Healthcare Reform Effort Falters as NarrativeTracker Projected

Social Media and Internet Analysis Presage Future Directions in Healthcare Reform

DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas – September 28, 2010 – The Healthcare Reform effort has faltered in the public mind as projected by the Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ Index (HNTI™) over the last several months. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index were reported over the previous four months in a series of joint announcements by OpenConnect, the Dallas-based leader in process intelligence and analytics solutions, and Austin-based Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

For more information about GLM’s Narrative Tracking and Business Intelligences call 1.512.815.8836 or email pjjp@post.harvard.edu.

“It seems that healthcare reform was never really ‘Paid For’ as promised to the American people. The unfortunate reality is one of sharply rising premiums, severely reduced options for coverage and continued out-of-control spending,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect. “The only way to solve this problem is through a comprehensive cost improvement program that focuses on all sectors of the healthcare industry. Saving just $.04 on every healthcare dollar would yield more than enough savings to make this program truly ‘Paid For’ without raising taxes, reducing benefits or cutting reimbursements for services.”

Since being launched earlier this spring, the Healthcare Narrative Tracker Index has found:

  • Growing concern regarding out-of-control cost increases. Analyses now show that the original cost projections have risen even more steeply as insurance companies race ahead to enact changes in their plans and rises in the price of premiums ahead of implementation.
  • Increasing national concern about the inability to keep one’s current insurance. This in spite of the president’s oft-stated assertion that “if you like your current health insurance plan, you will be able to keep it.”

Though the President’s statement is technically true, it is now evident that many of those same plans are now being altered, eliminated, or priced out of reach of their current customers. Therefore, according to HNTI, the president’s statement is viewed with deep suspicion.

  • Sharply rising concern about adding to the deficit. President Barack Obama repeatedly asserted during the healthcare debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save money – and not add a penny to the deficit.
  • At a recent press conference, President Obama offered some caveats when asked about the apparent discrepancy between his promises and the current reality of rising premiums and prices. For example, Medicare’s Office of the Actuary confirmed that healthcare costs would continue to rise, at least through 2019. However, the Congressional Budget Office has recently reaffirmed its earlier finding that the Healthcare Reform effort will reduce the deficit in the long-run. Nevertheless, in contradiction to these statements, the HNTI has been ahead of the curve in tracking public perception as well as the future trajectory of the issue.

In a related development, the US Census Bureau announced earlier this week that the number of uninsured Americans grew to 50.7 million in 2009, now 16.7% of the population, rising from 46.3 million and 15.4% in 2008. Also noted was the decline in number of insured through their employer, falling from 176.3 million to 169.7 million in 2009. If this trend continues through 2010 and into 2011, it will only exacerbate the problem of funding the Healthcare Reform effort, since there will be significantly fewer people to help fund the mandate.

“The value of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index clearly extends to its predictive ability,” said Dave Hill, long-time industry observer and principle of Mesabi Associates, the Massachusetts-based technology consulting firm. “Including social media in the mix of Internet and electronic and print media sources provides a very clear (and accurate) snapshot of what the people are actually thinking. The predictive element only adds to the Healthcare NarrativeTracker’s power.”

The Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

In a separate release tracking the Top Political Buzzwords of the Mid-term elections, the Global Language Monitor has found that Healthcare Reform-related buzzwords have fallen sharply and now rank at No. 21 on the list, while No. 13 Deficit Spending, No. 15 Out-of-control Spending, and No. 17 Healthcare Mandate are in ascendance.

Top Political Buzzwords: Negative Narrative Entangles President and His Party

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.Top Political Buzzwords Six Weeks Out

. Narrative Tracking-based Election Forecast:

..Opposite of 2008

..Hillary Clinton Ascendant as No. 8

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AUSTIN, Texas, September 24, 2010. The Global Language Monitor (GLM) today announced that the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-term Elections portray a strongly negative narrative that has increasingly entangled the president and his party with six weeks remaining before the Mid-term elections. The Top Ten Buzzwords include Narrative, Lower Taxes, Obama as a Muslim, Conservative, Climate Change, Liberal, Recession (linked to Obama), Hillary Clinton related to Obama, Tea Partiers, and Obama as Aloof, Detached, or Professorial.

These are a dramatic departure from the top buzzwords immediately preceding the 2008 Presidential election where the Top Buzzword was Change, blame for the recession was clearly assigned to George W. Bush, Raising Taxes was No. 27, and the Surge was still a Top Ten issue as was the price of gasoline. Obamamania was the No. 3 Word of 2008 (after Change and Bailout); Obamamania now stands at No. 63. One consistency: Nuclear Iran was No. 31; now Nuclear Iran is No. 33.

Austin-based Global Language Monitor has been analyzing political buzzwords since the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003.

“The Top Political Buzzwords reflect a strongly negative narrative that the president and his party have six weeks to overcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Typically an opinion swing of this magnitude can be directly attributable to outside events, not of one’s personal doing.”

Election Forecast:  In an additional analysis, the Global Language Monitor has forecast the results of the Mid-term Elections based on the number of citations received, relating to Liberal/Progressive, Conservative  and Independent labels.  Liberal and Progressives were measured together and separately.  Based on the analysis concluded earlier this week, the results are projected to largely inversely mirror the results of 2008, where Obama won some 53% of the vote to McCain’s 46% with 1% other.  With the Independents splitting evenly or slightly in favor of the Republicans, the 2010 results would range from 53% to 56% Republicans to 44% to 47% for the Democrats.  Of course there are still six weeks before the election with game-altering ‘October Surprises’ a very real possibility.

Some seventy political buzzwords were tracked; the analysis was concluded on September 22, 2010.

The Top Political Buzzwords Six Weeks Out include:

1.  Narrative  – Idea of the narrative is a strong No. 1

2.  Lower Taxes – 600% higher than Raise Taxes (No. 10)

3.  Obama Muslim Connection - Two weeks before 2008 Election it was No . 6

4.  Conservatives – Stand at 43% of sample citations

5.  Climate Change – Always one of Top 5

6.  Liberal - Liberal/Progressives stand at 33% of Citations

7.  Recession (linked to Obama) – Over 4x the number that link to GWB (No.20)

8.  Hillary Clinton – Hillary Ascendant

9.  Tea Partiers – Very strong for a recent phenomenon

10. Obama Aloof, detached, Professorial – Reached peak in reaction to his handling the Gulf Oil Spill

11. Raise Taxes – Only 16% of lower taxes (No. 2)

12. Progressive – 74% of Liberal citations; Liberal/Progressives stand at 33% of Citations

13. Deficit Spending – Close to Out-of-Control Spending (No.15)

14. Independents – Independents stand at 20% of citations

15. Out-of-control Spending — Spending is widely viewed as out-of-control

16. Sarah Palin – Apparently, opposition only makes her stronger

17. Healthcare Mandate – Nearly triple the concern for HC Reform (No. 21)

18. Change you can believe in – Not so much, these days

19. Iraq War – Far from top of Mind

20. Recession (linked to Bush) – Warning to Dems, this is fading from view

21. Healthcare reform – Comes in just a bit higher than the Gulf Oil Spill

22. BP Gulf Oil Spill —  The BP SpillCam was the No. 1 Television Word (Teleword) of the Year

23. Anti-incumbent — It’s not just a matter of anger; lower than pundits have it

24.  Obama “oil spill” response — Major factor in negativity of overall narrative

25. Al Qaeda – Low ranking reflected by several polls, also

26. George Bush — Not much value in running a ‘Not Bush’ Campaign

27.  Wall Street Bailout – Bush, Bailout, Pelosi and Limbaugh, Cheney (and Reid) line up closely

28.  Grand Zero Mosque – More than 110 times the number of citations for 51 Park Place

29. Nancy Pelosi — Off the radar nowadays

30. Rush Limbaugh – Interesting pairing at Nos, 29 and 30, no?

Other highlights include:

· Afghanistan stands at No. 37

· Obama is now linked to Katrina more often than Bush

· Transparency now stands at No. 43

· Birther seems to receive much more media than deserved (No. 49)

· Sarah Palin’s malapropism Refudiate is No. 55

· Shovel Ready is down to No. 64.

Top Political Buzzwords of Past Elections

  • The Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Elections included: Change, Climate Change, the price of Gasoline, Recession, Experience, and Obama as a Muslim
  • The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included: Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency
  • The Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Elections included: Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

About Narrative Tracker

The Narrative Tracker is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

NTI by its very nature is non-biased. When we take a statistical snapshot there is no adjustment for ‘underrepresented’ groups, there are no assumptions about probability of turnout, the proportions of newly registered voters, traditional models, or expanded modularity’s. In other words, it is what it is.


‘Refudiate’: Why Sarah Palin’s Twitter flub may outlast her

By John Austin | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Pundits jumped on Sarah Palin when she recently tweeted that people should “refudiate” plans for a New York City mosque near Ground Zero.

“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” Palin tweeted.

The tweet was quickly deleted, and refute replaced refudiate, but the clips of Palin using the word on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show have not gone away. Nor has the flap over how the former governor and vice presidential candidate let her linguistic slip show.

Still, while Palin is no Shakespeare — a famous coiner of words — it may be wrong to misunderestimate refudiate too quickly.

“In English, the tradition is words bubble up from the people,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor in Austin. “If it’s used, it’s accepted as a word.”

George W. Bush’s notorious use of misunderestimate is a good example of how what’s called a portmanteau word can find acceptance.

Like an old-fashioned portmanteau traveling case that opens into two compartments like a book, portmanteau words such as refudiate combine two other words in form and meaning.  [Read More.]


“Refudiating” Word Games: What would Edwin Newman Think?

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What would have the late newsman and grammar guru Edwin Newman thought about airwaves and cyberspace filled with “refudiate” and “guido?”

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By JERE HESTERSep 16, 2010
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It’s hard to refudiate that we lost one of our great TV journalists and guardians of the language with the recent death of NBC’s Edwin Newman.

In fact, it’s impossible to refudiate – because “refudiate” isn’t a word.

We imagine that Newman, who displayed a strong sense of humor in his TV commentaries, writings and appearances on David Letterman’s old morning show and “Saturday Night Live,” might have gotten a rueful chuckle out of Sarah Palin’s tweeted mash-up of “refute” and “repudiate.”

Newman, whose death at age 91 was reported Wednesday, famously asked in “Strictly Speaking,” his 1974 bestseller on the state of language, “Will America be the death of English?”

GLM Comment:  In fact the exact opposite has occurred — American English has spurred the English to a new level, from Old English, to Middle English, to Modern English to what might be deemed, in contemporary fashion, English 2.0.

Recent evidence doesn’t bode well for the mother tongue. The folks at Merriam-Webster this month named “refudiate” the Word of the Summer – and reported that the non-word spurred many searches on its online dictionary.

Meanwhile, The Global Language Monitor last week released its annual list of the popular “telewords” (which isn’t really a word itself). Placing No. 3 on the group’s “Top Words from Television” list for the 2009-2010 TV season was “guido.”

That anti-Italian slur became a catchword, thanks to the cast of “Jersey Shore” – a place, at least on MTV, where young people foolishly acting out stereotypes are celebrated and rewarded. (In other signs of the times, The Monitor’s top two entries were “BP Spillcam” and “dysfunctional.”) [Read More.]


Politics Now Driven by Competing Narratives

Clarence Page’s (Chicago Tribune, contributor to PBS News Hour, etc.)  take on this new phenomenon.

GLM Comment:  The Global Language Monitor has been tracking political buzzwords since 2003.  See

our latest news on Political Narratives at our NarrativeTracker pages.

With less than two months to go until the November midterm elections, a clear winner is beginning to emerge in the race to declare the year’s biggest political buzzword.

Hey, buzzwords matter. Who could forget — no matter how much we might like to – such hits from years past as “chad,” “Swift Boat” and “lipstick” as it might be smeared on a pig or a pitbull?

On Tuesday, the website Global Language Monitor, based in Austin, which has been monitoring words on thousands of news, blogs and social network sites since 2003, announced the No. 1 political buzzword so far this year – beating out “climate change,” “Obama Muslim,” “lower taxes” and even “tea partiers” – is (drum roll please) “the narrative.”

The Narrative? “It’s been running strong since last spring,” GLM President Paul J.J. Payack told me in a telephone interview.

That confirmed my suspicion. I don’t even have a computerized algorithm like Payack does, but I, too, had begun to notice in my fanatical surfing of political media that the word “narrative” was popping up with increasing frequency.

For example, Steve and Cokie Roberts observed in a recent column, “For a growing number of Americans, President Barack Obama’s narrative no longer defines who he is.”

Columnist Maureen Dowd similarly wondered back in June how such a gifted storyteller as Obama could “lose control of his own narrative.”

E.J. Dionne, writing in The New Republic, notes Obama has decided to “confront a deeply embedded media narrative that sees a Republican triumph as all but inevitable.”

In fact, “narrative” was popping up so much in reference to Obama as he grappled with crises like the Gulf oil spill that a Washington Post reporter was inspired to lead one feature with, “Sing to me of the Obama narrative, Muse.”  [Read More.]


Top TeleWords of the 2009/2010 Season

BP SpillCam, Dysfunctional Families,

and All-things Jersey

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Seventh Annual Analysis by the Global Language Monitor

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Austin, Texas, USA. September 10, 2010. The Global Language Monitor today announced that the BP Spillcam has topped dysfunctional, Guido, realityand nice as the Top Words from Television for the 2009-2010 season. Rounding out the Top Ten were rude, “drama at 10:00,” ‘Chicago-style politics,’ cross-over, and ambush marketing. The awards are annually announced at the beginning of the Fall television season in the US.  This is the seventh annual analysis by Austin-based GLM.

“The Top TeleWords of 2010 encompassed an unintended ‘up-close-and-personal’ view to an unparalleled natural disaster, resonating sitcoms detailing the contradictions, foibles (and joys) of  post-Modern life, a Super Bowl victory for the still recovering city of New Orleans, and more Guidos and Guidettes and one might encounter in a lifetime.” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM.

The Top Telewords of the 2010 season with commentary follow:

1. BP Spillcam — Provocative, engaging, riveting television delivered to all three screens (and possibly the worst PR nightmare of all time).

2. Dysfunctional – Modern Family: Would you expect otherwise from a series that sprang from the mind of Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd)?

3. Guido — Jersey Shore elevates Guidos and Guidettes into the mainstream; but one of several reality shows feeding viewers interest in all-things Jersey.

4. Reality – When Webster defined reality as ‘truth or fact, not merely a matter of amusement,’ he was obviously unaware of reality TV.

5. Nice – The word ‘nice’ is associated with Betty White over 1.1 million times on Goggle. Nice and vicious, dear.

6. Rude — Simon Cowell departs American Idol after a seven-year run; even the Queen has referred to Cowell as ‘caustic’.

7. “Drama at 10:00” – As Jay Leno said of the Late Night kerfuffle with Conan O’Brien, NBC ‘wanted it and they got it’.

8. Chicago-style politics – No we are not talking about Rahm Emanuel and the White House but rather The Good Wife.

9. Cross-over (as in crossover hit) – Nineteen-time Emmy nominee Glee’s cast album rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Chart.

10. Ambush Marketing – As advertisers begin to balk at the price of Olympic sponsorships, some are to ‘ambush marketing’ as was widely demonstrated during the Vancouver Winter Games.

11. Bressus: Fan-bestowed nickname for New Orleans Saints Super Bowl winning-quarterback’s nickname — the most watched Super bowl in years.

12. Asperger’s Disease – Temple Grandin’s lesser-known challenge in the eponymously titled biopic from HBO.

13. Lady Gaga –Stephani Germanotta is visible everywhere on global television over the course of the season.

14. The Pacific (War) — Most older folks are surprised to learn that the Pacific War was a different conflict than WWII.

 

The Top Telewords of previous years:

2009 – ObamaVision — All Obama, all the time, everywhere, followed by Financial Meltdown and the death of Michael Jackson.

2008: Beijing (from the Olympics), ObamaSpeak, followed by ‘facts are stubborn things’, ‘it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.

2007: “Surge” from the Iraq War political and military strategy, “That’s Hot®” Paris Hilton’s popular expression that is now a registered trademark, and “D’oh!” from The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie.

2006: ‘Truthiness’ and ‘Wikiality’ from the Colbert Show followed by ‘Katrina’, ‘Katie,’ and ‘Dr. McDreamy’.

2005: ‘Refugee’ from the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, followed by ‘Desperation’ from Desperate Housewives and ‘Camp Cupcake’ from the on-going Martha Stewart follies.

2004: “You’re Fired!” edged “Mess O’ Potamia” followed by “Girlie Men,” “God,” and “Wardrobe Malfunction”.


Obama Turns Page on His Winning Rhetorical Style — and the Iraq War

Analysis of Obama’s ‘Turn the Page’ Oval Office address

AUSTIN, TX, September 7, 2010 – President Barack Obama, in his second Oval Office address announced the “American combat mission in Iraq has ended [and] Operation Iraqi Freedom is over”.    The seventeen-minute long speech, Obama acknowledged President George W. Bush, but neither thanked him for his role as former Commander-in-Chief nor credited him with the ‘Surge,’ other than as a reference to the current operations in Afghanistan.  The Surge, the change in military tactics during the height of the conflict, is widely credited with changing the course of the war.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor.  GLM has been analyzing presidential speeches since the turn of the century.

Not surprisingly, the President’s tone was sober, direct, and matter of fact, even workmanlike.  There were small rhetorical flourishes, such as referring to “our troops are the steel in our ship of state”.  He clearly proclaimed his devotion and admiration for the troops at the same time distancing himself from the war, its causes and execution. His emphasis was on ‘Turning the page’.

His address contained about half the number of passive constructions (7% vs. 13%) as his previous Oval Office address in June.  His sentences were some 5% shorter while the length of his paragraphs increased some 20%, which allowed him to more fully express his thinking.

When compared to other presidents’ addresses over the last several decades, this speech compared most closely from a ‘hearability’ or ‘readability’ point of view to President Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech;  however, rhetorically this was not the case.

As for grade-level (using the standard Flesch-Kincaid metrics), this speech was on with Obama’s more recent efforts (between ninth and tenth grades).  As noted previously, Obama has moved away from the rhetorical style of his most widely praised oratorical efforts, the ‘Yes We Can’ victory speech in Grant Park and his 2004 Democratic Convention effort in Boston).  (The actual numbers are 9.5 and 7.4 and 8.3 respectively.)  In doing so, he seems to have abandoned his earlier formula that resulted in the direct emotional impact of his campaign oratory.

[Note:  this article clocked in at a 12.3 grade reading level.]

In May 2003, President Bush gave his now infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech declaring an ‘End To Major Combat In Iraq’.  However, during the speech, he never actually uttered ‘Mission Accomplished’.  Those words were on the ship returning to the San Diego Naval Base, as is the tradition, from overseas duty.   Fortunately for President Obama, his backdrop was the Oval Office and pictures of his wife and family.


Not a Recession but a Global Economic Restructuring …

Summary:  What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level.  (This article, which appeared in a slightly differing form earlier this year, is written by Paul JJ Payack and Edward ML Peters.)

Austin, Texas, September 7, 2010 — Originally alluded to as a ‘Financial Tsunami’ or ‘Financial Meltdown,’ the major global media continue to call our current economic condition  ‘The Great Recession’.  In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as ‘The Depression’ in the same way that many still refer to World War II as ‘The War’.  But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called ‘Great Recession’.

The difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis of the past — but rather a crisis of another sort.

In On War, one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time, the Prussian career soldier Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831) stated one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out ‘by other means’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

This fact is entrapping two US presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma:  describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules.  Therefore the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the US economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse.  Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the US economy is emerging out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If you carefully disassemble the events of the last decade or two, one can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (Energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured good and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that  inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately understand, or even explain, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history.  In fact the larger realities are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that is out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power and influence has proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed.  This is especially so as they watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the difficulty in naming the current economic crisis is the fact that is not an economic crisis at all but rather a transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries along with the associated collateral (or human) damage.

[Read More.]


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