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So, I was having dinner last night with some friends and (surprise!) the conversation turned to politics. After a few minutes, I came to a pretty stunning realization. It seems a few of my friends - all of them educated, successful and (I thought) fairly politically savvy folks - were basically taking the various candidates statements at face value. This really surprised me and after a few minutes I found myself trying to explain to this group a few facts they seemed to not be aware of.

I figured every one in this country knew that politicians speak a little known dialect of the English language called 'Pandarin' (sounds like Mandarin). The difference between Pandarin and regular English is best exhibited by politicians when they make false promises, use misleading statistics, and words that actually mean the opposite of what you would normally expect.

Being fluent in Pandarin is rare as this language is more of an inherent ability than a learned form of verbal communication. Heard mostly in even number (e.g. election) years, Pandarin is spoken primarily by affluent white, older males. Although, there has been an increase in usage by women and minorities over the last half century and a few have even been caught on video-tape using this difficult to understand language. No translation dictionaries are known to exist, but several common phrases and their generally accepted definitions are listed below;

"I will create change you can believe in"

(DEFINITION: The vast majority of my campaign financing came from the exact same people/organizations as the last president. I won't change a thing except the decor in the white house.)

"I'm tough on terrorism"

(DEFINITION: I would rather sacrifice personal liberty for security via the Patriot Act. I will use the fear created by future terrorist attacks to grab more power for the government at the expense of American's privacy. I want more wars in the Middle East and care more about Israel's defense than America's.)

"I'm tough on crime"

(DEFINITION: I want to continue over-incarceration in America by radically expanding the number and scope of federal laws because private prison companies have given my campaign large sums of money. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world on a per capita basis and in terms of sheer numbers, and my financiers love it. America now imprisons more people than the leading 35 European countries combined and I want to make it 55 so GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) will make more money.)

"I'm for the 99%"

(DEFINITION: Even though I'm most definitely not in the 99%, I will act like I am by saying "we" and "us" when referring to regular people in order to pander to the masses to get elected. While back at my country club, I laugh at how all these idiots yuck this up, while smoking cigars and drinking expensive brandy with my banker friends.)

"I'm for the people"

(DEFINITION: I'm willing to literally promise you buffoons anything including universal health care, welfare - even a pony - if it will get me elected. There is obviously no money for this and it is patently unconstitutional, but as long as you idiots want it, I will promise to give it to you.)

"I am a compassionate conservative. A uniter, not a divider."

(DEFINITION: ???)

"I will have a strong foreign policy"

(DEFINITION: I will use American tax dollars to send soldiers to protect countries like South Korea and Japan even though they can more than afford to defend themselves)

"I will always be a friend to our ally Israel"

(DEFINITION: I accept more money from AIPAC than all of your money combined, so I will literally do anything they want.)

"I will be strong on national defense"

(DEFINITION: I will continue to spend more money on the military than the next 15 largest military spenders combined because I have friends who want lucrative military contracts. I could care less that America can defend itself with one tenth of our current defense budget (which is what China spends) as long as I have a nice job waiting for me at Haliburton when my term limit runs out.)

"I will not raise taxes"

(DEFINITION: Unfortunately I will have to raise taxes because I promised so many things during the campaign to get elected, that in order to fulfill even 5% of the promises I made I will have to raise taxes at some point in my presidency.)

"I will create jobs"

(DEFINITION: I will have some government bureaucrats fudge the numbers so Americans will think the unemployment figure is much lower than it actually is. Like for example, not counting people who have given up looking for work. I will also ask the Federal Reserve to print the hell out of the dollar, which will create an artificial stimulus effect until the bubble bursts during a later politician's presidency.)

Ultimately, this list just barely scratches the surface. The politicians who are most fluent in Pandarin are generally elected to powerful positions in government or become successful lobbyists for large corporations. Regular citizens are becoming more aware of this information and are able to partially translate, or at least see through the rhetoric more easily, although they tend to re-elect the same politicians over and over again in spite of that knowledge.

All of my friends grasped the concept quickly and were surprised that they had not realized this has been going on for years. My suggestion to the group was to not only listen to what these folks say, you need to watch what they do, as this is the best way to figure out who is speaking Pandarin and who is telling you the truth.

I felt like a teacher lecturing a class on cultural/political anthropology.

~ EJK

Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

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  • You forgot the most important one:

    "I will (strengthen, reform, improve, enhance, protect etc) entitlements.

    All are euphemisms for CUT.

  • Now that one I like. "Tax reform" always means you're raising taxes. "Entitlement reform" always means you're cutting social spending.

  • "I won't change a thing except the decor in the white house."

    Because universal health care and gay marriage are "not changing a thing" apparently.

    "I will have some government bureaucrats fudge the numbers so Americans will think the unemployment figure is much lower than it actually is. Like for example, not counting people who have given up looking for work."

    Unemployment has been counted this way for, well, as long as we've been counting unemployment. Actually if anything the Obama administration has done more than any previous administration to promote the use of alternative measures of labor underutilization, such as U-6 and ZPOP. So, basically, if you think they were "fudging the numbers", they've been doing that for decades, and now that they finally try to stop you call foul.

  • "I will also ask the Federal Reserve to print the hell out of the dollar, which will create an artificial stimulus effect until the bubble bursts during a later politician's presidency."

    I don't think it's even worth getting into how fundamentally wrong your understanding of monetary policy is. "Printing the hell out of the dollar" is the main thing that saved us from a repeat of the Great Depression.

  • Hi Patrick,

    This piece was written for comedic effect. I voted for President Obama...twice. And I am proud of the work he has accomplished including the ACA and his support of gay marriage. All in the face of unprecedented obstructionism. I think you might need to take step back and read this post for the attempt at humor that it was. (Although, it would seem that I missed my mark due to the fact that if you have to explain your making a joke, it must not have been that funny.)

    As far as not understanding monetary policy goes... I hope my grad school professors don't agree with you. I got my MBA in International Finance. ;-)

    Thanks for reading and please keep hitting me with the great comments.

    EJK

  • My apologies! It seems I was struck by Poe's Law. Your satire was so similar to the real thing that I thought it was real.