Friday, January 15, 2016

singular they

Singular "they," the gender-neutral pronoun, has been named the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society this month. For example, "If anyone has a better idea, they’re welcome to try it."

It has been a long time since I was in high school, but it’s not true that dinosaurs were still around during my teenage years. However, I was taught to say, "If anyone has a better idea, he is welcome to try it." Such locutions, I admit, are now almost as out of date as tyrannosaurus rex.

Constructions like, "Everyone has to do their best for the team to win," started popping up on my students’ papers in the seventies. I used gallons of red ink correcting these sentences. I told my students that while such sentences might be  politically correct, they were grammatically incorrect, because “everyone” is singular, and “their” is plural. Like many of the causes I have defended in my lifetime, this was a losing battle.

By the eighties and nineties, I knew I was going to lose, and I admitted that to my students, but I continued to urge them not to commit sins of grammar in writing. Then I found myself once in a while saying things like, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion." When such sentences popped out of my mouth, I would say “oops,” and hope the grammar police had not heard me.

Now the American Dialect Society says it’s all right to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. The Washington Post has adopted it in their style guide. I guess it’s okay to say, "Everyone looked out for their own interests." It’s okay, but I don’t think it will sound right to me. Everyone will do whatever they want anyway.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Help Inhofe Make America Great Again

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of the intellectual heavyweights of the Republican Party, walked onto the Senate floor last February, carrying a snowball. With this act he brilliantly proved that global warming is just another liberal hoax.

He would like to repeat the snowball act this year, but he hasn’t been able to find any snow around Washington. You have to be sorry for the poor guy. Like Prufrock, Inhofe has seen the moment of his greatness flicker.

You can help this poor man. If there is any snow where you are, take a few moments to make a snowball and mail it to him. Help Inhofe (and Trump) make America Great again.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Natural-born Citizen

Let’s all pile on Ted Cruz. Jon McCain, Ann Coulter, and of course, the Donald have all begun to question whether Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States because he was born in Canada, although his parents were naturalized American citizens.

Former presidential candidate Dr. Carl Perrin is not offended by everyone ganging up on Cruz. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. However, Perrin is worried. If Ted cannot claim American citizenship by virtue of being born to American citizens, what does that mean for Perrin? Carl Perrin is the mirror image of Ted Cruz. He was born in Massachusetts to Canadian citizens. If—Heaven forbid!—Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, Perrin wants at least the comfort of knowing he would be welcomed as a citizen if he chose to move to Canada.

Saturday, December 12, 2015



The next president of the United States will be a Democrat, and for that the Democrats can thank Donald Trump. No matter how the political campaigns go over the next 11 months, Trump will play a major role in the Republican camp, and whatever the outcome for the GOP, the Democrats will come out ahead on Election Day.

Even though he has been held a strong lead in national polls for months, the Republican leadership is desperate to push him out of first place, resorting to a brokered convention if necessary. If the convention opens with Trump holding a plurality of the votes, the electors representing those ballots will be legally bound to vote for him on the first ballot only. On subsequent ballots the electors can vote for anyone they want. The situation opens itself up to three possible scenarios, all of which would lead to a Democratic victory in the general election.

Trump arrives at the convention with a majority of votes or is able to overcome opposition at the convention and become the Republican candidate. His support comes primarily from older white males with limited education. Twenty-six percent of Republicans have negative feelings about him. Many GOP leaders have said that Trump does not represent Republican or even American values. Most of them, no doubt, like Paul Ryan, will hold their noses and vote for him. However, the Donald will not gather enthusiastic support from the Republican party.

The reality show star cannot expect much support outside of his core followers. He has insulted each of his rivals for the Republican nomination. He has alienated huge groups with his put-downs and gratuitous insults. Fifty-nine percent of the American public has negative feelings about him. If he runs, the Democratic candidate will win the election and possibly win both the House and the Senate at the same time.

The Republican establishment is able to deny Trump the nomination. In revenge he runs as third-party candidate. In such a case Trump would get votes from people who would otherwise vote for the Republican candidate. Result: a win for the Democrats.


Trump does not win the nomination and for whatever reasons decides not to run as a third-party candidate. He has been in the leading position for so long that his core followers will still feel that he has been cheated of his rightful prize. Those mendacious Washington politicians, along with the lamestream media swindled the Donald. His core will not then vote for Democrats. Heaven forbid! They will just stay home on Election Day and throw the election to the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she is.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

Do you recognize the person being described here? Are you sure? No, it is not that crude loudmouth who has been going around insulting everyone with apparent impunity. It is the psychological profile drawn up by the OSS of Adolf Hitler.

And yet ignorant people continue to support this man. He is still leading in the polls of candidates for the Republican nomination. I am beginning to worry.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Breitbart News reported that eight Syrians were apprehended as they tried to cross the border from Mexico into Texas. It was enough for Texas Governor Greg Abbot to vow to prevent any Syrian refugees from entering into Texas. Donald Trump speculated that the Syrians might be members of ISIS. The attempted infiltration showed the need to build a “big, beautiful wall,” Trump added. People who read “news” article like this are likely to picture eight terrorists trying to sneak into America where they can create carnage like that which happened in Paris. We can almost see eight young Middle Eastern men like those who killed 129 people in France.
Part of any news story is what is omitted. What the Breitbart report omitted is that these eight Syrians were made up of two families, two men, two women, and four children. To say that they were apprehended suggests that they were caught trying to sneak across the border. In fact they were not “caught.” They presented themselves to border agents as they sought asylum in the United States.

Did Breitbart leave these things out because he was ignorant of the facts, or did he deliberately leave them out to distort what really happened? 

Monday, November 2, 2015


About a third of the seats were empty when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stopped to give a lunchtime talk to seniors here [Manchester, NH] during a swing through the state.

This is from an article in the Boston Globe. It doesn’t look good for Bernie. A few months ago he drew an audience of 10,000 in Portland, ME.

However, at the same time the Burlington Free Press ran an article under this headline: Overflow crowd lines up to hear Bernie Sanders in N.H. This article was also picked up by USA TODAY.
What are you supposed to believe? While some “news” media purposely distort or even misrepresent news item, as far as I know, The Boston Globe and USA TODAY are pretty straightforward. So which one of these articles is true?

The fact is, both articles are true, but they describe events in a different context. The Globe article tells us that the senator was speaking to a bunch of seniors, but it never specifies more. Presumably it was some kind of senior center in Manchester, NH. In the room where Bernie spoke, a group of seniors were playing cards. They didn’t come to hear a presidential candidate. They came to play cards. The event was part of a two-day swing through New Hampshire. By itself it was not a big deal.

The overflow crowd was in another New Hampshire town, Warner. In Warner, Sanders spoke in the town hall. Evidently it had been talked up more than the event in Manchester had. There was not enough room in the building for everyone to get in. After Bernie spoke to the audience inside the building, he came out and spoke to the overflow crowd. 

So, is Bernie’s support falling, or is it surging? You can’t tell from these articles, especially the Globe article. Except to say that he senator spoke to a group of seniors, it does not say where. One-third of the seats were empty. How many were full? What was the capacity of the room where he spoke? How well was the speech publicized ahead of time? The article says that Bernie "stopped to give a lunchtime talk." The wording suggests that the event might have been impromptu.

The US TODAY article, on the other hand, tells us that the event was in a town hall in a small New Hampshire town (population 2800). Having grown up in a small town in New Hampshire, I know that the town hall could not hold more than a couple of hundred. We do not know how many people the place where Bernie spoke in Manchester could hold.

Before we can draw valid conclusions about these speeches in the Granite State, we need to know more facts than we are given in these two news articles.