ABBACINARE: To identify your opponent with a wedge label from which they can never escape, i.e. Liberal, Commie, Pinko, Tree hugger, Right Wing Nut Job. Originally this was the popular form of corporal punishment of branding criminals with a hot iron.
ABSCISSION: An advanced form of stuttering. To either forget what you were about to say or to realize that what you were about to say could get you in trouble. To rethink in mid-sentence or to forget what you were talking about while you are saying it. As in the speeches of George W. Bush. i.e. – "I’d rather have them sacrificing on behalf of our nation than…you know…endless hours of testimony on Congressional Hill". And, "We’ve got pockets of persistent poverty in our society, which I refuse to declare defeat…I mean I refuse to allow them to continue on. And so one of the things that we’re trying to do is to encourage a faith-based initiative to spread its wings all across America, to be able to capture this great compassionate spirit". Also a surgery to remove an abnormal growth.
ACCELERATED DEATH BENEFITS: When a pol accepts an appointed post from allies before being term limited out, or before being indicted for criminal acts or before or after the voters refuse to re-elect them. i.e.; in November of 200 incumbent Senator John Ashcroft (R- Missouri) was defeated for re-election by St. Louis Mayor Mel Carnahan, who had died three weeks earlier in a plane crash. President George W. Bush then nominated Ashcroft as Attorney General of the United States. Originally the phrase meant a policyholder's option to use cash benefits from his/her life insurance to finance medical care during serious illness. Often used by AIDs victims.
ACCOUNTABILITY: An archaic concept. The functional opposite of bureaucracy, such as Congress or the Pentagon. Or the idealistic, “He who makes the mistake pays for the mistake”, as opposed to the reality of, “He who reports the mistake pays for the mistake.”
ACCULTURATION: The process by which idealistic men and women come to Washington and are gradually turned into bitter, blind, selfish bastards and bitches. See Beltway Insider. (Except for your congressman, of course).
ACROSS THE RIVER; Pentagon slang for the White House and Congress, as in “those people across the river”.
ACT OF STATE: A legal precedent which holds that the government cannot be held legally responsible for its stupidity or carelessness - e.g. Act Of God. See Accountability and Bureaucracy.
ACTORVIST: A Hollywood star who is lends his or her support to your opponent.
ACTUS REUS: Latin shorthand for “actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”. A man is not guilty for his acts alone but must also have a guilty mind. Except, of course, in politics where all minds are assumed to be guilty and all actions are initially assumed to be legal.
AD BOMINEM: To appeal to the lowest common denominator electorate, to appeal to prejudice, special interests and bigotry, religious or racial - the only political strategy that works the first time every time.
AD POLICE: A group who scrutinize your political advertising for inaccuracies, exaggerations and misstatements. Also known as AD WATCH and NITPICKERS.
ADVANCEMAN: The staffer(s) who preceed you to a political event to make sure the crowd is large and enthusiastic and screened for opponents, the media have been properly placed and the background is attractive but will not detract from your image. See FRAUDILANCE.
ADVOCACY ADVERTISING: Advertising paid for by a particular group in support of a particular cause and which attacks your opponent without actually naming you.
AGEIS: Originally this came from the Greek word "aix" or "aig" meaning a goat. Ageis originally refered to the goat skin shield worn by Zesus and Athena. This developed to mean the armor worn by warriors to protect their chest or body, and currently means someone or group which offers protection or sponsorship to someone or a group, as in The 2004 Karl Rove smear campaign against Senator John Kerry, operated under the aegis of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Also see BARON VON ROORBACK, SWIFTBOATING.
AFFLUENT: Having wealth. i.e. Republican. Often confused by liberals with effluent. The term Affluent Society was first used by economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1964 to describe Western Industrialized Societies as opposed to everybody else.
A FIDUS ACHATES: Grk. A faithful friend, someone willing to support you in such a way as to make themselves look like a fool, an idiot or even actually risk becoming a criminal. i.e. Alberto Gonzolas. See also ; FLUNKY, FRONT MAN, BROWN NOSE, PUTZ.
AFTERBOOMER: A person born after the baby boomers, between 1965 to 1974.
AGITPROP: Department of Agitation and Propaganda set up under Lenin by the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the 1900‘s, to ferment revolution in Russia. Also, the Republican Attack machine of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater.
AGRARIAN CAMPAIGN: A campaign in which the candidate expects to lose, but which is run largely to raise his/her name recognition and/or position him/her for future elections.Spreading manure to feed future benafits. The prime example of this was Senator John F. Kennedy’s bid for the Presidency in 1956, which laid the groundwork for his successful nomination and win in 1960.
AHISTORICAL: A mythical event or object, such as a unicorn or the German Kaiser's 1918 "Stab in the Back": vaugly connected to reality but inflated so as to justify a denial of that reality; i.e., "George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was ahistorical, in that it ignored the realities of 9/11, and the British and French colonial experiences in Iraq, but was also historical because it was based upon his father’s popularity gaine by fighting a successful war against Iraq a decade earlier.
ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS: four acts passed by the blindly Federalist Congress in 1798 and signed into law by President John Adams. The Naturalization Act required that all immigrants live in the U.S. for 14 years before they could apply for citizenship. (The previouis requirement had been 5 years.) The Alien Act allowed the president to arrest and deport any foreign nationals who were considered dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States during peacetime. The Enemies Act made it legal to arrest, jail and deport any foreign national during wartime. And the Sedition Act defined as treason the writing of any …false, scandalous or malicious writing… about governmental office holders. Some 25 editors and writers were arrested under the Sedition Act, the majority of them Jeffersonian Republicans. The negative public reaction to the Sedition Act played a major part in electing Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency in 1800. Jefferson then pardoned all those arrested under the act and the new Republican dominated Congress then voted to repay out of the public coffers all fines levied – with interest. See; PATRIOT ACT.
ALIBI IKE: A candidate or advisor always making excuses. Orig. title of a Ring Lardner short story (1924) and later a comic strip.
ALPHA MALE SYNDROME: The anti-wimp effect in which the pol must over display and be overly aggressive in public speeches - also known as STEROID POLITICS - to avoid having pundits call him/her a wimp.
ALSO RAN: Any loser in an election.
ALTER KOCKER: Yid. A crotchety, fussy, ineffectual old man. See DICK CHENEY
AMBIGUOUS: The essential element in all politics. To state a position in such a way that it can appeal to two conflicting groups while offending as few as possible. To wander around a subject or statement without actually coming close to it.. To confuse as to intent.
AMEN CORNER: 19th C. Amer. Slang. A place where the politically powerful gather. In late 19th Century New York, a room was reserved in the "Fifth Avenue Hotel" for local politicians to secretly meet in. Also, a rear pew where Deacons sat to keep an eye on parishioners during services and shouted their support for the sermon.
AMOS KENDALL: One of the unsung founders of the Democratic Party. Kendall had been born in Dunstable, Massachusetts in 1879. He moved to Kentucky in 1814 and worked as a tutor to the children of politician Henry Clay. In 1816, with Clay’s assistance, he became editor of the "Frankfurt, Kentucky Argus of Western America" and turned it into one of the most influential newspapers of its day, thanks largely to his vicious pen. Kendall was tall, thin and prematurely white haired. He was also a puritanical workaholic hyperchodriac with a talent for venmon. When Kendell fell ill, Clay's wife nursed him back to health. In 1824 he threw his paper’s support behind Henry Clay for President, even though Clay had not supported the Reform Party – see PANIC OF 1819. But Clay’s subsequent deal with John Quincy Adams – See JOHN Q. – angered so many of Kendall’s readers he reluctantly shifted his support to Andrew Jackson to save the paper. In 1827 Kendall, along with his assistant editor Francis P. Blair, proved himself invaluable to candidate Jackson. Kendall became the center of a public relations machine that spread innuendo and smear throughout western newspapers so expertly that Martin van Buren, Jacksons official campaign manager, took notice. It was the first time such a nationwide media campaign had ever been attempted, and the first time a political party coordinated their talking points nationwide. Kendall and his fellow political journalists thus helped found the DEMOCRATIC PARTY which elected Andrew Jackson President in 1828. Kendall was rewarded with a Federal job - Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, which was a cover for his real work in Washington. According to Rep. Henry Wise, (Whig – Virginia), Kendall was…"the President’s thinking machine and writing machine and his lying machine…chief adviser, chief reporter, amanuenis, scribe…Nothing was well done without (him)." He was the KARL ROVE of the first half of the 19th century. In 1834 Jackson named Kendall as the Postmaster General and Kendall proceded to perfect the SPOILS SYSTEM, firing any workers who were Wigs or Know-Nothings, and replacing them with any Jacksonian Democrat who wanted a job. In an earie pre-echo of Tom Delay’s “K” street project, Kendall even decreed that any company which the Post Office did business with had to hire Democrats exclusively or need not bother to apply for future Post Office contracts. He even fired companies that already had contracts but kept Whigs on their payroll. One stage line, Stockton & Stokes, sued when Kendall cancelled their contract to carry the US mail, an action which was clearly illegal. But government lawyers tied the case up with delaying motion after motion. When Martian van Buren replaced Jackson as President in 1836, Kendall stayed on as a powerful advisor. Finally in 1840 Kendall resigned his job as Postmaster and started up a new newspaper in Washington D.C., "Kendall’s Expositor", which supported van Buren for a second term. When van Buren lost the election to William Henry Harrison both the paper and Kendall went bankrupt. Worse, in 1841, Stockton & Stokes finally got their case heard before the Supreme Court, which awarded them $162,000 in public money for their illegally cancelled contracts, and an additional $11,000 to be paid personally by Kendall. But Kendall was too connected to stay broke for long. In 1845 he became Samuel F. B. Morse’s business manager, helping to create and run the newly formed International Telegraph (which would later become International Telephone and Telegraph – or I.T.& T.) Kendall retired in 1860, fabiously wealthy, but disgusted that the Democratic Party he had help found was supporting sucession. A portion of his fortune founded Gallaudet University. Amos Kendall died on November 12, 1869, having outlived all of his contempories.
ANARCHISM: The idiotic theory that government is the source of all evil, and that no governing body is to be preferred to even the most noble. It became an organized political movement (with no suggestion of irony) under Prince Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin in Russia in the 19th Century, as well as in France under Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. President William McKinley was murdered in 1901 by a self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who actually had a long history of mental problems, which to a greater or lesser extend might be said of all anarchists. In American politics, Ron Paul was still running for President in 2008, long after Senator John McCain had become the "presumtive" nominee, but his efforts were hampered because he refused to encourage any organized resistance to McCain, as that would violate his anarchist ideological roots.
ANGRY WHITE MALE: The largest single voting minority in America, conservative males opposed to any gender and/or racial equality legislation which might negatively affect them. Also referred to as the "Extra-chromosome voting block".
ANONYMICE: Those ubiquitous anonymous administration sources who provide thousands of inches of newspaper space each day by making comments not for attribution but which are intended not to inform but only for propaganda (See PROPA-GANNON) purposes. "The epidemic of anonymice infesting American journalism has turned me into a sadistic rat-catcher, ready to flatten the skull of every anonymous source that leaps off the page", Jack Shafer, Slate Magazine. March 4, 2005.
ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM: Someone silently listening to a debate who finally speaks up and raises an issue previously disposed of, when the other participants can then then say, “Another county heard from.” Originally from the 1876 disputed Presidential election between Democrat Tilden and Republican Hayes. The race was a virtual tie, and there were slow recounts in South Carolina and Florida that took weeks, with results slowly trickling in county by county, with each new county report see-sawing the final result. Every day a new headlines reported a new victor, and the headline “Another County (was) Heard From” became very familiar that year.
ANTICIPOINTMENT: the let down when a speech or ad campaign fails to live up to generated "buzz" or expectations.
ANTITRUST: The forgotten belief that without limits capitalism will choke to death on it’s own wastes, like a fat man at an “All you can eat” buffet. i.e; as John D. Rockefeller once said, “Competition is a sin.” To protect Adam’s Smith’s invisible hand from picking it’s own pocket, corporations must be prevented from gaining complete control of the marketplace, which is their natural objective, and thus forming trusts or monopolies, which control prices instead of the market place controling them. An economy of trusts or monopolies is not capitalism or free enterprise, and does not function in the consumer’s best interests, and must, in Karl Marx's phrase, "...bury itself ." The opposite of SUPPLY SIDE ECONOMICS.
ANXIOUS GENERATION: Generally the X and Y-Gens who believe they will not receive the benefits from Social Security or Medicade or Medicare because the Baby Boomers will bankrupt those systems.
ANXIOUS SEAT: A once safe voting district where demographics are shifting or which might be re-districted out of existence. See 2008 Republican Party
ICAL: Not concerned with politics, i.e., stupid, blind to your own self interest. May also mean a non-partisan, which is a biological condition similar to being an asexual fiend.
APOLOGIST: One who defends or propagates the Talking Points. Also known as a “mouth piece”, or “spokesperson”.
APPARATCHIK: a bureaucrat by nature.
APPEASEMENT: The discredited political philosophy that the best way to avoid conflict is to compromise before the fighting begins. In the 1990's the Democratic Party practiced appeasement on Welfare Reform, when it became clear that the majority of Americans (including Democrats) wanted it, and would vote Republican to get it. The GOP was determined never to practice appeasement; See RINO.
ARTHMONANCY: The art of predicting the future by numbers. Pollsters and the Pundits who love them.
ATTACK AD: Also known as an Attack Video. Negative Advertising is the only kind of political advertising that always works. When Attack Ads were faxed to thousands of fax machines they were called ATTACK FAXES. However this practice has largely been dropped because of their perceived overly invasive nature. This has led to BOUNCE FAXING, using the negative perception of Attack Faxes to harm your opponent.
ATTACK DOG: A FRONT pol who says in public the vicious, nasty, and perhaps socially offensive things about your opponent you don’t wish to run the risk of saying.
AUSTERITY: Harsh. A government program when there is little available money, as in a recession, which is an economic cycle when somebody else can’t get a job. When you can’t get a job it is called a depression.
AWKWARD-SQUAD: A clumsy and or inexperienced political staff; e.g., Hilary Clinton hired an awkward squad staff in 2008.
AXIS-OF-EVIL: The second most famous phrase from George W. Bush’s 2003 State-Of-The-Union speech. Defined by shrub as Iran, North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, while those nations who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq were known as the AXIS OF WEASEL.
AXIOM: Your opinion. A concise statement which is obviously and inarguably true.
AZREAL: The political consultant who teaches the candidate to deliver the same stump speech and key phrases over and over while sounding fresh. Originally this was from Hebrew, being in Judaism and the Moslem faiths the name of the angel who separates the soul from the body upon death.
(Submissions and suggestions for additions to this dictionary may be made on this page, but will become the property of "The Public I".)