Ernest Cassara

The Misuse of Words

As you may remember, I committed a no-no  last week.  I wrote of the "Department of War," when, of course, we now call it the "Department of Defense."  The first designation, of course, is the more honest one, since the U.S. has been engaged in more wars than you can count on the fingers of your right hand since WWII.  Interesting, isn't it, that what folks call the "greatest nation on earth" - many of these people, as you know, never having been beyond the borders of their own states, and are ceaselessly calling on the deity to bless the U.S.A. - is presently fighting a war in Iraq, and threatening others in the neighborhood with the same.  Yes, Iran is next, if it doesn't behave.  We have that crack shot Richard Cheney's word for it.  If the Iranians do not take such bluster seriously, we cannot blame them.  They see, better than we do, what is happening next door.

But, I started on this subject, because of our misuse of language.  "War" becomes "Defense."  A few other examples: A person who is opposed to abortion is labeled "pro life," as if the rest of us are against life!  A defender of a woman's right to her own body is labeled "pro choice."  Then, you have the biggest lie of all: "partial birth abortion." That ain't what the physicians call it, but it is a handy lie bandied about by the "pro life" faction in the population.

You can probably think of more evasions.  Some, of course, are harmless.  Doesn't hurt to refer to your friendly undertaker as a "mortician," or the nice guy who picks up the trash as a "sanitary engineer."  Send me other examples that come to mind and I'll list them in this space.

Speaking of Iraq

The polls are debating whether to set a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.  Well, the U.S. may leave without leaving.  The administration may withdraw troops, when it claims that the Iraqi government is up and running and able to fend for itself, and, allegedly, has asked us to leave.  However, we can be sure that there will be sleight of hand in this regard, for the U.S. is building a number of airbases in Iraq that look real permanent.

Senators Talking By Each Other

President Bush is such a spendthrift that true conservatives are beginning to question whether he is one of them.  In the Senate debate on raising the debt limit, it was fascinating to watch Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, chair of the Budget Committee, and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, ranking member.  Both were armed with impressive charts.  Conrad said that the Bush 2007 budget is reckless, and explodes the deficit. He said: "The nation needed a new budget plan this year, a dramatic and bold acknowledgment from this administration that we need to put our fiscal house back in order. Instead, we got more of the same - more deficits, more debt, and more hiding of the true fiscal condition of the country." In response to Conrad's detailed presentation,  Gregg accused the Democrats of wanting to raise taxes.

When Conrad pointed out that depriving the real rich folk of the country of their huge tax cut would allow for restoration of student loans and other programs helpful to the average American, Gregg accused the Democrats of wanting to raise taxes.

When Conrad pointed out that it is our grandchildren who will be paying for our profligacy, Gregg accused the Democrats of wanting to raise taxes.

Made one wonder why such exchanges are called "debates."  It shames the memory of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas to do so.

The Most Stupid Mantra

My online Webster defines "mantra" thus:
"Etymology: Sanskrit, sacred counsel, formula, from manyate he thinks; akin to Latin mens mind --: a mystical formula of invocation or incantation (as in Hinduism).

My candidate for the most stupid mantra: "We are fighting them there [Iraq], so we won't have to fight them here!"


Had occasion to telephone the Mellon Bank, which, if memory serves, is, or was, in Pittsburgh.  It is the agent for an outfit I have an investment in, and it had failed to send me a 1099, which I need, since I feel the hot breath of the IRS  down the back of my neck.  I had a fair amount of difficulty understanding the lady.  Of course, in my several visits to Pittsburgh for historical conferences several years back, I did notice a fair number of handsome Asians walking the streets of that fair city.  Only after I hung up, did it occur to me that I should have asked her where she was located.  After all, once, when I had to telephone AOL about a technical problem, I asked whether the gentleman who helped me was in Virginia, remembering that AOL got its start near Dulles Airport, not too many miles from where we lived years ago.  He answered, "Georgia."  Months later, when I needed advice again, I thought to ask the lady whether she was in Virginia or Georgia.  She responded, "No.  I'm in New Delhi."

Free Beer

Have you read about the lady in Norway who turned on the water tap and realized it was beer coming out?  Seems that the barkeep in the pub on the first floor of her building had connected a fresh keg to the water pipe by mistake.  The lady responded: "Maybe it would be easier if they just invited me down for a beer."

This story reminded me of when we moved into a new house in the Washington area years ago.  When I flushed the toilet for the first time, I saw steam arising and realized the plumber had made a mistake.  When I told a colleague about it, he responded, "But, still, it would be vary comforting on a cold morning!"

New Living Will Form

From Larry Hamby:

With thanks to my cousin who has always been sensible, who sent me this incredibly usable living will.

New Living Will Form

I, __________________________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it or lawyers/doctors interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:

  • Glass of wine
  • Margarita
  • Martini
  • Steak and baked potato
  • Chicken fried steak and cream gravy
  • Mexican food
  • Hamburger and fries
  • Pizza
  • The remote control
  • Bowl of ice cream
  • Double Espresso
  • Chocolate
  • Sex

it should be presumed that I won't ever get better.  When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

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