Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Now That The Smoke Has Cleared

9/11 has come and gone, this year marred by a number of offensive and disturbing political statements.

The first offense came from the Florida pastor who proposed to mark the day by burning the Koran. While one can make a sound argument that Korans SHOULD be burnt, in this instance the suggestion was but a tasteless publicity stunt.

More offense came from our august Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who described the idea as “disgraceful.” Setting aside the incongruity of Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton condemning any conduct, one must question the propriety of a senior American official denouncing a US citizen for proposing to exercise one of his fundamental rights.

Amongst the disturbing statements was Mr. Obama's utterly predictable lecture to the effect that burning the sacred books of any faith was contrary to the central ideas of America. Curiously, the man who was willing to defend the rights of agent-provocateurs to build a victory mosque at Ground Zero was unwilling to defend the free speech rights of someone with whom he disagrees. It was a startling display of moral cowardice.

But perhaps the most disturbing statement may have come from General Petraeus, who reportedly opposed the burning because it could stir up animosity in Afghanistan and put our troops in danger. Assuming the General did make such a statement, a troubling question arises: Isn't his main mission to defend the right of all of us – of you and I and even that shameless pastor – to speak and act freely, no matter what some foreign extremist might think?

Have our Armed Forces subscribed to Barack Obama's 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Offend A Muslim?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer Of Recovery – A Post Script


Dear Joe,

I wrote the other day asking for a job. I fear I wasn't terribly specific as to what job. At my age, and with my qualifications (law review, top 10 percent of my class, Firsts at a European university, 20 years of law practice) I can't be picky. Anything that pays well, offers security and doesn't require much initiative would do. Unhappily, all the Cabinet posts are filled, but then in the recent news I found just the ticket: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change needs an executive director, or so the Boston Herald reported on September 5.

I'm your man. I am not a climate scientist, so I have don't have a vested interest in any of the competing theories. Indeed, I am not a scientist at all, but I did spend nearly two years in Nashville, bathed in the influence of Al Gore. How could I not be one of the enlightened?

Frivolity aside, I am schooled in the scientific method. I understand the need for hard data, for test results that can be repeated and for theories that can be falsified.

..............What's that?

I see your point. I might be over-qualified to run the IPCC. Fear not. Pay me enough and I can be as ignorant of sound practice and as blind to facts as you want me to be. Just don't forget the chalet in Gstaad.

Bite me,

Tom Hall
Racine, WI

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Summer of Recovery

Dear Joe,

I need a job. 

As you are in charge of the Summer of Recovery, it seems logical to tap you for help. Although we haven't met, I rely upon your empathy. Like you, I am the grandson of a coal miner. I never met him, but I do have his carbide miner's lamp. My father was a barefoot schoolboy who learned to read by the light of a kerosene lamp. Like your boss, I was law review, although I bailed after one semester. The free beer in the law review offices was nice, but not worth the price - becoming PC.  By the way, could I have a Summer of Recovery pin to go with the "WIN" pin Jerry Ford gave me?

Hope and changed reached me more than a year ago.  I lost a job that I loved. I thought  perhaps it was time for public service. After all, six figure private sector jobs are over rated. The State Department, I thought. A chance to see the world and serve my nation. After all, who really wants to be able to support their elderly parents? I understand that I did not contribute enough to your campaign to qualify for an ambassadorship, but I presumed I could more than handle an administrative post in some remote and unpopular embassy. I passed for Foreign Service exam, and heard nothing more. I wrote to Secretary Clinton as a follow up, and heard nothing. Perhaps she knew more of my health than I did. The heart surgery a year ago certainly took me by surprise. To add insult to injury, the heartless capitalists who formerly employed me bent some rules and opened their purse to ensure that I had health coverage throughout the ordeal. Doubtless ObamaCare will prevent such travesties in the future.

Yet I remain confident of the future. Even though the Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers the weatherization and mortgage assistance programs have all passed us by, I've made many new friends at the flea markets and farmers' markets. Mind you,the competition between unemployed professionals selling craft items and personal effects is getting stiff. By the way, you might tell Michelle that there really is no market for used sneakers, no matter their original price or what famous feet have sweated in them. 

Barack would probably say that we don't need all those things, that we already have too much. Still, it would be nice to to treat my Mrs. to a date night on Broadway now and then, or even the occasional vacation. Mindful of Barack's admonition that we need to learn to do with less, I'd settle for a nice three star resort. After all, a working class product like me probably wouldn't know how to behave in a five star joint. When will you start handing those out and where do I sign up?

In the meantime, where are the jobs? The private sector lacks the customers, capital or confidence to hire, which leaves the government. But no one joins the nomenclatura without a sponsor. Which is where you come in. Looking after the embassy in Mongolia remains attractive, but I have been off work for a year and my mortgage company would like to be paid. Maybe you could shovel some of the stimulus slush my way? Or maybe a job as a Predator Drone pilot. You'd also have to kick in flight training, which would be a bonus for me, although I would never admit it. 

I'm reluctant to ask for a position in the White House proper. As you have doubtless discovered, it is not wise to be smarter than your boss. Still, a tsar-ship is intriguing. Recent events indicate a clear a need for a strong leader to coordinate the work of all the tsars. The tsar of all tsars, you might say. Or, in Chicago-speak, the capo di tutti capi. Can you swing it? Alternatively, we could borrow from the Romans and I could become the person who accompanies Barack everywhere and whispers to him: “Remember, thou art mortal.”

I'm sure you'll need a day or two to finagle the funding and grease the appointment. Around mid-September I'll be expecting word that you've completed this assignment. 

Until then, bite me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Further to the Ground Zero Mosque

Dear Mr. Obama,  Given your support for a mosque at Ground Zero, will you also support work to erect statues to Nathan Bedford Forest and Bull Connor on the Edmund Pettus Bridge?  Perhaps we could even locate the precise where  your parents met....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Dear Leader

Yes, today is reputedly Dear Leader's birthday.  We trust you all dutifully smoked a joint or three to celebrate with him.


We remain in awe of his accomplishments.  He came from modest roots, with no money and no connection.  He has no record of  note in business, government or education, yet he has become the leader the the world's foremost economic and military power.


And he says America is NOT exceptional.


Perhaps he needs to move beyond sharing the wealth.  He needs to share his weed, so the rest of us can grasp his logic.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Liberal Sophistry And The End of Freedom

During her confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan was asked whether the Congress has the authority to direct that citizens eat so many fruits and vegetables each day. She first dismissed the idea as a “dumb law” that would not be enforced. When pressed, she could not articulate a meaningful limit to the power of the Federal Government under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Clearly she belongs to the school that holds that the Commerce Clause grants Congress plenary power to regulate anything that touches upon commerce between the States. This broad reading underlies much of the economic regulation of the New Deal, portions of Great Society civil rights laws and the recent health care “reform.” Yet the this argument contains a potentially fatal flaw – “commerce between the States” is apparently a term without limits. It applies equally to one state attempting to tax goods imported from another state to the lunch counter owner who does not want to serve Jews or other “infidels” to your choice of health care provider. Each example involves economic choices, and therefore effects commerce. Given the national, if not global, nature of the American economy, it would be difficult to find such a decision that does not involve something that crossed state lines at some time.

What other transactions might fall within the scope of the Commerce Clause? Realistically – anything. Houses use materials that come from across the nation, and consume fuel that generally crosses state lines. Surely Congress has the power to regulate the size and energy consumption of each home. The same analysis applies to your wardrobe. After all, imagine the millions society would save if homes came in standard sizes and designs and we all wore jeans and T shirts (with a Mao jacket for formal occasions, such as the annual August 4 celebrations).

Surely not, you object. My home and my clothing are part of my self expression and must be protected. Must they? Congress would not be regulating you, merely what could be made and sold in the markets. You would still be free to wear your “Born To Be Conservative” T shirt – if you could make it yourself. (Of course, making such a shirt might expose you to charges of misappropriation of resources.)

But the most frightening implication remains. Commerce cannot exist without consumers, which opens the door to regulation of the market IN consumers. After all, the number, type, health, intelligence, etc of consumers directly effect the demands on the market, and so effect commerce.
The logical conclusion is chilling. Too old or too sick. Go home and take this pill. It will be painless.
Will your unborn child be born “defective”? This way to the abortion booth. (By the way, who would decide what constitutes a “defect”?) Bad genes? For example, are you prone to heart disease? Your sex license is suspended until you submit to sterilization. Good genes? Congratulations – have you met your reproductive quota?

Impossible?

What is more integral to “commerce” than consumers?

Feminists might argue that some level of reproductive rights are protected by Roe v. Wade. Perhaps.

The term “reproductive rights” does not appear in the Constitution. Indeed Roe rests on a right found to exist in the “penumbra” of the Constitution. It would be a poor lawyer indeed who could not dispel the Roe “penumbra” with the express authority of the Commerce Clause. As Representative Pete Stark recently said “The Federal government can do most anything” in America.
Therein lies the greatest danger of the liberal utopia. A society in which the evils of Big Business have been vanquished and everyone has been protected against all harm – including their own poor decisions – is necessarily a society in which everyone is free to do whatever they are told.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Epitome of Leadership

The recent General McChrystal flap provides us with an example of unparalleled leadership and uncompromising professionalism, of a man who once again put service to country ahead of personal ambition, of willingness to put duty, honor, country above libelous personal attacks.

Barack Obama does not deserve the services of a man like General Petraus; the nation is in dire need of more like him.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breakfast With Barry, June 17, 2010

"Malia, why are you crying?"

"Daddy, Mrs. Winthrop gave me an "F" on my essay."

"What!?!?!  Why?"

"She assigned us to write what we though  you should say about BP."

"Well, yes.  Very timely of her."

"But you gave MY speech on TV the other night."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mighty Casey Has Struck Out

Coming in a day late and a dollar short to the BP spill, Dear Leader yesterday played the "Oval Office speech" card.


And bombed.


Even Chris Matthews is appalled.


Others, such as Osama Bin Laden, are doubtless delighted.


But there is some solace.


He has demonstrated that he is not an empty suit.


He's merely an empty hanger.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fare Thee Well, Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas has "retired" after being recorded offering a breathtakingly racist screed against Israel.


No more will we be treated to her rambling, partisan speeches masquerading as questions to the president.


I do not quibble with her employer's right to dismiss her.  Who wants an employee who will drive away customers?


I am puzzled, though, by the calls that she be rebuked by this or that government official.  Helen Thomas did not work for the government.  She should, therefore, have the right to voice her opinions without fear of official response or sanction.  


When did it become appropriate for a president to pass judgment on the opinions of private citizens?


Has political correctness just devoured one of its founders?

The Immigration Conundrum

We are told that it is racist, if not immoral, to insist Hispanic immigrants to abide by US immigration laws.

Why?  That is the point none of the immigration advocates seem willing or able to explain.

Yes, America is a nation of immigrants.  My great-great grandparents came from Europe - and had to follow the rules of the day.

Why is it improper to ask today's immigrants to abide by our current rules?

More, why should Hispanic immigrants receive preferential treatment compared to, say, Chinese, Russian, European or African immigrants?

Does current law favor Europeans, for example, over Hispanics?

I genuinely don't know, but I wish someone who favors revising the immigration laws to provide Hispanics more generous treatment would explain to me WHY that is proper.

If the answer is "America improperly took the SouthWest from Mexico," my response must be "Grow up."

If the answer is "They simply want a better life."  My answer would be "Let them reform THEIR country, rather than flaunting the laws of mine."

Indeed, are we giving better lives to economic refugees, or are we merely supporting a corrupt and incompetent political system?  Would "immigration reform" help the "little people" of Mexico or strengthen the grasp of the ruling elite?

The Incredible Shrinking President

Now our Dear Leader wants to consult experts so he will know whose backside to kick.

What happened to consulting experts to solve the problem?

But there is hope.  Even his former apostles are declaring him incompetent and devious.  Indeed, he has achieved the breathtakingly low of being likened to both Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.

Will Congress invoke the 25th Amendment and give us meaningful change?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Remember When It Was Fashionable Believe In America?

Previously posted, but worth remembering on the anniversary of D Day.


A Medal of Honor Citation


For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.[15]


General Roosevelt was the son of a president, a veteran of WWI and financially well off.  He could have sat out the war in comfort and dignity.
He died in France on July 12, 1944.

Remember When We Had A Real President?


(Remarks delivered by President Reagan celebrating the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984 Normandy, France)
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
 RECEIVE NEWS ALERTS
 
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.
Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them here. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air singed with your honor."
I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well, everyone was. You remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of bullets into the ground around him.
Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come form the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.
There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.
All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winniped Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do. Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.
When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.
In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.
We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.
It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.
We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.
We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.
Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Special Memo To Dear Leader

As you enjoy the holiday weekend, avoiding the cares of your office, which have traditionally included honoring those who have died in defense of this nation, we offer you an example of real leadership.


Herewith, the Medal of  Honor citation of Ernest E. Evans, for actions taken during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Johnston in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Comdr. Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the Johnston came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the Johnston, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Comdr. Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him.

Memo to Chris Matthews

Mr. Matthews,


We note with your interest you recent diatribe against our Dear Leader for his utter failure to respond to the BP oil spill in any meaningful way.


To put our response in language you will understand:  TOLD YA SO!

A Job Evaluation

After our Dear Leader's first 18 months on the job, a few points are clear:


He needed 9 months to reach a decision regarding Afghanistan, proving that he is no leader.


After 40 days, he still does not have a coherent response to the BP oil spill, proving he is no manager.


He has chosen NOT to honor our war dead at Arlington, proving he is no patriot.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona Immigration

Some questions about the fuss over the Arizona immigration law:

Is BO concerned someone will ask him for HIS papers?  (Yes, Mr. Limbaugh did raise it, but it was on my mind before I heard it from him, and it bears repeating.)

Critics claim Arizona does not have the authority to regulate immigration.
So what?  Show me where the Constitution gives BO authority to own stock in GM or to order us to buy insurance?

Would Arizona need this law if BO enforced the current federal laws?

What's wrong with requiring everyone who wants to come to this nation to play by the same rules?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Accounting to make even Bernie Madoff blush

GM has paid off its debts to you and I.
HA!
http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/23/general-motors-economy-bailout-opinions-columnists-shikha-dalmia_2.html

Tear Down This Wall

Had a truly strange dream last night.
Our Feckless Leader appeared before the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and proclaimed:
"Mr. Reagan, tear down this wall!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

South Park and Muhammed

When comics edit their work to avoid death threats, we call it discretion, or, perhaps, self preservation.

When our government offers no reaction to those death threats, we call it cowardice.

Thus we approve and urge participation in Everyone Draw Muhammed Day. 
See:  http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=313170.

I probably will not enter a drawing, however.  My artistic skills are limited.  I cannot conceive how to draw stick figures of Muhammed with his child bride that would not be an affront to the memory of his victim.

Green, Green, It's Green They Say

A thought for those who look longingly towards that magical time when all humanity's energy needs are provided by renewable sources.


Humanity has ALREADY existed on renewable resources alone - sunlight, water, wind and muscle.


We call that time the Dark Ages.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today's Book

It may surprise younger readers to learn that there is a world of literature that pre-dates Sins of My Father, and even Lenin.  It is a rich world, populated by the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, with their immensely long books and even longer character names.

Today we recommend one of Dostoevsky's less famous works, The Devils (aka The Demons and The Possessed).  It recounts the adventures of a group of 19th Century community organizers.  As Wikipedia recounts the plot:

The novel takes place in a provincial Russian setting, primarily on the estates of Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky and Varvara Stavrogina. Stepan Trofimovich's son, Pyotr Verkhovensky, is an aspiring revolutionary conspirator who attempts to organize a knot of revolutionaries in the area. He considers Varvara Stavrogina's son, Nikolai, central to his plot because he thinks Nikolai Stavrogin has no sympathy for mankind whatsoever.
Verkhovensky gathers conspirators like the philosophizing Shigalyov, suicidal Kirillov, and the former military man Virginsky, and he schemes to solidify their loyalty to him and each other by murdering Ivan Shatov, a fellow conspirator. Verkhovensky plans to have Kirillov, who was committed to killing himself, take credit for the murder in his suicide note. Kirillov complies and Verkhovensky murders Shatov, but his scheme falls apart. He escapes, but the remainder of his aspiring revolutionary crew is arrested. In the denouement of the novel, Nikolai Stavrogin kills himself, tortured by his own misdeeds.

 Does any of it sound familiar?

Separated at Birth?



And the Attacks on Conservatives Continue

First opponents of "reform" were racists.  Unhappily we were denied the delicious irony of having that charge made by Robert Byrd, perhaps the only member of Congress to have worn a sheet for the Klan.

That evidently having failed, opponents are now "dangerous."  We are "seditious," and potentially violent.

As evidence of the last, Newsweek breathlessly offers one Washington State crank who threatened violence against a senator:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/236196?obref=obinsite

If one crank who merely talks about violence discredits conservatives, what of Mr. Obama, who proudly associates with a domestic terrorist - one who COMMITTED violence against the nation - Bill Ayers?

Are we to conclude that violence is a GOOD thing when it promotes the Obama agenda?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo for Today


Anyone recall life in the worker's paradise of East Berlin?
Obama will make it seem prosperous and progressive.

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946

Given that Barack Obama as even more disingenuous than Bill Clinton, it is time to revisit some wisdom from the author of 1984.


Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.
These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad -- I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen -- but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. I number them so that i can refer back to them when necessary:
1. I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.
Professor Harold Laski (Essay in Freedom of Expression)
2. Above all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms which prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic put up with for tolerate, or put at a loss for bewilder .
Professor Lancelot Hogben (Interglossa)
3. On the one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires, such as they are, are transparent, for they are just what institutional approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness; another institutional pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous. But on the other side, the social bond itself is nothing but the mutual reflection of these self-secure integrities. Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or fraternity?
Essay on psychology in Politics (New York)
4. All the "best people" from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.
Communist pamphlet
5. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream -- as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English." When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!
Letter in Tribune
Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose construction is habitually dodged:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning withouth those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.
Operators or verbal false limbs. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. Characteristic phrases are render inoperative, militate against, make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un-formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth.
Pretentious diction. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements. Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war usually takes on an archaic color, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot, mailed fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis, status quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung, are used to give an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g., and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in the English language. Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers.* The jargon peculiar to


*An interesting illustration of this is the way in which English flower names were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones, Snapdragon becoming antirrhinum, forget-me-not becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive turning away from the more homely word and a vague feeling that the Greek word is scientific.


Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one's meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.
Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.† Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in


† Example: Comfort's catholicity of perception and image, strangely Whitmanesque in range, almost the exact opposite in aesthetic compulsion, continues to evoke that trembling atmospheric accumulative hinting at a cruel, an inexorably serene timelessness . . .Wrey Gardiner scores by aiming at simple bull's-eyes with precision. Only they are not so simple, and through this contented sadness runs more than the surface bittersweet of resignation." (Poetry Quarterly)


the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, "The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality," while another writes, "The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness," the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements likeMarshal P├ętain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3) above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations -- race, battle, bread -- dissolve into the vague phrases "success or failure in competitive activities." This had to be so, because no modern writer of the kind I am discussing -- no one capable of using phrases like "objective considerations of contemporary phenomena" -- would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains thirty-eight words of ninety syllables: eighteen of those words are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images, and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier -- even quicker, once you have the habit -- to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry -- when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech -- it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski (1) uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip -- alien for akin -- making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. Professor Hogben (2) plays ducks and drakes with a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it means; (3), if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in which it occurs. In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. In (5), words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning -- they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another -- but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.
In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a "party line." Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestoes, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases -- bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder -- one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable to political conformity.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
"While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement."
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find -- this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify -- that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt impelled" to write it. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations of a co-operative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels impelled" to write -- feels, presumably, that he has something new to say -- and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.
I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence*, to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases


*One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.


and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defense of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.
To begin with it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard English" which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good prose style." On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose -- not simply accept -- the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.
I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin, where it belongs.