Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poets, Priests, and Politicians, Part II – Those Word Thingys

I like to observe things. Life, people, pretty women (especially BackwardsGirl), squirrels, lizards, hot cars, motorcycles, and bright, shiny objects. I have to stay away from those last ones, though, they’re really pretty.

Really, really, pretty.

Oh, I left out politics and the practitioners of that dark art. There is a wide chasm between reality and what goes on inside the head of the typical politician. The more leftward they lean, the greater the chasm.

Of particular note is the way they use language to disguise their intentions. New York Senator Chuck Schumer showed us how this works when he inadvertently instructed his party cohorts to describe any attempts by Republicans to cut the budget as “extreme.” Inadvertently, since he didn’t think anyone else was listening besides his party-mates.

“I always use the word extreme,” Schumer told Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin Cardin and Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, according to New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, who was on the call without Schumer knowing it. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

It’s too bad they didn’t instruct him to just tell the truth, or to get to work cutting this bloated beast of a deficit down to a manageable size so our grandkids can have a future. He seems to follow marching orders well; he just doesn’t take them from the people he’s supposed to, namely his constituents.

But I digress.

That example was pretty blatant, but it proves that there are some folks in Washington who are willing to twist and distort the English language so they can increase their power and control over us. That’s standard operating procedure and it’s done on a regular basis by those on the left.

That twisting and distortion can also be rather subtle. In fact, it works better when it’s done that way.

I had a conversation a few years back with a friend when I noted that machinists weren’t held in very high regard by the general public anymore. I said it was because the public never heard the word “machinist” without also hearing the words “union” and “strike.” Since that phrase came out of me without thinking about it, a little light bulb went on.

That’s how it’s done.

It doesn’t need to be an outright lie to be effective. A grand lie works as well as a small one. There are subtle variations that can be just as effective.

So, why am I telling you this? You may already know how it’s done. You may also not know. If so, then just consider this an affirmation. If not, or if you know someone who seems susceptible to suggestion, you can help them by pointing this out.

You see, there’s a propensity for us humans to automatically accept any information as true. This binary acceptance of anything is also our undoing. Skepticism is a very healthy thing to have in your mental toolkit these days, especially when it comes to politics. That old adage, “Don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you hear” is a good yardstick. That might be backwards, but hey, it’s what I do.

Still, one must develop an ability to decode any statement coming from a politician. Plain language isn’t their strong point, and many statements can mean something entirely different than at first blush.

Take this for example. I’ve linked to it before, but it’s good and bears repeating: Health Care Words to Use and Avoid.

Use the term “quality, affordable health care” instead of “universal health care.”

Say "giving people control or peace of mind” instead of “public health care for all.”

Here’s my favorite: use “guaranteed” instead of “required.”

Or, “bovine-based, organic growth enhancer” instead of “bullshit.”

But also be on the lookout for those descriptors used together such as “extreme right-wing.” After a while, you could drop the word “extreme” and just use the word “right-wing” and the word “extreme” becomes implied. Repetition is the key. It works. Many times, too well. How many lefties have you talked to who could repeat, verbatim, certain talking points, but when countered with facts, fall apart into a blithering heap of name-calling and invectives?

There’s a verbal war going on out there.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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