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January 23, 2012

Frank Luntz is a dick


A Rose By Any Other Name

Would still smell as sweet - but it sure wouldn't sound the same  - Here Mi Esposa,  I got you a Thorny Weed Blossom for Valentine's Day. Just doesn't seem to have the same ring to it, does it?

We seem to have entered an era where the art of the argument is being replaced by the art of deception. Where folks no longer have to learn the details of any particular issue because some pollster or political hack is going to neatly bundle it up in one word or phrase that does not describe the issue - but rather describes how we should feel about the issue. 

Although these tactics have been around forever, the man responsible for recently raising this to an art form is a gentleman called Frank Luntz. He is a consultant that creates language designed to help whoever is paying him at the moment (generally GOP fellas and FOX news folks). He was the one that came up with Climate Change (to replace the nastier Global Warming), and the Death Tax ( to replace the more mundane Inheritance Tax).  Basically, Frank forms focus groups (or as I call them, fuckus groups) to determine what words will make people react emotionally, rather then intellectually to a cause or an issue. He is also a prominent pollster - AND - as we know, polls are pretty meaningless (http://wordsofwhizdumb.com/2011/08/poll-duncing.html) and even more so when they are constructed in a way to reach a foregone conclusion. 

Now, I'm not an innocent. I did participate in the Fuckus Group with Cheney (left), Frank (standing of course) and President Bush to come up with the name for the Iraq War. Cheney wanted to call itOperation Mushroom Cloud 9 (he thought we could use that Temptations hit song as an anthem). I was for Operation The Sunni We Get Out The Better and George - well George liked to doodle a lot. Frank came up with the winner (Shock and Awe) and we were all home in time for dinner. 

The lesson I learned that day is this - if someone is creating a new word to describe something that is perfectly understandable already - hold on tight to your jeans (right around the ankles). Let's visit some recent classics.

Climate Change

We started out with Global Warming and now have moved on to Climate Change. Just for clarity sakes, Climate Change has been a termed used forever by scientists and their ilk to describe variations in the planets temperature - both cold and hot. Global Warming on the other hand was the term commonly used to explain the effect of greenhouse gases on the planet's temperature. But in 2002 Frank Luntz persuaded his GOP patrons to start using the term Climate Change to replace the Global Warming. Why? - because according to Frank, Climate Change sounded less frightening to the average Jane or Joe. And, of course, he was right.

 <---------- This is Global Warming

And this is Climate Change --------->



Much nicer sounding and less frightening for sure. I am pretty confident that many folks would not worry so much about sinning if they were told that, rather then going to hell, they were going to experience climate change. Folks even use the phrase to express relief (i.e., what I need, is a change in climate).


As a point of confession, I must disclose that I have abused the word play tactic myself. . Mi Esposa has been complaining lately about my - well - how to I put this - lack of sexual attention on my part. Now, I suppose a Doctor might refer to this as Erectile Dysfunction. I prefer to say that I am merely experiencing Climax Change. 


Okay. not that that's settled.. moving on.

Job Creators

A term that was not even is use until very recently and one that is another gift from Frank (after all, he is a word creator). It was created as a result of initiatives to tax the wealthy (ala - letting the Bush tax cuts expire). 

Up to about six months ago, I never heard the label - And now - every last mf-ing politician and pundit is using the phrase in a mindless, robotic fashion - like they were Stepford Wives rather than rational living human beings. "Don't tax the job creators ad naseum". 

It probably is effective. You may want to tax the wealthy, the banks, the oil companies, the hedge fund managers. But label them Job Creators and - wala - you may feel a different emotional response. What I find most insidious about this is the very fact that it is not even fundamentally correct. Wealth does not create jobs. The more accurate formula is something like:
  • I make a product. 
  • People buy my product.
  • I become wealthy from selling my product.
  • I hire people so that I can make and sell more of my product.
 My wealth did not create the jobs. The fact that people bought my product had to first create my wealth. In other words, the real job creators are consumers. We don't buy - and wealthy folks aren't creating jobs regardless of whether they are  paying a 5% tax rate or a 95% tax rate. So, if you really want tax relief for Job Creators, you would raise the Federal minimum wage, decrease taxes on the middle class, extend unemployment benefits and a whole host of other things to put more money in the pocket of consumers. 

Obama Care

President Obama, along with a cadre of other politicians championed health care reform. That resulted in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010. However, you probably now pretty much know it is Obama Care.

Those who are against the legislation use the term Obama Care as a pejorative knowing that in all likelihood that word association works. Although my Republican friends are most apt to use the term in this fashion, I cannot blame them or my friend Franky Luntz for it's creation. Instead, it was created by journalists as a quick catchy nickname (guess it was too tedious to keep on typing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Folks against health care reform smartly latched on to this term much in the same manner as they did death panels - another great mis-direction first coined by Sarah Palin. Her argument was that a government panel would be in charge of rationing health care based on the social worthiness of each patient. A concept she found evil (note: I repudiate her for these remarks). Of course, her premise was completely false and, ironically, she had no problem with a system that currently rations health care on the basis of financial worthiness  Regardless, the term death panel permeated the airwaves for months.
Put Grandma to death - and I'll have a soy latte and a bagel
As a note, I was required to sit on one of those death panels and I can tell you it was not a very fun job. Sure, we got to put the elderly and sickly to death, but it wasn't all good times - the hours were grueling and the coffee sucked (Christ - how hard can it be to properly cater a Death Panel?).   

Anyway, I have to blame the Democrats here. They could have come up with a handier name or acronym for journalists to use in the first place. Something like the Republicans did with the Patriot Act. In fact, Americans are pretty much patriotic folks - What if they had called it the Patriot Care Act. - who could be against that? 

There are many other misdirections. Mr. Luntz brought us energy exploration to replace oil drilling and death tax to replace inheritance tax. I haven't been able to independently verify this yet, but I am pretty sure that he invented the term human output to replace shit (or maybe it was the other way around). These folks are just shameless in their um.....Ah - just shameless.....I mean.......

Oh Fok!!!!!!! What's that unbearable pain in my friggin head? Oh God, am I having an aneurysm - I knew it! - there was no reason to quit smoking. I was going to die of a brain explosion anyway. Please - I promise I will believe in God if only I can get through....

Wait a minute. That's not an aneurysm. I'm having an God damn epiphany. I'm a foking hypocrite. Us lefty liberals are just as bad as the tighty righty conservatives in the use of mis-direction. Yeah, they called it Obama Care - but I called them the Bush Tax Cuts. I could have just easily referred to them as a small decrease in the upper marginal tax brackets. I made Dick Cheny look like the devil and Frank Luntz to look like Frankenstein (although admittedly, there is some resemblance and I can't  help believe his parents took notice of that when they named him). And what about that Fuckus Group remark - out of line. And the lefties use of  Global Warming - how friggin scary is that? It is so frightening that one might think it was selected to muzzle debate on it's nature or causes (i.e., stop everything before the planet melts!). Shouldn't we just call it CO2 emissions, or it's simpler cousin - pollution? Lefties came up with the term the Industrial Military complex (scary sounding) rather then simply the defense industry .  It is time for me to look myself in the mirror and say Et tu Brute. I will no longer fall prey to the word play tactics from the left or the right.  

Besides, there are so many things that need new names. Mi Esposa went clothes shopping the other day at a place called the Dress Barn. Really - that's the best they could do? Where is it located - just next store to the Bra Stable? - Across the street from the Panty Shed?  Frank Luntz should get to work on that progblem. But I digress. 

Sooooo - let's say we are legitimately divided on concerns  such as global warming (fok - I did it again) - CO2 emissions, tax rates, health care reform and other issues. I think where we can unite is insisting on our politicians and pundits spending more time on educating and persuading us on these issues rather then trying to fool us. Whether from the mouths of lefties or righties, you can be pretty sure if a new phrase is introduced simply to invoke an emotional rather then intellectual response - they are in fact trying to fool us. 

As my good friend Roger Daltrey sang - I won't get fooled again. Or, is President Bush famously proclaimed - fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice - awkward pause - I won't get fooled again. Damn - I did it again - no reason to attack the President there - I just can't stop myself. I still have a long way to go - or - I am still learning - or - I am still maturing. Whatever, a rose by any other name......