Books, Pop Culture and Political Humor from J.D. Rhoades, best-selling author, attorney, and award-winning newspaper columnist.
"Like [Lee] Child, Rhoades dishes out one airtight action scene after another, mixing in just enough character-building moments and holding our interest in a full cast of nicely developed supporting players."-Booklist
Talking or conversing online with a member of the Rabid Right can often be a frustrating experience. It often seems like the two of you are talking past each other.
This is because while wingnuts speak something that appears to be English, they're not really speaking the same language as you. They use a sort of argot or cant, made up of dog-whistles and code words whose full and deeper meaning is only understood by them or people like them.
So here's a helpful guide in understanding wingnut speech, or, as I call it, Wingspeak:
What they say: "Obama was never properly vetted. We don't know anything about him."
What they mean: "We've dug and dug but none of us has ever been able to turn up a shred of credible evidence for all of the ridiculous stuff we've made up about Barack Obama."
What they say: "The press is covering up this story."
What they mean: "The press won't report our half-truths, distortions and outright lies as if they were facts."
What they say: "The press has a liberal bias."
What they mean: "The press keeps finding out true but damaging things about us."
What they say: "We need to cut spending."
What they mean: "We need to stop giving money to black and poor people so the government can pay for my retirement and health care."
What they say: "We need entitlement reform."
What they mean: "For every entitlement but the ones I get."
What they say: "Government can't create jobs."
What they mean: "Government shouldn't spend money to create jobs except for ones resulting from defense, road or bridge projects in my district."
What they say: "I know it isn't politically correct to say this, but..."
What they mean: "I am about to say something incredibly racist, sexist or just pig-ignorant, and I want to look like I'm daring and edgy instead of a brain-dead boob."
What they say: "You just call everyone who disagrees with you a racist!"
What they mean: "I say racist stuff all the time, but maybe if I play the aggrieved, falsely accused victim, I can get away with it."
What they say: "You just call people names because you haven't got any real arguments!"
What they mean: "I'm going to hope people ignore the fact that you just used actual evidence to clean my clock in this argument by self-righteously feigning indignation over the way you said it."
What they say: "Barack Obama isn't a real American."
What they mean: "Obama is black."
What they say: "Barack Obama doesn't love America."
What they mean: "Obama is black."
What they say: "Barack Obama wasn't born here, he was born in Kenya."
What they mean: "Obama is black."
What they say: "Barack Obama should release his college transcripts."
What they mean: "He couldn't have legitimately gotten into college and done as well as he did without getting special treatment, because he's, you know, black."
What they say: "Mitt Romney should release his tax returns only when President Obama releases his school records."
What they mean: "We're positive there's something in those tax returns that will destroy Romney's candidacy, so we'll come up with any flimsy non sequitur to try and excuse why he shouldn't release them. Also, Obama should release his school records because he's, you know, black."
What they say: "Obamacare is socialism!"
What they mean: "We don't really have any idea what's actually the Affordable Care Act, but we know this: We don't like socialism, we don't like Obama, and we don't like this plan, even though it was originally proposed by Republicans, because this time it was backed by a guy who's a Democrat and, you know, black, so we're going to call it something that sounds impressive and ominous, even though it clearly shows we know as much about socialism as we know about quantum physics."
What they say: "President Obama is engaging in Chicago-style gutter politics."
What they mean: "Obama's using the same hardball tactics against us that we've used to win every election we've succeeded in, and doing it better, since the stuff he's saying is actually true."
What they say: "The Obama campaign is getting desperate."
What they mean: "We're getting hurt badly by the latest round of revelations."
As a general rule of thumb, when they say, "How dare those awful liberals (fill in supposed outrage here)," what they mean is "You can't do that! Only we can do that!"
First a quick correction: Last week, as a couple of readers pointed out, I had a brain fluff and mentioned the "Republican-controlled Senate."
Clearly it's the House the Republicans control, and I could have sworn that's what I wrote. But, sure enough, the original column has the mistake right there, plain as day. Mea culpa. It's the Republican-controlled House that's wasting precious time and millions of taxpayer dollars on votes that are little more than stunts meant to do nothing but generate ads for the fall. Hope this clears things up.
Anyway, it seems that Willard Mitt "Etch a Sketch" Romney has gotten himself into another hilarious pickle with his zany antics. Romney's been basing his entire campaign message around "trust me to fix the economy, I'm a big shot businessman who made bunches and bunches of money."
Well, I guess he can't run on his single four-year term as an actual chief executive, during which his signature achievement was a health care reform plan that provided the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act - you know, the so-called "Obamacare" that the current GOP hates with the burning intensity of a thousand suns, despite the fact it was originally a Republican idea.
No, he can't run on his record as the moderate governor of "Taxachusetts." The Rabid Right would eat him for lunch. So he's made his biggest selling point his tenure as the top kahuna of a bewildering set of interlocking entities known as Bain Capital.
Until, that is, people (including fellow Republicans Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry) started pointing out that some of Bain's strategies for making money from the companies it took over looked uncomfortably like one of those "bust out" scenarios from "Goodfellas" or "The Sopranos": Move in, use the company's credit to jack up its debt and pay themselves big fees with the borrowed money, then, if "restructuring" (usually involving firing a lot of people and moving jobs overseas) didn't turn things around, declare bankruptcy and walk away with pockets full of cash.
It was the accusations of "offshoring" jobs overseas that really got Mitt's goat. He had nothing to do with that, he insisted. His official campaign statement said that "Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point."
Then The Boston Globe found documents filed with the SEC and signed by Romney that told a different story. As just one filing from Feb. 20, 2001 put it: "Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole shareholder, sole director, chief executive officer and president of Bain Capital and thus [and this is the important part] is the controlling person of Bain Capital." Oops.
The Romney campaign went into frantic spin mode, spamming Mitt's mug across five networks in one day to explain how a person described in legally required filings as the "controlling person" in 2001 wasn't really in control in 2001. "Who you gonna believe," the defense ran, "me, or those lyin' documents with my signature on them?"
It reached the height of absurdity when Romney surrogate Ed Gillespie earnestly explained that Romney had "retroactively" retired from Bain in 2002, after which late night comedians such as Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brian were seen literally dancing for joy at the gift they'd been handed.
Now it may be entirely true that Romney, despite what he said at the time, had no say in the "day to day" running of Bain. But does that really help Romney? Isn't that one of the things that disgusts people about corporate America - that required regulatory filings are just a sham, that no one's accountable, even though they say they are, and that this all seems perfectly normal to the mainstream corporate-owned media?
Are the American people really supposed to believe that that the guy who embraces this sort of corporate gamesmanship, obfuscation, and skullduggery is the solution to the problems in the economy? Finally, what's Romney going to do now that he's being forced to distance himself from the very experience he's touting as his main qualification for the White House?
I'm thinking he's got nothing. Which means we'll be hearing more lies about "socialism" and "apologizing for America" and attacks on the president's patriotism, interspersed with whining about how mean Obama is and demands for apologies that won't happen, all of which only serve to make Mittens look like a weak, ineffectual chump (see "Kerry, John: 2004 campaign").
Meanwhile, "where are the tax returns?" will become the Democratic version of "where's the birth certificate?"