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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 Dec. 4, 2006 / 13 Kislev, 5767

A herd of Irish bulls

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'd been collecting them long before I knew they were called Irish bulls. That's the term for grandiloquent flights of prose that, when read literally, make no sense. Politicians are a particularly rich source of such quotes. Lawyers and editorial writers, especially of the more pompous sort, tend to churn out non sequiturs at a steady clip, too.


So do the kind of economists who would do better to stick with numbers and leave the words alone. Alan Greenspan, for example. As chairman of the Fed, he was as indecipherable as the head of some mystical cult, perhaps deliberately so, knowing that a single phrase — like "irrational exuberance" — could upset economies all over the world.


For years my favorite contribution to the Annals of Awful Prose was a wobbly flight of rhetoric composed by Clarence Manion, a minor figure back in the Eisenhower era. Being both a law school dean and a politician of sorts, he had an unfair advantage when it came to mauling the language. It was Dean Manion who produced the classic warning that "mere form without substance must collapse of its own weight."


Dean Manion's gift for the unintentionally comic might have risen to high art if only he'd been an economist, too. Maybe that's why Clarence Manion finally lost his title as worst practitioner of political prose to Paul Krugman, the economist who writes, so to speak, for the New York Times. One day, in the course of denouncing the Bush tax cuts that have proven such a boon to the economy in recent years, Professor Krugman produced this prize-winning doozy:


"And when the chickens that didn't hatch come home to roost, we will rue the day when, misled by sloppy accounting and rosy scenarios, we gave away the national nest egg." --OPTIONAL TRIM BEGINS-- The moral of that story: Some people should not be allowed anywhere close to a metaphor; it's the verbal equivalent of handing a two-year-old a loaded pistol.


As a result of my announcing that Dean Manion had been bested as all-time champion of Awful Prose, I learned the precise name of the literary folly he was so adept at. An old friend — Father John O'Donnell — sent me a batch of similar sentences, all collected in one article by a connoisseur of the art, Francis Griffith. The genre turned out to have a name: Irish bulls.


An Irish bull, I learned, is not a branch of the Angus family but "a verbal blunder which seems to make sense but after a moment's reflection is seen to be wildly illogical."


The term is said to have been inspired by one Sir Boyle Roche, a member of the 18th Century Irish parliament who was given to earnest inanities. For example, there was his response to another member's appeal for some measure because it would benefit posterity. "Why, Mr. Speaker," asked Sir Boyle, "should we do anything for posterity? What has posterity done for us?"


This master of the Irish bull was regularly moved by Ireland's troubles. "The country is overflowing with absentee landlords," he complained, and, what's more, "The cup of Ireland's misfortunes has been overflowing for centuries, and is not full yet."


It's not easy to distinguish between an Irish bull and a figure of speech that's been run through a Mixmaster. Consider this poetic passage from one of Sir Boyle's orations: "All along the untrodden path of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand."


It was also Sir Boyle who interrupted a parliamentary debate with the heartfelt plea: "I believe in reciprocity as much as anyone else, but it shouldn't be on one side."


You don't have to be Irish to commit an Irish bull, but it helps. Mayor Daley I of the grand city of Chicago, where the river runs green every St. Patrick's Day, turned out Irish bulls in abundance, the way he did dead voters every election day.


During the Democrats' riotous convention in Chicago back in 1968, Mayor Daley assured the press that the police weren't there to create disorder but to preserve disorder! Which cleared that up.


Perhaps the most prolific breeder of Irish bulls on these shores was movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, who famously observed that a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Mr. Goldwyn could scarcely open his mouth without putting his foot in it. Among his finer productions: "Anybody who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined," and "I'm living beyond my means, but I can afford it."


Don't get me started on the collected works of Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel, both naturals at the art of twisting language into delightful knots.


Arkansas is also well-represented in this competition for the best, meaning the worst, Irish bulls. Though he modestly denied authorship, a former governor of the state — Frank White — is said to have warned that a proposal would open a whole box of Pandoras.


I could go on forever but, in keeping with my subject, I'll just commence right here.

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© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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