Just Walt's Mental Meanderings

Walter Blevins

Walter Blevins
Vista, California, USA
August 22
I'm a 60 year old guy who lives in Vista California with my wife. I spent the 30 years before moving to Cali in Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota. And I have 2 grown children, a son and a daughter who live in Virginia and Iowa and a 22 year old step-daughter lives with us here in Vista. I'm a proud grandpa with 2 grandaughters living in Virginia. I like to write about a whole variety of things from my kids to cooking to politics to the car industry to my status as a "Cheap Bastid" and "Old Fart" and just random thoughts. And I really love writing about cooking really good, homecooked comfort food cheap. That's why they call me the Cheap Bastid. By the way--all the stuff I write is my stuff and you can't use it without my official OkeyDokey

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FEBRUARY 28, 2013 1:52PM

Prepositions in the Age of Sequestration

Rate: 17 Flag

When I was a graduate student in the early 1970's I decided to use "linguistic analysis" as my research methodology. My thinking was that this is what would let me more fully understand the meaning of philosophical concepts and constitutional issues.

After all these years my mind still picks at these concepts and worries at them much as a dog worries away at an oversized bone. Sometimes I take myself all the way back to my early education when I was learning grammar. That's where my head took me this week--back to elementary school and learning about prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Remember having to diagram sentences--or is that not done anymore in this age of tweets and texts?

We were taught about adverbial prepositional phrases and adjective prepostional phrases. In, for, with, at, of, by and others were all common prepositions modifying subject or predicate, noun or verb.

So what's the point?

One of the most famous uses of prepositions came from Abraham Lincoln when he said "that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" at the end of the brief, poignant and still meaningful "Gettysburg Address".

Now that was some good use of prepositions. Here's my point and I'll try to be as succinct as Mr. Lincoln.

It seems to me that our political "leadership" is being "prepositionally selective". The whole concept of "of" and "by" have long disappeared. And it seems to me that the preposition "for" is either on its last legs or it has become totally selective. All three have been replaced by a new prepostional phrase--which would turn Mr. Lincoln aghast--"to the people".

Seems to me that those in elected positions are all to willing to let bad things happen "to the people" rather than thinking in terms of "for the people" or "by the people" and especially "of the people".

And if one attempted to invoke the concept of "polis", every politician from the President all the way through the dingiest hall of Congress would frown, get a vacuous look and mutter "sounds like Greek to me".

(and by the way, regarding "polis"--look it up)

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All governments have that risk, if we still can speak freely, as to change, even just for the aftermath.
It's why, in my Internet Activism, I keep telling the polity, You have a Voice. Use it. The government derives it's just power from the consent of the governed. This means, to me, that without us speaking out, we literally do get exactly the goverment we deserve.

As long as we sit on our hands and keep our mouths shut, whatever authority the government usurps from the people, they are allowed to have -- because we said and did nothing to prevent it. It is time for us, the people, to tell the government, "No, you can't do that."

You can't do things to us. You can only do for us, what those of us have consented to be allowed by us.

Prepositional choice makes all the difference, at least in my book.

Democracy in my view is best thought of as a "practice" based on intentions and certain principles, rather than something that is "achieved" in a definitive sense. As such, it is important to remain optimistic about it's possibilities, and not fall into withdrawal from the process as it exists at any one time in history.

There is always a side to take, and until a superior and more potentially fair system of government is invented, participation is necessary.
Short, sweet, and right on the money old friend. Lord I have missed you in this place and besides agreeing with you one hundred percent, I am glad to be reading these words from you again.
Thanks, Don
Thanks, Sheila
Thanks, Dunnitowl
Thanks, Ben Sen
Thanks, David
...and it also seems to me that NOBODY remembers a basic, fundamental concept reiterated nearly every day at my first job working for the North Dakota State government:
"it's the people's money we're spending and we have an obligation to spend it as well as possible"
I'm just sayin'
Rated. And as for diagramming sentences, its demise is roughly parallel to the demise of the English language in the U.S. All this is explained in my book, So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

However, a minor cavil:

"We were taught about adverbial prepositional phrases and adjective prepostional phrases."

For proper parallel construction, "adjective" should be replaced with "adjectival."

And, if wouldn't hurt to mention that Lincoln's trio consisted of three adjectival prepositional phrases, all modifying "government."

Many thanks for elevating the discourse around here.
lincoln did create a good synopsis of democracy. he was lying, however. the constitution is not a democratic document, and the principle writers were public and explicit about their contempt for democracy. they aimed to create an elective aristocracy which in result is an elective plutocracy.

the 'elections' are not democratic, they are merely an evolved form of the civil wars which once transformed dukes into kings. the commons throw their ballots now, no longer spears, and their masters come to power without bloodshed. but, no democracy involved.
Walter, long time, no sequester!:=)
I am excruciatingly bad at grammar. But, as Lou Dobbs said long ago, we were done for when we became consumers instead of citizens.
Pretty good. Timely. There are many angles to pursue regarding our current predicament. I went to Catholic schools, and we had to diagram sentences. They were too mean about it, and I hated it. Something must have sunk in, because I'm a stickler for grammar.

You might enjoy this song, though it certainly doesn't apply to your writing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCwmgH246AA
Diagramming sentences! What a lost art! Thanks for reminding me of it. And by remembering it I know I am showing my age! But it was through those ungainly diagrams on Mrs' Ortega's English class that I learned the beauty of parallel construction.

As for your idea of a "polis" and a government (or rather a political system) of, by and for the people instead of one that does things "to" the people, we are on the same page. I have believed for some time that whether we are one country governed by a single state -- or merely a "geographic expression" as someone once said of Italy before Italian Unification -- may be the most important un-talked about issue of our time.

As I said in a critical comment of the GOP to another reader just yesterday: "How" a party thinks is more important than "What" it thinks because it tells us whether that party believes in governing and problem-solving or whether it exists mainly to protect existing interests and privileges, in which case making stuff up is often preferable to dealing with the world as it is if by doing so you can get folks to vote for you by "fooling some of the people some of the time"

The idea that Obama thinks all property is common property is just a scare tactic typical of conservatives who use words like "socialist" and "communist" to hide the fact that what we are really talking about here is not ownership of property but whether this country will be controlled by those who own property -- and lots of it -- in the very same way that voting was once limited only to those who owned property during the early days of our Republic.

It's not about "socialism." It's about whether we are in fact one society. It is not about "collectivism" but whether we are a "community." It is not about property rights but political power and who, at the end of the day, gets to exercise it -- who has the last word and gets to make the final call? The billionaires and plutocrats? Or those the rest of us elect? That is really what we are fighting about today.
free speech and level heads and everyone use it.
@TF Your arguments don't make any more sense here, your refugee locus, than they did as originally posted on your own blog.
Walt, you still doing the recipe stuff?