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The Cliche Has Hit the Fan

...what may be pardonable in unprepared speech
...is a very different matter for a writer sitting at her desk
with plenty of time to read and ponder. --David Gilmour

New! [Call highway maintenance]
Yet another milestone falls on the same day!!!
Michael Hart, Project Gutenberg newsletter Extra, July 4, 2003

[Fire photon torpedoes!]
Santayana is every bit as clever as any German metaphysician, only he is light-years less ponderous.
Roger Kimball, The New Criterion, February, 2002, p. 10

[It's somewhere in one of those Testaments.]
Are Christians back in the lion's den? [Headline]
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, October 2, 1994, p. 1J.

[From the Latin, non sequitur.]
Winston Churchill once wondered if the invention of the internal combustion engine had really been a blessing for mankind. In any case, from being the tail wagged by the dog, the motor-car rapidly became the dog wagging the tail.
Bishop Williamson's letter, December 3, 2000, Society of Saint Pius X, Canada, http://www.sspx.ca/Documents/Bishop-Williamson/Dec3-2000.htm

[And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by personal irresponsibility...]
The pastoral letter [on Satan, from Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Genoa, Italy] drew swift and ferocious criticism nationwide. A group of theologians in the Milan archdiocese lambasted it as a return to the middle ages and an attack on the modern sense of personal responsibility.
Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Parenting Section, January 2002, p. 4

[Taking pork's name in vain.]
Democrats pushed a $35 billion package for combatting terrorism through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, setting the stage for a partisan clash on the chamber's floor later this week.
The money exceeds the $20 billion President Bush has sought ...
Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) said it was inspired by the need to protect the country. "God may strike me dead right on this spot if I were offering this amendment for political purposes," Byrd told reporters.
Alan Fram, Associated Press, in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 6, 2001, p. 8A

[VV Day]
"A win-win situation all the way around." That is how, on a Pakistani news programme on November 26th, a bouyant President Perves Musharref described the results of his fateful decision to dump the Taliban and align Pakistan with the coalition against terror.
The Economist, December 1st 2001, p. 21

[Leash law]
"[Yasser] Arafat unleashed the voices of rejection, the voice of the Islamists," said [Yossi] Shain, a visiting professor at Georgetown University. "Now he does not know how to put the genie back in the bottle."
David Goldstein, Knight Ridder News Service, in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel October 14, 2001

[Chicken outfit]
Kamal Matinuddin, a retired Pakistani general who has written extensively about Afghanistan, including the book The Taliban Phenomenon, believes that bin Laden's money is an important strand of power. He calls it a key source of income for a Taliban regime that rules over a destitute nation bereft of aid.
"He's the goose that lays the golden egg," Mutinuddin said.
Tyler Marshall, Los Angeles Times, in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel October 13, 2001

[Sweep the rascal in.]
During testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, [then-Mayor John] Lindsay was asked why welfare recipients couldn't be put to work cleaning the city's streets. Lindsay responded: "The use of welfare recipients with brooms and spikes in the middle of Fifth Avenue brings us back to the Dark Ages."
"NYC, Before the Dawn," by John Podhoretz, National Review, September 17, 2001, p. 49

[Tip-toe through the Taliban.]
We have the biggest stick in the world and we are not walking softly.
Phil Donahue on ABC's Good Morning America, October 3, 2001

U.S. relations with Russia have experienced "a seismic sea change of historic proportions" in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and Russia's eventual membership in NATO is not "beyond consideration", U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday.
Deutshce Presse-Agnetur October 3, 2001, quoted in Drudge Report

By killing the Rosenbergs, you have quite simply tried to put a stop to the progress of science by means of human sacrifice. We are back in the age of black magic, witch hunts, auto-da-fes and human sacrifices.
"Les Animaux de la Rage" by Jean-Paul Sartre, Liberation, June 22, 1953

[Like a candle in the wind?]
"The vice president ... wants this country to go forward, and if you vote for him, it will go forward," John said. "But it's back to the Dark Ages, I'm afraid, if you vote for the other guy."
'Gore Fan Elton John Fears Dark Ages Under Bush' by Mark Egan, Yahoo Entertainment News, September 21, 2000

[Not posturing]
Moises Kaufman, who is himself gay, seems to have bent over backwards to avoid accusations of gay agitprop.
"A theatrical cipher," review by Mark Steyn of The Laramie Project in The New Criterion September 2000, p. 36

[Unstuck at any speed.]
"'America wants a change -- a change from the dominance of the two major political parties which offer little more than Band-Aids for the nation's problems of health, child poverty, job security and a multitude of other ills that linger from election to election without solution.' said [Ralph] Nader, who was also the party's candidate in 1996 but did not campaign."
'Green Party nominates Nader for president' by Maria Recio, Knight Ridder News Service, in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Monday, June 26, 2000 p. 6A

[Who wants to be a millionaire?]
"Globalization is run like a Las Vegas casino, and billionaires now exceed half of humanity."
'Forum on Globalization Calls World Bank and IMF to Account' Catholic Peace Voice Spring 2000 p. 8

[Didn't the Association record that?]
"Other likely opponents [of stricter digital copyright laws] are telecommunications companies and Internet companies that worked for years ot reach the compromise that was passed into law.
"'It could open Pandora's Box,' said Peter Harter, a lobbyist for a company called eMusic, who worked for Netscape when the digital copyright law was passed."
'Report proposes outlawing Napster technology on Internet,' New York Times New Service, reported in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tuesday, May 30, 2000 p. 2M.

[Uniformly against standards.]
"Standardized Minds is a must read for anyone who cares about public schools."
Review by Alan Stoskopf, Rethinking Schools, Spring 2000, p. 20

[Paved with good intentions.]
"Convinced that 'the parish is still the primary place where the spiritual rubber is expected to meet the road of life for most Roman Catholics,' [Paul] Wilkes claims to have found some of the best Catholic parishes in America, where members 'couldn't wait to get to church on Sunday.'"
Fr. Richard McBrien, 'Essays in Dialogue' column, Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 24, 2000, p. 6.

[Plight at the end of the tunnel.]
"Irked that Gore is benefiting from Clinton's good will, Bradley aides say their boss will gain support as blacks get to know him. Mark Alexander, a black adviser, said the administration improved the plight of blacks, 'but I don't think that is credit Gore should be taking.'"
'Black voters hold a key in quest for Democratic nomination' by Ron Fournier, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel January 23, 2000, p. 3J

[If not older.]
"The notion that human life is sacred just because it's human life is medieval."
Peter Singer in The New Yorker

[Guernica Country Club]
"The bad faith 'The Museum as Muse' engenders would be enough to make one's head spin if it weren't par for the art world's course."
"Exhibition Notes" The New Criterion June 1999 p. 50

[Stylish, insubstantial waste.]
"[Maureen] Dowd, who won the Pulitzer Prize last month, has laid waste to everyone from Clinton to Woody Allen, but her critics believe she too often favors style over substance."
Renee Graham (Boston Globe) in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel May 31, 1999, p. 3E

[Paging Mr. Gary Burghoff.]
"Gaining a stronger presence in the Midwest by heading east would offer Firstar [Bank] better opportunity, analysts said.
"'I think Michigan and Tennessee are on (Firstar's) radar screen,' [financial analyst Ken] Brusda said."
'Fistar likely looking to branch out in other states' by James C. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday, May 9, 1999 p. 1D

[Mr. Burghoff, second call.]
"In addition, [the] U[niversity of] W[isconsin]'s [Barry] Orton said the AT&T-Microsoft deal further exacerbates concerns about and ever-consolidating telecommunications industry.
"'If the federal government thinks that antitrust matters, this deal has to be on the radar screen,' he said."
'Cable takes charge of technology' by Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday, May 9, 1999 p. 3D

[Lamp, bottle, whatever.]
"The recent tests performed by India and Pakistan prove that we cannot put the nuclear genie back in the bottle."
'Perhaps it's time for U.S. to step up weaponry program' by Justine A. Rosenthal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday, May 9, 1999 p. 1J

[What about his pocket protector?]
"In defiance of the conventional wisdom that it would be desirable (in the words of President Clinton) to connect "every classroom in America tothe Internet by the year 2000," there are increasingly vocal critics of the use of computers in K-12 instruction. One of the leaders of this defiance is William L. Rukeyser of the nonprofit Learning in the Real World organization, who says: "So many programs were being slaughtered by this perception that if it didn't involve computers, it wasn't worth anything. I quickly realized that there was this tremendous faith that computers were in fact some plaster saint that would save the day." He adds, "We're not pushing our brand of solution, and we're not saying that the emperor has no clothes. We're just asking, Is his tie on straight and do his socks match?"
Edupage 18 March 1999, crediting New York Times 17 March 1999

[One good turn deserves another.]
"The Story of Spin, as told by Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and lovingly translated by Takeshi Oka, is a brilliant and witty account of the development of modern quantum theory, which takes electron spin as a pivotal concept."
from Fritz Rohrlich in Physics Today, quoted in A Reader's Catalog, a 1998 catalog from The University of Chicago Press

[Bram Stoker's Titanic.]
"A dyed-in-the-wool child of the sixties, I sometimes feel as though I have awakened into a very bad dream. Reading about Ken Starr day after day makes me feel as though our bright ship of state has hit an enormous iceberg, and I grow sad for all that has been and will be plowed under by the disaster. A stake has been driven through the heart of affirmative action. The civil rights position is barely breathing. The conversation on race appears to be just plain dead in the water."
"To Sleep, Perchance..."; "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" column by Patricia J. Williams, The Nation Digital Edition, April 6, 1998, Minority Report

[Usually only in the Everglades.]
"'You've got to rock the boat sometimes,' [San Francisco school board trustee Keith] Jackson said Wednesday. 'But I really didn't think it would hit the fan the way it has.'"
"Proposed reading list of minority authors draws opposition" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel March 12, 1998, final edition, p. 8A, (Associated Press)

[Never read much Camus, myself.]
"You can see why the good boy and the practitioners of identity politics don't have much use for each other. [Duncan] Kennedy [in A Critique of Adjudication (fin de siecle)] supports most of their proposals, except that he over-supports them. He argues for rigid racial quotas, but identity politicians avoid the word 'quota' like the plague."
Richard Posner, "Bad Faith", The New Republic, June 9, 1997, p. 37.

[Maybe they used to be waiters.]
"In the foreward he wrote for this new edition, [Boris] Souvarine recalled the vile and sinister obstacles he had to overcome when, forty years earlier, he first attempted to publish his historical masterpiece in Paris. At the time, the leading figures of the French intelligentsia avoided him as if he had the plague."
Simon Leys, "Mythmaker," reviewing Andre Malraux: A Biography by Curtis Cate, The New York Review of Books May 29, 1997 p. 26.

[Have them turn around.]
"'The United States Catholic Conference has advocated for years for welfare reform,' said Connie Combs, program coordiator for refugees in the USCC's Department of Migration and Refugee Services.
"But we want to make sure it's not done on the backs of immigrants and the backs of the poor,' said Combs"
'Church official: Don't balance reform on backs of poor, immigrant.' Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 1, 1997 p. 4.

[It turned out to be a Something Happened.]
"[House Minority Leader Dick] Gephardt said further interest rate increases were particularly ill-timed now because thousands of people will be coming off welfare rolls and looking for work under reforms passed by Congress last year. Those jobs, he said, depend on continued economic growth.
"'We're going to suffocate that growth and make it impossible for them to go to work. It's a Catch-22.' Gephardt said."
Curt Anderson, '64 in Congress argue against a Fed rate increase,' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Saturday, April 26, 1997 p. 2D.

[Who's counting?]
"Inside, Outside Counsel Agree: Communication Is a Two-Way Street" [headline]
U. S. Business Litigation, Volume 2. Number 9, April 1997

[But did he keep his head?]
"Don Demet, president of the [St. Thomas More Society, an] association of Catholic lawyers, judges and legal scholars, said that 'although Thomas More never had a phone, fax, computer, voice mail or e-mail, he faced the same dilemmas we all face. When push came to shove, he was able to do the right thing.'"
'Lawyers told to seek truth, justice' Catholic Herald Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 20, 1997 p. 14

[She also favored reduced tariffs on poultry imports.]
"Nor did Madeleine Albright mention the Provisional Legislature at the hearing for her confirmation as secretary of state, saying only that she was 'watching' the Joint Declaration 'very closely' and hoped China wouldn't kill 'the goose that laid the golden egg.'"
Ellen Bork, 'The Last Days of Hong Kong,' The Weekly Standard, February 3, 1997 p. 29

[Bill Daily plays him in the television version.]
"Many of us who had thought or written in opposition to affirmative action experienced a similar reaction when it finally seemed that something decisive would be done. Complexities that had not been obvious in the debate or in popular thinking suddenly emerged, like a genie from the bottle."
Nathan Glazer, 'Blacks Only?'The New Republic, 'The Hard Questions,' January 27, 1997, p. 25

[Then he left with a craving for Chicken McNuggets.]
"He [President Clinton] said American workers aren't pushing for unreasonable wages. 'You haven't seen any kind of demands that people would say are outrageous, even in tight labor markets,' he said. 'They also understand that they can't kill the goose that lays the golden egg,' he said, noting that increased productivity and new markets also have worked to keep inflation in check."
Michael K Frisby, 'Clinton Willing to Compromise for Budget Deal' The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, January 23, 1997, p. A3

[Especially if it's a nude beach.]
"Army Secretary Togo West promised Friday that the investigation would determine whether Army leaders fostered an atmosphere conducive to sexual misconduct at training facilities.
The inquiry also will try to determine whether the commanders were lax in keeping tabs on their trainers.
'We simply can't put our heads in the sand' said West ..."
Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel, Final Edition, Saturday, November 23, 1996, p. 4A.

[Wait an hour after eating.]
"Among the obstacles to promoting such values, the archbishop [Rembert Weakland] said, is the fact that 'there are no international structures strong enough to embody these values.'
'We might have to stand alone and swim against the stream,' Weakland said."
'Synod Bishops say faith-based values can change world' by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in the Catholic Herald, November 20, 1997, p. 10.

[Next we'll be building cathedrals.]
"Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala City says the church remains firm. 'Using the death penalty is like returning to the Middle Ages, and it will not stop the problem,' he said."
'Guatemalans clamor for death penalty' Catholic Herald Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Vol. 127, No. 29, p. 2.

[Under the skid marks.]
"Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal public research group, thinks modest changes are possible. But he isn't wildly confident. 'When the rubber meets the road and you really have to set priorities,' Greenstein wonders, 'where will this be on the list?'"
Jeffrey L. Katz, 'Small Change', The New Republic, December 9, 1996, p. 15.

[ © Shahrazad]
"Conceding that his views are somewhat at odds with those of older members of his [law] firm, 28-year-old Erich Schlacter says, 'I grew up in a culture immersed in the notion information 'wants' to be free; that 'the need to know' is rather stupid; that the more information, the better. The notion of extremely strong intellectual property protection doesn't seem consistent with the way I am living my life. I am of the view that the kinds of 'minor infringement' we all do has become part of our culture. The laws don't fully reflect that, but it's impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.'"
Victoria Slind-Flor, 'If It's Online, Why Pay?', The National Law Journal, Monday, November 18, 1996, p. A22

[Doesn't she look like herself?]
"As Norma Evenson, a University of California at Berkeley architectural historian said at a forum about the plan ['Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century'] earlier in the year, 'It's a nice plan. I just don't think it's very important because ... it doesn't touch on any really major urban issues. If the city of Washington continues the way it's going, the plan is going to be like putting a Band-Aid on a corpse."
Blair Kamin, 'Reality Check; It's back to the drawing board for proposed D. C. plan'Chicago Tribune, Sunday, November 3, 1996, Section 7, p. 9

[What did you expect a camel to smell like?]
"'The straw that broke the liberal camel's back was when Clinton signed the welfare reform bill,' [The Progessive magazine's editor Matthew] Rothschild said. 'That was a huge wake-up call for people. They've become sick and tired of holding their noses and voting for the person who seems to be the lesser of two evils.'"
"Turn to the left: Radical parties might gain" by Peter Maller Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, November 3, 1996, Final Edition, p. 5B

"The Booker Literary Prize; Deja vu all over again" [headline]
The Economist, October 26th-November 1st 1996, p. 106

[What better place?]
"Far from initiating a bold, coherent strategy, the decision [to permit arms shipments from Iran] further Balkanized the fragmented U.S. policy on Bosnia."
Maud S. Beelman, 'Fingerprints,' The New Republic, October 28, 1996, p. 26.

[Use the large size.]
"The lamppost scheme was like putting Band-Aids on someone who had tripped and fallen on his own chainsaw."
James Howard Kunstler, 'Home From Nowhere,' The Atlantic Monthly, September 1996, p. 46.

[Don't listen to the opinions of anyone who has them.]
"But some Wisconsin educators say that [Michael] Sanera himself has a political agenda to promote.
"'We call him a hired gun,' said Randy Champeau, director of the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point."
Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel, July 17, 1996, p. 2B.

[Writers were furloughed as nonessential]
"Democrats already were condemning the new budget as a reprise of last year's 'extremist' Republican policies and warned that the two sides could be headed for another budget stalemate.
"'It's deja vu all over again,' said House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri."
Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel, May 17, 1996, p. 12A.

[Just don't fall in.]
"Needed are extensive, no-holes-barred investigations into Ortiz's case and into the curriculum at the School of the Americas."
Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 9, 1996, p. 6.

[Or like a return to the Middle Ages.]
"[Fr. Gerald] Hessel likened political solutions that call for building walls on the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants and stricter legal immigration quotas to using a band-aid to cure cancer."
Maryangela Layman Roman, 'Immigration raid devastates Catholic Family...' Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 28, 1996, p.7.

[Ed and Keenan]
"The group involved in consensus must look upon itself as friends seeking the truth together. This type of decision-making process lends itself to researching options, viewing different perspectives and compromise. The process leads to win-win decisions and therein lies its value."
Living the Spirit; A Parish Council Manual, (Fourth Edition, 1991) p. 27.

[A Nobel Prize, but not in literature.]
"That means electrons, unlike photons, do not like to go to the same place; they avoid each other like the plague--no two electrons with the same polarization can be at the same point at the same time--it's called the 'exclusion principle.'"
Richard P. Feynman, QED; The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1985) pp.112-113.

[If more Muslims move to Arkansas.]
"If Reagonomics works at all, Whitewater could become the Western Hemisphere's Mecca."
Hillary Clinton in a letter to James McDougal (1981)

Selected Bibliography

Circle of cliches: Tom Payne's guide to the words that reviewers and publishers love too much
Telegraph, August 8, 2004

Buck Buchan, "The Cliche Disordered Personality,"
Journal of Irreproducible Results, Vol. 42, No. 3, May/June 1997, p. 16

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