Politics as Usual?

Will Rogers famously said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” The sense that Republicans are “lock-step” in pursuit of their objectives, while Democrats are no better organized than a herd of cats, has been around since the days of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the frantic search for Communists thought to have infiltrated the US government. Republicans learned how to stick together during the “Cold War,” and it was not long until they had developed what came to be known as the Southern Strategy, which was essentially race-based politics, designed to take advantage of White . . . → Read More: Politics as Usual?

Paying Attention

My last blog post was about the so-called ancient Chinese curse of “living in interesting times.” All the problems I cited in that post are not only still with us, but also have been amplified. Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the US. Although the nominee for the Democrats has not been finally decided yet, Hilary Clinton is the likely candidate. Although I am still paying attention to US politics, I am doing so with an increasingly heavy heart. Even so, some other things have caught my attention, including website advertising, LGBT concerns and legislation, . . . → Read More: Paying Attention

The Long and Winding Road

With apologies to Paul McCartney, the winding road I have in mind for this blog is not to your door but to the 2016 elections in the US. For one reason or another, we seem to be off to an earlier and stranger start than is usually the case. The impetus for this blog post was an article in Salon by Heather Cox Richardson about the intellectual battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The article caught my attention because I started my political life as an “Eisenhower Republican” while I was still too young to vote. I liked . . . → Read More: The Long and Winding Road

Rush to Judgment

If nothing else, the 2012 election cycle in the States is providing numerous examples of communication with unintended consequences. For those paying attention, it has been instructive. As Yogi Berra famously said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” One of the most interesting observations has undoubtedly been the reaction to radio host Rush Limbaugh’s comment that a young woman, Sandra Fluke a “slut” for advocating health insure coverage for birth control. The whole story is even stranger than that part.

For an overview of men’s most recent efforts to control women’s sexuality in the States, see On . . . → Read More: Rush to Judgment

Selling Fear in the New Year

One of the things I’ve been paying increasing attention to (perhaps because of the ongoing political debate in the U.S.) is fear marketing. I find it amazing at how pervasive “fear appeals” are and the various ways they are used to sell “stuff,” including politicians and political “talking points.” The basic concept is that we really need to be afraid of X, and, if we want to be safe, we need to stock up on (or vote for) the anti-X.

The world has a lot of risky stuff in it, of course, and we are undoubtedly safer when we . . . → Read More: Selling Fear in the New Year

Elephants, Crooks, and Class Warfare

When President Obama announced his new plans for improving the economy in the States, Republicans cried, “Class warfare!” Obama’s response was, “It is not class warfare—it’s math.” This response not only reminded me of Nixon’s infamous claim, “I am not a crook,” but also reminded me of George Lakoff’s warning against using your opponent’s frame in your counterarguments (see Framing—Again. It is a failure to remember the Don’t think of elephants rule. When Nixon said, “I am not a crook,” the connection made in most people’s minds was, “Nixon—crook.” The not gets lost in translation.

In addressing the issue . . . → Read More: Elephants, Crooks, and Class Warfare

The Bell Curve Theory of Life

The “Bell Curve” is the common expression for what is otherwise known as Standard Normal Distribution. The concept basically states that in any category, most members of the category will be grouped in the middle, with fewer members at the extremes. Wikipedia provides a fancy definition:

In probability theory, the normal (or Gaussian) distribution, is a continuous probability distribution that is often used as a first approximation to describe real-valued random variables that tend to cluster around a single mean value. The graph of the associated probability density function is “bell”-shaped, and is known as the Gaussian function or . . . → Read More: The Bell Curve Theory of Life