The 2014 dawn of 'Politispeak' is nearly upon us

Updated: Thursday, April 17, 2014
The 2014 dawn of

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Over the next two-and-a-half years, there will be two major elections in this country.

This fall we've got Governor's races, Congressional contests, local races and issues, and then in 2016, we pick a new president.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, our Tom Van Howe says it's an exciting period not only because we see who who manages to win, but because of all the new "political speak" that comes along with it.

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I know it's a little early--for me, anyway--to start talking election politics so early in the game.

But these days, even while still on the on-ramp, we've got be be paying attention to notice the newly invented cute  little words, phrases, and terms that are designed to  give new meanings to old political positions.

Here are some examples:

For those who advocate drilling for oil in never-touched areas of Alaska--no longer say "oil drilling," say "energy exploration." One term conjures up a messy, dirty, spill-plagued, and environmentally destructive undertaking. The other a calm, rational, lab coat-and clip board operation that keeps everything spiffy clean.

But they mean the same thing.

The law that got passed during President Obama's first term--one that Republicans have fought every step of the way--is called the Affordable Health Care Act. But detractors have come to call it "Obamacare," or a "government takeover." The pejorative does seem to work wonders.

My personal favorite? "Job creator." A term that came out of nowhere just a couple of years ago. You still hear it mostly on FOX News and from the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity. It refers to the rich and their corporations, who, of course, are people, too--who don't care so much about you as they do about their bottom lines.

So instead of referring to them as "soulless and greedy multinational giants," it gets softened by calling them "job creators."

Forget that they haven't been creating that many new jobs.  But  by calling them job creators, we place  them in league with philanthropists. How nice.

We soften the worries of "global warming" with "climate change."

For the record, all the examples used so far are from one guy: the super-smart Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz.

He writes 'em, they make a talking points list, and presto.

So now we're heading into a huge 30-month election and campaign period. More money will be spent for and against candidates and issues than ever before. And we are certain to hear and buzz words and phrases--all designed to confuse reality--along the way.

The key is to recognize them for what they are.

In fact, the whole process could become a parlor game, making up your own as time goes by.

Here are a few I came up with over the past couple of days:

When referring to women who still don't make as much money as men while doing the identical jobs...let's romanticize the struggle by calling them "workplace pioneers." Gives you kind of an easy, peaceful feeling.

To the fraction of one percent of us who will be spending untold sums of money on the coming elections, we could simply call them "free speech enablers." That way we won't be reminded that they can buy free speech  in ways we can't compete with.

And for those who continue waging war against "gay marriage" and "marriage equality," we can refer to them with a much more acceptable label of "gay agenda activists."

Instead of talking about the desperate avoidance of giant potholes, just call it "selective motoring."

It really doesn't take much to make something more negative or more positive. Give a try.

Send me your best, and we'll air the best of those right here, sometime in October.

Let's call it "Politispeak." Let the games begin.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 21, 2014 07:34 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Asian stock markets were dampened by a weak China manufacturing survey Thursday. But Japan gained on the prospect of a stronger dollar after Fed minutes showed policymakers are leaning toward their first rate hike since the 2008 financial crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 15,575.82 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 5,645.70. South Korea's Kospi sank 1.2 percent to 2,047.77 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent to 24,948.59. China's Shanghai Composite was down 0.7 percent to 2,225.44.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department today will report on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. In the previous week, more people applied for benefits, though the figure remained near pre-recession levels.

The Conference Board will issue its index of leading economic indicators for July. In June, the index, which is designed to predict the economy's future health, increased for a fifth straight month.

The National Association of Realtors will report on existing-home sales in July. In June, sales rose for a third straight month, lifting the figure to the highest level in eight months.

Freddie Mac reports on average U.S. mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent the previous week.

Also today, two big retailers report their quarterly financial results. Sears reports before the market opens. Gap reports after the closing bell.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG (AP) -- A survey says Chinese factory activity expanded in August at a slower rate, suggesting the recovery in the world's No. 2 economy is losing momentum.

The HSBC preliminary purchasing managers' index fell to a three-month low of 50.3 from 51.7 in July.

The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

China's economy had been showing signs of revival after a slowdown, with growth edging higher to 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter. But the report on the country's vast manufacturing industry shows the recovery is uneven.

Communist leaders in Beijing have already unveiled small-scale stimulus to bolster growth. HSBC economists said "more policy support is needed to consolidate the recovery."

The final version of the survey is due Sep. 1.

BANK OF AMERICA-SETTLEMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Officials directly familiar with intense private negotiations have told The Associated Press that Bank of America has reached a record settlement of nearly $17 billion with the government. The aim is to resolve a federal investigation into the bank's role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis.

One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press said the bank will pay $9.65 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion. The official spoke on grounds of anonymity because the settlement was not scheduled to be announced until Thursday at the earliest.

The deal is the largest settlement arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. It follows agreements in the last year with Citigroup for $7 billion and with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $13 billion.

Like the Bank of America deal, those settlements were a mixture of hard cash and "credits" for various forms of consumer aid that the banks promised to provide in coming years.

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY-SETTLEMENT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Warren Buffett's company has agreed to an $896,000 penalty for failing to give advance notice to l regulators about a December 2013 investment in wallboard maker USG Corp.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. should have notified the Justice Department before it converted $325 million of senior USG notes it held into 21.4 million shares of the company.

Because Berkshire was already a significant USG shareholder, antitrust laws required it to notify regulators because of the size of the deal. At the end of June, Berkshire held just over 39 million USG shares.

Berkshire did correct its initial filing after the USG investment and clarify that it should have notified officials. But regulators said Berkshire made a similar mistake six months earlier.

COAL ASH

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.

The General Assembly on Wednesday approved legislation addressing the problem unmasked six months ago when a coal ash spill from a Duke Energy plant coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge. The measure goes to Gov. Pat McCrory before becoming law.

Environmentalists say the legislation improved on earlier efforts, but didn't go far enough.

Lawmakers say the measure would reverse a Superior Court judge's ruling that Duke must take "immediate action" to eliminate groundwater contamination that crosses onto a neighboring property.

Environmental attorney Frank Holleman says that will allow Duke to study the problem indefinitely before starting cleanup.

UPS-DATA BREACH

ATLANTA (AP) -- Some customers of The UPS Store may have had their credit and debit card information exposed by a computer virus found on systems at 51 stores in 24 states.

A spokeswoman for UPS says the information includes names, card numbers and postal and email addresses from about 100,000 transactions between Jan. 20 and Aug. 11.

United Parcel Service Inc. said Wednesday that it was among U.S. retailers who got a Department of Homeland Security bulletin about the malware on July 31. The malware is not identified by current anti-virus software.

Spokeswoman Chelsea Lee says the company isn't aware of any fraud related to the attack.

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