One more time…

Our lonely quest for accuracy remains unfinished, so let’s put this at the top of the blog today, so our vast and influential readership sees it, first thing:

A commode is not a toilet.

It’s true that the word is a euphemism for toilet in many places, including the American south. But the one purchased by ex-Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain for his office likely supported his tabletop cigar humidifier, a Baccarat crystal decanter, a solid-gold dildo or perhaps his latest golf trophy, but not his overpaid ass.

This is a commode:

commode
Thanks, Wikipedia.

No one, including his editors, tells Mitch Albom anything other than “yes, sir” and “great column, sir!,” so we’ll write him off, and let him snicker, you can’t justify $35,000 for a commode — yes, a commode …

But David Brooks has the best editors money can buy, so what’s his excuse? Ahem:

Then there was John Thain, who was humiliated because it is no longer acceptable to spend $35,000 on a commode for a Merrill Lynch washroom.

The Wall Street Journal, run by well-paid journalists who presumably know their Louis Quinze from their Louis Seize, explained it very well a few days back, but still, the confusion persists.

The WSJ is good enough to provide the original itemized list of Thain’s office furnishings, and you’ll note the commode is for the reception area. Think about it.

And that will be our last word on the subject, until someone screws it up again.

While we’re on the subject of language, however, let’s take a look at what the ex-governor of Illinois is doing. Oh, look. He’s lashing out:

CHICAGO — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today lashed out at lawmakers who booted him from office, calling his removal a “hijacking.”

Someone is always lashing out in the newspaper. “Lashed out” is straight journalese, the language reporters and editors speak amongst themselves that no one else does. Let’s use the miracle of Google to see its awesome power of description:

Drunk George Tenet lashed out at Bush’s neocons…

Noam Schalit lashed out at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government on Wednesday…

Pictured: The moment Sharon Osbourne lashed out at reality show contestant…

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out Friday when quizzed about the flap over a landscaping crew working at his home…

Kanye lashes out at Britney’s return to VMA…

Lashing out is done so often in news stories, and describes such a wide range of behavior, that the term is effectively meaningless. Follow that link to Sharon Osbourne, and you’ll see a proper lashing out — she’s throwing a drink in some slut’s face. Whereas Mitt Romney, whom you wouldn’t think has a lashing-out bone in his body, got tagged after responding to a question with another question: “If I go to a restaurant, do I make sure all the waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?” the former Massachusetts governor asked.

Of course, the first is from the Daily Mail, the second from the uptight L.A. Times. When in doubt, always trust a Brit. They know their lashing.

So. Kwame Kilpatrick was sprung from the slam shortly after midnight this morning. Of course he had a security detail, ineptly described in the Freep as “self-important, well-dressed men,” but the writer gets a pass — he was on deadline. I’m amazed at the politics of security details in this town; it really seems to be a badge of honor. (The superintendent of schools gets security as part of the position’s compensation package.) Kwame in particular appears to love rolling like Suge Knight, which I always found amusing, because the guy played college ball and packed on the usual few dozen retirement pounds, and hardly looks like a handy mugging target. He likes multiple vehicles and a big carbon footprint — his private posse last night went for no fewer than five SUVs. I guess Fidel Castro gets more, but in a place like this, it just reads as TGFW. Too Ghetto for Words:

The security guys, some wearing bow ties and long coats, others with Bluetooth-like devices in their ears, made it seem like the ex-mayor would be getting into one vehicle parked illegally in front of the jail.

For 20 minutes before Kilpatrick appeared, they stood next to an open door and kicked at the icy snow piled on the curb. It was a bush-league feint reminiscent of the body-double stunt Kilpatrick’s Detroit Police Executive Protection Unit employed last year during one of the then-mayor’s court appearances.

Instead, Kilpatrick walked about 100 feet to the west and entered the Suburban.

Sigh. Well, politics at the other end of the American class spectrum doesn’t seem any prettier. I read the New Yorker’s story about the brief political career of Caroline Kennedy and came away with two conclusions: New York dodged a bullet, and Lawrence O’Donnell is a gold-plated asshole. You’d think we’d have moved past the era of Kennedy brown-nosing, but nooo. Here he is on the woman who did get the job:

Now Caroline Kennedy has had her moment and flubbed it. Paterson has appointed Kirsten Gillibrand, a second-term congresswoman from Hudson, near Albany. “Paterson has no comprehension of upstate New York, absolutely none, and has chosen someone better at representing cows than people,” Lawrence O’Donnell says. “What you have is the daughter of a lobbyist, instead of the daughter of a former President or the son of a former governor. This is the hack world producing the hack result that the hacks are happy with.”

Good god. Now there’s a lash-out.

OK, off to Gymville. I feel like shit, but I’m soldiering on. Have a better day than mine doubtless will be.

Posted at 9:45 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media |
 

78 responses to “One more time…”

  1. Dexter said on February 3, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I read that New Yorker story last week and well, it’s for damn-sure we won’t have Caroline Kennedy to kick around anymore, y’know? The part I found memorable was that she was receptive to guidance, but like Albom’s editor…some crunchy eggshells to walk on.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I am so glad that Mom is vindicated in her usage of the word “commode” when I was a kid…but I was really confused when I heard it used to mean toilet; now all the stars and planets are in order in my universe.

  2. moe99 said on February 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

    My mother had euphemisms for the words poop and pee. At least we didn’t have antimacassars on the arms of our chairs.

  3. Rana said on February 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

    What I’m struck by in that O’Donnell excerpt is that apparently he feels these women’s most important qualifications are whose daughters they are and what their parents did for a living – rather than what the women’s own job experience might be. When being the child of a President or a governor is considered a greater “qualification” for serving Congress than having served Congress in one’s own right, something’s screwy.

  4. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Actuallly, moe, “antimacassar” is such a cool word that I think everyone should have some–or at least they should learn the word.

    Did you hear that one of Obama’s appointees–his prospective Chief Performance Officer, a second-level position at OMB–has stepped down due to tax problems. I am not so much horrified as amazed by these tax problems. Makes me wonder how many people are, for some reason, not in compliance.

  5. alex said on February 3, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Jolene, the story here isn’t that Obama’s vetting process is flawed. The real story is that all of the wealthy cheat on their taxes. Why should any of this be surprising?

  6. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    This latest thing seems to be about household help. One would think people would be on top of that issue by now.

  7. LA Mary said on February 3, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Antimacassar is a nice word. We called them doilies, but when I left home and gained a worldly outlook, I switched to antimacassar.

  8. nancy said on February 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I like antimacassar, too. I’m so glad they came along before hair ointments came to be called “product,” as antiproduct just doesn’t have a ring to it.

    Put me down as growing short of temper with this parade of clowns going before Congress with their mealymouthed excuses, especially Tom Daschle, who apparently is too fucking special to even drive his own self to 7-11, and then never dreamed this is considered taxable income. Not. Buying. It.

  9. Rana said on February 3, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I have a ton of antimacassars around the house, along with various tabletop or dresser-top cloths, that I inherited from my godmother and grandmothers. Unfortunately, I’m not really a doily person, so they mostly just sit in drawers.

    What I find interesting is how they’re seen as primarily decorative now, when they used to serve a very practical purpose – protecting furniture from dirt and hair oil. They’re the fancy Victorian equivalent of those paper things that dangle from some airline seats, or the weird cloth drapes that come with recliners and rest on the arms.

  10. moe99 said on February 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I remember that the Victorians used to cover the legs of their chairs– they were so sensitive that others would be offended to view exposed legs, even if they were on inanimate objects and had never been alive. I wonder what those coverings were called.

  11. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Howard Kurtz reported this AM that he saw Daschle shopping on his own at a local Whole Foods. The past few days, he’s been visiting an ailing brother in SD. He’s a Beltway insider, no doubt, but less sleazy than is typical. As far as I know, there’s no evidence of corruption in his past. Since he left the Senate, he’s been heavily involved in promoting Obama, including connecting the inexperienced senator from Illinois w/ several members of his very experienced staff.

    Here’s a story that decribes Daschle’s career and its connection to Obama’s. Many other stories, of course, in the Post.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020200459.html

  12. john c said on February 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Another great journalist word is “mulled.” Local officials are always mulling, often to the chagrin of “irate residents.”
    Also, bullets fired at night apparently ring out.

  13. Kirk said on February 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    “Irate residents” reminds me of one of my favorites: “resides.” That is a word never used in conversation. I don’t reside here; I live here, by God.

  14. Catherine said on February 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    OK, lashed out has become so overused as to be meaningless. But can we still say tongue-lashing?

  15. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Catherine,
    Tongue-lashing; wasn’t that what got Elliot Spitzer in trouble?

  16. jeff borden said on February 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Okay, I am lashing out at the overexposed.

    Ex-Gov. Blagojevich. Please drink deeply from a glass of STFU and go be ashamed in silence. You have passed your expiration date.

    Joe the Plumber. I can’t stand this buffoon, but apparently, he’s now going to be advising a gathering of young Republican conservatives on strategy. What an unemployed, unlicensed wannabe plumber has to share about political strategy at a national level has just got to be compelling.

    Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Please see advice to Rod Blagojevich. Your guy lost. Big time. Please quit acting like anyone other than Rush Limbaugh gives a flying fig about what you think.

  17. beb said on February 3, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    When half the country thinks a commode is the same as a toilet perhaps its time the other half of the country stop trying to “educate” them and just pick a new term for a small table with an enclosed cabinet.

    Texas is more than welcome to our former mayor, the felon, but I suspect he’ll be back all too soon to answer questions to that there bribery thing.

    If we are to banish “lashing out” from newspapers what word should we substitute? “Whined seemed good. ‘Karl Rove whined to reporters about having to answer questions under oath to Congress’…’Republicans whined about Obama’s stimulas plan.’ Yeah, that sounds about right to me.

  18. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    See – but saying “whine” would be ajudged an overt bit of editorializing – even if it is specifically accurate reporting.

    I like “city man”. If I get hit by a bus, or if I win $27,000,000 on the lottery, I am “city man” (at least in the lead sentence).

    If I throw a rock at the bus, then I am “irate man” (or “Irate city man” or “irate patron”)

    If I get murdered and my remains are found, then I might be reduced to simply “man” – until they figure out I was a “city man”.

    But if you are the mayor or some other person with a recognized title, then you escape the generic…and if you are Blago, you will always be “the impeached governor”

  19. LA Mary said on February 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    The Onion has used “Area Man” for years. I think you can get Area Man T shirts.

  20. Kirk said on February 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    “City man” headlines used to make me think of a guy in a superhero-type costume with a big “C” on his chest.

    As for Blago, he’s on Letterman tonight. And he’s not just impeached, he’s convicted.

  21. James Moehrke said on February 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    “Area man” is another good one. Those guys are always in the news, most often in some sort of trouble.

  22. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Years ago, Brian, a colleague commented that MLK, Jr. was always referred to as “slain civil rights leader MLK, Jr.” Then, one day, we saw a notice about his daughter (and the daughter of Malcolm X) visiting out city. And how was she referred to? You guessed it. “Daughter of slain civil rights leader, MLK, Jr.”

  23. Rana said on February 3, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    If it’s intended to be a positive label, then it shifts to “local man,” I’ve noticed. “Local man nominated for award” or “Local man killed in Iraq,” for example.

  24. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    William Zinsser has a great passage on tired journalistic prose. Among other things, he notes that notes are always being “fired off”. http://tinyurl.com/czkdmf

    His book, called On Writing Well is a treasure. Worthwhile both for the pleasure of his writing and for his good advice.

  25. ROgirl said on February 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I’m sure a lot of people were equating the Merrill Lynch commode with the expensive NASA toilets.

    My sense is that Caroline Kennedy is a smart, thoughtful woman who could have ended up being a good senator, but she didn’t give any indication that she ever had a real understanding of all that would be required of her, including the scrutiny that every part of her existence would be subject to. I think the trial by fire she underwent was all she needed to realize that being a senator meant making her life very public, and that’s why she withdrew. Was she just being naive, or did she really believe that because of who she is she thought she wouldn’t be subject to the same rules of the game?

  26. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Daschle is out. Very sad, actually. He’d have been great at shepherding health care reform through Congress.

  27. mark said on February 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    CNBC just reported that Daschle has withdrawn his nomination.

    Haven’t heard whether he said “I am disappointed that I withdrew” to go along with his being disappointed with not paying his taxes.

  28. nancy said on February 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    What ho, all! The NYT has a little copy-editing test on their grammar blog! You can take it here; answers will be posted tomorrow.

    It’s not as easy as it looks, as I suspect it uses actual NYT raw copy. At the News-n-Sentinel the raw stuff sometimes appeared to have been written by monkeys, even after it went through a so-called line editor.

    Sorry about Daschle, but I’m sorrier about the willful cluelessness about tax obligations. I pay my fucking taxes, why the hell can’t he? And don’t give me the “he didn’t get a 1099” excuse, either. That’s a tax dodge, and he should have known it would bite him if he intended to stay in public life, which he obviously did. Let’s not forget: He was making truckloads of money in this out-of-office period, consulting for the very companies he’d have been dealing with as a cabinet member. I know life in Washington is expensive, especially if you’re accustomed to being treated like a U.S. senator, but if this crap doesn’t stop somewhere, it doesn’t stop.

    No sympathy.

  29. MichaelG said on February 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Another journalistic word: whisked. People are forever being whisked away.

    I’m kinda promacassar myself. I don’t know why all you people are against those harmless little scraps of fabric.

    Daschle is a total dweeb. A complete weenie. A weak, mealy mouthed little twit. He makes Harry “the Lion” Reid look like a hero. Know what Daschle’s wife does? She’s a big time DC lobbyist. Makes zillions.

  30. whitebeard said on February 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    My heavens, what is the matter with high muckety-mucks and income taxes; don’t they realize that it will be their undoing eventually. The average Joe or Jill hates income taxes, they hate the IRS (also known as the Infernal Revenooers) and they are afraid of audits so pay their taxes on time.
    When they hear that someone powerful is evading taxes, they grind their teeth and clench their fists and become quite outspoken (without lashing out).
    Didn’t they finally get gangster Al Capone on his “tax” problems instead of his “murdering people” problems?
    As a Canadian, I have a rather lackadaisical attitude toward the IRS and taxes, so my wife has insisted we always use an accountant to do the taxes.
    In Canada I did not file my income tax forms for seven years; I paid my taxes through payroll deductions, I just didn’t do the paperwork. When the Revenooers finally noticed, a friendly chap said don’t do all seven years, just do four years and the current year and we’ll be happy. The good news is that I received an enormous refund (tens of thousands) for alimony deductions and the Revenoors then tried to find my ex-wife over back taxes owed, which is considered a more serious matter than not filling out paperwork each year.

  31. Julie Robinson said on February 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Another phrase that always infuriated my journalist dad was “completely destroyed”. He would yell at the TV that destroyed already meant completely. You hear it all the time now.

    Tom Daschle’s physical resemblance to a wiesel has proved accurate.

  32. whitebeard said on February 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I also get upset when I hear completely destroyed but I want to lash out when I hear completely decimated, which takes some doing, mathematically speaking.
    Do you think that Tom Daschle is completely humiliated now, or would he have his hopes completely dashed? Hmm, “Daschle Hopes Dashed” would fit in the New York Post, wouldn’t it?

  33. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Glanced at the quiz; it looks hard! (I’ll take it tonight)

    Re Daschle: our tax collection system is essentially on the honor system. If you get a payroll check every week, as I do, then (other than filing the return) it’s all done for you. But if you work a day in the polls and get paif $80, do you report it? If you sell your old car, do you report it? If you run your own business, and a particular customer pays you in cash every so often, do you tell Uncle Sam about that?

    Daschle IS an idiot who clearly knows better than this; he suppressed the impulse to go out of his way to report as income a non-cash benefit he received….and whereas the IRS missed this, the Obama team did not (although they came to it late)

    By way of saying – what Nance said!

  34. nancy said on February 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    “Completely unique.”

  35. MichaelG said on February 3, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Mistakes were made. I’m sorry for what happened. I accept complete responsibility. We need to put this behind us and move on.

  36. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t like “an historic” event

    They taught me that “an” precedes a word that begins with a vowel.

    I would love to attend a historic event, and if the person next to me breathlessly says “This is an historic event”, I will frown (and think to myself “you are an ass”); it just sounds like an intellectual pretension whenever I hear it

  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Not to defend Blagojevich (not at all), but he’s not convicted yet; his intriguing appeal to the Illinois senate was obliquely based on the not untenable question — what if I’m not convicted of anything? What does this process look like in two years if i’m found innocent, or charges are withdrawn?

    Which i think is a darn interesting question. I’ve no doubt Fitzgerald thinks he can get a conviction, but in front of a jury, with rules of evidence and standards of guilt, i think an acquittal should not be ruled out.

    Doesn’t mean you can’t impeach someone not legally guilty of a crime, but it does lead to some interesting discussions, politically.

  38. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Well, I don’t feel sorry for him exactly, but, as I said, I think he may have been, if not uniquely qualified, them among the most highly qualified to steer health care reform through Congress while dealing w/ the concerns of the citizenry, the relevant provider and payer organizations, and regulatory concerns. It’s going to be a hard job.

  39. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Jolene, I bet Michelle Obama can name 3 or 4 people capable of shouldering the responsibility of running HHS, from that big Chicago hospital where she worked

  40. Kirk said on February 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Blago has been convicted by the Senate. That’s why he’s no longer governor. The federal charges are another question.

    Impeachment is tantamount to indictment. Bill Clinton was impeached; he was not convicted.

    Each of those impeachments, by the way, is accurately (and correctly) described as a historic event.

  41. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Could be, Brian. There are lots of experts in health care policy in the world (at universities and think tanks, for instance), some of them more knowledgeable than Daschle. But I don’t think there are a lot of people who have both the technical expertise and the political experience. Nobody currently in Congress comes to mind. During the campaign, for instance, I was struck by McCain’s inability to get more than two sentences deep in discussing his own health care policies. Not that he’d be next in line, but you’d have thought he’d have been motivated to develop a solid two-paragraph presentation on the topic.

  42. Dorothy said on February 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    One of my pet peeves:

    “At this point in time” = NOW

  43. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    While we’re poking around people’s revenue reporting mis-steps, it might be time to dive into our Olympic champion’s revenue reducing mis-step

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020202973.html

    According to the British tabloid News of the World, which ran a photo of Phelps hunched over a glass tube and torching it up quite proficiently with a lighter, he “was out of control from the moment he got there.” Can you imagine how much dew he inhaled, with his world-class lung capacity? I don’t know exactly what kind of killer nuggets were stuffed into the bowl of that German-made red Roor bong — why should I know such a thing, or even how to use a lighter — but they weren’t cloves.

    Granted, this excerpt is from a sports columnist – but it might as well have been in Japanese, for all the meaning that I am capable of extracting from it.

  44. nancy said on February 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Heh heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh. Heh heh. Heh heh.

    I am Beavis-and-Butthead laughing at Brian.

  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Kirk, i get your point. Thank you! So Blago is convicted in one sense . . . i’m still going to be curious to see if they can get him convicted under criminal guidelines.

  46. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Like, what.. what is, like, a “killer nugget”?

    I, like, heh heh heh, can sorta guess at “dew”…but is she referring to, heh heh heh, hashish?

    Is red Roor a designer make bong?

    Heh heh heh. Heh heh…

    edit: Great Googly-woogley! I rescind the question about Roor, thanks to the Google. Their website actually gave me a contact buzz…heh heh heh. Heh heh.

    http://www.roor.de/

  47. coozledad said on February 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Howard Dean will be fine at HHS. And just think of the money Bill-O will have to drop on getting his vibrator upgraded to a 2-cycle engine, just so’s he can relax again.

  48. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I like Howard Dean, but, apparently, Barack Obama does not. Neither does Rahm Emmanuel. So he will have to find another gig, and they will have to find another Secretary of HHS. And, perhaps more important, someone to work w/ the various constituencies involved in creating new health care policy.

  49. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Did you all hear, btw, that GM is offering buyouts to all its hourly workers? Apparently, they want to downsize that part of their workforce from about 60,000 to about 40,000. Not sure I got those numbers right, but they’re approximately correct.

  50. coozledad said on February 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Jolene: Yeah. I’ve heard that. It would be nice if they could get someone who has experience as a physician, or at least someone who has directed a clinic for lower income people.
    I’ve known some regional hospital administrators who were basically extension agents for the insurance industry, in addition to being racist shites.

  51. Rana said on February 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    brian, I am with you on the “an historical/historian/historic” thing.

    Neither I nor any of my colleagues in the field use “an” unless we are imitating a pompous git for humorous effect.

    I am A historian, not an historian, and if I write a work, it is A history (of whatever). (Though this only sounds correct if you pronounce the article to rhyme with “uh” instead of “ay”.)

  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Mmm, i really, really like Howard Dean. Wonder if Rahm can re-think? He’s showing signs of doing so in other areas, so why not Howard?

    And Conyers wants to sue Synagro for offering *whistles, looks around aimlessly* someone bribes? I’m thinking the classic outcome of Teapot Dome, where Doheny was acquitted of offering the bribes that Fall was found guilty of taking.

  53. jgw said on February 3, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Another over used phrase (mostly among moron local politicians) is “due dilligence.” I could use that today to say the Obama vetting crew didn’t do their due dilligence.

  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Or their doo-doo diligence.

  55. Lex said on February 3, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Coupla thoughts:

    — As a Southerner, let me lash out at the notion that a toilet isn’t a commode.

    — Of course Kwame wasn’t getting into the SUV whose door had been open for 20 minutes … in the dead of winter. What kind of reporter couldn’t figure THAT out?

    — O’Donnell is partially right. A better pick for the Senate seat would have been Carolyn Maloney, if you’re looking for someone with, you know, brains.

  56. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    If Daschle’s problems were simply that he didn’t understand the tax code, I could be more sympathetic. Hell, every year I do my taxes I wonder if THIS is the year that I’m going to jail. Not because I’m trying to cheat, it’s just the damn process is so f#$%ing convoluted that nobody really understands what they are doing. I can easily imagine myself making a monumental error on my taxes without any attempt to deceive the IRS.

    However, I sincerely doubt that Daschle sits up late in the night plugging his numbers into Turbo Tax. He certainly has people that do that for him and they probably advised him on how much money he could save if he simply overlooked the gift horse, or rather, car and driver. Or, it is entirely possible that he decided not to even tell his financial people. Either way, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

    What troubled me most about Daschle was his taint from his pseudo-lobbying of the health care industry. That was one of my beefs with Hillary Clinton. How can you expect substantive reform in the health care industry when the person you put in charge has been whoring for them? Or would it be pimping? Either way, his credibility was in doubt before his confirmation hearings even began.

    It’s too bad. I thought that Daschle was basically one of the good guys, or at least he used to be. Maybe it is a lesson in how that kind of money can corrupt when one switches allegiances from public service to abject greed.

    I too like the Howard Dean choice. If Obama can suck up to the likes McConnell and Boehner, he can certainly make nice with Dean. I believe that Dean has the bona fides to even pass muster with many Republicans.

  57. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    People, it doesn’t matter how much you like Howard Dean. It’s not going to happen.

    Also, it’s really simplistic and insulting to refer to lobbying and political consulting as whoring.

    How do you think it would be possible to acquire the kinds of expertise needed w/o some kind of connection to an organization w/ a financial stake in health care?

  58. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Jolene,
    There is lobbying and then there is lobbying. When you are financially beholden to an industry whose interests are often at odds with average Americans it is hard to spin that as anything noble. To lobby for the uninsured, for the homeless, for the disaffected, that is a different animal altogether. However, as they say in Texas, “You dance with them what brung ya’.” If you’re looking for sympathy for those who lobby against the better interests of the American public, I suspect you’ll get little pity here.

    Daschle wasn’t lobbying for Habitat for Humanity, he was feathering his nest.

  59. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Oh, give it a rest, Gasman. “Get little pity”? I wasn’t looking for any. Daschle was in Congress until 2004. Between now and then, he made a lot of money. He also probably did as much as any human on the planet who wasn’t employed in the Obama campaign to get Obama elected. He was prepared to leave his well-funded life to return to government where he’d make somewhere around 150K working from morning to night to improve access to health care and the quality of care for all Americans–not to mention running an agency made up of 65,000 people.

    He’s not a saint, but he’s hardly a conniving, self-interested bastard either. People are complicated. When someone who’s been on the side of justice most of his life and appears to be launched on exciting new enterprises screws up in a way that is politically termiinal, it’s a tragedy or, at least, very sad. I can’t see taking satisfaction in Daschle’s political demise.

  60. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    What Jolene said!

  61. MarkH said on February 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Brian / Rana,

    Courtesy of Washington State University, this will clear up “a” vs. “an” historic.

    http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/anhistoric.html

    And if you really want to go to town, click on the “list of errors” link. All kinds of usage direction available there.

    BTW, Jolene, I’d go easy on the “hardly a conniving, self-interested bastard” stuff re: Daschle. He’s a plotitician; lots of gray area there. He did take the favors and not account for them, after all.

  62. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Jolene,
    Hey, if liberals are going to take Republicans to task for even the appearance of impropriety, then we have to be able to hold ourselves to the same standards. Yes, Daschle was instrumental in getting Obama elected. For that I thank him heartily. Does that mean we should overlook legitimate ethical concerns? Hell no! I defy anybody that claims they are more liberal than I am, but I will not hold our side to lower ethical standards than the opposite side of the aisle.

    Obama himself set the bar at a high level. I, for one, will insist that he abide by it. As I said, I don’t think that Daschle is necessarily a bad guy, but how can you overlook this kind of “mistake?” If liberals want to be smug, then we have to put up or shut up.

  63. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    To say, “he’s a politician” as if we should understand that the individual is, in all likelihood, a crook really conveys an unfortunate set of expectatons.

    Daschle’s tax returns were reviewed for 2006-2008. There were some minor adjustments to consulting income and charitable contributions, but the major issue was the car and driver, which was provided by an organization that he worked for. In June 2008, the question of whether the car and driver should be treated as compensation occurred to him, and he asked his own consultant about it. However, nothing was done about it at that time. Only at the beginning of January, did he address the issue.

    So, yes, he screwed up. My first reaction was, “What’s wrong with those people?” He has to live by the ame laws as the rest of us. But, still, I think the loss of his expertise as a policymaker and political leader is greater than the gain to the Treasury.

  64. Jolene said on February 3, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Who said anything about overlooking his mistake? I’m just not up for dancing on his grave.

  65. Dexter said on February 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    brian stouder: It wasn’t the $27 mil that you wrote of, but it was a big chunk…I was buying my little MegaMillions chance and a woman who had been scratching in her car ran in all excited…she won a thousand on a $2 scratcher…years ago I was behind a man in a liquor store in Auburn who scratched a 50 grand winner right there on-the-spot. Ho hum….this lady today had just taken delivery on a new car…all shiny and new .
    There ain’t no work by by gawd we got our lottery tickets!

  66. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Jolene,
    Agreed. Let there be no postmortem jigs. I am not happy about this turn of events. Let us hope that the vetting process is extremely thorough for any other appointees.

    On the other hand, it is probably better that this came out before Daschle was on the job rather than after. Maybe there will be another role for him elsewhere at a later time. I agree that it is a shame to lose someone of his experience. I liked the Daschle nomination.

  67. Dexter said on February 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    here’s the “Daschle old Pontiac” ad that was discussed on TV today:
    http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2009/02/driving_tom_daschle_washington.html

  68. MarkH said on February 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Go, Gas, GO! I, for one, am having a heart attack over that last post, coming from you. Only because of your occasional unbridled rants against republicans/conservatives. I agree, and if the tables were turned, I’d be saying the same about McCain and republicans. President Obama has certainly owned up to all this in an admirable mea culpa starting with, “I screwed up”. I’m sure he’ll find someone to make all this right.

    Daschle, and the withdrawal of Nancy Kilefer, “performance officer” candidate, for tax skating have to be making Tim Geithner uncomfortable. I still say he has less excuse than anyone given his background for scoffing the IRS and the evidence that came out shows it. Senators Robert Byrd and Susan Collins were right in their dissenting votes: had Geithner not been nominated, he still would have his back taxes unpaid. He should have withdrawn as well.

    Jolene, all I said was, “lots of gray area there”.

  69. brian stouder said on February 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Mark H – thanks for the History lesson link!

    Dexter – last year Pam gave me a lottery ticket she bought, which she said had won $5. I looked it over, and thought it was a $1 winner – but a winner nonetheless. I stopped at a Marathon station and drew a nice tall icy cold Diet Coke, and I had about 75 cents change in my pocket, so I figured I was covered even if the ticket WAS only a dollar winner.

    I gave the ticket to the cashier and told her I thought it was worth a buck, and she ran the thing through her machine and then promptly counts out my change for the soda pop purchase – $98 and some-odd cents. The damned thing was a $100 winner!

    And then I was on the horns of an ethical dilemma: do I disclose to Pammy that the $5 ticket she blithely handed over to me was actually worth a C-note? I pondered that for approximately 30 seconds, but the joke was too good not to tell her (and she instantly snatched my wallet out of my pocket!! Now THERE was a ‘missed opportunity’!)

    I was working on Nance’s edting quizz – but the damned thing is a lot of work! We ain’t talkin’ “pick A B C or D” – you gotta get your hands dirty.

    I did the first two paragraphs, and then scrubbed the mission.

    Here’s the first paragraph they had, and then what I did: (I cannot do the strike through trick, so boldface words are what I struck out)

    Manny Ramírez also fits the description of a future Hall of Famer without a team, but his situation is different. Ramírez, 36, is still one of the best hitters in baseball and is hoping for a multiyear contract that will pay him about $25 million a year. He could have signed by now, he just wants a more significant paycheck to do so.

    1. Manny Ramírez also fits the description of a future Hall of Famer without a team, but his situation is with a difference. Ramírez, 36, is still one of the best hitters in baseball and is hoping for a multiyear contract that will pay him about at least $25 million a year. He could have signed achieved that, but now he just wants to learn the maximum limit of his market value a more significant paycheck to do so.

    If’n I didn’t get any other damned thing right – that gratuitous “just” was SURELY in need of being exorcized!

  70. julia said on February 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I suspect the O’Donnell thing is less about Kennedy than it is about Mr. Sheekey, his BFF from his Moynihan days, who did serious damage to his reputation and his credibility by handling the Kennedy thing so badly. Kennedy-friendly newspapers had headlines around New Years saying that she thought Sheekey was being awful and she wanted him to go away.

    O’Donnell also showed up faithfully when Sheekey was running Bloomberg’s Republican convention, struggling to create a groundswell for Bloomberg’s third party presidential run, and trying to get somebody to take a Bloomberg VP big seriously. He thought those were just great and misunderstood too.

  71. Dexter said on February 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Today is National Carrot Day. yep. Ain’t Twitter wonderful?

  72. Gasman said on February 3, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Daschle had the misfortune of being second in the tax omission arena, and his was the biggest bill. I’m not sure how he could have made this work. Maybe if he’d corrected the mistake before he was nominated he could have convinced some people. As it is, paying the taxes in January? It just looks really bad.

    I do rant so about the Republicans, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be called hypocritical. That’s the problem with setting high standards. People expect you to live up to them. True, I could often be accused of being shrill, but always honest, and to the best of my ability to discern it, ethical.

  73. moe99 said on February 4, 2009 at 1:03 am

    This was in our bar news this month and I think the grammar tips can be used by more than lawyers:

    http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/barnews/peeves.htm

  74. Dexter said on February 4, 2009 at 1:26 am

    great stuff moe99…just recently our host mentioned the incorrect usage of “literally”. I read the article…”myself” usage , incorrectly, bugs me the most.

  75. Dexter said on February 4, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Paterson taking heat over leaks and lies regarding Caroline:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/nyregion/04paterson.html?hp

  76. Gasman said on February 4, 2009 at 2:04 am

    moe99,
    Great link. In regards to “hoi polloi,” common usage seems to be at odds with the original Greek. Colloquial usage seems more often than not to mean “upper crust” or “blue-blood” and not “the people.” The Oxford Online Dictionary suggests that this could be from confusion with the term “hoity-toity.”

    Regarding “alright,” the online editions of Oxford and Cambridge do not agree. Maybe we should not be surprised. The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary accepts “alright” and Oxford does not. At least not the Oxford that comes as a Widget on Macs. For what it is worth, my Mac’s word processing program, “Pages” does not mind it one bit. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary dates its usage to 1887 and states that journalists, business writers, and writers of fiction are the most culpable for promulgating “alright.”

    If those pointy headed dons at Cambridge don’t mind, this American philistine is all right with alright.

  77. Dexter said on February 4, 2009 at 2:51 am

    gasser: For years I have had to struggle every time…”alright” always looks very “not all right”…but I succumb, because ,as Mr. Alexander in “A Clockwork Orange” would say, I am “A VICTIM OF THE MODERN AGE! “

  78. Gasman said on February 4, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Dexter,
    What time zone are you in? Here in MST it’s damn late. If you are anywhere east of me you are indeed a night owl. Go to bed!