Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mary and Liz Show



Not that I'd defend Liz Cheney for one mili-second, but I'd wager a small amount that she was taken by surprise that Mary and her wife Heather responded via Facebook to her maundering on Fox last Sunday.

After all,  Mary remained tight-lipped and above the fray for years when her father was Vice President. She could be counted on to maintain silence no matter what was said about her and her lover or about the rocky road to LGBT rights.

Why wouldn't Liz expect the same in her quixotic try for the U.S. Senate? After all, La Liz is in a teensy bit of trouble (she's not doing well in the polls), and a pandering bit of disparaging marriage equality would play well with the base (Quite a loaded word, that!) and would possibly give her a poll bump or two up.  Right?

Ooops.

Mama bear growled back this time.

And it's about time she did.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dowd’s virtual fib.

The New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd recently pulled a boner in her column.  Here’s what was printed in the on-line piece:

[Obama’s] own chuckleheaded remark: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

And here’s the context of the quote from the President’s remarks (from the Huffington Post):

"Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own," Obama said then. "I'm always struck by people who think, `Well, it must be because I was just so smart.' There are a lot of smart people out there. `It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.' Let me tell you something: There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help."

Obama cited teachers and mentors who helped "create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges."

Then, Obama teed up the line that left Republicans giddy. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet," Obama said, returning to his thesis.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

So, Dowd, like the Republican talking points took 14 words out of more than 100 and left her Sunday readers with the impression, the same impression the Republicans want people to have, that the President was disrespecting business entrepreneurs throughout the country.

Shame on you Ms Dowd. You work with words; you know better.

Trust, Dear Reader, but verify. Otherwise you might be telling a virtual lie.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deliberate misinterpretation?

Jonathan V. Last, writing in a newsletter for The Weekly Standard, makes a strange case for the false claim that Mr. Obama is somehow against American entrepreneurs. (I reproduce much of the emailed newsletter below.)

Last includes a paragraph from Mr. Obama’s speech, and then goes on to, what?, deliberately misinterpret his words?

In essence, Mr. Obama states that successful people’s success depends in some measure on help others have given, or infrastructure which has been provided by the body politic. How can his words, taken in context be misconstrued?

Yet Last does misconstrue.  He writes that there is a “…mountain of people who do succeed on their own merits.” And he goes on to laud Steve Jobs as one of those persons.

I wonder if Mr. Jobs would agree with the President or with Mr. Last. Did Jobs invent the internet? Did Jobs acquire the skills needed to produce his first working computer through auto-didactic means? Did he build the garage in which he worked? Did he string the wiring for the electricity he used?

One could go on. Doubtless Last doesn’t care; if he did he wouldn’t have posted this piece in the first place.

Not your finest moment of intellectual integrity, Mr. Last.

Trust, but verify, Dear Gentle Reader(s).

The capture:

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the weekly Standard

July 25, 2012

By Jonathan V. Last

newsletter

COLD OPEN

It's been over a week, so I want to remind you of President Obama's amazing riff on entrepreneurialism at an event in Roanoke, Virginia. Relive the glory:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me—because they want to give something back. They know they didn't—look, if you’ve been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

It's astonishing, isn't it? I'm on record for being an enormous squish on the question of capitalism, but when I heard this rant, I snapped my head back and thought, Jeez, he doesn’t really believe this? Does he?
It's undeniably true that lots of successful people didn't get rich on their own or through good and valuable work. Plenty of people are born to money, prestige, and power—through no efforts of their own. Plenty of people get rich adding no value—moral or economic—to society. Think about all of the people who've gotten wealthy by trucking in "green energy" over the last few years. Or made killings in finance by working with the derivatives that brought our economy to the brink of collapse. In capitalism, the market is usually efficient and wise in the long term, but market failures happen all the time in the short term. And because of those market failures, plenty of people get rich by accident.
But here's the thing: Those outliers are dwarfed by the mountain of people who do succeed on their own merits. And their success in turn creates the opportunities for others to succeed, too.
Steve Jobs is a popular example of the genius entrepreneur—a guy who succeeded in a crowded space because he had particular talents that no one else did. But whenever I go into an Apple Store, what strikes me is how many opportunities Jobs created for other entrepreneurs. The iPhone and iPad created entire ecosystems where other companies stepped in and prospered along with Apple—cases and cords and apps.
President Obama looks at the Apple Store and sees companies that needed the help of others to succeed.
I look at the Apple Store and see companies whose success helps others succeed as well.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Gentle “Sheesh!”

Even the better writers sometimes goof.

Today it’s the turn of Thomas L Friedman in The New York Times with this bit lifted from today’s column on Iraq:

We overpaid in lives, in the wounded, in tarnished values, in dollars and in the lost focus on America’s development. Iraqis, of course, paid dearly as well.

Now the column is, of course, about America’s involvement and what we, and the world, can hope for in the future; but to use the cavalier of course makes Friedman seem a tad dismissive of the terrible times inflicted upon the Iraqis in our name.

“Of course” is just too casual and clich├ęd to be used in such a serious matter.

Sheesh!

Trust, but verify. (And that means edit yourself, Tom.)

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh, Dave!

Most people just want somebody who can articulate their hatreds…”

Interesting clause, eh wot, Dear Gentle Readers? It flows from the virtual pen of David Brooks this morning in his column posted in the New York Times.

While one hates to nit-pick, it seems quite unlikely that most people are in want of an articulate mean guy (or gal) to give voice to innermost disdain.

Edit yourself, Sir. Otherwise you write something which diverts the attention of a reader from your point.

Please.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Define “huge”

The National Law Journal has a great headline: Hips will be huge next year.

Of course, it isn’t really about pant-size, but it’s a hoot anyway!

Bravo, head writer!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Translations

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“Tolstoy wrote…” is an opening phrase you might hear a few times in your life. As soon as you do, Dear Gentle Reader, you might pause in your listening to think, “Really?  Are you certain.”

Here are a couple of quotes from a French workbook:

“Elle a pris une decision.” (Sorry, you’ll have to imagine the accent over the e in decision.) The workbook then translates that sentence into 1) She made a decision; 2) She has made a decision; and 3) She did make a decision.

“Elle faisait..” can mean “She was doing…”, “She used to do…”, or “She did…”

Context matters; and context is a word which encompasses quite a lot, including, but not limited to the mores of the times—both of the time of the original writing and the time of the translation.

Much thought and subjective decision-making go into translations. So much so that we should be careful about placing too much confidence in what a translator finally presents.

And the more important the translated material might be to our individual and collective lives, the more cautious we should be.

For instance, religious writings should be treated with much caution. (Surely you saw that coming.)

Trust, but verify; or, in this case, read it in the original before you accept it totally.

Good luck with that.

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