Sunday, July 15, 2012

Would you Like some Lettuce with my Answer?

By Gary Berg-Cross
Word Salad (aka verbal salad) is a phrase to describe a rather jumbled manner of speaking or writing. The words are organized in free flowing ways that for most of us don't form or communicate a meaningful idea. They are like ingredients in a tossed salad. In graduate school I was introduced to this as sympathetic of schizophrenic speech. In other words diagnostic evidence of a mental disorder. Indeed the 3 positive symptoms of schizophrenia are:
1. disorganized thinking such as delusions of grandeur or persecution
2. disturbed perceptions such as hallucinations and
3. disorganized speech – our verbal salad
There often seems some associative nature to a word salad such as
backward, TV, new, Japanese, movie.”
At times some poetry has the free flowing associative feel that can seem like a word salad, but it has overall coherence, consistency and associative insight that people find in the passage below from Gregory Corso’s "Marriage" which stays on it’s marriage theme:
" Should I get married? Should I be Good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustaus hood?
How nice it'd be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I'd make!"
Corso was a key member of the writers Beat movement that consciously aimed at convention-breaking, novel use of words and testing the bounds of appreciative comprehension.
I was reminded of word salads that break “conventions” of the non-poetic form listening to a politician’s answer to a question recently. It hardly matters who, since it is a wide and growing phenomena. Well, OK it was Bob McDonnell, anti women's rights Governor of Virginia, who when asked something, I think about the Bain capital issues, responded with a barrage that changed the topic to another direction:
“I lived in the places the president went this weekend,” …. “I lived in Green Run in Virginia Beach. I lived in Glen Allen in Henrico County. I know the people in those neighborhoods. They don’t much care about Bain Capital or Mitt Romney’s tax returns. They care about getting people to work, getting people out of debt and having bold leadership on energy, so if the president wants to continue to talk about things that aren’t that important, he’ll have to make that decision, but for me, for the Romney campaign, I’m going to talk about things Virginians care about.”
How much better it would be in a society where people can respond to a question rather than push out talking points.I hope that the media will play the role of fact finder and insist on fair, logical analysis and coherence on the issues. Here's to critical thinking. But I what I see now is more of an inability to handle the spin.
Confusing, spin non-answers may be on the rise in states like VA where there is much at stake this Fall. A prefiguring of this might be what we heard and saw in Wisconsin’s recall effort earlier. Word salad from Wisconsin State Sen. Frank Lasee, (R-De Pere), circulated in May that seemed to one writer to equate recall petition signers with tax delinquents. The full text is at the end of this blog. To rational analysis and the fact-based community it raises more questions than answers and defies simple logic or conventional math. It does, however, have that coherence needed to satisfy that low hurdle of confusing issues about who is using shame to what purpose, getting in emotional phrases about “good neighbors” and talking points on taxes. Here is an example on the reason about taxes, see if you can diagram the logic here and get back to me:
"These are the people, when asked how local governments will pay for these elections say 'Tax the rich! They need to pay their FAIR SHARE!' Apparently that means 'We don’t have to pay, so they can pay more.'”
All this is within a buffet style that provides unhealthy heapings for ideologs. You get climate change thrown in to the recall effort. What fun when pols get to mouth off like 8th graders. It’s the political form of word salad, but mixed with delusions, denials, mis-perceptions, half truths and disturbed perceptions. Dare we say it is schizophrenic-like or light. It’s not filling, but some will call it a dysfunctional meal.

This is What Hypocrisy Looks Like! (according to Frank Lasee)

Have you ever had your lawn get away from you for a while? Maybe your kids have a dance recital or you have family coming into town and you just didn’t have the time to mow it?

Eventually, if it gets so bad, your neighbors start to give you dirty looks, and rather than have your neighbors resent you for making the neighborhood look bad you get out the old mower and get to work.

Technically, if you live in town, there is probably a law that says you have to mow your yard, although I doubt the thought crossed your mind when your neighbors were giving you the eye. Your neighbors were using a powerful tool, called shame.

Meet the recallers. They've developed a powerful antibody to shame.

Over the next month, state and local governments will pay $17 MILLION because the left didn’t get their way. It's a funny coincidence that some of the people that signed the recall petitions just happen to owe over $17 MILLION in back taxes and that's only part of the recall list!
These are the people, when asked how local governments will pay for these elections say “Tax the rich! They need to pay their FAIR SHARE!” Apparently that means “We don’t have to pay, so they can pay more.” They don't care about spending other people's money on recalls. They are shameless.

Of course, not everyone who signed a recall petition owes back taxes, and I’m sure there are a few Walker supporters who aren’t completely paid up either, times are hard. The difference is those Walker supporters aren’t asking everyone else to pay $17 million dollars because they didn’t get their way, so they can have a "do over".
In total, these Recallers have cost the state $34 Million dollars, and then they have the nerve to talk about “fair share.” That’s $34 Million that won’t be spent to pay teachers, $34 Million that won’t help sick people with medical care, that's $34 Million that won’t go back into Taxpayer pockets.

Many local governments could wind up short this year because they didn’t budget for the recall elections. Town and city governments don’t have a lot of extra money lying around, and this is going to have a big impact on the money they have to repair roads, to pay snowplow drivers in winter, to provide all kinds of services.
For safety’s sake, let’s hope Global Warming hits really hard this year! I like the Carolina winters.
Although shame doesn’t work on everyone, it can do some serious good. When I was in the legislature I authored the law requiring the Department of Revenue to start the Taxpayer Website of Shame. This goes back to the lawn mowing. If your neighbors know you’re not paying your taxes, you might be a little more likely to pay them……
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