Political books 3

Nothing's Sacred      Louis Black
Plan B                      Lester R. Brown
Moral Politics           George Lakoff
Freakonomics           Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Reason                     Robert B. Reich



Nothing's Sacred      Louis Black    Audio Book

Rant, rave, alienation, and profanity, what else is there to say.  I understand rants, raves and alienation.  I don't think that they are extremely productive but I understand them.  I also understand profanity.  It was really neat when I was 10.  I still use some occasionally, like when I use my thumb as a nail set or something similar.  I suppose it might work for a half drunk audience in a comedy club.  It doesn't work on a CD playing in your car audio system while traveling back from California.  It was supposed to be humorous political comedy,  I wasn't amused.

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Plan B:  Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble   Lester R. Brown

C1  A Planet under Stress  As the worlds population and economy has expanded over the last 50 year we have been pushing the capacity of the planet.  In 2002 a US National Academy of Science study determined that the capacity of the earth to regenerate was equaled by human demands in 1980 and by 1999 we were 20% over capacity.  We are living in a bubble economy that is not sustainable.  The other local examples of bubble economies are the Japanese real estate bubble of 1989 and the NASDAQ bubble of 2002.  

I. A CIVILIZATION IN TROUBLE
C2  Emerging Water Shortages
 Water usage is up.  River and aquifer use is up.  Much of the increased use started around 1950 with the introduction of diesel and electric pumps.  Many of the major rivers of the world are going dry, at least during some periods of the year, for example the Colorado, many in China, Nile, Indus, Ganges, and the Jordan.  The levels of aquifers are going down all over the world.  Farmers are loosing water share to cities.  Water scarcity is moving from being a local issue to an international issue with more disputes between countries over water supplies.  The overuse of depletable aquifers is resulting in the creation of a food bubble.

C3  Eroding Soils and Shrinking Cropland  The sites of many (most?) ancient civilizations show large amounts of soil degradation.  The quality of life greatly depends upon the quality and amount of soil.  In Asia and Africa many deserts are increasing in size.  Automobiles (parking and roads) take up a great deal of land, primarily in highly productive agricultural areas.  Interesting factoid:  In America, with about 1 automobile per person, we have about .07 ha or .18 A of pavement (roads & parking) per vehicle.  In Western Europe and Japan, at 1 vehicle for every 2 people there are .02 ha of pavement for each vehicle.  If China were to acquire the 1 vehicle for every two people of W. Europe and Japan they would need to pave 13 million ha.  This would be about 1/2 of the existing area of rice production.  There are several other examples of the demand for additional cropland.

C4  Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas  Recently (last 10 years) there have been many killer heat waves with many deaths.  Since about 1980 global warming has been especially rapid, especially near the poles.  Plants tend to brow better as temperature rises until the the temperature hits 20ºC (68
ºF), then plateau until the temperature hits 35ºC (98ºF), then decline until the temperature hits 40ºC (104ºF), where growth stops.  Increasing CO2 stimulates plant growth but other factors like temperature overrides this benefit.  Brown lists a number of examples where rising temperatures have already caused problems.  Rising temperatures tend to increase winter floods and decrease summer runoff from mountain rivers.  He describes how glacier melting and Icecap melting is creating raising sea levels and how low land areas are at risk of flooding.  In recent years tropical storms have intensified in power.  Insurance companies are reporting losses from weather related events are rising at 10% per year.  Currently the US is subsidizing the fuel industry at a rate of $210 billion per year.  Before the Iraq war, the US Military was spending between $30 billion and $60 billion per year to protect access to Middle East oil.  At that time the oil being imported was worth $20 billion per year.

C5  Our Socially Divided World  Life expectancy is a very good indicator of economic and social progress.  Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa declined from the high 60's to 40 or less.  Poverty, disease, and illiteracy are additional problems

C6  Plan A:  Business as Usual
 If we do not change our ways things will get worse and faster.  Brown details many current problems and how they will get worse if we do not change our ways of dealing with the world.

II. THE RESPONSE--PLAN B
C7  Raising Water Productivity
How to raise the availability of usable water.
  1. Charge realistic prices for water and stop subsidies.
  2. Raise irrigation water productivity, measure productivity in kg of grain produced per ton of water use.
  1. Raise nonfarm water productivity.
Replace water intensive thermal energy (electricity) production with more water efficient wind, solar, & geothermal sources.
It is getting more expensive to increase the production of water than to decrease the consumption.

C8  Raising Land Productivity  From the beginnings of agriculture until about 1950 the only way to increase agricultural production was to cultivate more land.  Then, with the advent of fertilizers and pesticides, productivity per acre increased greatly.  However, this increase has almost completely ceased.  We need some new techniques.  Some examples are:
C9  Cutting Carbon Emissions in Half  Contrary to Bush, the Koyoto Accords are fairly easy to implement and in many cases even reduces cost.  The Canadian based subsidiary of Interface, the largest maker of industrial carpets, cut carbon emissions by 2/3 and saved $400,000 per year in energy costs.  There are many ways to reduce energy costs, reuse containers, use compact fluorescent lights,  increase automotive fuel efficiency and redesign urban transit systems.  Other techniques would be to use wind power, solar cell technology, geothermal energy, and in the future use hydrogen (fuel cells).

C10  Responding to the Social Challenges  The greatest problem for humanity is too many people.  We must stabilize our population.  Family planning must be free and available, universal education with an emphasis on females who are currently very poorly served.  Institute universal health care with a current emphasis on AIDS, and other diseases that we can easily control such as malaria, TB, etc.  Provide school related meals for the poor.

III. THE ONLY OPTION
C11  Plan B:  Rising to the Challenge
 Brown believes that the only way that we can implement Plan B is to launch a global mobilization similar to the US mobilization during WW II.  There are several steps we must take:
The book contains an extensive list of notes on each chapter with references plus an index.  The book tends to be a little repetitive in spots.  I would have preferred more details or more examples instead of repetition.

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Moral Politics     George Lakoff

Preface to the Second Edition  The first edition of this book was published in 1996, the second edition in 2002.  Since 1996 a lot of stuff has happened.  The Clinton impeachment, the Florida vote count of 2000 (and now we have Ohio in 2004.)  What is going on?  There is a political division in the US.  There is also a moral division.  This is based on a values division, a division between families.  A division between strict families and nurturant families.  Why aren't we all talking about this?  Conservatives have spent millions on political think tanks.  They have developed a coherent political program.  Conservatives support their intellectuals, their theorists, progressives don't, why?

Notes from the first edition are in a normal serifed font (Times), additional notes from the second edition are in Century Gothic, a non-serifed font.

Part I.  INTRODUCTION
C1  The Mind and Politics
 Lakoff is a cognitivelinguist.  Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary study of the mind, his specialty is of course language and how it interacts with other aspects of the mind.  Much of our political discourse is phrased in metaphors, typically using finance and accounting as the source of comparison.  He describes an editorial regarding a budget shortfall in Washington D.C.  The writer compared their problems to an overindulgent mother who pampered her kids.  Lakoff suggests the comparison to an absentee father who fails to pay for the necessities of life for his children.  Lakoff describes the terms he uses in the book:  Radial Categories;  a central idea with numerous variations.  Prototypes; an element or member of a category that is used as a stand in for the entire category.  Variations;  Within each category there is considerable variation.  These variations must be quantified to see how they relate to the overall category.  Coherence;  not all people within a category agree with all aspects of the category.  A person may resemble a conservative with regard to children and a liberal with regard to national and international politics.  He differentiates between "political liberalism" and "theoretical liberalism".  

C2  The Worldview Problem for American Politics  Liberals and Conservatives both make their arguments and the the other side just doesn't understand them.  Neither side makes sense to the other, why is this?  Often the definitions of the words used by both are not the same for the other.  The goal for the first part of the book is to describe both sides in enough detail so that the views of each can be clearly understood.  Lakoff feels that "... conservatives have a deeper insight into their worldview than liberals have into theirs.  Conservatives talk constantly about the centrality of morality and the family in politics, while liberals did not talk about these things until conservatives started winning elections by doing so."  Family and morality are central to both worldviews but liberals are less aware of the relationship.

Most conservatives have what he calls a Strict Father model, most liberals have what he calls a Nurturant Parent model.  The common misunderstandings: 1) most people think that they are consciously aware of their worldviews, this is simply not true.  2) The models being discussed here are descriptive and not prescriptive.  Most people believe that some higher law of law governs their ideas.  Maybe so, but the task here is to describe how people act and not what their higher reasons may be.

Part II  MORAL CONCEPTUAL SYSTEMS
C3  Experiential Morality
 "... moral thinking is imaginative and it depends on metaphorical understanding."  Many (most?) would disagree but morality concerns promoting experiential well being and the avoidance of harm to others.

C4  Keeping the Moral Books  To evaluate our moral balance we use economic metaphors.  The basic concept is Well-Being or Wealth.  These are so ingrained in our culture that is is difficult to conceptualize moral relationships in any other way.  This Moral Accounting can be expressed in several ways:
C5  Strict Father Morality  Background:  life is difficult and the world is dangerous.

The Model: Traditional nuclear family.  Father supports and protects and has authority to set policy.  He sets strict rules for behavior and enforces them by punishment.  A coddled child will become spoiled and will become dependent and never learn proper morals.  The mother maintains the house, raised the children, and upholds the fathers authority.  Children respect and obey their parents.  A mature adult learns self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for authority by being raised properly.  Mature children are on their own and a good parent does not meddle with their life.  Through rewards and punishments one learns self-discipline and moral strength.

The lack of moral strength is evil.  Strict families are the only way of teaching moral strength so the use of social programs to support weak families is supporting evil.  Social programs are basically evil.  All authority flows downward from higher authority.  The natural order of power and authority:  God, legitimate government, adults, men, women, children, (animals, plants, natural objects).

Moral behavior, as defined by proper authority results in Moral Boundaries.  All behavior outside of these Moral Boundaries is therefore immoral behavior and deviant.  It is caused by not having proper moral strength and must therefore be punished.  Those who show such behavior may lead others astray.  Character is developed in childhood and lasts a lifetime.  Since character is unchanging we need "Three strikes and you are out.", and other strict punishment laws with long prison terms.  Lakoff lists many more aspects of the Strict Father Morality in his 42 page long chapter.

C6  Nurturant Parent Morality  

The Model:  A family of two  (possibly one) parents.  If two, they share household responsibilities.  The primal experience is caring for and being cared for, you live as happily as possible and derive meaning from mutual interaction and care.  Children develop best through positive relationships with others.  They become self-reliant, self-disciplined, and responsible through being cared for and respecting and caring for others.  Obedience comes out of love and respect, not from fear of punishment.  Open two-way communication is critical.  Protection is a prime part of parental duties.

Children learn through secure and loving attachments to their parents, not fear of punishment.  Violence (corporal punishment) begets violence.  Cooperation should be stressed rather than competition.  "The Nurturant Parent model stresses empathy, nurturance, self-nurturance, social ties, fairness, and happiness."  He lists many ramifications of this model with respect to moral behavior.  Two of these are Moral Growth and Nurturance with respect to business and work.  Both chapters 5 and 6 are very dense with concepts.

Part III  FROM FAMILY-BASED MORALITY TO POLITICS
C7  Why We Need a New Understanding of American Politics
 Liberals make three major errors in their understanding of conservatives.
There is a cynical liberal response to conservatives.  First they tend to demonize conservatives - the are all rich, evil, self-serving, their paid agents or dupes.  Second is a conspiracy theory - American political life is too complex and messy to maintain a conspiracy for very long.  Third - conspiracy doesn't explain why so many people vote conservative when they didn't before.  Fourth - many conservative policies do not benefit conservatives, prisons and a huge military cost a great deal, many rich conservatives are passionate about the arts, why is the National Endowment for the Arts a target?

Many conservative thinkers don't help much in understanding conservative ideas.  There are three principal conservative descriptions of conservatism: it is against big government, it is for traditional values, and it is doing just what the Bible tells us.  Point one has been covered above.  Conservatives are for some traditional values but against others, they pick and choose depending on whether or not Strict Father morality agrees with the precise value.  The Bible tells us lots of things and not all religious people agree on exactly what it is telling us.

There are incorrect assumptions about liberals also.  Liberals are for the protection of rights; which rights?  Here again liberals (as well as conservatives) pick and choose.  Lakoff doesn't quantify the liberal confusion nearly as well as the conservative confusion.  Perhaps he should have asked more conservatives.

C8  The Nature of the Model  The Nation as Family Metaphor is very widespread and is reasonable if sometimes in error.  It can be broken down into 3 sub-parts, Nation is Family, Government is Parent, and Citizens as Children.  Lakoff discusses this type of model in some depth.  Both conservatives and liberals accept this model although some fringe elements would not.

C9  Moral Categories in Politics  

Conservative Categories of Moral Action:
  1. Promote strict father morality: Moral strength, Moral boundaries, Moral authority
  2. Promote self-discipline, responsibility, and self-reliance
  3. Uphold the morality of Reward and Punishment
        a-guarantee reward for self-discipline and self-reliance, prevent those who would interfere with this from doing so
        b-promote punishment as a means of upholding authority
        c-insure punishment for lack of self-discipline
  4. Protecting moral people from external evils
  5. Upholding the Moral Order
Liberal Categories of Moral Action:
  1. Empathic behavior and promoting fairness
  2. Helping those who cannot help themselves
  3. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves
  4. Promoting fulfillment in life; having meaningful work, being basically happy, etc.
  5. Nurturing and strengthening oneself in order to do the above; you must be physically strong and healthy, being neglectful of these places an unfair burden on others and is immoral.
It should be possible to evaluate any given policy by analyzing it with regards to each set of categories to determine if liberals or conservatives should support it.

Conservative Model Citizens should fit all the categories for conservative moral action.
Conservative Demons:
  1. Those against conservative values: feminists, gays, multiculturalists, egalitarians.
  2. Unwed mothers, unemployed drug users.
  3. Environmentalists, consumer advocates, affirmative action, government supported health care.
  4. Those who want change in military and criminal justice systems, antiwar protesters, prisoners rights, gun control advocates, abortion advocates.
  5. Advocates for equal rights for women, gays, and nonwhites
Hillary Clinton is the arch-demon for conservatives, she violates all 5 categories.

Liberal Model Citizens should fit all the categories for liberal moral action.
Liberal Demons:
  1. Mean-spirited, selfish & unfair, those who have no empathy and no sense of social responsibility, wealthy companies and businessmen who care only for profit are at the top of the list.
  2. Those who would ignore, harm, or exploit the disadvantaged, examples are union-busting companies and large agricultural companies that expose farm workers to harmful agricultural chemicals.
  3. Those who hurt people or the environment, violent criminals, rogue police, polluters, developers who ignore the environmental effects of their actions.
  4. Those who are against governmental support for education or art.
  5. Those who are against support for expanding public health care.
Newt Gingrich is the arch-demon for liberals.

Lakoff discusses these issues with the policy of support for college loans.  This and other issues are evaluated with the largest group that exhibits the center of each group.  It be kept in mind that people vary considerably and that variation is expected by the model.

Part IV  THE HARD ISSUES
C10  Social Programs and Taxes
 Liberals:  The Federal Government is responsible for food, shelter, education, etc.  Social programs are investments that will pay dividends in the future.  Many social programs promote fairness.

Conservatives see social programs as coddling the morally weak and rewarding the lazy.  Disaster relief is OK because it is an Act of God.  Orphanages - Gingrich suggested putting welfare children into orphanages instead of supporting their mothers.  Welfare mothers do not have Strict Father values, therefore they won't raise children that have them, orphanages would teach these values.

Other "conservative" initiatives are "Just Say No", punish illegal immigrants, reduce taxes on the rich, increasing military spending.  Again, Conservatives believe their initiatives are about morality, not money.

C11  Crime and the Death Penalty  Conservatives:  Violent crime is caused by permissive childrearing policies.  Liberals:  Crime is in large part because off a poor environment.  Two different viewpoints on gun control, crime, class structure, and social causation, nature vs. nurture (confusing), crime prevention, and the death penalty.

C12  Regulation and the Environment  Conservatives want to free businesses from regulation, man has dominion over the environment.  Liberal want to protect nature from rapacious businesses, man is dependent on nature and must protect it if we are to survive.  Lakoff explores several of the liberal and conservative metaphors  involved in the Strict Father and Nurturant Parent models of the environment.

C13  The Culture Wars: From Affirmative Action to the Arts  Many topics - Conservatives:  Affirmative action - against; Gay rights - against especially in the military, Multiculturalism - against, Education - both want to set their own standards, Art - only if it has a moral purpose, enjoyable, can be sold for a profit - Liberals will support art that has moral lessons, is playful and fun, Moral education - William Bennett and his Book of Virtues.  Liberals point to the virtues that are left out; nurturance, tolerance, social responsibility, open-mindedness, self-questioning, egalitarianism, support for the disenfranchised, the natural world, aesthetics, self-development, equality of women and gays, consumer and environmental protection.  Conservatives believe in the teaching of only one moral system - theirs.  Liberals support teaching multiple moral systems so that  they can be compared and evaluated.

C14  Two Models of Christianity  There is no fully literal interpretation of the Bible.  "The Lord is my Shepard."  Does anybody really believe that you have a fleece and eat grass?  The Bible is filled with such stories and they must be understood metaphorically.  God is ineffable - beyond any human comprehension.  Lakoff has a list of Judaeo-Christian metaphors for God.

The Conservative view of Christianity:  The Old Testament God is a Strict Father God.  He is powerful and demands strict obedience.  Adam and Eve were banished from his place.  All men inherited their sin.  Jesus was created free of sin but was a mortal.  His suffering can atone for our sins.  If you fully accept Christ as your Savior he will plead for your soul on the Day of Judgment and you will go to Heaven and not to Hell.  The only time limit here is that you must accept Christ before you die.

The Liberal view of Christianity:  God is a Nurturant Parent, Christ is the Bearer of God's message of Nurturance.  Moral Action is Nurturant Action, Immoral Action (Sin) is Non-nurturant Action towards others.

Moral Accounting:  Acting immorally gives one moral debit, acting morally gives one moral credit.  Suffering gives one moral credit.  Those with a negative balance at death go to Hell, those with a positive balance go to Heaven.

Conservative:  God is strict and vengeful.  To get to Heaven you must obey Him.
Liberal:  God is nurturant.  To get to Heaven you must follow the nurturant example of Christ.
The difference between Liberal and Conservative Christians is mainly in which passages of the Bible they pay attention to or ignore.

C15  Abortion  He starts by discussing the biological terms: cluster of cells, embryo, fetus, baby, and infant.  Conservatives generally lump the first four into one term, baby, and seem disinterested in the infant, assuming that it is then the property of the mother to live or die as she sees fit.  Liberals are more interested in the woman for the first two stages and want to lend assistance for the last two.  The fetal stage is morally ambiguous and best left up to the mother (parents) and the doctor.

C16  How Can You Love Your Country and Hate Your Government?  An element found in American Strict Father morality but not found in the Strict Father morality of many other countries is that there comes a time when the child escapes the bonds of his birth family and sets up his own family.  He then becomes his own agent and his parents no longer have authority over him.  Many cultures retain parental authority until the parent dies or is incapacitated.  This sets up a conflict that can diminish the authority of a central government.  Of course this is primarily a problem only when the individual disagrees with the actions of the central government.

Part V  SUMMING UP
C17  Varieties of Liberals and Conservatives
 Both sides display variance within the ranks.  This can be generally broken down into 3 major ways.
  1. Pragmatic:  Idealistic dimension.  Are persons more interested in the "pure" political philosophy or making it work.  Are they willing to compromise certain points to gain others or not.
  2. Linear Scales:  Examples would be an extremely abusive parent vs. one who talks punishment but rarely administers any or a minimally protective parent vs. a very overprotective one.
  3. Moral Focus:  Commonly (not exclusively) found in liberals.  An individual will heartily support one cause but offer very little support for others.  Examples would be civil (voting) rights vs. labor reform, environmentalism, womens rights, etc.  There are similar similar differences within conservatives but they are less common and less pronounced.  This discussion seems extended in the second edition with more focus on conservatives.
  4. Lakoff defines a Moral Order variation but I found this confusing.
C18  Pathologies, Stereotypes, and Distortions  Some variations that go way beyond what most adherents would agree to could be labeled pathological.  These would include eco-terrorists and vigilantes.  Adherents to one side often refer to those on the other side by attaching these or similar labels to those with whom they disagree.

C19  Can There Be a Politics Without Family Values?  Can political values be separated from family values?  Is there a way to avoid applying family values to the political arena?  Is there a way to remove metaphorical thought from politics and political values?  American democracy is based on several types of fairness or morality.  Among these are Equality, Impartial Rule-Based Distribution, Rights-Based Fairness, and Contractual Distribution.  Lakoff does not believe that family based values can be kept out of politics.  Our basic humanity is established within the family so any institutions that are based on humans must contain values derived from the family.

Part VI  WHO'S RIGHT?  AND HOW CAN YOU TELL?
C20  Non-ideological Reasons for Being a Liberal
 The first part of this book was meant to be impartial, this second part is not.  Why is Lakoff a Liberal?
  1. The Nurturant Parent model is superior as a method of childrearing.
  2. Strict Father morality is not consistent with our knowledge of how the mind works.
  3. Strict Father morality often finds morality in harm, Nurturant Parent morality finds morality in helping.
  4. There are other reasons, the environment, distribution of wealth, and more.
C21  Raising Real Children  The conservative family values agenda is being set primarily by fundamentalist Christians.  The most prominent persons are James Dobson and Gary Bauer.  There are a number of points taken from Conservative Christian childrearing manuals.  Without quoting them all they are based on children being sinful and defiant and the proper way to train them is through swift and painful corporal punishment.  You should continue spanking until the child's will is broken.  He then goes on to discuss theories and research results of responsible scientists regarding childrearing.  Needless to say, Nurturant Parent philosophies are superior in raising responsible kind, nonviolent children.  Quite an extensive discussion of childrearing.

C22  The Human Mind  Lakoff discusses a number of assumptions implicit in the Strict Father model which refer to the human mind.  He then goes on to describe why he disagrees with each based on brain and cognitive science.

C23  Basic Humanity  Nurturant Parent morality is based on our everyday experiences as humans and our empathy when confronted by the needs of out fellow humans.  Strict Father morality is based on Moral Strength.  It is based on principles of internal aggression, them vs. us.  Nurturant Parent morality is based on cooperation and mutual assistance.

Epilogue:  Problems for Public Discourse  You can't directly compare conservative and liberal positions on a strict issue by issue basis.  You need to place them into a morals based context since our language is composed of morals based terms.  Conservatives have learned how to frame these discussions using their own set of biased terms, liberals have not.  The only way to achieve true fairness would be to create a new set of liberal frames and terminology.  Another, perhaps unlikely, scenario is the development of a neutral meta-language to discuss these concepts with true impartiality.
  1. News reporting assumes that concepts are literal and nonpartisan, the inherent biases must be made clear.
  2. Language is assumed to be neutral, words are just arbitrary labels.  This is not true in the area of morality and politics.  Language used by a moral or political system uses and reinforces that system.
  3. News reporting is issue-oriented but political issues can almost never be isolated from their moral matrix.
  4. The very concept of a traditional debate is at odds with the thesis of this book.
  5. Since language is assumed to be neutral, it is assumed that it is possible to write a story in neutral terms.  The only way to do this properly would be to report each story from both viewpoints.
  6. Since language is assumed neutral, it is assumed that all debates are fair.  Conservative have worked up a vocabulary that supports their cause.  Until liberals create their own vocabulary they will be at a disadvantage in debates.
  7. It is assumed that all viewers of news broadcasts share the same conceptual system.  No!  Most "objective" reporting is done from a particular viewpoint.
  8. Americans find it difficult to discuss the relationship between politics and morals.  Most leave morals up to churches.  Morality is too important to be left to churches.  We need a public discourse on morality to show the differences between the policies that arise from moral systems.
  9. Liberals must get over their view that debate is fair, honest, literal, and rational  Not that they have to descend to the same levels as many conservatives, but they have to at least understand where conservatives are coming from and to use fire to fight fire.  If you argue from a position of logic only and conservatives argue from logic and emotion (values) you are setting yourself up for a loss.  Our understanding of life is based on values, we cannot ignore our values and explain ourselves to others.
Afterward:  A number of specific topics and Lakoff's response to each.

The Impeachment of Bill Clinton:    Why
did conservatives see the Monica Lewinsky affair as an occasion for impeachment?  Wasn't it a private matter?  Why did they argue as they did?  Why keep talking about character and teaching children right from wrong?  Because it was an affront to their Strict Father morality.  Using the Nation as Family metaphore it turned sin against the family into a sin against the nation.  When they spoke they looked and sounded very strict, moralistic, sober, and punitive.  They all tried to look and sound like moral authorities.  They have so successfully framed the Nation as Family metaphore as being relevant that listeners and commentators just accepted the linkage as reasonable.
  1. The 2000 Election - "The Middle"  Lakoff uses the figure of the electorate being 40% strict, 40% nurturant and 20% "in the middle".  (I have seen others use 30%, 30%, and 40%.)  He thinks that this "middle" group is split between true bi-conceptuals who have both viewpoints but use them in different areas of their life and pragmatists who are willing to comprimise for practical purposes.  There are divisions of emphasis within both conservatives and liberals.  The "gender gap" is really a nurturance gap.  Several other differences within the strict and nurturant groups are listed.
  2. Election 2000 - The Bush strategy was hold the strict morality states by use of body language, voice, and words that supported their Strict Father morality, maintain conservative positions, and use a trusted conservative as a running mate.  He went after women and other nurturant voters by terms such as "compassionate conservative", "Leave no child behind", and appearing with mixed race children.  Gore completely ignored the cognitive science aspects of campaigning.  Nine specific examples are given.  
  3. The Florida Vote Count  Five ways of conceptualizing and talking about elections are listed and discussed in detail, a) the horse race, b) the football game, c) a war, d) a legal process, and e) a political process.  All of these ways were used successfully by the Bush campaign and not used or used poorly by the Gore campaign.
  4. The First Months of the Bush Administration  Strict Father morality describes the Bush actions very well.  The major policy actions were designed to affect thousands of specific issues.  
  5. Energy and the Environment  The strategy was to frame energy as the heart of the economy (create a national energy supply crisis) and discredit environmentalists (frame the crisis so that environmentalists are the cause of the problem) and to appoint people who would carry out these tasks without question.  
  6. The Conservative Way of Life  Strict Father morality sees the world as being designed only for the use of successful businessmen.  Those who are less successful are not important and regulations that would harm business are to be rejected.
  7. Foreign Policy Clinton's policy was based on the beliefs that a) countries that are economically interdependent do not go to war, b) democracies do not go to war,  c) countries that engage in trade are likely to become democracies, and d) certain moral norms are required and if these are not adhered to military force is acceptable, for example in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti.  Bush's foreign policy stems from conservative Moral Self-Interest.  Given the natural Moral Order, America is superior to other nations and communist governments are fundamentally immoral adversaries.  The moral imperatives of this are banning birth control information abroad, defining North Korea and China as adversaries, since they are adversaries with missiles we need anti-missile systems so the ABM treaty has to go.  Domestic energy goals mean new power plants so carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.  
The Challenge for Progressives
  1. The Think Tank Gap  The Bush administration came to power ready to go because they had experts from think tanks with everything planned out ahead of time.  Conservatives have spent more than 1 billion dollars on think tanks in the 1990's.  Liberal think tanks have been outfunded by more than four-to-one and they are generally issue oriented so there is no coherent policy.  Liberals want efficiency for programs so no money goes to long term planning and career development, they don't support their intellectuals.
  2. What Liberals Need to Do  Liberals need to take pride in their work.  They need to stress their moral standards.  They have let conservatives define the discussion.  Some specific lessons:  a) Words are defined relative to conceptual frames, to evoke the right frame you need the right words.  b) To use the other sides words is to accept their frames.  c) Higher-level moral frames limit the scope of the frames defining particular issues.  d) To negate a frame is to accept that frame.  e) Rebuttal is not reframing, you have to impose your own frame to successfully rebut.  f) The facts themselves are not enough, you have to frame them before they will be understood.
  3. The First Reframing:  The Two-Tier Economy  There is a persistent and damaging myth about our economy - poverty can be eliminated.  False - Our economy as it is presently structured requires substantial poverty.  A permanent low paid under class is essential to perform the low skill level tasks.  Even if all of the low paid service workers would get good jobs we would still need 25% of our population to perform the low paid jobs.  At the minimum they need adequate health care, nutrition, housing, and access to education.
  4. Reframing 2:  The Ecology of Energy and the Real American Way of Life  The Bush administration reframed environmentalism as a drain on energy policy.  We need to reframe this as energy policy being a service to environmental policy in terms of health, quality of life, scientific, and economic policy
  5. Raising Children  Conservatives understand how important their version of child rearing is for supporting their Strict Father family values.  They spend over $200,000 per year on child rearing programs.   Liberal organizations spend almost nothing on this.  There are a number of problems, a) The effect of a Strict Father upbringing is often disastrous. James Dobson is broadcast on over 1,600 radio programs and Promise Keepers is primarily about strict fathering.  b) The more children up with Strict Father values, the more conservative we get.  We need programs to counter the William Bennett books.   c) It is strict fathers (or mothers with their values) who are mostly responsible for spouse and child abuse.  d) Conservatives are making decisions about the content of moral education, liberals need to get more involved.  There are five major groupings of progressives:  1) Socio-economic - everything is a matter of economics and class, 2) Identity Politics - redressing the grievances of oppressed groups,  3) Greens - ecology and the rights of indigenous peoples, 4) Civil Liberties - individual rights and civil liberties, and 5) Anti-authoritarian - fighting authoritarian pracices and institutions, the state and large corporations.  Each of these is a real issue with partisans supporting each.  Where are children?  Conservatives are much better at defining their central issues.  Progressives must learn to do this and child rearing must be one of the most important values.
The book has a 24 page list of references organized by topic and 19 pages of index.  Overall I enjoyed and learned a lot from the book.  Lakoff's ideas were unfamiliar to me (and I suspect most) and complex.  I found his treatment somewhat repetitive and vague in spots.  I prefer a more precise approach, perhaps not necessarily differential equation based but perhaps an attempt to cover all of the variance with a logical progression of facts, figures, and theories.

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Freakonomics   A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden side of Everything   Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Intro:  The Hidden Side of Everything  in the late 1980's and early 1990's crime was going up - experts and politicians were panicking - Huge Crime Wave Coming!  It never got here.  Why?  Because in 1973 Roe vs Wade happened.  The biggest predictor of teenage crime is number of unwanted children born to unmarried teenage girls.  Due to Roe vs Wade many of these children were not born.  Beginning in 1995 the crime wave started reducing dramatically.  You hire a Realtor to get the best price for your home.  Nope.  Realtors houses stay on the market longer and sell for higher prices.  Other examples of economics not working the way you think they would.  This book was written to demonstrate the truth of a few very specific ideas:  Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life.  The conventional wisdom is often wrong.  Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle, causes.  "Experts"-- from criminologists to real-estate agents -- use their informational advantage to serve their own ends.  Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so.

C1  What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common? A table of numbers of homicides per 100,000 since the 13th century in several western European countries.  With only a few exception the homicide rate has been going steadily down in all countries.  What the incentives are for teachers and Sumo wrestlers to cheat and how they do it.  Both groups tend to be highly creative in their cheating techniques.  Some interesting mathematical methods of detecting cheating.  An interesting study of morality using the honor system of paying for bagels.

C2  How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?  A brief history of the Ku Klux Klan including 3 interesting statements from US presidents, Grant castigating it, Wilson and Harding glorifying it ( Harding reportedly took his Klan oath in the Green Room of the US White House).  He tells the story of how Stetson Kennedy single handedly destroyed the Klan in the late 1940's by leaking Klan passwords and secrets to the Superman radio show.  How the use of inside information and code words can be used to make money for the insiders.

C3  Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?  John Kenneth Galbraith, "conventional wisdom". "Economic and social behavior are complex, and to comprehend their character is mentally tiring.  Therefore, we adhere, as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding."  In Galbraith's view, conventional wisdom must be simple, convenient, comfortable, and comforting - though not necessarily true.  Experts, journalists, reporters, and advertising agents (don't forget politicians), are good at producing, "conventional wisdom."

Back to the chapters name, why can't drug dealers afford their own homes?  For 6 years a graduate student practically lived in the Chicago housing units with a black gang whose source of income was selling drugs.  The result: the business model of the gang, and many others, is very similar to that of a McDonald's.  The main differences?  McDonald's workers make more money, drug dealers have better death insurance, drug dealers have more dangerous working conditions.  The chapter ends with a brief social history of cocaine in America.

C4  Where Have All the Criminals Gone?
 In 1966 Nicolae Ceauṣescu made abortion illegal in Romania.  He wanted to increase the population.  He was successful.  Unfortunately he failed to provide for these children (or their parents).  When he was executed by firing squad on Christmas 1989 it was largely due to the (excess) children that were deprived of food, education, and opportunity.

At that time in the US the crime rate had risen 80% in 15 years.  What no one knew was that it was going to drop until it hit the lowest rate in 40 years.  The authors list the 8 most commonly named reasons for the decrease in crime in the US.  Of these only 3 can be shown to actually decrease the crime rate, 1- increase prisons, 2- additional police, and 3- changes in the crack and other drug markets.  The other explanations given: a strong economy, increase in capital punishment, innovative policing strategies, tougher gun laws, aging of the population, and gun buybacks, etc. cannot be shown to have any effect at all.

The most important reason, which was almost never mentioned in the press, was the liberalization of abortion law.  Numerous studies between 1930 and 1970 in western Europe and Scandinavia had shown this.  In 1973 Row vs. Wade became law.  Women who did not think that they could provide a healthy environment for raising a child were no longer forced to.  The children who were not born were the children who would have been committing the crimes in the 1990's and later.  The 5 states where abortion was legalized before 1973 saw crime rates fall dramatically before the rest of the country.  Canada and Australia showed the same relationship.  An important point here is that the person most able to make this decision is the woman herself.  Comment:  If you feel more qualified to make this decision, start by committing the time and money to raise this child through college.

C5  What Makes a Perfect Parent?
 In recent decades, parenting experts have been multiplying exponentially.  Many (most?) of these self described "experts" use fear to make their points.  One of the problems is to quantify risk.  Which is the most dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?  The chance of dying in a swimming pool accident is 100 times more than being killed in a shooting.  The per hour liklihood of dying is about equal in a car or an airplane.

"Fear thrives in the present tense." It is most effective over the short term.  Risk = hazard + outrage  Many "experts" put the emphasis on outrage.  Back to parenting:  several studies have shown that who parents are makes a lot more difference for school performance but what parents do makes more of a difference for college and later achievement.

C6  Perfect Parenting, Part II; or: Would Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?  Why do parents name their children what they do:  In many cases to show group solidarity - especially for poor black single women.  High income, high education whites - because low income/education parents are not using the name, low income/education whites - because high ed/income parents are (have been) using the name.  In many cases parents choose a name to signal their expectations of how successful the child will become.

The authors end with extensive notes, lists of boys and girls names (with mothers education) and an index.

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Reason   Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America    Robert B. Reich

Introduction  George W. Bush is not the problem, he is a result.  The Radical Conservative agenda, or Radcon agenda to use Reich's term, has been gaining power for 40 years or more.  Casting Bush as the villain may be emotionally satisfying but it doesn't illuminate or solve the problem.  What are some of these Radcon agenda items that are endangering our country?
There is an alternative to this, it is liberalism that is aggressive and refuses to back down in the face of the huge amounts of money spent by the Radcons in their propaganda efforts.  This is the liberalism that fueled the democracy movements in the 1700's, 1800's, and 1900's.  It is the liberalism that abolished slavery, the liberalism that pulled America out of the Depression in the 1930's, and the liberalism that fought to contain Nazi's of Germany and Soviet totalitarianism.  It is not the cartoon version of the 1960's that the Radcons are fond of pointing fingers at.  This challenge must be met by pointing out the truth to the American voter at every opportunity and not backing down in the face of vicious attacks by those who are driven only by their selfish interests.

C1  Prelude: The Revenge of the Radcons  Liberal - "a person of generosity or broad-mindedness" George Washington.  "Say that civilization is a tree which, as it grows, continually produces rot and dead wood.  The radical says: 'Cut it down.' The conservative says: 'Don't touch it.'  The liberal compromises: 'Let's prune, so that we lose neither the old trunk nor the new branches.'"  Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The liberal view of government is not the size, it's what it does.  Liberals want government to provide essential services that everybody needs, like external security, education, roads, etc. but not tell people how to run their lives, to impose religious views, etc.

Elements of the Radcon agenda for America:
Reich distinguishes between real conservatives and Radcons.  A real conservative wants to conserve many of the things that are great about America: the value of hard work, our dedication to family and community, our love of freedom, our generosity and tolerance.  Real conservatives are cautious, they prefer making change gradually, carefully.  Means are important to them.  The French Revolution is offered as a lesson as to how radical revolution can get out of hand and destroy much of the good as well as the bad.  Reich shows many examples of radical speech by Radcons and how they don't care about the means they use to achieve a given end.  Liberals can be nasty also but one of their main tenants is free and open debate and expression of views.  Radcons, in opposition to real conservatives, want to suppress debate, their viewpoint is all they will tolerate.

The Radcon theory of evil views evil as original sin and that all who do not behave appropriately must be punished so that they will fear any possible transgressions.  If you are good and motivated by good thoughts you need not consider your actions because they will automatically be good.  Liberals believe that the problems are caused by evil actions and evil actions need to be stopped.  Good people can inadvertently cause evil so all actions need to be evaluated before they are implemented.  The greater the action, the more extensive the evaluation.

Radcons are stuck in the 1960's.  The 1960's were a reaction to the terrible economic times of the Great Depression and the trauma and deaths of World War II.  When the children (the Baby Boomers) hit college there were liberal excesses.  Most of them got over it, became model citizens, and are entering retirement age.  The Radcons never got over it.  They still see '60's radicals hiding behind every tree.

There were three major areas of change made by the Radcons when they came to power starting in the 1980's:  1) There was much more money in Washington D.C., much of it coming from large corporations supporting an army of lobbyists, etc.  Many Democrats were drinking from the same trough.  2) Political power, in 1982 Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and Dick Cheney created the Conservative Opportunity Society to infuse the Republican Party with radical conservatism.  They were successful in changing the Republican Party and getting themselves into positions of political power.  3) Media "shock troops", part of the strategy was to raise money for conservative think tanks and hire many spokespersons who would support their Radcon agenda.  Some of the names are Rupert Murdoch of Fox News, Reverend Sun Myung Moon,  the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh, MSNBC, the Heritage Foundation, and many more.  Reich ends with a list of Radcon values, their them vs. us mentality, and a Guide to the Radcon Glossary.  (Big Government, Blame-America-firsters, Class warfare, Death tax, Environmental wackos, tree huggers, environazis, Family values, It's my (your) money, Liberal establishment, Liberal elite, Liberal media, Limousine liberal, liberal stooge, screaming liberal, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Partial-birth abortion, Political correctness (PC), Radical feminists (feminazis), Traditional Family, War on terrorism)

C2  Public Morality  What is or should be public morality?  Public vs. Private morality for Radcons:
Radcon Public Morality Radcon Private Morality
sex outside marriage fraudulent accounting and
 stock manipulation
abortion insider trading
children born out of wedlock tax evasion
divorce exorbitant pay of top executives
homosexuality financial conflicts of interest
gay marriage bribery of public officials
The Radcons have it just exactly backwards, the right hand column is the main problem facing our society at present, the items in the left hand column have been with us forever, or at least since animals evolved on the earth.  They can cause individuals emotional problems but they do not cause problems for our society.  We must work as liberals to see to it that the real problems facing our society are addressed.  Why do the highly moralistic columnists on the far right worry so much about the bad example we are setting for young girls and don't worry more about education for these same girls so that they can get meaningful jobs and support themselves instead of selling their bodies get money to eat?  The conservative methods that have been pushed to prevent teenage pregnancy, for example, may work for some individuals but for society as a whole they do not work.  For all the public agitation the rate of teen pregnancy has been on a steady downward path since 1906 when records were collected for the first time.  The rate is down by 25% since 1970.  The real causes are information, availability of contraceptives and abortion, and teenage girls having more access to education and better-paying jobs.  They can see something other in their life than having child after child with the first male that is available.  Another factor is that many young men do not have good jobs that can support a wife and children and young women are well aware of this.  He ends the chapter with a long discussion of the evils surrounding the so called "Private Morality" categories.  One of the biggest problems is the difficulty in prosecuting and getting convictions for the offenses in the right column.  Between the huge number of attorneys and accountants trying to find loopholes in the laws and the laws themselves, many carefully crafted by Radcons to make prosecution as difficult as possible, the only cases that make it through the court system are the most blatant frauds committed by the worst offenders.  Many of those with better lawyers, better accountants, and less greed manage to work the system for huge amounts without getting prosecuted.

C3  Real Prosperity  For a number of years the disparity of income and wealth between the richest and the poorest has been getting greater.  By 2004 it was greater than it had ever been since the late 1800's with the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age.  The richest 1% of Americans earn about 17% of the nations income and control 40% or the wealth in the nation.  The Bush tax cuts are making this disparity even greater.  The idea of the government as an insurer (old age, accidents, sickness, and unemployment) was first proposed by Otto von Bismark, the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany 1871-90.  Franklin D. Roosevelt brought the idea to America in 1935.  The idea was that we all would contribute and then when someone needed help it would be available.  Radcons are trying to destroy this system by creating a class society, we contribute to it and they take the money.  It is also quietly mentioned that they are mostly black, Indian, Chicano, etc.  This last is not true, most assistance goes to native born whites.

Liberals believe in protection, conservatives believe in responsibility.  Both are right, you need both.  A reasonable balance is needed.  Radcons want to take away all protection, the safety net.  In the 1950's factories in New England started moving south.  In the 1970's and 1980's they started moving to other countries.  Good jobs in prosperous factories made America great throughout most of the 1900's.  This created most of our middle class and upward mobility.  Between outsourcing and manufacturing robots there are few jobs left in these industries and they are steadily decreasing.  In the America of the present and future most new jobs will be in two categories.  Reich calls these the "symbolic analytic" jobs and the personal service jobs.  People who hold symbolic analytic jobs do research and development, design and engineering.  They are filmmakers, writers, lawyers, bankers, doctors, etc.  They work alone or in small groups, they require at a minimum a University degree, and they are well paid with good working conditions.  Personal service jobs are waiters, personal trainers, custodians, security guards, child and elder care workers, etc.  They are usually paid by the hour, are closely supervised, and seldom require more than a high school education.  Production workers (assembly line) are losing their jobs and these two groups are increasing but positions for those without University degrees are almost always low paid.

One of the big pushes by the Radcons was the trickle-down economy.  It didn't work, at least not for America's economy.  When you give more money to extremely rich people they will spend it, but they commonly spend it in buying stock in multinational corporations, who are spending most of their capital investment overseas in 3rd world companies.  Most liberals would prefer a bubble-up model where taxpayer investment is made in capital investment in America building schools, roads, parks, etc.  This investment is made in America and enables many more workers to enter the symbolic analytic job market.  America will never again be able to compete in a factory economy, not unless we are willing to pay our workers 3rd world salaries and accept the environmental degradation that many of these entail.

C4  Positive Patriotism  What is patriotism to a Radcon?  It is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the National Anthem, and flying the flag.  It is calling anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their beliefs a traitor.  It is beating into submission any nation that might possibly threaten us.  It is not about sacrifice, it is not about those who are more fortunate giving more, it is not about paying taxes to support the country.  Liberals should embrace patriotism, a patriotism that is based on love for America, a patriotism that cherishes our civil liberties and our right to dissent which was the reason the nation was created in the first place, a patriotism that understands that our national security depends as much on leadership and moral authority as it does military might..

It is natural to love your country but some don't.  Some remnants of sixties activism see themselves as citizens of the world first.  Reich has a former classmate who does not have any special allegiance to any particular country.  His friend is a self described staunch free-market Republican conservative.  He works for a large multinational corporation and has 3 houses, one in Connecticut, one in the Bahamas, and one in southern France.  He feels no more connection to America than to any of the other countries where he lives and does business.

Radcons see our "modern" ways as a degradation of the cultural purity of America that we had before our "Godless ways" took over.  America hasn't had cultural purity since before the Pilgrims arrived.  Our nation has always been diverse with many languages and cultures.  On many measures America trails Europe and many Asian countries, some of these measures lifespan, infant mortality, and rates of murders and assaults.  Positive patriots stand ready to stop aggression and genocide but they don't need a foreign enemy.  Negative patriotism sets nation against nation, them against us.  It needs an enemy and it creates the bullying typical of every (failed) great power in history.

All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for their lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in every country.  Hermann Göring (quoted in an interview with G. M. Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials)

Reich refers to many examples of how Radcons have used this same Nazi technique in their arguments. Criticism of anti-war protesters, comparison of current politicians and columnists with Senator Joseph McCarthy, failures in strategy for fighting the war in Iraq, failures to lead the world instead of telling the world how to behave, failure to request that all Americans support their nation, and failure to require every young person to perform service to their country, not just the poorest ones with little other chance of economic advancement.

C5  Winning: It Will Take More Than Reason  Radcons are right in several areas.   They are right in that morality is important, it's just that they confuse public vs. private morality.  Religious and sexual morality is not the business of the government, abuse of power and trust in business, politics, and government are seriously damaging our country.  They are right in that prosperity and economic growth is important.  We do need to measure it in something other than GDP, we need to include good air, good water, good education, good jobs, etc.  We need a policy that allows economic growth to bubble-up from the bottom, not trickle-down from the top because that doesn't work.  They are right in that patriotism is important, but it needs to be based on the values that grew America, not fear and imposing our will on a resentful world.  Our choices must be based on reason and truth, not ideology.

Liberals need to regain the passion they had during the early years of the 1900's.  After fighting the battle of the Great Depression and the battles of World War II they settled down and became disengaged.  That generation is almost gone now, new generations need to take up the struggle with renewed vigor.

Liberals (mostly Democrats) need to organize to push their entire message.  This message is diluted by hundreds of special interest groups.  They need to get out and push politicians to make the right choices.  The Democratic party needs to take control and bring in people who have been ignored in the electoral process, and this can't come down from the top, it must bubble-up from liberal Americans.  It can't just move to the center, the non-voting center needs to be galvanized behind strong liberal proposals.

Who are the people who can lead this liberal resurgence?  Reich suggests several groups:  Liberal-leaning religious groups, some new and newly-active labor groups, women (working, single, well educated), and younger Americans.  Democrats need to reconstitute themselves, to redefine the issues they are willing to fight for, and to get out there again.  The early years of the twentieth century saw a great deal of liberal leadership.  We need to recapture that and do it again.

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