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What a Neuopolitician Must Do and Why

Our moral mission is to spread the word that government is to protect and empower all citizens equally!  And it must be a deeply held MORAL MISSION.  It must have feeling and emotion behind it.  We think too much and feel too little.  You have to have the emotional commitment to your philosophy in order to connect with others at an emotional level.  That is the only way you can reach them!

The conservative take is that Democracy is to provide citizens with maximum liberty to pursue their self interest with little or no commitment to the interests of others.  Citizens are free to sink or swim on their own.  YOYO  You’re on your own!

My problem with this election is that it is incredibly borrrrrrrrrrrring!  There is no soaring rhetoric or exciting happenings.  Certainly the Republicans have taken a snooze.  They seem lackluster at best.  We despair to watch most of them mouth the same old shibboleths over and over.  Smaller government, individual responsibility and lower taxes, aud nauseum!  Don’t they ever get tired of that?  But we easily pigeon hole them with that claptrap and it is burned into the collective memory, even when we are disgusted by it.  But there is a message there.

It is up to the progressives to be equally adept at stating, simply, their credo.  And there it is, at the start of this piece.  Three parts, all in one sentence that is easily remembered and worth repeating!  It is a philosophical and moral statement and is not about policy so it doesn’t turn people off like the conservative credo.  It makes sense and has a nice flow to it.  It even has a certain beauty to it that expresses humanity’s aspirations.    It is a caring statement that reinforces the idea of cooperation and equality.

The media is no longer interested in philosophy and the big picture so it makes an unnecessarily long political process even longer.   Increasingly we see these “journalist” as presstitutes and stenographers!  They want a “close election” and plot winners and losers to keep the game going but they have to strain to keep their putrid prose from becoming bedding for the bottom of the bird cage even though it, figuratively, goes there anyway.  They know who butters their bread and they worship the chance for celebrity for themselves in case they get a chance to kiss the right body parts.  We look in vain for great thinking in the lamestream media.

And the research shows us the weakening impact of television yet millions are squandered on it in spite of fewer and fewer viewers and a gigantic number of “channels”!  TEVO and other viewing manipulators are such that advertisers are moving on to internet communication.  People are standing in line to spend big bucks for alternatives to TV.  Tradition dies hard though and certain big events are still attractive.  But ads/commercials are less and less effective.  Detroit is worried because the younger generation is turning off to cars for the first time as they turn on to lap tops and hand held devices.  When will we ever learn?

It is time to accept strange new ways to communicate with some of the old ideas like repetition and memory still showing the way to success in politics, community, family and business.

And let us not forget now:

Our moral mission is to spread the word that government is to protect and empower all citizens equally!



Review The Little Blue Book

The Little Blue Book
The Little Blue Book

The Little Blue Book by George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wheling

“Traditional American democracy has brought beauty to the world.  The idea of citizens caring about each other and taking responsibility not only for themselves but also for their fellow citizens has a moral beauty.  The mission of government is to protect and empower all equally through the use of the public realm, defined as resources for the betterment of life provided by all. That is also beautiful. It has made for civilized and humane private lives and prosperous private enterprise”.

That paragraph opens the sixth chapter of The Little Blue Book by George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling.  But while the book is touted as a guide to thinking and talking Democratic it is more of an explanation of how people can persuade and influence others by understanding the theory of the mind.  While the emphasis is on empathy and caring for others the authors stress the need for doing it from a moral perspective.  In other words, it needs to be done on a very ethical and emotional plane to be effective.

Persuading Others into Thinking Like a Democrat

This is based on the cognitive and the brain sciences about how people think and act.  The premise is that people make decisions on an unconscious level on the basis of their belief systems and then figure out how to justify them with “objective information”.  Messaging is about thinking, not just language.  To get language right, you have to understand the thought it conjures up!

The moral mission of the The Little Blue Book then is: government is a design to protect and empower all citizens equally.  It draws a sharp distinction from the conservative view that democracy exists to provide citizens with the maximum liberty to pursue their self interest with little or no commitment to the interests of others.  YOYO you’re on your own!

With the use of metaphors and framing, a strategy is mapped out on how to reach people without getting into the complexity and defensiveness of issues.  The emphasis is on moral values discussions and policies come after that.  Morality beats policy so set a moral context for policy is the thesis.

In the The Little Blue Book, there is a review of how family experience can affect conservative and progressive thought.  The idea is that a strict father type family will usually promote fear and conservative thought while a nurturant and shared parenting family will encourage empathy and shared responsibility.  The basic concept is that we first experience the idea of government from our family and how it is “governed”.

Stories and illustration that explain how you come by your moral values carry great weight.  The Public is explained as the means to carry out the care that citizen’s show for one another through the use of public resources.

At the end of several chapters the authors make a list of statements that both sum up the chapter and become useful lines to use in discussion.  At the end of the chapter on The Public you find, “No one makes it his or her own without the Public!”, for example.

Privatization and corporate control are dealt with in surprisingly simple and easy to understand language that helps to show how they are in competition with progressive philosophy.  Freedom is also explained on the basis of security and that progressive need to emphasize freedom as one of their core values.

At the end of The Little Blue Book there is a short discussion on policies such as taxation (revenue?), the American Dream (American Ideal!), health care (Not ACA but The American Plan!),entitlements ( Deferred Pay!), the “free market”( the 1 percent market!), the social contract and other loaded concepts.

This is a useful, day to day, hand book to keep your thinking focused.  It should help you with your discussions especially with your crazy Rush Limbaugh quoting neighbor!

So if you want to confirm your suspicions that you are on the right track yourself, look no further than the The Little Blue Book. If you want to know how the mind works in the realm of politics (and let’s face it, we are all politicians in some way!) This is the book for you.  The Little Blue Book is well written; very concise (less than 140 pages!) and it will make you feel more confident in your discussions.  I recommend it highly!





Occupy Spokane Rally Speech

Occupy Rally speech September 15, 2012
What a DAY! What a day to be ALIVE!
We are here because this is the first full year for Occupy Spokane!
And because the game is rigged! Wealth is power and power is control.
It’s always all about POWER! They have it . We want it! So let’s be wise and Organize! Take power for the people! Take it to the streets!
It’s our time. We are the 99%! It’s time to do it!
We are being lied to by our government every day. We want truth, Not truthiness and fuzzy numbers!
Unemployment 15 Million or 20+ Million ? 8% or 15% or 22% ? Does anybody believe there’s just 8% unemployment? No!
Take their pants off and set ‘em on fire! Call them LIARS! It’s time to do it!
You know what the F word is on Wall Street and DC? Fraud! Has anybody in the system gone to jail for Fraud? Fraud is stealing! Call them Fraudsters! Say it!
The definition of a psychopath is “a person with a personality which is amoral with antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love, extreme ego, doesn’t learn from experience, antisocial, often criminal, who lacks a social conscience.” Why, that’s the banksters!
These banksters and corporation CEO are psychopaths! They have lost their humanity! They’re immoral! In your guts you know they’re nuts! Call ‘em out! It’s time to do it!
How do they control the country? Billions for campaign contributions and lobbying. They call them investments! We call it Bribery!
They have the money! Trillions……..unlimited wealth? The banksters have always controlled the government.
Chant: Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo. They are Organized Crime!
Famous line of the 1% is,”Only the little people pay taxes”! The 1% evade ‘em or ignore ‘em! Corporations owe no allegiance to the US. They’re mostly Multinational. Make ‘em pay! It’s time to do it!
You’ve heard of the free market? There has never has been a free market! That is phony! It should be called the 1% market.
The 1% own more than 40% of the nation’s wealth. They are the people who own the country and run the country! We can’t let them put the young people in debt for life to get an education!
The top .01% is just 15,000 households. That’s the real control group! Average income: $25 million a year. No scandals because they own the media! Call them psychopaths! It’s time to do it!
The workers are the job creators, the profit makers! They create the goods and services! And they buy them too! But the more productive we become the less we earn now! It isn’t supposed to be that way!
They off shore and robot jobs! There will be no jobs to go back to! They threw out the social contract! Let’s put it back! It’s time to do it!
Change always starts in the streets! Until then all you get is gossip!
We, the 99%, take to the streets to gain our freedom from the intrusive, oppressive and tyrannical control over our lives by the 1%! It’s time to do it!
Now, let’s go change the world.

Maybe in the new year, a galvanizing global moment of truth will happen … be ready for it … prepare!

Persuasion, Psychos, and Empathy

Empathy is what sets human beings apart from all other creatures.  Whales may have bigger brains and mosquitoes may be more prolific but no other creatures are able to put themselves in the shoes of others and experience how they might feel.  Empathy is basic to effective persuasion.

Neuroscience has proven this to be true in recent years through the use of the fMRI (The functional Magnetic Resonance  Imaging  technology).  Human beings are born, with very rare exceptions, with the mirror neurons in the brain that enable us to experience, at an emotional level, the hopes, fears and emotional reactions of others.  That results in caring about the experiences of others and that has profound social and political outcomes.

Empathy and Persuasion

Now that doesn’t mean that empathy can’t be suppressed by various kinds of conditioning.   If people are convinced from childhood that they should be thinking only of self, they may operate in a decidedly non-empathic manner.  And a more primitive personal trait of self preservation may overcome empathy in a life threatening situation, either real or imagined.   This characteristic of self preservation can be expanded by conditions to demonstrate that people should think strongly about self interest and reject empathy.   The tendency then is to believe that thinking in a “self interest” way is the “rational” way to think, unemotionally.   Not true.

This is a hard sell!  But there is a fundamental difference between empathic thinking and self interest thinking that has important implications  for ethical  political and economic thought.

Since empathy is so strongly ingrained in our genetic makeup, persuading and influencing people is best centered on the idea of caring for one another.  If that is framed in the correct way it will overpower the self interest approach.   But we have to understand that in order for the message to be convincing andeffective it has to connect at an emotional level.  Neuroscience has confirmed what great thinkers and artists have always known.  Human beings make decisions in the subconscious at a “feeling level” and then try to justify their decision on the basis of objective evidence: facts statistics, quotations, examples, expert opinion and logic and reason etc.  The problem is that, in spite of scientific evidence, most people refuse to believe that they have made the decision at an emotional level based on their long held, belief systems.

The Emotional Brain

But let’s see how this happens using our knowledge of how the brain works.  While facts matter, it is hard to get through the maze of long held ideas and get a person or a group to listen and at least critically accept a viewpoint different than their own.   We know that logic and reason will not reach them, especially if it is presented straight on.  So we need to connect with them at an emotional level.  How to do that? There are two major areas to consider here.  You start with telling stories.  There are many variables in what makes a story successful.  The main issue for us at this point is to concentrate on the second major factor and that is word choice.   Just as stories can be powerful persuaders (Jesus Christ converted half the known world to Christianity with stories) choice of words can make all the difference.  Words as well as stories can stir the emotions and let in new feelings and perceptions.  Now that doesn’t mean that this knowledge will always be used in the interests of human kind!  But if human beings are going to survive and prevail it will be necessary for them the use the knowledge of the brain to make survival possible.   And we hope that empathy will lead the human race strongly in the right directions.

But let’s talk about the stumbling blocks along the way to the future.  As mentioned, the biggest problem is to get people to believe that you have to reach people at an emotional level in order to persuade and influence them.  In spite of the fact that people don’t choose their love interests on the basis of logic and reason nor do nations and people go to war on a “rational” basis they still believe that humans “think” their way through the decision making process.  George Lakoff, the eminent cognitive scientist from Cal Berkley, talks about how family shapes our belief systems.  He explains self interest oriented people on the basis that the family that the people grew up in was headed by a strict father who made almost all the decisions and punished “bad behavior” while protecting the members of the family from all the forces to be afraid of “out there”!  Right and wrong, heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys are easy to identify and it is important to be on the side of “good” as defined by the strict father.  Fear, either real or imagined then, creates “rational” or self interest thinking.

Family Makes Politics

People who had a nurturant family saw decision making being done by both parents.  Trust and empathy were the guiding lights.  There is the idea that good behavior should be modeled by the parents and freedom should be carefully given to the children as they mature.  The emphasis is on caring for members of the family and those outside that immediate circle, as well.

That is an oversimplified version of the kinds of families that we might recognize and most families are going to be a blend of these two “opposites”.  The point is that the sum total of our experiences in life will determine, to a major extent, our views of how things should be!  We build our values and ethics as we go along and we apply them to new events and ideas as we try to make some sense of life.

Pyschos Lack Empathy

But this all relates to empathy.   We see that empathy can be suppressed by influences that see self interest as the only “rational” explanation for human behavior.   They see personal power, greed and selfishness as the motivators of positive actions.  Classical economics is based on that premise.  “Pursue wealth, think only of self”!  And yet this denies the most basic of human qualities.  So we hope people, when faced with a choice, will choose the outcome that looks the most empathic, given half a chance!  That is important when you are choosing stories and words to express yourself and trying to influence and persuade.

So the case can be made that if you are not guided by empathy, it means that you are off the rails!  The temptation is to think that most of these people who are traders on Wall Street are psychotic or at least sociopathic.   But they are not alone.  They seem to be everywhere!  In that sense, “abnormal” behavior is easy to find.  Still it is possible to reach most people at the empathy level even if they are Scalia or McCain, on certain issues.  And that is point.  You have to find the place where you can find common ground and build trust and a relationship there.  But you have to use language and stories to find the areas of empathy that will help you connect with the person you want to persuade.  And we must acknowledge that most of our interaction with others, and especially with friends and family, involves persuasion and influence.  In a larger sense we are all politicians, in one circumstance or another.

In conclusion, it is vitally important to realize that empathy lies in the brain of almost every human being and that is what makes us human.  It might be suppressed to a greater or lesser degree in all of us but we are all vulnerable in some small way to an empathic approach if it is done artfully.  We must be careful not to think of heroes and villains!  There are no perfect people (except those who are reading this and agreeing with it, of course!) and we need to be able to reach the humanity within all of us in order to lead and make it possible for us to give a sense of moral force to the empathy within all the people we care about.


According to dictionary.com, a psychopath is “a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.”

According to dictionary.com, a sociopath is “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

“Democrats’ language tends to derive from the leaden jargon of academia, while the Republicans’ language comes from the world of advertising and PR. One party goes for the cerebral cortex (with minimal success), while the other goes for the solar plexus.”



Why elections cost so much and the result

Oh, I know, money is speech. The first amendment means that there can be no government control over what is allowed on the media when political discourse is involved. “God bless the first amendment”, they say in the executive suites of the major corporations. Can there be any doubt who controls the information for mass distribution in the US? The people who own the country run the country. Their power is the purse. Ownership of the media controls the media. Ownership of congress and the political system results in controls by campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. We don’t want to believe the above. We want to think that “public opinion” has some affect on what the government does at the national and state level. But time after time we find that public opinion has very little to do with the way that government decisions are made. Huge majorities in polling stand in stark contrast to the way the votes go at the national and state level. Michael Moore points this out routinely. Polling organizations show how the government is at odds with the long term public sentiment, ad infinitum!
What is amazing is that there is no revulsion about the cost of campaigns! They just go on and on and we are urged to contribute more and more money to the candidates. We have to do this because that is the way the game is played! We continue to “auction off” the various elective positions. The political people make the phone calls and do the doorbelling because it is the only way to be a good citizen. But the movers and shakers, the extra wealthy, the squillionaires, the rich and the powerful, the financial elites, just smile and out spend in every arena with no limits. This has always been true but it is “truer” today when the phony, fiat money has been expanded at the technological level into the trillions of dollars! The wealthy elite now have unlimited money to spend to exert their power. They have “manufactured” hundreds of trillions of dollars of wealth and will spend whatever it takes to get what they want. And when they do they get the rewards they are after. The money spent as an investment that results in more phony money that the phony money they spent!
The political junkies believe that they can just “out work” them with organized people power and some contributions. Well, they are right except it is very difficult to organize enough people to make the difference. Even with modern communications systems it takes great leadership and a major crisis to galvanize enough enthusiasm to drive a major organizational success. And can they be kept together for the long haul to make substantive change?
But let’s get back to the cost of elections. We are being snookered! The wealthy and the powerful run up the cost of elections to insure that they will win! And along the way they profit and the political junkies and civic minded people are ripped off as they pay into the media “buys” which goes right into the pockets of the same people who own country! They keep the election process going on longer and longer for more and more profits! Government becomes more and more expensive to run so more and more taxes are taken to make campaign contributions even more stressful and difficult for majority. And they won’t give up. The more they pay to keep the “rabble” in line, the more they make from the contributions of the “rabble”! No chance that public financing of elections will ever happen on a meaningful scale. The “people” may want it but “the big boys” will “manufacture” consent to make sure it doesn’t happen.

In other words, they love spending money to make money on elections! They are doing all the right things to make sure elections are as costly as they can. The campaigns start as soon as the election is over. The most expensive communications is pushed to make the campaign spend the most to “get the word out”.
That is why we say, “The game is over”! There are isolated cases where a superior candidate overcomes the rich and the powerful. And the best financed campaign doesn’t win every time. Still about 95% of all incumbents win their elections. At the highest levels about 98% of incumbents get re-elected. The cliché’ is that you are never really elected until you are re-elected! Getting elected and re-elected is so difficult and expensive above the very low income, local level that elections become a cruel joke.
So the famous quote is, “What is to be done”? Obviously organizing is the key. But organizing is the toughest work there is even by gifted people. The tools are better today but the competition from the owners of the country is even more intense and powerful. But developing leadership and organizing on a small scale is what has to be done until a circumstance develops that will drive the majority to action to overcome the mind control (the manufactured consent) of the elite power structure. Are we there yet? No but we are close as the international financial system is just based on faith! The paper (fiat) money is faith based and has escalated into the stratosphere. With depleting resources the costs of everything goes through the roof and the “food source” is insufficient.
We are about to find out if phony elections and phony money are going to be “sustainable”!

Psychos on Wall Street

The easiest way to explain the never-ending string of Wall Street scandals and implosions is to observe that a surprising percentage of people in the financial industry are psychos.

The latest edition of CFA Magazine, a trade publication for chartered financial analysts, features an article claiming one out of 10 people working on Wall Street are psychopaths.

Sherree DeCovny, the former investment broker who wrote the piece, says the estimate came from researchers, including a psychologist who treats Wall Street professionals.

In the 2005 book, “The Sociopath Next Door,” Harvard University psychologist Martha Stout claims one out of every 25 people in America is a sociopath. She defines sociopath as a person with no conscience.

“Sociopath” and “psychopath” describe a similar range of anti-social traits, including a lack of empathy, no regard for consequences and unbridled risk-taking. Ms. DeCovny defines them this way: “Back when we were little children…and we were learning right from wrong, they didn’t get it.”

Sometimes these people turn out to be Jeffrey Dahmer and drill a hole through your skull. But if you send them to Harvard and dress them in a fine suit, they could become your boss, your CEO or your senator. They excel in any arena where aggressive behavior is rewarded and where grandiose levels of confidence can result in rousing applause.

I have come to know many psychopaths, from Ponzi-schemers to book-cooking corporate executives. They are always charming and narcissistic. They display wonderfully glib senses of humor and spin the truth like a roulette wheel.

It is often difficult to argue that these people are indeed sick until the day they have to exchange their Armani suit for an orange jumpsuit.

I only know one man who openly admits he’s a psychopath. I called him to see what he thought of the numbers Ms. DeCovny reported.

“First of all, it’s not one out of 10,” says Sam Antar. “It’s probably eight out of 10.”

Mr. Antar was the chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, an electronics retailer in the New York area that became one of the more infamous stock-fraud cases of the late 1980s.

Mr. Antar pleaded guilty to felonies, but received no jail time, for assisting prosecutors in charges against his cousin, Eddie Antar, who famously advertised that his prices were just “In-sanne!” (frequently parodied on Saturday Night Live in the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi era.)

“The reality is, to succeed on Wall Street you’ve got to be a psychopath in one form or another,” Mr. Antar says.

Mr. Antar now teaches law-enforcement organizations how to spot psychos. He thinks of himself as a psychopath in remission, but he admits he could snap back at any time, much like a relapsing alcoholic.

“The only reason I started calling myself a psychopath is because it got me a complete walk from the Feds,” he admits.

It may be part of the human condition to venerate psychos, mistaking their grandiosity for leadership.

Ms. DeCovny suggests financial firms screen for psychopathic traits when they are interviewing prospective employees and regularly monitor anti-social behaviors amid their ranks. “Don’t we need to learn from the financial crisis?” she asks.

We do. And we won’t.

If you work on Wall Street, chances are good you are not a psychopath, but chances are also good you report to one.

Mr. Antar sees it this way: “It’s a bunch of crooks dealing with other crooks.”

And the smartest ones win.

Al Lewis is a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires in Denver. He blogs at tellittoal.com; his email address is

SmartMoney Glossary:
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Parenting and Persuasion and Lakoff

Putting Lakoff’s Work in a Larger Context

by: Mary L. Wentworth, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: jakub_hla, pareeerica)In applying to political discourse the scientific discoveries of how concepts are embodied in our brains, George Lakoff and his associates have made an important contribution to how we liberals ought to be talking about issues.
What is missing, however, in this application of science to politics, is recognition that a powerful worldwide system known as patriarchy needs to be the context for these discussions. For example, in a recent Truthout article, “Obama, Tea Parties and the Battle for Our Brains,” Lakoff explains how liberals and conservatives differ in their views of the family.
Liberals, Lakoff pointed out, prefer the model of “a nurturant parent family” that is not only based on “empathy,” but also on “responsibility – for both oneself and others, and on excellence: doing as well as one can to make oneself better, and one’s family and community better. Parents are to practice these things and children are to learn them by example.” Clearly, these are families in which women, as the primary nurturers, have an important place.
“Conservatives,” wrote Lakoff, prefer “a strict father family” model. In this kind of family, “the world is seen as a dangerous place and the father functions as protector from ‘others’ and is the parent who teaches children absolute right from wrong by punishing them physically (painful spanking or worse) when they do wrong. The father is the ultimate authority; children are to obey, and immoral practices are seen as disgusting.”
Republicans claim that this model is based on “traditional family values.” Actually, they are patriarchal values rooted in the subjugation of women, for it is not just the children who must yield to the authority of the father, but the mother as well.
Patriarchy is a system with a long history, predating written records, but it remains a powerful contemporary force throughout the world.
Patriarchs instituted the practice of marriage many millennia ago in order to subordinate women whom they saw as a valuable commodity by giving every man the right by law to absolute dominion over a wife. In patriarchal marriages, the father is more than a mere “protector.” He is a property owner. And in many countries, a wife today has no more rights than a slave. Women and girls are sold into marriage or prostitution, traded for other goods, or simply given away. A wife is viewed as valuable property because along with the domestic services that she provides she is able to produce children, especially sons, and the progeny belong to the property owner.
This issue of ownership is at the root of the strong opposition on the part of conservatives to Roe vs. Wade. The idea that a woman would have control over her life to the extent that she could legally abort the “male-owned” fetus is anathema to the patriarchal system and to those who espouse “traditional family values.”
Conservatives seek to strengthen patriarchy here and abroad by not only denying women access to abortions, but also to contraceptive information and devices.
Conservatives mask their contempt for women under the term “pro-life.” Few seem to notice that they have painted themselves into a corner on this issue, because if they claim that abortion is tantamount to murder, then how can they logically allow abortions, as some want to do, in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother?
Here, in the United States, thanks to two militant women’s movements over the last 150 years, progress has been achieved in removing many of the barriers to full personhood for women. But we are not out of the woods by a long shot. We women still have no equal rights under the US Constitution. Men in “nurturant parent families” can also be abusive and overbearing. And even here the violence – rapes, murders and domestic abuse – necessary to maintain the subservience of women goes on at a steady pace.
An issue Lakoff addresses in terms of framing is homosexuality. Liberals use “gays and lesbians,” which gets a more positive response in polls, while conservatives always use “homosexual” as in “homosexual marriage” or homosexuals in the military” etc. The question that needs to be asked, however, is why conservatives feel compelled to demonize homosexuals in the first place. The answer is that homosexual relationships undermine the patriarchal system that is structured on heterosexuality. Men are not involved in lesbian relationships, keeping the women in line. Two cohabiting men are seen as abdicating their responsibility to help control women. One might add that gay and lesbian relationships offer a more equal, and, therefore, a threatening model, to the patriarchal one.
Conservatives here have been tagged as working with their counterparts in Uganda to achieve legislation that would outlaw homosexuality and impose death sentences on those in violation of it.
The quid pro quo for lower-class men in exchange for their privileges vis á vis women is absolute loyalty to the ruling patriarchs. The loyalty chit is called in whenever patriarchs gear up to fight another one of their wars. The presence of women and homosexual males in the military erodes the ages-old patriarchal ideal of what it means to be “a real man.” Over the centuries, and the present one is no exception, men around the world have been willing to put their lives on the line to advance the interests of those at the top.
By substituting “patriarchal” for the phrase “conservative moral,” in Lakoff’s final sentence: “The highest value in the conservative moral system is the perpetuation and strengthening of the conservative moral system itself,” we would have a statement that gives us an appropriate context.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

The Not So Great Debate

Why are political debates so dull and boring?  I had trouble staying awake at the most recent one with Jay Inslee and Rob Mckenna.  Maybe I was over medicated!  It may be that the exchanges are so brief that no one has the time to develop a good argument let alone a good story.  Stories are what create drama and excitement and memorable confrontations.   We are not talking about “gotcha” lines or phrases.  We are talking about human beings who have authentic humanity and passion.   Something has been lost when the facts and issues are boiled down to ninety seconds or even thirty seconds.

And what has happened to ability of the audience to participate in the moment?  Are we to sit like bumps on a log as the “battle” goes on before us?  Are we trying to drain all emotion out of a situation that has almost become clinical in an antiseptic atmosphere?  Politics is tuning into bad theater!

These aren’t debates as much as they are either joint press conferences or a moderated discussion.  It isn’t necessary to draw blood to make an interesting clash of minds and philosophy.  Or don’t we have politicians who are capable of filling five or six minutes of time with provocative proposals instead of pompous punditry?   Politics is a contact sport and it should be about real people putting forth challenging ideas with illustrations to back them up.  But that doesn’t mean that there should be personal attacks and dripping sarcasm that Rush would envy.

The debaters need to realize even in a pathetic format of the briefest sound bites, that it isn’t what you say, it’s what people hear!  What do you remember about the Inslee-McKenna event?  Did either of them make you feel that they going beyond what the audience was listen for?  Wasn’t there more pandering than probing?  And do they both realize that they are trying to get the support of the people who are not either yellow dog Democrats or reactionary Republicans?  They are “trying out” for a position in the electoral enterprise.  You would think they would at least smile a little and not take themselves too seriously!  Are they trying to show that they are the smartest people in the room and infinitely smarter than the opponent?  Wrong approach boys!  Rob Mckenna reminded me of George Will and George Will has always reminded me of the smart ass kid on the play ground who made you want to pinch his head off.   Jay Inslee has a certain boyish charm but runs the risk of being a cross between nothing at all and nothing at all.   His best moments came when he talked about the “banksters” on Wall Street except he wasn’t bold enough to call them by name.

So the format sucks.  What can a creative candidate do to overcome the restraints?  They can have stories that fit the time constraints that amuse and touch the emotions of the audience.  Hard to do but far from impossible.  And they can ask questions more and make fewer statements.  By asking questions they can convey their position and engage the listeners at the same time.  Make them think and consider.   They shouldn’t express condecention but they should talk to the opponent with respect yet expect to draw some response to what they have said.  The “debate” at The Bing gave the impression that the most important person in the room was the moderator!  And the moderator was anything but.  He was the third debater in the place trying to be fair but questioning each candidate.  He seemed to be trying to show his debating chops!

I found the process sterile and uninformative.  What do they really think and feel?  Now, the odds are almost completely against them being bold and forthright.   They still need to get about ten million dollars to fund their campaigns under the current conditions.  It is called “playing it safe” and pleasing the big contributors.  It was just about worth the price of admission.



Energy,Economics vs Growth

Energy and the Wealth of Nations
by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP
(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA. This commentary originally appeared as part of an Advisor Perspectives newsletter.)   Read the rest here.

When our society relies on an understanding of economics that did not predict, prevent, or mitigate the current economic crisis, and that, more importantly, does not effectively address climate change or resource depletion, it is time for a new and different approach to understanding the economy. That premise is the foundation of Energy and the Wealth of Nations, an important book by ecologist Charles Hall and economist Kent Klitgaard, who together are pioneering the new discipline of biophysical economics.

Richard Vodra, J.D., CFP®, is the President of Worldview Two Planning of McLean, VA. He recently retired from a 27-year career as a personal financial planner. He is a member of the Board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA).

Democratic Party Sold out Wisconsin

It’s Class War in Wisconsin, Yet Democrats Sing Kumbaya

By Gary Younge, Guardian UK

04 June 12

A vote to recall the state’s Republican governor has huge implications for US politics, but the liberals have missed their cue.

here is a degree of hyperbole one comes to expect from American activists around election time. Given the level of polarisation, this is hardly surprising. Every vote, you’re told, is about liberty, justice, the American dream, the constitution or the world one wants to leave your children or grandchildren. Then, often, half the eligible voters stay at home and, regardless of who wins, not an awful lot changes.

So when activists on both sides of the effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor insist “everything” is at stake, they should not be taken too literally. Nonetheless, this time they have a point.

The recall campaign was sparked last year when Republican governor Scott Walker pledged to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions and cut local government workers’ health benefits and pension entitlements, claiming this was necessary to balance the state’s budget. Walker, a Tea Party supporter, was elected in 2010 against Democrat Tom Barrett, with 52% of the vote. By February 2011, tens of thousands of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison. In all 50 states, rallies were held to support Wisconsin unions. Before tents ever went up on Wall Street, this midwestern state was occupied. Unable to prevent passage of his anti-union bill and other measures, labour activists and progressives collected more than 900,000 signatures to recall him.

That makes Tuesday’s vote a rare chance for a clear referendum on who should pay for this economic crisis – those who created it or those who have suffered most because of it. So in a state with a larger population than Ireland’s and a GDP greater than Portugal’s, people here will vote on the causes and consequences of austerity.

Walker’s record speaks for itself. In his first year in office Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state, and was one from last in private sector job growth. He has cut tax relief to low-income families and the state’s Medicaid program. He has introduced a voter ID bill that will limit minority and low-income electoral participation, reproductive rights legislation that has forced Planned Parenthood to suspend providing basic services to women and repealed the law that protects equal pay for women.

Meanwhile, according to the Wall Street Journal, union membership has slumped since he banned automatic deduction of union dues from salaries. The WSJ reported that membership of the state’s second largest public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, fell by more than half in Walker’s first year while the American Federation of Teachers lost more than a third of its members.

Unemployment has fallen, although that is most likely because people have left the job market and, depending on your accountant, he has balanced the budget. He has cut property taxes for the first time in 12 years and given millions in tax breaks to corporations.

In short, he has hammered working people, undermined the capacity of those who represent them and marginalised many of those who might vote for their interests while effecting a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich: a more balanced budget for a more unequal society.

The degree to which he is successful in this project has national implications and resonates with struggles that are taking place globally. Neither the unions nor the poor are responsible for this crisis but across the world they have been scapegoated for it.

In the US, unemployment has rarely been this bad for this long, wages have rarely been this stagnant and corporate profits, as a proportion of GDP, have never been this high. In that context the referendum raises the question: should the burden for the recession, precipitated by a banking crisis, fall on labour or capital?

Conservatives seem to understand this. In a large Tea Party rally of several thousand in Racine on Saturday, speakers railed against “union thugs” “union bullies” and “pinko commies”. Walker has been caught on video telling a donor, shortly before he announced the cuts, that he intended to use a strategy of “divide and conquer” to defeat the public sector unions by driving a wedge between them and private sector workers. They also see the broader implications in an election year where the economy will take centre stage. Political and financial support has flooded in from around the country. “We are going to chart the course for the rest of the country,” said the state’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also being recalled.

The activists on the ground calling for Walker’s recall understand this also. Ask them what’s at stake and most will say women’s rights, union rights and voters’ rights. But the Democratic leadership, both locally and nationally, who have taken over the recall effort, clearly don’t. They have run a campaign calling for more consensual governance and less divisive rhetoric and accusing Walker of being corrupt. Bill Clinton, who came to town to stump for Barrett on Friday, called for “creative co-operation”, bringing unions and business around the table to discuss common interests. There are times that can work. But not when unions are not allowed through the door, let alone at the table.

Nationally, Democrats have kept their distance. Clinton is the only high-profile Democrat to lend his support to a campaign that is being outspent by more than seven to one. Little wonder that most polls show Walker with a small but persistent lead that only a huge Democratic turnout can override. Indeed it’s amazing his opponents are doing as well as they are.

So while conservatives are using Wisconsin as a laboratory to openly wage class war, the Democratic leadership keeps extending their hand and singing Kumbaya. The problem is not simply that Walker is divisive – though that is a problem – but that he’s on the wrong side of the divide. Calls for unity are meaningless without first spelling out on what basis people should unite and working out where the disunity came from in the first place.

“You get out of a ditch when people stand on each others’ shoulders and the person at the top starts pulling people out,” said Clinton. True. But the last people you’d rely on are those who dug the ditch and shoved you in – particularly when they’re still building and still shoving.

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