Thursday, May 31, 2007

shock and awe – noun

The reaction of civilized peoples to military aggression backed by overwhelming force.

collateral damage – noun

1. Unintended, therefore morally negligible, slaughter or maiming of civilians in a military operation.

2. Military destruction which occurs parallel to, but outside of, the frame of the camera or newspaper column.

News: Terrorist attack at Gitmo

Digby has the details.

neoliberalism – noun

A political doctrine or attitude that favors the promotion of freedom throught the coercive power of markets and the military.

News: "enhanced interrogation techniques"

Andrew Sullivan discusses the origin of the phrase.

Hint: Think Germany, 1937.

stop-loss – adjective

Designed to prevent the excessive loss of investment assets.

USAGE: President Bush's stop-loss order forced the soldiers to remain in the military.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

levee – noun

An ineffective governmental program for preventing floods.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

News: Safire trivializes Global War on Terror

In his recent "On Language" column for The New York Times Magazine, Safire writes about how his attempts to understand "benchmark" and "timetable" met with resistance:

To try this in today’s poisonous atmosphere is to strike a match in a room filled with gasbags. One source I approached for definitions and distinctions castigated me for trivializing the war.

Indeed. Why split hairs over artificial timetables for defeat and subjective benchmarks, when we're about to make our move on Iran? Doesn't Safire know that the GWOT is a generational conflict to rid the Earth of evil once and for all?

stress position – noun

A yogic posture (asana) taught to imprisoned terror suspects as a substitute for outdoor exercise.

COMMENT: Stress positions are popular with movie stars for their promotion of a healthy body and mind.

Monday, May 28, 2007

privatize – verb

1. To triple the cost of a basic governmental service and share the difference with cronies.

2. To steal governmental property and give it to a friend.

whistleblower – noun

Member of the political opposition who infiltrates a governmental agency to publicize a faux scandal.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

compassionate – adjective

1. Appearing to share the suffering of another, so that one may win the attention given to the sufferer.

2. Tending to take photographs with impoverished black children.

NOTE: The word is paired with conservatism and rarely seen independently of the pairing, since compassion itself is a defunct concept.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

privacy – noun

The mythical state of being free from surveillance.

neoconservative – adjective, noun

1. Of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or disposed to neoconservatism.

2. Jewish Republican.

3. Tending to see the Sept. 11th attacks neither as a tragedy nor as a crisis, but as an opportunity.

neoconservatism – noun

A political doctrine or attitude that favors the promotion of freedom through the coercive use of military power and the curtailment of civil liberties.

Friday, May 25, 2007

sound – adjective


USAGE: The President said government policy should be based on sound science.

benchmark – noun

A standard for measuring the success of a project that invariably confirms both the optimistic hopes of its supporters and the dire warnings of its detractors.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

News: Bush receives bad auspice

ABC reports that a sparrow shat on Bush at a news conference, right after he said "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job." Crooks and Liars has the video.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino immediately noted that "everyone knows that's a sign of good luck."

I'm sorry, I'm not an augur, but I can't imagine how a bird shitting on you is lucky.

Yes, that pretty much sums up the Bush administration: a bird shits on the President, and the press secretary says it's a sign of good fortune.

leak – noun

A governmental press release that is published anonymously to increase the likelihood of its general acceptance.

COMMENT: Officials use leaks to skirt speaking to the public directly or using press spokesmen, since neither mode of communication enjoys crediblity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

waterboard – verb

To save a captured suspect from drowning as a way of building rapport.

globalization – noun

The extinction of biological and anthropological diversity, caused by the virus of American consumer culture.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

earmark – noun

A bribe to a Congressman nestled within an appropriations bill to secure his vote for said bill.

loyal – adjective

1. Abject, servile, slavish.

2. Willing to obstruct justice to protect another.

3. Competent.

Monday, May 21, 2007

resign – verb

To decide to spend more time with family.

freedom – noun

1. (Political) The absence of constraint on the manufacture, promotion, purchase, sale, trade, and consumption of products, save the availability of capital.

2. (Individual) The ability to think, speak and act in conformity with American public opinion.

NOTE: The inability to think, speak and act in conformity with American public opinion is "insanity."

COMMENT: Terrorists hate freedom. They hate freedom because they are either insane, envious, or insanely envious.

News: Bush assures continuity of government, answers skeptics

The Progressive alerts us to a little noticed presidential directive that establishes a policy for ensuring the continuity of our government in case of catastrophic emergency.

Thank heavens! Bush is finally taking steps to secure the integrity of our Constitution after national disaster. And not a moment too soon. After all, Sept. 11th occurred over 5 1/2 years ago!

What is the policy? To quote the press release:

To maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.

Did you get that? It's easier if you use the acronyms they provide. The policy basically maintains COOP and COG, thereby ensuring NEF and ECG (= "Enduring Constitutional Government").

The directive also does the following:

(1) CON CZAR: It names Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) Frances Fragos Townsend the "National Continuity Coordinator." Let's call her the "Con Czar" for short.

[For those scoring at home, we've gained a Food Safety Czar, a War Czar, and a Con Czar just in the last month! Bush is really exploiting his constitutional powers under Article II, Section 5.]

(2) CON COMM: It establishes a Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC) as a daily forum for policy coordination.

(3) PLAN: The Con Czar will lead the development of a "National Continuity Implementation Plan" to improve our "continuity readiness."

(4) COGCON: It establishes a system of Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON), which sets the "readiness levels" of the executive branch for threat conditions.

(5) PRACTICE: Adds a continuity training and exercise program, to be incorporated into the National Exercise Program.

[Because it's much easier to hold onto the reigns of government if you practice seizing them.]

In sum, this directive should silence any doubts post Katrina about the continuity of our government. Bush has named a Con Czar. She will join the Con Committee to formulate a plan. They will create a color-coded chart. They will also practice.

Rest assured, the next catastrophic emergency will not raise any doubts whether Bush is in charge and whether the Constitution's Unitary Executive endures.

fear – noun

The linchpin of civil society.

The passions that incline men to peace are fear of death, desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living, and a hope by their industry to obtain them. – Thomas Hobbes

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. – Bertrand Russell

intelligent design – noun

A religious theory that claims living things are so irreducibly complex that they must have been created by a being so vastly intelligent (i.e. God) that it understands biology.

testify – verb

1. To fail to recall; to forget.

2. To misremember.

3. To smile blandly.

oversight – noun

Disregard of wrongdoing, out of a sense of politeness or loyalty.

[Origin: from "overlook."]

USAGE: The Vice President insisted that all government contracts have rigorous oversight.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

P.R. – noun

abbr. "Public reporting." Journalism.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

carbon sequestration – noun

A method for reducing global warming, by drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via nuclear-powered suction vents and sealing it in underground tanks.

COMMENT: The term was popularized by the science-fiction classic The 2007 State of the Union Address.

News: Falwell dead

I blame the homosexuals and abortionists.

lobbyist – noun

Legislative aide.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Welcome readers of Cursor and Smythe's World.

This site is an ongoing project to define satirically the Newspeak of post-9/11 America. In my heart of hearts, I hope the blog will become interactive. So please send in new definitions (the e-mail address is above) and leave comments for editing established ones. I will give full credit to your entries.

I aim for at least one new definition a day.

Thanks and keep reading!

News: War Czar named!

And we now have a war czar!

Or, to use the proper title, a new assistant-to-the-president-and-deputy-national-security-adviser-for-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-policy-and-implementation (which is actually longer than the TD definition). For sake of brevity, use the acronym, ATTPADNSAFIAAPAI. Or "war czar." Or "war scapegoat."

Lt. Gen. Lute will act as a go-between, coordinating the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and CENTCOM in formulating and implementing a comprehensive war strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan.

I suppose if he runs into trouble, the president will have to name an assistant-to-the-assistant-to-the-president-and-deputy-to-the-deputy...implementation, to get all the principals on the same page.

And if that doesn't work ...

caging – noun

A method for preserving the validity of an election by restricting the voting rights of minorities who don't receive registered mail.

COMMENT: Those minorities who have their voting rights restricted aren't literally caged. That practice was formally banned after the Civil War, and legally banned after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Instead, they are simply prevented from voting.

And why should minorities who don't receive mail vote? How can they be informed voters if they refuse campaign literature?

extraordinary rendition – noun

The repatriation of suspected terrorists so that they may be interviewed by people who speak their language.

Monday, May 14, 2007

homicide bomber - noun

A person who uses an explosive device to kill n + 1 people (n being the number of people he kills other than himself).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

war czar – noun

A governmental official charged with the responsibility of being a public scapegoat for a poorly managed war.

COMMENT: Article II, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution allows the President to name "czars" to accept blame for failed policies (e.g. Drug Czar, Education Czar, Housing Czar, etc.)

NOTE: The White House is now hiring.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

activist - noun, adjective

1. n. Terrorist.

2. adj. Law A judge who rules contrary to the revealed Word of God or to the integrity of the Unitary Executive.

Friday, May 11, 2007

clean coal - noun

A white, combustible mineral that is carbon neutral.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gitmoize – verb

To render similar to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

USAGE: The general came to Abu Ghraib to Gitmoize the facility.

COMMENT: Although the word was coined to describe the replication of Gitmo interrogation techniques at other detention facilities, it has come to have broader significance. For example:

(1) Global warming has so Gitmoized the local climate that entrepeneurs have begun opening beach resorts.

(2) Shows like "Fear Factor" and "Jackass" Gitmoized reality TV, the critic claimed.

(3) The prosecutor Gitmoized the defense witness, rendering his testimony moot.

(4) The Conservative revolution has Gitmoized American culture .

foia – verb

To harass government officials via mail as a form of protest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

habeas corpus - noun

Law - a writ requiring a suspect to be brought before a court, so that his torture may be legally sanctioned.

[Origin: Latin: lit., "have the body (so that it may be tortured)."]

COMMENT: As the Latin of the phrase suggests, this is an outmoded legal protocol that has fallen into disuse. The courts have ceded their authority over torture as a violation of the constitutional separation of powers and as a wartime inefficiency.

green – adjective

1. Fashionable, trendy.
2. Luxurious.
3. Expensive, costly, unprofitable.
4. Profitable.

snowflake - noun

A memorandum written by an official to appear to exert oversight over a project, so that he may evade responsibility for its failure.

NOTE: Hat tip to the Pentagon.

private security contractor - noun

A professional soldier who serves his country without being compelled or equipped by its government to do so.

COMMENT: Private security contractors are throwbacks to the early days of the American Republic, when citizen-soldiers armed themselves and volunteered their support for only nominal rewards.

stem cell - noun

1. a human being.
2. a person.

COMMENT: Many people falsely believe that an embryo is a person. In fact, a mere four-to-five-day-old blastocyst contains 50 to 150 stem cells (read: persons), rendering abortion murder with special circumstances.