A ‘Basket of Deplorables’: Exploring the origins


Hillary Clinton recently declared that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” In other words, they were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”

The Democratic presidential candidate has since expressed regret over the statement, but that hasn’t stopped us from wondering about the phrase.

Steve Katz of Mother Jones asked us if Clinton was the first to utter it:

Katy Tur of NBC points out it’s not the first time Clinton has used “the deplorables”:

But how about the “basket” half of it?

Let’s start with the latter. Nowadays deplorable is mostly used as an adjective. It originated in the early 1600s, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), to mean “lamentable, very sad, grievous, miserable, wretched,” and comes from the French déplorable. The verb form, deplore, “to weep for, bewail, lament,” is about 50 years older.

Around the mid-1800s, the verb form gained the meaning of regarding something “as scandalous,” or “to feel or express strong disapproval of.” The OED’s earliest citation is from Herman Melville in Moby-Dick: “It is much to be deplored that the mast-heads of a southern whale ship are unprovided with..crow’s-nests.”

It was around 1828 that deplorables was first used as a noun. Referring to “deplorable ills,” it was perhaps first used by Sir Walter Scott: “What better is an old fellow, mauled with rheumatism and other deplorables?”

Another early instance of deplorables appears in a September 1901 issue of The Smart Set: A Magazine of Cleverness, referring to some unsavory individuals: “He turned to the east and took a Third avenue car down town. It carried a load of deplorables; all uninteresting, some offensive.”

Now, how about that basket? We couldn’t find any uses of “basket of deplorables” from before Clinton’s. But we did find a couple of new-to-us “basket of” idioms.

There’s basket of currencies, an economics term meaning “an agreed range of currencies, goods, etc. whose combined values can be used as a basis for calculating an average or comparative value.”

Then there’s basket of chips. According to the Dictionary of Regional American English (DARE), the idiom is used in comparisons — for  instance, “as smiling as a basket of chips” means “showing great happiness.” The OED’s earliest citation of basket of chips is from 1788: “He grins like a basket of chips.” DARE also cites “polite as a basket of chips,” meaning “extremely or obsequiously polite.”

Could Clinton have been channeling basket of chips when she came out with basket of deplorables? Perhaps: DARE includes Arkansas, Clinton’s longtime home, as a region where one might hear a “basket of chips” variation.

We admit it’s a bit of a stretch. What we do know is that basket of deplorables is sure to give binders full of women a run for its money.

Be sure to also check out Ben Zimmer’s Language Log post on the phrase.

Word Soup Wednesday: Battleground state, die dreaming, unwindulax

Have you recovered from the election? We have (barely). To help you out, here are some interesting and ridiculous words we’ve learned from TV.

battleground state

Anderson Cooper: “Is it all going to be about voter turnout [in Virginia]?”
Commentator: “Yes, here and other battleground states.”

The Colbert Report, November 5, 2012

A battleground state is also known as a swing state or purple state, as opposed to a blue or red state, which have “a majority of its electorate voting for,” respectively, the Democratic or Republican “candidate in a U.S. presidential election.”

A battleground state “is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state’s electoral college votes.” The term originated around 1832, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), while swing state is much newer, coming about around 1964.


Chef: “This is celtuce. . . .A cross between celery and lettuce. It’s really popular in Asia.”

“Brooklyn,” No Reservations, November 6, 2012

Celtuce is  “a type of lettuce. . .valued especially for its edible stems.”


Liz: “What the hell, Jack? I thought you said I was your chum.”
Jack: “You are my chum. The bait I throw in the water to attract the big fish.”
Liz: “Dammit, second meaning!”

“Unwindulax,” 30 Rock, October 24, 2012

Chum originally referred to “one who lodges or resides in the same chamber or rooms with another; a room-mate: especially applied to college students.” The word is an alternative spelling of cham, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, which is “short for chamber(mate), typical of the late-17c. fondness for clipped words.” By extension, chum refers to “an intimate companion; a crony.”

The “second” meaning, “bait, consisting usually of pieces of some oily fish,” originated later, around 1857, and comes from the Scottish chum, “food.”

die dreaming

Guide: “We’re drinking orange juice with Carnation milk. We call it die dreaming.”

“Dominican Republic,” No Reservations, October 29, 2012

Die dreaming, which translates from the Spanish morir soñando, is “a popular beverage of the Dominican Republic. . .usually made of orange juice, milk, cane sugar, and chopped ice.”

green on blue

Jon Stewart: “Now [the situation in Afghanistan has] become more dangerous. This whole idea of what they call green on blue violence, which is Afghani troops embedded with American troops, turning on [the American troops].”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, November 5, 2012

Green on blue, says OxfordWords Blog, “is modeled after an earlier phrase, blue on blue, referring to inadvertent clashes between members of the same side in an armed conflict.” The colors don’t have to do with uniform hue but with standardized military symbols, where “blue is used for friendly forces, red for hostile forces, green for neutral forces, and yellow for unknown forces.”


Constable: “They all believe that Sister Monica Jane is known to them as, and I quote, light-fingered.”

“The Adventures of Noakes and Browne,” Call the Midwife, November 4, 2012

Light-fingered in this context means “dexterous in touching and taking; thievish; addicted to petty thefts: applied particularly to pickpockets.” The phrase originated in the 1540s.


Scientist: “Take away their arms so they can’t grab you. Take away their jaws so they can’t bite you. Take away their ability to eat, they lose interest in doing so. . . .They become docile, in a sense.”
Governor: “Lurkers.”
Scientist: “Mm, docile. . . .Or lurkers, whatever you like.”

“Walk with Me,” The Walking Dead, October 28, 2012

A lurker is “one who lurks, hides, or keeps out of sight,” as well as “an impostor; a cheap quack.” Lurker comes from lurk, which is probably Scandinavian in origin. In internet slang, a lurker is “a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, chatroom, file sharing, social networking site. . .but rarely or never participates actively.”


Sister: “Those prefabs are only ever expected to last four or five years.”

“We Are Family,” Call the Midwife, October 28, 2012

Prefab, short for prefabricated, or manufactured in advance, refers to “something prefabricated, especially a building or section of a building.” According to the OED, prefab refers specifically, in British English, to “a light, often single-storey house of the kind built in large numbers as temporary housing during and after the Second World War (1939–45).”


Stephen Colbert [to statistician Nate Silver]: “Those of us in the punditocracy make our bread and butter by telling people what the truth is as we see it from our gut.”

The Colbert Report, November 5, 2012

Punditocracy is “a group of pundits who wield great political influence.” The word is a blend of pundit, “a source of opinion; a critic,” and cracy, “rule of government by.” While –cracy is Greek in origin, pundit comes from the Sanskrit paṇḍitaḥ, “learned, scholar.”

sea moss

Anthony Bourdain: “Sea moss is a mix of powdered, dried, deep water seaweed, milk, cinnamon, and other spices, legendary for one reason.”
Michael K. Williams: “Very potent. He’s gonna make a baby tonight.”

“Brooklyn,” No Reservations, November 6, 2012

Sea moss is a “seaweed shake that comes from Trinidad and is said to help men retain their virility.”


Claire: “You finally found something less cool than those pants that zip off into shorts.”
Phil: “My shants, which you have been gunning for since day one.”

“Yard Sale,” Modern Family, October 31, 2012

Shants is a blend of shorts and pants. Other sartorial blends include skort, jeggings, and jorts.


Fan: “Jenna is playing a Today Show in a couple of days so we’re just camping out and unwindulaxing.”

“Unwindulax,” 30 Rock, October 24, 2012

Unwindulax is a blend of unwind and relax. The figurative meaning of unwind, “to become free of nervous tension,” originated around 1958, says the OED. Relax meaning “to relieve from attention or effort” is much older, according to the OED, attested to the 17th century.

Unwindulax is a play on chillax, a blend of chill and relax.

Election Day Soup: Words on Politics and Campaigning

Election Day 2008

Election Day by brooklyntheborough

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by brooklyntheborough]

Happy Election Day! To celebrate, we voted (of course) and rounded up some of our favorite old-timey words about American politics and campaigning.

Rock the vote (or Chris Rock the vote) and enjoy.


“O’Malley dubbed the upcoming barnstorm ‘Super Saturday’ after casting his own ballot Friday afternoon in North Baltimore, where he remains registered despite living in the governor’s mansion.”

Aaron C. Davis and John Wagner, “Parties Rev Up Political Machinery in Maryland to Boost Early Voting Turnout,” The Washington Post, October 22, 2010

To barnstorm means “to travel around the countryside making political speeches, giving lectures, or presenting theatrical performances.” The theatrical performances sense came about first, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, around 1815, “in reference to a theatrical troupe’s performances in upstate N.Y. barns,” while the electioneering sense originated in 1896.

dark horse

“The Missouri Democrat has long been viewed as a possible dark horse candidate for the nomination in case of a convention deadlock.”

Symington Regarded Likely Demo Dark Horse Candidate,” Oxnard Press-Courier, March 30 1956

A dark horse is “one who achieves unexpected support and success as a political candidate, typically during a party’s convention.” The phrase comes from horse racing, where a dark horse is a “a little-known, unexpectedly successful entrant, as in a horserace,” and “dark is used in its figurative sense of ‘unknown.’”


“Every 10 years, states redraw their congressional lines, and often what result are some very oddly shaped districts drawn for political reasons. In recent decades, these so-called ‘gerrymandered’ districts have come to be known by any number of derogatory noms de guerre, including the ‘ribbon of shame,’ ‘earmuffs,’ ‘bug splat,’ ‘flat cat roadkill,’ ‘rabbit on a skateboard,’ and even simply ‘Z.’”

Aaron Blake, “Name That District! (Gerrymandering Edition),” The Washington Post, July 27, 2011

A gerrymander is “an arbitrary arrangement of the political divisions of a State, in disregard of the natural or proper boundaries as indicated by geography or position, made so as to give one party an unfair advantage in elections.” Gerrymander is partially named for Elbridge Gerry, “an American statesman and diplomat,” as a blend of Gerry and the –mander of salamander, “from the shape of an election district created while Gerry was governor of Massachusetts.” For more political blends, see Ben Zimmer’s recent post.

lame duck

“The American constitutional system of checks and balances will be strained for 10 months while we have a lame duck President.”

Lame Duck Presidency Presents Its Hazards,” The Deserest News, April 21, 1952

A lame duck is “an elected officeholder or group continuing in office during the period between failure to win an election and the inauguration of a successor,” or “an officeholder who has chosen not to run for reelection or is ineligible for reelection.” This sense, says the Online Etymology Dictionary, “is recorded by 1878. . .from an anecdote published in that year of President Lincoln, who is alleged to have said, ‘[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for.’”

For more words and terms coined by U.S. presidents, check out this list.


“The truth is, that if ‘lobby members’ endeavor to carry their points by threats or bribery or treating or forming combinations, called logrolling, they are reprehensible.”

Kemp P. Battle, History of North Carolina

Logrolling is “mutual aid given by persons to one another in carrying out their several schemes or gaining their individual ends: used especially of politicians and legislators.” The term comes from the “early American practice of neighbors gathering to help clear land by rolling off and burning felled timber,” and the phrase, “You roll my log and I’ll roll yours.”


“Mark Twain had been a ‘mugwump’ during the Blame-Cleveland campaign in 1880, which means that he had supported the independent Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland.”

Albert Bigelow Paine, The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain

A mugwump originally referred to “a person of importance; a man of consequence; a leader,” a sense “long in local use along the coast of Massachusetts and the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound.” The word comes from the “Algonquian (Natick) mugquomp ‘important person,’” which was “derived from mugumquomp ‘war leader.’”

The meaning was extended to “a Republican who bolted the party in 1884, refusing to support presidential candidate James G. Blaine,” and has come to refer to, in general, “a person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics.”

pork barrel

“Denouncing the Congressional ‘pork barrel,’ President Taft to-day urged a change of method in dealing with waterway improvements in the United States.”

Taft Declares War on ‘Pork Barrel,’The New York Times, September 22, 1910

Pork barrel is slang for “a government project or appropriation that yields jobs or other benefits to a specific locale and patronage opportunities to its political representative.” The term originated around 1902 and comes from the idea “of food supply kept in a barrel.” Pork meaning “government funds, appointments, or benefits dispensed or legislated by politicians to gain favor with their constituents,” is older, from around 1862.


“The science of interpreting elections has a dance name: psephology. A shorter, simpler and more accurate title for much election analysis is: fiction.”

David S. Broder, “Deciphering the Meaning of Elections,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 18, 1989

Psephology is “the study of political elections.” The word comes from the Greek psēphos, “pebble, ballot,” from the ancient Greeks’ practice of using pebbles for voting.


“Dorgan knows how to make the best use of such a roorback on the eve of an election and even if I not only deny but prove that they are a fake, I’m afraid the harm will be done.”

Arthur B. Reeve, The Ear in the Wall

A roorback is “a fictitious story published for political effect; a ‘campaign lie.'” The word is named after “Baron von Roorback, imaginary author of Roorback’s Tour Through the Western and Southern States, from which a passage was purportedly quoted in an attempt to disparage presidential candidate James K. Polk in 1844.”

straw vote

“A straw vote conducted by the Pathfinder, a magazine devoted to politics, gives Hoover the majority. Popular votes totaled 233,315 for Hoover and 197,408 for Smith.”

Leo R. Sack, “Campaigns Are Gaining Speed, With Tours On,” The Pittsburgh Press, September 17, 1928

A straw vote is “an unofficial vote or poll indicating the trend of opinion on a candidate or issue.” The term came about in 1866 and, according to William Safire et al, “may allude to a straw (thin plant stalk) held up to see in what direction the wind blows, in this case, the wind of group opinion.” Newer are straw poll and straw ballot, both of which originated around 1932, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Word Soup Wednesday: moochacracy, mad as a hatter, take it on the arches

Welcome to Word Soup Wednesday! While the television show The Soup brings you “the strange, obscure and totally unbelievable moments in pop culture, celebrity news and reality TV,” Word Soup brings you those strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from talk shows, sitcoms, dramas, and just about anything else on TV.


Corcoran: “My leg’s been bugging me.”

“La Tempete,” Copper, September 16, 2012

Anachronism alert! While Copper takes place in 1864, bug meaning “to annoy, pester” originated in 1949, says the Online Etymology Dictionary. For more Copper anachronisms see Prochronisms.

bully pulpit

Nucky [to Margaret]: “My name is on that hospital, and it’s not to provide you with a bully pulpit.”

“Resolution,” Boardwalk Empire, September 16, 2012

A bully pulpit is “an advantageous position, as for making one’s views known or rallying support,” and was coined by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1904. (This episode takes place in the 1920s.) More words coined by U.S. presidents.


Eli [showing his son a model airplane]: “Happy two birthdays ago.”
Will: “Pretty keen.”

“Spaghetti & Coffee,” Boardwalk Empire, September 23, 2012

Keen in this context means “great; splendid; fine,” and originated in the early 1900s.

mad as a hatter

Cullen [to Lily]: “Sober as a judge, mad as a hatter.”

“Purged Away With Blood,” Hell on Wheels, September 16, 2012

Mad as a hatter means “demented or crazy,” and originated around 1829, says the Online Etymology Dictionary, “supposedly from erratic behavior caused by prolonged exposure to poison mercuric nitrate, used in making felt hats.”

Mad as March hare is attested from the 1520s, via the “notion of breeding season.” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with its Mad Hatter hare was published in 1865, the same year this episode takes place.


Jon Stewart: “Or the incredible tax breaks the government gives the investor class, whose money is taxed at a capital gains rate of 15% as opposed to ordinary having-a-job income which can be taxed up to 35%. Boy I wish we had a poster boy for that element of moochacracy. Oh right.” [Cuts to picture of Mitt Romney]

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 19, 2012

Moochacracy is a blend of mooch, “to get or try to get something free of charge; sponge,” and cracy, “rule or government by.” Mooch probably comes from the Old French muchier, “to hide, skulk,” while –cracy comes from the Greek kratos, “strength.” Stewart continues:

In 2010, Governor Romney had an adjusted gross income of $21.6 million yet paid only $3 million in federal income tax, or 13.9%. Without the preferential investor tax code, Romney would have paid $7.56 million – a government subsidy of $4.56 million, or. . . .enough food stamps to feed Mr. Romney through the year 4870.


Diane Sawyer: “The Romney camp is said to be engineering a reboot.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 18, 2012

Reboot means “to turn (a computer or operating system) off and then on again; restart,” and originated in 1971, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The noun form originated in 1980.


Stephen Colbert: “[Obama] dropped the R-bomb! Redistribution, which is just fancy talk for ‘a black guy is coming for your stuff’! Here’s his vision for America, folks. You pay taxes into a single federal agency that pools it and redistributes it across the country to build roads and bridges, sometimes in states you don’t live in!”

The Colbert Report, September 19, 2012

Redistribution is “an economic theory or policy that advocates reducing inequalities in the distribution of wealth,” and originated around 1825, says the OED.


Eva: “You look steamy, Kevin. Can’t wait to pull those clothes off you later.”

“La Tempete,” Copper, September 16, 2012

Another anachronism. Steamy meaning “erotic” didn’t come about until 1952, almost 90 years after this episode takes place. Again, for more Copper anachronisms see Prochronisms.

take it on the arches

Woman [to Nelson]: “Take it on the arches!”

“Resolution,” Boardwalk Empire, September 16, 2012

Take it on the arches is “encouragement for one to move along and walk away via one’s foot arches.”

welfare queen

Jon Stewart: “That says nothing about the real parasites, welfare queens. Public assistance is clearly a path to dependency. I would like to see evidence otherwise.”
Video of Mitt Romney’s mother speaking of Romney’s father: “He was a refugee from Mexico. He was on relief-welfare for the first years of his life.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 18, 2012

Welfare queen is “a pejorative phrase used. . .to describe people who are accused of collecting excessive welfare payments through fraud or manipulation.” The term seems to have first appeared in a 1976 speech by then presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan.

That’s it for this week! Remember, if you see any Word Soup-worthy words, let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #wordsoup. Your word and Twitter handle might appear right here!

Obamacare Soup

Confused about all the terms flying around as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling today? Here’s a roundup of 10 key words and terms.

Affordable Care Act

“One of the main goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is to extend coverage to millions of Americans who can’t obtain insurance today. These are typically people with preexisting medical conditions or limited incomes whose employers don’t offer health benefits.”

“’Obamacare’ insurance exchanges: Let’s get going,” The Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2012

According to Investopedia, the Affordable Care Act, short for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is:

A federal statute signed into law in March 2010 as a part of the healthcare reform agenda of the Obama administration. Signed under the title of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law included multiple provisions that would take effect over a matter of years, including the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, the establishment of health insurance exchanges and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Check out this guide from The Atlantic regarding which provisions of the ACA were approved by the Supreme Court today.

Commerce Clause

“Can the federal government require Americans to buy health insurance? Well, yesterday, a federal judge in Virginia said no, that that part of the health care overhaul law is unconstitutional. The legal argument hinges on the powers given to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The clause is a short one. It says that Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states and with the Indian tribes.”

Health Mandate Fight Hinges On Commerce Clause,” NPR, December 14, 2010

The Commerce Clause relates to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in that “Congress claims authority from the Commerce Clause,” and therefore “is authorized to require citizens to purchase health insurance from the private market, known as the individual mandate.”

death panel

“Democrats are right that offering an on-demand counseling session is hardly the same as establishing a ‘death panel’ to determine which senior lives or dies. To equate the two, as Sarah Palin has done, is to utter, in Obama’s term, ‘outlandish rumors.’”

Amity Shlaes, “Death Panel Needed for Health-Debate Hypocrisy,” Bloomberg, August 10, 2009

A death panel is “a supposed committee responsible for allocating healthcare and promoting euthanasia to reduce costs.” In 2009 former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin stated:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

According to the Washington Post, Palin was referring to a provision “that would provide funds to physicians or other health care providers to help counsel patients on end of life planning issues such as how to create a living will or advanced directive.”

individual mandate

“If there were no individual mandate included in the legislation, this would create a situation where people would be likely to wait until they had a health problem diagnosed before they applied for insurance. That would cause premiums to increase and make coverage increasingly unattractive to people who are young and healthy.”

Brendan Borrell, “Individual mandate: A sticking point in the healthcare debate,” The Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2010

Individual mandate is “a requirement by law that certain persons purchase or otherwise obtain a good or service.” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “imposes a health insurance mandate,” which would “fine citizens without insurance,” says the L.A. Times.


“Retirees who expect to end up on Medicaid, Mr. Kotlikoff says, might want to skip this. Medicaid, which is based on financial need, ‘will end up taking the additional money that comes in.’”

Jeff Opdyke, “How to Game Social Security,” The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2010

Medicaid is “a program in the United States, jointly funded by the states and the federal government, that reimburses hospitals and physicians for providing care to qualifying people who cannot finance their own medical expenses.” Medicare is “a program under the U.S. Social Security Administration that reimburses hospitals and physicians for medical care provided to qualifying people over 65 years old.” See how Medicaid will be affected by today’s ruling.


“Democrats in Congress are upset that Republicans are using the term ‘Obamacare’ — the pejorative term for the Affordable Care Act — in taxpayer-funded congressional mass correspondence.”

Super Committee Democrats Announce What They’ll Eventually Cave On,” The Huffington Post, October 26, 2011

Obamacare refers to reforms in the U.S. healthcare system proposed by the Obama administration. See Affordable Care Act.

preexisting condition

“I thought of Brown as the Obama administration announced this week that it would cut premiums for people with preexisting conditions who seek coverage under federal programs created as part of the healthcare reform law. The programs are intended to serve as a stopgap until 2014, when insurers will no longer be permitted to turn people away because of illness or a preexisting condition — that is, if the provision survives legal challenges.”

David Lazarus, “Falling through the cracks with a preexisting condition,” The Los Angeles Times, June 3, 2011

A preexisting condition is a “medical condition that occurred before a program of health benefits went into effect.”


“Santorum comes back and uses the word ‘Romneycare‘ and lists the flaws of Romney’s plan, calling it ‘top down, big government’. This is the best criticism of Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare package – which was very similar to the Obama reforms – that anyone has made so far.”

Richard Adams, “GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas – as it happened,”  The Guardian, October 19, 2011

Romneycare refers to the  Massachusetts health care reform law, which was “enacted in 2006” and  “mandates that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of healthcare insurance coverage and provides free health care insurance for residents earning less than 150% of the federal poverty level.” The health legislation was signed by Romney, who was governor at the time.


“Some cameras-in-the-courts detractors say that’s why it’s useless to broadcast SCOTUS hearings live: Under this questioning, even for lawyers it’s often impossible to tell whose side the adversarial judges are really on until they rule.”

James Poniewozik, “The SCOTUS With the Mostus,” Time, December 1, 2000

SCOTUS is an acronym that stands for the Supreme Court of the United States. POTUS stands for the President of the United States, while FLOTUS is the First Lady of the United States.

socialized medicine

Socialized medicine is a system in which the government owns the means of providing medicine. Britain is an example of socialized system, as, in America, is the Veterans Health Administration. In a socialized system, the government employs the doctors and nurses, builds and owns the hospitals, and bargains for and purchases the technology. I have literally never heard a proposal for converting America to a socialized system of medicine.”

Ezra Klein, “Health Reform for Beginners,” The Washington Post, June 9, 2009

Socialized medicine refers to “a government-regulated system for providing health care for all by means of subsidies derived from taxation.” Some examples of countries that practice socialized medicine are Australia, Canada, Finland, and the United Kingdom. Socialized medicine differs from single-payer health care, says Ezra Klein, in that:

[single-payer health care is] a system in which one institution purchases all, or in reality, most, of the care. But the payer does not own the doctors or the hospitals or the nurses or the MRI scanners. Medicare is an example of a mostly single-payer system, as is France. Both of these systems have private insurers to choose from, but the government is the dominant purchaser.

Canada has socialized medicine and a single-payer system (newsflash to those with moving plans).

Yes We Scan

Carl Malamud is the “rebel archivist” who has been working for years to make government documents freely available, and he has started a campaign to be appointed Public Printer of the United States, head of the Government Printing Office. Malamud says he’s inspired by Augustus E. Giegengack, “a working printer and regular leather apron man” who FDR appointed to head the GPO after a similar grassroots effort.

Malamud’s background is ideal for the position, and his appointment would go a long way towards furthering Obama’s campaign pledge to increase transparency in government. For more info and to offer your support, visit Malamud’s delightfully-named campaign site, Yes We Scan!

Leviathan of Forensics

According to CNN, this morning Obama spokesman David Wade called Sarah Palin a “leviathan of forensics.”

I can’t get those words out of my head, and I’m beginning to think it’s the best phrase anyone has ever uttered. I almost pissed myself laughing when I first heard it, and Wade now occupies a special place in my heart.

Contrast the austere pomposity of “leviathan”—the Bible, Hobbes, Melville, Auster—to the person he’s describing. Coupled to the near-obsolete use of “forensics”—he wasn’t talking about CSI: Miami—and it’s perfect. Perfect!

Politics can be so ugly, it just warms my heart that this guy pulled such a ludicrous phrase out of his ass. He’s my new hero. And it has nothing (well, very little) to do with partisan politics, or ill-will to Palin. Her recent PR troubles notwithstanding, she really isn’t bad at, er, forensics, if you check her past debates on YouTube. And Biden is a well-known loose cannon, so it could go either way.

But “Leviathan of Forensics,” it’s just too good. Here’s the full quote from CNN’s politicalticker:

“She’s very skilled and she’ll be well-prepared,” said Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod Sunday night, flying with Biden back to Delaware to help him get ready.

“As you saw at the convention she can be very good. So, I think it would be foolish to assume that this isn’t going to be a really challenging debate. We’re preparing for that, on that assumption.”

Taking it one step farther, Biden spokesman David Wade later added, “He’s going in here to debate a leviathan of forensics, who has debated five times and she’s undefeated.”