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 October 22, 2014 17:29 GMT

CONSUMER PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices edged up slightly in September, with the overall increase held back by a third straight monthly decline in gasoline prices. The tiny gain was the latest evidence that inflation remains dormant.

The Labor Department says consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in September after having falling 0.2 percent in August. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy, also rose 0.1 percent after no gain in August.

Over the past 12 months, overall prices are up 1.7 percent and core prices are up a similar 1.7 percent. Both increases are well below the 2 percent target for inflation set by the Federal Reserve. The absence of inflationary pressures has allowed the central bank to keep interest rates at record lows to boost the economy.

SOCIAL SECURITY-COLA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says millions of older Americans who rely on federal benefits will get a 1.7 percent increase in their monthly payments next year.

It's the third year in a row the increase will be less than 2 percent.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment affects payments for more than 70 million Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

The government announced the increase Wednesday, when it released the latest measure of consumer prices. By law, the increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year.

Congress enacted automatic increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975. Until recently, the increases were rarely less than 2 percent.

AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government is adding more than 3 million vehicles to a rare warning about faulty air bags that have the potential to kill or injure drivers or passengers in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday put out a new list of vehicles, increasing the number from 4.7 million to 7.8 million. The agency urged people to get their cars repaired if they're being recalled, especially in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

The air bag inflators made by parts supplier Takata can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are inflated. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem.

The warning covers many models from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

EBOLA MONITORING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials are significantly expanding the breadth of vigilance for Ebola, saying that all travelers who come into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for symptoms of illness for 21 days.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the program will begin Monday and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.

The program will start in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says state and local health officials will check daily for fever or other Ebola symptoms.

Passengers will get kits to help them track their temperature and will be told to inform health officials daily of their status.

J&J-EBOLA VACCINE

J&J to spend up to $200M on Ebola vaccine program

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson will start safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

The health care products maker says it has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of a vaccine program being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

J&J is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic. It involves a regimen in which two vaccines are delivered two months apart. The combination provided complete protection in animals against a virus strain similar to the one causing the current outbreak in West Africa that has killed thousands of people.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company says it will also determine whether its vaccine protects against the version causing the outbreak.

MORTGAGE RISK RULES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators are proceeding with new rules that ease guidelines for banks selling mortgage securities and could mean fewer borrowers will need to make hefty down payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt the rules, which six federal agencies have been working on since 2011. Three other agencies adopted the rules Tuesday, and the Federal Reserve has scheduled a vote for Wednesday afternoon.

The rules govern the amount of risk banks must take on when they package and sell mortgage securities in a multitrillion-dollar market. In the final rules, the regulators have dropped a key requirement: a 20-percent down payment from the borrower if a bank didn't hold at least 5 percent of the mortgage securities tied to those loans on its books.

MINI-OVERSTATED GAS MILEAGE

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government has told BMW to reduce the gas mileage estimates on window stickers of four Mini Cooper models.

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, discovered the overstated mileage.

The vehicles affected are the 2014 Mini Cooper three-door and Mini Cooper three-door S models with manual and automatic transmissions. BMW must cut the highway mileage by one-to-four miles per gallon depending on the model. Estimates for city driving and combined city and highway fuel economy also must be reduced.

The EPA says it audited the Mini gas mileage and came up with lower values than BMW, which makes the cars. It's the fourth time in the past two years that the EPA has found discrepancies in the gas mileage estimates provided by an automaker.

PEW-ONLINE HARASSMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life.

The report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves.

The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn't know the person who had most recently attacked them.

Young adults -- people 18 to 29 -- were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment.

The survey was conducted between May 30 and June 30 among 3,217 respondents.

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