Saturday, January 10, 2009

Words That Should Be Thrown Under The Bus

Latest Newspaper Column:

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Lake Superior State University.

Not because of any athletic prowess on the part of the tiny college, way up on the Canadian border in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And not because of its sterling academic record.

No, what I love about LSSU is its annual tradition of listing words that should be banned from the English language for "misuse, overuse and general uselessness." The list is created each year by folks who flock to the university's Web site to vote on the words that make them nuts. This year's list includes:

"Green." Not the concept per se, but the way every corporation trying to earn some kind of environmental brownie points throws the word carelessly around, as well as variables such as "going green," "building green," "green solutions," etc. "Is anyone buying this nonsense?" one voter asked.

Another word that people have apparently gotten sick of is "maverick." And who can blame them? Even if you were a McCain fan, you have to admit they flogged that word harder than a rented mule.

People were also apparently sick of the whole use of the "Wall Street/Main Street" cliché. "No 'serious' discussion of the crisis can take place without some political figure lamenting the fact that the trouble on Wall Street is affecting 'folks' on Main Street," one voter complained, while another one pointed out the condescension and stereotyping inherent in the phrase: "The recent and continuing financial failings are not limited to 'Wall Street,' nor should one paint business, consumers, and small investors as 'Main Street.'"

In a related peeve, the word "bailout" was given the boot: "Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout," a voter observed. "When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout."

Voters were also sick of "game changer." Every primary was a "game changer." Or some debate or other was a disappointment because it wasn't a "game changer." For God's sake, will someone buy these commentators a thesaurus?

All in all, a good list. But I think they missed a few. My nominees for words and phrases ripe for banishment from the English language:

"Thrown under the bus": This has been overused for years, and it's reaching a crescendo now as various and sundry interest groups complain bitterly that they're being "thrown under the bus" by the Obama administration because his nominees and announced policies aren't -- surprise! -- as far "left" as the Republican shills in the mainstream media had been warning darkly that they would be.

I mean, it's bad enough that wingnuts bought into that blarney. Gullibility and an insatiable appetite for outrage are, after all, the very things that define the American Right. But liberals are supposed to be at least smart enough not to believe the Faux-News-enabled idiots who spent the entire election shrieking that "Oh my God, Barack Hussein Obama is the most liberal senator evah!"

Obama is, was, and always will be a centrist who believes in consensus. That's why he got elected.

It's a little silly to kvetch now because he hasn't announced that he'll legalize gay marriage and medical marijuana or appoint Dennis Kucinich secretary of defense while crushing the Republican Caucus beneath his Boots of Librul Doom.

I'm a good bit more liberal than Obama, but I made my peace with that early on. The only thing more annoying is that some of the same idiots who were braying that Obama was a "leftist" are now smugly gloating that "he's not really a liberal! He threw you libs under the bus!"

And while we're at it, can we dump the silly use of "leftist" for anyone even slightly more liberal than the person speaking? I mean, when a former member of the Swift Boat Vets referred to John McCain as a "leftist," was there any doubt that the word had lost all meaning?

We should also have a law against using the words "socialist," "Marxist," or "fascist" by anyone, of any political persuasion, who cannot define, in a paragraph or less, the differences among those philosophies.

"Blame Game": I really, really never want to hear these words again. Here's a hint: The guy or gal saying "let's not play the blame game" is most likely the one to blame.

"Baby Bump": This tabloid cliché, meant to imply that a well-known female might be expecting, sets my teeth on edge. Every time a female celebrity goes out in a bikini or short shirt and shows a little roundness in the tummy, it's "Baby bump? Baby bump?" If she even appears in loose-fitting clothing, it's "Is she hiding a baby bump?" It's bad enough that the tabloids are so fascinated with the whelping habits of empty-headed glitterati, but getting this cutesy about it ought to be punishable by flogging.

Remember: Only you can prevent these crimes against our language. Thanks to the folks at Lake Superior State University for leading the fight.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Insert "Stimulus Package" Joke Here

Porn industry seeks federal bailout « - Blogs from

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”

I'll just let the commenters handle this one. Make me proud, y'all.

Someday You'll Thank Me For This

Today at Murderati: My Modest Proposal to Save Publishing .

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Giving the Readers What they Want

Latest Newspaper column:

Note: It seems that some of my constant readers were a wee bit disappointed that I failed to identify the political party of indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In my constant quest to give the fans what they want, I shall endeavor in this column always to identify every person mentioned by his or her political party.

I'll say this for indicted Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich: While Blagojevich (a Democrat) may be a corrupt weasel, he's got him some chutzpah. And the Democrat sure knows how to stir things up. Everyone from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (a Democrat) to Democratic President-elect Barack Obama (also a Democrat) has said that Blagojevich (a Democrat) should step down, and that he certainly should not use his power as the Democratic governor to appoint a successor to fill the seat formerly held by the president-elect (a Democrat).

But this past week, Blago (as the Democrat is affectionately known) went ahead and appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris (a Democrat).

Democratic reaction was immediate. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (a Democrat) said he would refuse to file the official paperwork certifying the appointment. Democratic Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) said that the Senate would refuse to seat the Democrat Burris.

Only problem is, neither of those Democrats may be able to actually do that. The Supreme Court (a mixture of Democratic and Republican appointees) ruled back in 1969 that the Constitution (drafted in large part by James Madison, a Federalist) did not permit Democratic Speaker of the House John McCormack to refuse to seat duly elected Democratic Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, despite the scandals in which Powell (a Democrat) was embroiled at the time.

Congress, wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren (who'd run for office as both a Democrat and a Republican, but who was appointed by a Republican), might have the power to expel the Democrat Powell by a two-thirds vote, but they couldn't just refuse to seat the Democratic congressman.

There seems no logical reason why the same principle in Powell v. McCormack wouldn't apply to Democratic Majority Leader Reid's threatened refusal to seat the Democrat Burris.

And there certainly appears to be no constitutional authority for the Democratic secretary of state to simply refuse to file the decree of a still-sitting governor (in this case, a Democrat) who has not yet been impeached by the Illinois House (67 Democrats, 51 Republicans), or removed by its Senate (37 Democrats, 22 Republicans).

It's an interesting legal pickle.

While the Democrat Burris has made campaign contributions to the Democrat Blagojevich, none of them appear to have been part of any kind of quid pro quo, and they're really not big enough to buy the Senate seat that the Democrat Blagojevich described as "[bleeping] valuable."

Even the Democrat Reid and the Democrat White praised the Democrat Burris for his integrity and his years of public service as a Democratic comptroller and Democratic attorney general. It's just that, Democrats Reid, White, and Obama said regretfully, any nominee picked by the Democrat Blagojevich would be tainted.

There's a lot of merit in this position. It's a shame that an apparently good Democratic pick for the job might not get it for no other reason than the bad behavior of the Democrat who appointed him.

To add extra spice to the mix, the Democrat Burris is African-American. So the Democrat Reid is in the uncomfortable position of giving the boot to a Democrat who would be the only African American in the Senate (but not the only Democrat, now that the Democrats have a majority). Like I say, the Democrat Blagojevich sure knows how to stir things up.

There's one thing for sure, though: I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the new Senate (with a Democratic majority) comes into session.

Looking back at all the mentions of "Democrat" in this drama, one can't help but notice a dearth of Republicans in either the black or the white hats. It was certainly not my intention to make it look like the Republicans are irrelevant. But, well, they kind of are here, so that's how it comes out.

The only "contribution" the Republicans have made to this brouhaha is a variety of desperate attempts to tie Democratic President-elect Obama to the scandal because, hey, they're both from Illinois. And Democrats.

Of course, they don't apply the same "standards" to the Republican darlings who are governors of the corruption-plagued states of Louisiana and Alaska, but that kind of hypocrisy is (a) par for the course; and (b) a big part of the reason they're now irrelevant.

It's the Democrats who are cleaning their own house, so y'all just chill out. Go to a movie or something. The Democrats will handle this.