Patterico's Pontifications


Dem Convention Day Three Parlor Game: Anticipatory Sycophantic Praise Predictions — The Olbermann Edition

[Posted by WLS]

With Joe Biden and Bill Clinton on tap to to speak tonight, lets start a contest to see who can predict what cliche’-ridden slobberfest stream of free-association praise and worship Keith Olbermann will have flow from his lips at the conclusion of their speeches. To give you some guidance on what you might anticipate, consider the following from Monday night after Michelle Obama’s speech:

OLBERMANN: Case, I think, closed. If that speech was to be more about tone than content, pitch-perfect. If it was supposed to be more about content than tone, pitch-perfect. If that was supposed to be friendliness and what they call accessibility, couldn’t have done it better. Couldn’t have done it better.

OLBERMANN: And the premise of this speech, to try to erase doubts that now seem difficult to voice aloud because they seem almost foolish, was also done subtly. There was a reference to, they love the country, meaning the troops. There was another one to, I love the country. There were six references to country. But if you went back and listened to that speech again and waited for the moment in which she is supposedly selling herself or redeeming herself, you wouldn’t have noticed it.

OLBERMANN: Yes, case closed. That could not have gone better for them. That could not have gone better for them right to the point with the little girls taking the mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It’s wonderful. It really was terrific. And notice—did you notice that throughout that, especially as it built towards its conclusion, the women in that convention hall, the ones we saw at least, we can’t say every one was this way, but there were tears throughout among the women. And it was not a maudlin speech, it was not a—it was not a salesmanship speech, there was just a—I know, I’m beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this.

Borderline?? Pal, you lost sight of the border years ago. You’re John-Madden-Monday-Night-Football-RV-Ride away from the border.

But lets also not forget last night after Hillary’s speech:

OLBERMANN: Grand slam. Grand slam, out of the ballpark, across the street.

OLBERMANN: Across the buildings across the street.

OLBERMANN: Five, six, maybe seven campaign slogans in that speech, starting out from the initial get-go, a sock to the jaw of disunity, a speech that started about Barack Obama, a proud American, a proud Democrat, a proud senator, and a proud supporter of Barack Obama, then a lot about her, some about George Bush, twisting it all back to get her supporters to recognize that their goals are now best served by Barack Obama, then Michelle, then Biden, then several key, probably the strongest hits against John McCain we have heard at this convention, and finally tying it all back together. I don’t know how it could have been better. I don’t know how it could have been better, Chris.

OLBERMANN: The usual Hillary approach of listing those things and those people she met who were in trouble and she tried to help, going along in that traditional manner we saw throughout the primaries, and now with a twist at the end: Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should, too.

It’s literally what we have been talking about. How do you convert her campaign into their campaign? I don’t know how she could have done it better. At the end of the speech, it is one of those speeches, I would think, for Democrats, at least, that you now charge through the doorway, and, after you are through it, you check to see whether or not it was open. You go through the wall, if necessary, what she just told you to do.

Ok — so that’s what we’ve got so far. Lets have some predictions about what Keith has in store for us tonight.


“If You Will . . .”

Filed under: Grammar — Patterico @ 9:32 pm

It always bugs me when people say “if you will . . .”

I won’t.


A Not Valuable (As Opposed to Invaluable) Observation

Filed under: Grammar — Patterico @ 6:52 am

Why is it that “inaction” is not action, and something that is “inapt” is not apt — but “invaluable” means very valuable, and “inestimable” means very estimable? (I know, I know; technically, they don’t. But in common usage, they do.)


Proofreading Miers’s Questionnaire Answers: Questions 15 and 16 (Or: A Clear Case of Misprepresentation)

Filed under: Grammar,Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 11:19 pm

I am finally getting a chance to browse through Harriet Miers’s questionnaire answers. Here’s what jumped out at me from her answers to Questions 15 (“Legal Career”) and 16 (“Litigation”). You may have seen these in other places; then again, you may not have. In any event, these are all things I noticed on my own.

Page 31:

He contended that, although the two forged the checks in question were separately cashed at different banks in San Antonio, the interstate transportation of the checks did not occur until the San Antonio Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank forwarded them in the same envelope across state lines to the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

. . . .

The United States acknowledged the circuit split (and, in fact, noting that the Seventh Circuit had joined the Fifth and Eighth Circuits, see United States v. Dilts, 501 F.2d 531 (7th Cir. 1974)), but argued, among other things, that “[i]t is not certain that, in view of the decisions in three other circuits to the contrary, the Ninth Circuit now would adhere to its ruling in Gilinsky.” Id. at 3 n.2.

Page 39:

Among other issues that were raised in the course of discovery were activities and conduct that allegedly constituted Pioneer Nuclear’s involvement in the purported unlawful antitrust conspiracy; activities and conduct of domestic codefendants and trade organizations; activities and conduct of foreign defendants in alleged international cartel; as well as an analysis of free market factors explaining an increase in the price of uranium and the definition of the relevant market.

. . . .

I engaged in settlement negotiations on behalf of Pioneer and settled on the basis that all claims against Pioneer Nuclear were dismissed without it paying any money or providing any other consideration to Westinghouse.

Page 41:

The trial court awarded SunGard $46,247 in damages and interest on its breach of contact counter-claim, and awarded it $1,550,000 in attorney’s fees.

Page 42:

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on most claims, except that the district court reversed the directed verdict on the plaintiffs’ claims for violations of the TDCA.


Page 44:

Separately, private plaintiffs sought to bring a class action against Lomas and recover punitive damages, alleging a myriad of claims, involving RICO, fraud, misprepresentation, negligence, intentional wrongdoing, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Lomas

There are plenty more errors, but I’m trying not to get too picky. For example, she needs to decide whether it’s “attorneys’ fees” or “attorney’s fees” — but I didn’t mention that, did I?

Maybe I should apply to be Harriet Miers’s clerk! Ya think she’ll have me?

P.S. I gotta say, though — my main impression after reading about all the cases she has litigated is: thank God I’m not a civil lawyer any more! The issues in these cases are bo-ring!

P.P.S. The rule is: in any post about proofreading or grammar, there must be at least one typo. Your job is to be the first to find it!

But always remember and never forget my certain reply: this blog post is not my application to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

P.P.P.S. The President has breached his contact with the American people.

P.P.P.P.S. I am filing this post under “Humor” in response to See Dubya’s comment below, since he apparently doesn’t get jokes or lighthearted posts unless you tell him they’re jokes or lighthearted posts. (And he’s the same guy who once criticized me for giving a joke away by filing it under “Humor”! Jeez, sometimes you just can’t please these people . . .)

P.P.P.P.P.S. Don’t make me do another P.S.!

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. The “breach of contact” comment was a reference to one of Miers’s mistakes above. Maybe I should have put quotation marks around the word “contact” for the humor-impaired . . .

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Ms. Miers: a spellchecker can be your best friend. My browser and blog software lack one; what’s your excuse?

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Remember: we have all heard about Harriet Miers’s legendary attention to detail, and devotion to perfection in matters of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. If this post has a serious point, it’s that those stories seem highly dubious once you actually read some of her writing.

Harriet Miers’s Blog!!!

Filed under: Grammar,Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 8:43 pm

Harriet Miers’s Blog turns out to have been more than a one-day wonder. It’s pretty dang funny. For example, this post:

Okay first here’s some background. Especially if your wondering why its been so long since my last post. I was trying to put into words my thoughts about Specter and the 1989 questionnaire and everything, and honestly if I hear Roe V Wade one more time I’m going to announce that I’ll just recuse myself. (Just kidding its important obv).

Just keep scrolling, and don’t miss the “Call You’re Senators” campaign.


Steev and Cokee Robberts Cant Spel

Filed under: Grammar — Patterico @ 7:43 pm

Instapundit noticed that Cokie and Steve Roberts called John Hinderaker “John Hindrocket” in a recent column. But nobody seems to have noticed that within the space of that short column, the Roberts duo also made reference to a Sen. “Lindsay” Graham, and someone named Joe “Leiberman.”

I don’t know if Steve and Cokie would approve of the spelling reform noted earlier today by guest blogger See Dubya. But they need some kind of help.


On (What Some Call) Split Infinitives

Filed under: Grammar — Patterico @ 6:28 am

On a point of word usage, Eugene Volokh says:

Moreover, it’s especially important for lawyers not just to be right, but to look right.

I used to work for a civil law firm, and one particular partner made this exact point to me several times, usually when I had deliberately made the error commonly known as splitting an infinitive. (If I say that I really was splitting an infinitive, then Xrlq will have a hissy fit.) Regular readers know that I am a supporter of breaking such grammatical “rules” if doing so aids clarity and avoids awkwardness.

For example, a sentence of mine might read: “It is better to awkwardly insert a word inside an infinitive than to mindlessly follow ancient rules of grammar.” In a sentence like that, this partner (a very good writer) would move the adverbs before the word “to,” so that the sentence read: “It is better awkwardly to insert a word inside an infinitive than mindlessly to follow ancient rules of grammar.”

I would object that this made the sentence awkward. She would agree — but said that our point was to influence the judge, and judges notice split infinitives. Better to show we know the rule, she said.

Any litigators out there? How do you feel about this? I see the partner’s point, but I wish that we had judges who preferred clarity of expression to a slavish devotion to archaic grammatical rules. If I were writing a brief to Judge Volokh, for example, I’d “split” all the “infinitives” I wanted.

P.S. Her other piece of advice: lose the adverbs to begin with. (There’s another bugaboo in the last sentence: a preposition at the end of a sentence!) Too many adverbs are distracting anyway, she would say, and rob your sentences of vigor. It’s decent advice. I should follow it more often.

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