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Orwellian Newspeak has been thrust upon us by the new administration. For those of you who either don’t remember your summer reading from high school or chose not to read it at all, “Newspeak” was the means by which George Orwell, in his novel 1984, demonstrated the power of an oppressive regime’s control over dialogue and thus thoughts. The novel describes newspeak as “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.”
Language is the key to our very understanding. Studies have shown that most people think and contemplate by using a running dialogue in their head. Through the manipulation of the language that is used in the marketplace of ideas one can essentially control the parameters of any discussion. Essentially, the words used to describe the thought controls the thought. Here’s a quick refresher on Newspeak.
The basic idea behind Newspeak is to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink) which reinforce the total dominance of the State. Similarly, Newspeak root words served as both nouns and verbs, which allowed further reduction in the total number of words; for example, “think” served as both noun and verb, so the word thought was not required and could be abolished. A staccato rhythm of short syllables was also a goal, further reducing the need for deep thinking about language. (See duckspeak.) Successful Newspeak meant that there would be fewer and fewer words – dictionaries would get thinner and thinner.
In addition, words with opposite meanings were removed as redundant, so “bad” became “ungood”. Words with comparative and superlative meanings were also simplified, so “better” became “gooder”, and “best” likewise became “goodest”. Intensifiers could be added, so “great” became “plusgood”, and “excellent” and “splendid” likewise became “doubleplusgood”. Adjectives were formed by adding the suffix “-ful” to a root word (e.g., “goodthinkful”, orthodox in thought), and adverbs by adding “-wise” (“goodthinkwise”, in an orthodox manner). In this manner, as many words as possible were removed from the language. The ultimate aim of Newspeak was to reduce even the dichotomies to a single word that was a “yes” of some sort: an obedient word with which everyone answered affirmatively to what was asked of them
The new administration has instituted at least two instances of Newspeak principles in the first 60 days. First, the administration has decided that we will no longer refer to terrorist attacks as such. They now fall under the category of “man made disasters.” How reassuring. Under the Obama administration we can be certain will be free of terror attacks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes man made disasters as follows: “Man-made disasters are events which, either intentionally or by accident cause severe threats to public health and well-being. Because their occurrence is unpredictable, man-made disasters pose an especially challenging threat that must be dealt with through vigilance, and proper preparedness and response.” In fact, Janet Napolitano, the Head of Homeland Security, now refuses to use the words terrorism or terrorist threats. She calls their use part of the old “politics of fear.” By eliminating the use of the word “terrorism” the administration seeks to transform attacks on U.S. sovereignty from acts of war to merely unpredictable events similar to those caused by nature in the form of hurricanes or floods. Man made disasters “feel” much more palatable than terror. I know I feel safer now.
Further, the Obama administration had decided to no longer use the term “enemy combatant” instead substituting it with the term “detainee.” The Obama administration is seeking to sanitize an unsavory ingredient in combat, that of the enemy. It appears that under the new administration there will be no acknowledgment that the US actually has enemies. Individuals seeking to seek and destroy this nation are merely regular old gents hoping to be the source of man made disasters. Perhaps we should give this a try with the economy as well. Referring to the current state of the economy as “doubleplusungood” is sure to boost consumer confidence.
Today is the 64th day of Obama’s presidency: the honeymoon is almost over. The US is trillions of dollars in debt, the jobless rate is rising, and not even Bill Gates can get a loan from the frozen-solid banks. Do any of those things make you chuckle? Probably not, but by now all of you have probably seen Obama’s interview where he openly laughed about the problems facing the United States. Obama stated he needed a little “gallows humor” to make it through the day. I’m still not laughing.
To try to put Obama’s second public blunder in four days into perspective (See Obama and the Special Olympics for number 1), I thought I’d draw a comparison to FDR’s fireside chats of the early 1930s. Although I’m not the first person to compare Obama to Roosevelt, I may be the first person to use it to condemn Obama’s actions rather than praise them.
Whether you like or dislike FDR’s politics, it is difficult to deny that he was a statesman and connected well with the American public. Much like Obama’s purpose for accepting interviews with Jay Leno and 60 Minutes, Roosevelt used public communication to reach out to Americans. FDR spoke slowly and used conventional language at the fireside to inform the general public about the programs being implemented through the New Deal. He made clear attempts to engage and include all Americans in his talks. Roosevelt did not speak in a condescending manner, but rather spoke as a wise leader, stressing that Americans should not fear in the trying times facing the country. He even took the time to express his appreciation of the American public. He stated, “I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me…”
To say the least Obama is not FDR. Not only is Obama’s tone often condescending, it likely reaches the level of narcissistic. His public appearances in the past week can be likened to those of actors publicizing their most recent movies. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama doesn’t appear to care whether he takes the opportunities in the public spotlight to calm nerves. Instead, by laughing and joking about the failing economy, Obama ostracizes himself from the millions of Americans currently struggling to make ends meet. Any wisdom he may have is trumped by his overbearing effort to be cool and popular.
Luckily, more and more Americans are realizing that we don’t need a cool President who makes good NCAA Tourney picks. Right now we need a wise leader who can engage and include Americans in a plan that is positive for the entire country, not just for the publicity of one man: the President.
Credit: Michael Ramirez
Apparently the Obama Administration’s idea of “caring for him who shall have borne the battle” is to charge veteran’s private insurance companies for service-related treatment. Needless to say, many veterans groups aren’t too pleased.
Remember when Bush 43 glibly told liberals, “I won,” after they voiced concerns over his fiscal policy. Yeah, neither could I; however, that is precisely how President Obama responded to concerns over his spending proposals. In other words, Obama seems to be adopting the position on governance that says, ‘I will listen to your ideas, but only if they fit within my narrow set of liberal policy principles.’ Austan Goolsbee, the Chief Economist for Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board recently said with regard to conservative healthcare proposals, “if these ideas can fit in with [Obama’s] principles, then we’ll consider them. And if we go through and they don’t, then he won’t consider them.”
Another aspect of Obama’s “post-partisan” approach is to attack high profile members of the media who dare speak out against his policies, via Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. To date, Gibbs has savaged CNBC Correspondent Rick Santelli for suggesting a modern-day tea party (guess what? they are happening all across the country), Rush Limbaugh was purposefully attacked, “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer, and most recently former VP Dick Cheney.
Between Obama’s penchant for only listening to ideas that fit within his “principles,” and the use of the White House Press Office to publicly attack those with whom they disagree, the empty suit is FINALLY starting to fill in. And is anyone surprised that Obama seems to be trading “hope and change” for fear, loathing, and personal attacks?
While I am not surprised, a question still remains: why? Why would the President feel it is appropriate or necessary to ignore other points of view, even though he often reads from the tele-prompter how important it is to respect them? Why would he feel it is appropriate or necessary to unleash his press secretary to attack any media personality that challenges his policies?
As Obama makes his case for early admittance to the liberal tax and spend hall of fame, his increased attacks on conservative viewpoints begin to make sense. Taking the debate down to a personal level narrows the conversation and serves to distract from the actual policies being implemented. Clever, huh? I’d agree in the short run, but as people begin to understand the Obama administration’s tactics, their prospects for public support will rival that of Nancy Pelosi. Assuming they are preparing for such an outcome, then an approach that attempts to spend all of its political capital in the early run would be understandable. If political suicide could make sense. But these guys are so much smarter than I am. Surely they have considered what happens when you become a lame duck in your first term?
By teaching leadership, Christian and family values, and citizenship, the Boy Scouts has long been considered one of America’s strong conservative organizations. Every President since William Taft has accepted the position of being the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. Recently, however, several activist groups have publicly criticized Obama for even considering taking the position. Their argument is based on the fact that the Boy Scouts exclude homosexuals and atheists from their ranks. I would like to pose a slightly different question: Why would the Boy Scouts want a person like Obama to be its honorary president?
Sure, there is a long tradition in place. Taft took office in 1909, and in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was founded. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts, and correspondingly, would mark 100 years of American Presidents as honorary presidents of the Boy Scouts. However, according to the Boy Scout By Laws there is nothing requiring the organization to accept Obama as its president. As another historical first associated with the Obama administration, I believe the Boy Scouts should pass on Obama for 12 simple reasons.
The Scout Law sets out twelve rules that every scout should live by. It states, “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. A person need not delve deep into the Scout Law to determine that Obama would not make a good scout.
Trustworthy and Loyal. There seem to be countless issues surrounding Obama that should make us question his trustworthiness and loyalty to America. For instance, I for one, have still not seen his birth certificate, and although Obama promised to cut the pork, the stimulus package included thousands of dollars of funding directed toward his policy projects.
Helpful. According to the Boy Scouts website “helpful” means, in part, “He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.” Regardless of how you look at it, Obama was a product of the corrupt Illinois political machine.
Friendly, Courteous, Kind, and Cheerful. Although on a personal level, Obama may meet these requirements when interacting with friends, his recent interaction with Rush Limbaugh certainly brings questions to light as to these values.
Obedient. Here, I question where Obama’s obedience lies. A scout should be obedient to his community and country. Obama’s obedience may be focused elsewhere .
Thrifty. One word: Bailout. Obama has no chance of upholding this value.
Brave. A scout should have “the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.” Obama’s greatest challenges will arise in the future of his presidency. When he is finally tested, likely because of international threats, we will see the true measure of his bravery. I hope for all of our sake that he can uphold this value.
Clean. Obama has admitted to drug use. Further, the Boy Scouts website notes that clean includes choosing the company of those who live by high standards. I don’t even feel the need to address this issue. He fails here as well.
Reverent. It seems, at least to me, that Obama pushes religion to the backburner and is afraid to publicly say that he believes that Jesus is his savior. That alone, in my mind, is enough for me to decide that he is not reverent. If that is not enough for you to decide, then consider his interaction with the radical Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
If you look closely, you will find that these twelve rules exist not only as the Scout Law but also lie within the core conservative values. Unfortunately, America failed to assess these values when it made its leadership chioces in 2008. We can only hope the Scouts don’t make the same mistakes this year and thus set a positive example for conservatives in the years and elections to come.
“This just in, Obama lifted the George Bush ban on stem cell research…and now Obama really did make people like Christopher Reid walk! Get your lollipop on the way out!”
Ladies and Gentlemen, doesn’t that sound fantastic?! But hey, we left out something…Embryonic stem cells, research that has NEVER generated a cure (as opposed to adult stem cells), and…its on EMBRYOS…a.k.a. experimenting on Unborn Children! I would bet that most people would not support someone harvesting an unborn child to experiment on them…as it flies in the face of the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for that unborn child, but unfortunately, we are LOSING THE P.R. WAR.
Other than our “Navy Seals” on the conservative front: Coulter, Limbaugh, etc, there are few people that are even taking on the P.R. War (Breitbart has at least been giving it a try with Big Hollywood), and as a result, we lose. Let me clarify the point. When I talk to some conservatives, they say (as we had one comment on a recent article) that we are no longer intellectual because we have Sean Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh, and Beck. Three words: Krauthammer, George Will, and Fr. Neuhaus what we actually have is both a popular and intellectual voice, which is a great thing. I’ll go further.
Recently I attended a symposium where some very intelligent liberals spoke. Afterwards the audience talked about how wordy and confusing their discussions were. Very true. Academics speaks to a certain taste, and popular speaks to another. And guess what?! Entertainment speaks to another. We as conservatives have GOT to understand the power of entertainment, the popular voice, the common understanding. STOP just saying “low taxes,” and start saying, “We have a lot of people that need relief, that need the burden of taxes off of them. We need to cut more than income taxes, so the family next door has more to put on the table…” STOP saying “We don’t need Universal Healthcare,” and DO say “We need healthcare for everyone, and we will do it this way: we’ll give hospitals easy paths to construction, and simplify insurance by streamlining regulations.”
And when Obama has a crowd together to applaud experimenting on unborn children, let’s understand the power of the audience. Remember, Obama ONLY had 52% of the vote against a very weak candidate. People do not love him like the media is saying, but we have GOT to provide an alternative.
At a family gathering this past weekend I encountered, as one does with family gatherings, a variety of viewpoints from folks spread across the nation. It provides a chance to avoid the vicious intellectual laziness which often plagues conservatives who are not challenged.
The topic of discussion centered on Obama’s economic plan, and I said that I couldn’t support Obama’s economic plan and expected it to fail. He responded, “Don’t you want him to succeed?!” Knowing that I gladly confess to the lordship of Christ over my life, he expected my undying support for our nation’s leader. But God does not only call us to love with all our heart, but also with all our mind.
And so, at that moment, a blisteringly true analogy arose in my mind and I said this:
Suppose that I borrowed 500 large [$500,000] from a loan shark named Knuckles, and I have two options. Option 1 is that I can save and budget and pay it of little by little. Option 2 is to pay it off in one lump sum. If I choose Option 1, I must be faithful to do it over the next several years and it won’t come due for a while. If I choose Option 2, it comes due tomorrow.
Then I see a man who has a small concrete pit. He claims he’s trying to pound this lead into gold to pay my debt. He says “Choose Option 2, because if I’ll pound this lead long enough, it will turn into gold.” Should I praise the guy’s efforts and refuse Option 1 in the hopes that Option 2 will suddenly prove to be a great success? Surely not, especially if I want Knuckes the loan shark not to break my legs!
Let’s review the historical record and see how Obama’s plan, deficit spending, has as much of a chance to save our economy as pounding lead to turn it into gold:
Keynesian economists (those who believe you can “deficit spend” and “jumpstart” the economy) have been rescued twice in the times it has been tried, but by private enterprise. The inflation begun in FDR’s programs was held at bay by the massive private enterprise which took off during WWII. Then we had a huge military industrial market that had nowhere to go after WWII. We maintained this and it somewhat staved off the effects of the weakened dollar, but not for long, because LBJ came in and offered the socialist “Great Society”, where we would declare war on hunger. He put tons of funding into government programs, and with the withdrawal from Vietnam in later years, we were left with climbing inflation and a bad economy. This resulted in Carter, who proposed exactly what Obama’s suggesting.
Carter’s choice was so wrong that he earned his own economic vocabulary term, stagflation. It nearly killed us because we really had no engagement of private enterprise to compensate for the fallacious Keynsian premises of Carter’s bailout.
Reagan took over and went full-out on the USSR, which staved the decline of the dollar. With the collapse of the USSR, and George H.W. Bush’s drawdown of the military, we lost the private enterprise directed at military Cold War spending which was keeping us afloat, a floatation which, in WWII and the Cold War, had masked the effects of the inherent fallacy of “government spending to rescue an economy.” Thus, we were set up for Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid” where he could point out the failing value of the dollar and blame it on conservative policies, when in reality it was bloated gov’t spending that had created the hole and private enterprise which had historically kept us from sinking any lower.
Now, we have Obama wanting to do the same thing: deficit spend, and on top of that he wants to pass huge taxes on corporate America, the only group which kept us financially stable during the previous failed attempts to do the same. I suggest that this is alchemy—hoping for something that can’t possibly work, with real consequences coming down the road, not just from Knuckles the loan shark, but from the generations to come.
Of course, then, I shouldn’t give Obama points for trying something that has no possibility of working, but I should stand firmly to convince him and others in the liberal leadership to change course, to promote the free market, and give up dreams of fixing this problem with the futility of deficit spending.
It appears that the President’s official policy with regard to fixing an ailing economy is to throw in everything including the kitchen sink, and his great grandchildren’s future. This is a terrible situation to put ourselves in after admittedly irresponsible spending by the previous administration. However, two wrongs certainly don’t make a right.
While the President is pursuing historic spending measures, it appears that something else is in the works. The media is giving the President’s spending habits as cursory of a review as they did of his campaign. The official commentary coming out of Washington is to attack anyone who publicly questions Obamanomics. But why? Could it be convenient for them to pursue biting personal attacks in place of honest disagreement, or debate? Further, why isn’t the media upholding its designated reason for existence, to hold government accountable? Sure, we have heard some challenges to the spending, but NOTHING compared to what the broad public is saying. So who does the media represent here anyway? The President, or the People? You decide.
In addition, once the good, hard-working people of America rescue the economy through ingenuity, innovation, and broad retooling of their various industries, who is going to get the credit? I bet Robert Gibbs, the President’s mouthpiece, will let us know. Think of it as President Obama’s own “Mission Accomplished” banner. Wait for it and see. But this time around, don’t expect the media to be so unkind to the President. Quit the opposite, as they will likely canonize him.
This may be my crystal ball gazing moment for the week, but the script seems to be set. Just in time for Tuesday, November 6, 2012…