Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dictionary of Republicanisms, from The Nation.

Kudos to Ed for sending NA Confidential this link to The Nation's "Dictionary of Republicanisms," compiled and introduced by Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Readers, this humorous exercise need not be limited to Republicanisms.

It's time for "NA Confidential's Dictionary of New Albaniaisms."

How would you define terms like these: Full audit, white chili, Siamese Councilmen, troglobyte, Gang of Four, EastdistEnded, mad as hell, Freedom Foie Gras, Trinkle Dome, Luddite Bar & Grill, potty police, golf cart, nickels and dimes, Trog Shaman ... the list is endless.

Send your entries to NAC's e-mail, or post in the comments section.


Over the past few decades, the radical right has engaged in a well-funded, self-conscious program of Orwellian doublespeak, transforming the American political discourse to suit its ends. Think tanks like the Cato Institute routinely market phrases for their political resonance, like "personal" vs. "private" accounts. Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, lexicographer and MSNBC pundit who combines Madison Avenue techniques with K Street connections, sends out regular missives informing Republican operatives and politicians on how to spin conservative policy proposals. (He was on The Daily Show demonstrating his talents, defining "manipulation" as "explanation and education.") Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that "weapons of mass destruction" was agreed upon as the reason to go to war with Iraq because it was the most salable rationale. And we all know how that turned out.

Before we can win the great battle of ideas, we must debunk the right's political discourse, a veritable code of encrypted language that twists common usage to deceive the public for the Republicans' purposes. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words that sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to them. Their tactics range from the childish use of antonyms ("clean" = "dirty") to the pseudo-academic use of prefixes ("neo" is a favorite) to the pernicious and very expensive rebranding of traditional labels ("liberal" as an insult).

We decided we needed to break the code by building a Republican dictionary. Skewer their deceptions with the fine-tipped sword of satire. Lies melt away in the face of mockery.

Unlike Republicans, who rely on rich old cranks and intellectuals-for-hire to do their dirty work, we opened up the process to the people. For six months, accepted suggestions from everyone who wanted to participate. The result was an overwhelming grassroots groundswell of hilarious submissions from citizens who are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Thousands of definitions were entered from all over the country, forty-four states in all, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. (We even received a few from outraged Canadians, Australians and Brits.)

As momentum for the project grew, friends and allies joined the effort. asked its readers and writers to submit their own definitions. Reviewing the submissions from our website, we found that certain trends became apparent. "Compassionate conservative" and "ownership society" were the most popular targets. "No Child Left Behind" was the most common riff. The disaster in Iraq was the subject of the most outrage. The results have been compiled in a new book, Dictionary of Republicanisms (Nation Books). Here are some of my favorites. I hope they inspire you to action, to take back this great nation from those who are doing it such harm.

abstinence-only sex education n.
Ignorance-only sex education [Wayne Martorelli, Lawrenceville, NJ].

alternative energy sources n.
New locations to drill for gas and oil [Peter Scholz, Fort Collins, Colo.].

bankruptcy n.
A punishable crime when committed by poor people but not corporations [Beth Thielen, Studio City, Calif.].

"burning bush" n.
A biblical allusion to the response of the President of the United States when asked a question by a journalist who has not been paid to inquire [Bill Moyers, New York, NY].

Cheney, Dick n.
The greater of two evils [Jacob McCullar, Austin, Tex.].

China n.
See Wal-Mart [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].

class warfare n.
Any attempt to raise the minimum wage [Don Zweir, Grayslake, Ill.].

climate change n.
The blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ].

compassionate conservatism n.
Poignant concern for the very wealthy [Lawrence Sandek, Twin Peaks, Calif.].

creationism n.
Pseudoscience that claims George W. Bush's resemblance to a chimpanzee is totally coincidental [Brian Sweeney, Providence, RI].

DeLay, Tom n.
1. Past tense of De Lie [Rick Rodstrom, Los Angeles, Calif.]. 2.
Patronage saint [Andrew Magni, Nonatum, Mass.].

democracy n.
A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted [Michael Schwartz, unknown].

dittohead n.
An Oxy(contin)moron [Zydeco Boudreaux, Gretna, La.].

energy independence n.
The caribou witness relocation program [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

extraordinary rendition n.
Outsourcing torture [Milton Feldon, Laguna Woods, Calif.].

faith n.
The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

Fox News fict.
Faux news [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

free markets n.
Halliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense [Sean O'Brian, Chicago, Ill.].

girly men n.
Males who do not grope women inappropriately [Nick Gill, Newton, Mass.].

God n.
Senior presidential adviser [Martin Richard, Belgrade, Mont.].
growth n. 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when Republicans cut taxes on the rich [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

habeas corpus n. Archaic.
(Lat.) Legal term no longer in use (See Patriot Act) [Josh Wanstreet, Nutter Fort, WV].

healthy forest n.
No tree left behind [Dan McWilliams, Santa Barbara, Calif.].

homelandism n.
A neologism for love of the Homeland Security State, as in "My Homeland, 'tis of thee, sweet security state of liberty..." [Tom Engelhardt, New York, NY].

honesty n.
Lies told in simple declarative sentences--e.g., "Freedom is on the march" [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].

House of Representatives n.
Exclusive club; entry fee $1 million to $5 million (See Senate) [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].

laziness n.
When the poor are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

leisure time n.
When the wealthy are not working [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

liberal(s) n.
Followers of the Antichrist [Ann Wegher, Montello, Wisc.].

Miller, Zell n.
The man who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton after a particularly tough interview on Hardball [Drew Dillion, Arlington, Va.].

neoconservatives n.
Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

9/11 n.
Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated (See Deficit, Iraq War) [Dan Mason, Durham, NH].

No Child Left Behind riff.
1. v. There are always jobs in the military [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ]. 2. n. The rapture [Samantha Hess, Cottonwood, Ariz.].

ownership society n.
A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth [Michael Albert, Piscataway, NJ].

Patriot Act n.
1. The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first. 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us [Michael Thomas, Socorro, NM].

pro-life adj.
Valuing human life up until birth [Kevin Weaver, San Francisco, Calif.].

Senate n.
Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million [Adam Hochschild, San Francisco, Calif.].

simplify v.
To cut the taxes of Republican donors [Katrina vanden Heuvel, New York, NY].

staying the course interj. Slang.
Saying and doing the same stupid thing over and over, regardless of the result [Suzanne Smith, Ann Arbor, Mich.].

stuff happens interj. Slang.
Donald Rumsfeld as master historian [Sheila and Chalmers Johnson, San Diego, Calif.].

voter fraud n.
A significant minority turnout [Sue Bazy, Philadelphia, Pa.].

Wal-Mart n.
The nation-state, future tense [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].

water n.
Arsenic storage device [Joy Losee, Gainesville, Ga.].

woman n.
1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place [Denise Clay, Philadelphia, Pa.].


Ann said...

Well, I think we all know who'll take on the white chili definition.

Just when I thought that gag had gotten as much mileage as possible . . .

The New Albanian said...

white chili, n
When in the cauldron, a favorite New Albanian Halloween costume.

Tim Deatrick said...

white chili: a concoction that goes by many names, key ingredients include a dash of bitters, ladled with noodles of implied corruption, flavored with mayoral aspirations and Bush beans with rove spices and intrigue. Once consumed your gut tells you it's a train wreck on the horizon. Recommended tonic for heartburn, Garner '07 to soothe the terrible aftertaste of the white chili New Albany version.

edward parish said...

Freedom Foie Gras -
Recipe mastered at the tavern formerly known as Ernie's now known(across the street) as The Hitching Post. Same as the old recipe, only with different meat.

Trog Shaman - Well, let us just say it is already a term on the list of "Dictionary of Republicanisms".....You figure it out.

Ann said...

I would have been SO disappointed had Tim not posted his white chili definition. I'll bet this really had you chuckling, Tim.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Those Republicanisms are very good...the Wal-Mart ones made me chuckle.

Anonymous said...

These are cute, inventive and typical coming from a far left site.

Extremist on either side are not healthy, but having moral conviction and declaring it openly is not a bad thing.

I still cannot figure out where most Dems base their morals and their decisions except by what the polls tell them or how they feel at any particular moment.

Moral relativism is not solid ground to base decisions.

edward parish said...

Dear HB, please read up on facts before posting judgement..
About The Nation
"The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred."
-- from The Nation's founding prospectus, 1865

Brandon W. Smith said...

Unexamined moral conviction is a bad thing, especially when you deduce all of your policy decisions based upon it. What you are essentially saying, it seems, is that our legislators should be trying to legislate your brand of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I read the statement. Their viewpoints, ideology and postings are all c/w a very liberal (left) stance.

I could print that I am not the organ of any party, sect, or body but that would be misleading. I am a consevative and have no problems with my convictions.

As for Brandon, I am not saying legislators should legislate on my brand of christianity. I do think they should clarify what they base their decisions and moral statements on.

You seem to always complain about where I stand on issues, but I don't think I try to hide or dance around my morals or stances on issues as others do.

Being honest and up-front seems to cause some tension for you.

Brandon W. Smith said...

No, what causes tension are the broad-brush attacks, distortion of the facts (or failure to obtain them), and thinly-veiled proseletyzing in most of your posts. I just don't think you are used to being called on it.

Iamhoosier said...


Just exactly what would satisfy you when it comes to someone defining on what they base their decisions and moral statements? You have basically asked me that question in the past and I answered the best that I could.
It seemed to me that you basically rejected it.

Anonymous said...

I would be satisfied when I hear an answer that explains things that you don't seem to want to admit.

Your comment are like many others on these postings.

"Right and wrong, good and evil. I believe that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness is good test to determine these. A murderer violates these rights of the murdered. Slavery violates ...
So yes, I have a basis for defining these values. I believe that is where laws come in. To protect LLH for all. I believe murder is wrong because of LLH not because it is in the 10 commandments."

Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness is not a test that determines good or evil, right and wrong. You cannot define values with naturalistic measures. These values go against naturalism, survival of the fittest, etc.

Values are defined by something deep inside individuals that is supernatural and cannot be explained with naturalistic measures.

Virtually all societies believe torturing babies is evil. Why?? It is not because they necessarily believe in "life"

If it makes you happy, lessons your financial burden, or eliminates a responsibility, then why is it wrong. Sure their are laws, but again, why?? There is a moral right and wrong and it doesn't come from natural laws. It is supernatural.

I admire your commitment to your wife and family, but it is against human male nature to be monogamous.
So what motivates your heart to do this. Many other men feel that having sex with multiple women certainly makes them happy.

Again, your moral fortitude is coming from something many people don't want to admit. There is a supernatural realm that we cannot explain with our limitations in naturilistic thinking.

I believe that you and many others blogging are very kind, considerate, compassionate and loving individuals, but this is not what are animal instincts tell us to do.

So what is it??

edward parish said...

HB, That is America. Being able to look at the issues and make ones choice, not from policy dictated by a bunch of suits that have lost touch -if they ever had any touch- with the real America, not one for the vacationland of the rich and famous, etc. I truly respect the fact that you are a republican and live your life by the rules past and present adopted by the GOP. What I do have a problem with is that it is not the GOP of my youth. Long gone are the views of the GOP in the era of really great republican lawmakers, instead like the ones now that hide behind false hope for their own gain.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Now that was honest, thank you.

It is supernatural.

That is where people may disagree with you.

My larger point is that the personal answers our legislators come to on that question should not be our basis for determining whether or not we support a policy. Nor do I think it is wise to get into the habit of thinking:

"I am a [insert religion/party/etc.], therefore I will think this and support that."


"I need to know if she believes X before I will support her policy idea."

A fundamentalist, for example, will usually not question their understanding of God, but will conform all other actions and beliefs around it. This might show a type of faith and certainly is reassuring to the individual, but it is antithetical to life in a free society where we try to debate ideas and come to workable solutions that benefit everyone.

Questioning or reinterpreting the bedrock of one's faith is a scary thing and is usually seen as "weak," "wishy-washy," "shifting sand," "relativism," etc. But if one refuses to entertain the idea that he or she is wrong or mistaken, then meaningful dialog, debate, persuasion cannot occur.

This honesty and willingness to consider other ideas goes for everyone, not just fundamentalists, but I see it with annoying familiarity from the extreme right side of the aisle. Having had views almost identical to HB in the past, I suppose it is especially irksome for me to hear the same, unchanging script repeated over and over on every policy and religious issue.

This tension between unquestioning faith and a free society is an interesting dilemma here in the USA with no easy answer. I think this is the source of many of the debates on the blogs of late. But lest we forget, tension is stimulates debate and creativity. It is the easy, canned answers one should be worried about, in my opinion.

Iamhoosier said...

With my limited eloquence I am tempted to say, "Uh, yeah what Brandon just wrote". I would probably be better off if I did.

When did this supernatural power instill these "values"? Using your own example of sex, I sincerely doubt that the cavedwellers held a wedding and then had a reception with a keg of Bud Lite. (just trying to bring a little levity in).

I belive "values", "morals", etc have evolved as "man" has attempted to survive.

Just thought of something. Perhaps a definition of values, morals would be helpful. Maybe we (all of us) are not talking about the same thing. Is there a difference between VALUES and MORALS to you? Would it be unfair of me to ask for a brief definition?

I do sincerely belive that you are a "good" person also. Like you, I am trying to understand where you are coming from.

Anonymous said...

I am not disagreeing with either or your last replies, but I am still waiting on the answer from either of you as to the question asked.

How do you explain those supernatural values and moral integrity that goes against our natural inclinations and nature.

I know how I explain them.

I am trying to get you to articulate how you explain the supernatural things in life or do you just choose not to acknowledge them?

Either answer is ok, but I would like to hear your precise answer.

Tim Deatrick said...

just curious healthblogger do you accept the validity of other religions or even the non-religious, in other words do you accept that non-chritians can also make it to whatever heaven is?

Iamhoosier said...

I do not belive in the supernatural. Does not mean that I will not attempt to listen and learn. And change my mind. Or flip-flop if some prefer that term.

Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

Morals are that part of our humanness that is concerned with the judgement of the goodness and badness of human action and character. It is based on a belief system in something that defines what goodness and badness really is. Just saying something is good or bad is not appropriate because that will change with the individual. You have to believe in some standard.

Values are usually something we consider in the natural world that can be measured against something else in a tangible way and is usually considered to be desirable. Many values are based on morals.

I believe that everyone has a choice in their belief system and the free will to choose. I do not know the answer to whether non-christians can or will get into heaven. My belief in the answer to that question is just that; my belief and I cannot empirically prove or disprove it and do not think others are forced to accept my belief.

Iamhoosier said...

I will have to chew on that for awhile. Thanks for providing your definitions.

Perhaps someday we will be able to meet and have some of these discussions in person. Reminds me of my college days. Much better reasoned answers than the one I got from a co-worker on the marriage admendment in Kentucky. I asked him if he did not believe in LLH and his response was, "You bet but not in this case. We'll show the faggots who is in charge"

Maybe tomorrow there will be time.

Tim Deatrick said...

Schmidtology n: A dogma that states fiction as fact and encourages innuendo, political smear campaigns and propaganda. Origin believed to have been from catholicism at Holy Family but can not be verified.

Brandon W. Smith said...

I am trying to get you to articulate how you explain the supernatural things in life or do you just choose not to acknowledge them?

That's hilarious to me because that statement assumes that they exist. There are countless scientific and philosophical writings that attempt to explain morality outside of the supernatural or the Christian concept of God. They are easy to find if you care to look for them. Whether or not any of them are correct is up for the reader to decide.

What I personally believe about the supernatural is my own business and, respectfully, I don't see it as relevant for discussion on this blog. I've already explained why I believe it shouldn't matter.

Iamhoosier said...

After chewing on the discussion from yesterday, I have the following thoughts.

HB, somehow I have been trying to defend Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness on moral grounds, at least according to you.
To refresh, my original posting on this was to show the difference between my civic duties and my own personal values or morals. I believe the Constitution is basically a framework for LLH. I believe my personal values come from my life experiences not some supernatural power.

My original point was to show there can be a divergence between civic and personal. I feel that many Christians almost equate their belief with being an American. The two are seperate or least should be. Being a Christian does not disqualify a person from being an American but it does not mean that they are either. The converse of that is true also.

I have a good friend who has D.Min. in theology and is a pastor.
When he moved to a new church he used to move the American Flag to the back of the church. People would howl about it. I think his point is pretty obvious. He did not move it out of the church just to a place of less emphasis. He has basically quit doing it for pragmatic reasons.

Most of this discussion was started a while back about gay marriage. As an American, I could see little if any bad effect on American society and definitely feel it falls under LLH. My personal moral position should have no bearing on my vote, should it come to that.

Briefly on your definitions. I acutally see little in what you wrote that eliminates individual decisions or interpertations. Could one example of these "standards" be the bible? Maybe I am reading you wrong. Would not be the first time that has happened!

Anonymous said...

Brandon you are 100% correct and I could not have articulated it better than your statement.

"That's hilarious to me because that statement assumes that they exist. There are countless scientific and philosophical writings that attempt to explain morality outside of the supernatural or the Christian concept of God. They are easy to find if you care to look for them. Whether or not any of them are correct is up for the reader to decide."

First sentence states assuming the supernatural exists followed by the countless scientific and philisophical writings attempting to explain it.

For thousands of years we have tried to explain what we know exists (morality and supernatural events)and have been unsuccessful in our attempts. These things require a "belief system", a "worldview". It may be a belief in naturalism that someone continues to hold thinking that someday we will be able to explain this in a natural way or it may be a religion, a God, an extraterrestrial etc.

But it is a faith in something.

Every culture and civilization has attempted to understand and reconcile the question of where we came from, why we are here and why does it matter.

The reality is that there are "supernatural" things that cannot be explained naturally that absolutely do exist.

The human race continues to try and answer these questions.

Brandon W. Smith said...

The reality is that there are "supernatural" things that cannot be explained naturally that absolutely do exist.

That is also a statement of faith, not a "proven" reality. Just because something cannot be adequately explained does not automatically make it supernatural. You keep saying that we "know" the supernatural exists, which is simply not the case. It is a matter of faith for some people that the supernatural exists. You are still assuming, as a presupposition, that "morality' is "supernatural." I don't think you are getting what I've been trying to say in my prior posts.

Anonymous said...

Webster defines supernatural, not me! The things we are discussing are outside of the visible observable universe as we currently know it.

Again, its ok with me if you choose not to acknowledge this, but as of now, it is a fact that there are those things we cannot explain naturally.

1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

Brandon W. Smith said...

Well, it has come down to semantics again.

The defintion you cite says beyond the observable universe and transcending the laws of nature. It does not qualify that as that we currently know of.

It does, however, note the common defintion and usage of the word, which is how you used it originally in this thread (relating to God, demons, spirits, invisible agents, etc.). Of course, there is a literal definition of super-natural, so I guess I'll concede that to you.

But, semantics doesn't get us out of the box.

You have faith that the supernatural exists (relating to God, demons, spirits, invisible agents). And, yes, there are obviously things that human beings cannot explain adequately. This does not mean they come from the "supernatural" as commonly defined. Is this a type of faith? Yes, in a sense, but some presuppositions are more credible than others. Showing that just about everything ultimately comes down to presuppositions and faith does not help your original point (WAY back up in the thread).

To summarize the thread:

You started by commenting that you couldn't figure out where most Democrats stand morally, then argued that morality was from God, and that we could not make value judgements of good and bad without God as the primary lawgiver.

This is a statement of your faith. Others have faith in other things, etc. on this ultimate issue. Pointing this out only makes you appear to advocate relativism, which I'm pretty sure you don't.

My original point, before we got sidetracked, was that our personal answers to these ultimate questions should not be the basis of our support of one public policy issue or another, one politician or another, etc. on specific issues, and that in a free society, unquestioning allegiance to a notion of faith does not help public discourse or problem solving. I also noted the tension in the USA between unquestioned faith and freedom, which you said you roughly agreed with.

The old evangelical tactic of trying to get people to admit that they have faith in something (in order to open the door to talking about God), aside from being boring, doesn't address what was originally posted. It actually, in my opinion, detracted from your original position that morality WAS supernatural (in the God sense) and that politicians should admit where they stand on this when it comes to what you see as moral issues. Stick to your guns, man! ;) (smile)

Iamhoosier said...

Guess we have just about beaten this poor horse to death.

Subject for next week:

Santa Claus--moral/immoral, real/supernatural?

Brandon W. Smith said...


Santa's got to be evil, no? He perpetually violates restricted airspace, never checks in with homeland security, is a habitual trespasser, if not burglar, and he uses his power of unlimited toy-making capacity to terrorize children into being "good." No wonder kids cry when they sit on his lap. He might as well be a metaphor for China. (joke)