Sunday, October 31, 2004


Kids were in good form this year, plus the weather was warm, so we ended up with tons of candy. I was, of course, a mad scientist, my hair up, many pens in the pocket of the lab coat, and I was swigging Coke from a beaker.

The nicest people to trick-or-treat are gay couples - by far! And there are few in our neighborhood.

I passed by a few fathers who went out with their kids, well-dressed yuppie businesmen and obvious Republicans, and I overheard one say:"At this point I don't really care any more if he wins or loses....". I am pretty sure he was talking abour Bush....

NPR went around interviewing people who are going to vote for Kerry and asking them if they are anti-Bush or if they are really pro-Kerry. It was about 50-50, I'd say. Of course, many of us are both - so how do we answer such a loaded question? Telling answer from an African-American woman: "I am voting for Kerry because I LOVE John Edwards!" I guess, away from the gaze of cameras, Edwards quietly did the job he was picked to do....

Another NPR moment, a couple of days ago in the morning. A story about Cambodia. Apparently their young King does not like to be King, so they are having a nationwide discussion about the future of their monarchy. In the end, a statement by a "regular Joe (Jong?) on the street": "King is a king. A nation without a king is like children without parents". So it seems that the understanding the state in terms of family is not restricted to the USA. On the other hand, I do not remember, growing up in Yugoslavia, even with the personality cult of Tito, any specific references to the state as family. No term seems equivalent to "sending sons and daughters to war", or "Founding Fathers", or "Father of our Nation",.... There was also a slogan of "Brotherhood and Unity" of the various ethnic groups. On the other hand the whole world was often called the "family" and all men and women on the planet were supposed to be brothers and sisters. Does the communist ideology expand the notion of family to the whole world?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:43 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Saturday, October 30, 2004

I Hope This Is A Canary In The Mine...

Here is the breakdown of voter registration of early voters so far in North Carolina. D = Democrat, L = Libertarian, R = Republican, U = Undeclared.

I am assuming that the Republicans are less angry and motivated to vote early, thus will close the gap somewhat on Tuesday, but I do not see them winning. Both from my experience last Thursday when I went to vote, and from what I see on local TV, the long lines of voters are full of African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young people.

See this:
The Left's Well-Oiled Machine

With the reports being similar in Nevada ( and Florida, I am wondering if North Carolina is typical of the country...because if it is, we may be seeing a Kerry landslide!

Wake County (e.g., Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Garner):
Early voting counts at all Wake sites Friday, October 29
D 5671 48.0%
L 15 0.1%
R 3994 33.8%
U 2123 18.0%
TOTAL 11,803

Cumulative early voting 16 days through 10/29 for Wake County
D 39,858 50.3%
L 64 0.1%
R 25,734 33.2%
U 12,60 16.4%
TOT 77,415

This is 28.9%% of the total voter turnout in 2000. It represents 19.7% of all the registered Ds having voted early compared with 16.5% of all registered voters

Orange (e.g., Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Pittsboro) early voting through Thursday
D 15,000 62.3%
L 79 0.3%
R 4,288 17.8
U 4,725 19.6
TOTAL 24,092

This is 48.8% of the 2000 turnout in Orange County

Durham County (e.g, Durham) early voting FINAL TOTALS
D 30,173 65.4%
L 104 0.2%
R 8,719 18.9%
U 7,118 15.4%
Total 46,114

This is 54.5% of the total 2000 turnout in Durham.

Guilford (e.g., Greensboro) early voting FINAL TOTALS
D 36,464 51.1%
L 65 0.1%
R 26,319 36.9%
U 8,486 11/9%
Total: 71,356

This is 42.9% of the total 2000 turnout in Guilford

Mecklenburg (e.g., Charlotte) early voting stats through Thursday
TOTAL 75,209 (no party breakdown available)
This is 28.6% of 2000 turnout

UPDATE (from Raleigh News and Observer):

Long lines linger as early voting ends
On the last day of early voting Saturday, lines snaked around sidewalks and
turned around buildings at voting sites across the Triangle as voters cast
ballots that election officials think will add up to as many as 1 million
statewide before Tuesday's election.

If official counts hit that number,
early voters will have accounted for about 18 percent of the state's 5.5 million
registered voters.

Final state figures were not available Saturday, but
checks with local election officials in the Triangle showed:

* 90,078 of
Wake County's 480,000 registered voters cast a ballot, about 19 percent of
eligible voters.

* 46,118 people voted in Durham County, about 30
percent of the total registered voters.

* About 30,500 voted in Orange
County, or 32 percent of those registered.

* About 11,600 people voted
in Chatham County, about 30 percent of the county's voters.

The early turnout is more than twice that of 2000, the first time the state ran early,
no-excuse voting, said Gary Bartlett, the executive director of the State Board
of Elections. In that year, 394,158 people voted.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:22 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Books To Buy

Shock and Awe: War on Words
(New Pacific Press: Fall 2004)
Bregje van Eekelen, Jennifer González, Bettina Stötzer, Anna Tsing

A review here:

A Few Good Words

A new book offers a provocative lens through which to reconsider words suffering
from deft right wing manipulation.
The Wimp Factor

The author of a new and timely book reveals how American politics is shaped by a
cultural definition of masculinity that is based on disavowing all things

The Wimp Factor: Gender gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity
By Stephen J. Ducat
Beacon Press, 291 pp., $25.00

Someone should alert the Department of Homeland Security: Femiphobic men
are running the country, and they're heavily armed and bent on proving their
manhood. Phallic symbols have come a long way, baby, and while Freud may have
been right when he said that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," in this day
and age it's all too clear how a cruise missile can serve as a phallus of mass

Masculinity in politics is a topic that's been explored before, but
never with the level of detail and, um, penetrating analysis that Ducat, a
psychology professor at New College of California, provides.

Ducat explains that fear of the "wimp factor"--a term first applied in
presidential politics in 1988--remains pervasive and truly bipartisan. A
flight-suited George W. Bush doll graces the cover of the book, and Ducat
diagnoses Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt on the aircraft carrier as both "a
masculine drag performance" and "a massive denial of reality." He also points
out that the Democratic candidate has labored, in a similarly calculated
fashion, to demonstrate his manliness. As far back as November 2003, John Kerry
was inviting reporters out to watch him shoot pheasants with a 12-gauge.
"Apparently," Ducat writes, "Mr. Kerry wanted to reassure the male electorate
that even though he supports a ban on assault weapon sales, he still likes to
kill things." --Jon Elliston

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:15 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bush, frogs, baboons, horses and a manic exercise in html

Here is an excerpt from an article about the religious reason why conservatives oppose environmental regulation:

"Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, and pestilence brought by
ecological collapse are signs of the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care
about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture?
And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed
the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light
crude with a Word?"

This is all fine, to an extent, and goes well with account of Bush's own religion here and here but I don't think it is the sole reason.

Reason Number Two is pure economics - plundering the Earth without having to pay for it. Reason Number Three is the view of Nature that comes straight from the moral order of the Strict Father ideology:

Humans over non-human animals and rest of nature.
"Dubya exploded frogs as a
kid, didn't he? Ann Coulter said something about God telling us to rape nature
(I wonder what part of nature she is raping). Animal welfare (not to mention
animal rights), environmental protection, and the Endangered Species Act are not
just a nuisance for profit-making industries, but also affront to the moral
superiority of men over nature. This is one area where man's dominance is
unchallenged. We can do whatever we want to natural world and not expect any
punishment. This is a perfect outlet for our repressed sadistic tendencies
caused by rough treatment by parents during childhood. Hunting is fun! Revenge
is all ours!This is also an issue of control. While most liberals I know love
all animals, most conservatives I know love all animals except CATS! Why?
Because cats cannot be ordered around. Cats make conservatives feel powerless
and emasculated.But what if "animals" are not a separate category? What if there
is a continuum between animals and humans? Did someone say "evolution"?
Anathema! Who cares about empirical data, if such data subvert such an important
element of the hierarchy of moral authority, the only remaining legal way to
rape and pillage!?"

Yes, Bush blew up frogs. This has been used to imply his insanity. But cruelty to animals is not insane in the conservative world: it is the normal part of it. Conservative humans are like baboons :

"If the animal lost the fight, low basal cortisol levels were associated with
those animals who most often displaced aggression onto third parties. Sapolsky
refers to this behavior as an outlet for frustration."

Thus, when your Strict Father beats you up with the belt (and you know better than to beat up on your little sister or Daddy's rottweiler), your pent up frustration needs an outlet, and there is nothing easier than torturing a cat (all cats are Democrats anyway), putting a petarde in a frog, or going hunting.
It is difficult to find a mammal (birds may be better?) that models the liberal type of society very well, but perhaps meerkats and dwarf mongooses come close enough.

Here is an old, but good, article arguing that Bush is not a good cowboy :

But liberals from both coasts and Europeans who derisively call Bush a "cowboy"
foolishly insult not Bush, but one of America's prime ennobling myths. Instead
of ridiculing the myth exploited by George W. Bush, they may want to measure him
against it.

or this one :

Ron Reagan: My father was much more of a rancher than he was. This is a guy who
used to, you know, build his own fences, curry his own horses, saddle his own
horses, you know, cut his own firewood. You know, George Bush sallies forth in
his pickup truck to go torment small animals. And he's got that little "lady
trim whiz," you know, chainsaw that he uses to trim the hedges for the cameras
when they're there.

or this one:

Neither man can ride a horse!Both men stay away from them!

...or this one:

I've repeatedly seen rumors that he's afraid of horses. I've certainly never
seen a shot of him on horseback. You'd think that, given the resonance of
Reagan's horsemanship with the public (e.g., those "Morning in America" ads),
Karl Rove would be playing that kind of thing up for all it's worth. Instead,
they're forced to make do with endless "brush clearing" footage. In Texas, BTW,
any nouveau riche upstart can buy some acreage and call it a "ranch." I hear
horses are pretty sensitive. Maybe they spook around Bush because they can smell
the sheer evil of the extra-dimensional entity that uses him as its meat puppet.

...and how about this one that also ties with environmentalism:

Certainly George W. identifies himself with the rugged cowboy image that Wise
Use has learned to cultivate and market. When President Putin of Russia came to
visit Bush at his 1,600-acre hobby ranch in Crawford, Texas back in 2001, he was
excited about the prospect of riding horses with America's
But he soon learned that, unlike Ronald Reagan, W.
doesn't actually ride horses. He prefers to drive around his ranch in a white
Ford F-150 pick-up truck (Putin got to ride shotgun). Bush also enjoys "clearing
brush" with a chainsaw. His ranch work, along with Dick Cheney's bird hunting
and fly fishing, may be what the President means when he speaks of his
"appreciation of America's nature."

Or a funny video, anyone?

But is he really afraid of horses? Doesn't really matter. If he did ride horses, I know the type, he would ride only loud-screaming stallions, with long spurs and whips, parading around, a super-alpha male astride of alpha male. Mares tend to kill people like that.

I am rambling.... What I am really trying to say is that use and abuse of animals and the rest of nature is an integral part of the conservative Moral Order. Conservatives interpret the Bible (or whichever sacred text is locally in vogue) in a conservative manner: jealous ferocious God instead of loving graceful God, for instance. They project their inherent worldview onto their religion and read the sacred texts selectively (just like liberal Protestants, for instance, have their own reading emphasizing good deeds, love of neighbor, turning the other cheek, etc.) .

Bush is hardly relevant here, as he appears to be irrelevant in his own Administration since he was picked to run for Presidency. But the Bush cabal sees it as an unalienable right to scorch and plunder the Earth and sees no inherent value, not even aesthetic value, in Nature.

The lesson of the Bush family seems to be that the Strict Father method of childrearing does not seem to work: (self) destructive wimp Poppy Bush begat the (self) destructive wimp Dubya, who begat self-destructive Jenna and Un-Jenna. They are young (and shielded from us) so we do not know if they are also going to be destructive and wimps. Perhaps they will turn out just fine, as Dubya is too much of a sissy even to be a real Strict Father (forgot those leashes again!), so perhap they managed to escape the family curse.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:28 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

I have voted, have you?

My wife and I voted this morning. The doors opened at 9am. We were there early and had to make two trips around the block until I found the parking spot. We had to wait about an hour to vote, standing in a long line of voters, young and old, students and retirees, black and white, and obviously mostly Democrat... The atmosphere was cheerful and exciting. The volunteers and staff were visibly excited about the turnout and the way everything was functioning smoothly. I could not make myself jsut check straight party ticket - that would be too quick. After more than a year of watching every debate in the primaries, many hours of C-Span, hundreds of hours on the campaign blog, JREGrassroots, and here, I wanted to savour the moment, so I checked EVERY Democrat separately. Kerry and Edwards first, then Erskine Bowles, Mike Easley, David Price, Elaine Marshall, Roy Cooper, Britt Cobb, etc, etc. all the way to the end. It felt so good. I can't wait for Tuesday night. With every day, every news cycle, and every poll, I feel more and more optimistic that we will win, and win strong enough that no recounts nor lawsuits will be needed on either side. Now I have to go and get a bunch of popcorn and a case of beer for the family TV night on Tuesday!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:11 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Assault on (Higher) Education - a Lakoffian Perspective

Eric at Total Information Awareness wrote two excellent posts on something that touches me personally, yet has much broader consequences on the country as a whole: the well-organized and well-funded assault of the Right on the University.

Academic Freedom Fighters, Parts I and II (check some links in the comments section, too):

There were a couple of other articles on the same topic, e.g., :

The Right's Kind of Campus

Thought Control for Middle East Studies

University of Fear

In Lakoffian perspective, the ultimate goal of Strict Father ideology is the defense and spread of Strict Father ideology, with no tricks and tactics entirely deemed a 'no-no'.

As I keep repeating, inculcation into an ideology is a developmental process starting at birth. Strict Father parents will, without much effort (or perhaps using Dobson's childrearing books they buy at christian bookstores), produce little Strict Fathers of the future. Unfortunately for them, the "childrearing" shelves in bookstores are packed with Benjamin Spock, Penelope Leach, T.Berry Brazelton and the like - an extremely Nurturant Parent bunch of advisors.

But once the kids leave home to go to school, there is interference, as the teachers are generally Nurturant Parents, thus negating the influence of home. For this reason, many conservatives home-school. For the same reason, conservatives push vouchers, pass and underfund NCLB, and generally try to undermine the public schools in order to usher as many kids, especially "their" kids, into parochial schools that continue the Strict Father indoctrination (including corporal punsihment etc.).

In a previous post (, I used the village and the university as examples of environments in which Strict Father and Nurturant Parent models, respectivelly, are easily reproduced. I meant that quite literally. James at the "The Left End of the Dial" understood these to be metaphors, and he may be right:

The metaphor of The Village aptly describes a small, intimate, closed, and a bit paranoid community, in which everyone knows everyone else, keeping the traditions is one of the most important aspects of life, everyone knows one's place, and you can envision the local schoolteacher in a small village school pulling ears and using his ruler to punish every inkling of a kiddo questioning his authority. The outside world is strange and uncomprehensible, thus scary.

The University as a metaphor, on the other hand, evokes a large bustling community of strangers, each bringing in a different set of traditions and beliefs, all questioning authority, all dependent on each other for learning and personal growth. This is an example of a network of intertwined and inter-dependent destinies, each coming in, contributing something, taking away something, and leaving more appreciative of the world as a whole. Students learn from professors, professors learn from students, students learn from students, old barriers fall, old prejudices are erased. It is no coincidence that The University is a metaphor for a Nurturant Parent model of a community.

It is also no coincidence that The University is the seeding place for progress of the society, a place where new ideas first arise before they are disseminated, by departing graduates, into the big world. Of course most of the faculty are liberal. Of course this is a place where young conservatives see the light and become liberals - their own experience in college forces them to abandon the outdated beliefs and traditions they brought from the Villages they grew up in. Liberal Enlightement is slowly and steadily replacing the medieval conservativism, and The University is the way station where this conversion takes place.

So, of course, The University, being the main nexus for turning young Strict Fathers into adult Nurturant Parents, is the logical next target for the remaining rabid conservative groups. If they are to survive, and they can feel the time is working against them, they have to stem the flow of kids leaving them and joining the modernity. Their attempt at imposing conservative faculty on colleges is the most logical thing for them to do. They are pretty smart with the tactics and the use of language, but they are fighting an uphill battle as their enemies are the smartest, best educated, most liberal, and most political people in the country, people who can read right through the fog of words, and have such a majority voice at the University, they will not find it too difficult to defend themselves and their students from the assault of the Right. We'll wait and see if I am correct to feel this optimistic.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:40 AM | permalink | (5 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Links: Ignorance, Faith, Fear of Emasculation

I have no time and energy for a long and thougthfull (sic!) post, so here are a few links to articles that tie into some themes I wrote about before. Put them together instead of thinking of them separately.

On language and framing:

A Few Good Words

Don't Talk Like a Twit

On the PIPA report:

Clueless People Love Bush

Bush Backers Can't Help It: They Can't See Real World

On religion:

Faith Abuse: When God Becomes a Campaign Ploy

No Longer a Christian

On fear tactics and other GOP tactics:

Fear Factor

The GOP Stampede

On femiphobia:

The Bribe of Masculinity, or Why We Will Need to Hold Kerry's Feet to the Fire

This last one, I believe, is getting it absolutely backwards. After reading Lakoff, Ducat and around the blogosphere, as well as looking for myself, it is obvious that facts do not win elections, policy details alienate voters, and Gut-Feeling trumps the Truth.

Kerry has done everything in his power to look as masculine as possible: tall, erect, strong, aggressive, decisive, even angry - pure testosterone. He's done it so much he is already alienating the progresives (just look around the blogs), yet it seems not to be enough.

Apart from presenting himself as masculine, Kerry also has to work on the other side of the equation: portray BushCo as sissies, wusses, cowards, girlie-men, using overt machism to cover up deep insecurities about becoming old, frail and impotent. All this posturing must be a compensation for something. Conservatives are so afraid to be seen as feminine or effeminate, they presents themselves as bags of testosterone. They need to be deflated. They present themselves as erect falluses - we need to show they are just flaccid dicks, afraid of vaginas with teeth.

Sadly, this race is about whose is bigger. We have to persuade people that on this matter Kerry wins (see tons on this on

Even people who do not study cognitive linguistics get it: we project our family onto our country:

Sharon Stone: Voting for Kerry should be basic instinct

"We have to remember that when we vote for our president, a commander in chief, we're voting for the father of our nation."

Interesting imagery of using animals to dehumanize the enemy:

"Wolves"--The History

Finally, Legal Fiction is the first blog I check in the morning and last before going to sleep. That is also the only blog that I have read through the archives. I recommend you do the same. For his latest post, I have a simple response - read "Moral Politics":


posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 4:28 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Erskine Bowles

Did you like the economy of the Clinton years? Do you like the idea of a balanced budget? If yes, wouldn't you want to help the man who did it get elected to the NC Senate? Erskine Bowles is the only candidate of any party at any level of government who has ever balanced a Federal budget. Would you rather see him keep Edwards' seat in the Democratic column, or would you prefer a BushCo troglodyte Burr?
Bowles is camapigning as a conservative Democrat (you have to in NC), but even more as a person with a proven ability to work across the isle and get the job done.

See more about him at his website:

Post on his blog:

If you are in NC, sign up to volunteer:

and donate:

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:41 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Miscellaneous Non-linear Thought of the Day

Early voting has been going on in North Carolina for several days now. People report large crowds, long lines, and three hours of waiting.

The votes are not known yet, but the party registration of early voters is known, and the news is good. It can be safely assumed, I guess, that registered Republicans will mostly vote for Bush and Democrats for Kerry. Every day in Wake County (Raleigh, Cary etc.), about 53% of the votes are cast by Democrats, and 31% by Republicans. It is similar in Chatham and Guilford counties. The ratio is even better in Durham (67%/20%) and Orange counties.

Of course, Orange Co. will go for Kerry. If Nader was on the ballot, Nader would win here. I actually saw Nader stickers on the cars here. This is one of only three counties in NC in which Edwards did not trounce the competition in the primaries in April. One county went for Sharpton, and two for Kucinich. Orange went for Kucinich big time - he even came to campaign here. It's not for nothing that Jesse Helms called Chapel Hill "Liberal Zoo" (my nickname on some forums and blogs). Kerry came in second, Edwards only third, and Dean still got quite a lot of votes.

The media often makes an error, stating that Edwards won only one primary - South Carolina. He did even better in the North Carolina primary, even though it was after he bowed out of the race and asked his supporters to vote for Kerry. While Repubs here hate his guts, Democrats in NC adore Edwards, and will make sure that NC plays a role next week. Edwards being on the ticket surely makes a difference here - energy is palpable.

Early in the week, reports from the state Fair were that Bush stickers are overwhelmingly present, mainly because K/E HQ was not able to come up with sufficient supplies of stickers and buttons: the table was laid bare every day early in the morning. Now, later in the week, I heard from two independent sources that the ratio of Bush:Kerry is about 1:3....and that is at the Fair, surely not a representative sample of the local academic population.

I also see about 20:1 ratio for Kerry in bumper-stickers and yard-signs on I-40 and in Raleigh, and much better ratio in Chapel Hill. Perhaps, the miracle is still possible - the latest poll has Bush only 3 points ahead, within the margin of error, and I can see in my classroom that the students are engaged and will vote, gleefully noting that "we were never polled - we will be the November surprise for Kerry" - only three out of my 46 students I know, for sure, are Republicans.

In my son's middle school, they had a mock election. Kerry got 350 votes, Bush 240, and Nader 50. Most kids vote just like their parents....

Many young people have a simple three-point plan for their 21st birthday: get drunk, get high, get laid. Well, a friend of mine had a better idea: her plan was to go and vote against Bush for her birthday the other day. What a great birthday favor she gave to Kerry, to herself, and all of us. She reads this blog, so: "Hi, C! Congratulations, Happy Birthday, and thank you. Post a comment sometimes, will ya?"

I swung by Quail Ridge Books today - one of the finest independent bookstores in the country and John Edwards' "home" bookstore. I go there a lot, almost daily, just to see what's new. A couple came in, sporting Kerry/Edwards buttons and "I Voted" stickers. They were buying "Don't Think of an Elephant". Of course I had to talk to them, to praise the book, as well as to suggest "Moral Politics" if the "Elephant" does not give them all their answers.

Speaking of books, I am currently reading Joe Trippi's "Revolution Will Not Be Televised", and "The Divine Right of Capital" (see link on the right for their webpage) by Marjorie Kelly, and can't wait for "The Wimp Factor" to arrive. Once done, I will write book reviews here, just like I did for Gardner's "Changing Minds" (, and for Lakoff's "Moral Politics" together with E.J.Graff's "What Is Marriage For?" ( Perhaps I can make it a regular feature here, to write reviews of books I read.

Finally, for "Good Night", here is The Nation's endorsement of Kerry, stronger and better than endorsments by New York Times, Washington Post, or The New Republic:

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:27 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Empire, Empiricism, Empowerment: Contributions to Political Cryptozoology

David Brooks is so predictable. Every week or so, he comes up with a new scheme to explain the polarization of America. Each time he uses what seems to be different criteria, but are really just different terms. The funniest (and the worst) so far was the division into "spreadheet" and "paragraph" people (link: ). This week, he came up with yet another one (link:, ably dissected by Julie Saltman (link:, about "belief" vs. "rationality" - that's the theme of the week in the media (finally!), proded by Suskind's article in last Sundays NYT Magazine (link: ), and many others, usually commented on by Chris Mooney (link: and well dissected, as usual, by Publius at Legal Fiction (link:

Here is what Brooks says:

"Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, particularly admire leaders who are
straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn't have to be book
smart, and probably shouldn't be narcissistically introspective. But he should
have a clear, broad vision of America's exceptional role in the world.
Democrats, on the other hand, are more apt to emphasize such leadership skills
as being knowledgeable and thoughtful. They value leaders who can see
complexities, who possess the virtues of the
"It just so
happens that America is evenly divided about what sort of leader we need: the
Republican who leads with his soul or the Democrat who leads with his judgment."

This is very typical of Brooks' writing. His articles, on superficial reading, seem "fair and balanced", giving equal credence to both the conservative and liberal ideology. On closer inspection, however, it becomes obvious that he thinks the conservative view to be superior. Little things, like choices of words and examples, reveal his bias. But in this last article, he is really having a hard time with it. He is trying so hard to become a rational erudite scholar, yet in this piece he is putting down rationality in favor of strong dogmatic belief. He must be suffering from strong cognitive dissonance and concomittant nightmares. He wants rationality to win, yet when he realizes that he is on the wrong ideological side of the chasm, he recoils and feels a need to defend his faith. The belief overpowers the ratio. He must be distressed over this. Oh, how he wishes Bush was a rational kind of guy....

Of course, don't expect Brooks to ever mention Lakoff's explanation for the division. After all, Lakoff's thesis has a lot of empirical data supporting it, and the conservative view is uncovered to be out-dated and empirically wrong, even bad (as its self-defense mechanism thwarts progress).

But there is something more profound about the difference between Brooks' folk-sociology and Lakoff. The former assumes that the two ideologies are just superficial differences in opinion on various issues. Lakoff correctly notes that the differences are deeply ingrained, as well as internally coherent (not disorderly smorgasbords of opinions on different topics).

Difference between Homo politicus conservativus and Homo politicus liberalis reminds me of differences between Prairie voles and Montane voles. The only physical difference is the part of the brain that expresses arginine vasopressin receptors, yet the effects on behavior are huge: they do almost everything different, one being monogamous, the other (serially) polygamous; they differ in the care of the young, defense of territories, relationships between siblings etc.

I am not suggesting there is anything genetically different between the two groups of humans, (although a few wackos do, see here for various views on this: and As I have described before, one's ideology is shaped by early childhood environment, i.e., parent's childhood practices. The way a conservative family raises children models and molds the next generation of conservatives who will, in turn, raise the next generation of conservatives, the main point here being that the process is not learning but the effect of the immediate social environment (parents' behavior) affects the ontogeny of behavior of offspring. The same goes for liberals raising young liberals. Since the trait-complex is a result of interaction between environment and ontogeny, it is possible to change it later in life. This happens a lot, in both directions: liberals become conservative, and conservatives become liberals.

It is often said that young people tend to be liberal, while older people are more conservative, suggesting that people, as they age, shift from liberal to conservative worldviews. This may be the case for some people, but I believe it is the other way around: the society as a whole keeps moving towards the Left through history, leaving the previous generation behind (a relative Right).

Under great stress and duress, during deeply disturbing existential crises, some people, no matter what their upbringing, will join groups that offer stability, mostly very rigid, dogmatic and hierarchical groups (e.g., religious cults or the GOP), based on obedience to the authoritarian leader. Such crises act as re-setting points in one's ideological ontogeny. The stress erases the effects of childhood rearing, and the group provides the much needed formal structure and the perception of endless stability. This may be the most frequent way for a liberal to become a conservative. Belonging to a small, closed group is necessary for preservation of the conservative worldview (see the movie "The Village" through the lenses of this article:

Abandoning conservativism and becoming liberal happens to people who venture outside their "village" and join a community that is egalitarian, vibrant, fluid and dedicated to self-improvement and change. Various movements may fit this description, but the main nexus of such change is The University. What is (or should be - strange things are happening these days) a University? It is a Library (a huge repository of information) which serves as a magnet for knowledge-hungry people. Such people read, suggest books to each other, and discuss them. The older, more experienced and learned members ("faculty") help the younger, newer members ("students") in the quest for knowledge. A good warm coffee shop across the street from the Library is essential for such interactions.

Once the books are balanced in every generation, many more people go to the University than go through existential crisis requiring one to join a cult. Thus, net change is from conservativism towards liberalism ( Dogmatic belief gives way to rational fact-checking, and the academic world is the avant-garde of this historical trend.

It is no coincidence that a Republican Administration abandoned all reason and rules by "gut feeling", "instinct" and "faith". Can you imagine a Democratic President thinking in this way? Of course not. Dogmatism is the key element of conservativism, while learning and rationality are the core values of liberalism (which is why one needs to take a huge radial diversion away from the liberal core in order to be a postmodernist or an animal rightist, see:

That is why articles like Suskind's, the comments in the blogosphere, and the recent stump speeches by Kerry and Edwards should be effective: there are more Americans who are rational (truly liberal even if they do not think they are) than Americans who are irrational (truly conservative to the point of feeling abandoned by the semi-modernity of the GOP), and such a skew is getting more and more pronounced. This may be the last time that a "faith-driven" person is allowed by the electorate to become a President.

The recent study from the University of Maryland (link: suggests the same thing. If anyone wanted to test Lakoff's model, asking direct questions about, for instance, childrearing, would not be useful. Asking about perceptions of reality, as the PIPA study did, confirmed Lakoff's system quite nicely. Like David Brooks, many Americans understand the value of rationality and want to be rational, but belief still trumps rationality whenever the facts contradict some very core and basic beliefs. Abandoning those beliefs is treason to one's group/cult/party, thus a very scary thing to do. It takes huge courage to do this. Experience in doing that before, e.g, during college years, may help.

I have written about this before (about midway down the long post here: and what follows is a short excerpt. The first article link is, as far as I know (and I was looking for and waiting for one at the time, and was very happy to see that one when it appeared) , the first one chronologically to explicitly compare Bush's faith-based decision-making process to the empirical thinkig of most of the rest of us.

"Now, read these three articles (there are several more on the same topic,
but these three will suffice for now):
What the first article argues is quite perceptive (unlike the comments by
readers on the bottom), although technically wrong. Bush is not Platonic in the
sense of Plato, nor are we all Aristotelian in the sense of Aristotle. Bushies
are Platonic in the 19th century sense of the word - i.e., essentialist in the
sense of early 19th century. What we, who consider ourselves rational are, is
not Aristotelian, but Darwinian. What????!!!!! Forget Darwin's contribution to
biology, or the misuse of his name by eugenicists and social-Darwinists of all
kinds. The greatest contribution of Darwin is the way we in the Western world
THINK! We require data! Give me information! Empirical proof! Statistics! At
least give me polls! Before Darwin, people thought their great ideas in the
seclusion of their homes and published books. It was my word against your word.
Many philosophers became famous this way. Descartes and others started, earlier
on, asking for empirical proofs but nobody provided them. Darwin did - he showed
how philosophy is done! There were evolutionary theories before him, written by
Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Chambers and others that were laughed out of court.
Everyone took "The Origin" seriously because it provided a consilient set of
proofs: not just internal logic of the argument (many earlier philosophies had
that) but a link to the reality of the world. That was the Day One of the Age of
Rationality. If asked who my favourite philosopher was, I would have said Darwin
and lost the Presidency that very moment! But it is true. The Western world
lives in a Darwinian worldview - the worldview of empiricism. But not all....
some are still in pre-Darwinian era. They are ultra-conservatives."

A bunch of people in this country have missed The Enlightement (Publius on Legal Fiction has written several posts on this topic over the past year or so). They were hiding in the hollers while Renassaince was sweeping over the world. They are, quite literally, children left behind - the Civilization left them behind. And of course they are aggressive and unscrupulous. They know that the demise of their worldview is coming nearer every day.

To use another biological analogy: two human subspecies (and don't you just feel they are like aliens when you try to talk to them?) are trying to fill the same ecological niche. In such a situation, competition for resources is fierce. If possible, one emigrates and establishes itself elsewhere, but in this crowded world there is nowhere for the dying breed of conservatives to go (perhaps that is why Bush wanted a station on the Moon and then Mars). This is a case of competitive exclusion. The niches are so tightly overlapping that coexistence of the two sub-species (with current population numbers) is impossible - one is going to go extinct, and it seems that the Liberal worldview is winning here, just like it won in Europe and many other places. It is like cooperating groups of small smart mammals driving big lumbering individualistic Dinosaurs extinct. Think of 9/11 as the Yucatan meteor - a precipitating event that speeds up the already ongoing replacement of Dinosaurs by Mammals. Now think of November 2nd as the final blow - the last T.rex roaring its final dying roar. Let's do it (in).


I bet Mick Arran would agree with me. His post hints at the direction the history is moving:

The Militarization of Imperial America: The Commander-in-Chief

Update 2:

Thank you for the link and comments:
I use the terms "conservative" and "liberal" because they are the easiest labels - everyone knows what that means. The fact that GOP does not belong exactly at the core of conservative model, nor the Democrats in the liberal core is a different issue. The terms "authoritarian" and "non-authoritarian" are good and strong, but place emphasis on just one aspect of moral politics, thus takes attention away from other important issues. Lakoff himself wrote somewhere (Elephant?) that he is not particularly happy with the two terms, but is almost forced to use them, as no other set of terms is as useful, as readily recognizable, or as clearly defined, as Conservative and Liberal. If Lakoff can do it, I gather I can do it, too. I wish there were better, less loaded terms.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:16 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Lakoff In Space And Time

As I have complained before (, Lakoff's theory leaves me wanting for a spatial and a temporal context. In other words, I believe that current analysis will remain untested without a comparative study between USA and other countries, as well as without a historical study of changes in two forms of worldviews over the past couple of hundred years of history here, as well as the past couple of millenia around the world.

The only reference to any differences between the American and (vaguely defined) non-American models in "Moral Politics" is in the implementation of the "18 and you're out" rule in the States. I've heard it as a child in Yugoslavia: "You are lucky! If this was America, we would have kicked you out of the house to fend for yourself on your 18th birthday!" But how does this difference affect the Strict Father model in other places? I don't know. Are there any other differences? Japan? China? Middle-East? Africa? Eastern Europe? Latin America? Does every region have its own version?

As for history, I am no expert, but as I have written before (the same link as above), I believe there is a gradual change in relative strength of the two models in this country. This relative strength can be measured in absolute numbers of people belonging to one or the other, in predominance in the culture as reflected in language, or in political dominance.

I believe that in the absolute numbers, the Strict Father is gradually diminishing and the Nurturant Parent slowly growing. It is a painfully slow process, aided primarily by the Universities, and most recently by popular culture. As for political power, it appears to go back and forth, as parties change powers, with the Strict Father having a heyday right now. For cultural dominance, I see a pattern of 'two steps forward, one step back'. When Nurturant Parent had political power, slavery was abolished. In the next swing to the Right, some advances were lost, but slavery was not re-instated. Rights of women came next, step by step: wives not being property of their husbands, wives allowed to own property, changes in divorce laws, voting rights, employment rules, etc. Perhaps 1940s were a move forward for women, and 1950s a slight throwback, 1960s good, 1980s bad, 1990s good, 2000s bad, etc. That battle was more or less won over the past century or so. If Jim McWorther is correct, the year 1965 was the treshold year: the year when Nurturant Parent won over Strict Father as a dominant worldview in America, as seen in a sudden shift from formal to informal forms of language and music. Battle against racism and for civil rights came next. It's not a finished job yet, but it's almost there.

The current battle is for rights of gays, and I see them winning every day, with every campaign speech. Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney in the debate precipitated a debate that can only have a positive impact for the gay community. Those who found the mention offensive inadvertently outed themselves as bigots, at least closeted bigots, and are now backtracking and covering up. Studies showing ease with homosexuality being reversely-correlated with age are now being publicized in the mainstream media. The whole hallaballoo forced the nation to publically state that being gay is not a choice and is just fine. What a victory. Gay marriage is just around the corner.

The next battle, the biggest battle, the final battle, is coming next. It is a battle between dogma and rationality, between gut-feeling and information, between faith and science, between religion and atheism (Kerry's overt Catholicism is a campign-strategic Trojan Horse). The battle seems to be starting right now. It will be a bloody war, and the current election is its first major face-to-face battle. The Strict Father folks feel it in their bones that this is a war for their sheer survival - their last stand. They are fighting in any way they can. No weapon or trickery is beyond the pale. The only way they can survive is if they win this election, clean or dirty, and then institute a totalitarian regime that will try to roll back the centuries. Good luck! They are outnumbered and outgunned and history is not on their side.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:56 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Truth Is No Laughing Matter

The politicians are too afraid too veer off the script, lest they, oh horror, say something truthful! And we all know what a steep price they pay for saying the truth! A weekend shackled in the Hand Maiden, a few hours in the Rack, and, the worst of all - losing the election.

The journalists and pundits, as a requirement for getting their diploma from the journalism school, have a little part of the brain, nucleus criticalthinkius, surgically removed.

So where do we go to get the truth? We get some from the traditional unnamed sources, some juvenile ("the mouths of babes"), others equine ("from the horse's mouth"), some vegetative and not so reliable ("the grapevine"). Where is Deep Throat when we need him most?

But who is allowed to publicly say the truth? The village idiot, of course (no, not that one, not the one you thought of first!). And the court jester.

What kind of time we live in when only comedians can tell the truth and not end up in GITMO? Every joke has its seed in some truth - that is what makes it funny. But this time around - the humorists tell the truth, all truth, and nothing but the truth, and we all laugh with unease.

Everyone has already seen and heard Jon Stewarts' appearance on "Crossfire" (you can find it on pretty much every blog, for instance here: - what a great display of truth, as well as a great demonstration of masterful re-framing.

The best, as usual, is The Onion. They have put all their election-related stuff on one page, here:

Look at, for instance, this little golden nugget:

Bush Calls Incumbency Key Issue Of Campaign

WASHINGTON, DC—At a campaign dinner Monday, President Bush identified incumbency
as the key issue in the upcoming presidential election. "Look at my opponent's
record on incumbency," Bush said. "John Kerry is not the president at this time.
That's an indisputable matter of public record." Bush added that the American
public should seriously consider whether it wants to risk electing a president
who has no experience heading a nation, has never resided in the White House,
and does not have even one State Of The Union address under his belt.

I am afraid that many people actually think this way (if they think at all). They did not realize there is a difference between these two sentences:

Voting for President.

Voting for the President.

They think that their duty on November 2nd is to do the latter - vote for Bush. Oy vey!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 9:28 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Why are Post-Modernists/Deconstructionists considered to be the Left?

Lakoff's students are blogging his class. Last time they met, they spent some time answering questions I posted on the blog there. I asked what was the position (in Lakoff's bi-modal scheme) of deconstructionists/post-modernists, as well as animal rightists (my views here:

Here are my questions - and I welcome additional answers:

1) Why are Post-Modernists/Deconstructionists considered to be the Left? Is it their historical source, or they somehow fit into the Liberal system (perhaps on a big radial diversion away from the core). I find it difficult to align disdain for science and reality with the Nurturant Parent model.

2) The same question on "Animal Rightists" (as opposed to "animal welfare" people which are clearly core liberals)? Is it just a huge radial deviation from the core? Their mindset (and tactics) reminds me more of anti-choice people than anti-war people.

You can see the questions and Lakoff's short answers here:

...and more in class notes linked here:

Now, my next set of questions:

1) "Moral Politics" goes into quite a lot of detail about the way Nurturant Parents raise their children of both sexes. However, the chapter on Strict Father only talks about the methods and consequences of raising sons ( How does a Strict Father family raise daughters? What is the effect of it? And, related to this, what accounts for the existence of two types of conservative women. The first type is a "submissive wife" who votes Republican because her husband (or father, or brother, or boyfriend, I've seen all combinations recently) tells her to do so. The second type is a vocal fiery conservative. What accounts for the existence of Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly?

2) I am also in the process of analyzing a number of interviews (and debates) given by Democrats over the past year or so, concentrating on John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards. Once I am done, I will write a post on my blog about it, but the first impressions are that Elizabeth is a master re-framer. She re-phrases every question before answering, with the interviewer never seeming to notice what has just happenned. Elizabeth seems to combine a natural ability with a learned method (perhaps she read Lakoff). Has anyone else done such an analysis?

John Edwards seems to be a natural re-framer (which explains his great primary numbers with conservatives and independents), but makes occasional mistakes revealing he does not re-frame purposefully(

John Kerry, and especially Teresa, seem never to notice when the question is based on a conservative frame and keep falling into traps or, alternatively, appear not to answer the question. Howard Dean, who actually read Lakoff, is just as bad as Teresa. Sharpton was a fantastic re-framer in the primaries' debates, too! Others were clueless.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:31 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink


Whenever a big black SUV with a "W" bumper sticker passes me on I-40 going 90mph in the work zone, my first thought is: "What is this guy compensating for?"

While I argued strongly before ( that Nurturant Parent model is not feminine, and is only seens as such by people adhering to the Strict Father model to begin with, I have always felt that the childrearing process of Strictfathering emasculates sons, turns them into wimps who use macho posturing and aggression to cover up deeply entrenched insecurities about their own masculinity. It also leads to inability to relate to women properly, which in turn leads to fear of women and a need to dominate one every now and then ( At the same time, fear of being perceived as feminine is even greater, and gay-bashing is the outward expression of such fear. Everything in the real world that does not resemble the childhood memories of one's family is seen as threatening (

Apparently, this "gender" difference between conservatives and liberals has been noted before, and used in political propaganda, e.g., in selling the Vietnam war, as well as building G.W.Bush's image from early on in the process (how many people actually know that Bush is afraid of horses - wouldn't Rove jump to the opportunity to make a "Marlboro Man" TV ad if he could only get Dubya close to an equine - perhaps it reminds him too much of the feared Donkey! He has to make do with clearing brush instead, and parading in military unifroms on aircraft carriers).

My brilliant brother just sent me info on this book (which I immediatelly ordered):

The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious

by Stephen J. Ducat

From Publishers Weekly:

Just as George Herbert Walker Bush announced his candidacy for president
in October 1987, the cover of Newsweek pegged him with the
emasculating headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"-a line that clinical
psychologist Ducat (Taken In) says put the candidate, his handlers and
eventually his son, George W., on the defensive for the next decade and a
half. Bush's patrician habits-from asking for a "splash more coffee" at a New
Hampshire truck stop to using effete expressions like "dippity do," "darn"
and "heck"-would soon be replaced with a (strained) Real Man From Texas
image. But if the senior Bush never quite convinced the public, or his own
party, that he was anything more than a Connecticut WASP who used "summer" as
a verb, Ducat argues that the Republicans had their revenge when the younger
Bush won the presidency largely because he was able to convince voters that
he was a regular guy, a true Texan. In this insightful analysis of the role
male fear plays in politics, Ducat provides in-depth examples of the emotions
that may have fueled the Right's attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton and its
animosity towards Bill Clinton. He stumbles a little when he uses his own
minimal research to analyze men's psychological reactions to the Persian Gulf
War but, overall, Ducat lays out a cogent theory for the motivations behind
the good ole boy defense mechanisms. Though this book does preach to
the converted, its fresh and complex insights may reach a new generation
of swing voters.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All
rights reserved.
A landmark exploration of how male anxiety has come to define our
political culture.

What is the link between wimp factors, gender
gaps, and holy wars - three recognizable political phenomena of the
twenty-first century? In this eye-opening book on how male anxiety has come
to shape political thinking and behavior, Dr. Stephen Ducat argues that there
is a direct association between the magnitude of a man"s femiphobia and his
tendency to embrace right-wing political opinions.

Dr. Ducat shows how anxious masculinity has been a discernible subtext in
politics throughout the history of Western culture - from the political
campaigns of ancient Greece to the current contest for the presidency, and
including everything in between, like cartoons of George H. W. Bush exposing his "wimp factor," the demonization of Hillary Clinton, and the recent warin Iraq. He
also explores why and how political issues (such as environmental protection,
support for war, welfare reform, immigration, and crime and punishment) get gendered.

Analyzing various aspects of popular culture, such as editorial cartoons, political advertisements, and Freudian slips made by politicians (and drawing
on his own pioneering research on the gender gap) Ducat illustrates how men"s fear of the feminine has been a powerful, if subterranean, force.

Unexpectedly revealing, The Wimp Factor is a fascinating exposé that will alter our understanding of contemporary politics.

The book arrived this afternoon and I am already on the third chapter - fascinating reading, that confirms a lot I have already written on various blogs and forums, including this very post.

Here's some more commentary on the book:

Shrinking Bush S.F. psychologist argues that hyper-masculinity is undermining the American political culture


Author says Nov. 2 is all about 'who's the man?'

Putting the "men" in fundamentalism

Update 2:

The Wimp Factor: Gender gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity
By Stephen J. Ducat
Beacon Press, 291 pp., $25.00 Someone should alert the Department of Homeland Security: Femiphobic men are running the country, and they're heavily armed and bent on proving their manhood. Phallic symbols have come a long way, baby, and while Freud may have been right when he said that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," in this day and age it's all too clear how a cruise missile can serve as a phallus of mass destruction.

Masculinity in politics is a topic that's been explored before, but never with the level of detail and, um, penetrating analysis that Ducat, a psychology professor at New College of California, provides.

Ducat explains that fear of the "wimp factor"--a term first applied in presidential politics in 1988--remains pervasive and truly bipartisan. A flight-suited George W. Bush doll graces the cover of the book, and Ducat diagnoses Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt on the aircraft carrier as both "a masculine drag performance" and "a massive denial of reality." He also points out that the Democratic candidate has labored, in a similarly calculated fashion, to demonstrate his manliness. As far back as November 2003, John Kerry was inviting reporters out to watch him shoot pheasants with a 12-gauge. "Apparently," Ducat writes, "Mr. Kerry wanted to reassure the male electorate that even though he supports a ban on assault weapon sales, he still likes to kill things." --Jon Elliston

Indyweek bookshelf

Many people come to this post by googling 'femiphobia'. This is my very first post on the topic. Check out other, more recent posts in my category archives, under "Sex, Gender and Marriage" and "Understanding America".

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:16 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Conservative Case for Kerry

I am not feeling creative tonight, and another long night is in front of me, grading quizzes and lab here is something I got via e-mail, that may be helpful in persuading some mugwumps:

"The conservative case for Kerry "
Clyde Prestowitz
Washington, DC

As a former Reagan-administration official, registered Republican, born-again Christian, and traditional conservative, I am going to vote for John Kerry. So are many other old-line Republicans. Here's why.

While the Bush administration calls itself "conservative," its use of the term is frankly Orwellian. It not only deprives the word of meaning, but also presents the administration's philosophy as the opposite of what it actually is.

Conservatives have always believed in fiscal responsibility: in being sure you could pay your way and in providing for the future. Conservatives pay down debt, rather than adding to it. This doesn't necessarily mean balancing the budget every year, but at a minimum it means striving toward balance as a top priority.

The Bush approach is completely at odds with such thinking. If any proof were needed, it was amply provided in the president's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. With Congressional Budget Office projections showing oceans of red ink for the indefinite future, President Bush promised more tax cuts. His audience cheered.

Conservatives are often well off, but they understand that the best way to preserve the society in which they are doing so well is to ensure that all its members can survive at a reasonable standard of living. It was the conservative Otto von Bismarck, after all, who first introduced social-security programs in 19th Century Germany for just that reason.

Conservatives do not loot the Treasury or bet the future health of their society on the chance that the best-case scenario will actually materialize. They provide for the worst case. So a conservative would have expected that the president's tax cuts and promises of more to come would at least have been accompanied by plans for cutting expenditures.

That expectation would have been disappointed, however, as the president promised about $1 trillion of new spending programs that, given his tax cuts, can be paid for only with red ink.

Which brings us to a second fundamental principle of conservatism: small government. From the founding of the Republic until now, conservatives have feared the threat to liberty posed by big government. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan came to power primarily by focusing on big government as the source of most of the country's problems. But the Bush administration has presided over a steady increase in the size of government, as federal expenditure has risen as a percentage of gross domestic product, after declining in the late 1990s.

Conservatives have never been enthusiastic about foreign adventures or
about messianic undertakings. John Adams made the point early in our
history when he emphasized that "America does not go abroad to slay

It was the liberal Democrats Woodrow Wilson and John
Kennedy who committed the United States to making the world safe for
democracy and to "bearing any burden and paying any price to assure the
success of liberty." These are fine-sounding words, but they are not the
words of conservatives. Thus, when President Bush promises to democratize
the Mideast, conservatives cringe. So much so, in fact, that several former
high-ranking officials of the Reagan and first Bush administrations have
told me that they are not supporting the president for re-election.

This is because they know that, administration rhetoric to the contrary
notwithstanding, we are not safer today than we were three years ago.
Far from destroying al-Qaida and cutting its alleged links with Saddam
Hussein, we have made Iraq into a magnet for terrorists. Worse, there is
a real possibility that Osama bin Laden could gain control of our ally
Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons and operational long-range missiles.
Safe? Not on your life.

Nor are we freer. Conservatives are nothing if not steadfast defenders of individual rights, rule of law, and due process. Yet the Patriot Act and the procedures at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere have visibly infringed on all of these. It is ironic that even as it preaches about widening the circle of freedom abroad, the administration is reducing it at home.

Before the current campaign, it might have been argued that at least in affirming the importance of faith and respecting those who profess it the administration had embraced traditional conservative views. But in the wake of the Swift Boat ads attacking John Kerry, even thisargument can no longer be maintained. As an elder of the Presbyterian Church, I found thatthose ads were not at all in the Christian tradition. John McCain rightly condemned them as dishonest and dishonorable. The president should have, too. That he did not undermines his credibility on questions of faith.

Some say it's just politics. But that's the whole point. More is expected of people of faith than "just politics."

The fact is that the Bush administration might better be called radical or romantic or adventurist than conservative. And that's why real conservatives are leaning toward Kerry

There's more:

Demand Letter Sent To Bush By Corp CEO

Karl Schwarz and the Mysterious Patmos Nanotechnologies

A funny thing happened on the way to 'The Truth'

30 Fantastic Questions that will never be answered.

How George W. Bush has betrayed conservatives' most cherished principles.

Update 2:

On the other hand, only a rabid ostrich would think this:

"Am I the only one who thinks that this guy is a liberal pretending to be a conservative?"

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 8:44 PM | permalink | (3 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Let's go get the votes of Mugwumps

From the friends at Merriam-Webster:

The Word of the Day for Oct 16 is:

mugwump \MUG-wump\ noun

1 : a bolter from the Republican party in 1884
*2 : a person who is independent in politics or who remains undecided or neutral

Example sentence:
Campaigning heated up in the swing states as the election approached, both sides making a last bid for the mugwump vote.

Did you know?
An 18th-century Massachusett Indian might not recognize his people's word for "war leader" if he saw it used today. In early America, "mugwump," our version of the Native American "mugquomp," was sometimes jestingly applied to someone who was the "head guy." The first political mugwumps were Republicans in the presidential race of 1884 who chose to support Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland rather than their own party's nominee. Their independence prompted one 1930s humorist to define a mugwump as "a bird who sits with its mug on one side of the fence and its wump on the other."

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:55 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Final Stretch

There is so little time left until the election, and we know that Rove has nasty stuff coming soon. What can we do to help?

Apart from letter-writing, phone-banking, door-knocking, money-donations, and putting up signs, I think the best thing we can do is initiate an avalanche of mail, e-mail and phone-calls to the media.

Send the media contact info to everyone you know, post on every forum and blog you frequent and ask everyone to write, post, and call in.

Ask everyone to call the media and:

Insist they cover the recent attempts of the RNC to depress voter turnout

Insist they cover the recent attempts of the RNC to throw out new Democratic registrations

Insist they cover the attempts of the RNC to prevent insight into touch-screen software, and the connections between Diebold et al. and the RNC

Insist they cover the substance of the recent Atlantic Monthly article about Karl Rove

Insist they uncover the lies and tactics by the Swift Boaters, Sinclair, anti-lawsuit folks etc.

Insist they call out every Republican guest on all the untruths, talking points, and spin they say on air or in print

Insist they cover the Valerie Plame case

Insist they do a story on how Frank Luntz, American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Institute and other conservative "think"-tanks formulate Orwellian language and disseminate talking points to Republicans

Insist they abandon the silly "fair and balanced" approach and concentrate on the facts and the truth instead

Insist they bring in independent expert analysts (instead of campaign managers and partisan hacks) to cover, in depth, various issues and to compare the two candidates' records and plans

Insist they cover the way Bush uses code-language to appeal to the milleniarist "Left Behind" crowd, e.g., Dred Scott, Armies of Compassion, Stewardship of the Environment, Maternity Homes etc.

Let's get started. Let's start writing, as well as urging everyone you know, and everyone on liberal forums and blogs, to do the same. If the media gets inundated by thousands of such requests, they will have to do something about it.

Here are some sources of media contact info:


This is what I sent to every TV channel (air and cable), slightly modified
for radio, and again for print press, and agin for forums and blogs:

In the interest of the future of America and the world, I insist that the
media – yes, that’s you – starts taking its job seriously. How else is
electorate going to make an "educated and informed" decision?

I insist you abandon the "fair and balanced" approach and concentrate on
the facts and the truth instead. Instead of horserace, cover substantive issues.
Educate yourselves so you can educate your audience.

I insist you cover the recent attempts of the RNC to depress voter turnout.
It is crucial for voters to know that only the Republican party is involved in
shady and un-democratic practices.

I insist you cover the recent attempts of the RNC-linked organizations to
throw out new Democratic registrations. It is key for the electorate to see that
only the Republican party plays dirty.

I insist you cover the attempts of the RNC to prevent insight into
touch-screen software, and the connections between companies, like Diebold, that
manufacture voting machines and the Republican party. It is of utmost importance
for voters to understand that the Republican party does not care for democracy
and will stop at nothing to legitimize their extended rule of this

I insist you cover the substance of the recent Atlantic Monthly article
about Karl Rove. People need to know that it is only Republican party that is
unscrupulous and ungentlemanly in its pursuit of the November win.

I insist you uncover and expose the lies and tactics by the Swift Boaters,
Sinclair, anti-lawsuit folks etc. It is important for people to see how
desperate the Republicans are.

I insist you call out every Republican guest/contributor on all the
untruths, talking points, and spin they say on air or in print. It is your job
to do so. Do not let them get away with lies and distortions. Thus, it is your
duty to be prepared - a little less time preening in front of cameras, a little
more at your computer, digging for information.

I insist you cover the Valerie Plame case. We need to know what is going

I insist you cover the way Bush uses code-language to appeal to the
milleniarist and Rapturist "Left Behind" crowd, e.g., references to Dred Scott
(= overturning Roe vs. Wade), Armies of (God)Compassion, Maternity Homes (=
Magdalene laundries) etc. We need to know who Bush is talking to and why. Who is
he governing for and what that means for the rest of us.

I insist you do a story on how Frank Luntz, American Enterprise Institute,
Heritage Institute and other conservative "think"-tanks formulate Orwellian
language and disseminate talking points to Republicans. People do not like being
manipulated and it is your sacred duty to blow the GOP cover.

I insist you bring in independent expert analysts (instead of campaign
managers and partisan hacks) to cover, in depth, various issues and to compare
the two candidates' records and plans. A split-screen of Ed Gillespie and Tad
Devine yelling at each other will not inform anyone about anything, and is not
fun to watch either. The "he said/she said" journalism is a blasphemy of your
profession. Give it up - fast!

Many born-and-raised American still do not understand that this election is
not your regular, run-of-the-mill contest between Republicans and Democrats. As
someone born and raised elsewhere, I can probably see it much more clearly. This
is a life-and-death battle between the Democratic party and the Un-Democratic
party, between Enlightement and Inquisition, between modernism and medievalism,
between 21st century and 16th century worldviews, between democracy and
theocracy, between a democratic party and a crypto-fascist party. This is not
one of those once-in-four-years fun events. This is an armageddon struggle for
the survival of civilization, not just in the USA, but in the world. The GOP
today is not the GOP you remember from the 1970s. The GOP today has been
hijacked by a dozen traitors of humanity, and you still don't see it!? Act now,
before it is too late.


posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:49 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Put these together in your mind:

For those interested in cognitive linguistics etc., an interesting superposition of articles:

Appealing to Our Lizard Brains
By Arianna Huffington,

Call it ludicrous, but the most important election of our lifetime is coming
down to who can best pacify the electorate's inner baby.

New Lenses for your Frames
By George Lakoff
An Analysis of the Framing of the Living Wage

The Post-Modern President
Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French

The Grand Theory of All Thought: Blending

From Larry Bowa's Clubhouse to the Streets of Fallujah

Maybe try thinking of a donkey

What George Lakoff knows about the mind

How not to test a hypothesis

Excellent, excellent

Relax? I can't relax!

Obviously, not everyone likes or agrees with Lakoff. I am no expert - "Moral Politics" just spoke powerfully to the way I felt. I am willing to keep my mind open, though, for constructive critiques of his writings. So far, I did not see anything compelling, but I'll keep on searching...

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 2:35 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Power of (Internal) Pollsters

With atheism being the fastest-growing "religious denomination" in America, vastly undercounted in the last census at about 30 million, is it any surprise that both candidates stated, for the first time in history as far as I know, that one can be an atheist and still be an American (wiping my sweaty brow in a sign of visible relief)!


I was wrong abot the Census being the source of information. It is a collection of various surveys, summarized, for instance, here:


Raving Atheist, of course, has a raving review of this portion of the debate:

Debating Faith

I had assumed that any discussion of religion by the candidates in last night’s
debate would be meaningless, incoherent and pandering. Looks like I was wrong.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:49 PM | permalink | (6 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kerry/Edwards - Bush/Cheney 4:0

I thought it was a bit shaky the first 5-10 minutes. After that Kerry just nailed it. He was calm, direct, clear and personable. He deflected the most outrageous claims and left the rest for factcheckers and pundits. The clip of Bush saying "I don't think about Osama" will be played very, very soon on every station.

Haven't you all recognized a couple of lines straight out of the "Two Americas" speech?

There were several questions to which Bush obviously did not want to answer...and when he did he made a mistake of trying to have it both ways: appealing to his base and to the independents, thus he lost both. I am thinking here of questions about guns, religion, immigration, abortion, Roe Vs. Wade, and gay marriage. He was obviously ill at ease during these questions. On the other hands Kerry had fantastic answers to these same questions, alleviating fears of the independents, countering the whispering campaigns about Democrats taking away guns, Bibles and other ridiculous nonsense that Rove spreads around.

Bush was much better than in the previous too debates. Still, why the smile on the face? Most of the stuff was pretty serious? Did not get a joke about "marrying up".

Questions were good and tough on both candidates. Kerry was better prepared - he was prepared for every question. Bush was better prepared for some questions than others. He trotted out a bunch of numbers, as well as typical anti-Kerry talking points. He was not happy he had to answer all those social-issue questions. Immigration? He dreaded it. He had to say what he said, as that was the proposal he pushed earlier. The answer did not make his base happy. though.

Has anyone picked up any biblical language? Any phrases that evangelicals may understand but we would not? Something on the order of Dred Scott = Roe vs. Wade? How about: "armies of compassion", "calmness in the storms of the presidency" and "freedom on the march"?


Paperwight's Fairshot has the scoop...again (and provides several excellent links):

"Maternity Group Homes"
The "Maternity Group Homes" to which Bush keeps referring are the
anti-choice follow-up to "crisis pregnancy counseling" where young women are
counseled (often deceptively) not to have abortions, and then are referred for
the rest of their pregnancy to group homes run by religious groups.
In Ireland, they were called Magdalene laundries, where the
history probably doesn't even rise to the level of checkered -- it's just bad.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:15 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Traffic Jam

This is a new and small blog. I usually get about 30 hits per day, and I like it that way. This is a place to jot down my thoughts, to save them for myself for the future, to see how my mind changes on various topics over the years. If anyone comes by and reads it and likes it, great, I'm flattered, but I think of this blog as my diary without a lock.

Today, hoewever, the counter went wild, over 150 hits so far, so I went to check the referral page to see where is all this traffic coming from. I discovered three big sources.

Majikthise ( linked to my post about Bush's circadian profile ( and hopefuly people will read the other one, too ( I love the way she put it: Owl versus Lark - we'll see some predation tonight! Also "circadian handicaaping" sounds like a good name for a rock band! Thanks, Majik!

I noticed that Bush has been in the West for the last few days. That is the BEST way to shift the clock. Nothing beats natural daylight, coupled with scheduling meals, exercise, and campaign events on local time. Switching lights on and off is crude. Our photoreceptors are also tuned in to gradual changes of light intensity, as well as spectral composition, that occurs during dawn and dusk. Simulating such changes in intensity and spectrum is very difficult artificially even if Bush could be held indoors at all times.

The science is not good enough yet to devise a way to shift a clock artificially (e.g., in Washington D.C.) and have Bush fresh in Arizona immediatelly after a flight. I am assuming that the trip to the West was designed primarily to hone Bush's message to the Hispanic population and the West-specific issues. If they asked a chronobiologist (e.g., someone from Circadian Technologies Inc.), that would have been the best advice to do, but I doubt they did that.

Still, larks are at best form in the morning and owls in the evening, so Kerry retains slight advantage, as the debate starts at 6pm local time (9pm ET).

Update: Both seemed fine and fresh. More on psychological aspects of chronotypes here:


Guys at "Gene Expression" blog ( have discovered my earlier post ( in which I use a couple of their posts as an illustration of the point I was trying to make. To be fair, it is a group blog, and many different views can be seen on the site. I go there every day because half of the stuff is interesting and informative, while the other half is infuriating, depending who teh poster was. So far, the discussion with them (mostly there) is civil. These are smart and educated people, and even those who are conservative do not appear to be mad frothing-at-the-mouth Bushies. Biology is exciting but not a matter of life or death (figurativelly - of course it is literally!), so I do not expect personal threats or flaming from these folks, and the discussion may still turn out to be enjoyable and educational for all involved.


Speaking of the mad frothing-at-the-mouth Bushies, the third avalanche of hits came from this site:

As you can see, someone there posted a link to my blog there. The comments are scary, almost bloodcurdling. Hate, venom and paranoia. Total strictfatherism at its extreme. They really bought into the lie that the Democratic party is liberal, that liberalism is bad, that USA is not and should not be a democracy, that Kerry will outlaw religion, take away guns, force straight people into gay marriages and other nonsense that Rove likes to spread rumors about. Now I am afraid.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 3:10 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink