23 May, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

John McCain needs an English lesson. He just jabbed his pudgy finger right into my pet peeve button:

“I believe that I have earned the right to speak out on veterans’ issues,” McCain said. “As a matter of fact I received the highest award from literally every veteran’s organization in America. I don’t know if the American people will judge Senator Obama as to whether he has military experience or not, but I think they may judge him as to whether he has experience and knowledge to make the judgment necessary to care for the veterans.” (emphasis added)

The funny thing about the word “literally,” of course, is that it has a rather specific meaning.

Carpetbagger is right. Let's explore that meaning, shall we?


1. In a literal manner; word for word: translated the Greek passage literally.
2. In a literal or strict sense: Don't take my remarks literally.
3. Usage Problem
a. Really; actually: "There are people in the world who literally do not know how to boil water" Craig Claiborne.
b. Used as an intensive before a figurative expression.

It's b that gets people into trouble. McCain may have been speaking in the figurative sense, but the meaning of "literal" hasn't changed despite more than a hundred years of silly bastards using it in highly inappropriate ways. It's a stupid thing to say when it's so ridiculously easy to disprove:

The recognition McCain has received from veterans groups is not “high awards” but failing grades:

— Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (By contrast, Obama got a B+.)
– Disabled Veterans of America noted McCain’s
dismal 20 percent voting record on veterans’ issues. (Obama had an 80 percent.)
– In a list of “Key Votes,” Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) notes McCain
“Voted Against Us” 15 times and “Voted For Us” only 8. (Obama voted for VVA 12 times, and against only

The lesson: don't say "literally" when what you really mean is, "nearly." Or, in this case, "Not even close to every."

Here endeth the English lesson.

Senator Joe Biden has some lessons of his own to teach, and he takes McCain lackey and assleach Sen. Joe Lieberman out to the woodshed for the short, sharp shock:

On Wednesday, Joe Lieberman wrote on this page that the Democratic Party he and I grew up in has drifted far from the foreign policy espoused by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy.

In fact, it is the policies that President George W. Bush has pursued, and that John McCain would continue, that are divorced from that great tradition – and from the legacy of Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


Last week, John McCain was very clear. He ruled out talking to Iran. He said that Barack Obama was "naïve and inexperienced" for advocating engagement; "What is it he wants to talk about?" he asked.

Well, for a start, Iran's nuclear program, its support for Shiite militias in Iraq, and its patronage of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Beyond bluster, how would Mr. McCain actually deal with these dangers? You either talk, you maintain the status quo, or you go to war. If Mr. McCain has ruled out talking, we're stuck with an ineffectual policy or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.

Sen. Obama is right that the U.S. should be willing to engage Iran on its nuclear program without "preconditions" – i.e. without insisting that Iran first freeze the program, which is the very subject of any negotiations. He has been clear that he would not become personally involved until the necessary preparations had been made and unless he was convinced his engagement would advance our interests.

President Nixon didn't demand that China end military support to the Vietnamese killing Americans before meeting with Mao. President Reagan didn't insist that the Soviets freeze their nuclear arsenal before sitting down with Mikhail Gorbachev. Even George W. Bush – whose initial disengagement allowed dangers to proliferate – didn't demand that Libya relinquish its nuclear program, that North Korea give up its plutonium, or even that Iran stop aiding those attacking our soldiers in Iraq before authorizing talks.

The net effect of demanding preconditions that Iran rejects is this: We get no results and Iran gets closer to the bomb.


The worst nightmare for a regime that thrives on tension with America is an America ready, willing and able to engage. Since when has talking removed the word "no" from our vocabulary?

It's amazing how little faith George Bush, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have in themselves – and in America.

Lieberman's tender little ass must be stinging. And you know, I have a feeling Joe Biden's arm isn't even tired. He seems like he's just hitting his stride. Ordinarily, I like to watch contests between people who are evenly matched enough to actually compete, but for this general election, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy watching the brilliant beat down the stupid.

I'm also thoroughly liking the sweaty smell of utter desperation (h/t to Sadly, No!):

The group, assembled by something called America’s Survival Inc., gathered in the basement of Ebenezer Coffee House at Second and F streets NE. They shared the stage with a big drum set, and posters documenting items they would seek to tie to Obama: an SDS newsletter from 1969 (when he was 7), and a police killing from 1970 (when he was 8).


[T]he star of the show was the ancient Herbert Romerstein, who once plied his trade for the Un-American Activities committee. “We decided to start going back and seeing what things influenced him even before he was born,” Romerstein announced without a trace of irony, before tying Obama to the Communist Party of the 1930s in Hawaii and Soviet spies on the island. “This is the atmosphere that young Barack Obama grew up in.”

You know you have a candidate who's almost beyond reproach, more Teflon that Slick Willy, when you have right-wing groups frantically trying to tie said candidate to events that happened when he was in elementary school - and it's really, really pathetic when they start scraping around for events that took place before the candidate was even born.

I think Barack Obama terrifies these people. And that makes me feel happy inside. Warms me right down to the sub-cockle level. How about you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Literally.
The worst offender is that talentless, lisping Brit chef/moron Jamie Oliver. It fucking drives me batshit: "Jutht li'rilly chop the rhubarb," or "Li'rilly thprinkle the bathil right over the veg."
I know he has only about half the ability of McSame to fuck up the whole planet with his illiterate bullshit - perhaps it's the added lisp - in any case, the mere sight of Oliver on my television sends me diving for the remote. Li'rilly.