Vice President Biden Arrives Early To Set Up State Of The Union Fog Machine

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WASHINGTON—Speaking to reporters as he ran a tattered extension cord along the House of Representatives rostrum this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that he had arrived early in order to set up a fog machine for tonight’s State of the Union address.

“This baby kicks out the fog like you wouldn’t believe, but you gotta give her plenty of time to warm up if you want the whole room to fill up real thick.”

said Biden while carefully mixing water and glycerin according to his own homemade “fog juice” recipe, which he explained he’d been using since his brief stint as a roadie on White Lion’s Pride tour in 1987.

“I wanted to do this thing up right with a whole laser rig and shit, but that would’ve set me back mucho dinero. But don’t you worry; Uncle Joe knows a few tricks with strobes that’ll get the crowd going.”

At press time, Biden was reportedly double-checking the timers on a set of flash pots in order to avoid another congressional aide losing their fingers in a pyrotechnic mishap. Read the rest of this entry »


15 Most Annoying Expressions in Politics

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For RealClearPoliticsCarl M. Cannon writes: Irritating phrases and words are not confined to political circles, or solely to Washington, although here in the nation’s capital they burrow in and proliferate like obsolete, but entrenched, government programs. This is a call to arms to fight them—but only metaphorically.

15: “WAR ON [FILL IN THE BLANK]” Syria’s civil war has produced 2.5 million refugees and a death toll of 160,000, a tragedy that has galvanized neither major political party into action. So next time a Democrat brays about the so-called Republican “war on women” or a Republican trumpets the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” tell them you’ve seen what real war looks like—and ask what the U.S. can do to stop it.

14. “TAX HIKE” It’s not a “hike.” What are you going to do, put it in a knapsack and take it for a walk? It’s a tax increase. This usage was coined by headline writers because it’s shorter. Speaker of the House John Boehner, who often employs this phrase, has no such excuse.

13. “RIGHT-WING” This term is bandied about carelessly, usually as a pejorative. In “The Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defined “conservative.” Here is the entry, in its entirety: “CONSERVATIVE, n. a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” The converse of “right-wing,” a label freely applied to Fox News and countless Republican elected officials, is not “liberal,” it’s “left wing.”

12. “FRANKLY” Rhett Butler made this word famous, but when politicians preface their remarks with “frankly” (or “candidly”), they don’t give a damn about being frank or candid. Usually, it means they’re about to tell a whopper—or recite a talking point. Listen for this usage from now on. It’s a self-administered lie detector.

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11. “TALKING POINTS” Pols who recite self-serving spin written by others while answering basic questions about their jobs are essentially reading the stage directions. It suggests they are too lazy to invent their own fibs or excuses—or that they work for control freaks who don’t trust them to know their own subject matter. This is a discordant trait in a high-ranking official, such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice or anyone who attended top-notch schools, which also fits Rice. She was a history major at Stanford and a Rhodes scholar with a master’s degree and a doctorate from Oxford.

10. “DOCTOR” In the White House compound and certain media precincts, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden is referred to as “Dr. Biden,” usually in reverential tones. This is understandable—who wants to be called “the second lady”? But, like Susan Rice, Jill Biden has a PhD, not a medical degree. It was also a secret password in the Bush administration to affix “Dr.” in front of another foreign policy official surnamed Rice. Susan Rice, Condoleezza Rice, and Jill Biden are accomplished people, but the old-time newsroom rule is best: If someone isn’t licensed to take your tonsils out, you don’t have to call ’em “Doc.”

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[This next one is my personal favorite example of an annoying, overused word–I hear it a lot from POTUS, and also, Brit Hume]

9. “LOOK…” Almost as soon as he arrived in Washington, Barack Obama adopted the off-putting Sunday talk show habit—used promiscuously by Karl Rove—of starting sentences with the word “Look.” Two months after his inauguration, things got so bad that Jimmy Fallon sought to discourage its proliferation by producing a montage, set to music, of Obama saying “Look…” 26 times in an hour-long news conference. To a layman, it sounds like Obama is really saying, “Look here, moron…” But two UCLA professors told Anya Sostek of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that this preamble isn’t as patronizing as it sounds. Manny Schegloff says Obama is signaling that he’s about to provide background information as part of his answer that informs his policy position. His colleague Steven Clayman adds that Ronald Reagan often began answers to questions with the word, “Well”—as a way of preparing listeners for a different answer than they might expect. Or so say Dr. Clayman and Dr. Schegloff.  Read the rest of this entry »