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Tuesday: March 14, 2006

Brian Leiter’s Formulaic Inanity

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:01 PM UTC

What oft was said but ne’er so ill-expressed: just as Homer used formulae, naming the same person or thing over and over with exactly the same words, Brian Leiter repeats the same three-word formula in every one of the following quotations. Without peeking, can anyone guess what words are missing?

The Coming Military Draft in the US, Part 97, September 22, 2004:

Here’s a good summary of the facts that explain why the writing is on the wall, unless there is a dramatic change in current policy (which won’t happen if Bush & his [ * * * * ] are re-elected, and might not happen even if Kerry is elected):

How to Influence the U.S. Election . . ., October 14, 2004:

Obviously, the well-being of everyone, not just Americans, is endangered if Bush & his [ * * * * ] are re-elected.

The Republicans Who Fear Bush, November 1, 2004:

But it turns out many of the educated Republicans are scared to death of Bush & his [ * * * * ] too; they too would prefer a more prudent representative of the ruling classes.

Philosophers Thinking of Moving to Canada?, November 9, 2004:

Now that Bush & his [ * * * * ] (and fiscal mismanagers) have been re-elected, I wouldn’t be surprised to see [U.S. and Canadian currency] on a par, dollar to dollar, over the next few years.

Political Blogging, November 10, 2004:

Let us all hope Bush & his [ * * * * ] and “old connoisseurs of power” go down to defeat, without taking us all with them.

End-of-the-Year Blog Stats, and New Year Blogging “Resolutions”, January 5, 2005:

I shall have less to say about Bush & his [ * * * * ], now that the election is past, except as it pertains to the preceding themes.

The Coming Military Draft, yet again, January 12, 2005:

The only consequence of a military draft will be to enable Bush & his [ * * * * ] to expand the devastation of their global jihad, killing and maiming more people, both Americans and non-Americans.

The Texas Taliban Move to England?, January 17, 2005:

First, Blair joins cause with Bush & his [ * * * * ] in the criminal and immoral invasion of Iraq.

Bush Declares World War III, January 20, 2005:

. . . make-believe threats, or threats visible to no one other than Bush & his [ * * * * ] . . .

The Imminent Military Draft, January 31, 2005:

The right-wing Project for a New American Century–which includes various folks with close ties to Bush & his [ * * * * ]–on Friday called for reinstatement of a military draft, without, of course, using the word.

A Sharp Response to Ward Churchill . . ., February 18, 2005:

which calls him and his critics and Bush & his [ * * * * ] on their shared moral depravity.

The Curtain Comes Down, May 10, 2005:

If the curtain is to finally come down on the horrors of the last three years, then these new disclosures will have to dominate the headlines for the foreseeable future, or, at least, until Congress discharges its constitutional responsibility to impeach the President, and send his [ * * * * ] and criminal war mongers packing.

The impending horrors?, August 13, 2005:

As we know from recent, bitter experience, facts do not matter for Bush and his [ * * * * ].

Pro-Sheehan Piece in the Right-Wing NY Daily News!, August 18, 2005:

All the civilized world shares the hope that this is the “turning point,” and that Bush & his [ * * * * ] will go down in political flames and eternal disgrace.

Goebbels Had Nothing on These Guys…or the Latest in Bush Rationalizations for War and Tyranny, November 21, 2005:

The problem isn’t just that Bush & his [ * * * * ] are liars and villains; it’s that they win praise from tens of millions for being “honest” and “just.”

Chomsky Interviewed in Newsweek, January 6, 2006:

It is striking how the craven extremism of Bush & his [ * * * * ] is prompting even the mainstream media to acknowledge Chomsky’s analysis of U.S. conduct: it fits the evidence so well that even journalists can no longer ignore it.

Give up? The phrase is “bestiary of madmen”. Leiter seems peculiarly proud of this inept, inane, and incoherent phrase. He doesn’t seem to realize that a bestiary contains beasts, not men (whether mad or sane): it is not a polysyllabic synonym for ‘zoo’. Even a collection of mad dogs would not constitute a bestiary, which generally contains one each of many different species. Not to mention that a bestiary contains only pictures of animals, not the animals themselves, and that the animals depicted are often imaginary.

Of course, anyone can mix and mangle a metaphor, particular when blogging hastily on matters of the day. But to mix one so badly and then repeat it fifteen times as if it were something to be proud of is a remarkable feat.

4 Comments

  1. The even larger problem than his poor use of “Bestiary” (which I assumed to be metaphorical, and given the sloppiness of modern metaphor, I can’t work up much reaction to it), is his insistence that Bush’s people are madmen.

    Evidently disagreeing with the Commissar once again brands one as insane.

    Leiter presumeably is incapable of understanding the irony here, and would be even if it was pointed out to him.

    Comment by Sigivald — Wednesday: March 15, 2006 @ 12:10 PM UTC

  2. Gee, and here I guessed the prosaic “Bush and his cronies“…

    Comment by Paul Burgess — Thursday: March 16, 2006 @ 9:21 AM UTC

  3. Sloppiness
    Everyone knows that Brian Leiter is a sloppy thinker. He’s also a poor writer. See here.

    Trackback by Brian Leiter, Academic Thug — Friday: March 31, 2006 @ 8:17 PM UTC

  4. Actually, a bestiary is not a collection of pictures, but of descriptions, of animals. Still, it’s a sloppy use of the word. I can’t help but thinking of The Princess Bride. “You keep saying that. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Now, Sigivald might take comfort, or perhaps discomfort, in the fact that pundits on the right have been calling just about anyone on the left insane for years. Heck, Keith Burgess-Jackson, who linked to this post, did so just before using the word “moonbats,” which he often uses to describe anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman.

    Comment by Tom Cormack — Sunday: April 2, 2006 @ 1:59 AM UTC

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