Re-Framing Is The Key To A Sound And Winning Foreign Policy

This diary is a convergent response to two recent diaries. One, by Chris Bowers at MyDD, addressed the use of code words by Democratic hawks to attack other Democrats on security issues-painting them as hopelessly out of the mainstream, when, in fact, it is the hawks who are in the small minority.  However, they still control the beltway debate. The other, by Booman at Booman Tribune, was an attack on framing. My first diary responding to Booman saw him repeatedly mischaracterize what framing is, over and over and over again. In this diary, I take a different approach.  I discuss Lakoff's use of framing to articulate a different foreign policy vision-- one that actually resonates with what the American people already believe... and with proven foreign policy success. This is badly needed, because not only do advocates of withdrawal lack media access, they also lack a common framework of understanding. And that, ultimately, is what framing is all about. Messaging is entirely secondary.
Codes Words And The Delusions of Democratic Hawks

In his diary Code Words at MyDD, Chris Bowers wrote about the Democratic hawk code words "credibility on national security." He wrote:

"Credibility on national security" is actually DLC-type code for "continue neo-con military policies, especially in Iraq." The majority of people who seem to be trumpeting that Democrats are lacking "credibility on national security" are Democrats. They are, without fail, Iraq hawks.

While the Democratic hawks argue "that Democrats are losing elections because they hold unpopular positions on the use of military force," Bowers goes on to point out that it's the hawks who are in the unpopular minority position, with withdrawal favored by anywhere from 63-33 to 58-34 in a number of different polls.  

Indeed, Chis could have noted, the whole reason Bush and the neocons lied about Iraq is because the American people would not have supported going to war against Iraq if they told the truth. A poll (pdf) in February, 2003, by the Project on International Policy Priorities (PIPA) found the American people very deeply split about there perceptions regarding Iraq, with strong majorities responding to arguments on both sides.  But the underlying outlook remained surprising firm:

A very large majority either favored the position that the US must get UN approval and the support of its allies (52%) or should not invade Iraq at all (15%).
The next month, another PIPA poll (pdf), in the wake of the invasion, tried to see if increased support for the invasion was "simply a `rally around the President' effect." In a summary of their findings regarding the UN, PIPA wrote:
Continuing Strong Support for UN
Despite the failure of the UN to approve action against Iraq, a very strong majority believes that this has not diminished the importance of the UN, and that in the future the US should feel no more free than before to use force without UN authorization. A modest majority would like to see the UN, rather than the US, govern a postwar Iraq, and very strong majorities favor the UN taking the lead in dealing with Iran and North Korea. A very strong majority rejects the idea that the US should seek to punish other members of the UN Security Council that did not support the US position.
Thus, even though the country rallied round the flag after the invasion of Iraq started, they did not change their fundamental attitudes which opposed the underlying neo-con logic.  This majority opposition to the neo-con logic corresponds quite well with the levels of support for withdrawing from Iraq.  Those favoring withdrawal now were never in favor of a US occupation in the first place.  They are an overwhelming majority of the American people.  They do not want an American empire. They want an American republic.

Bowers concludes:

If you are unable to realize that the current way the military is being used in Iraq is mistaken and destructive, like the vast majority of the nation already has, you have no credibility on national security. And if you can't realize that simply avoiding the issue will compound this problem even further, then whatever credibility on national security you once had will erode away entirely. If national security is one of the two thresholds that political parties must meet before voters will even listen to them, then right now the only group of people meeting the national security threshold are those in favor of withdrawal. And if you can't recognize that by now, then, at long last, it is time that you just suck it up and accept it.

The Need For A Clear Alternative

This already was a big problem for John Kerry.  It's one of the reasons he didn't beat the pants off of Bush.  He failed to enunciate a clear critique of Bush's conduct of the war and to offer a clear picture of how and why he would do things differently.

The irony here is that, beneath all the muddle, Democrats as a whole represent the overwhelming majority position, while the neocons remain little more than a cult, which just happens to hang out at the White House and the inner sanctum of the Pentagon.  What's lacking, however, is clear explanation of what the Democrats stand for and why.  Even they don't understand this themselves. And that's where the need for framining comes in.

In a comment in my recent diary on, Parker commented, in part:

    Every person and every politician uses frames...some are just better than others.

    Oh... here is what Truman had to say... count the frames...Address on the Occasion of the Signing of the North Atlantic Treaty:

    The purpose of this meeting is to take the first step toward putting into effect an international agreement to safeguard the peace and prosperity of this community of nations.

        It is altogether appropriate that nations so deeply conscious of their common interests should join in expressing their determination to preserve their present peaceful situation and to protect it in the future.

    What we are about to do here is a neighborly act. We are like a group of householders, living in the same locality, who decide to express their community of interests by entering into a formal association for their mutual self-protection.

The neocons do not believe in neighborly acts or neighborly behavior.  They believe in "my way or the highway." They believe in telling "Old Europe" to get lost, when Old Europe was trying to warn us, for our own good, that we were rushing into another Vietnam based on phantom evidence.

But even Truman's words here are just part of the picture.  For our deepest belief is not in alliances of good guys versus bad guys.  Our deepest belief is that all nations belong in community together. That we should all be good neighbors.  That we should promote a world in which nations act according to a set of moral norms, as neighbors in a healthy neighborhood do.  A world like this is far more stable, secure, prosperous and just than a world in which nations operate strictly out of narrow self-interest-even if they do have strong alliances based on narrow self-interest.  Such alliances are likely to be strong only until they are needed most.

Here's the irony.  The narrow self-interest model is what the old-fashioned model of realpolitik is based on. But reality has changed.  And even though the foreign policy establishment uses that model and its language, the world itself has changed irrevocably since the end of World War II.  We are not just an inter-connected world.  We are a world of world citizens, people with family, business, work, professional and organizational ties that transcend borders on a regular basis.

The neocons want to go back to WWII, when the US was king of the world. But that's just crazy talk. That world is gone for good.  Yet, part of the reason that the neocons got so far is that their basic model--that of national "rational self-interest"--is the one that the foreign policy establishment still clings to, despite the fact that it's not what the world's people believe in, and it's not how the world actually works anymore.

Here's the kicker: the best way to understand this, to really, really understand it, to get it deep in your bones, is to approach it in terms of framing.

Framing Foreign Policy-Moral Norms

Foreign policy is usually conceived in terms of national self-interest-either militarily or economically.  In his paper "The Mind and The World: Changing the Very Idea Of American Foreign Policy" (pdf), George Lakoff argues that a wide range of relatively new concerns--the environment, women's rights, labor rights, human rights, genocide and lesser levels of violent ethnic conflict, children's issues, indigenous rights, global public health, economic sustainability and global poverty and powerlessness--are not given the priority they deserve because they don't fit into the tradition framework of national self-interest.  They sound like a laundry list of unrelated concerns, Lakoff notes.  But they aren't.

Instead, Lakoff points out, they are part of a new framework, a framework of moral norms.  Just as we want to live in a community governed by moral norms, he argues, we want to live in a world governed by moral norms as well.  There is a practical side to this, as well as a purely moral one-we are safer, happier and more secure in case of adversity when we are part of a moral community guided by shared norms.

Moral norms clearly fit into the Nurturant Parent model, which Lakoff has shown is the source of liberal values underlying positions across a wide range of issues.  They are about caring for others, fairness and protection--all aspects of moral nurturance.  Obviously, the older concerns of national self-interest have their place.  We can do little to create a just, norm-based international community if we are too poor to have influence and too weak to resist invasion by others.  The Nurturant Parent model values strength for precisely this sort of reason: in order to nurture others, one must be strong oneself.  But the question is whether strength is an ultimate end in itself, or a means to achieve something greater--the creation and sustenance of a nurturant, benevolent world that is also in our own higher self-interest.

Lakoff puts it like this:


The US is the only superpower -- it has superior air power, enough bombs to destroy the world, and is wealthier than any other nation. But that does not make the US really secure. Its wealth and military security are threatened by the possibility of the collapse of markets elsewhere, and by events internal to other countries:

    a. "rogue nations" harboring and supporting terrorists,
    b. the sale of nuclear weapons and missiles to such nations,
    c. large flows of immigrants fleeing oppression,
    d. global warming and other dangers to the world ecology, and
    e. looking bad in the "court of world opinion" (which could effect trade and hence wealth and military treaties).

Two key approaches to international moral norms concern the creation of international agreements, treaties and conventions, and intervention when norms are being violated.  Moral states control their own violence, and thus do not require outside intervention.  In addition, Lakoff notes:
Moral states:
    a. don't commit genocide or engage in ethnic cleansing
    b. don't oppress their own people
    c. don't let paramilitary groups prey on their own people
    d. don't let their people starve
    e. don't tolerate corruption on a scale massive enough to destabilize the economy.

Upholding such norms is important to the international community, and violations may justify intervention, though that is a serious step, and alternatives short of intervention are always to be preferred.

A Clear Example: The Bush-Gore Foreign Policy Debate

Lakoff illustrates the problem with communicating this vision by examining the Second Presidential Debate in the 2000 Election.  In it, Vice President Gore attempted to articulate a norms-based foreign policy vision, but he lacked the necessary language and the understanding of how language works to do so.  And the lack of language reflected an underlying lack of clarity about the nature of the vision itself.  It was not deeply grounded in a clear and compelling model of the underlying logic.  It had not been fully and coherently framed in Gore's mind.

The debate began with the moderator, Jim Lehrer, asking candidates Bush and Gore in turn if they had framed any guiding principles for exercising American power-economic, military or diplomatic.   Bush responded by focusing on "the best interests of the United States," while Gore said that our greatest national strength comes from our values--"what we stand for in the world"--and that we should be guided by them.

However, Gore proved unable to consistently explain what he meant, and was quickly reduced to defending "nation building"-the framework that Bush used to describe Gore's position.  Gore defended "nation-building" valiantly, pointing to the lessons learned from the aftermath of World War I, and the post-World War II response of the Marshall Plan.  He then asked, and answered: "what did we do in the-in the late 40's and 50's and 60's? We were nation building. And it was economic. But it was also military." 

The example was a good one, but the language he used was not.  The Marshall Plan, NATO, and other international arrangements we entered into after World War II were something much more than nation-building-they were investing in the creation of an international normative order.

Lakoff puts his critique thus:


At this point Gore had accepted Bush's reframing of his foreign policy position as "nation-building". He walked into a trap. Most people were forced to ask themselves a simple question: Who should build nations? The common sense answer seems obvious: the people in those nations, of course.

Indeed, after World War II, the nation-building per se was largely done by the citizens of the ravaged nations-even Western Germany after a relatively short period of time.  Our most valuable contribution was guiding the overall international direction in which this nation-building took place, nurturing the development of a normative international order.  We extended plenty of assistance, of course, but we were not in charge of the rebuilding efforts-the people of Western Europe were.   Thus, even though Gore pointed quite correctly to a major example of what foreign policy can and should be, he lacked the language to talk about it properly.  And he lacked the language because he lacked the underlying frame. What we were actually doing was nurturing an emerging normative world order.

Lakoff also points out two more sources of confusion.  First, with Gore unable to define a norms-based vision, Bush was able to blur the lines by supporting "debt relief" where "the return is good" and, of course, in our interests.  Second, the moderator, further blurred things by framing the question in terms of which overseas interventions each of the candidates supported.  If Gore had first managed to explain his moral vision, this question could have helped clarify its consequences.  But without such an explanation, it simply reduced foreign policy back to the same narrow terms of military and economic decisions in our own self-interest--back to Bush's frame.  Naturally, debating within Bush's frame meant that Bush would win the debate, maybe not in the conventional sense, but in the sense that mattered: he had people thinking with him, and thinking that Gore's position was unfocused, incoherent, manipulative, etc.--all of which are natural results of seeing that position from inside of Bush's frame.

Three conclusions are in order here:  First, there is nothing really new or controversial about a normative foreign policy, although many of the elements in it are relatively new, and there is considerable disagreement over there substance and how to include them.   But the basic concept of a normative foreign policy is firmly established.  Second, we are utterly lacking in a language to describe what we've already been doing for over half a century--much less for what we must do if we are to rid the world of terrorism.

Third, we lack the language because we the lack the proper conceptual framework. The fundamental problem is a conceptual one.  It is not a matter of communication, much less emotional or psychological appeals.  We have not thought through the vast transformations that have happened since the end of World War II.  We are still trying to see them in old terms, in an old framework that cannot adequately explain them.  What we are actually doing is far in advance of the high-level models we are using to think about global affairs.  But we cannot intelligently generalize what works to meet new challenges without thinking through those new models, and then applying them. This is a problem of framing.  We cannot organize the content properly if we do not have the proper frame.

Models For Action

In considering how to get this point across, Lakoff turned to the question of what models we have for taking action.  The challenge here is to see what models we have in our own community lives, and how they can be translated into the world community of different peoples and nations.  Here is a list that Lakoff proposes:

  • The Example setter: lives by moral norms and promotes them by setting an example.
  • The Mentor: helps others achieve autonomy.
  • The Community builder: brings diverse parties together to get things done.
  • The Leader of the work crew: gets the job done through cooperation.
  • The Team Player does whatever the team needs, without considering self-interest. Or he may identify his self-interests with the team's self-interest,
  • The Team captain: a team leader by virtue of being an exceptional team player.
  • The Caretaker: Responsible for the children; committed to their future.
  • The Protector - of the powerless and oppressed,
  • The Respectful person: values the diversity of others.
  • The Honest broker: Someone known to be fair-minded, who can help in negotiating disputes.
  • The Pragmatist who cares: Faces reality; takes care of himself; does all he reasonably can for others and for the community
  • The Partner: shares responsibility and risk.

Clearly, there are many different roles available to us as models for international cooperation and building a international community based on moral norms.  Once we realize what a moral norms foreign policy requires, there is no shortage of examples or experience for us to draw on--and there's no need to choose between them either.  Different roles can be taken on as the situation requires.  What's more, translating from the individual in their community to our country in the world community, we have an added degree of flexibility--we can easily take on more than one role at a time in the same situation, via different government programs, private initiatives and joint ventures.

Constructing a world community governed by moral norms would be a virtually impossible task if we had to start from scratch.   But fortunately, as these examples show, we have plenty of experience to draw on.  This should hardly be surprising, given the enormous growth of international organizations since the end of World War II, both governmental and non-governmental (NGOs).  The reservoir of models we have in our everyday community lives has undoubtedly been a significant contributing factor in the growth of what has come to be called international civil society.

What Gore Could Have Said

Knowing that such resources exist, Lakoff offered an example of how Gore could have responded to articulate a clear moral norms vision of foreign policy.  This is the response he wrote:

The foreign policy difference between myself and Governor Bush is profound and fundamental. It can be stated in a simple, straightforward way: Should the world be governed by moral standards, standards of humane conduct - or should it be governed by self-interest?

Governor Bush stands for a world where self-interest reigns and where America just looks out for itself. I stand for a world governed by international moral standards, by American values worth giving to the world. Certain of those standards are clear. The world cannot be governed by genocide and ethnic cleansing. The Governor's father, President Bush, refused to intervene in Bosnia when Milosevic's henchmen began a systematic program of oppression, torture, rape, and extermination. He said it was not in America's self-interest to intervene, just as Governor Bush has just said that America's foreign policy should be governed by self-interest.

But I see America as a moral force in the world. We intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo because it was the right thing to do. We intervened in Haiti because it was right-because a fledgling democracy needed a fighting chance against the paramilitary thugs left over from the previous dictatorship. We intervened in Somalia because it was right-because we could not stand by and see millions left to starve, and our intervention saved half a million lives.

Those are the right values and world affairs should be governed by those values, not just by self-interest. If America ignores those values and just looks out for itself, how can we expect other nations to live by international standards-moral standards that define humane conduct? American leadership must be moral leadership and set an example for the rest of the world.

The governor is so focused on self-interest that he confused moral leadership with nation-building. Only the nations themselves can engage in nation-building. Only we can provide the kind of moral leadership the world needs to make most nations good nations.

Clearly, there is a vast difference between this vision and the one animating the Bush Administration-as well as the one animating Democratic hawks.  As long as we buy into self-interest frame, there will be no way for the Democrats to beat the Republicans on national security, no matter how crazy the GOP position becomes.  

This is the lesson of Iraq:  no matter how bad it gets, no alternative is no alternative.

We need a fundamentally different vision of what we are about.  And that cannot even be conceived without the work of framing, whether we call it that or not.

Coda

A great deal more could be said on this topic.  On the one hand, PIPA has amassed a great deal of polling data over the years that shows continuing support for the cooperative, multi-lateral approach that is best understood in terms of the moral norms framework.  On the other hand, a strong case can be made that the entire history of the Cold War has been fundamentally misunderstood by our foreign policy establishment.  The claim that "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War" is just the tip of the iceberg of this misunderstanding.   We did not win the Cold War by standing up to the Russians, but by being true to ourselves.

Two early documents laid out blueprints for the Cold War. George Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow, and NSC-68, drafted primarily by Paul Nitze.  These are brilliantly analyzed and compared in a paper, "Kennan's Long Telegram and NSC-68: A Comparative Analysis," by Efstathios T. Fakiolas.  While superficially similar-both warn against the threat of Soviet militarism-the two documents differ sharply in their conception of the nature of the Cold War struggle. NSC-68 sees it primarily as a military contest between two self-interested superpowers.  The Long Telegram sees it in terms of moral communities: we will win in the long run by being true to our values, and creating a global moral order that the Soviets will ultimate want to be a part of.  

While Fakiolas sees these both within a realist framework, he identifies two variants.  Nitze operated within the "billiard ball model," in which all actors were isolated, self-interested actors. But Kennan within the "tectonic plates model," which allows for considerable cohesion among groups of nations, with other actors playing significant roles as well. Fakiolas explains:

the main assertion of the tectonic plates model is that even though states are the most important protagonists in world politics, there exist many other non-state actors; the distribution of power determines the outcomes in many fields of international system to the extent that the interaction of states structures varying patterns of behavior; for the world is not "zero-sum," and the opportunity for mutual cooperation is most often present.
It is quite sensible to see the tectonic plates model as reflecting some aspects of Lakoff's normative model, aspects that turned out to be key in terms of Cold War history, even if the two models retain significant differences.

The irony is that NSC-68 became the working model for winning the Cold War. But it failed.  We won the Cold War in spite of NSC-68, not because of it.  When we followed it, we ended up with disasters like Vietnam. Instead, we won the Cold War because of the reasons laid out in the Long Telegram.  It was, in the end, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground who won the Cold War.  

They created a vibrant culture that people in the Soviet Block yearned for. It inspired the Checkoslavakian group Plastic People of the Universe. And their suppression inspired the beginnings of the civil society movement, which eventually toppled the Checkoslavakian government at the end of the Cold War.  In turn, the cross-border alliances between Western European peace and human rights activists and the civil society movements of Eastern Europ-of which Checkoslavakia and Poland were the vanguard-were inspirations for Michael Gorbachov, and his initiatives for Glasnost and Perestroika, which eventually ended the Cold War.

But that's a topic for another diary.

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38 Comments

Thou art worthy of pen
don't go eat that yellow snow, watch out where the huskies go...

I saw a member of the GOP .. just clubbing the head of my favorite baby fur seal..

Da kine, bra. Da kine!

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-22 01:33PM | 0 recs
Highly recommended
But in the meantime, as I always say: "Framing ain't renaming."

As someone whose experience with framing goes beyond its recent attachment to liberal poltics, it surprises me how simplistic a model many in the left want it to be.

A big part of Lakoff's point when he introduced this concept was that there is value in having specialists formulate communications strategies.  Specialists with the theoritical background to apply theories and technologies such as framing in developing an effective communications strategy.

But Lakoff also sold his book and his advice as a kind of self-help program, negating his point about the absolute value in utilizing experts.  I know that the grassroots is about rejecting the over paid consultants and specialists.  But if that is all the grassroots is, then we're in trouble.  There is great value in highly skilled, well trained people working for your cause.

I think that much of what is called "frame" in the discussion following Lakoff's populization of the term might better be thought as "schema." That's because the word "frame" is a synonym for "schema," used first by Marvin Minsky.  A frame is Marvin Minsky's word for schema.

Schema, I think, is a better word since you can't go around schemaing things.  A schema is noun, just as is a frame.  The act of using schemas, like using frames, generally involves a larger set of strategies than merely employment of the concept for "schema."

Like frames, schemas are ways of thinking about things.  They are both "mental units" and the connections between these units.  For cognitive scientists schema provide a way of describing mental processes, or ways of thinking.

The application of the theories that employ schemas is a much different activity than the pure sciences that developed these theories.  Moving from pure science to technology usually involves leaps of several magnitude.  As such, "framing" is far different than explaining how the mind works using schema as a descriptor and tool/concept of measurement.

Quite simply, when we talk about frames/schems we are talking about how people think.  Lakoff takes this one step further, as he is interested in how thinking intersects with symbolic systesms (such as languages) - or how the two intersect and interact.  Lakoff's theories are based on the premise that language (the specific "language" used - as the words and meanings of those words coupled with the ways in which the words are ordered, presented and percieved) influences thinking.  It is important to consider that there are many competting theories that  decouple symbolic systems from thinking processes.

While I hate to bring up another word, I think that we'd better served with (ugh) "paradigm" for much of the discussion and ideas when we talking of "framing."  Paradigm (as overused as it is/was) may be better than frames/schemas simply because the concept of paradigm includes more than the brain's mental spaces.  Paradigms include non-cognitive, or non-mental, systems.  

For example, when talking about foriegn policy it's interesting to note that Canada's constitution includes references to international law as part of the function of the judiciary.  Contrast this to the US, where it was seriously suggested that judges who cite international law should be removed from the bench.  Likewise, Canada's youth justice law was designed with international conventions in mind.  While it does not conform to the entire UN convention on the rights of the child, where it fails (articles 37 and 40) were the result of careful debate and consideration - with all but article 37 being alligned with the spirit of the convention (37 deals with housing youth detainess with adults).

I think that Canada's approach to international law represents more than a mentalism, as the entire system is differently oriented.  It is, in other words, a different paradigm - with different rules, orientations, histories and operating assumptions.  While that paradigm helps shape the mental life of Canadian votes and policy setters, there is more going than just a relationship between words and thoughts.

That said, I agree with Lakoff that the Left would be well served by respecting the role of communications experts and specialists, by people who have been professionally trained to apply theoritical frameworks to communications strategies.

by Tom Kertes 2005-10-22 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Highly recommended
This is a great discussion you've provided.  Very helpful.  But I want to draw attention to something that you've also done, which may not be so helpful (and was probably unintentional):  you've batted away the social value of framing in the Democratic party, and replaced it with purely technical value.  

Framing has always had technical value (as you point out better than I can).  It's the social value of framing that's new.

In other words, what makes framing so important in the current moment is preciselythat Lakoff translated his more theoretical approach into a (fairly) digestible book that anyone could read.  I hope the Democrats decide to put more stock in experts to increase the effectiveness of their communications.  But more important than that, I hope the Democrats are able to recognize the huge social value that framing has had amongst all kinds of voters.  And that they are able to see the massive potential this social value has for winning elections right now and in the long run.

Simply put, Lakoff's little book, and the groundswell surrounding it,  has provided an experience enabling people to transform themselves into the kinds of citizens they aspire to be.    That experience has been so powerful for so many people, that is fair to say there is now a new core of invididuals in the country that will change the dynamics of politics forever.

So, bring on the experts.  I love 'em.  Sometimes I even try to be one.  But let's keep our eyes as well on the massive change underway amongst non-expert citizens as a result of the new interest in framing.  That is the most powerful change of all.

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-10-22 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Highly recommended
Yes, I think your point is very good.

I tend to think of framing on a purely technical and theoritical basis.

But a very large part of Lakoff's work, and the work of those motivated by him, has to do with values.  Lakoff talks more about values, and framing things in terms of values, than he does of the value of communications specialists.  

It is here that I think Lakoff makes his biggest contribution, and it here that I also support him the most wholeheartedly.  Additionally, it is at the intersectation of values and cognition/communication where his recent work has influenced me the most.  I have reformulated much of my political work within the values-frame, away from administrative/specialist frame and from (which I rarely did anyways) interest-based frames.

If there is one area where Lakoff comes into (albeit indirect) conflict with the Democratic Party's status quo it is here also.  I think that much of the Democratic Party's focus has been, and all to often remains, in the realm of interest-based politics.  This is a holdover from when Democrats were in power, and is also a holdover from the Party's labor roots (which is steadfastly interests-based).

Moreever, I agree with your general point.  Lakoff has provided many in the grassroots with a way to think about politics that goes beyond just meeting, writing letters and holding rallies.  He has opened up a whole new way for the grassroots to make change - which is very empowering in both the individual and collective sense.

I would also add that Lakoff's emphasis on the effective realization of values and not ideological purity is another gift to the Left.  He does this by providing a new criteria for deciding what actions to take: Is this an effective way of communicating our values?

by Tom Kertes 2005-10-22 05:07PM | 0 recs
Dang!
Why'd you have to wrap up a good 15 comments worth of ideas into one, when over at BT, I've got 15 comments that couldn't add up to just one?

No, seriously, I do wish we could take these apart somewhat.  The problem with "paradigm" I suppose, is simply that it never got properly developed after Popper and his crowd ambushed Kuhn.  The word just sort of floated out there into the culture and got used in a multitude of different ways, with little awareness of the differences in most cases.  

I agree with your point, of course, that it's not just in people's heads.  Which is why there are people calling themselves things like "cognitive anthropologists" and the like.  But this is one reason that I like the generic term "framework."  It's certainly an apt description to talk of a "legal framework based on the incorporation of international law," is it not?

I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with Jeffrey--there's a vital social process happening.  There's also a redefinition of the relationship between experts and laypeople. And this is all to the good, provided we maintain a sphere of expert discourse, where the quality controls, signal quality, etc. stay in place.  (Wikipedia is an example of a place where the expert and the lay mix nicely, but it is no substitute for a technical reference in any given field.)

One more point.  I think that what Lakoff's doing fits well into Dewey's idea that democracy is about the masses generating the questions, and experts responding to them, rather than experts functioning as agenda-setters.  They should set the agendas for their own research projects, for how they teach their students, and other such professional matters, of course.  But in the scheme of public policy development, their expertise should be in service to more general questioning by the public at large.  And the sort of education in framing that Lakoff is poviding for a mass audience should serve to make this questioning more astute than it has been in the past.  Which can only be for the good.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-22 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Dang!
I like the in-depthedness of MyDD - hence why I took the time to write out so much.  Here seems like the wrong place to spin out a "great diary!" response, especially after all the time you put into your diary.

But I apologize for being a bit tangential, as I only included foreign policy as an example for why paradigm may better describe what we mean to say when talking about frames/schemas.

by Tom Kertes 2005-10-22 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Dang!
And I too agree with Jeffery.  His comment kinda opened me up to that other dimension, but once open I can't deny its incredible value.

One more point.  I think that what Lakoff's doing fits well into Dewey's idea that democracy is about the masses generating the questions, and experts responding to them, rather than experts functioning as agenda-setters.

I think that this is a very important point.

Two thoughts.  One, Dewey was as much interested in epistemology as he was in democracy, and his philosophy of democracy includes his understanding of the relationship between knowledge, persons and society.  Like Lakoff, Dewey was interested in how the mind itself intersected with democracy and other spheres of the social realm.  

Two, How I would state your point is that the social and political realm should be the sphere in which values are sorted out, articulated and prioritized.  Specialists are then ordered according to these priorities.  The measure of a specialist's worth to a given society is how well his or her work realizes the values articulated through the political process.

by Tom Kertes 2005-10-22 05:17PM | 0 recs
It Sounds Like We're Very Close In Viewpoint
So I find myself in an interesting place. I'd like to refine what I'm saying here, because I think it needs wider circulation, and why not say it the best I can?  

At the same time, I posted this over at BT, and have gotten very little notice or comment--particularly compared to the previous diary, where the comments just wouldn't quit.  Booman basically responded by posting his own frontpage diary and taking the discussion off in a different direction.  I think he's tacitly conceding my point on one level, but only gradually, while pretending not to, and reaffirming the importance of being macho.  (Him and Markos! Good grief!)

But in the process of writing this, I've come to a new appreciation of how little this is understood, and how impoortant it is.  I think it would be really worthwhile for the three of us--perhaps with some input from others--to put our heads together and produce some sort of document, or series of diaries, or something to help raise the blogosphere's level of getting it.

Are either of you interested, Tom & Jeff?

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-22 05:53PM | 0 recs
I am interested in doing that
I agree that it's important to (1) keep liberals thinking in terms of the value of effective communication startegies - to which an understanding of framing is essential and (2) to displace some of the widely held misconceptions of framing (what is and isn't; can and cannot do).

kertes@tomkertes.com may be the best way to continue this conversation (in regards to collaborative frame  discussions)

One more thing: I find it very interesting how BT, Kos and MyDD each have totally different kinds of discourse, and how over time there are major shifts in the kinds of discourse that goes on at the bigger   scoop blogs.  MyDD is amazing for its seriousness and attention to bigger ideas - you don't go far putting out idle crap or most recent event diaries here.  BT is a very unique place, with a lot of "feelers."  And dKos changes in major ways very quickly, the tone cycles over very quickly (and it also have different time cycles as well, with very different audiences present as the  sun goes from east to west).

I don't do any group blogging outside of these three zones - which makes me think of another thing: How interesting it is to see how MyDD, BT and dKos intersect, making me curious as to many other circles/spheres of influence between different relationships between blogs - since at some point the entire network reaches every other part of the network.  Just something to think about.  (and then is always the effect of adictive behavior on the news/opinion filter of blogs in general - I'd love to do research on how this effect is shaping the overall news and opinion cycle now)

by Tom Kertes 2005-10-22 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: I am interested in doing that
Hey I once had a black T shirt with a picture of two dimes on it and the words "TS Kuhn Official T Shirt".

Then again, that was college, when I had money..

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-23 04:38AM | 0 recs
Progressive "code words"
So if you were going to summarize this "moral norms foreign policy" or "America as a moral force in the world" in a pithy phrase as part of a list along with "smart growth" or "fair trade" or "tax fairness" that summarized progressive values (and characterized in a bad way what the other side stands for), what would you call it?
by tgeraghty 2005-10-22 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive "code words"
Hmmm. Not sure I have it down to two words. Something along the lines of "global security," "world community," "United Nations!"

I don't know.  Something to sleep on.

Good of you to ask.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-22 09:24PM | 0 recs
America is Amoral
All political superpowers are amoral - they act in their own interests. America itself, used to be a beacon of democracy - but in and of itself it is amoral. Caesar as the son of god  and the senate as merely his puppet - thats what you avoid. Rome wanted to be seen as the end-all be-all. We're not, any longer. Bush stripped that away forever.
So here is the starter -  

"moral norms foreign policy"

Lets take apart the thing - throw away moral, it aint gonna work but you could keep fair, or democratic. norm - really refers here to winning back the country from , as Colin Powell referred to it - the "fucking crazies". Policy is nice.
Foreign connotates outside of the US but the boundaries of the countries are blurring and the problem American voters have visited upon themselves is becoming a problem for the world..
- but Rosenberg is a spiritual desert. We need ot
go back to the christian roots of the country to get at this one: lets do some Thomas...

"Honesty is the first chapter in the Book of wisdom. Let it be our endeavor to merit the character of a just nation."
--Thomas Jefferson

Good. Need more.

"The studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands."
--Thomas Jefferson

Getting there..

"The arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties being with one mind resolved to die free rather than live slaves."
--Thomas Jefferson, 1775

Liking it!!

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
--Thomas Jefferson

and finally here's one for the Big Sky -
"Never trust a government that doesnt trust its own citizens with guns"
--Thomas Jefferson
Alright! Now we're there. Lets see..

"Big Sky Diplomacy"

?

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-23 04:55AM | 0 recs
Chomsky And Lakoff Are Magnificent Scholars.
They have been fighting over academic linguistic theoretical turf for over 50 years. While they are first-rate scholars, they are not theorists, at least in the sense that Einstein was a theorist. Chomsky has been a one-man army in the fight to expose the New World Order's cultural extermination campaigns. And now Lakoff if jumping headlong into the fray.

But remember, they are scholars, not true theorists. So take their theories with many grains of salt.

I am actually a theorist, and I am presently launching a forum for teaching the world's first coherent theory of grammar. It will leave the current consensus about "syntax" and "semantics" light-years behind. I am also delving into political theory a bit. But that is an enterprise that must necessarily live deep beneath the shadow of the titanic American media machine.

by blues 2005-10-23 03:26PM | 0 recs
Earth To Egomaniac! Earth To Egomaniac!
Please don't come around here.  We will only contaminate you with our unworthy digital cooties.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-23 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Earth To Egomaniac! Earth To Egomaniac!
I am not an "egomaniac." That kind of talk is pretty typical of the effete gibberish that passes for scholarship these days. Get off your lazy, overpaid academic asses and take my on-line course. Otherwise, just keep collecting big fat checks for feeding tripe to all those Saab-driving students who will be tomorrow's George Wills. Too bad so many academic types put so much energy into hawking snake oil when they might be actually learning some real things. They are the problem. (Am I mistaken in assuming most of you on this thread don't do anything physically useful, like maybe auto body repair?)
by blues 2005-10-23 10:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Earth To Egomaniac! Earth To Egomaniac!
Just so people won't feel that I have been offering heat without light, I'll drop you a few clues. (Clues have been in drastically short supply for some time now.)

Regardless of whatever garden path we are be led through, regardless of what area of policy it purports to traverse, the wool that is invariably pulled over the eyes of the citizens is always related to the usage of noun phrases, locatives, and temporals. Specifically, it always involves generic, rather than definite noun phrases, locatives, and temporals.

The whole brain-washing operation is amazingly simple. Once you commandeer the "prototypical" generic versions of these structures, all of their subsequent definite manifestations are necessarily colored by the generic definitions that you have subverted.

That is your lesson for today. Stay tuned, smart-asses. And please stop using that idiotic "frame" (a derogatory derivative of a generic prototypical noun phrase, bearing corollary denominative adjectives) "egomaniac," thank you.

by blues 2005-10-23 10:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Earth To Egomaniac! Earth To Egomaniac!
so how would this explain the transit of the word have, to "would have been", ex.

"The GLBT would have been successful in trying out their 'progressive' message if they hadn't centered it around social liberalism."

As opposed to using the word have in a simple possessive. ex.

"Would you like to have some wimsleydale, Grommet?"

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-24 12:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Earth To Egomaniac! Earth To Egomaniac!
Just as a little break for extra credit, let's consider the nature of the term have. It seems reasonable to assume that this word started out life as a word for indicating "possession." Example:  # I have three tickets to the new movie. # . Somehow or other, this term's association with this concept out "possession" seems to have transmuted into a function that is involved in verb tense relationships. We thereby come across sentences like:  # We have seen that movie. #. Note that this is almost the same as saying:  # We saw that movie. #. However, these two sentences are really very different. The former one is a present-tense sentence, while the latter one is a past-tense sentence. This distinction can be useful in a multitude of instances. And it is easy to show that these two sentences differ in tense. For example, you could say:  # We saw that movie yesterday. #. But you probably couldn't say:  # *We have seen that movie yesterday. #. (Of course have does have it's own past-tense had.)
by blues 2005-10-24 02:25AM | 0 recs
Getting back to foreign policy
With all due respect to Tom Kertes's accurate statement that "framing is not naming," because it is much more, naming a thing is an essential aspect of framing. The biggest mistake Democrats have made in foreign policy is accepting the frame that Iraq is an essential front in the WOT. Bush's Iraq war has absolutey nothing to do with the WOT and never did. I repeatedly beat my head against the wall at dkos arguing that there were six distinct aspects to the WOT.

I'm still not convinced that there is any benefit to devising a counter mega-frame to the WOT. If it is absolutely necessary, I would suggest something along the lines of Engingeering Peace:

FROM THE PUBLISHER

In Engineering Peace, Garland Williams analyzes the postconflict reconstruction gap in three case studies - Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan - and shows how military engineering brigades accompanying peacekeeping contingents can be put to use immediately after the conflict ends to restore vital infrastructure and social institutions. In the book's concluding chapter, Williams proposes changes in U.S. national security decision making to integrate military engineering brigades into postconflict reconstruction, thus making U.S. military officials less wary of "mission creep" and nation building.

The Pentagon's New Map and Battle Ready contain the framework for a viable foreign policy with moral underpinnings. Democrats don't have to reinvent the foreign policy wheel. All they need to do is focus their energy on defining a counter-strategy in foreign policy that works with materials already available.

The basic elements are all in place.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-10-23 03:31PM | 0 recs
Corrected link
For Barnes and Noble review of Engineering Peace.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-10-23 03:56PM | 0 recs
Too Timid, I Think
These may be useful for shaking people up a bit, but from what I've read on your diaries, I think they're too timid to get the job done.  We need something much more profound to actually be successful--something with a lot bigger social justice component, and a lot smaller military one.  

IMHO, the Peace Corps, while itself far too timid, is significantly closer to the direction we need to go.  (They could work with Army engineering pretty well, I would imagine, given the proper inter-agency training on both sides.) And compared to the military it is so cheap, it's ridiculous.

The trick is less about figuring out what a successful replacement would be than it is about figuring out how to sell it.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-23 04:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Too Timid, I Think
Try using the word of god (assume voice of charlton heston).

Drive past another mega church loaded with people that think gay marriage is a form of judicial activism and see how much longer your watermelon lives before it dies on the vine in death valley.

This whole concept of "peace corps" is in fact a spiritually starved group of Americans suffering the cellular pressure of living in the 21st century without any - read ANY - social context. They have been isolated, driven to pressures and saturated with sugar and mad cow + are sick of their lives.

Paul, please abandon for the sake of argument that Los Angeles can lead the way to a "new wave" of this spirituality. That was shown to be empty hollywood marketing gimmick when you tonfa-'d rodney king.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-24 12:05AM | 0 recs
Strength not framing
First off, cast off all associations between strength and the neo-cons.  Those are false associations.

That being said, where the Dems fail on foreign policy is they don't project strength out into the world.

Clinton did it very effectively and sometimes extralegally (like the failed missile attack against Bin Laden in 1998).

Americans gravitate toward strength and order.  Indeed, it is the only valid reason for otherwise intelligent and self-controlled people to tolerate the existence of government.

Democrats have a tendancy to seem to be a "Peace in Our Time" party.

That has to stop.

There is still a hard core of Dems who would just as soon abandon the War on Terror.  And most moderates and conservatives believe the Dems are merely playing politics when they bully up on things like Iraq.

The Dems need to cut the shit.  That means stop supporting the wrong wars, start supporting the right wars, and make sure the public knows the GOP is wrong and is screwing the right war up by waging the wrong war.

Right now, they cower like pussies and support the most useless war of our times.

And that doesn't make a good impression.

But we're not talking about reframing -- that's weasel speak, and anyone who uses it needs slapped.

We're talking about making a real effort to get your damned priorities straight and to commit significant resources to the proper and effective conduct of a war to break the back of al-Qaeda and to bring Osama bin Laden's head to Washington on a pike.

The only thing we need to frame is the picture of OBL's head once we finish him off.

by jcjcjc 2005-10-23 07:28PM | 0 recs
History Says... Not So Much!
The Democrats committed to the Vietnam War because they thought they learned the very same lesson you are preaching now.  And they've never been the same since.

They got hammered for "losing China" in the 1950 elections, and then further hammered in 1952 for Korea.  LBJ spent six long years rebuilding the Senate Dems, setting them up to retake power in 1958--perhaps the most important forgotten election of recent times.  He was not about to have his domestic agenda destroyed by charges that he "lost" another country or was "soft on Communism."

Yet, Vietnam was the turning point in Democratic fortunes.   From 1932 to 1964, the Democrats won 7 of 9 presidential elections. From 1968 to date, 3 of  9.  It wasn't the only factor, of course. But that's when faith in government started plummeting, and it's when the rift opened between the Democrats activist base and its hawk elite, never to close to this very day.

Now you're saying, we need to be like LBJ--only find ourselves the right Vietnam.  Well, I'm saying that's just not possible. Because there is no right Vietnam.

When you say, "There is still a hard core of Dems who would just as soon abandon the War on Terror." You are simply parroting neocon talking points.

In fact, we're the only ones who are actually interested in fighting terrorism, as opposed to fighting wars, which will only sow the seeds of more terrroism in the long run.  The terrorism of today is the seeds of our past intervention.  More intervention today will mean more terrorism in the long run.

I agree that the American people need to feel reassured that we're not just advocating cut-and-run surrender.  Because we're not.  But my analysis comes right from the highest levels of Pentagon advisors.  The Defense Science Board said as much in 1998--that US intervention gives rise to terrorism.

What we need to do is stop reacting to terrorists as if they were warriors.  That is precisely what they want to be.  But there is nothing warrior-like about blowing up civilian targets.  There is no warrior's honor in that.  

9/11 was a stupendous blunder by Al Qaeda.  It exposed them as fanatical criminals, who killed hundreds of Muslims along with thousands of civilians whose deaths could not be justified by the Koran.  Fortunately for them, Bush made them look like geniuses by falling for their bait, and making them look like the warriors and martyrs they aspired to be.

And your solutution?  Fight better wars?  War is precisely what these people want.  It's what they feed on. It serves to unite them with the people they aspire to lead, people who would ordinarily want nothing to do with them and their bloodthirsty vision.  

What they can't survive is a two-pronged strategy that separates them from the vast masses they aspire to lead: one prong addresses the legitimate grievances they would exploit. The other prong attacks them as the terrorists they are, using the tools of crime-fighting and counter-terrorism, which Europe has developed to a high art over the past 30 years in the face of far more numerous terrorist threats than we have ever dreamed of.

I know you want a quick fix.  I know you want a macho rush.  I know you want a beer-and-ice cream diet that helps you lose ten pounds.  But none of that is going to happen.

Welcome to the reality-based community.  It's harder here.  But it's where things get done.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-24 07:25AM | 0 recs
Crime-fighting?
Terrorism is a branch of guerilla warfare.  Its goal is to eventually branch out into low-level insurgency gaining the necessary strength to grow into pitched battle.

As terrorism tends to thrive in lawless places, exactly how do we aim to manage that problem through law enforcement?  You're telling me that an occassional SEAL team incursion into some ass-crack like Somalia is actually the lesser option?

Hardly.

Pitched war, admittedly, is a dumb idea.  Not just because of the Vietnam example, but because the modern environment does not favor the larger force in prolonged wars.

That, however, hardly excludes the value of conducting occassional large-scale operations, such as the invasion of Afghanistan, capable of hitting so hard they preclude an organized response.

Indeed, the only operational failure of the Afghan War was that we did not strike harder and faster, even if it meant sending in a smaller force.  Fast enough that we could have really put the screws to al-Qaeda.

Likewise, our major poltiical failure was not throwing the outrage of 9-11 into every country's face.  Pakistan, for one.  All of Central Asia should have been put on notice to expect armed US forces at any time and to not bitch unless they wanted to be next.

Crime-fighting isn't the answer.  Half the countries harboring al-Qaeda, particularly in Central Asia, murder their own people in the streets.  They're not good allies, and I struggle to believe that their half-assed and corrupt police would serve much good anyhow.

Yes, I agree that rooting out the sources of terrorism is not a bad idea.  However, no one in American politics has the will to do it.

We're not going to stop binging on gasoline.  And as long as that continues, corrupt Mid-east and Central Asian regimes will do their thing.

My point is simple: the War on Teror requires a much meaner, much more forward global policy stance.

None of this wishy-washy bullshit about evil terorrists.  Straight up, any country that has them -- even uninvited -- is on notice that US troops will appear from nowhere, and they better not mind it.

Tough shit if they don't like it.

And, frankly, tough shit to oil corps and SUV owners if THEY don't like it either.  If it destablizes the Middle East, then so be it.  The place is a shithole, and 90% of Americans would vote to nuke the place into beaded glass tomorrow.

There has to be a point where we lay down the law at the end of the sword: brutal, direct problem solving.

Let anyone who doesn't like it bitch.  As long as they make sure to cower and run away once they're done bitching.

by jcjcjc 2005-10-24 06:47PM | 0 recs
A false choice
So we set-up the strawman of self-interest versus "morality", and then conclude that we should be moralists.

This is the real frame at work.  So here is the key sentence "George Lakoff argues that a wide range of relatively new concerns--the environment, women's rights, labor rights, human rights, genocide and lesser levels of violent ethnic conflict, children's issues, indigenous rights, global public health, economic sustainability and global poverty and powerlessness--are not given the priority they deserve because they don't fit into the tradition framework of national self-interest. "

So lets unpack the assumption :
The environment - hmmm - I breath the same air as everyone else on the rest of the planet... that would seem in my self interst
women's rights - hmmm, societies that supress these seem to also do things against my self interest, like say pay host to the  Osama.
labor rights - nope it is in my interest as a worker to have workers in other countries organized too...

I could go down the list, but you get the point.

I am a lawyer.  In the law there is an objection to a question: it assumes facts not in evedence.

Your frame assumes there is a contradiction between my enlightened self interest and morality.  You assume facts not in evidence.

In fact, I do not think such a contradiction exists.

So here is how Gore should have answered the question:

Mr Bush defines self-interest the way Ceaser would have - his definition is completely ignorant of the forces at loose in the modern world, and how those forces have transformed what our true self interest is.

The real issue is not whether our foriegn policy should be based on self interest, but rather on understanding what our true self interest is.

Mr Bush offers a foriegn policy that might have fit the needs of 1910, but cannot begin to account for the complexities of 2010.  

In a world where economic security depends on our ability to build productive trading relationships, and where global financial markets can change fortunes at the speed of light, it is in our interest to engage other countries to identify a set of common rules for trade.  In a World where when our ability to fight terrorism depends our forging alliances with other countries, it is in our interest to participate and strengthen internation interests such as the UN.  Indeed, when the very nature of the modern world means that our ability to protect our own liberties requires respect for the liberties of others, we should seek to strengthen institutions that further the human rights of all peoples.

by fladem 2005-10-23 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: A false choice
In law, the objection to a question can also be transformed to objection to allowing hard evidence.

Case in point, Harriet Miers, in attempting to keep Dick Cheney from being considered a resident of the state of Texas and in violation of the 12th constitutional amendment took the position that evidence that shows he was living in Texas, ie. his drivers license, his home down there near HALIBURTON
where he was working - all of that is irrelevant because he kept a vacation home in Montana or some place like that.

Lawyers are tropical storms feeding on the heat of a thousand words dying at once. But they're dying an unnatural death from being suffocated and destroyed by political opportunists who every year attempt to hand a multibillion dollar market to the Television advertisers to come up with new ways to destroy the language. So when your community is wrecked by litigious , frivolous cases - when your doctor can't practice... for malpractice insurance premiums... when an attorney shows up and legitimizes a candidate that lost a democratic election..

The ability of a country to build an effective trading relation might actually hinge on China's model of graduating 40 to 1 more engineers than lawyers and keeping both them and the propaganda based media on a tight leash in the service of the people while tacitly tooling the government to serve the corporation.

Right now, its Karl Rove feeding on our liberties at home because the warm, protective soup that breeds a disease like him is stirred by the attorneys, fed by the broadcast media entertainment news groups and continually refreshed with the constant sugar and chemical goo of special interest groups like the one rosenburg subscribes to.

So get rid of him and stop beefing.  I see his imprint on the whole mechanism and we can argue all we want about what to do to fix america but it starts with getting some Nixon Republicans back in power and reagan republicans out of power at this juncture, whether you like it or not. Heres the clue: get the guy who helped write nixon's resignation letter and force him to sign it -
(assume voice of governator) "Outta There!"

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-24 12:16AM | 0 recs
Hint - here's a quick link
Ask yourself - do you need someone to tell you what the news is going to be?

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/

Click this link, your own personal storm tracker.
"Thats right , bob, its looking like a really terrific storm".. lets go there live now for an on the scene interview...

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-24 12:21AM | 0 recs
Personal Policy Is The Key To All Policy.
It is perfectly okay to have abstract philosophical discussions about political issues. However, the development of a consensus that such dialogues can be central to the solution of our real social and political problems would be a disaster. We now are faced with gargantuan dilemmas that dwarf even the extreme political profligacies that are unfolding presently.

The earth is running out of oil. The earth is running out of water; it's aquifers are depleting. So there will be no oil to fuel the tractors, to make the fertilizer, to make the insecticides, etc. that will be needed for farming. And the aquifers are rapidly running dry, so there will be no water for farming anyway. Almost our entire population is blissfully unaware of the fact that many, many crop devouring insects are becoming totally immune to our insecticides anyway. Meanwhile, the earth's population has been doubling roughly every generation. Then there is global warming, mercury pollution from coal burning, rising sea level, unchecked kleptocracy propelled by the advent of a public relations machine of unprecedented proportions. And in consequence of things like this, we now behold a world citizenry that, on average, is bereft of any deep-seated sense of common decency.

And so, yes, there may be a place in the world for abstract philosophical discussions. Let me suggest, however, that our present difficulties are not so deeply rooted in the various methodologies that politicians use to hoodwink the people. The eminent problem is that all of us are about to pay a horrific price for the profligacy of our past century. We now have distinct choices to make in formulating our perspective on the long catastrophe that lays ahead of us. Here are some of them:

1    In the short-term, the easiest, the laziest approach will be to simply pretend that these problems and incipient disasters do not exist. And the easiest way of accomplishing this will be to obtain political clowns who will facilitate necessary distractions by pulling big goofy pseudo-disasters from out of their oversized clownish pockets.

2    We can launch headlong into vast, irrelevant projects, that have nothing to do with the solution of the vast problems that are about to give rise to our looming catastrophes. Huge, portentous, yet pointless wars fill this bill quite nicely.

3    We can all go on drugs. Anyone who thinks that this cannot be a serious option for many should take a tour of our "modern" prisons.

4    You might consider my approach, which is rather simple, really. Just try to live your life. Take everything one day at a time. Try to make the world a better place in small ways, to what extent you can. Avoid wars. Promote, environmentally and esthetically friendly solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Try to avoid fancy theories, if you are not actually a theorist. Be aware that commonsense, though accessible to everyone, is absolutely indispensable, always.

by blues 2005-10-24 12:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Personal Policy Is The Key To All Policy.
The science behind global warming has turned from theoretical to experimentally verified.

The entire planet is changing, the first thing thats going to feel it are the dominant life forms on the planet: virii.

Get healthy amigo. It will help you in the long run. And it doesn't mean use antibacterial soap either, get down in the dirt and really dig deep with your hands.

I agree with your post.  I am rating it : DA KINE

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-10-24 05:04AM | 0 recs
There's Also Something Called Sound Public Policy
It's a bit more difficult to cram into a comment here on MyDD, but there are ways to redesign our culture/technology/economic incentive system so that we can live sustainably on Earth.  

And part of that involves developing new frameworks of understanding, such as the ecosystem services approach that transcends the false dichotomy of "the economy vs. the environment."  

Your pseudo-progressive elitism ("Take everything one day at a time....Try to avoid fancy theories, if you are not actually a theorist.") is really sickening, and only serves to inhibit a discussion of how such a redesign might be accomplished.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-24 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: There's Also Something...
Paul Rosenberg:

Here is a somewhat random excerpt from your link:

"The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) launches Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Desertification Synthesis, prepared in response to governments' requests for information received through the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)."

Quite frankly, "combating desertification" wasn't even on my radar. Where shall we begin this laudable campaign? Mongolia? Lake Chad in the center of Africa has virtually dried up. So what are we going to do about that? Shovel the sands into the ocean?

No vast policy or crash program is going to stop the calamity that is headed straight for us. Yes, we should stop burning carbon based fuels. Yes, we should stop using the nuclear reactors whose by-products will eventually escape. Yes, we must stop diverting precious resources toward pointless wars. But this must start with individuals. Put up your own solar panel, if you can. Put up your own wind power rig. Establish relationships with individuals in other lands. Do stuff.

More people in the U.S. are liberal than are conservative. And most of those people are not part of the academic pogrom. And they are being culturally starved out, under a virtual siege, partly because others are totally focused on incestuous academic fads. What is desperately needed is a viable culture of progressivism that does not need to refer to, or rely upon the already rather thin veneer of academic culture.

by blues 2005-10-24 12:31PM | 0 recs
Autopilot
You've just demonstrated how you fly on autopilot, impervious to whatever information might come your way.  

You (1) ignore the entire contextual orientation of the site, (2) pick a speck of information or two, and treat it just as you might any one of a hundred, or a thousand other specks and (3) return, like a homing pigeon, to your intellectually self-satisfied perch.

Let this be a warning to anyone who might be tempted into further attempts at dialogue with you.

It was bad enough when I had college professors like you, who thought their classes were TV shows starring them. Most of them I could simply drop, and take another class or section in their place. And if I couldn't, well at least I got college credit for enduring their narcissism.

But this?  For this, I get nothing!

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-24 01:18PM | 0 recs
Autopilot To Co-Autopilot:
Try to get at least this out of it: Don't be long-winded unless you really have the need. And at least try to actually "do stuff!" Just try and take this advice, and you will find you get out of it what you put into it.
by blues 2005-10-24 07:57PM | 0 recs
The Pragmatist who cares
I believe this is the frame Democrats need to operate within.  American's inherently tend to view politics both domestic and international in a pragmatic frame of mind.  

  The mind set is rooted in the day-to-day lives of all people.  People are accustomed to thinking in this mode.  It offers Democrats an avenue to communicate and speak with the American people as opposed to speaking to them.  Accordingly, debates regarding all issues in the future will be viewed as discussions with the American people and not debates about topics that affect them but don't involve them.

  All decisions involve a little bit of give.  Dare I say, flip-flopping?  A Pragmatic frame allows Democrats a little wiggle room to make concessions to solve problems.  People know that sometimes you have to do things that may same a little hypocritical but need to be done nonetheless.  Working within the frame and using the language will neutralize or at minimum mitigate criticisms and organized opposition by Republicans.  People understand tough decisions and respect those who have to make them even when the finality is a bit contradictory to what was previously stated.  People don't understand those who change opinions as the winds do.

  Most importantly, I believe the Pragmatist frame will allow Democrats to be a big tent party.  Democrats in conservative areas won't feel alone from Democrats in liberal areas.  Democratic Leadership need not attempt to create an heir of being all things to all people but rather act, speak and lead like problem solvers who take differing viewpoints and build a consensus at minimum in philosophy across to the greater Democratic Party.

  Of course execution is the key.  Democrats can not pay lip service to opposing view points.  The work will be dirty in the sense that TV can not be the only medium of communication.  Town hall meetings at places of employment, supermarkets, and shopping centers are the key.  We need to remember that people generally hold the belief that politicians work for them.  Negative opinions tend to be rooted in politicians who seemed detached and disconnected from the people.  Bush was masterful at the, I'm maybe be dumb, not know how to explain things but I'm like you frame.  Taking it to the streets (TTS) strategy helps to reinforce the Pragmatist frame.  Democrats know that peoples' lives are too busy and stretched to the limit but that doesn't mean that people don't care and aren't concerned about the direction of the country.  If the party can adopt TTS, then people see through actions that politicians are meeting people on neutral territory, meeting people halfway, adjusting to the schedules and lives of those who are being served rather than those who are serving.

  Overall, the Pragmatist frame places Democratic Party as the Party who solves problems, considers all viewpoints and makes tempered decisions.  Independents, RINOs, and the base will can appreciate the Pragmatist frame.

by Chavez100 2005-10-24 12:41PM | 0 recs
I Am A Pragmatist, But I Don't Play One On TV
I'm not sure that you've done much to specify a conceptual frame, as opposed to a posture or a pose.  The last person to pour incredible time and energy into presenting themselves as a pragmatist was Ross Perot.

Unfortunately, the word "pragmatist" has been even more badly abused than "paradigm."  I will staunchly defend using it online, and fight like hell to retain its Jamesian meaning.  But taking that sort of battle to the TV screens of America seems more than a bit daunting to me.  I'd want to go with something that's not as inherently ambiguous.

All of which is to say, that I agree with a fair amount of what you say, I just don't think it necessarily equates well to framing a political position in the broadcast media world.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-10-24 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: I Am A Pragmatist, But I Don't Play One On TV
Paul,
  yes, i agree, my post was a mile wide and an inch deep.  As far as the conceptual framework, my issue with the Moralist framework it sets up the party for attacks.  Fighting against the bad guys and defending the weak is the moral thing to do. However, however aside from obvious instances of defined morality that all people will agree on, e.g., letting babies starve, etc., people can not agree on morality.  It would become increasing difficult to sell the moralist viewpoint as the debate would shift to gray issues.

  What can work is the concept is Community Leader.  Local, State, Federal and Global.  It offers a thread that binds, people, concepts and the party together.   You can tie positions on poverty in Africa, the environment, the need to address growth of radical islamists in a far off country in afghanistan during the 1990s through military action, energy policy etc., The treatment of the notion of globalization by the MSM has seasoned people enough to grasp what happens over there effects me over here concept.  

  In contrast, the Republicans have done a great job of selling "Leader".  Yet now it has backfired because people see the party as leadership of the few, for the few. "Family", "Safety" used to win by Republicans worked well but has been tainted.  Democrats do well on bread and butter issues and it isn't that people don't believe what Democrats are selling, rather it is as Lakoff puts it the issues are too seperate.  

  NOLA, 9-11 etc., reinforced the localness of issues that require people to band together. Actions within a Community Leader concept offer notions of a person/party bringing all together.  It is concept that allows people to evaluate candidates as those taking action but action for all people.  It is a non-partisan word that affirms the role of politicians but brings them back to the hometown character model.

by Chavez100 2005-10-24 01:58PM | 0 recs

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