Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Words Mean Things

Am I the only one who wearies of hearing inflammatory comments bandied about as rational discourse? Dictonaries are cheap and easy to use. There even a few free ones online. So how hard is it really to find what you mean to say before you say it instead trying to redefine what words mean?

I was recently vexed while dicussing the Dubai Ports World kerfuffle (I refuse to use made-up words that end in "-gate", that's the media trying to relive its glory days) with James and he accused George Bush of corporatism. From the MSN Encarta dictionary:
cor·po·rat·ism running of state by large organizations: a system of running a state using the power of organizations such as businesses and labor unions that act, or claim to act, for large numbers of people
which is more along the lines of what's happening in Russia, for example. I thought what he meant was that Bush had business friendly policies, but he elaborated:
I use this term to mean that corporations are writing legislation to benefit them and at times to the detriment of the American people. There is a reason the lobby industry is so big. It's not like they are looking out for our interest and a lot of times what is good for business is not necessarily good for the average joe. Why do you think there are 12,500 corporations sharing an address to a Caymon Island building? And why do you think they support the laws that allow them to avoid taxes and safety laws while at the same time getting tax breaks? That's not for our sake and it is not good for the American worker.
He's entitled to his opinion on the administration's policies, of course, and the point was argued, but my focus is above and beyond that right now. Am I being pedantic here? That is still not what corporatism is, but when someoone trying to make a point, it seems they nice easy nutshell sort of word to describe what it is they are thinking of. This insinuation would be much more believable if, say, we were talking about nationalized corporations.

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post about progressivism and how Democrats want to use it as a happy synonym for "liberalism". But the two are completely different. Although they have some things in common (support of election and labor reform, and redistribution of wealth), progressives supported a strong foreign policy abroad. They also supported eugenics (though with liberals' support of abortion, an argument could be made that they support eugenics as well - but that would be inflammatory), and the amendments to the Constitution to implement federal income tax and Prohibition (resulting in the rise of organized crime).

Additionally, it seems politicians and pundits think they're clever and amusing when they use similes like "Bush is like Hitler". The one that really riled me up today was that Rhode Island governor Don Carceri was compared to former Enron CEO Ken Lay, by Democrat gubernatorial candidate and current Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty said that if Carceri wanted to run Rhode Island like a business, then it's being run like Enron. Somehow it has not made it into the news (where I can link it, anyway) yet, even though local talk radio is all over it. Oh, he he said he mean that the state was poorly run, not that Carceri is a felon and belongs in jail. His campaign is hastily backpedaling.

Somewhat similar to Hillary Clinton's "plantation" comments, which she refuses to back down from. Now there's a presidential lady, eh? That's pretty clever, Mizz Clinton. How that working out for you?

"What's that, Robo?" asks Mizz Clinton.

Being clever.

"Oh, great, thanks!"

Well, keep it up, then.

So what do I want? Just for people to say what they mean, that's all. Why be inflammatory when all you need is a simple statement of fact to make your point? I'm much more willing to listen to people who can articulate their thoughts coherently without upshifting into full moonbat auto-special.


Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox bloody well said...

Very, very well said. This is exactly why I lost it last week and did my post on the whole Bush=Hitler thing. It is not just a cavalier phrase to throw around. It has a lot of meaning to it and it devalues the Holocaust and it elevates the rhetoric to an absurd level.

Thanks for your expertise on the port deal on my post. Have you seen the article about UAE's ties to Iran? I was wondering what your take was on that?

08 March, 2006 13:09  
Blogger James Manning bloody well said...


I understand you point on rhetoric and such, but in my defense, my reference to corporatism comes from those that use the phrase as it pertains to globalization. It is a matter of semantics, I guess, but I really didn't think it was an inflammatory use of the word.

But I do think that this is the reality of the political discourse in the country.

Liberal = gay loving, America hating traitor.
Democrat = nanny state perpetrators
Black = victims
Conservatives = racist
Republicans = racist
Disagree with Bush = Bush bashing
Support Bush = zombies

It's the way it is and I'm sure as heck guilty of participating in it - "Bush is a spawn of the devil" Although, I find that statement rather amusing. And I actually believe the next President will allow us to tone things down a bit because I can't imagine anyone being as bad as Bush.

08 March, 2006 14:40  
Blogger Rebekah bloody well said...

I think you make a very good point, Robosquirrel. There's way too much of that nonsense going around.

08 March, 2006 17:49  
Blogger Gayle bloody well said...

"full-moonbat auto-special"! Love it. You do have a way with words.

08 March, 2006 23:40  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden bloody well said...

03 10 06

This is a good post Robosquirrel. I do think you are being a bit pedantic, but that has to do with what is important in a debate. And you are right that terms must clearly be defined in a debate. However, since James gave you a definition, as it applied to his statements, he isn't obligated to use yours. And this is assuming that he cited his sources, as I don't know if he did.

But I have seen that you have gotten a little worked up over people's attitudes about the port deal. Now, from a couple of articles I've seen I now understand that there weren't too many American companies out there that could do the job in managing all of those ports.

However, if you step away from Randian thoughts of capitalism being the cure all then you would see that the deal was simply bad for the morale of the American people.

Any time a well known pundit like Ann Coulter gets people started to calling folks 'ragheads' there is some ethnic bias going on that is the propaganda to get us to hate them and love ourselves. That being said, I think the deal was not well timed. If there was never a nine eleven, I doubt if we would even be debating the issue because it might be irrelevant...

10 March, 2006 08:13  

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