Ignorance Is Strength

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told today not to use seven words in official documents they prepare for next year’s budget. The words are








Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” but in other cases, no substitute was suggested.

No names were given of people responsible for this dictum.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget

but, from the wording, it looks like it was a Party operative another official who gave the order. Or somebody told the senior CDC officials that that would be required.

“Transgender” and “fetus” are particularly problematic. The preference to replace “fetus” is probably “unborn baby.” I don’t want to imagine what they would prefer for “transgender.” Or, I guess, programs involving those nonexistent categories can just be struck. I’m sure the CDC budget will be decreased in any case.


Update: cthulu informs us that Kevin Drum has supplied substitutes. Here they are 

81 replies
  1. 1

    Somewhere in the Kremlin Putin cackles with glee as his hand picked puppet wrecks havoc.

  2. 2
    Bonnie says:

    When I worked for the Federal Government, unless a directive was in writing with the signature and title of the offical at the bottom, it was never consider an official directive.

  3. 3
    Mike in NC says:

    Republican Congress would abolish the CDC in a heartbeat if only they knew it existed and what it did.

  4. 4

    Quite a doozy, that. When do we start banning books?

  5. 5
    p.a. says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Yeah he’s cackling, but this is pure bred home grown Talibangelical-Rethug cretinism.

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    Adam Schiff says the house is getting ready to shut down its Russia investigation, despite there being outstanding witnesses and subpoenas. The details are pretty scary. I plan to spend the weekend writing Darrell Issa.

    ETA: forgot link to thread

    I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month. Here’s why:— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 15, 2017

  7. 7
    Argiope says:

    You know, it’s going to be pretty hard to educate the public about the Zika virus if we keep having to say things like “really really mature embryos”.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    amygdala says:

    Could use “nonbinary” or transman or transwoman in lieu of transgender. For fetus, embryo is appropriate until 8 weeks. Could say “products of conception” after that.

    Prohibitions on “evidence-based” and “science-based”… good grief.

  10. 10
    tobie says:

    Seems like there’s been a lot of frenetic activity since the election in Alabama. In the past few days we’ve seen the push to pass the tax bill by next week, the out-in-the-public feud between Trump and Tillerson, Congressional efforts to end the Russia probe, the drumbeat to shut down the Mueller investigation. Does the GOP know its days are numbered? Or, given the string of electoral defeats, are they trying to seize power by other means?

    ETA: I forgot to mention Trump’s conversation with Putin this week. Evidently it was a long call.

  11. 11
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I think wrecks are the results
    of wreaking havoc…


  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @2Annies1Chalice: I prefer the song lyric thing.

  13. 13
    Schlemazel says:

    Call it a zygote

    One problem we are having that will continue is that we have to recalibrate all insults. It used to be when the government stated something a little off kilter it was labeled ‘newspeak’ after 1984. All previous bullshit pales in comparison to hair furor’s band of storm troopers. THis is newspeak.

  14. 14
    craigie says:

    Isn’t “entitlement” their own RWNJ word in the first place? So now the word they invented to shame people who get things from the government and who are not billionaires, trust fund babies, or corporations, is itself too accurate?

    The end is nigh. Or at least the end of language.

  15. 15
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Major Major Major Major: burning them seems more imminent.

  16. 16
    Gravenstone says:

    I’ve got a catchall replacement for the banned words: reality-based. Not like the fucking Republicans would recognize reality if it walked up and bit them on their shriveled dicks, but they certainly seem to fear it. Wonder if it’s instinctual, or a learned trait for the sub-species?

  17. 17
    Steeplejack says:


    “Wreaks havoc.”

    (Not being snippy, just trying to help a non-native speaker.)

  18. 18
    TriassicSands says:

    There have to be lawsuits over this censorship. No self-respecting doctor or scientist would go along with the banning of words to be used in CDC docs.
    Vulnerable — Donald Trump
    Entitlement — Ivanka Trump
    Diversity — Jared Kushner
    Transgender — Sarah Huckabee Sanders
    Fetus — Eric Trump
    Evidence-based — Kellyanne Conway
    Science-based — Mike Pence

    Not perfect.

  19. 19
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    My gawd your world is even more fudged up than ours 😜
    With regards the CDC: Do they have to do as told? What be the consequences of not doing so?

  20. 20
    satby says:

    Something weird going on at Chase bank too, the stock market closed up, but the Chase branded G&I fund my mom left me lost almost 5% today. WTF?
    Bubble starting to burst?

  21. 21


    With regards the CDC: Do they have to do as told? What be the consequences of not doing so?

    Bonnie pointed out that an official statement would be in writing. But there are many ways to sabotage a budget request that doesn’t play up to what is wanted.

    This seems to apply to budget documents only. I’m sure the scientists will come up with some ideas.

  22. 22
    SFAW says:

    This thing is double-plus-ungood?

  23. 23
    Bill Arnold says:

    Vaguely related, the Style Guide for the Daily Stormer has been leaked. I’m assuming it’s real.
    This Is The Daily Stormer’s Playbook
    It’s fouler than one might expect. (Certainly fouler that I expected in writing.) Just a reminder that these people exist in the US.
    Anyway, focuses should be on other things, like, in no particular order, Mueller investigation, North Korea/US threat escalations, Corporate Tax Cuts paid for by the middle class and our children, Net Neutrality, and the style guides (e.g. OP) being inflicted on US career [1] employees that are slightly gentler than the Daily-Stormer style guide.
    [1] AKA “Deep State” employees, excepting those proven loyal to D. Trump.[2]
    [2] Perhaps D. Trump should re-institute Truman’s Loyalty Checks[3] (Executive Order 9835, replaced by Executive Order 10450)
    [3] The Nazi Party was on the list of bad organizations.

  24. 24
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    I kind of feel like it is starting, but my clientele is super tender to economic downturns.

  25. 25
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @satby: pay out of year end div and CG?

    but the economy feels very bubble-y to me, too

  26. 26
    Amir Khalid says:

    With regard to what Bonnie said, and bearing in mind that this is the Trump administration whose head thinks he can issue orders to the military by Twitter, I wonder if anyone at the White House is even aware of the need for a signed order.

  27. 27
  28. 28

  29. 29

    @Amir Khalid: Have we actually determined whether or not Trump can issue orders via Twitter?

  30. 30
    mike in dc says:

    @tobie: It’s an elaborate effort to pump up firearms sales, which have slumped since Obama left office. Although in this case, it will be mainly driven by liberals and progressives buying guns and ammo.

    I hope I’m joking.

  31. 31
    Aleta says:

    Four candidates running to turn a House seat from R to D, and worth supporting. From a page describing them for a fundraiser held by Tech Solidarity in Manhattan at 40 E 35th St in NYC tomorrow.

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    Susan Collins or Marco Rubio. Which one has the least amount of spine possible and still be mobile?

  33. 33
    JGabriel says:

    Cheryl Rofer @ Top:

    The preference to replace “fetus” is probably “unborn baby.”

    I’ve said it before, been saying it for years in fact, and I’m sure I’ll say it again:

    It’s always the unborn with these people, never a fucking thought for the undead.

  34. 34

    @Major Major Major Major: The military announced this week that it will recruit transgender people. I believe there’s been some sort of decision, might be bureaucratic within the military, that orders must be given in a way that follows the rules, which doesn’t seem to include tweets.

    But, as I said, there are many ways to sabotage a budget that doesn’t play to the higher-ups’ prejudices.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    “Why are there so many miles on it?”
    “Ummm, I just bought you a Jaguar SUV. What the fuck are you complaining about, princess?”

  36. 36

    @Aleta: Just looked at the map for CA-8; damn that’s a huge district(goes from Joshua Tree all the way up to Mono Lake).

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    Book burnings will commence on the Mall in 3… 2… 1…

    Atop a bed of ‘Merkin coal, of course.

  38. 38
    Yarrow says:

    I hate all these people so much.There’s still time for the meteor before the tax bill vote, right?

  39. 39

    @Cheryl Rofer: I saw that they were going to start doing that, but I also remember reading that he’d made (in addition to the tweet) an actual formal order lo that many months ago when he tweeted that they were banning trans people. I seem to remember that the order just said to review it and we can go from there, though, so maybe they completed the review and convinced him that everything is fine.

  40. 40
    Duane says:

    When we finally defeat the Republican suicide squad, they need to be eradicated like the confederate traitors should have been. Let them learn a hard lesson in history.

  41. 41
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    What applies to the military with regard to orders conveyed verbally or by Twitter surely applies elsewhere in the FederalGovernment. I get what you said about ways to force compliance, but that example regarding transgendered military personnel suggests that there’s some limit to what orders career people can obey if they come from outside proper channels.

  42. 42
    efgoldman says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Have we actually determined whether or not Trump can issue orders via Twitter?

    There are volumes of rules and statutes about implementing rules and statutes. They are different in civilian and military (which requires very, specific form and food chain)
    That’s why the transgender ban han’t been implented

  43. 43
    Doug R says:

    Hey, we’re not even sure it’s actually trump sometimes, there’s no way orders issued on twitter could be legal.

  44. 44
    noncarborundum says:


    con·cep·tus (kən-sĕp’təs):n. The product of conception at any point between fertilization and birth, especially the embryo and the extraembryonic membranes.

  45. 45
    redoubt says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: This is a violation of CDC’s mission statement as well.

    CDC is based in Atlanta and not in DC for some very good reasons. This is the main one. (Been here twentyplus years but not in policy.) A mosquito does not care if you are Republican or Democrat.

  46. 46
    Mike J says:

    @noncarborundum: Fuck ’em. Just go with “abortion in waiting”.

  47. 47
    efgoldman says:

    @Mike J:

    Fuck ’em. Just go with “abortion in waiting”.

    Or just:

  48. 48
    scav says:

    in consideration with community standards and wishes

    Like bloody hell Some evangelical melanin-deprived bipeds are just going to have to get over their deluded stance that they speak for any bullshit all-poweful definitional ‘Mercan “Community”.

    In addition to just being fuckall wrong in so many other directions.

  49. 49
    jl says:

    How about ‘potential future serf’ instead of fetus?

  50. 50
    Corner Stone says:


    Or just:

    I am pretty sure that’s how they got there.

  51. 51
    seaboogie says:

    @Steeplejack: Hey you, long time since shared comments.

    I’ve been out of pocket to preserve my mental equilibrium, and good to find you here now. Any music to offer?

  52. 52
    Steve in the ATL says:


    When we finally defeat the Republican suicide squad, they need to be eradicated like the confederate traitors should have been. Let them learn a hard lesson in history.

    “You get a tumbrel and you get a tumbrel…you’re all getting tumbrels!”

  53. 53

    I don’t want to imagine what they would prefer for “transgender.”

    They’d prefer that we not exist — with extreme prejudice. Therefore no substitute wording is needed.

  54. 54
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    Good to see your nym. Going to sleep now. Maybe tomorrow night.

    Okay, one: John Klemmer, “Touch.”

  55. 55
    Anderj says:

    @Major Major Major Major: there indeed was a formal order. That was put on hold by at least two courts. This automatically revived the pre-existing date of 1 January for hiring transgenders (which date was cancelled or postponed by Trump’s order. Administration is still lodgings an emergency appeal against the stay. The military is therefore not defying any orders.

  56. 56
    Doug R says:

    Late term embryo?

  57. 57
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    When do we start banning more books?

    The League of Morally Outraged Uptight Pussies has long been a scourge against our public libraries these many decades.

  58. 58
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Have we actually determined whether or not Trump can issue orders via Twitter?

    Have we even determined who he’s issuing orders to?

  59. 59
    TenguPhule says:


    A mosquito does not care if you are Republican or Democrat.

    This is a problem science should be trying to solve.

  60. 60
    opiejeanne says:

    @schrodingers_cat: wreaks havoc.

    I know autocorrect did that to you.

  61. 61
    opiejeanne says:

    @TenguPhule: Careful how you use that term. My cat is offended.

  62. 62
    lowtechcyclist says:

    Seven words? Seven?!

    That number has a certain ring to it, for those of us of a certain age.

    To quote George Carlin, “shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.” The Seven Words you couldn’t say on TV back in the day.

    There’s your substitutes. For “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based,” substitute shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.


  63. 63
  64. 64
    opiejeanne says:

    @lowtechcyclist: Dr Johnny Fever lost his cushy DJ job because he said “booger” on the air.

  65. 65
    satby says:

    @oldgold: oh, thanks oldgold. That makes sense, they did have a press release about distributions. The link explained it well, appreciate it!

  66. 66
    lowtechcyclist says:

    One of the Pacifica radio stations played Carlin’s ‘seven words’ routine on the air, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court. FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).

  67. 67
    BretH says:

    But just remember the nightmare we’d be living in if that corrupt corporate shill Hillary had won.

  68. 68

    ETA: Trouble is, like Peak Wingnut, this may be being declared too soon.

  69. 69

    @schrodingers_cat: *wreaks not wrecks

    Note to self: Do not comment when sleepy.

  70. 70

    @opiejeanne: No can’t blame auto correct. I tend to make these careless mistakes when I am tired.

  71. 71

    @smedley the uncertain: You are right, of course
    @Steeplejack: Being called a non-native speaker stings, since I have had all my schooling in English since I was 3. But yes, I do sometimes make mistakes in spelling, confusing homonyms or almost homonyms. Especially, when I am tired.

  72. 72
    Citizen_X says:


    Putin cackles with glee as his hand picked puppet wrecks havoc.

    Putin, Hell. At this point, Lysenko is cackling with glee.

  73. 73
    Steeplejack says:


    My apologies. I meant non-native in the sense of not American-born, not English as second language.

  74. 74
    chopper says:

    so the parts of the CDC that use animal fetal stem cell lines to research stuff, they’re going to change the word in their budget proposals to what, “babbies!”?

  75. 75
    smintheus says:

    I’d suggest that CDC employees replace ‘fetus’ with ‘foetus’, ‘science-based’ with ‘scientific’, and ‘evidence-based’ with ’empirical’.

    The rest of the Orwellian instructions, they should just ignore.

  76. 76
    Damned at Random says:

    Shout out to the wonderful Kevin Drum. He was the first blogger I followed (when he was writing Political Animal). Always thoughtful, always interesting. lacking only nude housekeeping stories

  77. 77
    oldster says:

    “Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,””

    So you can say “based on science,” but not “science-based.” These people are dumber than rocks.

    As a replacement for “fetus,” I suggest “fetal tissue.”

  78. 78
    J R in WV says:

    They could go to the old fetus = f***s technique… won’t bother to do the other 6 words they want their employees to avoid. Seems strange, even the asking. Must be someone with peculiar ideas about things that matter? Because they could just use synonyms, there are so many in English…

    Who cares about words like this? Seems quite uneducated to me, the whole idea, how they’re expressing it, everything about it seems stupid. So no surprise, just weirdness.

  79. 79
    smintheus says:

    @oldster: The important part is “in consideration with community standards and wishes”. IOW no science may intrude wherever anybody’s (or any corporation’s) tender feelings might be bruised.

  80. 80
    mainmata says:

    @Bonnie: That was still valid as of last year and I can attest that it is still being enforced below the Presidential* appointee level at least for the time being in at least some DC agencies. The agency I am most familiar with, USAID, had to change climate change to “weather variability”, which is absurd (I work in this field). The new agency Administrator, though GOP, is actually dedicated to the agency’s mission so right now they’re just back to the Bush Era but with more budgetary and policy chaos. As bad as the domestic agencies are suffering, State/USAID is even worse (though they’re still on Obama’s budget because of the utter incompetence of the GOP Congress). If Mulvaney’s insane proposed 2018 budget were ever to be passed intact (not a chance), it would devastate the federal government. As 2018 is an election year and the GOP has decided to go full Gault, they are in deep trouble and the very few that understand that know they can’t wipe out the discretionary budget to give Defense and DHS vastly more toys on.and the wall without massive retribution.

  81. 81
    mainmata says:

    @Amir Khalid: You are correct and, believe me, the federal bureaucracy is very aware of the rules.

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