A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘conservatives’

A Review of The Little Blue Book

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2012

The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking DemocraticThe Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic by George Lakoff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finished this book and I’m not really satisfied with it, although I can’t quite place my finger on why. I had really looked forward to receiving this book, assuming it would teach Democrats how to go toe to toe with conservatives in rhetoric, debates, etc. To a very minor degree, the second half of this book provides some terms and examples one could use, but that’s not really the gist of the book. It’s subtitle is “The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic” and I guess it might be partially accurate, but it left me feeling pretty empty and hopeless. I think most of the terms suggested here to replace commonly used terms in public discourse border on ridiculous and won’t ever come into play.

First, though, conservatives like to accuse Democrats of being “liberal elites,” which makes me wonder why Republicans want to be known as stupid dumb asses. Anyway, the first half of this book did nothing to make me think that the stereotype did not hold true for the book. It’s a scientific, linguistic explanation of morals, moral contexts, using “basic-level” words, neural logic and “cascades,” a “network of neurons that links many brain circuits…. the brain does not handle single ideas as separate entities: a bigger context, a logical construct within which the idea is defined, is evoked in order to grasp its meaning…. Language triggers cascades.” Confused? I bet Joe Six Pack would be if he picked this book up. This book is designed FOR liberal elites and feeds right into the stereotype so many of we Democrats fight to overcome.

The bulk of the book is taken up by Democratic ideas, such as those surrounding corporations, food regulation, public education, nature, and more, and it basically provides tiny chapters for each (like two to four pages) and gives alternative terms for words commonly used in political circles that the authors think have been hijacked by conservatives. This is where my big problem is. I’m right up there agreeing conservatives have hijacked public dialogue, but the alternative terms they advocate strike me as downright silly. Let me give you examples. On abortion and pro-choice terminology, they argue that conservatives make this a moral argument through their use of their own terminology, so instead of saying “pro choice,” we should instead say “pro-liberty.” Other options include “pro-family” and “family freedom.” They then go on to say, “the terms birth control and birth control pills are disastrous. The real issue is ‘pregnancy prevention’.” That’s right — we should talk about pregnancy prevention instead of birth control. Maybe that makes some sort of sense, but I can’t see society making that shift, no matter how many liberals start employing that term. So too, abortion is a dirty word. We need to replace it with — get this — “development prevention.” Yeah, that’s right. Development prevention. I’m not pro-abortion, nor am I anti-choice, but no one’s going to start saying development prevention. I’m sorry — it’s not going to happen. To sum it up, this is a book of ideas, and maybe it’s a decent conversation starter, but the terminology solutions suggested here seem ludicrous to me and probably to a whole bunch of other people too. I was really disappointed in this book, especially after looking forward to reading it so much. I don’t recommend it.

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Obama and Gas Prices

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 17, 2012

Hi. This is my 100th blog post here. Just thought I’d mention it.

Here’s something else I’ve got to mention. Remember last month when Republicans and most of the media were bashing President Obama for high gas prices and the public bought it and his approval ratings dropped? Yeah, I remember that too. Well, now that gas prices are probably close to being a dollar a gallon lower than then, where’s the overdue praise for Obama? Why aren’t the conservatives lauding our president for his great achievements? Why isn’t the press all over this? Is it because our allegedly “liberal” media is actually quite conservative, save MSNBC? I know this — it’s utter hypocrisy and it makes me sick to my stomach! Obama wasn’t the reason gas prices were high in the first place — no president is — and he’s not the reason they’re so much lower now. But I really do think Republican owe Obama an apology for the utter crap they put him through on this.

I guess that’s all for now. I don’t know what my 101st blog post will be yet. Cheers!

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Most and Least Religious States in America

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 28, 2012

Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where Gallup classifies at least half of the residents as “very religious.” At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states — along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska — where less than 30% of all residents are very religious.

Gallup classifies 40 percent of Americans nationwide as very religious — based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Another 32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 28 percent of Americans are moderately religious, because they say religion is important but that they do not attend services regularly or because they say religion is not important but still attend services.

Religiosity varies widely across U.S. states and regions, with Mississippi in the deep South and Vermont in New England providing the most extreme example of the disparity. Fifty-nine percent of Mississippians are very religious and 11% nonreligious, while 23 percent of Vermonters are very religious and 58 percent are nonreligious. Although New Hampshire ties Vermont with 23 percent of its residents classified as very religious, slightly fewer (52 percent) residents in the Granite State are classified as nonreligious.

More generally, eight of the 10 most religious states in 2011 are in the South (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia), with one straddling the line between the South and the Midwest (Oklahoma), and one in the West (Utah). None of the most religious states are in the Middle Atlantic, New England, or West Coast regions.

By contrast, six of the least religious states in 2011 are in New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) and four are in the West (Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington), with the District of Columbia and New York rounding out the list.

These state-by-state patterns in religiousness have remained stable in recent years. Southern states have traditionally been the most religious, and states in New England and in the West have been the least religious.

via Most and Least Religious States in America.

I live in the Bible Belt. And it hurts. My state is the sixth most religious state in the country, according to this article. I’m surprised it’s not higher. Although I view myself as spiritual and even religious (I attend services irregularly), I HATE living in the Bible Belt, where if you’re not a Red State Bible thumper, you may as well be a leper. I think it’s appalling and I miss the diversity that Los Angeles provided me when I lived there. Oh well. I don’t think I could take Vermont’s winters, but Portland and Seattle are sounding attractive right now….

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Gary Hart: The New Conservatism

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 25, 2012

Congressional Democrats have mostly been in a defensive posture, and resisted persistent efforts to erode the social contract created in the 1930s and 60s, with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-especially when those trying to “privatize” i.e., destroy this safety net want to continue to cut reasonable taxes on wealth at the same time. Are debt and deficits a problem? Of course. But an agenda of “cutting spending” while at the same time cutting taxes will never be accepted by the solid majority of Americans who support these programs and believe in tax justice. Democrats are not on the extreme left — equivalent to the Republicans’ new right — by seeking to protect this social contract and safety net. They are simply trying to protect a social bargain accepted by a large majority of Americans then and now against an attempt to return to the pre-New Deal era of law of the jungle, every man for himself, and devil take the hindmost.

via Gary Hart: The New Conservatism.

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