24 October 2019

[Ellis Millsaps] - The View from Porterdale: Let It Bleed. What Could Happen, The Right to be Wrong & More From the Cranky English Major

His Excellency Donald Trump will soon be impeached by the House. At a trial in the Senate enough Republicans may stand by Trump to keep him in office or they might not. He grows more toxic daily.


 Although the vice president is up to his neck in Trump's corruption, one thing that will not happen is the impeachment of Mike Pence. Although logic might seem to dictate it, Pense’s removal would be a bridge too far for Democrats. To attempt it could augur to Trump’s benefit because Republicans are not going to make Nancy Pelosi president, a job she neither seeks nor wants.


 So we could have President Pence. At that point more Republicans will seek their party's presidential nomination. They aren't afraid of Pence. Willl they get those canceled primaries back?


 Pence might not run but one would assume he would. He probably gets a chunk of the religious right vote but not much else. Everything else is up for grabs. There will likely be a Libertarian candidacy by the first Republican congressman to have the guts to support impeachment, Justin Amash.  He has left the party but they're probably going to be wishing they had him back because he might cut deeply into their eventual nominee’s vote.


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 I'm disturbed today by an attack on the first amendment's freedom of religion clause. And no, it's not the Secretary of State's promotion of Christianity on government stationery. Although that's wrong, we're used to that sort of thing and used to dealing with it.


 No, what troubles me is Beto O'Rourke's proposal to deny tax-exempt status to churches who oppose gay marriage.The whole question of tax-exempt status for churches is a controversial one in some circles, but, if we're going to have it, to deny it it to churches based on their religious beliefs is an attack on the first line of the First Amendment. “Congress may make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In my opinion these churches are wrong, but the Constitution throughout implicitly gives us the right to be wrong. O'Rourke's proposed legislation is an attempt to establish the Church of the Secular Left as our national religion.


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 A longtime acquaintance has pointed out to me a couple of trends in the language I hadn't  noticed. She's not an English major but she makes up for that in crankiness.


 The first involves a misuse of grammar, the difference between ”less” and ”fewer.” As an English Major I should have noticed this myself but I confess I have been oblivious to my own misuse.


“Fewer” is an adjective which should describe things that can be quantified while” less” is used to describe things which cannot be. One does not have less headaches than before. One has fewer headaches but perhaps with less pain than before.


 The second is the phenomenon of speakers leaving out the”t” in words like important, pronouncing it “impor-ent.” Since she brought this to my attention I hear it often, particularly among younger women-- and not poorly educated ones either.


 I'm also bothered by the misuse of adverbs on verbs that connote the senses. The president often says he”feels badly” about something. I hear other educated speakers saying the same. It’s sort of like semi-educated people saying’”between you and I” thinking they have nailed it.


“Badly” is an adverb describing a verb (or adjective, but we don't need to go there). To say you sing badly means you're not good at singing. To say you feel badly means you are not good at feeling.

“Feeling” is a little tricky because it can either mean the sense of touch or the mental emotion. You never say “this smells badly” or “this looks badly”. No, he smells bad, she looks bad and you feel bad. 

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