Archive for the ‘Language in politics’ Category

Quid pro Joe

September 30, 2019

From the Washington Examiner, “[REDACTED] campaign calls Biden ‘Quid Pro Joe’ and says whistleblower is ‘in favor of one of the corrupt 2020 Democrats’” by Mike Brest on 9/29/19:

The [Helmet Grabpussy] campaign flipped the script on allegations of a “quid pro quo” between President [Grabpussy] and Ukraine, instead labeling former Vice President Joe Biden as “Quid Pro Joe” and alleging the whistleblower is politically motivated.

Ah, a political pun, based on what was once a Latin term mostly from the legal and political worlds, but is now a more generally used plain English noun /kwɪdprokwó/ (with a regular plural, /kwɪdprokwóz/.

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Mud, shit, and chocolate

July 30, 2018

Caught on re-run tv yesterday, in the Law & Order S19 E10 episode “Pledge” (from 1/21/09):

Your entire case rests on this girl’s testimony. If her only impetus to cooperate is greed, you’re in trouble. Who dangled money in front of her in the first place?

The cops. They knew she was in debt, so they pressed her pretty hard.

It’s going to look like we bought her testimony. What a mud sandwich this is turning into.

And only a few months before that, in an emotional  9/29/08 speech on the floor of the U.S. Congress by Rep. John Boehner in support of the TARP bill bailing out big banks:

None of us came here to have to vote for this mud sandwich!

(You can watch it here.)

Yes, mud sandwich. A euphemism for shit sandwich.

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Make America grate again

August 18, 2017

Protests against pre-shredded cheese in today’s Bizarro:

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(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

A punning play on the political slogan Make America Great Again.

Note red baseball caps on several of the protesters.

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This is not a President

June 3, 2017

Passed on by Adam Schembri on Facebook, this topical parody of Magritte’s The Betrayal of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe):

A clever reversal of Magritte’s image by Annette Müllender.

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Special counsel appointed

May 19, 2017

Informed opinion has been very positive about the appointment of Mueller as special counsel to investigate allegations in the semolina affair. Commenters are generally agreed that Mueller is a respected authority in such matters, with a long public career in the field and experience in both semolina matters and the byzantine world of elbow-cheese casseroles.

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In the West Wing

March 8, 2017

Having fallen into the world of American politics in viewing the documentary I Am the Ambassador (about Rufus Gifford, until recently the US ambassador to Denmark), I went on to doing the whole 7-year run of the tv series The West Wing, which I am urging everyone to watch at least some of — as a canny depiction of American political life (Wikipedia tells us that it “received acclaim from critics, as well as praise from political science professors and former White House staffers”), as a gripping drama with an earnest moral core, and as a show worthy of praise for its snappy dialogue, inspired casting, and first-rate acting.

This posting is about just two of the actors, Mark Feuerstein and Jimmy Smits (both prominent in season 6 of the series, which I’ve just finished watching), solid members of what I’ve called the “acting corps“, the bank of accomplished and reliable actors (short of first-magnitude star rank) that make the stage, the movies, and television hum for our pleasure and enlightenment. I find them both attractive, as men and as actors — in particular, as embodiments of an “acting persona” (a more or less enduring persona that cuts across an actor’s roles).

Through Smits, that exploration will take us to another member of the acting corps, the admirable Marg Helgenberger. (I know, I know, you also want me to write about Allison Janney and Stockard Channing, among others, but there’s only so much I can do in one posting.)

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stans

March 1, 2017

One more item from my blog backlog, this one starting with a January 2nd op-ed column in the NYT by Paul Krugman, “America Becomes a Stan”, which began:

In 2015 the city of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was graced with a new public monument: a giant gold-plated sculpture portraying the country’s president on horseback. This may strike you as a bit excessive. But cults of personality are actually the norm in the “stans,” the Central Asian countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, all of which are ruled by strongmen who surround themselves with tiny cliques of wealthy crony capitalists.

Americans used to find the antics of these regimes, with their tinpot dictators, funny. But who’s laughing now?

We are, after all, about to [remember that this was published on January 2nd] hand over power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself; remember, his “charitable” foundation spent a lot of money buying a six-foot portrait of its founder. Meanwhile, one look at his Twitter account is enough to show that victory has done nothing to slake his thirst for ego gratification. So we can expect lots of self-aggrandizement once he’s in office. I don’t think it will go as far as gold-plated statues, but really, who knows?

I don’t mean to slight the social and political message here — that our country risks becoming a gold-plated failed-state autocracy — but this posting is mostly about the linguistic point, the appearance of the independent word stan, extracted from English names of regions and political entities with the libfix -(i/y)stan, originally an element in such names in other languages but now available for forming new names in English.

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… And the American Way

March 1, 2017

A recent pointed superhero cartoon by Mike McCain (hat tip to Tim Evanson):

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Zippy goes out to catch a bite

October 15, 2016

… in two recent strips, first at Dippin’ Donuts and then at the Sugar Shack. Looks like sweet tooth days for our Pinhead. Both strips are strewed with allusions of all kinds, of course.

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Flagging Marcomentum

March 13, 2016

This was just a week ago, which can be a long time in political life. In the NYT Magazine on March 6th, on p. 15, in the piece “Inside Out” by Mark Leibovich:

I was traveling with [Marco] Rubio in Nevada on the eve of that state’s Republican caucuses last month… Rubio seemed almost giddy about the “Marcomentum” he was feeling.

A political portmanteau, coined in a giddy hopeful moment. Rubio has now fallen to third in the Republican primary field and has been written off by many commentators, even as his home state Florida’s primary comes on Tuesday — the 15th, also the Ides of March, which is possibly ominous (Marco Julio, knifed by the Brute Cruz?).

I had vowed no more U.S. primary season postings, but Rubio’s portmanteau Marcomentum got to me. Forgive me.