Plus I yell at the TeeVee. I’ll bet you do too.
My previous post urged one Mr. Mike Huckabee to go and, as is said, ‘fuck himself’.
I did briefly wonder if I had taken my headline a step too far. I hadn’t. Approximately 68% of commentary on Friday’s shootings and 100% of commentary on Huckabee’s comments in particular now includes the word fuck.
So – not too far. Whew.
Oh Democrats my Democrats.
Just like that turtle in a slow boil pot of water (is that the right metaphor?), you never noticed when you capitulated. You now use in blithe ignorance words specifically designed to insult you. Words designed by a morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout, indicted drug offender and now iconic standard-bearer of the conservative movement. Words like:
- LIBERAL MEDIA: In debate coverage, on bleeding MSNBC, I heard liberal pundits automatically refer to the ‘liberal media’. They’ve not only accepted but are now employing the very label assigned them by the morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug offender, a label he invented and employed over decades to discredit, denigrate and insult you. Throughout, if you even bothered to defend, your arguments were weak. “No we’re not” doesn’t do it. (Exception is Eric Alterman’s 2003 meticulously researched book What Liberal Media? – hurry, only two left at Amazon!). So you failed and now a good part of the country assume media to be liberal; they even believe that outlets like the broadcast networks exhibit bias in their vapid little 19 minutes a night of ‘news’. Well done, Rush; fail, Dems.
- DEMOCRAT PARTY: Same thing. The morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug criminal began some years ago saying “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party”. Again an insult, meant to strip from the party’s name any suggestion that it stood for a democratic ideal or even process. You’ve no doubt heard it from Rush: Dems now say it too.
- OBAMACARE: This one only took about five minutes. As soon as the morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug offender invented the name, it was universally adopted because, after all, it’s so much easier to say than Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
3-0. Three-zip. As Mr. Jackson said “wake the f**k up!”
Posted in irony, language, Media, Politics, The Daily Rush
Tagged Altercation, Democratic Party, Eric Alterman, irony, language, liberal media, Media, morbidly obese, Obamacare, Politics, rush limbaugh
Count on George Will to build an entire column on a cheap half truth. I used to enjoy his columns but in recent years he’s turned bitter. And careless of how he used language and history. He’s got his underwear in a know again.
A few years back, according to the GOP punditocracy, Obama’s chief of staff spoke terrifying words! He said “we should never waste a crisis”. This of course, meant the sheets had to be pulled off the fainting couches yet again.
Not only was his comment not new, it has been the conventional wisdom for hundred of years; the Chinese use the same character for ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’. Seen below “the use has been adopted by business leaders and motivational speakers’. Because it’s true.
Benjamin Zimmer has traced the history of weiji in English as far back as anonymous editorial in a journal for missionaries in China. The use of the term probably gained momentum when John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in Indianapolis on April 12, 1959:
- When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.
- One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.
Kennedy employed this trope routinely in his speeches, and it was then appropriated by Richard M. Nixon and others. The usage has been adopted by business consultants and motivational speakers and has gained great popularity in universities and in the popular press. For example, in 2007, Condoleezza Rice used the meme during Middle East peace talks, and Al Gore did so both in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, and in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture.
Posted in Government, History, language, Media, Obama, partisanship, Pet peeves, Politics
Tagged Chinese proverbs, George Will, Iran hostage crisis, language, Obama, Politics
Dear NBC, I’m sure you meant to say “Hurricane threatens”. Impending is an adverb. Really.
The ‘half-governor’ and now national joke offers one of her signature word-salads on Todd Akin. Here’s an exquisitely twisted bit of grammar (my favorite part is in bold). Just splendid.
Todd Akin has said he’s not going to drop out, and bless his heart, I don’t want to pile on Todd Akin, because in some respects I understand what he was trying to say here, in standing on principle that he doesn’t want to be perceived as a quitter, but you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Believe me, I’ve walked before, and I know when you have to hold that mantle and then hand it someone else in order to progress a positive agenda. That’s what I had to do in Alaska.
Posted in 2012 Elections, abortion, Congress critters, language, Palin, Politics, Right wing talk machine
Tagged elections, language, Politics, Sarah Palin, Todd Akin
Dear media: when you report on US foreign policy or military decisions, announcements and initiatives, please do not ascribe them only to “the Administration” or “the President”. Since they act in our name, the proper attribution is to “we” or “us”. (an Administration did not go to war in Iraq, ‘we’ did.)
If more specificity is appropriate, say “the Federal government” or “the State Department” or “the Pentagon”. If the initiative is purely from the Executive, then go ahead and say “the President” or “the Administration”.
It’s not as sexy or shiny, but it might mitigate the vein-popping outrage – from certain quarters – that the President is a dictator bent on enslaving us all.
Even Ted Baxter knew how to pronouce it.
Don’t know what a pundint is? It is a pundit – as pronounced today by far too many tone-deaf pundits. As usual, the speakers tend to be young, so this qualifies in my book as a genuine word evolution.
So where did that extra ‘n’ come from? Don’t know – perhaps it simply creeps in when people mis-hear a word and repeat the wrong pronunciation. And then it spreads . . .
A headline from my paper recently is the first example in print of a usage I’ve been hearing for some time. The story is about children of migrant workers graduating from high school here in Florida. Here’s the headline:
Excited for a future beyond the fields
More from that Barney Frank interview in the NY Times Magazine Orhan posted about the other day.
Q: You recently said about Newt Gingrich: “He’s just one of the worst people I know of who didn’t commit violence on somebody.” Did he kill your dog?
A: He transformed American politics from one in which people presume the good will of their opponents, even as they disagreed, into one in which people treated the people with whom they disagreed as bad and immoral. He was a kind of McCarthy-ite who succeeded.
For those who don’t remember, this article was written in 1995, after Gingrich became Speaker of the House. Here are the words that Gingrich, in a memo, urged his fellow Republicans to use when referring to Democrats:
decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists…
endanger… coercion… hypocrisy… radical… threaten… devour… waste… corruption… incompetent… permissive attitudes… destructive… impose… self-serving… greed… ideological… insecure… anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs… pessimistic… excuses… intolerant…
Gingrich was never interested in cooperation – without which there is no possibility of governing in a democratic process. (Remember when he shut down the government? Twice? Such good times.)
As he exhibited yet again in his absurd presidential campaign, Newt is interested first in Newt, and in his place in history which he thinks he has earned. He’s right about that at least.
Posted in broken government, Congress critters, Gingrich, Government, History, language, partisanship, Politics, Right wing talk machine, talk radio
Tagged Gingrich, GOPAC, language, Newt Gingrich, partisanship, Politics
The Sunlight Foundation has published a (seriously wonky) report that measures the grade levels at which our congress critters speak. Their study covers 1996 to this 112th Congress, in both the House and Senate. It’s getting a bit of notice around the buhlogospheric-system and deservedly so. Fascinating stuff.
They say that congressional speech has dropped a full grade level in that period, with Tea Party freshman accounting for much of the most recent decline. (Which Senator speaks at the lowest grade level? Can you guess? Rand Paul bitches!)
The whole thing is here and there are a few interesting sidebars on their blog as well. I don’t think it’s at all clear from the study (I did say it’s wonky) if the change has any significant effect on clarity or successful communication, which after all, is the point of language. But even if utility is unaffected . . .
This grabbed my attention.
Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. . . .
Posted in Blogsphere, Congress critters, education, Government, History, language, Meet the 112th!, Politics, Tea Party
Tagged congress, education, language, literacy, Politics, tea party
I’ve been listening and I hear people using the word ‘less’ when the correct word would be ‘fewer’. As in ‘less people are saying fewer’.
Listen yourself, see if you hear it too.
To the left is my first blog post – from 2009. It was an homage to Atrios and below is his first in 2002. Atrios was annonymous for the first years but was eventually revealed to be one Dr. Duncan Black, an economist in Philadelphia. From the first, he was the essential read in the lefty blogshpere. His pitch perfect (and utterly original) language inversions and his economy of words elevate him – in my lights – to Mark Twain and Will Rogers territory.
Today, he will post the winner (#1!!) in his top ten countdown to the Wanker of the Decade! Also today, I say to him congrats and thanks for a decade of delicious stuff.
(Wikipedia says the traditional gift for a Tenth Anniversary is tin/aluminum. Anyone know where I should send it?)
In a recent comment thread here, a phrase used by blogfriend jonolan got me wondering about how we name things. Language, as we know, has power. For instance:
Did you know that in Iraq, Iraqis speak only of The American War? Of course, we call it The Iraq War.
Re the War between the States, jonolan calls it the War of Northern Aggression. We of the North always call it The Civil War
(I’ve a friend in South Carolina who told me her mother always called it “the recent unpleasantness”. Love that!)
In my paper this morning: Charles Krathhammer hits a home run. He refers to all the Romney wanna-be’s as the ‘perishable pretenders’. That’s as good as it gets.
It’s way past time, but the French language police have finally determined that a word meaning “young female virgin” might be inappropriate on a job application. Happy to see them catching up to the 20th century (not knocking France – a wonderful country, except for those very uptight defenders of the language). Can’t find the news story, but here‘s a prior, albeit somewhat dated, one.
That story today reminded me of how our own efforts to replace the words “Miss” (unmarried female) and “Mrs” (married female) with the single designation of “Ms” (female), in order to align with the male “Mr” (which reveals nothing of that person’s marital status), went awry.
Instead of simplifying, we managed to replace the previous two categories with three. The ladies are now classified as Mrs (she’s just a bit old-fashioned), Miss (such a shame dontcha know) or Ms (none of your fracking business). Of course, the men are still Mr (a male person – and that’s all the information you need so butt out.)
Lately, especially in media where they really ought to know better, I hear ‘blog posts’ referred to as ‘blogs’.
A post is not a blog. An article is not a newspaper. A story is not a magazine.
Please stop it.
POSTED BY ORHAN
This week Frank Luntz, Republican spinmeister extraordinaire, spoke to the Republican Governors Association about how to “frame” Occupy Wall Street to the public.
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Luntz. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
Luntz is a master of using language to trigger subtle emotional responses favorable to the speaker, and for years has been directing Republicans in how to effectively spin their message.
Since Republican politicians obediently follow Luntz’s dictates in lockstep, you’ll be hearing these memes from conservatives of all stripes as they spin OWS in the coming days and weeks. The rules are quite instructive, especially since almost all public speech by the political class is generally finessed in the same way. And Luntz is the very best; the Democrats don’t have anybody in his league. In fact, President Obama would do well to ponder rule 6 carefully.
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.” Continue reading
Posted in 2012 Elections, Current Events, elections, From Orhan's Perch, Government, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Uncategorized
Tagged Current Events, Frank Luntz, government, language, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Republicans, spin doctors
Google Translate will now do your entire website with the simple click of a button. Quite remarkable. Or . . . es un milagro! (h/t mac).
American broadcast and cable news operations don’t even bother anymore, not even in the traditional 6:30 pm network news slot, once the ‘big boy’. The final word. The program elevated by Walter Cronkite (CBS) and Chet Huntley and David Brinkley (
ABC NBC – thanks Don) and someone on ABC (who was it before Birnkley moved over?).
Those shows now run perhaps 19 or 22 minutes, of which they devote a precious few to reminding us who they are and how great they are and thank each other for doing such a great job while letting us know, breathlessly, that every interview is ‘exclusive’. I even heard Brian Williams recently refer to their reporter in Libya as ‘the only network broadcast reporter in the square right now”. which meant that maybe ABC and CBS were taking a bathroom break. But no matter, heady stuff anyway – for them.
After all the chest thumping, they spend perhaps 6 or 7 minutes on the ‘news’ of the day (which this week includes updates on the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor.) And finally, there is a ‘report’ on some new weapon or medical breakthrough or cute animal – most of these appear to be video press releases.
The cables do a little real news, but mostly they opt for that cheap-to-produce stuff featuring poorly informed – but insistent – gasbags, opining on the political matters of the day.
Today, that is what passes for the news on American television. (There are exceptions of course – PBS News Hour, Fareed Zacharia on CNN and – only occasionally anymore – 60 Minutes. I’ll add my own local news – they often do a very decent job.)
And then there’s the BBC. The venerable British Broadcasting Company is serious about reporting and committed to informing their viewers, listeners and readers. Look at this from their website. Now that’s committment – one click brings the world to the world.
POSTED BY ORHAN
Here’s another quote from the article by Mike Lofgren referenced earlier by Moe. It’s significant because Lofgren was a longtime Republican operative and Congressional staffer with a lot of street cred:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
So there’s method in the madness.
Posted in broken government, Civics, Congress critters, From Orhan's Perch, Government, Politics
Tagged broken government, Democrats, language, political parties, political philosopy, Politics, Republicans
In a thread downstream, ojmo linked to an article by Mike Lofgren, a 30-year Republican congressional staffer. Lofgren doesn’t like what’s become of his party and chronicles their 40-year cynical campaign to discredit government for political advantage. And he doesn’t see Democrats stepping up either.
He touches too on something I’ve despaired about:
Democrats . . . do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?
You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.”
Posted in broken government, Civics, Congress critters, Government, Politics
Tagged broken government, Democrats, language, political parties, political philosopy, Politics, Republicans
- Guess I’ll have to call back, the line is busy.
- No answer. I’ll have to call them later.
- I need directions to your house.
- Why, it cost hundreds of dollars!
- Whose turn is it to change the channel?
- Where’s the fax machine?
- I’ll check TV Guide.
Feel free to add . . .
This is the second time I’ve posted a pet peeve and it is once again about language. I was just listening to CNN – something I usually avoid as I do all morning TV – and they were reporting a story about police getting ready to blow up a residence that was full of bombs. The reader reported that “they’ll blow up this home . . . ” Ouch.
When I grew up and for the centuries before then, a building where families or single people resided (or even intended for that purpose) was a ‘house’ . In it, said people made a ‘home’. We understood ‘home’ to be pretty much where Mommy and Daddy lived – in thier house.
In the 1980’s, as residential real estate agents moved from being service providers to being masters of the universe, ‘home’ became the more marketable concept. It especially had cachet for those who’d never owned a house before.
And so today, one word has completely replaced the other and – I believe – lost meaning in the process; it’s become cheap. ‘Home’ is no longer ‘where the heart is’; it’s just a building. Usually for sale.
In news reporting, we no longer have a Federal Government or Departments of the Federal Government or a Presidency. We only have TheObamaAdministration and PresidentObama. While the phraseology is accurate enough, it contributes to a mind set that ultimately limits all discussion about national policy to the singular area of political combat. Flu shots come from TheObamaAdministration.
This isn’t all that new, but it isn’t much older than cable news. Before that time it was quite common to hear a news report say ‘the President’, or ‘today the federal government’ or “today the administration” or ‘the Treasury Department today . . . “.
Say it the other way long enough and the substance is drained from the issue – and it’s replaced by a definition of which political direction the action issues from.
Full body scanner
and . . . as of this moment, any word in this story.
I have many on my list. This one is near the top.
One outcome of the 70’s Feminist movement was the introduction of a much needed new form of address into our language, a universal, generic form of address for women.
Men had always had such a form – “Mr”. On the other hand, women were forced to broadcast their social status – by using either “Miss” or “Mrs”. It was a pretty serious handicap for working women particularly. Or a woman seeking credit.
It also created awkward moments when addressing a woman with whom you were not acquainted – Hello Miss Smith? Hello Mrs. Smith? Whoops? Sorry.
“Ms” was introduced as a sensible replacement for the previous two forms. It was immediately and widely embraced.
Except . . . except for those for whom moving wimmin’ out of the kitchen was the devil’s own work and likely the beginning of the end of our Christian nation.
So a politically correct compromise was applied and it made the situation much much worse.
Now on forms are all those annoying check boxes where I must announce myself as either:
- Mrs. – I am married and quite traditional. Thank you.
- Miss – Unmarried and a little timid, if that’s okay. Also, I work at Publix.
- Ms – None of your business, creep. I’m a ball busting feminist pinko commie dyke anyway!