Sunday, July 31, 2011

MSNBC and Language

Chris Jansing

You know the old saying, "Language matters"? It does, and I was reminded of that this morning on the treadmill while watching MSNBC talking babe Chris Jansing's show focusing on the debt ceiling negotiations. (Not bad-looking, I might add-Jansing not the negotiations.)

Anyway, there was a news-ticker thread running at the bottom of the screen saying, "Will tea party force America to default? Weigh in at" (Feel free to weigh in, if you wish.)

(Ed is MSNBC butter and egg man Ed Schultz.)

Some of the terms that I kept hearing over and over again were, "revenue"-as opposed to taxes), "right-wingers", and "progressives". Of course, liberals will never use the term "left-wingers", preferring the term "progressives."

I concede that conservatives also eschew the term "right-winger" in favor of conservatives, and will make liberal (no pun intended) use of the term, "left-winger". They don't say, "revenue enhancements". They say taxes. Take your pick. It cuts both ways.

For the sake of you younger readers, especially those of you majoring in community studies at UC-Santa Cruz (America's Wackiest University), "progressive" was a term coined during the Cold War when the communists and their fellow-travelers referred to themselves as "progressives" instead of "communists" and "fellow travelers". "Communist" was a dirty word then, so the term, "progressive" sounded nicer-just as it does today to describe far-left ideologues, many of whom still have Marxist beliefs. That's right. I said it.

There was also a lot of back and forth discussion about how there were both Republicans and Democrats opposed to the developing deal. Who were those folks? The "tea party, the right-wing Republicans" and the Democratic "progressives." (Well, what would you rather be, children-a right-winger or a progressive?)

Chris also had on another MSNBC babe, Richard Wolffe (with 2 f's), bemoaning the fact that the proposed deal, as currently formulated, has a clause requiring committee meetings on further cuts, while having no such clause requiring future discussions on taxes. (He actually used the word "taxes". Must have been a slip of the tongue.)

Richard Wolffe- MSNBC commentator and author, who wrote  a children's fairy tale on President Obama.

As I said, conservatives and Fox News will use language on the other side to make their points. What is important here is that the reader, listener or watcher should be aware of the alternative vocabularies being used to make a point even while appearing to be objective. Take this piece you are reading now, for example. It may appear to be objective......
ahem......however, if you read carefully between the lines and look at the terms I use, you must then ask yourself, is Fouse giving us facts...or opinions.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Actually, the Progressive movement originated in the Republican Party before there was a Communist International, but as they were never in control of the party apparatus (except in progressive states like Wisconsin), during the Depression many of them made common cause with Roosevelt's New Deal, and during the 1950s their voting constituencies actually shifted to the Democrats, showing considerable strength in states like Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa...

There was a Progressive Party that split from the Republican ticket in 1924, under Robert M. La Follette, and another Progressive Party formed in 1948, with substantial communist support. After that party collapsed, communists sort of hung on to the label, partly for the reasons Gary describes. A lot of frugal, hard-working German Americans, among others, were Progressives at one time.

Language does matter, but all the terms Gary cites, which are favorites of many pundits, have lost their meaning entirely.

When it comes to "taxes" and "revenue enhancements," this vocabulary betrays the essential cowardice of both parties. Democrats don't want to admit that debts have to be paid, and Republicans don't want to admit that it takes money to pay them.

Gary Fouse said...


You must admit taces is the accurate word, not revenue enhancements.

Why should the taxpayers have to pay for the profligate spending of govt? It is they who have been irresponsible. Stop the pork. Stop the social spending in areas the govt has no business in, get rid of the Dept of Ed. and a bunch of other useless agencies and you can pay off the debt without raising taxes.

Ah yes. Someday, they will call it the Fousian economic theory, and it will be taught in universities, all over the land....

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"Why should the taxpayers have to pay for the profligate spending of govt?"

1) Because the government has no revenue except for tax revenue.

2) Because the programs most available to cut, spend money that most taxpayers want spent, for their own benefit.

3) Because taxpayers get to elect the bozos who vote on the budgets and the taxes. That's what "representative democracy" is all about.

What source of money are you thinking will be tapped to pay the government's bills?

When you find out a source of revenue available to pay off the government's bills which will not cost taxpayers a dime, let me know what it is. We'll all be glad to see it happen --- but don't borrow it from the National Bank of China.