan, then yes, he'll rank among the greats. If not, he'll be consigned to the dust bin of history. But so far, he appears to 'have it'."

You can imagine how the liberal aunts in my family took that statement.

< grin >
47 posted on 11/03/2003 7:38:20 AM PST by IncPen (So, which of you is a Moderator?)
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To: petty bourgeois
My response to Mr. Lakoff (rather long - sorry):

UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff believes that he knows why conservatives are the party with momentum and political power:

With Republicans controlling the Senate, the House, and the White House and enjoying a large margin of victory for California Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's clear that the Democratic Party is in crisis. George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley professor of linguistics and cognitive science, thinks he knows why. Conservatives have spent decades defining their ideas, carefully choosing the language with which to present them, and building an infrastructure to communicate them, says Lakoff.

It is true that the Republican Party has spent decades defining their ideas. I trust the Democratic Party has also spent time and effort defining themselves. George places more emphasis on the communication infrastructure than on the actual ideas themselves:

Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame.

Fair enough. That is why debates are so interesting to watch. Candidate A "frames" his own policies in the positive while revealing the holes in his worthy opponent's position. Then Candidate B gets a turn, and he attempts to reveal all the negatives that Candidate A neglected to include in his "frame".

If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like "voter revolt" — something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.

I really don't believe that the voters of California chose to recall Gray Davis because some Republican stragegist framed the situation with the term "Voter Revolt". The abuses by Davis are well documented and the state is fiscally unsound. It is still unknown if the new governor can do any better, but it had become apparent to California voters that Davis was not capable of fixing the state's problems.

What is very interesting is Lakoff's reason why progressives (the current "frame" for liberals) are not as successful at framing as conservatives. He believes this is because liberals operate under the "nurturant parent" conceptual system, where emphasis is placed on helping those in need over administration and building infrastructure. What does parenting have to do with the issue?

Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones — those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant — and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, "spoil" people by giving them things they haven't earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it.

George gets an A+. In this article he really does a nice job explaining what framing is and how it affects politics. But he just hammered his point home with his own example of framing. Nurturant means affectionate care and attention (a very positive frame), which is in stark contrast to strict, which means severe in discipline or inflexibility maintained (negative frame). Both descriptions include accurate attributes of each view, but his own side is framed in glowing general terms. The views of the opposition are framed in specifics, focused on the negative and trending towards hyperbole.

Framing is done by both sides. In the spirit of "fair and balanced", the article counters the nurturative parent frame with analysis of the conservative frame termed as "Tax Relief":

The phrase "Tax relief" began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

If the term "relief" is a problem, then we can call it something else. Tax Cut? Tax Reduction? Negative Taxation? Reverse Tax Increase? Tax Credit? (Ooops...that one is already used; it is a frame for Entitlement.) Unfortunately for George, changing what it is called is not good enough for him:

It's not just about what you call it, if it's the same "it." There's actually a whole other way to think about it. Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there's an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American. In addition, the wealthiest Americans use that infrastructure more than anyone else, and they use parts of it that other people don't. The federal justice system, for example, is nine-tenths devoted to corporate law. The Securities and Exchange Commission and all the apparatus of the Commerce Department are mainly used by the wealthy. And we're all paying for it.

We're all paying for it? Not true: 34% of all Income Tax Returns report income but pay no taxes. Wealthy Americans use the infrastructure more than anyone else? Also not true. There may be parts of the infrastructure which benefit one economic group more than others but the distribution is balanced. Wealthy people may use the Securities and Exchange Commission more than those with little wealth, but the commission does also provide capital for businesses which hire employees and produce products and services available for consumption by Americans. Many wealthy (and middle class) families choose private education, yet they still provide tax support for public education. Welfare spending is huge but is completely geared towards the poor.

What Mr. Lakoff really wants is to have taxes framed as an issue of patriotism:

It is an issue of patriotism! Are you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country? It's about being a member. People pay a membership fee to join a country club, for which they get to use the swimming pool and the golf course. But they didn't pay for them in their membership. They were built and paid for by other people and by this collectivity. It's the same thing with our country — the country as country club, being a member of a remarkable nation.

I have no argument with this frame. I agree that reasonable taxation is an issue of patriotism. But what does this mean for those families who pay no taxes? Using this argument, they are no longer members of the country club. Does this mean that they should not be allowed to vote? (Absolutely not, but if you take this frame to its logical conclusion - that is the result.)

Reasonable taxation is patriotic, but I believe that excessive taxation is oppressive. That is why I have no problem with the "Patriotic Normalization of Tax Rates" which was enacted last year. (I'm thinking about writing a book: Framing for Fun and Profit.)

I agree with Mr. Lakoff that framing is a key component in presenting a political view. However, I do not feel that it is THE key component. Without ideas that will people will buy into, the finest frame will not bring people over to your side. As I watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate again and again, I don't see a framing failure. Instead, I see a series of empty frames being presented over and over. "Bush is Bad." "Iraq is a Quagmire." "Tax Cuts are Evil."

I don't believe that conservatives are in power because they frame the issues better than the progressives. I believe it is because the progressives have become a collection of self-interest groups with no clear message for the American people. Until they resolve that, they will continue to be the party of the empty frame.

{Originally posted here}

Gum

48 posted on 11/04/2003 7:38:38 AM PST by ChewedGum (http://king-of-fools.com)
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To: BartMan1
Hey, this guy's back, like a cicada or something.

Maybe I'll send him a copy of Ann Coulter's "Slander".

Then we'll talk about the conservatives' misuse of language...

49 posted on 08/26/2004 1:23:58 PM PDT by IncPen (Every Word From Kerry's Mouth is a Dishonorable Discharge)
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