October 1, 2010

"Obama's speech to Gen44 tonight knocked my socks off.... If you've forgotten why many of you worked your ass off for this guy..."

Socks off... ass off...

You can discuss the substance of Andrew Sullivan's new celebration of the amazing oratory of Barack Obama, but I see this as an occasion to reprint what I consider to be the single most useful item of advice in George Orwell's essential essay "Politics and the English Language": "Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print." Background:
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.
I, the reader, am interested... and totally distracted by an assless man running around barefoot.

58 comments:

Drew said...

You can discuss the substance of Andrew Sullivan's new celebration of the amazing oratory Barack Obama . . .

There's substance?


(Sorry, that was too easy.)

Hagar said...

I have seen some clips from Obama's revival meeting at UW-Madison, and a review full of meaningless metaphors and exclamations from Andrew Sullivan seems quite appropriate.


Wv: enate - not quite emanate.

El Pollo Real said...

It's about time somebody pointed out the obvious struggle in front of his nose.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Since we're talking about substance and all, what is the substance of GOP/Tea party anger at the president and Democrats after two years? From what I can see, it's based in identity and free-floating grievance rather than substance.

Case in point: TARP. It has gone down as the worst, statist, socialist boondoggle in the history of mankind, fueling a gaggle of creationist morons to upset GOP establishment types in primaries. But substantively it will end up costing taxpayers nothing/ making a profit, while it seems to have succeeded in arresting the free-fall of the financial sector in '09. But that's not discussed here-- there's little of substance that is.

If what I'm saying can be proven to be false, I'm ready to hear it.

edutcher said...

Clearly Andy doesn't get the fact that these are words off a teleprompter read by an actor. If that knocks his socks off, I'd hate to think what watching the next episode of CSI:Miami would remove.

PS Ann, I don't think Andy's interested in assless men.

LL said...

Montagne: Rather than TARP how about the stimulus that did nothing but increase the debt? Not much of a recovery summer.

E.M. Davis said...

PS Ann, I don't think Andy's interested in assless men.

Assless chaps? Indeed.

But wait, aren't most chaps, by their definition, assless?

Chase said...

Oratory?

I take it Andrew Sullivan was a lover of the speeches of Ronald Reagan as well?

Hypocrite Andrew Sullivan.

Quayle said...

MM, you are conveniently leaving out Freddie and Fanny which have already cost the tax payer tens of billions.

edutcher said...

Montagne Montaigne said...

Since we're talking about substance and all, what is the substance of GOP/Tea party anger at the president and Democrats after two years? From what I can see, it's based in identity and free-floating grievance rather than substance.

Case in point: TARP. It has gone down as the worst, statist, socialist boondoggle in the history of mankind, fueling a gaggle of creationist morons to upset GOP establishment types in primaries. But substantively it will end up costing taxpayers nothing/ making a profit, while it seems to have succeeded in arresting the free-fall of the financial sector in '09.


First, somebody record this. Montagne is saying he agrees with something Dubya did.

Second, the idea this will make a profit is ludicrous. Most of the money "paid back" hasn't been, it's just been shifted around.

Third, most of the banks which were TARPed sank by the bow months ago. Only the big Wall Street banks that gave to the Demos survive.

Kell Sir Prize, as they say in France.

AJ Lynch said...

Sullivan's blog's tagline is "Daily Dish of no party or clique". That is funny coming from an Obamaphile like him.

Ezra Klein's is "Econ policy and lots of it" or some such. Which is accurate if it is defined as more govt, more central planning and let the rich guy pay.

Moose said...

Good lord. Talk about leading questions.

Sully's infatuation with Obama is entering it's rigid denial phase. "There's nothing wrong! I love him! He's always been like this! I just forgot how dreamy he was!".

The fact that Obama is back on the campaign trail talking about freeing the slaves is a direct reaction to how dire things are for the Democrats. Obama needs to get out off the college campuses and concert venues and re-engage with those icky independents that actually expect results of him.

Like parents everywhere, the voters are picking up the tab for Obama's college hijinks.

GMay said...

"If what I'm saying can be proven to be false, I'm ready to hear it."

Well MontyMonty, considering that you've done nothing to actually prove your case other than state it, I'd say you're a bit premature in resting it.

exhelodrvr1 said...

hoisted by his own petard

Montagne Montaigne said...

The largest proportion of our current national debt was created in the 2000's because of the Bush tax cuts. Fact. And the solution... elect more Republicans. 'Cause Obama makes us angry. Because... because? Just because.

Because you're old, grumpy, and entitled.

Salamandyr said...

Considering Sullivan's admiration of Orwell, this is a particularly cruel criticism.

Deserved though.

Moose said...

...and just to point out the obvious: Sully loves the porn term of "the money shot" to point out things he thinks are important. Given that he likes to use porn terms and is considered an "important writer" says volumes about how we judge writers these days.

t-man said...

Achilles' heel is not a worn out metaphor, it is timeless.

What modern metaphors can replace those outdated ones on Orwell's list?

TRO said...

"The largest proportion of our current national debt was created in the 2000's because of the Bush tax cuts. Fact. And the solution... elect more Republicans. 'Cause Obama makes us angry. Because... because? Just because."

Because Barry is in charge now and has been for quite a while. And, yes, electing conservatives (as opposed to Republicans) is the answer. And that answer is coming soon.

Salamandyr said...

Tax cuts cannot "create debt", since the money does not belong to the government until it is collected. Collecting less does not destroy wealth, it merely leaves it in the private sector where it can grow.

The Bush tax cuts may well have helped bouy the economy during the rocky times post 9/11, by leaving vital capital where it can do some good.

John said...

"The largest proportion of our current national debt was created in the 2000's because of the Bush tax cuts."

Morty, if you would just take those meds that the doctors keep proscribing rather than giving them to the frog man who lives under your bed, the hallucinations and delusions would start to go away.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

I was thinking 'tortoise'.

Short answer “no”.

Graphically presented here
http://www.rightpundits.com/?pp_album=main&pp_cat=&pp_image=obama_budget_deficit_ch

Clyde said...

Sullivan writes: "And what I agreed with was [Obama's] embrace of government that is lean and efficient..."


Bwahahahaha! Put down the medical marijuana, dude! The Washington kleptocracy has done nothing but grow in the past two years under Obama. His $800 billion "stimulus" was nothing but baksheesh for his buddies and henchmen. Next he'll tell me that ObamaCare will make the price of health care go down! Is Obama wearing a goatee in Sullivan's universe?

Lincolntf said...

"Gen44"?

Oh please just kill me now.

Hagar said...

Have you seen the staff photo on MSNBC of Rahm Emanuel wiping away a tear at his going away ceremony?

Quayle,
You are off by an order of magnitude.

The TARP, which did not remove any toxic assets, was instead used by the Treasury and the Fed to shore up the financial institutions on Wall St. and elsewhere. Understandably perhaps, since these people were - and are - creatures of "Wall St." and will naturally tend to think of themselves and "Wall St." as the foundation of the economy and civilized society in general, but I think they are mistaken; "Wall St." is important, but it lies on top of the economy, not under it.

And MM should note that after 80 years of Democratic dominance in the national politics, "Wall St." tycoons are almost uniformly of the Democratic persuasion.

GMay said...

MontyMonty offered: "The largest proportion of our current national debt was created in the 2000's because of the Bush tax cuts. Fact."

Which in no way supports your original remark about TARP. Fact.

Unless of course you're starting a new argument, in which case Salaman's quote - "tax cuts cannot create debt" - pretty much cuts the heart out of your shoddy new argument...which is clearly not based on fact...at all.

Quayle said...

MM, your boat is taking on more water than your paper cup arguments are bailing out.

Give up. Obama is a disaster as a president, and everyone knows it that has ever seen how even a moderately good American business executive operates.

Obama's presidency is like giving a college humanities professor the top job running Intel - a complete train wreck.

We're mired in Afghanistan. Iran moves ever forward in their goals. The Russians continue to increase their strength unchecked. We're entering a trade war with China.

The bankers got their buddies in Washington to bail them out. The dupes in Washington were supposed to keep the banks from being too big to fail, now they pass regulations making them even more too big to fail.

The rule of law is routinely ignored by Obama's guys - he doesn't get his czars approved by congress, his DoJ is totally out of control, his EPA botched the oil spill, he crushed down the bondholders of GM and Chrysler in violation of the bankruptcy laws and norms.

He's stirring the economic pot so rapidly that no investor can predict a return on any investment, so they sit on their hands and wait for more stability.

His treatment of the very states that make up the united states is deplorable. His violation of the limits of enumerated powers of the constitution are obvious.

And he's a phony, shallow, empty suit that has not coherent world view, that thinks that America is to blame for all the world's complaints, and that loves the perks of being President, but doesn't like the work demands.

Need I go on?

SteveR said...

Speaking of asses, having made an ass of themselves the first time through this oratory illusion, how eagerly some look to do it again.

Paul Zrimsek said...

At least this time Excitable Andy didn't let his inner Kael go quite so far as "It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation."

DaveW said...

Am I the only one that was struck by how tired the 'car in the ditch' metaphor was the other day?

It's not just that he's used it too much. It's that Obama takes so long in telling it. It seemed like it took him 5 minutes to get to the part where the rethugs were asking to drive again.

He needs some new material.

traditionalguy said...

But what about Nostalga Metaphors. We collect baseball cards, why not metaphors. So why can't they be recycled like thin ties and wide ties every 15 years ? And is "Caribou Barbie" a worn out metaphor now? So much to worry about. The last time a person told me that I knocked her socks off, I married her.

Abraham said...

Obama and Sullivan. Potus and Atlantic Monthly pundit. Harvard (Chicago) and Oxford (Harvard). The good news, with these two lightweights leading the charge: the forms and modes through which excellence, our betters tell us, are "exclusively" developed and the rank such developed men and women deserve has never been more clearly exposed for the fraud these forms and modes have become (always been?, thank you Lincoln). Thank God for the enduring, deeply profound and intelligent anti-intellectualism of my country tis a thee. Having attended one of those three institutions mentioned above, there are of course exceptional folk, myself obviously not included, who were able to overcome the radical dumbing down these institutions inflicted upon their wards. Obama and Sullivan are perfect representatives of the vast majority who merrily went along for the ride. Sullivan praising that Obama speech in such a manner to be met in the near future by another so mannered and deficient Obama speech which again will be praised by Sullivan in such a manner...... Roman fiddlers at a never ending hoedown. .

Chip Ahoy said...

John, doctors prescribe meds. Proscribe means forbid.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Salamandyr, it's simple. You cut a bunch of taxes on the richest 1%.

You don't make corresponding cuts to government spending.

You create debt. Is that clear enough?

p.s. the Bush years are characterized by stagnant wage growth among the middle class followed by a massive economic collapse. That's starting from budget surplus in 2000. So, forgive me if I don't feel confident about Republican governance.

Alex said...

Dick Morris has said the 2010 elections are a done deal. The GOP is taking over the House and Senate.

Lucien said...

And Furthermore ... Anybody describing the Presidency as a "bully pulpit", referring to troops being "in harm's way", or calling an earthquake a "temblor" should be smeared with honey and staked out on an anthill (after their posters and underpants are confiscated).

sydney said...

Back when I used to regularly read Andrew Sullivan, he often bragged about how much he supported Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's - even though it was not the cool position to take among the elite in those days. His overtop enthusiastic embrace of Obama and his agenda makes me think the man has no principles.

I would think he just grew and changed his position over the years, but I remember when his position shifted dramatically. He was just as enthusiastic about George W. Bush until he refused to support gay marriage during the 2004 election. Sullivan turned on a dime - on every position he had held up until that time that wasn't related to gay marriage. Whatever was a conservative issue, he hated and campaigned against.

Does he believe in anything other than himself?

chuck b. said...

"Achilles heel" unfailingly makes me think of the Ray Harryhausen movie Jason and the Argonauts, which was my introduction to the Achilles heel. (Although the creature is named Talos.)

Here is the You Tube clip, and here is the same clip but with the added benefit of a groovy lo-fi Euro-disco industrial dance remix.

Moose said...

Sydney: Butts and socks, apparently.

jimspice said...

Perfect for wearing those assless chaps that have been gathering dust in the back of the closet.

Salamandyr said...

Salamandyr, it's simple. You cut a bunch of taxes on the richest 1%.

MM, are you still peddling the canard that the Bush tax cuts were only for "the rich". If that were the case, my middle class ass wouldn't be dreading January, and the return of the marriage penalty, the reduction in child tax credit (just when I was gonna get to use it!), the increase in every tax category, right down to the elimination of the 10% bracket.

The Democrats fought tooth and nail to keep the poorest American workers from receiving a 33% tax cut. The party you support said "Fuck the poor!". Own that. When Obama lies about it, it's one thing. His job security depends on lying about Republicans. But yours doesn't. You're just a guy commenting on a blog. You ought to be able to accept the truth.

Jim said...

"Dick Morris has said the 2010 elections are a done deal."


Dick Morris also said:

"Well before they open their caucuses or polling places, this nomination, in each party, will have been decided by the national media coverage during 2007...Right now, neither Rudy nor Hillary has a front-runner’s lock, but they are clearly the man and woman to beat in their respective parties. If they hold their leads through Labor Day, my bet is that it will be all over."

He also predicted that not adding Hillary to the ticket would prove fatal for Obama's election chances.

He also predicted that the economic meltdown would end up helping McCain and ruining Obama's chances.

He also predicted that Sarah Palin would tip the women's vote (and thus the election) to McCain.

He also predicted that undecideds would break for McCain.

None of that actually happened. The man has a track record that rivals Bob Shrum when it comes to electoral predictive failure.

jayne_cobb said...

Jim,

Shrum just predicted that the Dems. would keep the House and the Senate.

Uncle Pinky said...

Smoke enough dope on Federal land and anything will knock your socks off.

Scofflaw.

prairie wind said...

What modern metaphors can replace those outdated ones on Orwell's list?

1. level playing field
2. hit it out of the park
3. between a rock and a hard place (not sure this one is really modern)
4. tow the line (this one is ever popular on the internets, always used by someone who has absolutely no idea what they just said and probably no idea what they mean, either)

hombre said...

MM wrote: Salamandyr, it's simple. You cut a bunch of taxes on the richest 1%.

You don't make corresponding cuts to government spending.

You create debt. Is that clear enough?


Well, it's clear if you don't know the difference between cutting tax rates and reducing tax revenue. If you know the difference, it's not so clear.

Jim said...

Jane,

I saw that right after I finished my post. Too funny. They can't both be right, but they can both be wrong. It looks to me like the GOP will take the House, but the Senate will be just out of reach. Doesn't matter, though. With the way minority parties abuse Senate rules, you don't need 51 or even 60 to get a majority.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Nah, hombre, I get it. You think that by reducing tax rates, the economy improves and tax revenue increases.

There's just one problem. That's called supply-side economics, and it doesn't work.

The Bush tax cuts reduced tax revenue, and we had to borrow money to cover the shortfall. A lot of money. For which you blame Barack Obama.

edutcher said...

Montagne Montaigne said...

Nah, hombre, I get it. You think that by reducing tax rates, the economy improves and tax revenue increases.

There's just one problem. That's called supply-side economics, and it doesn't work.

The Bush tax cuts reduced tax revenue, and we had to borrow money to cover the shortfall. A lot of money. For which you blame Barack Obama.


History is replete with examples of tax revenue rising after tax cuts. It's after tax increases that revenue falls. Call the IRS. They have stats out the wazoo.

Dubya spending (signing off on earmarks (one of the kings of which was The Zero) so he would have support for the campaign in Iraq) is what spiked the debt.

Take 10% out of SSA admin, for starters and maybe close down Departments of Education, Energy, Transport, and Veterans Affairs (I'll defer to TheDrillSgt or someone else knowledgeable, but I believe the old VA was supposed to have worked better). Montagne wants budget cuts? Go for it.

Kirk Parker said...

Don't you mean:

"At the end of the day, what modern metaphors can replace those outdated ones on Orwell's list?"

Chip Ahoy said...

Gen44. That's adorable.

Michael said...

MM: Think of this. If capital gains go to 20% from their current 15% rate I will not sell. Capital gains are a voluntary tax, see? If the rate goes to 20% my holdings have to improve 33% before I get even on an after tax basis. So. When tax RATES are low, like now, I sell some holdings and I will pay a substantial amount of tax that I would not pay had I not sold. Even our innumerate president gets this point. On ordinary income I have a similar situation. I can defer some income from year to year, thus avoiding tax in one year. If I reach the point where my efforts are rewarded with a larger piece of each transaction going to the govt I slow down my activities or take deferred compensation.
I don't know what kind of business you are involved with but clearly you can see the disincentives of a tax system that is built to punish versus one that is designed to encourage growth.

Blue@9 said...

Hiliarious. Andrew Sullivan is like a retarded Diogenes, shining his light into dark corners, seeking out another retarded ideology to cling to. Hasn't he learned his lesson? Is he going to get all excited about Obama again, just to get the rug pulled out from under him again?

hombre said...

MM wrote: The Bush tax cuts reduced tax revenue, and we had to borrow money to cover the shortfall. A lot of money. For which you blame Barack Obama.

I see. So the Bush tax cuts "on the richest 1%", to which you referred at 11:56, reduced revenues and created "shortfalls" to a greater extent than the spending of the Democrat Congress elected in 2006 and Obama's policies since his inauguration.

What's the word I'm looking for here? "Innumerate." That's it!

tjl said...

"Hasn't he learned his lesson? Is he going to get all excited about Obama again, just to get the rug pulled out from under him again?"
It will just rekindle the flame. It's long been clear that Sullivan is deeply, senselessly in love with Obama. This is the kind of misdirected crush where your friends try to talk you out of it but they can't make you see the obvious flaws, and every hurtful thing he does only makes you want him more.
Pitiable.

E.M. Davis said...

That Andrew Sullivan. Such a metaphornicator!

jaed said...

Gen44. That's adorable.

It's adorable, but what the heck does it mean?

furious_a said...

Demonstrably false.

First, they were *rate* cuts, not
*tax* cuts. Second, while reipts
did decline following the 2000
recession and the post-9/11 disclocations, tax receipts increased after the second round of rate reductions in 2003, and for
2008, Bush's last year in office, where about 25% ($500B) higher than
Clinton's last year in office.

Note wow, and look at those actual and estimated deficits for Obama's first three years. 2009 more than
3x worse than Bush's first year.

It's not the tax rates, it's the
SPENDING.