Category Archives: Partisan strategy and framing

Lakoff’s analysis of Wisconsin

Here is the post-mortem for Wisconsin from George Lakoff (one of the inspirations for this blog) and his colleague, Elisabeth Wehling. As always, values trump issues or policies. The post can be found here.

The Wisconsin recall vote should be put in a larger context. What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue. The general issues transcend unions, teachers, pensions, deficits, and even wealthy conservatives and Citizens United.

Where progressives argued policy — the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education — conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.

Progressive morality fits a nurturant family: parents are equal, the values are empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and cooperation. That is taught to children. Parents protect and empower their children, and listen to them. Authority comes through an ethic of excellence and living by what you say, rather than by enforcing rules.

Correspondingly in politics, democracy begins with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly both for oneself and others. The mechanism by which this is achieved is The Public, through which the government provides resources that make private life and private enterprise possible: roads, bridges and sewers, public education, a justice system, clean water and air, pure food, systems for information, energy and transportation, and protection both for and from the corporate world. No one makes it on his or her own. Private life and private enterprise are not possible without The Public. Freedom does not exist without The Public.

Conservative morality fits the family of the strict father, who is the ultimate authority, defines right and wrong, and rules through punishment. Self-discipline to follow rules and avoid punishment makes one moral, which makes it a matter of individual responsibility alone. You are responsible for yourself and not anyone else, and no one else is responsible for you.

In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it’s a moral issue. Continue reading

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

A Step Closer to China (in Lead Laced Shoes)

Lead-tainted Kid’s Shoes – Huffington Post

Over 85% of the toys coming into this country for sale are from China, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. More reports today come in about a shipment of children’s shoes from China that contain lead.  Anything with dye or paint in it (ahem, that’s about everything), may contain lead. (Here‘s a reminder why lead is so poisonous, especially to children). You see, China has no rules against including poison in their products. They have no OSHA, they have no unions.

Why should that matter to the US? We are buying and consuming Chinese goods at a breakneck speed, by doing that we are exposing ourselves to whatever residual nastiness may have resulted in the creation of that product – like lead. At the same time, we are supporting and encouraging those businesses and factories that underpay and exploit workers. Foxconn, a factory recently exposed due to it’s involvement with Apple products, was paying many workers less than $17 per day and they were working for 6 days a week without proper overtime. Now that they have been exposed by whisteblowers, they will be raising monthly pay to $400.

Anti union voters of Wisconsin and those that oppose collective bargaining rights must think the Chinese are doing something right. They are hoping to bring this style of exploitative labor to the U.S. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Sharing our Marbles

How to Get the Rich to Share The Marbles is the title of an article by Johnathan Haidt, psychology professor, printed in the New York Times in February. It explains the psychology around “sharing the spoils” behavior. I’m jumping right to the punch with this quote from the article, then I’ll work backward explaining how we got here:

If the Democrats really want to get moral psychology working for them, I suggest that they focus less on distributive fairness — which is about whether everyone got what they deserved — and more on procedural fairness—which is about whether honest, open and impartial procedures were used to decide who got what. If there’s a problem with the ultra-rich, it’s not that they have too much wealth, it’s that they bought laws that made it easy for them to gain and keep so much more wealth in recent decades. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

The Republican Brain – the podcast

Chris Mooney has written a book The Republican Brain, that is getting a lot of attention. I have not gotten a chance to read it yet, but it is on my short list. Mooney is a journalist who takes a special interest in psychology and ideology. He has studied the studies and comes up with some interesting findings – they support the principles from which this blog is founded, mostly picked up from the work of George Lakoff. He supports the values based approach of communication. Mooney does a pretty good job of being respectful, conversational, and realistic when talking about academics – I’ve included a podcast from him below.

“Arguing facts when the divide is about values doesn’t work” Mooney says (start listening around 29min – 31 for a good explanation of this). Think about news sources you actually trust; the news is relevantbecause of that trust, it would be irrelevant without it. When you hear an unbelievable news story cited, the first thing you want to know is “who says so?”, so that you can determine whether or not it is information to believe.

The recording is rather long so I will give you the very shortened version of the Cliff’s notes. Conservatives and Liberals tend to self select stories that support ideas they already believe in, however, liberals are much more willing to accept new information and be open to change. Liberals relish nuance, conservatives crave decisiveness. Liberals are messier, conservatives want order. Mooney talks about belonging to a club of sorts, and how the language we use philosophically indicates what club we’re in. If we can avoid that language, we are more likely to keep minds and doors open to change destructive ways.

The podcast is about fifty minutes, so if you have some drive time or similar – it’s an interesting discussion for armchair political scientists. If you want to hear some of the meat, hit it at about 29 minutes, then try again around 41 minutes for a bit of advice on how to connect from the perspective of a secular group. Here is the piece –  Chris Mooney Center for Inquiry The Republican Brain.

The bottom line is emotion. Everyone first thinks with their emotions. Those politicians that connect on that level will do better than those that don’t. These could be fear based or positive, but nuance and facts are still not winning elections. It is not against liberal values to show emotion, to show passion for what you believe in, even in the case of atheists. We can all find our moral code and work on a language to talk about it honestly and connect with folks no matter their political stripe.

We live in dynamic political times, you never know what meme will catch on – maybe it will be one that you created. Make it one of values, make it count.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Mixed Bag: Chinese Electronics, Ghost Town Detroit, Propaganda, Norquist

On this last day of my respite this week, I’ll just share some of the stories that have caught my eye even though I’m not at full attention. I’ll be back on Monday.

Fake Chinese Electronics Used in Military Aircraft from Huffington Post

Almost one million fake electronic parts from China have been found in US military aircraft. A report by the US Senate Armed Services committee found 1,800 individual cases of counterfeit electronic parts being used in military hardware…

More than 70% of the parts were eventually traced to China, after passing through a “complex supply chain”, often involving multiple vendors.

…According to one witness quoted in the report, factories of up to 15,000 people have been set up “for the purpose of counterfeiting”.Failure of any one of these parts could put national security at risk, the report said…

Detroit Going Dark from Bloomberg

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit’s plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.

“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”…

The co-owner of a U.S. defense contractor that specializes in Information Operations admitted on Thursday to trying to discredit two USA Today journalists with an online smear campaign.

“I take full responsibility for having some of the discussion forums opened and reproducing their previously published USA TODAY articles on them,” Camille Chidiac, the minority owner of Leonie Industries and its former president, said in a statement.

“I recognize and deeply regret that my actions have caused concerns for Leonie and the U.S. military. This was never my intention. As an immediate corrective action, I am in the process of completely divesting my remaining minority ownership from Leonie.”

Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker reported in February on “dubious, costly” propaganda campaigns carried out by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reporters noted that Leonie Industries was awarded a contract from the Department of Defense, even though the company’s owners owed at least $4 million in federal taxes.

Leonie Industries is a relatively small company that specializes in cyber operations, intelligence analysis, psychological operations, and counter-IED explosives operations. The company said that due to the owner’s financial troubles, they were unable to fulfill their “personal tax obligations on time,” but have since been “faithfully paying their tax liabilities through installment plans.”

After reporting on the company, the two journalists were targeted by a online disinformation campaign apparently meant to destroy their reputation. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts were created in their name, along with websites that purported to be owned and operated by them. Comments quickly sprung up on message boards, Yahoo! answers, Wikipedia, and blogs criticizing the two reporters’ investigation of Leonie Industries. Some comments even suggested the two journalists worked for the Taliban….

Grover’s grip may be loosening.

A small but increasingly vocal group of freshman Republicans are publicly rejecting the idea they are beholden to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform pledge for their entire congressional careers.

One such member, Scott Rigell of Virginia, has openly rejected the pledge, explaining on his website that it would prevent Congress in some cases from eliminating corporate loopholes or government subsidies because those changes would have to be revenue-neutral. The math, he said, just doesn’t make sense.

And Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) told the Los Angeles Times he wouldn’t be signing the pledge again — or any pledge for that matter — not because he wants to raise taxes but because he wants to close certain loopholes to help pay down the deficit.

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) scoffed at the idea the pledge was some sort of blood oath. A number of other offices of freshman members told POLITICO their bosses had sworn oaths to do what was best for their districts, not Americans for Tax Reform.

“I signed that thing in the desert of Afghanistan,” West said in an interview. “I got home and they wanted me to sign again during my campaign, and I wouldn’t, and Grover started yelling at my campaign manager. Grover is a nice guy, but I think he’s a little misguided.”

“I don’t care if he has my name on his website, it’s meaningless,” West added. “I think my voting record speaks for itself.”

The tax pledge has long been a litmus test for any conservative who wants to be taken seriously in a Republican primary. That some newcomers are repudiating it lends support to critics who argue the document is more valuable as a campaign tool than a guidepost for governing.

Norquist insists he’s not bothered by any hedging on the part of the freshmen.

“I don’t lie awake at night thinking any of these characters are going to vote for a tax increase,” Norquist said. “The leadership is not going to bring it up. All but six Republicans in the House have signed the pledge and they have a 25-vote margin. It’s a moot point.”

But the slip in devotion, however slight, is notable considering how strong a hold the pledge has had over the GOP.

A handful of other freshman members privately told POLITICO they had been struggling with their ATR pledge signatures, as they felt it had become clear the pledge was a hindrance to certain tax reforms they’d like to see happen.

Some members aren’t backing off the pledge, but when asked about it, their offices didn’t glow with praise for Norquist.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements