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November 28, 2004

Daily Kos Discovers the South

Here's a pretty good diary entry at Daily Kos that, coupled with the mostly-insightful comments underneath, captures the soul-searching that's going on within Southern Democrats post-Kerry.

November 25, 2004

Drum Reviews Lakoff

I'd been debating whether to pick up George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, which has picked up a fair bit of buzz for it's notion of how politicians "frame" dialogue -- a concept that I spent a couple of years wrestling with in my communications Master's program. There really seems to be nothing new there, other than the fact that Lakoff's popularizing a lot of concepts that gained traction during the general semantics phase of rhetorical study. (See S.I. Hayakawa's important and accessible Language in Thought and Action.)

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly has reviewed the book, and I've seen his criticisms elsewhere as well:

"Framing," of course, is Lakoff's claim to fame, and he bases his analysis of contemporary American politics on the idea that conservative and liberal worldviews are based on a "strict father/nurturant parent" dichotomy.... As it happens, I think he stretches this metaphor farther than it can reasonably go, but that's not my real problem with him. My problem is that although he does a good job of explaining how conservatives use framing to their benefit, he fails to provide very much compelling advice for liberals.

...Lakoff may have identified a serious problem for which he deserves credit but he hasn't identified a serious solution. In fact, here's how he ends the book, with his nomination for a "ten word" philosophy for liberals:

  • Stronger America
  • Broad Prosperity
  • Better Future
  • Effective Government
  • Mutual Responsibility

Maybe it's just me, but those sure don't sound as zingy as Lower Taxes, Family Values, and A Kick-Ass Military. I'm a liberal myself, but even so this list almost put me to sleep. (It's also a list that doesn't strike me as especially liberal. With the possible exception of the last bullet, is there anything there that would be out of place in the Republican party platform?)

November 19, 2004

Really. Bad. Week.

First, after taking a day off from work last Friday to take the family up the mountain to visit my grandmother and great aunt, I have to leave work early Monday because I'm feeling icky. A few hours later I've got a 102.5 degree fever, then later I'm worshipping porcelain. I only really started feeling close to normal this morning.

Then this afternoon I get a call from my wife, who's had a minor moment of contact between her bumper and a minivan.

Then we decide -- well, I decide -- to drown our sorrows at the Best Restaurant Ever.

It was gone.

The Southpoint Big Bowl was gone, an apparent victim of the chain's sale back to its founders.

I get really sick. Then our car insurance premiums are likely to go up. Then my favoritest restaurant ever disappears, without even saying goodbye. It's been a rough week.

But I'll be okay.

I'm sure of it.

November 9, 2004

OK. THIS Guy Can't Be Reached.

An arch-conservative columnist proposes in all seriousness that Congress expel the Blue States from the Union.

November 5, 2004

A Starting Point

Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum says some important stuff in light of some of the excesses I've read in Daily Kos diaries:

Now, needless to say, I don't agree with Wolfe that our sense of morality is "twisted," but I do agree that we probably lose a lot of support we don't need to lose because of a very real and often dripping condescension toward anyone we consider less enlightened than us.

Here's the thing: we're never going to win over the hard core evangelicals, the ones who want to ban abortion, teach creationism in biology classes, and recriminalize gay sex. What's more, we shouldn't try. Religious extremism conflicts with the core values of liberalism, and the only thing we can do is continue fighting these folks tooth and nail. No amount of "reaching out" is going to touch them.

But the fact is that we don't need to reach them anyway. We didn't lose the election by much, and there are plenty of red staters who aren't extremists. They're the ones who are uncomfortable with homosexuality, but understand that a steadily increasing acceptance of gay rights is probably inevitable. They don't want to ban abortion, but feel like it's common sense to require parental notification. And they're ready to agree that we need to do something about global warming, but that doesn't mean they take kindly to thinly veiled accusations that they're personally responsible for it just because they drive an SUV or eat a Big Mac.

In other words, they disagree with us, but not so much that they can't be brought around or persuaded to vote for us based on other issues. Too often, though, a visceral loathing of being lectured at by city folks wins out and they end up marking their ballots for people like George Bush.

So maybe we should knock it off. I know it's fun, but most of the time it's pointless and misguided and it costs us elections and prevents even modest progress on issues we care about. That's a high price to pay for a bit of fun.

And the best part is that it doesn't infringe on our core values at all. We don't all have to start quoting scripture, we just have to dial down the mockery a notch. Why give the Republicans bulletin board material, after all?

Word. Remember, most of the Red States are purple.

The Ohio and Florida votes

The pseudonymous "Hunter," a diarist at Daily Kos, has an incredibly cogent and easy-to-read analysis of voting irregularities in Ohio and Florida. His bottom line: not enough that would make any difference in the outcome, but some anomalies that have to be checked out -- not for Kerry/Edwards' sake, but voters'.

November 4, 2004

But in Purple, I'm Stunned!

(Some of you will get the title reference.) Via Boing Boing, a look at the state-by-state proportions of Bush vs. Kerry voters. It's slightly comforting.

Less so is the USA Today county-by-county map. But think about how close the election was, and try to visualize how much population is crammed into those blue counties. I saw a better county-by-county map four years ago that did the shades of purple thing like above; I wonder where I can find one.

November 3, 2004

Surprising Exit Poll Data

I heard this (from PlanetOut Network) on NPR tonight and was, well, surprised:

According to AP's National Election Pool exit polls in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, 4 percent of voters self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, 78 percent of whom said they voted for Kerry; 21 percent voted for Bush and 2 percent voted for independent candidate Ralph Nader. A CNN poll placed the GLB vote at 77 percent for Kerry; 23 percent for Bush.

The gay leaders thought LGBT voters turned out "in record numbers," despite polls showing no change in the 4 percent turnout from 2000 to 2004. What baffled them was the 21-23 percent gay vote for Bush.

"Log Cabin didn't make any endorsement," Log Cabin Republicans Political Director Christopher Barrons told the PlanetOut Network. "I think these are gays and lesbians who went to the polls and made a decision based on a whole variety of issues, and they decided that they still wanted to support the president."

Best. Post-election. Line. Yet.

Thus spake Woody: "And I swear if I hear one more person say that God chose Bush to be president I am going to remind them that the last time God spoke through a bush it was on fire, and I hope to hear God speak again real soon."

Post mortem

I knew Monday that on Wednesday morning I would be waking into a different world. Didn't know how different, just that it would be different. The continuation of polarization and deadlock, a revolution, or the public legitimization of a contested direction.

What I was hoping for did not happen. And now I wonder how I fit in to the strange new place in which I will awaken.

Good night.