Archive for October, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts: “Campaigning for Office Is Not a Game”

October 31, 2012

End game, throw the game, ground game, all new game:  These are a few of the metaphors being used to describe this election.

In Jeffry Toobin’s new book, The Oath, about the U.S. Supreme Court and its recent decisions, Chief Justice John Roberts is quoted in  the chapter entitled, Democracy Is Not A Game as follows:

“Leveling the playing field’ can sound like a good thing,”  the chief justice wrote for the majority decision. “But in a democracy, campaigning for office is not a game.  It is a critically important form of speech.  The First Amendment embodies our choice as a Nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom–the ‘unfettered interchange of ideas’–not whatever the State may view as fair.”  The court stated that an Arizona law was a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Toobin: “This case concerned the constitutionality of The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act, which had been passed by the voters in 1998, to address the state’s appalling history of political corruption. This fairly modest reform established a system of optional public funding of campaigns for certain state offices.  A candidate who chose to accept public funding would receive extra money from the state if his or her privately funded opponent exceeded a certain set spending limit.  The basic idea was simple: to keep elections competitive if a privately funded candidate was vastly out spending a publicly funded one.  The question in the case was whether the First Amemdment permitted the government subsidies.”

The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court used two sports idioms in this comment:  level playing field, which other justices had used, and “campaigning for office is not a game.”  Idiomatic terms such as level playing field and a game are pervasive in American English.

An All-New Game

October 30, 2012

Washington Post Magazine: W, October 28, 2012 

AN ALL-NEW GAME, by Rick Maese, p.14

“Jimmy Farris was a Redskin with no political experience, and he had voted only once.  Now he’s running for Congress.”

“THE RUN OF HIS LIFE:  Jimmy Farris has left the football field.  Now, he’s running for Congress.  Will he fumble?”

This is  great metaphorical usage of American football terms. Farris played wide receiver at the University of Montana, and later “spent six seasons in the NFL (National Football League), including two with the Washington Redskins.”  He was a wide receiver, so he certainly did some running as a football player, and now is “running” for the U.S. Congress from Idaho. It is”an all new-game.”   

The question:  “Will he fumble?”  Will he drop the ball?  He may, but according to the article, Jimmy Farris is determined and a hard worker.  If he fumbles or drops the ball, he probably will continue.

American and Viet Losses in War: In the Ballpark?

October 30, 2012

The Washington Post, Sunday, October 28, 2012:  BOOK WORLD


THE GENERALS, American Military Command From World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks, Penguin Press

…”Then, in South Vietnam under (General) William Westmoreland, came another nadir in American generalship.  Westmoreland was convinced that the way to win was through a strategy of attrition that would kill off the Viet Cong guerrillas and the regular North Vietnamese army faster than they could replace the losses…”  

Author Ricks, quoting General William DePuy, the intellectual advocate of the strategy as Westmoreland’s operations officer, admitted the attrition strategy’s futility years later:  “We …didn’t know about the redoubtable nature of the North Vietnamese regime.  We didn’t know what steadfast, stubborn, dedicated people they were.  Their willingness to absorb losses compared with ours wasn’t even in the same ballpark.” 

For interpretation of the baseball metaphor, go to  The original baseball meaning for in the ball park is: “The ball was hit hard, but stayed in the ball park;”  the metaphoric equivalent relates to an acceptable figure or proposal. 


Governor Cuomo: In a Time of Crisis, New Yorkers Step Up To The Plate

October 30, 2012

October 29, 2012, 4:00 pm:  With Hurricane Sandy moving into New Jersey  and New York City, Governor Cuomo stated the above.  Step up to the plate is a baseball metaphor implying that New Yorkers help in difficult situations.  

In baseball, the batter steps up to the plate to hit the ball thrown by the opposing team’s pitcher.  This metaphor is used for:  “Let’s do it.”Let’s take care of it.”  “You do it.” As  baseball season and the World Series just ended, it may be on the Governor’s mind.

McDonald’s, Feeling Heat in Europe, Serves Up Deals

October 11, 2012

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Wednesday, October 10, 2012

McDonald’s Feeling Heat in Europe, Serves Up Deals, by Julie Jargon and Laura Stevens 

“Worried that cash-strapped European consumers will say “adieu” or auf Wiedersehen,” McDonald’s Corp. is offering coupons and meal deals in Germany, France and neighboring countries as it tries to stabilize its largest market.”

A dealer deals(verb) out the cards to the players.  A deal (noun) describes the completed dealing.  Deals can be negotiated agreements between businesses, as well as between people.  In the above case, McDonald’s has a promotion or “deal” for potential customers.  McDonald’s is offering coupons for buy-one-get-one-free Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets and McDeals.

Travelers: A Curveball and a Hurdle

October 11, 2012

NEW YORK TIMES BUSINESS Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ON THE ROAD, by Joe Sharkey

A Few Well-Chosen Words Pay the Fare for Some

“That white-knuckled flier sitting across the aisle muttering anxiously may well have a case of fear of flying.  But it may also be a case of fear of public speaking.”

Mr. Sharkey, the author of this article, states in this article that public speaking is a basic requirement for many jobs.  He then states that “one curveball being thrown at speakers, incidentally, comes from technology.  At big events, the speaker’s image is often projected on giant video screens, allowing people to see quirks that once went largely unnoticed.” 

A curveball thrown at a baseball pitcher is difficult to hit;  a tech curveball may make the comfort level a bit more discomforting.  As the author states: “If you’re in a room with 2,000 people, most people really can’t see the small inflections and changes in your facial expression.”  But with those giant screens, “suddenly they really can, which makes body language far more important than it ever was.”  

Travelers Find Frustrating Hurdle at Customs

Past Brushes With Law Complicate a Trusted Traveler Program, by Susan Stellin

“The government’s trusted traveler program has proved itself more popular than officials expected, with 1.2 million people now eligible to speed up their entry to this country using a self-service kiosk rather than waiting to speak to a customs agent at the airport.

But some people have been surprised to find that their applications for the Global Entry trusted traveler program have been rejected–not for some serious infraction but for a minor brush with law enforcement or customs inspectors that turned up during the required background check.”

In track and field sports hurdles are barriers runners must jump over. The hurdles in traveling and at U.S. Customs must be frustrating, especially if a former infraction was minor, such as an apple in a bag that was prohibited. Usually, though, according to the article, “any type of criminal conviction would disqualify someone,” as well as some prohibited or undeclared items.

Bench Press: Federal Judges in New York Sentencing Defendants In Insider Trading Cases

October 10, 2012


Declarative Sentence?  Rakoff Varies It

By Michael Rothfield, with contributions by Chad Ray

“Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director Jajat Gupta is the highest profile of more than 70 defendants convicted of insider trading in New York federal court in the past three years.  But this month he will likely receive a more lenient sentence than the 11 year sentence term given to Raj Rajaratnam, to whom Mr. Gupta provided his illegal leaks, legal experts say.” 

Picture of Judge Jed Rakoff in his Manhattan chambers with the comment that the judge “doesn’t always hew to sentencing guidelines.”  

“Bench Press:  How some federal-court judges in New York have sentenced convicted defendants in insider-trader cases during the past three years.”  (There is a graph showing how four judges, including Judge Rakoff, sentenced four defendants below the minimum guidelines.) 

Bench press is a play on words, judges sit to hear cases, not usually on a bench, but they could have years ago.  Weight lifters compete by lifting heavier and heavier weights.  In a bench press, one lies on  a bench and lifts the weights.

Did Obama Throw the Game?

October 10, 2012


MAUREEN DOWD:  Barry Trails Off…

…”So Obama knows that he alone is responsible for his unfathomable retreat into his own head while nearly 70 million people watched.  He hadn’t been nailing it in debate prep either, taking a break to visit the Hoover Dam, and worried aides knew his head wasn’t in it.  When the president realized what a dud he was, he apologized to flummoxed and irritated advisors.

Once during the 2008 campaign, reading about all the cataclysms jolting the economy and the world, Obama joked to an adviser:  ‘Maybe I should throw the game.’  This time, he actually threw the game.  And shaved points right off his poll ratings…”

End game, throw the game, ground game:  These are a few of the metaphors being used to describe this election.

Key to Victory? Who Has the Best Ground Game

October 10, 2012

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL,  Tuesday, October 9, 2012, by Gerald F. Seib 

Key to Victory?  Who Has the Best Ground Game

“Political campaigns contain many sexy components: multimillion-ad buys, national debates, convention speeches.  But this year’s election may well hinge on a decidedly unsexy factor: voter turnout machinery…

And in a close race, what matters most in the end game isn’t who airs a few more ads or gives a slightly better speech.  What matters most is which side can get its supporters to actually show up at the polls.”

Best ground game; best end game:  Great metaphors for the election at this point, especially in football season.  Often it isn’t the sexy passes in the air, but the running back game that wins.  Of course, it takes both and depends on the coach’s strategy.

Play the Cards You’re Dealt But Choose Who Is At The Table

October 5, 2012

Full page ad in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Wednesday, October 3, 2012, with a picture of two older women playing cards and laughing.

“…With millions of insured members nationwide, AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, will be there to help you stay on top of your game-GO LONG”

AARP Medicare Supplement Plans want to be at the table with older Americans.