“Pettifoggers, shysters, and all kinds of hagglers have humble antecedents and usually live up to their names.” ~ Anatoly Liberman, University of Minnesota Professor

In the Senate on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the 1905 impeachment trial of Judge Charles Swayne; this photo of Swayne appeared in a March 1905 issue of The Literary Digest.
“They  [pettifogging lawyers] often had limited concern for scruples or conscience and the term was deeply contemptuous.” ~ Michael Quinion, World Wide Words

Wednesday afternoon, sunny, 46 degrees.

So from the ongoing impeachment trial, this nugget arose: PETTIFOGGING. In an NPR article, Elizabeth Blair elucidates:

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Pettifogging people give too much attention to small, unimportant details in a way that shows a limited mind.”

On that note, let’s dive in.

Petty + fogger = pettifogger

Petty means small or insignificant. A fogger is old slang for a “huckster, a cringing whining beggar.”

In his admonishment of public officials during President Trump’s impeachment proceedings, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the use of “pettifogging” in the 1905 Senate impeachment trial of Florida District Judge Charles Swayne, who was impeached “… for filing false travel vouchers, improper use of private railroad cars, unlawfully imprisoning two attorneys for contempt and living outside of his district.” (After nearly three months, the Senate voted to acquit.)

According to a transcript, the offending word in question was uttered by Swayne’s counsel, the Hon. John M. Thurston. He subsequently apologized.

“I don’t think we need to aspire to that high standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Justice Roberts said, as he urged civil discourse among House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers.

What a wonderful word, and so fitting when talking about Mr. Giuliani et al. Who said politics was boring?

More later (if the laptop cooperates). Peace.


Music by the Patti Smith Group, “Broken Flag”

Lyrics:

Nodding tho the lamp’s lit low, nod for passers underground.
To and fro she’s darning, and the land is weeping red and pale.
Weeping yarn from Algiers. Weeping yarn from Algiers.

Weaving tho the eyes are pale, what will rend will also mend.
The sifting cloth is binding, and the dream she weaves will never end.
For we’re marching toward Algiers. For we’re marching toward Algiers.

Lullaby tho baby’s gone. Lullaby a broken song.
Oh, the cradle was our call. When it rocked we carried on.
And we marched on toward Algiers. For we’re marching toward Algiers
We’re still marching for Algiers. Marching, marching for Algiers.
Not to hail a barren sky. Sifting cloth is weeping red.
The mourning veil is waving high a field of stars and tears we’ve shed.
In the sky a broken flag, children wave and raise their arms.
We’ll be gone but they’ll go on and on and on and on and on.

2 thoughts on ““Pettifoggers, shysters, and all kinds of hagglers have humble antecedents and usually live up to their names.” ~ Anatoly Liberman, University of Minnesota Professor

    1. Suzann,
      It’s so wonderful to hear from you, my birthday sister. It’s been a long time since you visited here. How is everything? Still quilting? How is Juanita? Give my love to everyone.

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