People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Putting Words to Meaning

I had harsh words for Verlyn Klinkenborg the other day. I'm providing the link to my thrashing of his literary abilities here, but don't take up valuable time on him. Let it simply be understood that he, like Ernest Hemingway before him, could string endless numbers of unrelated adjectives and adverbs together in lengthy sentences that take his reader on a circuitous journey to nowhere, and requiring a precious page of the New York Times to do it.

He had a forestland denuded so that the Times could provide us with his saga relating to his having gone hunting for mayflies. And we never even find out if he captured any. Or why he, or anyone, would want to travel to Montana to find the disgusting little creatures.

Having lived in Detroit, I could have directed Mr. Klinkenborg to springtime along Lake St. Clair or Lake Erie, when the mayflies swarm ... by the millions, landing - and dying - on your car, your windows, your aluminum siding, in your mouth if you leave it open too long, in numbers literally making some streets so slick with mayfly carcasses that it is hazardous to drive.

But rather than travel to Detroit to witness clouds of mayflies - so many, he'd have been picking them out of his underwear - Verlyn instead traveled (flew, drove, trekked) to the wilds of Montana to witness one. One.

I dredge up old Verlyn for a reason. There is a flipside to bad writing.

The following is a snippet from a column written by Joseph Epstein entitled, "Meany," that appears this morning in The Wall Street Journal. It has to do with the nominating process playing out in a senate committee, John Bolton's reputation for being a tough boss, and Senator Joe Biden's antics in the process. If you're not aware of it, Mr. Biden is trying to hold back the unrelenting march of time; he'd be as bald as a cue ball if it weren't for the work of a team of hair transplant specialists.
In the indelicate phrasing of Sen. Joseph Biden, Mr. Bolton's penchant, when confronting a subordinate, is alleged to have been that of "reaming him a new one," and is "just not acceptable." I myself always find Sen. Biden least acceptable when, as in these hearings, he shifts into high moral dudgeon.

Following Sen. Biden's career over the years, I have always found him one of those politicians who has the precious gift of easily persuading himself, as Tocqueville once put it, that his "advantage and the general weal conformed." Whenever I hear the Senator from Delaware in his accusatory mode, I always think of something Tocqueville never got around to saying: that one may have hair plugs or a high moral tone, but surely one ought not to be permitted both. [my emphasis] (
link requires subscription)

At the risk of reading more drivel now overwhelmed with nouns, may I suggest to Verlyn that he could stand to learn a new word. Brevity.

Abu Ghraib, A Year On

Just imagine how wonderful life would be if all those Democrats in Congress and their cohorts in the mainstream press focused as much attention on protecting American citizens from the depredations of others (take Terri Schiavo for instance) as they do on the dastardly forcing-Iraqi-terrorists-to-wear-panties-on-their-heads scandal.

It's been a year and they are still trying to make themselves heard. Here's the Wall Street Journal take on their goofiness.
Abu Ghraib Accountability

We'd have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses. Instead, the latest Army report reaching this conclusion has induced further cries of whitewash.

This wailing says more about the accusers than about any facts that have emerged in the year since the scandal broke. The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven't panned out, they refuse to admit it.

Senator Ted Kennedy all but blew a gasket yesterday, essentially accusing both the U.S. military and Bush Administration of moral perfidy. "Our nation will continue to be harmed by the reports of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, the failure by top officials to take action, and the abandonment of our basic rules and traditions on human rights," he said. He even stooped to the moral-equivalence canard that some in the U.S. chose "to stoop to the level of the terrorists" and "deserve to be held fully accountable."
The salient and remarkable truth here is that America has punished its own for the Abu Ghraib abuses; and it has done so even before Saddam and his henchmen have faced justice for the horrors they propagated in that same prison. More than a few good soldiers have had their careers tarnished by the media and Democratic innuendo that they somehow condoned human rights abuses. They deserve an apology. After all the evidence to the contrary, continuing to allege systematic prisoner abuse -- and a coverup -- by the U.S. military is itself shameful. (link)
Since we're still waiting for Ted Kennedy's apology to the parents of Mary Jo Kopechne, my guess is this one is a long way off.