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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Aug 7, 2012 / 19 Menachem-Av, 5772

Lost: the plain meaning of words

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all."

--T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Remember when the question of the day was what the meaning of is, is? That seems so long ago -- 1998. Back then the president doing the explaining was The Hon. William J. Clinton, Esq. Testifying before a grand jury at one point, he explained that he wasn't lying, not at all, when he'd assured his top aides, the kind of loyal supporters who might actually have believed him, that, no, there was nothing going on between him and this Monica Lewinsky.

How could that not have been a lie? Bill Clinton's response, made under oath if that means anything in his case:

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the -- if he -- if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not -- that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. ... Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

Got all that? I never did, either.

But it was an impressive response nevertheless. One for the books. Indeed, one worthy of the voluminous annals of American misrepresentation. It may have lacked the brevity of a Zen koan, but there was something just as mysterious about it.

Now the question is no longer the meaning of is, but the meaning of that. For now there's another linguistician in the White House, or at least another slick customer. And for weeks we've been assured this president didn't say what he said, not at all. It's just that his words have been twsted, distorted, quoted out of context....

Take your choice of the editing tricks unprincipled critics have been using to make it seem the president said something he didn't, namely that American businessmen didn't build their companies. Never mind what the rest of us heard him say. He didn't. Who you gonna believe, the president of the United States or your own lyin' ears?

Here's what Mr. Obama actually said in a campaign appearance at Roanoke, Va., on Friday, July 13, 2012--word for word, the whole paragraph. Judge for yourself, as you should and would anyway:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

If you thought our president was saying that if you've got a business, you didn't build that, then you heard wrong. All he was saying was that somebody else made that happen -- that you, Mr. Businessman, or Ms. Businesswoman, owe your success not to your own hard work or talent, or just plain luck and God's help, but to somebody else -- the rest of us, the Great Collective, or just those roads and bridges government built. Which is what the president meant by "that."

Oh.

But who in real life talks like that, referring to roads and bridges not as those but that? The president of the United States, apparently.

It's enough to make us miss plain English. And not for the first time. What ever happened to the plain meaning of words, to the way people, not politicians, talk?

Remember the days when you didn't need an interpreter to understand what a president of the United States was saying? But that was ages ago, that is, before this year's endless presidential campaign began.

Now the country has a president who has to keep explaining, or rather not explaining, what he said about American businessmen not creating their own businesses. That's his story and he's sticking to it, despite the plain meaning of words.

Let's not even go into this president's highly debatable version of who created the Internet and why, namely: Government invented it so American companies could make money off it.

Who knew?

Yes, there was a forerunner of the Internet designed largely for military purposes called ARPAnet, and it originated with the government's Advanced Research Projects Agency, but it was developed by a private company, BBN Technologies, its hardware was designed by Honeywell, and AT&T set up the phone lines. And a number of think tanks and universities played supporting roles in that cast of thousands. If all the credits were rolled, there would be enough of them for a Hollywood blockbuster.

All in all, Mr. President, it wasn't quite as simple as "Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."

Indeed, far from being designed for commercial purposes, ARPAnet was declared off-limits for private use. As late as 1982, a handbook on computing put out by MIT warned students:

"It is considered illegal to use the ARPAnet for anything which is not in direct support of government business. . . . Sending electronic mail over the ARPAnet for commercial profit or political purposes is both anti-social and illegal. By sending such messages, you can offend many people, and it is possible to get MIT in serious trouble with the government agencies which manage the ARPAnet."

So much for government's having invented the Internet to help American businesses make money off it.

Not that the private sector couldn't be just as blind to the Internet's potential. Xerox was so obsessed with making copiers in the 1970s, it couldn't be bothered with developing the Internet -- or inventing the personal computer, for that matter. All that would be left to Steve Jobs at Apple. Are we supposed to believe he didn't build that company, that somebody else did? That it was built by all those roads and bridges?

Who knew?

This president needs a fact-checker, or at least a good copyeditor, hard as both are to come by.

A wise president, or just a wise man, having been caught in so gross a misstatement, would simply say he was sorry, or maybe "No excuse," as we were taught to say in the service after we'd screwed up royally. Then the air would be cleared, and the whole mess put behind us. Confession is good not just for the soul, but for peace of mind. What would it cost, a little false pride? And it would be more than compensated for by a healthy measure of self-respect.

Here's a tip from an old editor: Run a correction and be done with it!

Instead, by trying to "explain" what he said, or didn't say, our president has only prolonged this controversy and his own verbal ordeal. And he's also entrenched the phrase, "You didn't build that," in American memories. Much like "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Paul Greenberg Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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