Words, Words, Words…..

In My Fair Lady, Eliza sings “Words, words, words–I’m so sick of words…” Instead, she demands, “show me.”

These days, the way politicians use and misuse words is quite enough to “show” us.

Multiple media outlets have reported on the administration’s recent instructions to the CDC, forbidding the use of certain words in official communications. As an article from the Chicago Tribune reports,

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases – including “fetus” and “transgender” – in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

Shades of Rick Scott’s edict banning the phrase “climate change” from Florida’s official vocabulary! (Unfortunately for the state, forgoing use of the phrase hasn’t stopped the water from rising…Damn pesky reality!)

This new mandate would be funny if it weren’t one more piece of (whoops!) evidence that government under Trump is unconcerned with (that word again!) evidence–or fact, or science, or–let’s be honest–anything we would recognize as actual governing.

As ridiculous and worrisome as this effort at Newspeak is, the apparent reason for the language ban is even more troubling. The emphasis on “alternative” language appears to be focused on the budget.

The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to CDC’s partners and to Congress, the analyst said. The president’s budget for 2019 is expected to be released in early February. The budget blueprint is generally shaped to reflect an administration’s priorities.

The New York Times report on this directive suggests that the reason for banning these phrases from the budget document is to increase the likelihood that Congress will respond positively to that budget–in other words, it’s an effort to avoid riling the anti-science, anti-evidence GOP Neanderthals who currently dominate Congressional lawmaking.

Given the amount of attention this ham-handed effort has attracted, it isn’t likely to be very effective. Far more terrifying–and sinister–is a quiet venture meant to distort and confuse the definition of “science” and the rules of “economics,” aimed squarely at current and prospective members of the judicial branch. (Evidently, packing the courts with know-nothings isn’t the only Trumpian assault on the courts.)

In early October, 22 state and federal judges hailing from Honolulu to Albany got a crash course in scientific literacy and economics. The three-day symposium was billed as a way to help the judges better scrutinize evidence used to defend government regulations.

But the all-expenses-paid event hosted by George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center in Arlington, Virginia, served another purpose: it was the first of several seminars designed to promote “skepticism” of scientific evidence among likely candidates for the 140-plus federal judgeships Donald Trump will fill over the next four years.

The lone science instructor was Louis Anthony Cox Jr, a risk analyst with deep industry ties whose recent appointment as chair of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air scientific advisory committee drew condemnation in public-health circles. Since 1988, Cox has consulted for the American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group that spent millions to dispute the cancer-causing properties of benzene, an ingredient in gasoline, and is now working to question the science on smog-causing ozone. He’s also testified on behalf of the chemical industry and done research for the tobacco giant Philip Morris.

What was that line Humpty Dumpty uttered in Alice in Wonderland? “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

I know it’s still morning, but I need a drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 thoughts on “Words, Words, Words…..

  1. This administration’s daily attacks on science and reality are exhausting. I imagine the Koch brothers are going to celebrate one of their merriest holiday seasons ever.

  2. All issues pertaining to the CDC are of course health-related; be it causes, treatment, tracking epidemics, “evidence” from “scientific” research. etc., etc., etc. Personally; any and all of my health issues and disabilities are in some way connected to all of the banned words and terms, with the exceptions of “fetus” and “transgender”. On the other hand; “fetus” might be applicable to the CDC research on what appears to be escalating numbers of Meniere’s Disease, it’s “diversity” of symptoms and the possibility of genetics which leads us to the “fetus” state. There is deafness and MD found on both sides of my family. MD is but one example, but one I am familiar with and I use it to point out how wide-reaching this seemingly simple list of words is in actuality.

    When working as a Monitor in the Division of Community Services under Mayor Bill Hudnut; one major part of the job was to work with multi-service, senior and health centers in Marion Country to correctly WORD their proposals to be submitted with their annual request for continued federal funding. The Hispano-American Multi-Service Center was the biggest WORD challenge due to their wide range of services regarding all immigrants in Marion County. It is beyond my reach of imagination to see the vast scope of all health issues the Trump banned word/term list covers. Wonder why he didn’t slip them into the “historical tax reform” and kill three birds with one stone.

    Sheila; my drink was vodka – straight up, I’m edging closer to buying my first bottle of Stoli. NOT to support anything Russian but that is the best sippin’ vodka.

  3. I don’t care what words the CDC is now forbidden to use. Even one forbidden word is one too many. Censorship is censorship, and government sponsored censorship is the sure sign of a dictatorship.

    We are in deep, deep doo doo.

  4. Censoring scientific terms allows for the Theocrats like Pence to feel more comfortable in Washington. “Neanderthals” are a perfect description but these knuckle-draggers are riding on horses provided by billionaires like the Koch brothers. Their goal has always been to roll back the New Deal created by FDR. FDR saved capitalism from itself. If we would have let the unions…maybe the next go around we’ll be smarter.

    George Mason is nothing more than a Koch puppet show. We have a whole business department full of the same shills at Ball State University. There are at least 150 other universities willing to sell out academic freedom for cash. Scalia was a corporate Koch whore who claimed there was no “reciprocity” from corporate donations. In other words, they’re not bribes. If anybody believes there isn’t quid pro quo with major donations – fools.

    By the way, who do you think has been scaling back taxpayer contributions to state universities so Oligarchs could expand their stakes? 😉

    Industry and government work as one. Neither the press nor the political parties offer any obstruction to this powerful lobby.

  5. Well, I don’t know about that censorship business.

    For instance, a few days ago, while I was trying to concentrate on wording a paragraph for my book during breakfast in a coffee shop, and while Elvis sang Blue Christmas in the background, behind me an old man wearing a beard, a thobe robe and a ghutra head scarf hummed a tune that sounded like a Muslim call to prayer. Fine. But he hummed on endlessly. Nat King Cole sang The Christmas Song. Barbara Streisand sang Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Bobby Helms sang Jingle Bell Rock. several more Christmas songs, then at about the time Bruce sang Santa Claus is Coming to Town (that rendition irritates me all by itself), I had had enough, and my paragraph made about as much sense as a Trump rant.
    I decided to tell the man behind me to shut up. But how should I word my request/command. Long story short, I never spoke to him. I was so frustrated and angry that I could not trust myself to speak, though I had summoned the words I thought would be convincing to him.

    End of story, start of point: one of my personalities had over-ruled another and PREEMPTIVELY EDITED my statement so that it expressed less of how I felt and more of how it would nicely and diplomatically work to convince the gentleman behind me to stop his humming. Preemptive editing is not exactly censorship, especially when its purpose is to reduce resistance to a good idea.

    I owned a newspaper in Ohio, some time ago, and I banned the word “got”, as well as a few others, unless they were part of a quote. I don’t think I was censoring expression. But then again, I don’t know about that censorship business.

  6. The George Mason University Center for Law and Economics was created as a direct result of the Koch Brothers’ annual get together of fabulously wealthy anarchists, so that type of conference is about what one should expect.

    I remember the good old days when Faux News would spread the word that Obama didn’t even submit a budget. I’m not sure what it was I’d worked on for weeks, but I sure thought it was the budget. I’m also not sure what the huge books that were sent over in February of every year were, but they sure looked like the budget.

    I don’t see that anything will be accomplished by the deletion of these words. Only a handful of staffers will even read the budget and no one will read the whole budget. Each committee will focus on it’s own area of expertise (yes, I’ll call it expertise, even if the experts are Know Nothings) and that committee’s staffers will divvy up the work, so even they don’t have to read everything presented to them.

    That’s how Washington actually works. If you want to know what’s in ANY bill that gets passed, say a tax bill, you have to talk to dozens of people who each know a small portion of what that bill will actually do. Most of those dozens will NOT be elected officials. There’s a parable about blind men and an elephant that comes to mind.

  7. Disallowing certain words in government documents, reports or communications is indeed a strong sign of dictatorship in the making. The Trump-ites and the other right-wing reactionaries are pushing our government straight into the arms of outright fascism at an increasing rate of speed.

    We the people had better organize and move to action to remove this president and all extremist/theocratic Republicans as soon as possible or we will wake up one day and find ourselves in boxcars headed for who knows where

  8. Well Larry; unless I am mistaken, and that has happened in the past, you would have been guilty of censorship and violating the Muslim man’s humming rights had you asked him to stop. Had he been smoking or singing “Silent Night” you would have been withing your rights. Apparently, it is only Christian observations in any form which is illegal in public display; not sure about inside a public business which was playing Christmas songs. The Muslim was entitled to hum his call to prayer to his heart’s content; as would Jews been allowed to sing their traditional Hanukkah songs and chants and all Hispanics could sing “Feliz Navidad”. Muslims, Jews and all Hispanics are simply not welcome here by the current Republican administration but you can’t stop any of them from humming or singing their holiday celebration songs or chants. They currently are words Trump has not found a way to ban; but, it is his first Christmas in the White House, give him time.

    Did you ever consider moving to another area to escape the offensive (to you) humming”

  9. Personally, I’m concerned how much longer we can use the words FASCIST or NAZI without breaking the law. I’m not joking. There will probably be a new set of laws covering PUBLIC COHESION and STABILITY. As we all know FREE SPEECH does have its limitations. Don’t we?

    As I best remember, Barack Obama was criticized a week or so ago when he used the word FASCIST supposedly directed at Trump. The criticism was that North Korea had referred to Trump with the same word, FASCIST.

    Our biggest problem is that we have failed to make our case. FASCISM is much more than just a word.

  10. What’s next- forbidding DOJ to use words like “collusion”, “conspiracy”, “money laundering”, and the like? Imagine where that could go.

  11. Vernon,

    “The Trump-ites and the other right-wing reactionaries are pushing our government straight into the arms of outright fascism at an increasing rate of speed.”

    How could there be a problem with fascism? Wouldn’t Jews be targeted? Hasn’t Steve Bannon just spoke at the Zionist national convention? Didn’t Trump just take the heroic step in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital against world opinion?

    Am I missing something? Are you crazy?

  12. We could, I suppose, ban ‘dead, ‘died’, ‘passed away’, etc., and grant all eternal life? Unfortunately the papers have turned obit pages into a profit center and would not be pleased.

  13. word speak, Orwell,1949, his gift 1984, WinstonSmith would be shocked. maybe we see a cultivation of communisim here. propaganda,real fake news being spun by words..we need radio free America now. Tas has nothing on us,or our congress at this point…

  14. Who do you suppose it was who proposed to a high level TrumPence official “you know, if we can control what they write and say, we can control what they think!”

    A tiny idea. As small as a child’s snowball but it did start rolling down hill and even now must be considered acceptable by we the people.

    When the avalance hits, and we get buried in it and can do nothing will we wonder how it started?

  15. There is a difference between public censorship and self-censorship. I, for instance, forward materials to my followers all the time but reject sending them materials in which filthy language and four-letter words are used. However, this is a democracy and public censorship is another matter. My views are not those of many and I have no plan to censor anybody’s freedom of speech because such speech does not accord with my personal views of its use, and I will in like manner reject the attempts of the many to put an end to my self-censorship.

    I equate the current attempt to keep incendiary words and phrases out of budget documents with attempts of Trump’s advisers to tell this petulant child only news he wants to hear, even when such words involve national security. Words are used to describe good and bad, reality and illusion, equations and algorithms, dimensions, everything.

    Aside from the First Amendment, we should be cautious when using or not using words to set the environment for ideological stances – very cautious. In sum, there should not be a reduction but rather an expansion of descriptive and defining words to suit the needs of a more refined system of communication of thoughts, ideas and expression as we move along in this era of political censorship. Freedom of speech, even when objectionable and for seeming good reason, is one of the bulwarks of democracy, a system that must be preserved at any cost, and the Trump Administration’s attempts to curtail communication via censorship has the strong odor of authoritarian rule.

  16. No Marv, I’m not crazy. And with Trump, there is no master race. It’s just him. Anyone, ANYONE who disagrees with him, shows him up or ridicules him in any way becomes the “other” and must be eliminated or pilloried. Trump’s pathology, while similar, is much more egocentric than Hitler’s….if you can imagine that.

  17. The comedian George Carlin had his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”. We also have the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Trump has all the seven deadly sins within his personality in mega amounts. Pastor Pence will forgive these sins in Trump, since the ends (theocracy) justifies the means.

    Orwell in the book 1984 wrote of Newspeak, that is words that would be expunged from the language. – If you do not have the words you cannot have the thoughts.

    I wonder if the authors of the Seven Words not be written about or said by the CDC realize just how stupid they appear??? I suppose Evolution at some point will need to be added.

    I am not surprised that the Trump-Pence Regime would come up with forbidden words. We Proles have been forbidden from questioning the necessity of our vast Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial- Complex since the fall of the Soviet Union. Can you think of the last time any elected official questioned the rationale of why we need elements of the U.S. military deployed to 149 countries and 800 foreign bases at a budgetary cost of $700 billion??

  18. “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. And elephant’s faithful 100%.” — Dr. Seuss, who clearly didn’t mean Republicans

  19. I wrote down the seven words/terms, understanding there is evidence-based and science-based proof that most older people are vulnerable to a diversity of forgetful words and especially names. In going over my written list I realized that these specific words/terms are probably not found in any Bible; this fits with the Trump/DeVos future planned “God’s Kingdom” curriculum as the basis for all future education. Does this mean Trump has a “meaning to his madness”?

  20. The wealth redistribution bill slithering through Congress now is exactly like campaign donations by lobbyists to potential Congressional candidates. It’s hush money except to wealth creator/worker/consumer/voter/ tax payers instead of candidates.

    Look the other way and here’s a few bucks for your complicit silence.

    Next year the rest of the package shows up. Oh look the deficits are soaring to unaffordable heights! We must cut expenses to avoid bankruptcy! Let’s start with your Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. Let’s devote them to reduce the soaring deficits instead of your retirement and, workers, you’ll just have to work a few more years at lower pay because, God knows, the wealthy can’t be taxed more.

    What fools we mortal/wealth creator/worker/consumer/voter/ tax payers be.

  21. My quote above should read, “method to his madness”, not “meaning”, proving my statement regarding older people and a vulnerability to forget words.

  22. Maybe we are reading too much into this administration directive. We know for certain that Trump has never read ‘Brave New World’ or ‘1984’, so he can’t be drawing on that knowledge of how to achieve thought control. We should consider that by eliminating seven words from the lexicon, it helps his infinitesimally small vocabulary – and brain – remain sufficient for his purposes, believe me. “Vulnerable” implies empathy, of which he is devoid, so toss that word out the window. “Entitlement” is something he alone possesses, so there’s no need for a discussion. “Diversity”, as he assures us, will kill us all, so it’s too frightening to mention. He denies that the transgender community should be allowed to exist, so if it’s non-existent we don’t need a word for it. The word “fetus” sounds slightly scientific, so he has no use for it, even though it is the most-used word by his crazy Christian right core. “Evidence-based” and “science-based” are not concepts he has ever considered, and he knows he’s to old to learn new stuff now. He also hasn’t learned the words paranoia, narcissism, or sociopath. What bothers me more is his on-going refusal to try to get his head around the concept of “governance.”

  23. I suspect Trump has the financial resources to buy out Merriam-Webster and the other major publishers of dictionaries. Assuming he knows what a dictionary is, that would put him in position to eliminate many more troublesome words from our language.

  24. Try not to complicate things. Carl Icahn the brutal takeover expert is one of Trump’s major advisors. What we’re witnessing is another HOSTILE TAKEOVER, instead of a company, a country.

    Trump is only doing “what comes naturally,” distributing, as quickly as he can, all of the assets of the country to his oligarchy [investor] supporters. Forget about social security, etc. I’m sure plans are already in the works to distribute those funds away from benefiting any of us.

    He doesn’t have a worry in the world. Eventually, all of this will be blamed on the Jews, as usual.

  25. Did anyone else notice a slight, 2 day , market correction just prior to the hold out republicans jumping on board trumps recessive tax plan? To move a market you only need about 30% of the assets. If the.01% intentionally blipped the market to scare the GOP into directing even more of the assets of this country into their pockets we’ve got a bigger problem then anticipated

  26. Marv – In a less tolerant and more cognizant society, Icahn, hedge and equity fund managers and other such corporate vultures would have long since been led out at dawn to their respective ends before a firing squad, but with bankers and corporate moguls such as the Kochs and Mercers in charge of our economy and now even our society, these vultures are instead lionized and congratulated, for instance, when they fund university business schools in return for naming rights and curricular design with their stolen money, money which is taxed at a “carried interest” rate of 15 percent rather than at ordinary income rates (they are the beneficiaries of this favorable rate because they have also funded the re-election campaigns of their lackeys in Congress).

    I suppose we are out of luck since Utah, the last state in the union to employ firing squads, has changed its method of capital punishment. Do you as a lawyer have any ideas on how we can immobilize the onrushing takeover of America by not only corporations but those vulture corporations who prey on them, especially when the vast majority of corporations are subject to state governance by the likes of Delaware and Oklahoma, notoriously weak governance jurisdictions? I think Icahn and his ilk may not be the problem but symptoms of the problem of weak corporate governance which, if stronger, would not be so likely to expose such state-chartered corporations to these corporate vultures. Ideas?

  27. Gerald,

    “Marv… Do you as a lawyer have any ideas on how we can immobilize the onrushing takeover of America by not only corporations but those vulture corporations who prey on them, especially when the vast majority of corporations are subject to state governance by the likes of Delaware and Oklahoma, notoriously weak governance jurisdictions?”

    If we can find an answer to your question, we might be able to start getting somewhere with Trumpism. Maybe we have to come up with a way to combine the linear thinking of attorneys with the non-linear thinking of most engineers. From my experience, there’s always some deep SYSTEM behind most unethical if not criminal enterprises. It probably can be traced back to the machinations of the DEVIANT ELITE. There’s a center of gravity or a vital node somewhere. If we can find it, we might be able to start changing things. There’s always a chance of a “chain reaction” in any non- linear movement.

    One thing for sure we’re engaged in a MULTI-LEVEL WEBWAR without any worthwhile defense at the present time.

    We need something akin to the MANHATTAN PROJECT to find an answer to this horrible mess.

  28. While the U.S. is floundering to diminished capacities to deal with our own internal problems, the rest of the world is moving on without us. American First is an isolating concept. DT’s narcissism and Pence’s toadying to the Koch brothers have further isolated our country from the reality of the rest of the world’s trajectory. If there is a nuclear war, as is a very real possibility, the rest of the world will suffer the consequences of our reckless navel gazing, maybe not as severely but certainly as radiation poisons the atmosphere world wide.
    We need to remember that there are other powers at work in the world. They are just as significant to our condition as our own actions or inactions. We forget that at our peril.

  29. Gerald,

    The more I think about it. We need a dual attack…..targeting both Steve Bannon and Carl Icahn. Bannon is a non-linear problem, Icahn is a linear problem. In that way, we might reach a critical mass of Trump supporters. I doubt they can dismiss the role that Icahn plays as easily as they do with Steve Bannon. Bannon is about HATRED. ICAHN is about $$$$. Everyone is concerned about dollars. That’s a different story with hatred. Most of Trump’s supporters are in LOVE with it.

    We must engage now. Many will say don’t do it because it will cause anti-Semitism. That’s understandable, but it is too late to push Icahn’s involvement under the rug. He’s both a VITAL and a VULNERABLE TARGET. Trump probably thought he was safe on this move.

  30. Gerald,

    “Ideas?”

    Take a look at http://www.TheAlarmReport.info

    This was a SUCCESSFUL prosecution of the Mayor of Dallas in the COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION.

    The Report was entitled: “On the State of the Investigation of Crimes against the People of Dallas by Mayor Annette Strauss.”

    Our idea came from a copy of a War Crimes Tribunal’s indictment in one of the countries in Eastern Europe.

    It successfully changed the political landscape in Dallas. It was well worth it, despite the massive retaliation I received for doing it. The distribution was very small, but selective. We didn’t have the benefit of the internet in 1991.

    This approach might be the answer to your question: “Marv… Do you as a lawyer have any ideas on how we can immobilize the onrushing takeover of America…”

    I’ve been a part of a few important CONSPIRACY trials. As you well know, it’s best to prevent the crimes before they are fully executed. That would be especially true in the case of Trump and his ENABLERS. As I mentioned before, we need something like the Manhattan Project to “immobilize the onrushing takeover of America.”

    Unfortunately, neither of us have access to a firing squad [in jest].

  31. Geez Iʻm already so sick of the GOP and their “policies” and it hasnʻt even been a full year.

    To everyone else, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wishing all of us a better, brighter 2018!

  32. So even the current alleged administration believes that Congress is basically a group of sheep with no access to evidence-or scientific-based resources other than what is spoon-fed them. No brains, no heart, no courage. Sounds like the Land of Oz to me, complete with winged monkeys (aka Bannon and his ilk), a clueless, fake Wizard, and a wicked _itch (or more).

    Dorothy, looks like we’re no longer in Kansas.

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