Friday, September 11, 2009

Hey Harry, your sentences are a total mess!

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said in ”remarks prepared for delivery” to note the passing Senator Edward Kennedy:

"The impact he etched into our history will long endure. The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall on deaf ears, but his dream shall never die."

Hey Harry, these sentences are a total mess! I think I am beginning to see why health care reform is getting so jumbled in the Senate debate. You guys can’t think straight.

I hate to be a nitpicker—no that’s a lie—I enjoy it more than you can imagine. I have a pet theory, hatched in the Geo W Bush years: totally mashed up semantics, weird modifiers and misdirected metaphors that paint a dreadful picture reflect mashed up, weird, misdirected and dreadful thinking. QED.

Here we go. Not to leave poor Geo way ahead in the war of malapropisms, the Democrats, with Harry at bat, have scored some whopping points!

"The impact he etched into our history will long endure.” Harry gets off to a slow start. Though “etching an impact” is a bit hard for me to get visually, “to etch in memory” is a common way to say “unforgettable.” Etching is a process in the visual arts that requires the application of acid, mordant or abrasive of some sort to the unprotected areas on a metal to create the negative of an image for reproduction. Doesn’t he just mean that it will be hard to forget Teddy and that his legacy will be equally hard to erase. The use of the word “history” might be trying to sound the sad note that Teddy is no longer with us, but his body is barely cold. But I will give “etched impact” 4 points, but take 2 away for the introduction of Teddy’s death with an weak nuance for “history”–if that is even his meaning.

“The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall on deaf ears, but his dream shall never die." But here’s where the real fun begins, and Harry racks up real points. These are two great images, the roaring lion and the “I have a dream” rhetoric of any visionary. But in the same sentence? Both images are diminished plus it makes no sense. Minus 10 points for each infraction. The middle phrase, “deaf ears,” must mean that the Republicans in the Senate, those in power, those in the opposition, are so stupid that they cannot hear or understand his strong cogent, articulate arguments. But did this just happen now that Teddy is dead—now that he is no longer around to twist arms in the Senate cloakroom? Hardly. They were deaf long before. So I am going to deduct 40 points for nonsense. I have also heard that one can dream with all the organs, but the ears are not usually regarded as the instrument of dreams in ordinary speech, but then again, people who dream do hear voices, usually ominous warnings of danger. But if this is the meaning, it is very obtuse. I will deduct another 30 points. That leaves Harry with a score of 8 out of a possible 100. George scored 0 on multiple occasions. Keep it up Harry, you can still give him a run for his money.

"Give up. The War is lost!"

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Healthcare reform may actually be very simple

Another view from abroad

I have been talking with Australians, asking questions and listening to their reactions to the continuing debate over the overhaul of our healthcare system in the US.

As they become aware of what we pay for the services we receive, they, for the most part, are shocked. As they try to understand the debate, public options, death panels, the rationing scare, they are appalled at our greed. Companies charge exorbitant prices for services delivered by a shoddy system. Overstuffed, pampered Americans want the "Right" to a full body scan in a shopping mall so that they can feel good while there are lines of working people in emergency rooms who cannot afford basic coverage.

Australians have had their fair share of corruption with regards to government contracts and kickbacks—they are not naive. But the conversation has allowed me to look at the American situation with fresh eyes. There is far too much money floating around in the system, far too many loopholes. Fat pigs are making a mess of any rational reform so they can keep the money flowing.

It might be that simple, folks. Cut the pigs and their cronies out of the conversation. The simplest solution is usually one that cures.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Our not so slow drift towards fascism?

A view from abroad

Amazing what a new perspective can do for you. I was sitting behind the Queen Victoria Building last night after a concert, waiting for a bus with a friend. She asked me, in a matter of fact way, “Aren’t people concerned about the rise of fascism in the States? That’s what we see, the tea parties, the disruptions during the town hall meetings, the virulent attacks from the Right, the blocking of any meaningful reform, the blind eye turned towards the most hideous forms of torture. Obama seems like a very principled and talented man, but the continued attacks will only increase until the fascists seize power again. They can’t believe they lost it.”

And perhaps we cannot see what we are in danger of losing.

I felt a chill run down my spine. We’re Americans. We beat Hitler. We are also the most poorly educated and misinformed democracy on the face of the globe, and we never experienced anything like the rise of Nazis.

She said that the evidence suggests that it takes at least two generations to recover from fascism. By that time the streets Manhattan and Miami may be rivers and the temperature too hot for human survival. I don’t like sounding alarmist, but I think that we may be plugging along in a very deluded state, hoping that things will turn out. I heard the Dalai Lama in the Greek Theater at UC Berkeley say, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” He has some experience with calamity.

The worst may get worse. Sometimes you just can no longer avoid the evidence. Even if you chose to close your eyes, it will eventually smack you in the face.

Here's a document from Norway's 1948 war-crimes trial detailing the prosecution of Nazis convicted of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (the phrase in its original German is "verschaerfte Vernehmung)" in the Second World War. Here's a document detailing Nazi bureaucratic description of these techniques. You will note the striking similarities between its content, its legalisms, its bureaucratic tone, and the recent CIA documents pried out of the US government's hands by the ACLU:
And they were executed for war crimes.
The question Americans have to ask themselves is why they hold the former president and vice-president to lower moral and ethical standards than the United States once held the Gestapo. That's all. And that's everything, isn't it?

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