Bulwer-Lytton, Presidential Lies, Nanny Takedowns, and an Ancient Malapropism

… also a very unoriginal pun: [Any Ideas?]

  • Let's put the important news on top, for once. This year's winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:
    Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.
    More good writin' at the link.

  • President Obama's speech last night contained multiple occurrances of one of my red flags:
    Finally, let's ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.


    This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.


    The only reason this balanced approach isn't on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach -- an approach that doesn't ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, , such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about -- cuts that place a greater burden on working families.


    Most Americans, regardless of political party, don't understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don't get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don't need and didn't ask for?


    What we're talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade -- millionaires and billionaires -- to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.


    Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions.

    That's a lotta asking, friends. And nearly all in the context of "asking" some despised fraction of citizens to surrender more money to Your Federal Government.

    Let me recycle something I wrote a couple years back: Taxpayers aren't asked.

    In a just world, using such dishonest, weaselly rhetoric by high government officials would be grounds for old-school punishment.

    "Mr. Obama, step to the chalkboard, and write 'Taxpayers aren't asked' one hundred times. Neatly. Then you will write a 300-word essay on the meaning of that statement. And please remember: each time in the future you claim that taxpayers will be 'asked' to fund one of your schemes, you will be 'asked' (in the same sense) to come back here and redo this assignment, doubled."

    If I could do that without getting involved with the Secret Service, I would. In a heartbeat.

  • Pun Salad had a good time earlier this year making fun of the New York Times designated food nag, Mark Bittman. ( here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. ) Jacob Sullum takes up the task this week, analyzing Bittman's recent call for increased taxes on "bad" food while subsidizing "good" food. Sullum does some needed fact-checking, but also zeros in on the liberty question:
    But the weakest part of Bittman's argument, since paying the taxes he proposes won't be optional, is his justification for using force to change people's diets. The government simply would be "fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good," he says. Treating diet-related diseases costs money, he adds. "The need is indisputable," he avers, "since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet." Furthermore, "look at the action government took in the case of tobacco." In short, "public health is the role of the government, and our diet is right up there with any other public responsibility you can name, from water treatment to mass transit." So many assumptions, both fiscal and moral, packed into so little space. Bittman does not pause for a moment to consider the vast expanse of human behavior that is subject to government manipulation under his theory of public health.
    If only Bittman and his ilk were content with just nagging. Iowa City's own Will Wilkinson is also on target:

    Anyway, if public health is the role of government, let's not get bogged down in this nonsense about rigging the relative prices of arugula and Ho-Hos. Let's just raise the price of being unhealthy. Because why punish a lean fellow who runs 45 miles per week just because Chocolate Black Cherry Mr Pibb happens to be his personal ambrosia? And what happens if the paleo-diet fanatics displace our current cohort of diet experts and inflict upon us $10 loaves of bread and subsidised Slim Jims? What then? Free government venison, that's what.

    Bittman simply can't be lampooned and reviled enough.

  • I'd never stopped to consider the strangeness of the word "impregnable". As in "impregnable fortress": doesn't it sound as if one could get that fortress pregnant?

    It turns out that usage is based on a 16th century mistake.

  • Warning: Actual Pun Content follows. Proceed at your own risk

    Driving down Route One in Wells, Maine, I noticed a coffee place named "Brewed Awakenings".

    Hah! Pretty clever. But then I Googled it. And it turns out to be not that original.

Last Modified 2024-06-03 5:56 PM EDT