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    He Follows the Law Like a Tantony Pig

    clementpig.jpgQuote:  "The use of military commissions to try enemy combatants has been part and parcel of the war power for 200 years."  Solicitor General Paul Clement.

    Figure of Speech: idiom (ID-ee-om), the figure of inseparable words.

    About every other day, Figaro gets an email that contains a cluster of words and a request to name the figure.  Usually, the cluster is an idiom ("peculiar" or "singular"), a group of words that must taken, well, part and parcel; they serve as a single word with one meaning.  "Part and parcel," for instance, means the same as another idiom, "comes with the territory."  The government’s top trial lawyer uses it to defend military tribunals for what the administration calls "enemy combatants."

    An idiom might be Greek to you.   Joe Average may not have the foggiest notion of what a person is getting at, but take it all with a grain of salt and Bob’s your uncle.  Catch my drift?

    Snappy Answer:  "One, this is not a war, at least not an ordinary war.  Two, it’s not a war crime because that doesn’t fall under international law. And three, it’s not a war crime tribunal or commission because [there is] no emergency."  Justice Breyer, responding to Clement with a eutrepismus.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    Boy, y'all are fast. Already the mail is coming in asking what in blue blazes (to coin an idiom) do "Tantony pig" and "Bob's your uncle" mean.

    Our etymologist friends tell us that friars -- sons of St. Anthony -- were allowed to let their pigs wander in the streets of Europe, and they'd follow anyone who appeared to have a treat for them. "Bob's your uncle" refers to Robert, Lord of Salisbury, who as prime minister of Britain appointed his clueless son Arthur as secretary for Ireland in 1887. And Bob was his uncle.
    March 29, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Make that nephew, not son. It was nepotism, not incest.

    March 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Ur head is in da clouds
    June 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRimZkkdbzluver
    Yes, that's another idiom.
    June 10, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    she's wet behind the ______. letters: RSAE
    October 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfred7834983
    Please tell me where 'different kettle of fish' comes from......

    Sigh. Figaro is not an etymologist. Mucking out the origins of idioms is not his bag, baby (to coin an idiom). Nonetheless, this one's interesting. A "kettle of fish" once meant a fancy riverside picnic (the original river was the Tweed, in Britain) where the jolly al frescans tossed live salmon into poiling pots of water. "Different kettle of fish" is an adaptation of "fine kettle of fish" or "rare kettle of fish," an ironic expression that means, "This is no picnic."

    February 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjarrad
    put a cork in it
    September 6, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterme
    What are the correct English and German versions of "Don't teach your grandmother how to chew coal."
    September 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpier.rodelon

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