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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

George Lakoff on Democratic Party Renewal

Tobin Harshaw reviewed two books (New York Times Book Review, July 23, 2006) that prescribe remedies for the Democratic party, which seems to be floundering and unable to decide just what to do. One of the books, Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea by George Lakoff seemed the most interesting. He proposes that right-wing conservatives have a very different definition of freedom than progressives and liberals and that makes dialog difficult. He uses a metaphor to describe the difference: progressive thought "stems from the 'nurturant parent family' model (based on 'empathy and responsibility), while the conservative outlook is shaped by the 'strict father family' model (in which the 'moral authority. . . of the father must not be seriously challenged')."

Interesting metaphor.

A Week in Washington and the National Park Service

I've been spending this week attending an annual conference for EEO officers (another of my myriad responsibilities) and took the opportunity to poke around the Mall and attend an organ recital at the National Cathedral. The former was disappointing; the latter extraordinary.

The Museums and Memorials surrounding the Mall are magnificent; the Vietnam Wall moving, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials impressive, the World War II Memorial lackluster, but what impressed me the most was the deplorable state of the grounds and obvious neglect of the public facilities. This is an extraordinarily popular site for foreign visitors and it would seem that we would want to show it off. Instead, the badly maintained lawns and flower beds surrounded by Homeland -- think Vaterland -- Security barriers and warning signs do not celebrate a wealthy democracy. They send just the opposite message.

The National Cathedral, on the other hand, is magnificent. I have been privileged to visit numerous cathedrals in Europe and this ranks right at the top. It's beautiful and immaculate, free and welcoming. Sunday evenings there are organ recitals and visitors are invited to sit right up under the pipes. The night I was there - very hot and humid outside, cool and refreshing inside -- Dr. Sean Jackson played a series of mostly 19th century virtuoso pieces that really showed off the capabilities of the organ. If you ever get the Washington, this should not be missed.