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May 17, 2007

Comments

Nut included.

Well, isn't that fucking convenient?

incertus: profanity violates The Rules. This isn't just prudishness on our part; it's out of consideration for those of us who try to read this at work, behind content filters. Thanks.

Oh, I remember reading that quote when it first came out.

I've been on eBay every week trying to find a copy of the "wartime Constitution" he keeps talking about. I've only got a copy of the "peacetime" one.

(Maybe they have it at the National Consitution Center here in Philly....it wasn't on display last time I was there....)

"This isn't just prudishness on our part; it's out of consideration for those of us who try to read this at work, behind content filters. Thanks."

I'd, in the past few days, decided to give up on trying to contribute to the community by commenting this point, since I seemed to be the only person doing so (similarly I've given up sending notices about the endless comment spam none of the blogowners seems to care about), and I therefore felt silly, as well as giving the appearance of a prudishness I don't share.

But the inconsistency is likely unhelpful; this is merely one of several such violations of the no-profanity rule in the past day or so, none of which have been commented on. Responding to only one out of every ten or so doesn't send a message that the rules matter, just as allowing dozens and dozens of comment spams to stick around for years encourages lots more posting to the open target.

Up to you guys, though, of course. Let me know if I can help.

Right. And the battlefield is the entire world, and the war will last forever.

My description of Yoo from Unfogged that prompted Matt Weiner to say it "depicts Yoo as having pretty much the exact mindset that the phrase "banality of evil" was designed to cover":

Ah, John Yoo. I took two of his classes. He is smart, affable, funny (though in small doses), humble, soft-spoken, friendly, and was exceedingly interested in helping out his students (personally responsible for getting one a SCOTUS clerkship while I was in school, would take 1Ls out to lunch on his own dime, would advise students writing law review articles that I'm sure he disagreed with both legally and personally), in short, eveything you would like in a law professor.

I think his thinking comes down to, "I will tell you what the constitution means, and I will be certain that I am right, and I will continue to defend my view in the face of all criticism" (see his book and various op-eds after he left the DOJ). But I think his thought process ends there, he will say "of course the President can do that" full stop. He won't say whether the President should do that, in fact I bet the thought never even crossed his mind at the time (or maybe it did and he ignored it and focused on the assignment at hand). "Not my job or concern," I think he would say.

That is a way of thinking about peacetime regulation and about the normal way we make laws. I don't think that's the way we do it in wartime.

and the left is anti-American. riiight.

No problem, Hilzoy. I'll keep it in mind next time.

Also via Lederman - Sully nails it:

The evil of torture is...not just a moral one. It is a political one. A constitutional republic dedicated before everything to the protection of liberty cannot legalize torture and remain a constitutional republic. It imports into itself a tumor of pure tyranny. That tumor, we know from history, always always spreads, as it has spread in the US military these past shameful years. The fact that hefty proportions of US soldiers now support its use as a routine matter reveals how deep the rot has already gone. The fact that now a majority of Republican candidates proudly support such torture has rendered the GOP the party most inimical to liberty in America. When you combine torture's evil with the claims of the hard right that a president can ignore all laws and all treaties in wartime, and that "wartime" is now permanent, you have laid the ground for the abolition of the American experiment in self-government. Imagine another terror attack, with Rudy Giuliani as president, and a mandate to arrest and torture at will, with no need to follow or even address the rule of law. We would no longer be a republic. We would be in a protectorate of one man.

Incertus: thanks. Gary's right, I don't always mention it since it gets boring, but we feebly try anyways. Thanks.

funny, I don't remember a declaration of war either...

I've been on eBay every week trying to find a copy of the "wartime Constitution" he keeps talking about.

It's the one with Article 11, as I recall. Very secret stuff.

You mean.....our Constitution goes *all the way up to 11* ????

Man, that's some wicked Constitution

some wicked Constitution

Emphasis on "wicked," in Yoo's reading.

Yoo had said similar things many times, although this one really captures it. There are times I really have to wonder if Yoo, Gonzales and some of the rest of the gang ever studied the Constitution and The Federalist papers in high school.

Posted by: Ugh | May 17, 2007 at 02:48 PM

Interesting. There's always been an eerie detachment to Yoo, as when he responded to Congress about whether the President could authorize crushing a man's testicles. (By the way, speaking of Yoo and his relationship with students, I know a young lawyer who had Yoo as a prof and did not like him at all, although I don't have all the details. If he's supportive of his students, good for him.)

Posted by: matttbastard | May 17, 2007 at 03:06 PM

A good piece by Sullivan.

There's one sad little point that's yet to be made about the lawlessness of the administration.

One would hope...or even expect....that when an aberration like Bush hits the White House, that former Presidents would speak out in one way or another to decry his actions.

Unfortunately, one of the only former Presidents available is the current President's father......so even if he had strong feelings, he'd never voice them.....

I believe Article 9 concerns quality footwear.

Must. Refrain. From. Explaining. Punctuation.

So... weak.

Ellipses
[...] Three indicate a pause in conversation in midsentence. Four indicate a pause at the end of a sentence and before a complete sentence that follows. The extra dot is the closing punctuation for the first sentence.
It's not complicated.

It's also no more an option to add extra periods than it is to use three commas in a row; one doesn't get to pick as many punctuation marks as appear pretty.

I am unable to beat back the evil inside which forces me to note this every six months or so. I am sad. So very very sad.

Hmmm,,,, I'll have to think about that,,,, Gary........

But I think his thought process ends there, he will say "of course the President can do that" full stop. He won't say whether the President should do that, in fact I bet the thought never even crossed his mind at the time..."Not my job or concern," I think he would say.

There's a precedent that applies to this sort of shyster thinking.

It was decided, I believe, at Nuremberg.

The applicable punishment is hanging.

I know a young lawyer who had Yoo as a prof and did not like him at all, although I don't have all the details.

Posted by: Batocchio | May 17, 2007 at 04:14 PM

That doesn't surprise me, he could certainly rub people the wrong way - I had him as a prof prior to his stint at OLC and he didn't get a very good reception upon his return to Berkeley (don't know when the young lawyer had him as a prof). He also seemed a little disinterested in the actual teaching (he taught con law I straight out of Erwin Chemerinsky's hornbook), as opposed to interacting with students outside the classroom.

I don't think he is indifferent to whether we should use torture. I think he actively supports it as a matter of policy.

Take a look at this interview:

No question about it," he said. "Look, death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is justified. War means killing people. If we are entitled to kill people, we must be entitled to injure them. I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on torture when you don't have an absolute prohibition on killing. Reasonable people will disagree about when torture is justified. But that, in some circumstances, it is justified seems to me to be just moral common sense. How could it be better that 10,000 or 50,000 or a million people die than that one person be injured?"

"If we are entitled to kill people we must be entitled to injure them" is an amazingly stupid argument. I guess, then, that we must also be logically to rape and enslave them? But what makes wartime killing permissible is that it's done in self defense--you can't rape, torture, or enslave someone in self-defense; you also can't summarily execute unarmed prisoners. Basic, basic stuff, but it's apparently beyond Yoo.

What's more sickening than that, though, is his utter refusal to accept any responsibility for his actions:

That was totally absurd," he told me when we meet for lunch in a restaurant opposite his office at the Boalt School of Law in Berkeley, Calif. "Two bipartisan congressional reports and several military investigations showed that the Pentagon hadn't even read the memo. Disgraceful behaviour of the kind which took place at Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with interrogation policy

This is such crap. First of all, maybe the Pentagon never read the CIA memo, but there was apparently a very similar memo, using almost identical arguments, that Yoo wrote for the Pentagon...that's how so much of the OLC memo made it into the working group report.

Second of all, I'm sure Charles Graner never read any OLC memo at all, but he definitely did see Manadel al-Jamadi's corpse in the shower as a result of an "enhanced interrogation technique"--a stress position, "forced standing", by the CIA. (and Jamadi's not the only person at Abu Ghraib mistreated by "OGA").

So I think you're letting him off too easy. It's not just a robotic "but this is what the law requires" thing. He is trying to reach a certain result, and then when he reaches it, he won't accept any responsibility for the entirely obvious and foreseeable consequences.

Maybe he's pleasant and a good teacher, but I wouldn't take his class voluntarily. There are just some lines.

Or on a slightly lighter note:

"'Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
That's not my department,' says Wernher von Braun"

There's a precedent that applies to this sort of shyster thinking.

It was decided, I believe, at Nuremberg.

Nuremberg is a subject I have some familiarity with. Can you be more specific about precisely which precedent you have in mind, and can you cite it, please?

"He also seemed a little disinterested in the actual teaching"

I prefer that my teachers be impartial, fair-minded, free of bias and self-interest, and neutral, myself.

Uninterested professors are bad, though.

Katherine - I don't think I'm letting him off, and definitely not trying to, just that I think that's the way he thinks - as you say its "beyond him." And his refusal to take any responsibility fits right in with this pattern, don't you think? I.e. "They didn't have to do what I told them they had the power to do - even though I knew they clearly wanted to do it." In some ways, having that kind of blind spot is worse, I think.

And, JFTR, as I note above, I had him as a prof prior to his disastrous tenure at OLC.

Slight correction, Batocchio: Yoo said that the president could authorize crushing the testicles of the person's child.

Gary, I think that was "Nuremberg" in the loose sense that would include the Judges' Trial.

Scott Horton has pondered that trial in the Yoo connection.

No hangings, though.

Could someone please send Yoo a good history of Western Law? And a copy of Bartolus's Tractatus on War? I won't even insist that he read it in the original Latin.

Sheesh, what an idiot.

Update on the Diaz case.

Now we know what it takes to convict an officer, I guess. Sentencing tomorrow. I'll bet $10 it'll be longer than any of the sentences in the Bagram or Mowhoush murders.

It's frustrating--you can begin to glimpse the end of this stuff on the horizon. But I'm impatient. I want it to stop come sooner. I don't want to have to wait until January 2009 to start undoing the damage, and I don't want to have to wait until November 2008 to be sure that it's not going to get worse.

Yoo's mindset is basically the MENSA version of the politics of resentment. The first time I ever saw him was on this roundtable on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour back in 1998, where a group of ex-Supreme Court clerks discussed whether affirmative action should be used in selecting Supreme Court clerks. The key exchange is here:

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: John Yoo, just on the matter of racial diversity, how important do you think it is?

JOHN YOO, Former Supreme Court Clerk: Well, let me be the one that dissents from everyone else who's speaking, because I think diversity would be a terrible thing at the court. What the NAACP wants is to make the judiciary representative of the people as a whole or of the political system, and that's exactly what we don't want the judiciary to be.

We want the justices to be impartial, separated from society, so they can stand up for individuals when the government oppresses their constitutional rights. Is this what's going to happen when everybody has a piece or a quota or a setaside for clerks at the Supreme Court? I don't think so.

The revealing aspect of this exchange is that it is not the conservative position on affirmative action to say that diversity is a "terrible thing." Conservatives are supposed to believe that diversity is fine, but that it isn't a strong-enough virtue to outweigh affirmative action's drawbacks. What Yoo chose to express was not the conservative position, but rather the inverse of the liberal position. Even Ted Cruz (also a conservative legal hotshot, now Solicitor General of Texas) wouldn't go there.

Yoo's purpose in life isn't to identify the truth, but to render you speechless by choosing the position that you (as a knee-jerk believer in liberal orthodoxy) find most unthinkable and then shoving it down your throat. It's like a game.

"Gary, I think that was "Nuremberg" in the loose sense that would include the Judges' Trial."

I was very much thinking of the Judges' Trial, amongst other aspect, and thus wondering if there was a specific precedent theo had in mind: after all, the cases would be fairly different, so far as I can see, what with Yoo not having been a judge. And so I was also wondering if theo had something else in mind.

(As it happens, I spent a dozen or more hours a couple of months ago wandering around here again, although over the years I've read tens of thousands of pages on various aspects of the trials.)

I'm assuming theo didn't simply mean a generalized banal implication that Yoo was somehow alleging he was only following military orders, since that wouldn't hold as a legal precedent, so far as I could see, either.

But IANAL, and while I feel reasonably familiar with Nuremberg, and the legalities, as a lay person, I'm certainly no expert, and there's plenty I don't know, and could be missing. Thus my query.

The link to Scott Horton was extremely interesting; thanks muchly for that!

Am I wrong, though, in understanding your pointer as being to a fascinating set of observations, but that you didn't intend it as directly relevant to the question of trying John Yoo for war crimes?

Is it just me who interpreted theo as to sorta vaguely implying that Yoo was guilty of war crimes? (He may be; I'd just like to see the case for it as a start.) I'm entirely prepared to believe theo didn't intend such an implication, which, again, is why I asked.

But while the material about how Carl Schmitt's writings may have influenced Yoo was fascinating, Horton only touched on Altstötter with a glancing few sentences, and, after all, Schmitt was never tried of anything at all.

Oh, crap, Typepad just gave me a 502 error for the sixth time today, and erased my entire comment and reverted it back to an earlier version. Damnit. Mother-eff. Half my comment vanished.

Crap, now preview isn't working, again.

One of my points fell out here: I'm assuming theo didn't simply mean a generalized banal implication that Yoo was somehow alleging he was only following military orders, since that wouldn't hold as a legal precedent, so far as I could see, either, given that Yoo isn't a military officer, and, so far as I'm aware, isn't alleged to have personally committed any war crimes himself.

Presumably any war crimes he may have committed would needs be based upon his legal opinions, and role in forming policy, on torture and other possible war crimes, yes? Thus my wondering what specific Nuremberg precedent might apply.

There was more.

John Yoo would make a great replacement for McNulty as Deputy AG. In the present poisonous partisan atmosphere, it would probably have to be a recess appointment.

Gary--the theory would be conspiracy to commit torture, I think: a tacit agreement to participate in a common criminal scheme to torture prisoners. 18 USC 2340A.

I haven't formed a firm view about whether this could, or should hold up. I think there's a non-frivolous argument but I'd have to study it a lot more closely. E.g. what result if he knew that they were going to torture people but honestly thought the President Commander in Chief Power made it legally okay?

This isn't really based on Nuremberg, which I think tried to steer clear of conspiracy as a basis for liability. The torture statute specifically provides for it, though.

I'm not sure if someone posted this http://rwor.org/a/028/john-yoo.html >interview already, but here it is:

CASSEL: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
YOO: No treaty.
CASSEL: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
YOO: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
One hardcore freedom® fighting armchair general, that Yoo.

One hardcore freedom® fighting armchair general, that Yoo.

And a sine quo non for the next Republican President is to stipulate in advance that John Yoo will be the next AG.

Off-topic, but Wolfowitz out:

Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz will resign at the end of June, his leadership undermined by the generous compensation he arranged for his girlfriend.

His departure was announced late Thursday by the World Bank board.

The big issue of the day, of course, is the immigration deal, such as it is, and of course those aware of The Terrible Threat Of Foreign Peoples Invading Us!!!! are going off like sirens. Full malkins all 'round.

Thanks, Katherine: I quibble with nothing in your comment! ;-)

"And a sine quo non for the next Republican President is to stipulate in advance that John Yoo will be the next AG."

Because nothing starts the morning well like crushing a child's testicles.

Nice to see the key plank of the Republican platform laid out so clearly.

"sine quo non"

That's sine qua non, btw.

Damn him for following in the footsteps of Lincoln and FDR.

Inquiring minds every but OBWI want to know.

Rep. Thomas Davis of Virginia has pressed the Justice Department to administer the polygraph that they included in his plea-bargain, and this shows that there may be more to learn about Berger's theft of documents from the National Archive. The DoJ concluded that Berger had revealed everything he knew about the thefts and that further investigation was not warranted. However, Berger could have fought to keep his license if he had been willing to be questioned about the thefts -- and his easy acquiescence to the forfeiture should tell the DoJ that he has more to hide than they admit.

Interestingly, Henry Waxman wants to block further investigation by Justice. The man who made investigations into supposed government malfeasance his and the Democrats' major campaign theme and who now chairs the House Oversight Committee suddenly wants to avoid further investigation into a real crime and cover-up, one that impacted our review of the worst attack on American soil. I'd call that at least a magnitude more important than whether Dick Cheney listened to energy producers when he helped develop the administration's energy policy, one of the supposed "scandals" that Waxman has promised to investigate.

The DoJ committed to interrogating Berger further under polygraph, and they failed to do so. Now Berger has relinquished his law license and all of the financial benefits it brings just to avoid questioning by the Bar. Someone needs to finish the job and find out why Berger is so reluctant to talk that he voluntarily disbarred himself.

I guess some people are willing to look the other way if it suits their political agenda.

Because nothing starts the morning well like crushing a child's testicles.

For the squeamish it should be pointed out that this could be simulated with modern virtual reality techniques.

i think someone needs to crush Yoo's testicles. there's clearly no greater threat to American freedoms right now than him and his fellow unravelers.

"Damn him for following in the footsteps of Lincoln and FDR."

They both famously spoke many times on the virtues of crushing children's testicles. I believe FDR addressed the topic in one of his inaugural addresses. It was also one of the Four Freedoms: Freedom To Crush Children's Testicles was crucial.

I really shouldn't feed the trolls. Sometimes their insights are so penetrating, though.

"For the squeamish it should be pointed out that this could be simulated with modern virtual reality techniques."

It would make a great video game, too, don't you think? And we could help toughen up America, and its youth, with it, for what's necessary in the War On Terror. Twofer!

For the squeamish it should be pointed out that this could be simulated with modern virtual reality techniques.

I'm sure he was against Grand Theft Auto before they came out with the special "Gitmo Interrogation" edition.

I believe FDR addressed the topic in one of his inaugural addresses. It was also one of the Four Freedoms: Freedom To Crush Children's Testicles was crucial.

"The only thing we have to fear is the fear that we won't be able to crush children's testicles itself!"

Now that it's been established that there's a strong, if perhaps small as yet, Republican constituency for child-testicle-crushing as the key Republican plank in the 2008 Republican platform, I'd like to point out that given the established virtues of crushing children's testicles, that there's a clear, obvious, and overwhelming need to crush a lot of children's testicles at home, as well as abroad, for the sake of America, and not just to fight terrorism!

Terrorism is by no means the only crucial battle America is fighting today! No, we need to get out there, and start crushing as many children's testicles as possible to win the War On Drugs! And we need to find the children of pornographers, and crush their testicles! And then we must crush the testicles of the children of all those who won't give up porn! That'll get us started in the War On Porn And Depravity!

And, naturally, we also need to get the police started in as large numbers as possible, as soon as possible, in crushing the testicles of the children of murderers, rapists, those guilty of gun assault, and people who have illegally voted.

This is just the beginning of what America's firm stand on child-testicle-crushing can bring in benefits, but it's a good start.

Child-testicle-crushing is the key new Republican policy that could establish Republican dominance for another 20 years! Republicans, we must go for it!

I think everyone will agree that anyone who doesn't see the logic of this is a Democrat, a wuss, clearly homosexual, a terrorist supporter, a traitor, a liberal, a member of the ACLU, a pagan, a communist, and clearly Muslim.

It's simply inarguable.

If you could travel back in time and crush the boy Hitler's testicles, wouldn't you do it?

"If you could travel back in time and crush the boy Hitler's testicles, wouldn't you do it?"

Maybe his *father's*...

I'd like to point out that I posted my manifesto on child-testicle-crushing as the key Republican insight over twenty-five minutes ago and Nancy Pelosi has yet to support a bill supporting the crushing of the testicles of the children of America's enemies. This proves beyond a shadow of logic that Pelosi hates freedom and hates America.

And she hates our freedom to crush children's testicles.

Why, Nancy? Why?

is it irresponsible to crush John Yoo's testicles? it's irresponsible not to.

b.t.w., who wants to bet against this thread becoming a headliner at B.W. ?

From Katherine's link to the Diaz article:

Diaz did not, however, know that a code associated with each name would be considered classified as ''Secret,'' because, according to testimony at the trial, the series of numbers and letters with each name indicated interrogators' and analysts' ''sources and methods'' used by the detention center's intelligence unit.

For real? Is that in the public domain now? Do we have a key to those codes, showing what "methods" were used on each prisoner?

Unless it's like "X is for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," that could be remarkable stuff -- even an "X" would be notable.

Unfortunately for Diaz, he's not from Australia -- he's an American. Poor bastard.

Khaled el-Masri apparently had some sort of breakdown and set fire to a German wholesale market.

Why do I suspect this will be added to a poorly sourced list of former detainees who "returned to the battlefield"?

Hey, does anyone know anything about the immigration bill?

"Hey, does anyone know anything about the immigration bill?"

The lunatics hate it.

Probably one of the most important things is that as yet, the House hasn't yet come up with a bill, let alone has there been an attempt at a conference committee, therefore, and so whatever the merits or demerits of the current proposal, it's fairly sure that the ultimate bill will be somewhat different.

"Unless it's like 'X is for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,' that could be remarkable stuff -- even an 'X' would be notable."

Stepping into pure speculation, if it were true, my first guess would be that it something along the lines of coding to the various techniques like "Fear Up," "Pride and Ego Down," and so forth.

But maybe with Special Added Crunchy Enhancements.

This post and thread is concerned with much more important and weightier matters, but I do want to warn Gary that language pedantry is a dangerous game.

From Merriam-Webster (www.m-w.com):

Main Entry: dis·in·ter·est·ed

Function: adjective

1 a : not having the mind or feelings engaged : not interested <telling them in a disinterested voice -- Tom Wicker> <disinterested in women -- J. A. Brussel> b : no longer interested <husband and wife become disinterested in each other -- T. I. Rubin>

2 : free from selfish motive or interest : UNBIASED <a disinterested decision> <disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of real civilization -- G. M. Trevelyan>

Disinterested and uninterested have a tangled history. Uninterested originally meant impartial, but this sense fell into disuse during the 18th century. About the same time the original sense of disinterested also disappeared, with uninterested developing a new sense--the present meaning--to take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has since been under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. Actual usage shows otherwise. Sense 2 of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. A careful writer may choose sense 1a of disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis . Further, disinterested has developed a sense (1b), perhaps influenced by sense 1 of the prefix dis-, that contrasts with uninterested . Still, use of senses 1a and 1b will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.

(emphasis mine).

"...but I do want to warn Gary that language pedantry is a dangerous game."

I don't play to the death.

And I wouldn't dream of doing other than being clear that I'm stating a personal preference for clarity. I'm perfectly aware of the long history of prescriptivism and descriptivism, and I ultimately make no other claim for sporadic prescriptivism other than the basis that I believe it is, as a rule, more useful to preserve distinctions that lend clarity than it is useful to blur them.

Beyond that, I don't actually have hordes of flying grammar nazi monkeys ready to be off to kill all those who violate my usage ukases, so there's minimal danger involved in this. But I do have one minion flying monkey ready to plunge a large object into the base of my skull if it ever becomes clear that I'm truly out of control, and am decrying use of split infinitives, so worry not.

Otherwise:

USAGE NOTE In traditional usage, disinterested can only mean “having no stake in an outcome,” as in Since the judge stands to profit from the sale of the company, she cannot be considered a disinterested party in the dispute. This usage was acceptable to 97 percent of the Usage Panel in our 2001 survey. But despite critical disapproval, disinterested has come to be widely used by many educated writers to mean “uninterested” or “having lost interest,” as in Since she discovered skiing, she is disinterested in her schoolwork. Oddly enough, “not interested” is the oldest sense of the word, going back to the 17th century. This sense became outmoded in the 18th century but underwent a revival in the first quarter of the early 20th. Despite its resuscitation, this usage is widely considered an error. In our 2001 survey, 88 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence It is difficult to imagine an approach better designed to prevent disinterested students from developing any intellectual maturity. This is not a significantly different proportion from the 89 percent who disapproved of a similar usage in 1988.
The meaning of "disinterested" is, I feel, worth preserving. But if you disagree, I'll actually let you live. I'm big about that sort of thing.

Since someone else brought up the possibility (retrospective or, one supposes, in "virtual reality") of crushing the young Adolf Hitler's testicles . . .

[note the appropriate 3 spaced dots, Gary]

. . . [and 3 more for good luck]

. . .

may I remind you all of the well-known WW2 song (well-known to those of us growing up in the aftermath of that war, anyway), to the tune of "Colonel Bogey":

Hitler has only got one ball; [true, we were led to believe, i.e., he was monorchous]
Goering has two, but very small;
Himmler is somewhat sim'lar;
But poor old Goebbals [pronounced Go-balls, for obvious reasons] has no balls at all.

Now that we all know the words, folks, let's sing it together! Just watch the screen and follow the bouncing ball . . . .

What about persons who have only daughters as children? Will they get a rapid boy adoption approved to allow for the testicle crushing* or will the government pay for a sex change of the female children (is that called a fe-dectomy?)?
The constitution does not refer explicitly to the crushing of children's testicles, so an amendment is clearly necessary to satisfy the originalists among us. Congress shall make no law impeding...

*also necessary in case of childless candidates. A waiting period of 9 month with the risk of non-male offspring is not acceptable in the GWOT.

Dr Ngo: the version I heard at school in England about 30 years after the end of the war was:

Hitler has only got one ball
The other is in the Albert Hall
His mother, the dirty bugger,
Cut it off
When he
Was small

I've no idea if it was apocryphal.

I seem to have missed the great...the *truly* great............controversy over points of ellipses.

As an amateur actor (ret.) who is used to both dramatic and comedic pauses, and as an amateur (see website) lyricist who has to brush up against poetry including e. e. cummings, I tend to lean towards a more creative use of punctuation. I punctuate differently in blogging comments than I would if I were writing a white paper for the Heritage Foundation, which I wouldn't.

When I "speak" here, it is in a sort of conversation, as opposed to a formal language. So I vary my "pause" icons to indicate the length of my........pause.

Besides, if emoticons are fair use in internet conversation, I'd say things are a little looser in general.

Stoppard said, "Language is an approximation of meaning, not a logical symbolism for it."

Irregardless.

I was roused by the blasts of airhorns and sirens to find to my utter dismay that someone had typed the word "irregardless." If only the alert were due to something less disasterous (e.g. nuclear strike).

(...needless to say, my tongue was wedged rather emphatically in my cheek...)

Mine too. Maybe I'll run into you at Monk's one of these days. I always wear a t-shirt reading "OBSIDIAN WINGS RULES!", so I'll be easy to spot.

You'll have better luck at the Happy Rooster....only every month or two, and usually on Karaoke night...

Can I do War Pigs?

I tend to lean towards a more creative use of punctuation.

[...]

So I vary my "pause" icons to indicate the length of my........pause.

Yes, this is an ultra-common error among those not taught that one can't actually make up one's own punctuation. In fact, an ellipses is three dots (sometimes with a period, sometimes without), just as a comma isn't a plus sign.

It's only three dots. Just as a period is only one dot.

That's what they are, and there is no choice in the matter, any more than I can say that "a" is "b."

One is perfectly free to make up one's own punctuation, and spelling, of course.

There's no law against it. It simply doesn't work well to communicate with others than one's self.

And that always looks normal and fine to the creator. It's the way all children begin to learn writing. Just as all slush manuscripts look fine to their writers, who can't understand why anyone would read them and note that they're semi-literate and semi-comprehensible.

Basically, bad writing is always invisible to the author. If it's pointed out, the author always becomes angry, of course, that unimportant and arbitrary rules are being imposed on them by snobby people who are only out to unreasonably put them down.

Yet there are actually conventions in English for good reason (as well as some for bad reason, which should be ignored): because they lend clarity and elegance and meaning.

Making up one's own punctuation does not clarify meaning.

I understand well how arbitrary and unreasonable that seems when applied to a convention one sees no reason for, but there actually are ways of divining that which is good writing, and that which is very much not, within reaons, and when one does, the scales fall from one's eyes as regards past errors, as one grows in skill. One learns the reasons for the conventions, and that which looked good before suddenly looks much improvable, as one grows as a writer.

On the matter of ellipses, I remember perfectly well going through this exact process myself, and I was fairly embarrassed for a period when I was 16 or so, and realized how subliterate my writing up until then looked, once I realized that there were simple rules to using ellipses, and that I'd not understood them when taught them in fifth grade, and that my method of using as many dots as I like was... unimpressing people.

Almost everyone who writes goes through that process regarding ellipses, whether in third grade or at age 35 or whenever. And everyone goes through that evolution, in general, with one new insight into language after another being gained, as one learns.

Suddenly, one realizes with a shock that writing "i,,,,, can tu!%$& rite mEEE on00Ne wy?=!!!" isn't original and clever.

But the lessons sometimes take a long time to sink in, depending on how defensive one is, and occasionally never sink in at all.

In the end, it's all purely voluntary, of course. Save for the communicating with others part.

One tends to learn more rapidly if one cares about writing professionally, in any capacity, though.

If not: it's just a matter of how much one cares about communicating clearly, and then, beyond that, writing with any skill or elegance.

Lots of people care about neither; it's always a choice.
I like to think that many folks prefer to learn to be as clear, and to be as in control of their writing, as is possible, though.

But it's always a choice.

Gary--
your "YMMV (but if you don't do it my way, you're an idiot)" shtick is particularly tiresome in your 11:31 comment, in my opinion.

Yes, but I'm not writing here in the sense of "writing" -- I am speaking. Just as if I were having an IM conversation, with greater lag time between submissions.

My speech, and my written avatars of my speech, are idiosyncratic. I overuse commas, parenthetical remarks, and even parentheses. I hastily type, trying to track my speech, diverting it from my lips to my fingertips. I will even concoct two word sentences that are entirely incorrect. Or something.

I am not writing professionally here, and don't accept the same conventions. If I suddenly start TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS I convey meaning, in an internet conversation mode, which would be entirely incorrect in business, professional or academic conversation.

I do object to the suggestions that I don't know a thing or two about correctness verses noncorrectness. I just don't accept this as a forum where the conventions of written communication apply in every case.

Internet-based conversational tools have evolved (*g* LOL ;-) ) by people pitching them back and forth until their inherent utility is recognized and widespread.

Tracking back to another subject, Beckett's pauses have maddened some directors and actors as to just how long one is to pause. Pinter eventually started indicated "pause," "long pause," "short pause," "silence," etc. to give some guidance as to the quality of the quiet.

So if I am speaking on an internet forum, and I emphasize speaking not writing, and I wish to indicate a longer pause than usual, to achieve an approximation of a dramatic moment, than I will extend the traditional and proscribed three points of ellipsis, so that the vast blog audience would understand that I have paused perhaps longer than I did the last time. It would be *less* useful for me to type "longer pause" than it is to add a few more points.

And I'm also aware that enclosing a word between asterisks is not acceptable in professional communication, however it's widely accepted in speech simulcrums like this one.

My tongue is tired in this cheek....I think I shall (that's correct, isn't it?) move it to the other.

"Yes, but I'm not writing here in the sense of 'writing' -- I am speaking."

No, you're writing.

Really.

Anyway, I've had this conversation a million times, over more than thirty years, so please forgive me for not engaging in it further, again. Enjoy writing as you like.

But for the record, I'm also not remotely against informal writing, nor against useful internet conventions. I'm for clarity, and whatever improves it. I think smiley faces can be used just as well or badly as any other punctuation or element of writing. I think a good writer can use them well; a bad writer, on the other hand, will merely add "LOL!" to the end of every sentence.

But I did spend decades as a professional editor, proofreader, and copyeditor, and I'm physically incapable of reading text without feeling grating pain at gross errors and solecisms -- my own most of all, of course, since in blog comments, I, too, write with the greatest of haste, tend to skip proofing, and commit innumerable typos, solecisms, and poor wording choices -- so I ask for a tiny bit of indulgence as regards my occasional cries of pain. In return, I assure you there's nothing personal in it.

Misuses of ellipses is a particular bug-a-boo of mine, because it's so utterly common (ask Edward). (I didn't even get started on where their usage is and is not appropriate, and how lazy writers simply use them as a substitute for writing coherent sentences; let's not get started on the lazyness of people who make up their own rules of capitalization.)

Writing isn't a speech simulacrum, though. It's writing. Any professional fiction writer or editor can tell you that writing good dialogue isn't remotely the same as writing transcriptions of how people actually talk. This is a common confusion, as well.

Em-dashes are quite useful for indicating pauses, by the way. There's no shortage of ways to -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- indicate a pause.

...

I'll just add, in closing (and thank you all, please tip your waitress, hilzoy, on your way out), that a few clicks around my website will show that I'm keenly aware of the effects of language and the unusual arrangements in which one can employ it.

And I'll agree to follow any style guide Obsidian Wings decides to publish for their comment section.

"And I'll agree to follow any style guide Obsidian Wings decides to publish for their comment section."

I'm fairly sure one won't be forthcoming. Ditto on my flying grammar-nazi monkey hordes. They're busy right now fetching my treasure, arrr, anyway.

Since this thread has been way off-topic for some time, I'm going to continue the off-topic conversation, I hope, with impunity.

I'm curious, Gary. If you don't mind my asking, are you as bothered by improper speech as you are by improper writing?

I ask because my circumstances are such that I have to spend a fair amount of time with people who speak English poorly, and not in the less bothersome "social context" sense.

I hear things that drive me up a wall, but always bite my tongue rather than offering correction. It bothers me most when my young children are around. I know that's kind of silly. If my kids are so inclined, they'll figure out the language in spite of bad influences. (If they aren't so inclined, I'll just have to disown them.)

I don't claim to have mastered English to an extraordinary degree (not that someone like you would believe such a claim, given my writing samples). But I do have a hard time with obvious errors (e.g. "...went to the store and brought some food.") and less obvious errors I hear repeatedly (e.g. "...for you and I.")

I guess what I really want to know is, do you correct or comment on the speech of others as much as you do their writing? Or do you hold back and go inwardly nuts?

"I'm curious, Gary. If you don't mind my asking, are you as bothered by improper speech as you are by improper writing?"

Not in the least. Perhaps if I'd been a speech coach for decades I conceivably might be, but that would be some other person, really.

But as a rule, speaking requires little or no understanding of techniques; we learn speech naturally, for the most part.

This isn't at all true of writing. Communicating effectively in writing does require some learning and attention and self-discipline if one is engaged in communicating thoughts more complicated than a grocery list.

A certain amount of what makes writing work is counter-intuitive.

I certainly don't have a mastery of English "to an extraordinary degree," or anything close. I stumble along somewhere near the level of "competent," at best, and frequently descend below that.

Being able to engage in basic punctuation isn't in the neighborhood of "extraordinary" mastering of English, although I certainly grant that it's beyond probably a majority of the population, if we judge by results. But it's really almost entirely a matter of choosing to care enough, or not, rather than capability, for most people. Most people instead feel that it simply doesn't matter.

They tend to get very ticked when you won't buy their work, though, nonetheless. Mean old snobby editors value arbitrary rules over brilliant creativity, and you're stifling my expression, and it's all about who you know, waaaaaah, etc.

"Or do you hold back and go inwardly nuts?"

That's what I do with about 99.99% of online writing, though.

Fortunately, there are plenty of exceptions, and they tend to cluster. Certainly ObWi has a relatively high degree of literacy and clarity, which is one reason I tend to hang out here.

Mean old snobby editors value arbitrary rules over brilliant creativity, and you're stifling my expression, and it's all about who you know, waaaaaah, etc.

This resembles a sentence that would be appropriate as spoken English, perhaps, but certainly doesn't resemble anything I've learned as proper written English. Interesting, that.

"This resembles a sentence that would be appropriate as spoken English, perhaps, but certainly doesn't resemble anything I've learned as proper written English."

It's colloquial. One deals with endless sorts of English, both in fiction, and in good non-fiction. That's not to say that any and every choice in writing English is a good one.

(Neither is it to say that I'm trying to prescribe how anyone or everyone should write; we're engaged in a conversation here -- in writing -- and thus I respond to one observation with another: nothing more.)

There's good colloquial writing, bad colloquial writing, brilliant colloquial writing, awful colloquial writing, and so on. If you attempt to find a quote of me having ever stated anywhere that formally correct English is the only type people should write, I have to advise you that your search will be in vain.

One man's unacceptable deviation from standard usage is another man's colloquialism.

You see, one guy is writing as though he's speaking, which is simply wrong; but the other guy is writing while employing the informal conventions of speech, which is simply marvelous. One guy is "making up" his punctuation, which is a poor means of communication; the other guy is employing punctuation "colloquially," which is peachy-keen.

You hardly need to be as perceptive as, say, bril in order to notice the double standard that's been erected here.

"One man's unacceptable deviation from standard usage is another man's colloquialism."

Indeed. And we're all sensitive to different elements of bad writing at different levels.

"You see, one guy is writing as though he's speaking, which is simply wrong"

Who wrote that? I missed it. I would certainly disagree with such a statement.

"...the other guy is employing punctuation 'colloquially'...."

I'm not clear what you're referring to there, but a good writer can get away with many effects. Bad writers can't.

Fill in the cliche here about having to know the rules in order to break them, and the one about how just because, say, James Joyce or Thomas Pynchon can do one thing, that doesn't mean you or I have the same level of skill and ability, and neither would it prevent either of us from looking foolish if we asserted that we could pull off an effect just because they could.

There are different standards to be applied between good writing and bad writing, though certainly there is also a clear element of subjectivity in judging which is which. But the existence of that element of subjectivity doesn't eliminate that such a distinction between good writing and bad writing exists.

Steve, you're responding to a level of prescriptivity I have not, in fact, been engaged in. It's unnecessary, though I well understand and long used to that element of defensiveness. People who feel criticized, or that they've been given reason to feel insecure, understandably feel defensive, but, y'know, the fact that I mentioned my bugaboo about misuses of ellipses isn't actually a personal attack on anyone, nor do I, as I've tried to point out, actually have hit teams out enforcing my prejudices.

This is probably the point where I should withdraw from the topic, as further discourse is apt to produce only further cycles of defensiveness. That would be no fun for anyone.

Comment on Gary's pedantry:

"Though I hate to be didantic,
Yet it drives me nearly frantic,
When I see that unromatic
Gang of tititllating sluts,
Fall over wriggling their guts,
It drives me absolutely NUTS!"

"NINA" by Noel Coward

...further discourse is apt to produce only further cycles of defensiveness. That would be no fun for anyone.

It can be fun to watch from the sidelines, provided you have at least a thin evil streak. Mines happens to be fairly wide, so I urge all interested parties to continue.

...the fact that I mentioned my bugaboo about misuses of ellipses...

First let me say that I hope I used my ellipses correctly here. Anyway, my personal bugaboo of late is the use of "comprise" for "compose." I'm not really sure why I latched on to that particular thing, but it bothers me mostly because I see it in fairly well regarded, edited publications. There's probably something that I do all the time that's worse, but I won't let my sins keep me from deploring those of others.

wade:

My personal bugaboo is people getting song lyrics wrong. (insert smiley face here)

It's "I hate to be pedantic" (not "didantic" or even "didactic")

I've had the pleasure of performing this song in a cabaret, though it leaves me a little breathless.

As both a performer and a writer of lyrics myself, I elide right over points of ellipsis but always hear lyrics when they misfire. My dad used to always sing "The sun will come up tomorrow..." and we would all shout "OUT" from the back seat...

That's my pedantry for the day

#7 F#m E
She said "I hate to be pedantic but I'm driven nearly frantic
Bm7 C#7
When I see that unromantic, sycophantic lot of sluts
G#o C#7
Forever wriggling their guts.
G#o C#7
It drives me absolutely nuts."

(from a guitar tab site)

From a fanfiction writing guide that always makes me giggle, on ellipses: "Dots are social creatures, but they also tend to hate large crowds. You'll never see them in groups of more than four, and they will more commonly be seen in groups of three. It is unheard of for them to only travel with one other companion. On top of this, they are, in reality, not all that common in either grouping. For, like many of us, sometimes they just want to be alone. Therefore, you're best off leaving them to their solitary contemplations at the end of each sentence. They get cranky if they feel peer pressure."

"First let me say that I hope I used my ellipses correctly here."

Forgot the period, to close the sentence, if you really want to know (if not, please forget I responded).

It really, 99.9% of the time, couldn't be simpler: an ellipis is three dots: "..."

It's used to indicate an elision or omission of works, as well as a pause of greater length than an 1-em dash. If you're using an ellipsis to end a sentence, including a quotation, then as usual, there's also a period.

That'll get you through almost all usages of ellipses.

(I'll avoid going into usages in combination with other punctuation, which can get trickier, but see Words Into Type, or the Chicago Manual, or whatever other style guide your or, or whomever you're writing for, prefers; however, in almost all such cases, it's still just a matter of using the ellipsis and the other punctuation mark together; it's really about as uncomplicated as can be; proper use of the comma can be far more complicated and offer far more legitimate choices. The overall guide remains: make the choice that gives the greatest clarity.)

"Anyway, my personal bugaboo of late is the use of 'comprise' for 'compose.' I'm not really sure why I latched on to that particular thing,..."

It's simply using the wrong word, which doesn't mean what the people using it think it means.

(Of course, inevitably a few will insist that their meaning is understood, and tediously snobby pedants shouldn't pick on them.)

Similarly "flout/flaunt," or "effect/affect," or "compliment/complement," and so on.

"There's probably something that I do all the time that's worse, but I won't let my sins keep me from deploring those of others."

Never let motes get in the way of a good venting.

Thanks for the Coward, zmulls. Knowing very little about his lyrics, I had kinda wondered what "didantic," and "unromatic" and "tititllating" meant, but figured it was some sort of cleverness I was missing. (That's a conclusion I come to every few minutes on the internets.)

"My personal bugaboo is people getting song lyrics wrong."

Which goes back precisely to that matter of each of us having our own levels of sensitivity as to what's an important error, and what isn't, that I mentioned earlier.

Generally speaking, it's a normal tendency for each of us to feel that what we, ourselves, feel is unimportant, is, in fact, unimportant.

Sometimes we get a smack (sometimes gently, sometimes harshly) in the face from the world to inform us that others who matter to us feel differently; sometimes we don't.

Of course, if we only get smacks from people who don't matter to us, we'll probably never care.

Which pretty much explains much of the internet.

Please forgive my inaccuracy.
I was quoting details from the memories of a
live performance of over 50 years ago.
Visions from the periods of impressionable youth, though colorful, do not feature total recall. Oh well, the moving finger writes, etc...

I am used to ellipses in quotes* as '[...]'. Is that not the usual way in English?
The '...' I would mainly use for deliberately unfinished sentences.
While we are at it: if a sentence ends with an abbreviation, does the '.' following the abbreviation double as period for the sentence?

*where else would one use them?

Hartmut: they're often used without the parentheses. I put the parens in here mostly for readability; I think the little dots can get lost otherwise (O little lost dots! this sounds so tragic.)

"While we are at it: if a sentence ends with an abbreviation, does the '.' following the abbreviation double as period for the sentence?"

Yes.

Further update on the Diaz case. 6 months. I believe that's still longer than any of the sentences in the Dilawar/Habibullah murders (max. sentence of 5 months in prison)or the Mowhoush murder (no jail time; 2 months of restriction to home, place of worship, & military base where Welshofer worked). But not nearly as bad as I'd been afraid of--the prosecutors had asked for 7 years.

I think that is a sentence that most can live with. Is there a risk of an appeal by the prosecution (it is not mentioned in the article)?

Question 1: Did anyone aside from Gary have any trouble gathering meaning from zmulls's posts, what with the incorrect ellipses being such a barrier to clarity? No? OK.

Question 2: Irony, she is a harsh mistress:

Yes, this is an ultra-common error among those not taught that one can't actually make up one's own punctuation . . . One is perfectly free to make up one's own punctuation, and spelling, of course.
Only fifty-odd words appear in between those two sentences here. So, which is it? Can they, or can't they?

affect/effect drives me nuts. Also counsel/council, which I'm beginning to think is no longer a meaningful distinction in English, as I have seen books from at least 3 different major publishing houses get them confused.

Then again, I have also seen major publishing houses print books with the repeated use of the spellings "diety" (for "deity"), and "triumverate," so I am starting to wonder whether these people even bother to use the spellchecker, much less an actual copy editor.

Something I always wonder about is whether a sentence that ends with a parenthetical quotation that itself ends in a period requires an additional period after the closing parenthesis. I've tried it with and without, and neither looks right. This comes up a LOT in legal briefs. I generally do add a period at the end, but it itches at me ("if," as P.G. Wodehouse often said, "you follow me.").

"So, which is it? Can they, or can't they?"

Yes, you can. If you want to adhere to anyone's ideas of the conventions of punctuations, you can't. Yes, all statements have unstated conditionals: an infinite number of them, as it happens.

"Did anyone aside from Gary have any trouble gathering meaning from zmulls's posts"

Gary didn't have any trouble, either. He would have, you know, said so if he had. There's no need to argue against imaginary claims.

"Is there a risk of an appeal by the prosecution (it is not mentioned in the article)?"

There is no such thing as an appeal by the prosecution in the United States. It's constitutionally prohibited as "double jeopardy."

"Something I always wonder about is whether a sentence that ends with a parenthetical quotation that itself ends in a period requires an additional period after the closing parenthesis."

Can you give an example of this?

If I understand you correctly, the answer is "yes," but I'm not positive I understand you correctly. But essentially most sentences have to end in a period, or the sentence hasn't ended. However, there are exceptions, such as dialogue, or colloquial usage.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that--"

A shot rang out!

"Argh! I'm shot! Help--"

He collapsed.

Gary didn't have any trouble, either. He would have, you know, said so if he had. There's no need to argue against imaginary claims.

You know, the attitude that all that matters is the text, that there is no subtext, and that it's unreasonable for readers to draw inferences from what is said is a really odd one, coming from someone who makes such a big deal about how he used to be a PROFESSIONAL EDITOR.

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