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Wit and Wisdom for a One Party State

A handbook for government by wishful thinking

Monday, September 29, 2008

Enemy, n. Us.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Partisanship, n. The instinctive reaction of a legislative body to the mortal threat of universal concensus.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free rider n. The fifth horseman of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Price, n. Of private purchases,what the market will bear. Of purchases by the State, what the market won't bear.

2008 P KRUGMAN 24 Sep. "So I just did a Nexis search trying to find out when Paulson and Bernanke started talking about price discovery, which we’re now told [is] at the core of the plan’s logic. And the answer is … Yesterday."
1972 B BARKER 4 Sep. "Oh, my, thank you, thank you so much, welcome to 'The New Price is Right'; and let me assure you fans of the old 'Price is Right' that this is your favorite game still based on the pricing of merchandise with wonderful awards for smart shoppers. We call it 'The New Price is Right' because we have some exciting new games that you will enjoy right there at home with our studio audience, and we're going to get that first game going right now. Here's the first item up for bids on 'The New Price is Right'."

Balance, n. The careful stewardship that assures a ship will sink in an upright position.

2008 H PAULSON 23 Mar. "The objective here is to get the balance right. Regulation needs to catch up with innovation and help restore investor confidence but not go so far as to create new problems, make our markets less efficient or cut off credit to those who need it."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exceptionalism, n. Delusions of difference.

2008 S CALABRESI via NYT 16 Sep. "Those of us concerned about citation of foreign law — your article quotes me as one of them — believe in something called American exceptionalism, which holds that the United States is a beacon of liberty, democracy and equality of opportunity to the rest of the world."
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004) "The Court rejects additional arguments made by the dissent in support of the mistaken view that exceptions exist to the immediate custodian and district of confinement rules whenever exceptional, special, or unusual cases arise."
2008 US SUPREME COURT via LEXIS 21 Sep. "No documents were found for your search terms: 'exceptionalism'"
2008 DISCOVER THE BOOK 25 Aug. "Beware of the problem of exceptionism, which make me think my life is an exception to God’s Word. Thus I can excuse myself from doing anything for Heaven because of my past, or my pain, or my poverty, or my poor self-image. The problem of exceptionism can erase Christ's well done. Remember Annanias and Saphira."

Desperation, n. The last refuge of patriots.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lie, v. To float an outlier in the marketplace of ideas.

1899 A BIERCE "I am relating these things exactly as they occurred. It would be very easy to make a fine story out of all this material --to tell how that, while I was engaged in lightening the ship, I was touched by the self-sacrificing spirit of a beautiful young woman, who, to save the life of her lover, pushed her aged mother forward to where I was operating, imploring me to take the old lady, but spare, O, spare her dear Henry. I might go on to set forth how that I not only did take the old lady, as requested, but immediately seized dear Henry, and sent him flying as far as I could to leeward, having first broken his back across the rail and pulled a double-fistful of his hair out. I might proceed to state that, feeling appeased, I then stole the long boat and taking the beautiful maiden pulled away from the ill-fated ship to the church of St. Massaker, Fiji, where we were united by a knot that I afterward untied with my teeth by eating her. But, in truth, nothing of all this occurred, and I can not afford to be the first writer to lie just to interest the reader."

Long run, n. The approximate period of time required for a President and his Treasury Secretary to flee the jurisdiction.

2008 GW BUSH 19 Sep. "In the long run, Americans have good reason to be confident in our economic strength."
1923 JM KEYNES "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again."

Ideology, n. A game of hide-the-pea in which the mark gets the idea, and the operator keeps the pea.

2006 S CALABRESI "Americans really are a special people with a special ideology that sets us apart from all the other peoples."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Credit, n. A fertility pill for bad decisions.

2008 SAILORASTRO 2 Sep "Give Sarah Palin credit."
2008 S BRAISTED 9 Sep. "You have to give Sarah Palin credit."
2008 C BOESE 31 Aug. "I give Sarah Palin credit."
2008 PURPLEPHASE 1 Sep. "Let's give Sarah Palin credit."
2008 THEDCGUY 30 Aug. "Sarah Palin deserves more credit than she's getting."
2008 SAFELIBRARIES.ORG 3 Sep. "Some have even given Sarah Palin credit for asking first."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hell, n. A perfect storm of bad law, bad finance, and bad scholarship.

1965 G GILMORE "The law of personal property security transactions came to resemble the obscure wood in which Dante once discovered the gates of hell."
2003 W BUFFET "Reinsurance and derivatives businesses are similar. Like Hell, both are easy to enter and almost impossible to exit"
2004 K KLIESEN & F SCHMID "As also seen in the graph, countries that tend to have higher percentages of their population that believe in hell also tend to be less corrupt."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Benign, adj. The opposite of annoying, uncharitable, graceless, ill-natured, disobliging, malignant, intolerant, spiteful, churlish, barbaric, brutal, cruel, truculent, bloody-minded, rotten-hearted, mordacious, and of cloven foot.

2008 ANON 16 Sep. "And [George W.] Bush had a benign lesion removed. The one, lone benign part of him, and he had it removed."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Substance, n. The character trait common to persons who project an air of authority, reliability, and permanence.

2008 R CARLY FIORINA via MSNBC 15 Sep. "[T]he portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so, in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive and Sarah Palin as totally superficial. I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme and yes, I would say, sexist, in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance."
2008 MCCAIN-PALIN via CNN 16 Sep. "Carly will now disappear."

Sophistry, n. Conceit thick enough to drown its own miserable spawn of ignorance.

2008 W KRISTOL via NYT 14 Sep "When I was a kid, rumor had it that 'antidisestablishmentarianism' was the longest word in the English language."

Cum hoc ergo propter hoc, lat. A skeptical proposition that comes down to us in the dead language of an empire long extinct, and essentially means: "It might be possible for stupid people to make smart policy."

2008 D LUSKIN via WaPo 12 Sep "The sentiment of the majority is always wrong at key turning points. And the majority is plenty pessimistic right now. That suggests that we're on the brink not of recession, but of accelerating prosperity."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Perceive, v. To draw moral inferences from the evidence of one's own senses. The impossibility of making such a connection was first proposed by the liberal philosopher David Hume, in his Treatise of Human Nature, published in the 18th century. Politicians who have attended university can be crippled for life by exposure to its content, finding it almost impossible to answer the simplest of questions, even when, in their hearts, they are eager to do so. The cost to the Republic of this book, and of its Cliff Notes summary, have been very great indeed.

2008 S PALIN via ADN 15 Aug. "Some could perceive this as pressure, but I stand by, Woot--Walt Monagan was not 'pressured', to fire, Wooten. But given the evidence of what could be perceived as, evidently -- but anyway, go ahead. ..."
2008 S PALIN via ADN 15 Aug. "... I believe that what is accurate is that some, evidently, would have perceived pressure, based on, ah, like, Frank Bailey's, uh, call to a line trooper. If that's what they believe is pressure, then I could see how somebody could perceive that, but it's not acknowledgement that troop--er, that Monagan was pressured, to fire, Wooten. ..."
2008 S PALIN via ADN 15 Aug. "... With all these contacts that had been made, even compiling them together, as I said yesterday, some could perceive it, taken as a whole, as some kind of pressure, if that's the way that they wanted to perceive it, and that's why we brought things forward yesterday to say 'Look, here are the contacts that were made, we're not hiding anything', um, if this was pressure, (a) Walt would have told me that it was pressure, and he was uncomfortable feeling pressured as a Commissioner, um, (b) if there was any pressure, then, ah, it's here, it would be in these contacts, and the most, um, I guess relevant piece of evidence was that tape that had been, that was turned over yesterday, but -- I don't believe that it was pressure, Kyle. ..."
2008 S PALIN via ADN 15 Aug. "... Look, I have a bunch of interviews today, so you'll have to get to whatever topic it was that you were doing, okay."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Plunge, n. A lunge that begins with P.

Stagger, v. To challenge, and by challenging, to improve.

2008 B HERBERT A via NYT 12 Sep 12 "The Bush doctrine, which flung open the doors to the catastrophe in Iraq, was such a fundamental aspect of the administration’s foreign policy that it staggers the imagination that we could have someone no further than a whisper away from the White House who doesn’t even know what it is."

Misincompetence, n. Incompetence on a mission.

2008 TOM A via The Caucus Blog 12 Sep "If she botched this one half as much as yesterday’s, we are in for another treat of misincompetency."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Abridge, v., To remove everything from a story but The Good Part.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Deception, n. Speaking in tongues, for beginners.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deference, n., The grand prize in a self-promotion sweepstakes.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Grateful, adj., Showing an appropriate level of appreciation toward a government that permits one to breathe.

2008 S PALIN "We have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state, made up of the hardest working, most grateful Americans in our nation."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Maverick, n., A fiercely independent person, kept outside the tent in the vain hope that they will wander off and piss somewhere else.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Change, n., A secured claim on the future.

2008 B OBAMA 27 Jan. "The [mortgage] we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of [property] we want and how hard we're willing to work for it."
2008 S PALIN 4 Sep. "In politics, there are some candidates who use [a mortgage] to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote [a mortgage]."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Infotainment, n., The free version of pay-per-view Television. Karl Marx wrote somewhere that "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please." He forgot to add: "unless they own News International."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hat, n., Metaphorically, a symbol of allegiance, loyalty or affiliation.

2008 J MCCAIN 31 Aug. "We take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats, and we say America, we're with you, America, we're going to care for these people in their time of need."
1972 R NEWMAN "You can leave your hat on."