Wednesday, February 07, 2007
From The Nitpick File; annoying little phrases
Just returned from a lovely vacation from the News and anything remotely connected to it. One would think I would not be in a nitpicking state of mind.
One would be wrong!.
I am turning into a cranky, old curmudgeon before my time.
So, here we go......
I'm sure that everyone knows that official Washington and the citizens of pundit-world (Is there really a difference?) occasionally get stuck on one phrase or the other. It is repeated ad nauseum.
Back during Watergate, the pharse was, "at that point in time." Those of us who were alive and politically conscious during those days will remember that phrase. For example, "At that point in time," I was not aware that Richard Nixon was a crook, a creep or just plain psychotic, or something similar.
During Iran/Contra, we were treated to "plausible deniability." Plausible deniability meant that Ronald Reagan could go on live TeeVee and say that, in his heart, he did not believe that his administration had traded arms for hostages with Iran (Yes, Iran), and violated the hell out of the Boland amendment, as a side enterprise, but that apparently his administration was doing just that. He took "full responsibility," which means absolutely nothing.
(There is another one of those phrases. It goes something like this; "I take "full responsibility" for everything under the sun, but I do not expect to be held accountable for any of it, not do I intend to hold myself accountable by doing the right thing and resigning, effective at noon tomorrow.)
Even the independent counsel, at the time, Lawrence Walsh, bought that one, since Reagan did not recognize his own Secretary of State by the end of his presidency. Who in their right mind and compassionate heart would want to thrown an old man, in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease into prison. Certainly not me, nor anyone I know.
But I do believe that taking responsibility for a crime should mean accountability under the law. It usually does. Admittedly, when someone fesses up, before they are caught dead to rights after a costly investigation, there should be some leniency from society and its courts.
The vice in those days, George H.W. Bush, had "plausible deniability" because he said he was out-of-the-loop. Anyone who was paying attention to the Iran/Contra investigations, at all, had to be plain loopy to believe that, but by the time GHWB pardoned the only man who could tie him directly to Iran/Contra and more, Casper Weinberger, no one cared. "Plausible deniability" had managed to run out the clock against the typical American attention span.
Admittedly, Iran/ Contra was capable of putting even the most politically obssessed among us into a boredom-induced coma. There were no blow-jobs, no one got screwed, except the American people, of course, who always do, but couldn't care less.
We don't seem to care a whit about the raping, robbing and pillaging of our whole country, but are absolutely entranced by individual blow jobs, whether the receivers of said blow jobs are Hollywood celebrities or the POTUS.
(God, we are an odd lot! Trust me, we really are, though more often than not, one must get far enough away from the forest to see the trees, in order to get a true glimpse of just how really odd we are, as a nation.)
Now we come to the annoying phrases of today:
Today's annoying phrases are more annoying to me than those of yesteryear simply because they really have no meaning at all.
At least, those aforementioned annoying phrases had a meaning and a clear purpose. When someone specified "at that point in time," he or she was attempting to lay out a time line of sorts. Of course, time lines are much easier to lay out these days, with computers everywhere and records of what was said and done, and when, are kept by all sorts of folks, not just the news media and the government. In the early 70's it was not so easy.
Even "plausable deniability" was understandable by most folks. Out-of-the-loop was well understood, if not believed, in the context in which it was used.
One of today's linguistic herd-phrases is, "at the end of the day." I really don't know who started this one, but I think he or she should be put in stockades on the National Mall.
What freakin' day are we talking about?
This highly annoying phrase is used a gazillion times a day, to indicate a time for a "final outcome," one would assume.
But what the hell does it mean; at the end of what day? Today, tomorrow, July 30, 2008?
Could it mean, The Day After (starring Jason Robards) or Jan 1, In The Year, 2525, if man is still alive?
What the hell does it mean?
It is a throw away phrase. It is used ad nauseum, by members of both parties and all sorts of punditry. It doesn't mean a damn thing!
O.K. I admitted that this post was from the "Nitpick File." I know how petty this sounds, but I don't care, because I do have a point. I will get to it, eventually.
Here is another one of my favorite picks for the junk pile of stupid, meaningless phrases:
"Going forward." We are always "going forward," it seems. Even when it is damned apparent that we are standing still or, even, going backward.
We are "going forward" on everything from Iraq to Climate Change.
I just want to know what we are "going forward" to;" the 9th hell realm, national bankruptcy, Chinese ownership of all Americans, Armageddon, a miracle that will somehow save us from ourselves? What?
What the hell does "going forward" mean? Who decides which way is "forward?"
If so, we might as well all pull the covers over our heads and kiss our asses good-bye, not to mention any hope of financial solvency, let alone security, retirement or basic health care.
I am reminded of that old Christian saying, usually stated with all the authority of God, himself; "God will not give you more than you can handle."
As a friend of mine once asked, "until what happens, exactly?" Until your head explodes, until you melt down into a puddle of hopelessness and despair or, perhaps, have another sort of meltdown that causes even more despair for others?
What is the marker? Have you had all you can bear when your breakfast cereal is topped with Xanax instead of blueberries? How about when you are shot to the rim with Haldol and are drooling in a corner of a cuckoo's nest, somewhere? Maybe, when you would rather spend the few bucks you have left, after trying to pay the bills, on anti-depressants instead of food?
At what point does it become obvious, even to the village idiot, that God, or someone, has, indeed, given you more than you can bear?
"Suicide brings changes," says the theme song from M.A.S.H.
It does, indeed, but only to the people who care about the suicider.
How many Iraq war vets have offed themselves? Does anyone making the big bucks in the news media give a rat's ass?
Hell no, because we are going forward, at the end of the day! (Sure as hell is the end of the day for some folks)
Perhaps, I find these meaningless phrases and others, annoying because, after the last 6 years of "imperial reality creating," I am highly suspicious of any phrase that is repeated, ad nauseum, by simply everyone.
Then, there is always the possibility that I have been given more than I can bear and it has turned me into a very cranky person, who is annoyed by simply everything, including stupid, meaningless phrases, when meaningful lives ar being lost and shattered.
Don't even get me started on stupid, senatorial rows over the wording of non-binding resolutions to make a record of who is for or against "stay the course."
I certainly shall not comment on those senators who do not even wish to talk about it. I can do without visits from people working for alphabet soup agencies, just because I am feeling cranky.
How many meaningless words can we come up with to describe or refer to national disaster, total dishonor, loss of credibility and constitutional crisis?
Submitted by Dot Dedman, an Indy-sixer
....and the truth shall set us free.