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Language intelligence

I was thinking about this yesterday as I took a long drive to someone’s house while listening to Randy Newman’s “Rednecks” album. I thought to myself what perfectly evocative, persuasive use of language. “More liberals should listen to this,” I said.

Because one of the things that drives me insane about progressive strategists is how poorly they use language. Man, do these people love to take a perfectly clear sentence and neuter the shit out of it! Perfectly nice people, but some of them have been educated into irrelevance – because real life is not a graduate seminar. So I hope this book is very, very popular and that they all read it:

I don’t normally do this. But right now, I am going to come out and gushingly endorse a book: Climate blogger Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga.

Everybody who cares about why science doesn’t get through to the public should read it.

Basically, it is a powerful treatise on the neglected art of rhetoric, the technique mastered by Shakespeare, Lincoln, and the writers of the King James Bible. As an English major, I particularly delighted in Romm’s discussion of figures of speech and how they make orators persuasive by allowing them to activate people’s emotions. Indeed, as Romm writes, modern neuroscience now confirms what the poets always knew about getting to people’s heads through their hearts (that’s a metaphor, by the way–one of the chief techniques that Romm discusses).

If you ever want to understand why scientists fare so poorly getting their message across–and why liberals lose policy debates and, often, presidential campaigns–this is also the book for you. In essence: too much higher education, too much wonk sophistication, destroys the common language simplicity of good rhetoric and makes you less persuasive.

I sing the body electric

From “Fame”:

Let the sunshine in

From “Hair”:

It don’t worry me

Barbara Harris:

Separated at birth?

Paul Ryan and Matthew Morrison, Mr. Schuester from “Glee”!

Another day

Another mass shooting. A candlelight vigil, some solemn words from politicians and we’ll forget all about it – until the next one!

The crazy continues

Dear sweet Christ on a stick:

Hey, crazy Texas bigots! Got any freedom of religion lawsuits you’d like to file today? Oh, it’s against your religion to have a black man bag your groceries? Sure, that will do!

Little Green Footballs brings us the heartwarming News Journal tale of this Texas man a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ about how he don’t want no “negroidal person” touching his food, while bagging it at the grocery store. The store owner — who has just earned himself an Opposite Day Chick-fil-A love-in — told the crazy bigot he couldn’t shop at that grocer’s no more. And now the crazy bigot has filed suit, because they oppressed his religious freedom to not have black people bag his food.


The Morning Call:

State Lawmakers Will Take …
… another crack at reforming Pennsylvania’s rickety public pensions system, the PAIndependent reports this morning. That’ll happen next week at a joint hearing of the House Finance and State Government Committees, the online news org reports.

For those of you playing along at home, Pennsylvania faces a pension liability of as much as $4 billion in the next few years. And Republican lawmakers are looking to change retirement benefits so they more closely resemble those of private-sector workers.

You mean, make them more erratic and subject to whether the new owners pay them or file for bankruptcy? You mean, like that?


Way to go, Citizens United!

Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show.

These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don’t have to disclose their donors to the public.

The two nonprofits had outspent all other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, a ProPublica analysis of data provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, found.

Super PACs, which do have to report their donors, spent an estimated $55.7 million on TV ads mentioning a presidential candidate, CMAG data shows. Parties spent $22.5 million.

Crossroads GPS, or Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, is the brainchild of GOP strategist Karl Rove, and spent an estimated $41.7 million. Americans for Prosperity, credited with helping launch the Tea Party movement, is backed in part by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, and spent an estimated $18.2 million.


Charlie Pierce on the New York Times Ryan story:

How can you possibly write that passage and dismiss idly as a “contradiction” the ironic — not to mention hilariously hypocritical — fact that, after his father passed, and while working the fry station and toting canoes at a YMCA summer camp, Ryan was also the beneficiary of Social Security survivor’s benefits? These did precisely what they were designed to do, which was to help young Paul Ryan get the education that would help him become the adult Paul Ryan who’s been on one government payroll or another since he left college, and who goes around telling half-dim audiences that people on government assistance are mired in a “culture of dependency.”

But don’t you know he grooves to Rage Against The Machine? It is not possible for the Times to disgrace itself further.

Fk Ludwig von Mises. If it weren’t for FDR and LBJ, and for the munificence of the American taxpayer, Paul Ryan would still be in Janesville, looking for a job.

Like most conservative dimwits, Ryan thinks the revolutionary attitude of Rage Against the Machine means Rage Against The Safety Net.

I think Tom Morello just threw up in his mouth a little.

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