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“The Shadow of Crisis Has Passed.” Oh Really!

When a world leader is perceived to be cut off from the reality of the world, it is quite a spectacle.  Frightening in its implications.

But that’s what we are seeing now when President Obama, opening his State of the Union address recently, makes a statement such as “the shadow of crisis has passed.”  Did he really say that?  What world is he living in?  If he really believes what he said, he is totally and completely cut off from the realities of the world.  He does not deserve to be president.   And the country needs, somehow, to do damage control  for the next two years.  As in major damage control.  In other words, at the very least a congressional watchdog is needed to make sure Obama does no harm to national interests.  This watchdog must oversee everything he says and does.

Maybe Obama is just too busy working on his golf swing to read the newspapers or watch television.  Maybe he really doesn’t  know or understand whats going on in the world.  Maybe he really doesn’t know what happened in the congressional mid-term elections last November.  Maybe, even scarier, he doesn’t care.

Can it really be true that he has never heard of ISIS, or the Islamic State?  Or  Al Queda.  Or Paris.  Or Yemen.   Or does it just seem that way.  Is Obama really detached from reality?  Is he living in a separate but parallel universe, as one well-known commentator recently asked.  Is he really delusional, or does it just seem that way?  Does the public need a dictionary definition of delusional to understand this guy?  Does he really not see the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism.  If he does, why doesn’t he say so?  In those words.

But it’s more than his detachment from world reality that makes one question his competence.  It’s also his defiance when it comes to domestic matters.  He continuously taunts the Republican Congress by threatening to veto legislation even before it comes to his desk, as in Keystone pipeline.  This is the mark of someone who has his own agenda at heart, not the national interest..  Obama is obsessed with his own importance, wildly obsessed.  By his  continuous taunting of Congress he is showcasing his fury at being told by the electorate that it doesn’t care (to put it mildly) for his policies. The Republican party now controls Congress but Obama can’t accept it.  To adopt a time-worn cliche, it’s his way or the highway.  This is a dangerous state of mind for someone who is supposed to be leading the country.  Very dangerous.

But Obama is more than just  incompetent.  He also has no credibility.  He is a gifted, world-class liar, with lies flowing out of his mouth like water out of a faucet.  How can anything he says or does be trusted?  Is he acting in the national interest or in the interest of his own political program?  He is dead set on closing Guantanamo but is the release of the detainees there in the national interest?  Or Obama’s political interest?  Are th0se being released a threat to America?  Who’s checking on that?  The WH has also said giving Guantanamo back to Cuba is not on the table.  We’ll see.   And his recent comment that Iran’s path to nuclear capability has been halted is too blatantly false to require further comment.  Congressional oversight is desperately needed here, and has traditionally been employed, but Obama has said he will reject it.

Democracy is not perfect.  Sometimes mistakes are made.  Electing Obama is an example. The country must learn from this mistake and not ever again elect someone who has not proven his/her leadership traits.  The country cannot afford another mistake like Obama.  Nor the world for that matter.  Demonstrable leadership qualities must be present in any future presidential candidate.  Are you listening Hillary?   But that’s a whole  new ocean to swim in, which we’ll leave for another time.

Copyright©2015. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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An Equal Opportunity To Respond Law Is Badly Needed

So one-time Hollywood pretty boy Robert Redford has come out against the Keystone pipeline.

Well, it’s a free country so anyone can have his say.  Right?   The trouble here is that a celebrity like Redford gets free publicity.  How about an opportunity for the man on the street to respond.  Publicly.  At the same time and in the same space.  Celebs, particularly liberals (or progressives)  seem to get more air or print time than others.   To the exclusion of the opposing view.  Well, this writer in particular believes the Keystone project should go forward.  Now.  It’s been stonewalled by an incompetent president far too long.

I do believe in the environment.  I like nature, the outdoors, parks,  wild animals etc.  But I don’t believe in extremism.  Moderation is the key.  And I also do believe in progress.  Some balancing is in order.  People like Redford appear to be totally one-sided.  It’s save the environment at the expense of  everything else.  And because of his celebrity his views get to be put forward without any opposing viewpoints.

Well, that’s not right.

The Canadian oil sands, which are at the heart of the Keystone controversy, will be developed, Obama or no Obama. If the oil is not transported through the U.S.  by pipeline to refineries at or near the Gulf of Mexico, then it will have to be transported by rail to other destinations, likely Canadian.  What about the impact on the environment of all that rail activity.  What about the carbon emissions in that scenario? What about the loss of jobs if no pipeline is built?  In an economy which needs to put more people back to work  wouldn’t pipeline construction be helpful?

So, there are many arguments for the pipeline which have not been advanced because a celeb like Redford gets free press  and has the whole stage.  He made a few bucks taking advantage of the American capitalist system  and acquired a bit of a name.  But he’s not entitled to exalted status.  He’s not entitled to mouth off publicly at the expense of those who disagree with him.  And which media outlets are going to publish my thoughts if I want to be heard?  Right.  None.  That’s the point.  Space for an appropriate response to any celebrity outburst should be the law.  In the same space, and at the same time.

That should be the American way.  That should be the law.

Copyright©2015.   Arnold G. Regardie.   All rights reserved.

 

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On The Resignation of Eric Holder: Long Overdue; A Jaded World Series

Eric Holder is finally leaving the post of U.S. Attorney General.  It may sound a bit harsh to say good riddance, but undoubtedly his departure  is  long overdue.  He has been in effect nothing more than an apologist for an incompetent Obama presidency and clearly a partisan idealogue.  Appointed in 2009, he was the first African American to hold that office.

Some media sources have championed his tenure for taking a stand on civil rights but in my opinion he’s been nothing more than weak and ineffective.   I see his original appointment as cronyism, only a gesture of friendship by Obama and not because he was the best choice available.  In his goodbye speech, Holder remarked that beyond having a strong relationship with Obama, “I am proud to call you a friend.”  Not surprisingly, Obama has supported him, saying  “He’s done a superb job.”   A White House spokesperson added that “Holder’s accomplishments have established a historic legacy of civil rights enforcement and restoring fairness to the criminal justice system.”

Well, let’s see.

As previously reported by Fox News, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Oversight and Government reform Committee, said that “Eric Holder is the most divisive attorney general in modern history.”   Issa continued, “By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Attorney General  Holder’s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any attorney general before him.”  That sums it up nicely.

There are many, many Holder shortcomings (to put it politely, failures to act would be more accurate) which could have easily justified Obama’s jettisoning him much earlier.   The failure to act in the national interest in pursuing the IRS targeting scandal, where the agency targeted certain interests for “special treatment”, is only one glaring example.   Allowing IRS official Lois Lerner to escape prosecution for destroying evidence of her involvement in this scandal or at least conducting an investigation into the matter is inexcusable.  To this day there was been no action by the Justice Department concerning her conduct, which can only be ascribed to Holder’s longstanding friendship with Obama.  And Lerner remains retired, enjoying her government pension paid for with taxpayer dollars.

The botched operation known as “Fast and Furious,” was another scandal .  This was a probe into gun-running  along the Southwest border.  It featured a Holder confrontation with Congress over the Justice Department’s  failure to turn over of records of the operation.  It  resulted in Holder’s being held in contempt of Congress, the only sitting Cabinet member to have been held  in contempt.  In this matter, the government allowed Mexican drug gangs to walk away with high powered weapons.  Key documents and witnesses were withheld from Congress, resulting in the contempt charge.  This is quite a legacy.

Holder also clashed with Congress over other issues, including his department’s civilian prosecution of terror cases and surveillance of media outlets.  His appearances before Congress were often combative.  It has also been reported that during the contempt fight, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was quoted as saying that “Holder’s arrogance knows no bounds.”

Often outspoken in public remarks, in 2010 he  referred to America as a “nation of cowards,” in regard to matters of race.

Obama has deferred naming a replacement until after the mid-term elections.

Skipping to baseball, I can’t get excited about this World Series.  Two also-rans (so-called “wild cards”) are playing each other, the Kansas City Royals and San Fransisco Giants.  Ho hum.  Snzzz.  It used to be that the Series featured the two best teams in baseball, one from each league.  This series has two second place teams playing each other.  The Royals finished two games behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division and and the Giants finished six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National Ledague West.  What a bore.  I guess opening the playoffs up to wild card teams increases the pot for Major League Baseball and the teams, but this year it results in a disappointing Series.  Maybe some kind of second place trophy would be appropriate for wild cards, but not the World Series.

Copyright©Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Butchery In The Middle East – An Intelligence Failure? Or Sheer Incompetence.

Lessee now. Purported President Barrack Obama took office in the beginning of 2009.  That was some six years ago. As secretary of state, his top advisor on foreign policy,  he appointed an unqualified woman with no experience whatsoever in the position – or any in any other position in government for that matter, our own Hillary Clinton.  Since Obama himself was a neophyte in foreign policy, to put it mildly, as well as in everything else touching on governmental matters, one would have thought he would select someone for this all important post who was well qualified.  Think again.  Here’s the rub.  An experienced foreign policy appointee may well likely have foreseen the rise of the Islamic State and would have better prepared us, and the rest of the free world for its advent.

So here we are, stuck with Obama’s incompetence, watching butchery being performed online virtually on a daily basis.  And Obama says there has been an intelligence failure?  Well such a statement coming from the liar, er, commander in chief is not surprising.  Has this guy ever taken the blame for any of the scandals plaguing his administration?  Its a rhetorical question.  The answer is obvious.  Yet he has the effrontery to tell Fox News Bill O’Reilly, last Super Bowl Sunday,  that there is not even a smigen of corruption surrounding the IRS scandal.  So much for truth in government.

The Islamic State has been a growing threat for a long time.  But what about the role of the foreign policy advisor, the purported expert in foreign affairs, who has been a true sister of silence in forecasting trouble. With no experience in foreign affairs, never wrote, taught, lectured, nothing on foreign affairs, Hillary is the epitome of the worst political appointment any president can make.  Four Americans died on her watch. Yet, she apparently considers herself to be the next coming of Margaret Thatcher and is therefore well qualified to be president. This is a manifestly false state of mind.  She is no Margaret Thatcher.  Her utterances to the public that her “experience” qualifies her to be president are part of the fraud she is perpetrating on the public.  Wake up America!  The truth is that this woman is eminently unqualified for any public office and is  dangerous for the country.  Her incompetence is there for anyone wanting to see it.  The election of an unqualified and incompetent politician is a mistake the country cannot afford to have repeated.

So far as any lack of intelligence is concerned, blaming the rise of Isis on a lack of intelligence would be a laughable statement were it not for the deadly consequences of the lack.  But the intelligence gap is within the president himself and not in any gap in the gathering of information.  Perhaps Obama is a smart politician.  Give him some credit for getting elected (his promises weren’t known to be false when he was running, however).    But the credit stops there; there is no intelligence  when  it comes to having insight into foreign policy, not to mention judgement and understanding.  Maybe in this vein, intelligence should be equated with experience and common sense.  Once again its a question of a president who refuses to take the blame for his own personal shortcomings.

Inextricably tied in with the Middle East butchery is the failure by Obama to listen to advisors such as former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who urged him to leave a U.S. security force in Iraq in 2011 instead of a complete pullout.  Obama, dead set on a complete withdrawal from Iraq, refused to listen, thereby putting politics over the national interest.  The absence of U.S. forces created a vacuum, filled by sectarian chaos leading to the present state of affairs.

So, the so-called intelligence failure is more Obama mishmash.  Its hogwash.  What started out as the “JV team” some months ago is now the “network of death.”  The lack of original perception into the unfolding events in the Middle East is a tribute to Obama’s lack of experience, his incompetence.  He is in over his head.  When will the country ever learn?  Its the price we pay  for living in a democracy, a free country.  Anybody can run for president and if the country likes the message and the politician, qualified or not, experienced or not,  he can get elected.

But something more than experience as a community organizer and an apparently reliable golf swing is needed for the presidency.  Real nuts and bolts experience in confronting and handling problems, in making tough decisions, and in the demonstration of strong leadership qualities is needed.  The country deserves it.  The country, indeed the world, needs it.  A repeat of the  present inexperience and  incompetency in Washington is out of the question.  Hillary are you listening?

Copyright©Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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If You’re Looking For Tranquility…Try The Carson Valley, Nevada

We just returned from a long weekend trip to Carson City, Nevada.  Apparently named for the intrepid  Old West trailblazer, Kit Carson, it’s located just on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Lake Tahoe, California, and about 3o miles south of Reno.   With snow capped mountains from the recent rain,  it was very, very picturesque.  At night the glow from the lights at Lake Tahoe ski resort Heavenly Valley were visible.  Carson Valley is very quiet.  Maybe the area is America’s best kept secret.   Some old friends we’ve known since we moved to California in 1963, Marge and Rich, invited us to join them up there this past weekend.  Under lowering skies all weekend, we drove the length and breath of the Valley.  The main attraction was the 94th annual Candy Dance festival.  More about that later.  Reno by the way, according to my friend, has grown quite a bit over the years.  When he lived there many, many years ago the population was about 30,000.  Now it boasts a population of over 1 million in the greater Reno area.

After landing in Sacramento, our friends met us and we drove east on I-80 over the Sierra Nevada mountains.  It was a very scenic drive, especially since I was not the one driving.  At the top was a welcome stop near the Donner pass.  A boulder with a plaque commemorating the ill-fated Donner party, a group of emigrants trying to cross into California,  many of whom perished from starvation and cold during the winter of 1846-1847, was plainly visible.

Back in the days of the Old West, the government operated a mint in Carson City, from 1878 to 1893.   Carson City Morgan silver dollars are beautiful coins and are among the most sought after by coin collectors.  These silver dollars were designed by George T. Morgan and are still popular today because of their attractive design.  According to Yeoman’s “United States Coins,” 63rd edition, Morgan was formerly a pupil of William Wyon’s in the royal Mint in London.  His initial M can be found on the coin.  Many can be bought at a reasonable price; others are quite expensive.  For example, the 1879 coin is priced over $7800, depending on its grade. The old mint has long since been  shuttered and is now a museum.  I didn’t make it there this trip but it’s high on my list for next time.

Our friends’ son lives in Minden, Nevada, which is right next to Carson City.  He and his wife have a lovely home on a two- acre spread which they bought about two years ago after he retired.  The entire spread sits atop a small hill which overlooks the entire Carson Valley area.  The site enjoys a beautiful view of the mountains to the West, and no noise.  Grazing cattle are visible throughout  the Valley.   Mountain lions are known to come down out of the mountains to harass the cattle ranchers.  Jack rabbits and coyotes abound.  They are a very hospitable couple and spent considerable time helping us find our way around, not to mention having us to dinner twice.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t know if I want to live in the Carson Valley.  I’m strictly a big city guy.  But those that do enjoy a very low key life style.  And if that’s what you want, this may be the place.  Also, there is no state income tax here.  So I’m sure many of the area’s residents are ex-Californians looking for a less expensive way to enjoy life.

The 94th annual Candy Dance Arts and Crafts Faire was the big event which lured us up there.  But alas! It rained and cut our enjoyment of the festival short.  Spread over several acres, it was located in the small town of Genoa at the base of the mountains just west of Carson City.    Originating in 1919, it was a two-day event from September 27-September 28 and now comprises over 300 vendors.  My wife managed to buy a couple of trinkets and some of the famous English toffee before we were forced to leave by the weather.  With help from the weatherman, we could have stayed considerably longer.

The area also boasts fine eating.  We dined at The Mindin Food Company before attending a play across the street.  While the food was excellent,  the setting was unusual, somewhat reminiscent of an office building.  We also tried Saletti’s, an Italian restaurant, and also excellent.  My friend Rich is a die hard spaghetti lover but here he ordered fish!  He deserved to be chided mercilessly for this omission.  I’ll bring it up next time we get together.  The menu also featured oyster shooters. These were  Blue Point oysters (outstanding oysters, small and succulent) each one served in a shot glass with a splash of vodka, a dash of hot sauce, and a topping of horseradish.  If you enjoy oysters, you must try one of these.

It’s safe to say that  a return trip to the Carson Valley in the near future, and to take in more of the Candy Dance Faire, is definitely on our radar. Next time though we’ll fly into Reno.  Sacramento has a great airport, clean, quiet,  and relatively uncrowded.  But its a three hour drive to Carson City, over the mountains.  Rich drove us back to the airport at mach 1.5, maybe 2.0 (or so it seemed), to make sure we made our flight.  Next time we’ll avoid that adventure.

Copyright© 2014.  Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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On My Way To Cleveland, Ohio

Next weekend I’ll be traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to attend one of the international conventions hosted by my network marketing partner.  I consider it  part of the business I’m involved in, part of the commitment I’ve made to succeed at this business, to attend this convention.  It will be my first trip to Cleveland, so that will be a new experience.  But, for that reason,  it will not be possible for me to post a blog here next week.

After practicing law in California for over forty years, network marketing is a new challenge for me.  I got into it at the behest of my oldest son, who is also in the business, to help him escape the financial constraints  of teaching.  One of the exciting aspects of the business is to be able to help others change their lives by becoming independent business owners.  Helping a client start a new business when I was practicing law was always a rewarding  endeavor for me.  Now I can do it all over again in my network marketing business.

Many, many years ago when I was in prep school in Pennsylvania, I took a course in English writers.  One of the writers I studied was John Keats.  Keats was not with us on this planet very long.  He died of tuberculosis at age 26.  That was back in 1821.  There was no cure for it in those days.  But while he was here he wrote some memorable poetry and one of the poems was “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.”  It was Chapman’s translation  (Chapman was a writer himself who lived in the 1600s) of  the epic Greek poet Homer (who lived around 700-800 BC and is famous for the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”) which excited Keats so much.  He described his excitement in this poem as akin to that of an astronomer watching a new planet swim into his field of vision, or that of Spanish explorer Cortez when “with eagle eyes” he stared out upon the vast expanse of the blue Pacific.  The network marketing business is likewise an exciting experience and it provides vast opportunities for personal and financial growth.  Excuse me for going a bit overboard, but you get the idea.

I’m also reminded of the Los Angeles blender salesman who one day got an  order for blenders from a small hamburger shack in San Bernardino, about 90 miles East of LA.  He drove out to San Bernardino to deliver the blenders and look at the hamburger shack’s operation himself.  He found a business that was a model of simplicity.  All the little shack  served was  hamburgers, fries, and shakes.  He also saw a business that was easily duplicated.  The blender salesman, whose name was Ray Kroc, bought the little hamburger shack, decided to keep the shack’s name, McDonald’s, and the rest is history.  I only mention this story because my business is also simple in operation and easily duplicated.  This is the key to growing the business.

It’s not just the potential financial rewards that motivate me in this business.  It’s also the personal satisfaction from the thought that I’m actually helping the economy by reducing unemployment.  I have often voiced my extreme displeasure with the current occupant of the White House for being someone who is not only unqualified for the job of being president but is incompetent to boot.  The continued stagnant economy in this country marked by high levels of unemployment attests to that unpleasant fact.  So I feel I’m doing my part by helping others to move ahead financially despite the shortcomings of the present administration.

The company I’m in partnership with now now operates in Mexico as well as other parts of the world.  This factor provides me with the opportunity to expand not just in this country but in Mexico and worldwide.  I have also taken an increased interest in Mexico in my efforts to expand my business into that country.  Mexico is a whole new universe of opportunity.

So this is why I’m going to Cleveland.  Attending the convention will enable me to keep up with developments in the network marketing business, hear firsthand from eminently successful business leaders, and to share in the excitement from being a part of a huge and ongoing industry.

Copyright 2014.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Finding and Using The Right Word is Pivotal For Clear Writing

At a recent 2-day business symposium I attended, the  written materials furnished to all attendees unfortunately contained a few typos.   One of the more glaring mistakes was where the author wrote “capitol management” instead of “capital management.”  This mistake brought to mind an article I posted back in November , 2012, dealing with word selection.   It is still very relevant today.  Here’s the article, with minor modifications.

Last week’s blog emphasized the need to have correct diction, the choice of correct, clear, and effective words, as a step towards clear writing. There are several pitfalls to avoid.  Being concise in your writing and eliminating excess language is part of this process. Having a powerful vocabulary is also necessary to achieve this goal.   But a strong vocabulary will also help to avoid another pitfall on the road to correct diction – failure to use the exact word.  Using the correct word is of singular importance in your writing.  It ranks right up there with correct spelling.  It is the mark of an accomplished writer.

Searching for, finding, and using, the right word is a process I’ve learned to focus on for many years.   Many years ago I was involved in defending Doris Day’s lawyer, Jerry Rosenthal, against legal malpractice charges.   Despite his many legal shortcomings as found by the court,  I was always impressed with Rosenthal’s writing skills, and in particular with his efforts to find and use the exact word he wanted to express his thinking, whether in writing or speaking. He had a fixation on word selection, and an extensive vocabulary to go with it.  He boasted to me one day that the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court had advised him that his framing of the issue in a petition he had written was the most clearly worded issue the clerk had ever seen. My involvement in this case and the writing tips I picked up are discussed in more detail in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available at amazon.com/kindlebooks and in print.

Don’t settle for approximations of your thoughts.  Imprecise words and expressions detract from clarity and may cause your reader to question all  other statements you make.  Generalities will roll off a reader like water off a duck’s back.   Accuracy of word usage is what you are after.  The U.S. Government has attempted to encourage the development of better writing in the Plain Writing Act of 2009, which inspired some of the ideas used in my eBook.  This legislation is an attempt by Congress to enhance citizen access to government information by mandating that government documents issued to the public must be written in plain English.  But as pointed out in the Acknowledgements for my eBook, the government’s use of the term “plain writing” is not as accurate as the use of “clear writing” would be, because the former is somewhat ambiguous.  What is “plain” writing?  Is it “plain” because it is not fancy, because it is not written in some esoteric script, or for some other unknown reason?   The mental discipline of searching for and finding the right word will pay huge dividends for you in developing a clear writing style.

The use of the word “cool,” greatly overused in today’s society, is a good example of a word which has no precise meaning. It has little place in formal writing.  Use of precise words to describe exactly what you see in a certain locale is one example of where specificity is greatly needed.  Generalization here will fall flat.  For example, if you were to write that Murphys, California is a “cool” place to visit, the reader would have little understanding of what you mean and would have no incentive to go there.  But if you wrote that it’s nestled in the farmland of the upper San Joaquin Valley, that you must drive through rolling pastoral countryside to get there, that it’s a living remnant of the Old West, and that it’s a shopper’s delight complete with casual dining and a nearby winery, the added specificity will make a visit sound much more inviting.

If you were writing a review of a machine and you simply wrote that it is a “bad” product, this description is far too general. “Bad” is an overworked word and not very specific in this context. But if you wrote that the machine requires far too many repairs to meet acceptable consumer standards, this is an obvious gain in specificity.

An overly general choice of words is frequently the mark of a lazy mind. Sharpen your word selection by resorting to an unabridged dictionary. A general word will usually have many definitions to choose from to make your meaning definite. When a shorter synonym for a word is available, use it. Often you will find that the use of a shorter synonym for the word you are using is the best option. Use common words such as “end” instead of terminate”, “explain” rather than “elucidate,” and “use” instead of “utilize.”

Copyright 2014.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Goals For Clear Writing

To become an accomplished writer is not an easy task. But to write clearly is a goal eminently worthy of achievement. There are many pitfalls to to be encountered on the road to clear writing. Here are a few.

Lack of experience in writing will show up first. The best approach to achieve clear writing is to just write. You just have to do it. There’s only so much reading you can do about writing before you actually start to write. It’s just like reading about hitting a golf ball or tennis ball – you just have to go out and do it to become really proficient. The more you write, the better you will become. You will also gain one very indispensable element – self confidence.

There are also goals to reach for in the process of overcoming impediments to improving your writing. The first is to write with a purpose and this in turn requires knowledge of your subject matter. This is key. If you don’t know what you’re writing about your readers will see it quickly. This kind of writing will damage your credibility immeasurably and cause your readers to regard your work product with justified skepticism. So to insure writing success, know your subject matter thoroughly. Become an expert on it. This will pay vast dividends for you.

It is also important to know your target audience – know who you’re writing for. It makes a big difference so far as your content is concerned if you’re writing for a sophisticated readership or for people who are less knowledgeable. If your writing is over the heads of your readers it will fall flat. If it is too elementary it will not be well received. So you must know who you’re writing for.

Use an everyday approach in your writing. Write like people talk, in a conversational tone. Avoid jargon or legalese where possible.

Emphasize important points by underlining, capitalizing, or otherwise highlighting them. This will help your readers to focus on what you’re really trying to say. Hit these points hard to draw attention to your message.

Be concise in your writing. Avoid long, rambling explanations. A good discipline is to start off each paragraph with a topic sentence. Fill that paragraph with subject matter that is relevant to that sentence. Good paragraphing can go a long way to holding a reader’s interest. Short paragraphs are often better than long, drawn out ones.

Learn to punctuate correctly. Good punctuation pays off by helping the reader to digest your writing and by showing the reader you really know something about writing.

Use the right word. Having a workable vocabulary is an indispensable tool to clear writing. It is worth extra time on your road to clear writing to work on vocabulary building. Look up and list all new words. Read extensively. Learn how experienced writers use their words – this can be an education in itself and well worth the while.

Finally, avoid spelling errors at all costs. Poor spelling will mark you as an amateur faster than anything else.
Read and reread your manuscript over and over to make sure all spelling is correct. In this process polish it up so that it flows smoothly. Also important is visual attractiveness. A long, dense paper with poor spacing and paragraphing will discourage a reader from reading it.

As you can see clear writing requires close attention to many aspects of writing. There is more, much more to be said but these points will help you immensely on the road to writing success.

All of this and more is covered in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com kindle books and in print.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Adding Sound and Color To Your Writing – Still A Viable Concept

Over a year ago I wrote about adding sound and color to your writing. It still makes sense today. For those of you who missed that blog, here is what I wrote:

Clear writing requires a writer to have command of words and use of proper syntax. Both are essential to become an accomplished writer. Syntax is defined as the orderly, logical sequence of words to have maximum effect on the reader.

To me however, syntax is indistinguishable from sound and color. I cannot conceive of a situation where a writer can have good syntax and not have sound and color. For this reason sound and color have no such ready definition as syntax does. These elements of writing depend on the writer developing a feel, an ear, for his writing. For most writers, this only comes with time and experience. So, how do you know when you have it?

The ability to develop sound and color in your writing really depends on how well you apply yourself to the task of writing. I have consistently stressed my belief that clear writing is an art form, which can be attained with constant regular practice. It is only through the pursuit of this undertaking that you will come to recognize your voice as a writer.

It is hard to add sound and color to your writing unless you know what it is. The rhythm of your writing will reflect its sound and color. Listen to your writing as you write, then revise it to achieve effective rhythm. This means choosing words that fit in well with surrounding words. Jerky or monotonous sentences lack sound and color.

For example, the following sentence is repetitious and somewhat monotonous:

He was an exceedingly orderly company commander. When promoted, he became an efficient regimental commander.

Improved version:

As a company commander, he did things by the book; as a regimental commander, his efficiency was unsurpassed.

In the following example, sentence fluency has been hampered by excessive modification:

The man in the car opened the
door quickly and went hurriedly
into the restaurant.

Improved version:

The driver quickly abandoned the
car and vanished into the restaurant.

There are two ways to know when your writing has sound and color. First, you will feel it in your writing; the second, a bit more objective, a reader will remain fixed on what you have written and then compliment you on it.

The late William Manchester was a superb writer; the pages of his writing full of sound and color. His biography, “Winston Spencer Churchill, The Last Lion – Visions of Glory: 1874-1952”, Dell Publishing, 1983, speaks for itself. The following passage, (p. 7), is illustrative:

“Men who think of themselves as indispensable are almost always wrong,
but Winston Churchill was surely that then. He was like the lion in Revelation, ‘the first beast,’ with ‘six wings about him’ and ‘full of eyes within.’ In an uncharacteristically modest moment on his eightieth birthday he said: ‘It was the nation and the race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion’s heart; I had the luck to be called upon to give the lion’s roar.’ It wasn’t that simple. The spirit, if indeed within them, lay dormant until he became prime minister and they, kindled by his soaring prose, came to see themselves as he saw them and emerged a people transformed, the admiration of free men everywhere.”

Adding sound and color to your writing doesn’t apply to every writing project. It may not fit at all into, say, a simple job application. But the experience of trying to add sound and color to your writing will help you acquire an ear for your writing, that sense of knowing the power of your words. It will help you to write more efficiently and more clearly.

As has been oft-mentioned in my book “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com through kindle books and in print), clear writing is not easy. But the point bears emphasis. It takes work, lots of work. That’s the surest way, however, to improve the clarity of your writing. I’m reminded of books I’ve read about trying to hit a golf ball or a tennis ball. There’s only so much reading you can do before you actually go out and swing a gold club or a tennis racket. So it is with writing. Mastery of the guidelines and techniques explained in my book will go a long way to improve the clarity of your writing, but you still have to write to achieve maximum effect.

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

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An Immigration Update – Bill O’Reilly’s Take

I’m a long time follower of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News and find his reporting usually to be in depth, factual, and concise. Recently he suggested that viewers check out his suggestions to solve the immigration crisis as found on his website, BillO’Reilly.com. I did that and found many of his suggestions to have some merit. Here is a sampler, mixed in with some of my own thoughts.

Much of the problem lies with the failure of President Obama to be preprared for this crisis. He has had five and one half years to get his act together on this as well as other problems and has done virtually nothing. Mexico itself is a primary issue. Tougher policing of that country’s northern and southern borders would be a first step. Increased surveillance by Mexican police and military forces on the southern borders would help to stem the flow of would be illegal immigrants from Central America on their way to the U.S.

The same steps should be taken to help secure Mexico’s northern border with this country. The U.S. should have sent national guard troops to the border long ago. Apparently the president is now moving in that direction. Also, the U.S. should send patrols by U.S. aircraft into Mexican airspace to target activity by cartels and smugglers.

The trouble with these steps is getting Mexico’s cooperation and that perceived difficulty, in my opinion, is because Mexico is still fighting the Mexican-American War, i.e., there is lingering great resentment towards the U.S. over how the war ended. Remember that in the Treaty of Gualdalupe-Hildago, signed in 1848, Mexico ceded to the U.S. huge amounts of territory which now comprise California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. But the threat of trade sanctions against Mexico would certainly get that country’s attention.

As concerns the illegals presently in the country, O’Reilly advocates having them register at the nearest post office within three months with name, address, and birth date. Failure to do so would be a felony, justifying deportation in and of itself if convicted by a special immigration court. Registration would result in the issuance of an ID card which would be used to apply for a work permit. Registrants unable to find work would be deported, as would be criminals, addicts, etc. Those desiring citizenship would have to get in line behind all others. Entitlements would be denied to illegal aliens although their children would be eligible to receive benefits. This is not amnesty but a vetting process. A hard working, honest individual should be able to find a place in this country but there is no guarantee.

Illegal immigration is a huge, complex issue and there are no easy answers. But these suggestions outlined here would be a productive start.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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