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Clear-cut? 清晰明确

中国日报网 2023-08-22 15:00


Reader question:

Please explain “clear-cut” in this sentence: He missed two clear-cut chances to score, miskicking the first and hitting the post with the second.


My comments:

He, obviously a soccer player, missed two clear chances to score. First, he miskicked. Then he hit the ball on the post, with the ball bouncing away from goal, or in soccer-speak, failing to find the net.

So, he missed the opportunity to score two goals.

He could’ve scored a double and been a hero. Instead, he missed two obvious opportunities – leaving the field only to rue the day.

Obvious is what clear-cut means here.

Clear-cut as in a clear-cut path through the woods.

The origin of the phrase “clear-cut” is not known, but it could’ve come from path builders through woods and grasslands. The first path finders have to cut down the trees and bushes in order to build a path. Only when all vegetation is cleared out will a distinct road emerge. And this road is a clear-cut road, literally.

Hence, metaphorically, people use “clear-cut” to describe something that’s clear and obvious. For example, people talk about a clear-path to success, meaning that road is clearly mapped out. Everything that’s needed is there. Nobody would fail.

Nobody should fail. If they did, they would be described as missing a clear-cut opportunity to succeed.


Clear-cut, in short, means obvious, easily understandable, unquestionable and not in any way doubtful.

In other words, it’s unmistakable.

All right, here are recent media examples of things that are clear-cut or not so clear-cut:

1. Consumer price inflation is easing, sparking hope that the U.S. may be turning the corner on the worst price spikes in decades.

Yet the single biggest component of the Consumer Price Index – housing costs – continues to be the main driver of inflation, rising twice as fast as everything else.

The government reported Wednesday that overall inflation rose 3 percent on an annual basis in June – the lowest level since March 2021. But the cost of shelter soared by 7.8 percent in a reflection of post-pandemic rent spikes, part of a trend that has defied the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes over the past year.

So even as the Biden administration cheers signs that price rises across the economy have started to cool, homeownership remains out of reach for many first-time buyers, who are already facing a severe lack of supply. Housing-driven inflation may also be a key reason President Joe Biden’s approval numbers on the economy have been so low, even though the job market has shown remarkable resilience and fears of an imminent recession have subsided. Fifty-seven percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to a RealClear Politics average of polls conducted over the last month. Just under 39 percent approve.

“For younger voters, who are seeking to move out of rentals or to find an affordable first home close to work, that can be close to impossible minus a down payment from a wealthier parent,” said Karen Petrou, co-founder and managing partner of Washington-based consulting firm Federal Financial Analytics. “This is one of the really classic aspects of American economic inequality,” she said. “People are squeezed.”

The Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate by 5 percentage points since March 2022 in a bid to rein in inflation, and central bank policymakers will meet July 25-26 to discuss whether to resume hiking rates after pausing last month. While overall consumer price gains slowed, the stickiness of housing inflation is among the factors adding to speculation that the Fed will raise rates.


While home prices nationally are below their June 2022 peak, they’re once again climbing after dropping in the fall, according to the latest data from the Case-Shiller Index. The increase in shelter costs in the inflation gauge has typically lagged Case-Shiller by about 16 months in recent years, according to an analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

“These lags aren’t exact, but we should start to see [declining shelter costs] in the data pretty soon,” said Eddie Seiler, associate vice president of housing economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“That the housing component is beginning to show deceleration means that overall CPI will surely also be pulled down steadily,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “The rent trend is clear cut – it will decelerate, decelerate, decelerate as we proceed through the year.”

- Inflation eases but Fed can’t conquer housing prices, Politico.com, July 12, 2023.

2. Donald Trump’s rivals have found themselves either denouncing or defending the former president as he faces legal troubles related to a federal investigation his efforts to subvert the 2020 election and incite supporters on Jan. 6.

But where biotechnology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, 37, stands on the issue is not so clear-cut.

A week after the Jan. 6 attack, Ramaswamy, who is running for the GOP nomination, tweeted that “What Trump did last week was wrong. Downright abhorrent. Plain and simple. I’ve said it before and did so in my piece,” referring to a Wall Street Journal article he co-authored.

He also tweeted that same week that “Unfortunately Trump’s egregious behavior last week blinds us from seeing that Big Tech’s cure is worse.”

During a recent interview with USA TODAY, however, Ramaswamy said that he doesn’t believe Trump was responsible for what happened on Jan. 6.

“This is not to defend him,” Ramaswamy, a Yale law school graduate with a net worth of about $630 million, said. “This is because I think we will get it wrong and fail to learn the lesson (of what led to it) and as a consequence, have even worse that we can expect in the future.”

- Vivek Ramaswamy: It’s complicated, USAToday.com, July 22, 2023.

3. MAGA-USA, Make America Great Again-USA is Trump’s botched coup against the US federal government. It is the recent US congressional hearings on flying saucers. It is without question Marjorie Taylor-Green and George Santos actually getting elected to the US Congress. It is Donald Trump actually getting elected to the White House, and it is much more.

But most of all MAGA-USA is the tens of millions of White folks in the United States of America who embrace and support all of the national dangers and absolute stupidity just cited.

These people are the end-products of 400 years of White racism institutionalized in religion, law, and habit. All of this has been to justify the murder, robbery, and genocide of Native American peoples and African peoples.

Today in MAGA-USA the word “woke” is a synonym for the “N-word.” That’s why it is so wildly popular among the MAGA masses. That is why it is a major political asset for MAGA politicians. It is not a dog whistle to rally the racist dogs. It is clear-cut, absolutely precise, no confusion.

Saying “Woke” in MAGA-talk is chanting the N-word at a Klan rally. MAGA politicians are campaigning for office on the well-established White racist “Southern Strategy.” The Southern Strategy put Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush I, George Bush II and Donald Trump in the White House.

Way before then, it was the politics of Benjamin Tillman, South Carolina’s governor 1890-1894 and US senator 1895-1918. “Pitchfork Ben” campaigned for office in support of lynching Black people. He bragged on the floor of Congress that he had killed some African Americans himself.

Look for the Woke howling to intensify and escalate as MAGA politicians – Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump are two examples – compete to out-WOKE each other in the 2024 presidential campaign.

Recently, DeSantis has been in the news badmouthing US Vice President Kamala Harris and Florida US congressman Tim Scott. Harris is a Democrat. Scott is a Republican. Both are Black.

Trump is in the news, almost every day, badmouthing DeSantis. Ron DeSantis is afraid to attack Donald Trump in the media. So, he howls and chants “Woke! Woke! Woke!” In effect, he attacks the Black community.

Trump is facing possible jail time. He is very worried, and he will move even further to the right. To outdo a desperate Donald Trump, DeSantis may have to campaign for the White House in a Klan robe.

  • Woke is the ‘N-word’ loud and clear in MAGA-USA, NewPittsburghCourier.com, August 9, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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