Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Language as Power

Reflecting on the new American Reality (post-9/11) it is interesting to think of recent changes in language used in political rhetoric. "Flip flop" is a particularly powerful example of language that is used to tremendous olitical advantage when chosen carefully. The term "flip flop" will always be associated with John Kerry, thanks to one poorly worded utterance during a campaign speech. It is powerful because it is simple, catchy, and "funny" in that it is easily used as a punchline, therefore increasing its chances of being repeated. The term also evokes a visual image that can be tied to the idea of John Kerry being liberal, like so many of his sandal-wearing supporters. Flip flops are cheap, casual, unserious, potentially smelly, and unprofessional. Recent cases of branding Republican's as flip-floppers (e.g. Mitt Romney on abortion) show that the term can be used by either side, but its effect isn't the same perhaps because the left doesn't feel ownership over the term.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

George W. Bush: Political Animal


George W. Bush is nervous and awkward in this video. So much so that you feel sorry for him at times. He is so clearly in over his head when matched up against Larry King.

But at times Bush hits his stride, and you can see how he's managed to get so far. He is a political animal. Bush may not know too many "facts", or be able to understand complex "subjects", but he knows who's hand to shake and who's ass to kiss. And he certainly knows how to shake hands and kiss asses. His specialty is knowing what he's supposed to believe, and what is supposed to be the right thing, and how to express it in a way that reassures people. He is a master of projecting confidence when it is most painfully obvious he ought not have any confidence at all.

He and his wife both live in a constant state of trying to please everyone around them. It must be a hellish life. In this video you can see it on their faces.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bill Maher Says...

The Blog | Bill Maher: New Rule | The Huffington Post

Bill Maher on America's obsession with political blunders.

He speaks of what he knows, Bill does. It was Maher who lost his job on ABC by saying that the 9/11 hijackers were hardly "cowards". He had a point, of course, but the implication was too much for the public to handle, apparently. They jumped on him, egged on by the media, and got turfed. It wasn't the first time he said something controversial, of course, after all the show was called "Politically Incorrect". His bread and butter was controversy.

But every controversy has its tipping point, and Bill found this out quickly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nothing To Hide

And now, nothing can be hid.

Just wanted to mark this day as the day vast amounts of my personal data became consolidated by Google. Now that I've upgraded to the new version of Blogger, I am forced to log in with my Google account.

Now my search history, browsing history and blog posts are all stored by one company.

Today I was forced to abandon the last strands of anonymity to which I was grasping. It was always an illusion of sorts, but it wrought tangible effects on my online behaviour, and I assume this is true for many. The massive expansion of the internet is due partly to the anonymous, i.e. faceless, nature of online communication. Would we be so bold to state our mind if we were standing at a podium, rather than sitting behind a screen?

Surely not all of this is lost, however. We still sit behind screens to write our words, and whether we are "truly" anonymous is not really a question, since we never really were. But those of us who write on the web reveal much more than others, who simply search. And does the loss of anonymity for bloggers change anything? Certainly every thoughtful blogger at some time must say they have nothing to hide, and accept that someone might actually learn who they are. And upon reflection, this is what blogging is all about, isn't it?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine

A great article on Rush Limbaugh's recent attack on Michael J. Fox.

It sends me on tangent about the inscrutable nature of the "religious right" these days. It seems they are increasingly stubborn to face facts. And not surprisingly, either, given the brilliance of their media strategy, and their infiltration of the mainstream media. The ugly facts of our new reality, and the obvious incompetence of our leaders is cognitive dissonance swiftly snuffed, through fear, faith and respect for authority.

It a scenario that is self-perpetuating. The greater the fear, the greater the faith, and so long as the president appears to be a man of faith, they follow steadfastly.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What Comes After YouTube

What comes after YouTube indeed.

With our lives spilling onto YouTube like a new bodily fluid, what will we learn?

Will we learn that we were right when we decided that political correctness was a silly little concept to the trash heap of American culture?

Or will we realize that there really is something to be said for being politically correct, as I define it here. Politically correct means not _unduly_ offending other groups of people. That is, when not necessary, or without reflection or recognition of the underlying prejudice. Speaking without prejudice.

Political correctness does not necessarily infringe on freedom of expression. One can make a point without loading it with blanket statements about groups. No one has the right to defame or degrade a group, any more than one has the right to defame or degrade an individual.

I think the term "political correctness" has died an unfortunate death, thanks to the media. Having written and televised countless stories framed as lynchings by politically correct mobs, the media serves to highlight the moral judgments involved. These stories present a clash of individual rights (i.e. freedom of expression) versus the rights of groups (i.e. freedom from oppression). Finding the balance between these rights has left political correctness as a convenient scapegoat for countless injustices.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush Says the Darndest Things: Miserable Rainy Day Edition

It is really, really fucking cold today. It is lightly raining, but the sky is grey and seems like it only goes about 20 feet up. It's the kind of cold that soaks through your clothes.

So to cheer us up, we have this gem via the Chimp-O-Matic.

I think --tide turning --see, as I remember --I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of --it's easy to see a tide turn --did I say those words?
--George w. Bush

Washington, DC

Beautiful. A little glimpse of self-reflection, perhaps? Is it possible Bush is actually aware of the absurdity of his speeches. Does he actually stop and think, "my God, I can't believe I can get away with this bullshit..."

It reminds me of the long forgotten "potted plant" comment he made once while stumping during his first term. Letterman showed it on his show once, and it seemed like Bush had a seizure or something. He became extremely confused and made some obscure reference to him not being a "potted plant". Is it a coincidence that these rare moments of raw truth only appear when he is taken off-guard, or seems particularly stressed?

Someone has suggested that he only gets tongue tied when he doesn't believe in what he is saying, and this quote supports this hypothesis. Bush is not so incompetent that he doesn't know when he's full of it.