“Then a part of Communist Yugoslavia, she grew up in apartment blocks overlooking a river and smoking factory chimneys.”

The Washington Post introduces us to our very… unusual next first lady, who once composed part of a communist state, and who (at least Mr UD read it this way) used to smoke factory chimneys.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

Extremely good writers can take what you know, re-charge it, and scare you.

“[T]he annals of insider trading are filled with people who knew better, from Ivan Boesky to Rajat Gupta. What’s perplexing is their motives. Like [Thomas] Davis, they were already rich and successful beyond most people’s dreams.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: There is much to be learned from the American school of writing SOS calls Rich White Treatment. You can bellyache all you want about income inequality and Two Americas and Listen Liberal, but until you’ve bothered to acquaint yourself with RWT writing, you’re not getting it.

RWT appears in our classiest, highest-profile, most influential journalism, as in this piece from the New York Times (Business Section) through which SOS will now scathe. As SOS does her thing, read the piece not as if you’re its intended audience – a few hundred rich white people, many of whom will read to the end only because they know Thomas Davis and in fact probably did some insidery trading with him themselves (the guy’s a nobody who did absolutely boring white bread dull as dishwater insider trading, so why would anyone read past the first paragraph except out of schadenfreude + anxious self-interest?). Don’t even read as a member of your social class … as a typical NYT reader…

No – try reading what SOS is about to quote and analyze as a common petty criminal, or as an ordinary struggling non-golf playing, non-bigtime gambling, non-private plane using, non-criminal living in Idaho. As you read, ask yourself why our nation’s paper of record is wasting ink on this guy, whose crimes, in a nation of insider traders, in a nation about to be presided over by a man with a court date for massive fraud, are totally undistinguished and unworthy of notice. Also ask yourself questions having to do with the writer’s point of view. From what point of view is this information being amassed and organized? What is the point of this article? What is the writer trying to accomplish?

The title of the piece announces its moral. The article will indeed be a morality tale.


Strap yourself in for The Great Gatsby. Prepare to appreciate the pathos of a man captured by a culture of status and ostentation.

The piece opens onto a blur of turfgrass.

At age 67, Thomas C. Davis should be enjoying all the perks of a long and distinguished career at the pinnacle of Wall Street and the Texas business elite. These include golfing at the prestigious Dallas Country Club and Preston Trail Golf Club, where he was a member; trips to Las Vegas and golf tournaments on the private jet he co-owned; and fractional ownership of two professional sports teams, the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars.

The blur of turfgrass never leaves this article; it’s sprayed all over like aromatherapy spritzer. There are charity golf tournaments (Davis stole the proceeds), “golf legend Lanny Wadkins,” golf legend Phil Mickelson, naughty sports gambler William Walters (“The two often played [golf] together, especially when they were both living in Southern California.”), and “wealthy friends and fellow golf club members.” (Poignantly, Walters himself was arrested at the Bali Hai Golf Club.)

But don’t let the blur occlude the bullshit that announces itself outright in this first paragraph, which stuffs itself full of words one associates with Winston Churchill (distinguished, elite, prestigious…) even though if you read the whole article it’s clear that Davis was always a measly garden variety crooked mid-level capitalist pig. The very first thing the writer tells us about Davis – his very distinguished very advanced age – means to make him an elder statesman brought tragically low by late-life seduction into a world of shiny appearances.

So next we get some paragraphs recounting his many disgusting crimes – not just theft from a charity and insider trading, but lying to the SEC and trying to destroy evidence and all kinds of other shit.

Some story elements are good from the point of view of a reader looking for vivid detail, but even they could be better in obvious ways. Here’s an example:

And after the F.B.I. agents left, he took a prepaid cellular phone he had used to leak the information and threw it into a creek near his Dallas home, destroying evidence and obstructing justice.

Yes… okay… but shouldn’t that have been a water trap?

After acknowledging that this guy’s crimes “have received relatively little attention” – without stating the reason for this (they don’t merit attention), the NYT writer now moves to the weighty question of Why. Why would a rich person seek greater riches? Hm. Hm.

He wasn’t really rich. He was “desperate for money.” He was a “distinguished” (there’s that adjective again: “the distinguished white-haired…”) desperado desperate for money. Why was he desperate for money?

Well, because he was essentially a career criminal who gradually (I’m sure his lawyers will argue it was his advanced distinguished age and its depredations) got sloppy. He was a greedy amoral motherfucker who over time lost the knack of being a successful greedy amoral motherfucker. Happens to the best of us. Only the New York Times business page would try to turn it into a national tragedy. Only a culture committed to criminalizing its undistinguished criminals and decriminalizing its distinguished would write articles like this. His Wall Street friends are “shocked” and “stunned” (an easily stunned lot, that) that this “pillar” (I am not making this up) would fall… Because after all until very recently he didn’t do things like owe

the I.R.S. $78,000. His brokerage account was heavily margined, and he had run up tens of thousands in credit card debt. He owed $550,000 to one of his investment funds.

Mr. Davis sought salvation in gambling…

Sought salvation. Sweet. And SOS is sure he never amassed credit card debt or owed stuff to an investment fund or had a big IRS bill or tried to gamble his way to God before the great fluted pillar he used to be crashed shockingly to the ground.

And now, as his morality tale wraps up, as darkness begin to shadow the turf, bad things happen fast and furious to this desperate man.

In just one month, March 2011, Mr. Davis ran up gambling losses of $200,000 at one Las Vegas casino. He owed $178,000 for the private jet. And he had to cover the $100,000 he had taken from the charity.

SOS is particularly fond of this line, appearing almost at the end of the tale.

The government has shed little light on Mr. Davis’s motive, other than that he needed money.

She loves the image of the NYT writer squinting with all his sympathetic might over the question WHY? WHY? He even asks the government!

And what does the government say? Fuck you! He wasn’t a distinguished anything! He was a greedy motherfucker who got caught.

It maketh SOS giggle.

Deep in the Heart of Waco

Baylor grad, Waco mayor, she’s – to paraphrase Freud – our royal road to to the Waco political unconscious. Let’s do an Online Schoolmarm scathe of her recent opinion column in the Waco Trib.

She begins with lengthy throat clearing:

To my friends and fellow citizens: Baylor University regents, former Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr, Baylor first lady Alice Starr, Coach and Mrs. Art Briles, Ian McCaw, Interim President David Garland, Baylor administration, faculty and students, Waco Mayors Kyle Deaver, Malcolm Duncan Jr. and Jim Bush, City Manager Dale Fisseler, city staff, council members, chambers of commerce, Waco churches, schools, parents, Tribune-Herald, KWBU, KWTX, KCEN and other media outlets, Waco Business League, Providence Health, Baylor Scott & White Health Hillcrest, Family Health Center, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College leadership and students, Rapoport, Cooper and Waco foundations, Caritas and Mission Waco, to name only a few of Waco’s community: I write with you in mind:

It’s the rare op/ed writer self-important enough to speechify in this way before beginning her content (though we’re going to discover that this person has no content, so the throat-clearing makes sense). One envisions Harold Hill gathering the townspeople to tell them there’s trouble right here in River City. With the Baylor rapes and the breastaurant massacre, I think Waco already knows this.

The writer seems to share Hill’s confidence that when she pens a piece in the local rag everyone in town will be reading it.

(SOS finds “a few of Waco’s community” awkward. A few what?)

There is much that we don’t know or understand about Baylor University’s current situation. But we, informed or not, will grieve and face this time together.

Her second paragraph heralds the theme of her piece, if theme there be: Life is a Mystery. The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways. Ah Sweet Mystery of Life. Just no knowin’ sometimes. What’s the Use of Wonderin’.

And why grief? A lot of people round them parts are angry, which seems a more reasonable response to a piously religious school looking the other way when its students get raped.

Now there’s a long emotional paragraph reminding her fellow Wacoans of how they’ve laughed and cried together over the years.

Waco and Baylor have matured together. [Biker shootouts at breastaurants? The rape-friendliest school this side of the University of Montana? Maybe this counts as mature behavior in Texas.] We’ve cheered, won and lost together. We’ve prayed, sung, anguished over a horrific day in history, run races, raised funds, volunteered, built homes and voted. [Strange list, moving relentlessly from high crisis to charity work to the mundane.] We reared our children and relished in our grandchildren. [Reveled? I don’t think you relish in. You put relish in.] We stood by, helpless and mute, when the [Branch Davidian] Compound burned. We awkwardly welcomed world press and learned. We saw Baylor move from an accomplished but contentious presidency though a transition more difficult for Baylor than Waco, ultimately transitioned by beloved Interim President David Garland, then President Kenneth Winston Starr.

Sometimes bad writing is just about strangeness. Although nothing outrageously bad appears in this piece, there’s a general sense of weird vague wandering around whatever it is this person actually wants to say. Is her goal to cheer up demoralized Wacoans? Why should she want to do that? Given her self-importance, this comes across as patronizing, as if she’s designated herself Lady Sunshine… And why give us Ken Starr’s full name when no one uses that?

Having reviewed Waco’s many triumphs, the writer now says:

In recalling these victories, in no way do I condone systems that protect attackers and fail to protect women. Effective systems were and are imperative. Together we pray for all victims’ healing and strength to rebuild their lives. They’ll need friends and family, as well as effective medical and legal services.

Again patronizing. A short paragraph stuck at the end of the piece saying And girls now I just pray you’ll find closure… Make sure to get effective medical and legal services! And note that the piece has been personal to a fault throughout (actually naming her readers in that first paragraph) until it gets to the rape scandal, at which point it’s all about ‘systems.’

Here’s how she concludes:

• In absence of knowing, stand with Baylor in facing the future. It is and will always be Waco’s inextricably linked “Siamese twin.”

God grant us all wisdom, grace, mercy, courage and peace.

See what I mean about creepy? Not twin but Siamese twin, a phrase she puts in quotation marks, which leads SOS to believe that this is a well-known formulation ’round Waco. An unfortunate birth anomaly, one person unable to move without the other… Surgeons seem to think Siamese twins are worth going to great lengths to try to separate… This is the beautiful Waco/Baylor relationship.

And there’s the whole absence of knowing thing again, although we do know, which is why Baylor’s president, much of the athletics department, and much of the latest class of football recruits, has been fired or has fled.

Finally there’s the Great Amen, featuring another bizarre list — very long, with nice thoughts in it, and it could go on much much longer. Maybe it originally did. Maybe the Waco Trib’s editor deleted love, humility, tolerance, resolve…………

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Reminds You…

… that infelicities of style can have serious repercussions.

The father of a Stanford University swimmer just convicted of sexual assault has upset a lot of people by writing that his son having to register as a sex offender and go to jail for six months is “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”

Ahem. You and I know that he didn’t mean “action” in the xxx sense, in which people routinely talk about – for instance – girl on girl action. But that is where this man’s unheedful language has perhaps taken us, and it is, given the circumstances, a very unfortunate place indeed. Rather than get us thinking about a brief drunken hideous act in the context of an entire life, he has us picturing his son grinningly getting some action.

“Penn State President Eric Barron is just the latest blame-shifter with a blind spot, one who lacks basic command of vocabulary along with a sense of outrage. Evidence that school officials, including Paterno, may have been more culpable in the Sandusky scandal than previously thought is ‘incredulous,’ Barron pronounced in a statement.”

A university president who doesn’t know the difference between incredible and incredulous.

$95 million in legal payouts (so far) can put a real crimp in your proofreader budget.

All-Inclusive Cruz

Fevered and too-long, but – if you ask Scathing Online Schoolmarm – a wonderful final reckoning with Ted Cruz’s failure and Donald Trump’s success in Rolling Stone. Nervy, funny, relentless prose.

Trump cut through this sad remainder-bin collection of the indolent, the unappealing and the relentlessly, programmatically shitheaded like a burning chainsaw going through Country Crock. He recognized a fundamental weakness at the heart of this soft, oily collection of ersatz humanity: They can be undone by basic human contempt.

SOS likes the way the writer maintains, throughout his tireless evisceration of Cruz, a focus on the odd fact that the winner of the Republican presidential primary is the only candidate who is simply an immediately recognizable authentic human being. This doesn’t mean he’s nice. Human doesn’t mean humane. In fact, human rarely means humane.

Trump won because he basically didn’t give a fuck. Not about verbal pieties, campaign traditions, rudimentary gestures of respect or the orthodoxies of modern conservatism. Nothing.

The Art of the List

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: When you’ve been saving up a lot of anger, and you want to spend it stylishly and well, listing is your best friend. Listing allows a writer to organize and compress her many grievances instead of spewing them about and making herself, like Sarah Palin, an object of satire.

Listing makes you look rational, and your grievances plausible. Inside you’re raging, but your calm and systematic prose suggests that your rage is not composed of inchoate superficial and personal stuff; rather, what’s bugging you amounts to a coherent indictment of something real, with large and shared implications.


Consider some introductory paragraphs from David Remnick’s recent New Yorker piece on Trump. SOS will highlight each list.

It was all so funny once. For a long time, Trump, with his twenty-four-karat skyscrapers, his interesting hair, and his extra-classy airline, was a leading feature of the New York egoscape. The editors of the satirical monthly Spy covered him with the same obsessive attention that Field & Stream pays to the rainbow trout. Trump never failed to provide; he was everywhere, commandeering a corner at a professional wrestling match, buying the Miss Universe franchise and vowing smaller bathing suits and higher heels. You could watch him humiliate supplicants on “The Apprentice” and hear him on “The Howard Stern Show” gallantly describing the mystery of Melania’s bowel movements (“I’ve never seen anything — it’s amazing”) and announcing that, “without even hesitation,” he would have had sex with Princess Diana. As early as 1988, Trump hinted at a run for the White House, though this was understood to be part of his carny shtick, another form of self-branding in the celebrity-mad culture.

And now here we are. Trump is no longer hustling golf courses, fake “universities,” or reality TV. He means to command the United States armed forces and control its nuclear codes. He intends to propose legislation, conduct America’s global affairs, preside over its national-intelligence apparatus, and make the innumerable moral and political decisions required of a President. This is not a Seth Rogen movie; this is as real as mud. Having all but swept the early Republican primaries and caucuses, Trump — who re-tweets conspiracy theories and invites the affections of white-supremacist groups, and has established himself as the adept inheritor of a long tradition of nativism, discrimination, and authoritarianism — is getting ever closer to becoming the nominee of what Republicans like to call “the party of Abraham Lincoln.” No American demagogue –– not Huey Long, not Joseph McCarthy, not George Wallace –– has ever achieved such proximity to national power.


List, list, O list!
Lists within lists (re-tweets conspiracy theories and invites the affections of white-supremacist groups, and has established himself as the adept inheritor of a long tradition of nativism, discrimination, and authoritarianism)!

And how does Remnick avoid turning this essay into the dreary recitation of one list after another? He varies the way he presents them. He breaks them up with humor (trout), anecdotes, quotations. He packs each of his paragraphs with all sorts of things – history, neologisms (egoscape), fresh similes (as real as mud), and fun alliteration (mystery, Melania, movements, amazing).

Indeed, if SOS could take Melania’s bowel movements out of that parenthesis and propose a simile of her own:

Good writing is like Melania’s feculence. It is the product of someone who has gone to the trouble of secreting herself in a private room and thoughtfully shaping what must be expressed into something solid and not off-putting.

The Romney Speech Today was, if you ask UD, a Win/Win.

But before we hear from UD, let’s hear from Scathing Online Schoolmarm.

SOS notes that Romney found a fine speechwriter. Here’s some of the good stuff.

[Trump is a] twisted example of evil trumping good.

Nice use of the last name. “Twisted” is a strong word, and gives the sentence a gently tripping alliteration. Twisted also helps make one of Romney’s larger points: Trump is nuts.

There is a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while at the same time John McCain, who he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.

Dark irony is pretty effing sophisticated for a political speech, in SOS‘s humble opinion. SOS expects to find dark irony in essays about Franz Kafka. Color SOS also pretty astonished that Romney’s willing to say Trump humped his way through the war. This is a point best made by Bill Maher (now that Robin Williams is no longer with us), but even without going for the easy laugh, Romney does more than respectably with it.

His imagination must not be married to real power.

The he’s nuts point again, made pithily and well. SOS thinks that Romney’s decision to stress Trump’s disordered grandiose mind was a wise one. If the point is to needle Trump in order to get him to act even more insanely than he’s been acting, nothing will work better than heading for the complex private terrain of his mind. It’s like that cruel game in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf when George finally has Martha madly shrieking that she’s NOT nuts, she’s NOT nuts! “You’re all flops,” screams Martha (losers, in Trumpspeech), and I’m the only sane one around here…

A later phrase along these lines – Trump’s “absurd third-grade theatrics” – adds infantile to grandiose and disordered. And look at the poetry of the phrase: absurd rhymes with third; grade is a nearish-rhyme with third, and theatrics wakes the phrase up by putting a long-voweled, tri-syllabic word at the end.


Ok, and as for UD‘s response: She has two points to make.

1. As a university maven, UD was pleased to see Trump University rear its head.

His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

2. For UD, who will vote for Hillary, the speech is also a winner because Romney’s intemperate remarks about Hillary will, UD thinks, inspire more people to vote for her:

Even as Romney condemned Trump as a fundamental threat to the nation, he gave credence to Republicans’ wide-ranging hysteria about Hillary Clinton. “A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president,” he declared, reflecting a variety of negative GOP tendencies — accepting distortions as plain truth, making it seem as though the fate of the Republic constantly hangs on Republicans winning the next election, arguing that their opponents are not just wrong but illegitimate.

Really well-written article about President Trump. And who knew that …

About half of Republicans favor higher taxes on the rich


Many pithy sentences, such as this one:

Running for office as an exercise in ego gratification may not be as good a thing as running as a serious candidate with good ideas, but it’s much better than running as a serious candidate with bad ideas.

And plenty of low-key humor (read the whole thing). Scathing Online Schoolmarm loves writing like this.

“National Review is a failing publication that has lost it’s way.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm knew there was something she didn’t like about this guy.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Talks About …

… the art of argumentation.

Arguing in favor of increased taxpayer subsidy of the University of Hawaii’s pointless, corrupt, and wasteful football program is not going to be easy. Argumentation-wise, you’re going to have to lift your game as high as you possibly can. You’re going to have to stand on your tippy toes. You’re going to have to reach for reasons as you’ve never reached for reasons before.

It’s not surprising, then, that a local columnist fails to make the case that the governor was wrong when he recently denied the school three million additional athletics dollars. But the way he fails is instructive if you’re interested in how to write polemically.

The writer’s particular challenge is that he has absolutely no empirical evidence on his side. Almost no one goes to the games. Ever. The team is wretched. Consistently. The flagrant mismanagement of the program makes it a statewide embarrassment.

If he is going to get anywhere in making his case, he’s going to have to go straight and hard in the direction of total bullshit.

People disdain bs, but when you’ve got nowhere else to go, it can be very effective. If the subject is football, it means getting weepy and huffy and patriotic and mythic and misty-eyed as you recall past heroes on the field, the character-building power of teamwork, and the way your own university experience would have been hollow without crisp fall afternoons cheering on the lads. This approach will appeal to the typical reader’s sentimentality about football even as it allows you to sidestep the, uh, reality problem.

This particular writer opts against bs, which leaves him flailing. It leaves him to make the case against his argument. Let’s take a look.

Here’s his opening move:

[A]lmost every university athletics program in the country loses money. The debt is chronic, structural.

So … give your tax money to UH till it hurts? Because we won’t be on board with the national project of bankrupting schools via their big sports programs if we don’t? You wouldn’t want Hawaii to be left out of America’s ongoing chronic structural football indebtedness, would you?


Next move: If you don’t stop refusing to attend UH football games, you’re going to force UH to shut down the program. Then where will you have not to go on Sunday afternoons? The writer describes this terrifying scenario in appropriately terrifying terms:

UH [might have] to disband all or parts of its intercollegiate sports, including of course, football. That is a university’s nuclear option. Whatever they think of football, no university administrators anywhere want to be the ones who drop this bomb.

University administrators everywhere dream nightly of shutting down their football programs, so this wasn’t a good place for the writer to go. Again, the principle here is do not try to make your argument reality-based if you don’t have any reality-based arguments.


The writer’s next move reminds us that within the category bullshit, there is good bullshit and bad bullshit. By the middle of his essay the writer has commendably turned to bullshit, but he has chosen bad. Let us see if we can follow his serpentine reasoning here.

“It is a matter of setting priorities,” [the governor] told the newspaper, as if we are talking about Political Science Department office supplies. “If UH wants athletics to be a priority, then it needs to come up with the money.”

Very tough-lovish and totally misguided. [The governor] sees the problem as a budgetary issue — a cut here, a paste there, get off your okole and do your job.

Because athletics is completely different from anything else at UH, different rules should apply.

Solving the deficit should not be on UH’s priority list at all because the deficit is the community’s and by extension the Legislature’s problem, not UH’s.

Working her way through this extraordinary set of claims, SOS concludes that the writer is saying the following.

The University of Hawaii is a conduit, a vector, a vessel, through which the football-demanding citizens of the state are granted football. The citizens demand it and the state uses their tax dollar to provide it; UH just sits there fielding a team. Therefore money must come from the legislature, not from, say, UH ticket revenue ($0).

This argument combines the reality-based mistake (no one in the state demands football) with bad bullshit (football is a public good like the railroads – the writer compares university football to Amtrak).

SOS did find one good use of bs in this piece.

Is UH football one of these valuable endeavors worth subsidizing? If the politicians think so, then they should step up, allocate the money, and defend their choice.

Be accountable for your decisions and don’t make the university do the dirty work for you.

If the Legislature or the governor does not want to take the heat for bailing out athletics in this way, fine. But don’t pass the buck and blame UH for your lack of will.

This is great because it is both emotive (government pussies!) and totally madly insanely unreality-based (martyred UH is forced to take the fall for being a faithful public servant in the provision of football). Wow.


In concluding his essay, the writer brings out the big guns.

[The governor is] putting a nail in the coffin of the university.

And why? Because he is allowing UH autonomy, the bastard.

On the surface, [the governor’s] comments support the university’s flexibility. But what he is actually doing is stressing its flexibility to do things it really does not want to do.

… “I think the university should take responsibility and make a decision about what is important,” [the governor] said to the Star-Advertiser. “If they are unable to do that, I’ll take back all the authority to line item the budget. I’d do it in a second … I’d love to do that.”

… Overall, the governor’s views have a patronizing, dismissive dad-to-teen quality.

He makes it appear that UH may not have the courage to make hard choices.

Anyone who has followed the story of the University of Hawaii for the last ten or so years (put University Hawaii in this blog’s search engine) knows that on every level it is among America’s most dysfunctional public university systems, with scandalous ever-shifting leadership, endless financial and athletic misdeeds, supine trustees, and put-upon students. The evidence is overwhelming that what the governor hints at is right: UH lacks the intelligence and the will to govern itself.

It is bad bullshit for this writer to complain that a university which deserves to patronized is being patronized. It is positively Orwellian for him to say that a university which lacks the capacity and the courage to make even easy choices has the courage and capacity to make hard choices. Where is the chorus of Hawaiians outraged by the governor’s actions and comments in regard to the state’s university? If you took Amtrak away, I think you’d hear about it from a lot of Americans.

Rather than struggle against his absence of all grounded argument, this writer would have done better to focus relentlessly upon the transcendent glory of football, adding here and there some abstract anti-government references.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm takes a badly written opening paragraph…

… to remind you that crazy all over the place figurative language makes for ugly and clotted prose.

Critics of the hit documentary The Hunting Ground – which illuminates in damning detail the prevalence of sexual violence at American universities – are ramping up their attacks just in time for The Hunting Ground‘s prime time debut on CNN this Sunday, November 22. And if they aren’t careful, their aspersions might dovetail with the massive audience CNN commands to result in a spectacular backfire: For the film’s central premise is that whistle blowers on campus sexual violence are demonized and delegitimized by the very same universities who are going on the offensive in advance of Sunday’s screening.

I’ve bolded the figurative words, which I’ll get to in a minute. But note also the wordiness of this paragraph, with its repetition, in the first sentence, of the film’s title (just write the film’s), and its strange coupling of demonized and delegitimized … If you’re demonizing, you’re certainly (but more weakly) delegitimizing… and delegitimized is an ugly mouthful. Just stick with “demonized,” which goes well with “damning.” I mean, if you’re going to start out with that very strong rhetoric, “delegitimized” takes all the air out of your argument, or at least makes it look as though you’re backing down from it. It would also be stronger to drop dovetail with the massive audience CNN commands to result in a spectacular backfire and simply write backfire. Backfire is your strongest word: go for it, and end the sentence with it.

Note also all the “to be” verbs in here: are ramping; aren’t careful; premise is that; are demonized; are going on the offensive. This feels plodding, when we want agile. Use stronger verbs and less repetition. And drop who are: Write universities going on the offensive. We’re trying for punchy concise language here, so that the reader grasps the argument quickly and can go from there through the piece.

And okay, look at all the metaphorical stuff she’s got going, all of these images fighting against one another and making comprehension difficult: Aspersions, for instance, dovetail and then backfire. When you add figurative words like whistle blowers to the weird scene this language has already called up in our minds, chaos ensues. Steady as she goes on the figurative language – use it, but use it sparingly, and make sure your metaphors make sense together.

Basic point here from SOS: SIMPLIFY. Speak directly.

MAJOR Coacha Inconsolata Initiative Begun!

It started with Coach Pitino himself, who said that in the aftermath of charges that his University of Louisville assistant basketball coach hired prostitutes over a number of years for some of his players (festivities took place in the athletes’ dorm), he felt

… heart broken… My heart is just taken out of my body and broken.

It continues with this remarkable essay, which argues that Pitino himself a few years ago had sex on a restaurant table (some reports say it happened on the restaurant floor, or in its bathroom) because of 9/11 (RICK PITINO AND THE SHADOWS THAT NEVER LEAVE):

[Pitino’s] descent into a dark place [so maybe it was the bathroom] happened no more than two years after 9-11. The idea that tragedy and loss [a close relative of Pitino’s died] did not have anything to do with a flawed man’s attempt to fill those voids with something adventurous (and highly inappropriate) seems unconvincing.

Plus even the Pope, man…

In keeping with the Golden Rule Pope Francis invoked when he spoke to Congress, none of us would ever want the past — something 12 years ago — to be held against us.

The whole essay’s really weird because few people so far have anything to say at all about whether Pitino knew his lads were double teaming (or so the exposé claims) in the dorm … It’s as if the writer – given Pitino’s own sex scandal background – assumes we’re going to go there and we’re going to assume Pitino must have known all about the McNasty…

I mean, he might have. Who knows? We’ll find out. But that’s not what most people are thinking about right now. Right now we’re thinking about whether the claims are true, what exactly happened… It’s early days. Yet here you’ve got this guy anticipating a general belief that the slimy Pitino (as the essay goes on to note, he’s paid an outrageous fortune, is a really unpleasant human being, is a hypocrite – all those motivational books about how you can be as great as he is – and is an inveterate breaker of rules, athletic and otherwise) must have known about the sex. So right there I’m not sure the writer is accomplishing his Coacha Inconsolata (put the term in my search engine if at this late date you need a definition) goals by going out of his way to remind us that Pitino’s a shit.

After a long detailed recounting of Pitino’s grubby past, the essay ends in this way:

[We need to] recognize the fragility of life behind (and beyond) the public persona of someone who has won multiple championships and earned a boatload of money.

You know, there’s one thing Scathing Online Schoolmarm will say for Donald Trump. Donald Trump doesn’t say I’m a shitty person because of 9/11. He doesn’t say under all my greed and cruelty I’m fragile and you have to be nice to me. Nor does he have admirers who say these things for him.

Ok, so I love the Barbie Jeep.

American ingenuity at its best.

Plus she’s way quotable.

“Most people don’t find the things my friends and I do very funny, just immature, so I didn’t expect to get this big of reaction.” [SOS did some light editing on this statement.]

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