Our Common Good
[M]any nations of the third world are described as ‘underdeveloped’. These less wealthy nations are generally those that suffered under colonialism and neo-colonialism. The ‘developed’ nations are those that exploited their resources and wealth. Therefore, rather than referring to these countries as ‘underdeveloped’, a more appropriate and meaningful designation might be ‘over exploited’. Again, transpose this term next time you read about the ‘underdeveloped nations’ and note the different meaning that results.
Robert B. Moore, “Racist Stereotyping in the English Language” (via wretchedoftheearth)

Why conservatives sell their wildly destructive ideology better than Democrats

We are now in a situation where conservatives have framed almost every issue. The least Democrats can do is to refuse to repeat their language and so help them.


written by Garance Franke-Ruta for The Atlantic.

“Bisexual sustainable development activists working to prevent climate change-related sea-level rise better watch out: Just about all the preceding words have been flagged by conservatives and Republicans as liberal buzzwords that need to be stricken from public conversation, according to a spate of recent news stories.

Sure, it’s a time-honored GOP practice to seek to replace a perfectly good description, such as “the estate tax,” with a more inflammatory phrase, but the new fight against liberal words does not appear to be seeking to replace them with an alternative so much as to deny the existence of a thing.”
CLICK for three examples.

The majority of world languages already have gender-neutral pronouns. However, similar to the English language, Swedish has had pronouns for “he” and “she”, but not one that refers to a person without suggesting the person’s sex. Proponents of “hen” are eager to have a single word that describes a hypothetical person rather than the awkward “he or she.” The word is also useful when referring to someone who does not identify with a traditional gender role.

“Hen” (pronounced like the English word for chicken) is a modified version of the Swedish words “han” and “hon,” which mean “he” and “she” respectively. The pronoun first emerged as a suggestion from Swedish linguists back to the 1960s. Though it has taken a while for the word to catch on, some Swedish magazines and even a children’s book have now adopted it in their texts.


Barbara Kruger is more relevant now than ever.


Barbara Kruger is more relevant now than ever.

Rick The Narrow-Minded Rube


Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Puerto Ricans on Wednesday they would have to make English their primary language if they want to pursue U.S. statehood, a statement at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”

This is perfectly emblematic of the ethnocentric, xenophobic ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ Republican party. If Romney is the stereotype of a rich Republican, Santorum is a stereotype of the narrow-minded rube wing of the party.

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has apologized after punishing a 12-year-old girl for speaking her Native American language at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Shawano, Wisconsin.

Miranda Washinawatok explained to WGBA that she wasn’t allowed to play in one basketball game after she spoke in her native Menominee language to two students in her 7th grade class.


There’s an interesting piece in the New York Times yesterday about Herman Cain and the Tea Party’s general obsession with Thomas Paine. The majority of the piece connected Cain and Paine because the former uses the words “common sense” all the time and the latter published a very famous pamphlet entited Common Sense.

Here’s the author’s conclusion:

Cain will not be our next president. Even without the sexual harassment scandal, he has neither the necessary funds nor the establishment clout. Plus he is profoundly unprepared for the job. But his strong appeal to a large sector of the American electorate is worth considering precisely because it reveals the strange state of populist politics in this moment of economic crisis and anti-government fervor.

While all of this might very well be true, I think it’s worth noting that all of the people mentioned in the piece because they make frequent use of the term “common sense” don’t really have anything to do with Thomas Paine. No matter how many times Cain or Glenn Beck or Michele Bachmann or whomever else suggests that they’re speaking the language of the common people, it’s important to remember that Paine made the complex language of political philosophy accessible to a broad audience. Cain, Beck, and Bachmann speak to so many of the Tea Party horde precisely because they reject complicated ideas:

Is the government low on funds? Then it should spend less. The dismissal of “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”— as Cain famously described a nation of 28 million in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network — is a signal that, like anyone else outside the political arena, he knows better than to worry about the pronunciation of such irrelevant places.

Cain makes it sound as if this were a refreshing change of pace. But it’s really only garden-variety populism, a form of pandering and anti-intellectualism that has a long history in America, from Andrew Jackson to Sarah Palin, and which has often been used against comparatively cerebral political opponents, from John Quincy Adams to Barack Obama.

There’s a big difference between a populism that relies on anti-intellectualism and Paine’s populist pamphleteering. Paine swept people up by making the revolutionary rhetoric of the American Founders more accessible to the average person; Cain and Bachmann are just cloaking their inability to understand the sorts of complex problems that come along with governing.

At the very back of the now leaked Republican manual from Frank Luntz are 14 terms that Republicans are never supposed to use, and some of the words on the list may surprise you.

The leaked Republican manual is the entire framework which Republicans have been using for years to frame issues and win debates. Although it was written in 2006, much of the Luntz gospel is still not only in use, but is repeated verbatim daily by the GOP members of Congress and the candidates who are running for the 2012 nomination.

Here is the entire manual:

(Leaked) Luntz Republican Playbook

FRANK Luntz is like a serial killer of the English language.

As soon as I heard the term “job creators,” I said to myself, “that sounds like Frank Luntz talking.”  And sure enough, it’s right in there in Frank Luntz’s latest book, Win:  The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.  Here are Luntz’s exact words:  “You don’t create jobs by making life difficult for job creators.”  That’s under the heading “The Ten Rules for 2012:  What Americans Really Want to Hear from Their Representatives.”

Here is Luntz’s list of what we all “really” want to hear in 2012:

  1. I will never accept the status quo.
  2. I will never apologize for America.
  3. I will find at least one penny of waste to cut from every dollar of spending.
  4. I will never raise taxes in a recession.
  5. You don’t work for me.  I work for you.
  6. I will fight for the public’s right to know the cost and consequences of every piece of legislation and regulation.
  7. I will always prioritize American rights over the rights of those who wish to do us harm.
  8. I will work with anyone who will work with me.
  9. I will always support freedom.
  10. I still believe in the American principle:  of the people, by the people, for the people.

Note the absence of anything even resembling a policy, a program, or a solution to anyone’s problems.  So, for instance, the Luntzified Republican Party’s health care plan really is, “don’t get sick.”

And leaving Ron Paul aside, doesn’t that Luntz list sound like every single Republican candidate for President? 

And almost every Republican Governor?  And almost every Republican Senator?  And, of course, Sarah Palin?

Which suggests this startling possibility:  If they all read Luntz’s book, then they all know how to read.

I thought that as a specimen of rhetoric, his approach in the speech was quite effective.

In style and structure the constant refrain provided the “music” of the speech. Do you wonder what point the President is trying to get across? Well, in case you’ve forgotten, every thirty seconds he will remind you: Pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away.

It’s an approach familiar from religious speeches and sermons, and tent-revival orations. When done right, the recurrent refrain seems not repetitive and boring but rather cumulatively engaging: the audience knows where the speaker is going, anticipates the connections he is going to make, and sees how the parts fit together. Most listeners will not know about the theory of rhyme schemes or the structure of refrains in poetry. But we all recognize these patterns when we hear them.

We’re very excited to welcome Spanish into our roster of supported-languages!
Spanish is now our seventh language, following English, German, Italian, French, Japanese and Turkish – with more on the way.
You can switch languages on your Preferences page, and follow the new Spanish Staff Blog.
And if you’re nearby, why not stop by a Tumblr meetup organized by one of our Spanish communities? There are meetups coming up in  Sevilla, Barcelona, La Serena, San Juan, Buenos Aires, Valparaíso, Alicante, and more.


We’re very excited to welcome Spanish into our roster of supported-languages!

Spanish is now our seventh language, following English, German, Italian, French, Japanese and Turkish – with more on the way.

You can switch languages on your Preferences page, and follow the new Spanish Staff Blog.

And if you’re nearby, why not stop by a Tumblr meetup organized by one of our Spanish communities? There are meetups coming up in Sevilla, Barcelona, La SerenaSan Juan, Buenos Aires, Valparaíso, Alicante, and more.


Progressives too often fail to clearly state the moral principles behind the American tradition. Our arguments often sound like an abstract defense of distant “government” rather than a celebration of our people, our public, and the moral views that have defined our tradition and the real human beings who work every day to carry them out. There is a distinction between government as the administration of what we, as a public, provide each other, as opposed to government control. The Right wants to focus only upon control, not upon all that our tradition has given us. They do not just hide the vast positives, but they also hide the fact that governmental control, control over our daily lives, is more private than public. Private government for profit runs our lives – the health care we receive, the food we eat, the cars we can drive and the gas to fuel them, the news we get, loans for our homes, and on and on. Public government is for the benefit of all of us. Private (especially corporate) government is for the private profit of top management and stockholders. If you are concerned about your life being controlled for the benefit of others, look to the private sphere.
George Lakoff (via azspot)