Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Wimp In The White House

A comment was recently heard from someone who favors Barack Obama that he is to be lauded because he has “kept us out of war.”

This is nonsense, an entirely fallacious statement.  It reflects total and complete naivety as to what’s going on in the world today.  We are at war, but Obama fails to see it.

The absence of leadership from the White House is at the root cause of much of the terrorism that prevails in the world today.  The terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium yesterday (for which ISIS claims responsibility) are only the latest examples of the global radical jihad (a term shunned by Obama) which is rampant in today’s world,  an ongoing, unremitting, brutal form of warfare  being perpetrated against civilized nations, a war which the current White House occupant still fails to recognize as such.

Obama has no idea how to deal with ISIS.  He has never defined/adopted a policy for dealing with this terrorist group.  A pinprick here and there from air attacks fails far short of what is needed to defeat it.   What is lacking and is clearly needed is strong leadership from Washington to form and lead an international coalition to confront ISIS militarily, politically, economically, culturally,  and financially,  i.e., in every conceivable way,  and stamp it out.  To block all possible sources of financing may be the m0st effective approach.  No group can operate without financing and will dry up if sources of money are cut off.  This is  a basic fact that, like many others, is not recognized in the White House.

The real problem is that the U.S. has elected someone as president who has no qualifications for the job.  Obama never did have any track record of accomplishments.  Being a community organizer doesn’t do it.  But he had a broad smile, a friendly face, and a gift for gab that made him believable.  Though promising hope and change, he delivered disappointment and discouragement.  He lied to the American people.   His legacy can be summed up in one word: incompetency.

This country needs strong, effective leadership, indeed, so does the free world.     As the leading presidential candidate on the Republican side,  Donald Trump, brings to the table a track record of proven accomplishments.  He has been successful as a businessman, a television producer, and as an author.  He is also controversial, but so was General George Patton.    Patton was a leader; he knew how to get things done.   Patton knew how to win, which made him undoubtedly WW II’s most effective general.  He definitely had his faults, as does Trump.  But Patton’s faults were inconsequential in light of his overall accomplishments.

Trump is cut from the same cloth as Patton.  Trump may be blunt, brash, and outspoken but he is also audacious and knows how to get things done.  He will bring to the presidency all of the skills he has mastered as a successful businessman, as set forth in his best selling book, “The Art of the Deal.”  He knows how to cut deals profitably, a skill America badly needs, how to handle people, also a badly needed skill presently lacking in the White House,  how to handle finances, and, importantly, he knows how to create jobs.  He has had experience cutting through a broad array of obstacles.   There should be no doubt that this experience can be put to good use as president not only in creating jobs, a very important issue, strengthening the American economy, also a very important issue, but in dealing with Congress and in handling foreign affairs.  The job of being president needs someone with business savvy because running the country is akin to running a big business.  Trump has those qualifications.   As he put it in his book, he  is good at overcoming obstacles and motivating good people to do their best work.

On the other side of the equation, Hillary doesn’t have the necessary skills to be president.   In fact, as this blog has repeated urged, she brings nothing to the table.  The country simply cannot afford to elect another incompetent president.

Copyright©2016.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Uncategorized, Writing Improvement

An Open Letter To The President

Dear President Obama:

It has now become clear to the country and the entire world that you do not have any capacity to lead. The fiasco over Syria is only the latest in a whole string of leadership failures on your part. Russia is now the main player in Syria; your staggeringly inept diplomacy has allowed the U.S. to become a second rate power and a laughing stock. Leading from behind, your trademark, is not the answer in this scenario or any other. The details are a matter of record and need not be recounted here. Suffice it to say that you have allowed Russia’s President Putin to seize the moment in this diplomatic power struggle. The point is simply this, that you have been, and are now, unqualified and incompetent to lead this country, and should never have been elected in the first place. But the fault is with American politics, which allows someone such as you with no leadership qualifications but with a gift for talk (empty talk at that)to run for office and get elected. Now the country is paying the price for its folly. The sad part is that the country needs leadership and you are simply incapable of providing it.

Aside from Syria, you have failed after some five years in office to do anything about the country’s high rate of unemployment. The wealth of this country was built on private enterprise, not big government. But this is a truism of history that you simply ignore. The country is drifting in a sea of joblessness with no end in sight. Capitalism, the mother’s milk of economic growth, is being stifled because of your big government policies. For example, as a result of Obamacare, which punishes businesses for not providing full time employees with health care coverage, employers are hiring fewer full time people to avoid the harsh financial penalties for noncompliance. The full financial consequences of this unfortunate piece of legislation are still to be determined. You want to take credit for the Affordable Care Act, but the lack of full understanding of this law and its unpopularity with the public at large again exemplifies your lack of leadership.

You have also failed to lead the way on holding anyone responsible for the 9/11/2012 Benghazi attacks, which took the lives of four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. It is now a full year since the attacks occurred and few questions have been answered. The identity of the person(s) who gave/approved the “stand down” order which resulted in no military assistance being provided to those under siege is still unknown. If Hillary Clinton as then secretary of state is the one responsible for this act of incompetence, it should be revealed. The relatives of the deceased deserve better treatment from their own government. Your failure of leadership is again quite evident.

The Trans-Canada Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, with its attendant economic benefits including job creation is laying fallow because of political devotion to your environmental supporters. Environmental concerns can be overcome and should be subservient to the greater good from enabling of this pipeline project, not the least of which is energy independence and a reduction in U.S. reliance on oil imports from the middle east and Venezuela.

Mr. President, these are but a few of the concerns which need to be addressed because of your leadership failures.

Copyright 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Uncategorized, Writing Improvement

You Don’t Have To Memorize Grammar Rules To Write Clearly

In my book “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/Kindle Books and in print, I have urged readers to use word association as a means of learning good grammar, rather than to memorize rules. This approach has worked for me and it can work for you. Here is what I wrote:

“This book breaks with the traditional approach to teaching English grammar in that it eschews memorization of rules. Memorization of grammar rules is of little use except to pass examinations. It has been my personal experience that as you train yourself to observe and appreciate good writing, you can likewise train yourself to develop and employ good writing habits in constructing sentences. This result cannot be accomplished by memorization of rules, which will have little effect on learning and understanding the context with which words are used. But, when in doubt, look up the rule.

The best expression of thoughts through good grammar can be learned by observing the association of the right word with the appropriate context in a sentence. The emphasis should be on training your eye to carefully observe how grammar is used in putting sentences together and to constantly practice what you have learned in your writing. The point was well made many years ago by the late Sherwin Cody, who authored several books and self study courses on writing and learning good English. Learn grammar by “original processes”, he wrote, “not by authorities and rules.” (See: New Art of Writing and Speaking The English Language, 59, Sherwin Cody, 1933, 1938).

Clear writing can be achieved even if you are unable to apply grammatical labels to the various parts of speech contained in a sentence. Even if you can’t diagram a sentence to break out the parts of speech or if you don’t know a pronoun from an adverb, you can still learn to write clearly.

Studying the logical relationship of words in a sentence as you read is most important in learning
the practical skills of word usage. In this way you need not concern yourself with the technical definition of, for example, weak or buried verbs, as long as your eye is practiced enough to pick them out of a sentence.

This level of writing ability can only be achieved through dedicated study and the continued practice of writing. The secret is practice, practice, practice and, also, read extensively. Read books, magazines, and newspapers to see how experienced writers put words and sentences together. This will help you develop the right “feel” for your writing.

I urge you to follow this approach.”

The use of good grammar is indispensable to clear writing. The benefits of clear writing have also been explained in my book, as follows:

“In today’s world, language is predominant. It is vital to all communications, and is the key to your personal and business success. The power of the written word is far reaching and depends in turn on the quality of your writing. Writing is therefore of utmost importance.

The ability to write clearly is a requirement for anyone trying to get ahead. Without it, you have little chance to inform or persuade others. Unclear writing wastes both time and money. Your success will largely depend on how well you express yourself.

Whether you are writing for a personal or business purpose, it is the writer’s job to be clear, not the reader’s job to figure out what you’re trying to say. The March Hare’s admonition to Alice, “…you should say what you mean,” also applies perforce to writing. (See: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, 97, Lewis Carroll, New Ed., MacMillan & Co., 1885). Remember, you are promoting yourself when you write. Poor writing will not only lead to loss of credibility but will stamp you as an amateur and may well cause your reader to stop reading. Good writing sells itself.

It’s Never Too Late To Learn!

Even lawyers, with all their education, are not always good writers. In a profession which devotes extensive time and effort to the written word, it may be surprising to learn that lawyers and judges still strive to improve their writing skills. Bryan Garner, a well known attorney and respected authority in the field of legal writing, has devoted extensive time to lecturing and writing on the subject of legal writing for judges and lawyers. His excellent writing lectures, several of which I attended, have been given across the country. One of his publications, The Winning Brief, which I used extensively as a practicing lawyer, contains a wealth of writing tips which should be useful to non-lawyers as well as lawyers. (See: The Winning Brief, Bryan A. Garner, Oxford University Press, 1999). This is another lead to pursue for those of you really serious about improving your writing.”

Copyright©2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Uncategorized, Writing Improvement

Persuasive Paragraphing Is Often Used By An Advocate

     

Persuasive writing is typically employed by a salesperson to sell a product or service.  Advertising and copywriting are probably the most prevalent examples.  But, persuasive writing can also be used by a trial lawyer to advocate a position. This example of the use of persuasive paragraphing appears in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” which is available on amazon.com in print and on Kindle Books.

“An argument in favor of class actions is shown in the following, albeit abbreviated, example:

Class actions are disfavored by many people because they believe that the lawyers get most of the money and individual class members get little, if any.  The problem with that argument is that the lawyer who files the case takes a lot of risk.  That lawyer may have to work for years without pay and must usually spend a substantial amount of money up front on investigative costs and expert witness fees.  Failure to get a court order certifying the intended class as a lawful class is generally regarded as the “death knell” for the case.  The lawyer may wind up with nothing if the class is not certified or the case is lost after trial.

On the other hand a successful class action may result in a court order and resulting judgment correcting questionable company practices such as putting a dangerous or unhealthy product on the market.  Moreover, class actions are often settled.  A settlement usually creates a class fund, which is approved by the court, used to compensate individual class members for damages suffered, and to pay attorneys fees.  Under these circumstances, the lawyer’s pay is earned.

The most satisfying class action I filed was brought against two banks, Bank One, and First USA Bank.  These banks are no longer in business.  The lawsuit alleged that the banks violated the federal telemarketing act by using their customers’ credit card information for telemarketing purposes without the customers’ knowledge or consent.  This case was certified for class action with a class of approximately four million California credit card holders and was ultimately settled in the six to seven million dollar range.  Settlement proceeds, after attorneys fees and costs, were distributed to court approved charities because it was not practicable, in view of the small individual losses, to distribute any money to individual credit card holders.”

In order to add to the readability of my book as well as to further illustrate the uses of descriptive paragraphing, I took the liberty of adding two recipes to the book.  Here is one of them:

“This

is a little easier to digest [than the recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini.  It is] a recipe for California “Gold Rush” Brownies.  It also illustrates the flexibility of descriptive paragraphing.  This recipe is a piece of cake (no pun intended) compared to the recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini above.

Only four ingredients are required, as follows:   30 whole Honey Maid graham crackers, 2 – 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 12 ounces of chocolate chips.

Break up the graham crackers and add them, a few at a time, to a food processor, grinding them
until very fine.  Place the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with the sweetened condensed milk and 1 tablespoon of regular milk.  Mix well and blend in the chocolate chips.  Add chopped nuts, if desired.

Place the mixture into a well buttered 9 by 12 inch baking pan, pressing down evenly.  Bake them in a 350 degree oven about 25 to 30 minutes until the sides start to separate from the pan.  These brownies are best when soft, so don’t overcook them as they will become too dry.

Let the brownies cool before cutting them into squares.  This recipe makes 24 to 30 squares, depending on how big they are cut and what size pan is used.

WARNING:  These brownies are habit forming and disappear fast.  You’ll have to taste them to believe it!”

I have used the two recipes as well as several historical vignettes to make my book entertaining as well as useful.  Among other things, it encourages writing every day as well as extensive reading to overcome the hidden fears of writing and to bolster confidence.  It also teaches that good grammar may be learned by word association through reading rather than memorization of rules.  The book may be previewed free of charge on amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

 

      

 

Leave a comment

Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Uncategorized, Writing Improvement

Clear Writing Is Your Responsibility

This blog has repeatedly reminded readers that it’s never too late to learn to write clearly.  In fact, my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available at amazon.com/kindlebooks, but soon to be available in print as well), devotes part of Chapter II to that very proposition.  I point out there that even lawyers with all their education are not always good writers. While it may be surprising to learn that lawyers and judges, with all of their emphasis on the written word, still strive to improve their writing skills, many examples of poor writing on their part can be found.

For example one judge, in writing his decision, clearly demonstrated that he did not understand how to structure a complete sentence, nor did he understand the difference between a comma and a period, or when to use capital letters.  Here’s what he wrote:

“This cause coming on for hearing, on the Motion to Set Aside Default, the Court hearing arguments, finds that this is a very unique case involving issues of first impression concerning the validity of the Will, the nine charities who are asking the default to be set aside, assumed the Personal Representative would be protecting their interest under the Will, this is not the case and in order to protect any interest the nine charities may have under the Will, the default entered against those nine charities only will be set aside, it is therefore Ordered and Adjudged that the Motion to set aside default is hereby Granted.”

This is nothing more than very sloppy writing, to say the least, and is inexcusable when coming from a judge.

In another case involving four plaintiffs and two defendants, missing apostrophes and the incorrect use of the singular “plaintiff” or “defendant” incurred the displeasure of the court in trying to figure out who is being referred to:

“Counsel uses possessives without apostrophes, leaving the reader to guess whether he intends a singular or plural possessive…Such sloppy pleading and briefing are inexcusable as a matter of courtesy as well as because of their impact on defendants’ ability to respond.”

Another court complained that its responsibilities did not “include cryptography,” and still another described a complaint as “gobbledygook” and “gibberish.”

A misplaced comma in yet another case, affected the burden of proof of mental competency.  In this case, an affidavit filed by the Director of Mental Retardation, stated as follows:

“I have reviewed the medical records pertaining to [complaining witness], the complainant in this case, and that the assertion, upon information and belief, of mental incompetency is true.”

Here’s what the court said:

“It may be that the confusion arises from the typographical error of placing a comma before the expression, ‘upon information and belief.’  Had the comma not existed the entire expression, ‘and that the assertion upon information and belief,’ would have referred back to the earlier mentioned accusatory instrument so as to render the affidavit non-hearsay.”

Thus, punctuation, seemingly unimportant and meaningless to some writers, plays a large part in the clear writing arena.  The use of correct punctuation makes writing more understandable.  It helps to provide a smooth flow of words and a clear presentation of information.

Wordiness, needless repetition of an idea, or tautology, is another issue which unfortunately plagues lawyers.  Courts are not hesitant about admonishing attorneys for not being concise.  Briefs should not be prolix, verbose, or full of inaccuracies, misstatements, or contradictions, as a court noted.  Further, in still another case, a court took an attorney to task for writing in “legalese” instead of English, and also condemned the writer for using “grammatically atrocious” wording in an indictment.

Punctuation and wordiness issues are also covered in my eBook.

In the legal profession then, clarity is a benchmark of good writing.  This goal should also apply to non-lawyers as well.  As my blogs have stressed, the ability to write clearly is an important part of the goal of building a skilled work force.  You can vastly improve your chances of finding a job or getting ahead in your job if you are presently employed by learning to write clearly.  Consider this as your personal obligation. You will help yourself as well as the economy.  It’s your turn.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, history, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Uncategorized, Writing Improvement

Overcoming the first writing obstacle: self doubt.

Many people don’t write well because they don’t believe they can.  They have no confidence in their writing.  It’s a personal lament that you hear all too often , i.e.,  “I can’t write.”   Well, that’s wrong.  You can write – you just have to work at it.

Writing is a form of salesmanship because you are selling yourself through your writing.  But you must develop confidence in your writing to be successful at it.  To develop that confidence you must practice your writing.  Write every day.  The more you write the better your writing will become.  Also read extensively to learn effective word associations as accomplished by experienced writers and to learn new words and how they are used.

It’s a basic sales truism that people will buy from you if they trust you.  That truism applies to writing as well.   Whatever your purpose in writing may be, whether applying for a job,  selling a product or service, or describing a favorite resort,  your reader must trust you for your writing to be successful.  This trust will depend on respect and credibility.  Attracting and keeping that trust can be achieved if you dedicate yourself to improving your writing skills.

Where do you start?  Begin with a positive attitude.  Clear writing depends to a large extent on the power of belief, belief that comes from having confidence in your writing.  When you have that confidence it will show – the reader can see it.  To obtain confidence you must master what can best be described as the “inner game” of writing, overcoming mental blocks to clear writing.  As with other challenges in life, you must develop the right mental attitude.  You can’t write clearly if you are nagged by self doubt and anxiety about your writing.  Perseverence and determ,ination are key elements.

Arnold G. Regardie, copyright 2012, all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why is clear writing an art form?

The answer to this question, simply put, is that writing skills can be learned.  Art is defined in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.), p. 69, as a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation.  So, you can acquire clear writing skills but you must work at it.  Perseverence and dedication are omnipotent.  You should write constantly to acquire writing proficiency, and read extensively to observe how experienced writers put words and sentences together.  This is a theme I will often emphasize in coming blogs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized