Ten That Should Be Banned

Vet or Vetting — If I hear this one more time I’m going to vet myself. I vet, therefore I am.

Work in Progress — As though one of these pieces of legislative sausage were the Sistine Chapel or something. ¬†Californians would benefit if more works in progress were owrked out before they progress.

Win, Win — Yeah, right.

Broad-Based Coalition — Seems that by definition there can’t be any other kind. “Thank you, Madame Chair, we represent a narrowly based coalition.”

Level Playing Field — The place where the lobbyists pour out onto with their game faces on, giving it 110 percent. ¬†There may be no “i” in team but there sure is one in “win.” In legislative parlance, “level” would be a 45 degree slope straight into the mouth of the lobbyist’s client.

Tool in the Toolbox – What about all those tools outside the the toolbox? Aren’t those being used? Appears to be a synonym for “My bill doesn’t do squat but humor me and pass it anyway.

Stakeholders — Put a wooden stick in their hearts already.

At the Table — As one Chevron lobbyist said”If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” The table is where the stakeholders si, usually as part of….

Ongoing Negotiations


Filed under: Capitol Cliches


  1. Dear Scribe,

    I fear you have overlooked the phrase “at the end of the day” which makes me want to skewer any and all stakeholders who are reckless enough to use it in my presence.

    Comment by Tracy — 1.10.2008 @ 12:27 am

  2. How about “”At the end of the day,” “In the final analyis,” When all is said and done,” and “To make a long story, short”?

    I once received an email of a “talk” composed entirely of these kinds of cliches. It sounded like many an Assembly floor speech.

    Comment by Fred — 1.10.2008 @ 5:01 pm

  3. The phrase, “A perfect storm.” Nobody had even heard of that until the movie came out, and now anytime there’s a crisis looming or something happens that nobody can explain, it’s due to a “perfect storm” of events.

    Comment by Paul — 1.10.2008 @ 6:05 pm

  4. Great feature. I nominate “Tee it up.” Most people spouting this phrase don’t play golf so they’re not qualified to use it. Plus, it is dumb…
    Also, “transparency.” As in, “We endorse a transparent process.” Well, if they mean honest and open to public review/scrutiny then they should say so.

    Comment by Fritz the Cat — 1.10.2008 @ 6:29 pm

  5. If you remove these phases from the political lexicon then I will not be able to play my favorite game, verbal crutch bingo. End of session, especially around election time provides a lot of fodder. I paid my way through school on my winnings. You can also play it as a drinking game.

    Good luck on the site.

    Comment by CA Orange — 1.10.2008 @ 7:35 pm

  6. Greg, this is great stuff. I have some additions I’d like to make, but let me hash them out first. I’ll get everything flushed out and I’ll circle back with you. Looking forward to closing the loop on this one. By COB.

    Comment by Brian — 1.10.2008 @ 7:58 pm

  7. Congratulations, Greg. Great site.

    Two cliches:

    1. “Gold plated” pensions. LA Times used it in a news story this week without the quotes. Who says they’re gold-plated? Where’s the proof?

    2. “Powerful public employee unions”. You never see the words public employee union without the adjective “powerful” in front of it. How come we never see “powerful California Chamber of Commerce” or “powerful Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association”?

    Comment by Steve Mehlman — 1.10.2008 @ 8:02 pm

  8. Greg —

    Love it!

    Gotta add:

    * Going forward basis.
    * The other side of the aisle.

    Keep the dry wit coming!

    — Evan

    Comment by Evan Goldberg — 1.10.2008 @ 8:21 pm

  9. “Out of pocket.” Does that mean if you are at your desk, you are in your pockt? If you are, you should use the restroom.

    Comment by Gus Turdlock — 1.10.2008 @ 10:13 pm

  10. And let’s not forget about the painfully frequent references to “singing Kumbaya.”

    Comment by Dave — 1.10.2008 @ 11:51 pm

  11. Kabuki dance.

    Comment by Brian — 1.11.2008 @ 12:34 am

  12. And I almost forgot — “opening salvo.”
    Ok, that’s my closing salvo. I’m done for the day.

    Comment by Brian — 1.11.2008 @ 12:35 am

  13. Have you ever noticed that all of the folks who say they are seeking a level playing field really just want home court advantage?

    Comment by John Lovell — 1.11.2008 @ 9:04 am

  14. C’mon everybody what about: “It is what it is.” What the hell does it mean anyway? Events are bigger than our ability to control them? I never got it.

    Comment by peter — 1.11.2008 @ 9:28 am

  15. The phrase that frays the last knot on my rope is “We nee to think outside of the box.” The only people who say that are people who think inside the box.

    Comment by Karen Keeslar — 1.11.2008 @ 12:56 pm

  16. How about, “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.” This stock press-release phrase is not perfect, but it’s not good either! Cut it out, communications directors!!!

    Comment by Aria — 1.11.2008 @ 1:10 pm

  17. It irks me when someone says, “We need that done yesterday.” That’s not going to happen, so just say “ASAP!”

    The phrase “24/7″ is OK, but “24/7/365″ is annoying because the units are wrong. The “7” represents a week, so the third term should say how many weeks in a year: “24/7/52.14″ I guess you could say “24/365″ and cut out the middle man.

    Comment by Y. S. — 1.11.2008 @ 2:41 pm

  18. Greg,
    Great site!
    Gotta adds:
    –“off load” and
    –“off ramp” (sometimes a noun, sometimes a verb)

    I leave the clever comments on these 2 to you and others!

    Comment by Leslie McFadden — 1.11.2008 @ 4:28 pm

  19. Absolutely —–Triangulate —– Beyond the pale —– organic —–
    The fact of the matter is ——– The Reason Why ——
    Uber ( which should be UEBER, since there is no umlaut on US keyboard)
    Extreme —– Family size ——— Big pint —— Large quart —-
    Return back ———— Go back again ——— Reflect back ——ANY man who’s had THEIR job in jeopardy —— EVERYONE has THEIR day —- Decimate ( when DESTROY is meant ) THE NEW xxxxx, as in Brown is THE NEW black , 60 is THE NEW 45 Prius is THE NEW Firebird , etc —–
    Be On The Same Page ——–Pro-active ——a No-Brainer —— Basically ——–DOING lunch —— Whatever

    Comment by Michele6933 — 1.17.2008 @ 8:41 pm

  20. And lest we forget: “Balance the budget on the backs of _______” Fill in the blank with your own favorite special interest. Unfortunately we will be hearing this one a lot this year.

    Comment by Mo — 1.20.2008 @ 10:39 pm

  21. “Galvanize” as in “we are galvanizing our base” (around an issue or cause) – this always makes me wonder if the intent is to stimulate “them” to action or turn “them” into statues…

    Comment by JB — 1.23.2008 @ 7:47 pm

  22. Greg – nice work. I would like to offer up “the devil is in the details”.. I think the experts call it post activation analysis paralysis.

    Comment by Amy Brown — 2.27.2008 @ 11:40 am

  23. “Draconian” Yech.

    Note: Playing fields are not level. Pitchers stand on mounds and outfields slope slightly as they near the warning tracks near the fences. Football fields and soccer pitches are crowned – higher in the middle than at the sidelines – for drainage purposes and to give a better point of view to players on the center of the field.

    Comment by Slauson Slim — 4.08.2008 @ 4:39 pm

  24. It is good to “have a conversation” about this.

    Comment by Maad Dog — 2.16.2011 @ 10:04 am

  25. I’d be very happy to never hear another politician refer to the can being kicked down the road.

    Comment by JoAnn Anglin — 1.02.2012 @ 7:45 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment