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Thursday, 31 July 2008
By Their Words Ye Shall Know Them

by Hugh Fitzgerald

John McCain declares that the Republican President he would most like to emulate is Theodore Roosevelt.

That's a good choice.

Theodore Roosevelt was against what he was the first to so memorably call the "malefactors of great wealth." We've got plenty of those.  more...
Posted on 07/31/2008 5:55 PM by NER
23 Aug 2008

Perhaps I misread the article.

However, I had the distinct impression that you created a justification for the continued existence of "all" nuclear weaponry based on a future hypothetical confrontation between Israel and the Arab League.

Surely not all nuclear weapons. We could certainly abolish all but Israel's. And the Israelis would have to cross their hearts that they would only nuke Arabs.

There. Now we have thought things through.


8 Aug 2008
Hugh Fitzgerald

A dictionary of the favorite words and phrases, those cliches of word and thought, emanating from both, or more accurately all, sides of American politics, would be a good idea.

Something akin to Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas, updated for a world of "public discourse" that neither he, at his most somberly penetrating, nor Karl Kraus, at his gloomiest, could have imagined. After all, 99% of the people did not then "attend college." Those who ruled had, more or less, to know how to read and write. There were newspapers that made demands on readers, or made assumptions about what they already could be expected to know. There were books. There were schools for the transmission of culture. There  was a class of the cultivated, and sometimes that class included some of the rich and the powerful.

A new day has dawned. A scarcely describable, barely tolerable new day.

8 Aug 2008

I have to wonder how much of Obama's speeches are written by him, and how much by his writers (principally Jon Favreau).

There's nothing wrong with that time-honored practice (Washington used Jefferson and Adams, among others), but we need to understand where the words come from.  And realize that Obama is no Demosthenes. 

It bears repetition that if the Arabs had no guns, there would be no war; and if Israel had no guns, there would be no Israel.  Obama's odd statement

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll have a strong deterrent. But we will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy."

... leads inevitably to the conclusion that "... and then we won't have a strong deterrent".

Speaking of "improbable": there are a number of "code words" that keep popping up.  I haven't been able to make a detailed study, but one comes to mind:  "common good" - both Hillary and Ted Kennedy used exactly the same phrase in their speeches.   Has anyone made a "dictionary" of these terms?