November 29, 2007

Emergent morphology and informative tautologies

One of the emerging political scandals of the day involves some fancy financial footwork in the NYC mayor's office under Rudy Guiliani -- the costs of police protection for travel associated with his extramarital affair with Judith Nathan (now his wife) were apparently hidden in the budgets of various apparently unrelated city offices. ($34K to the New York City Loft Board, $10K to the Office for People With Disabilities, $30K to the Procurement Policy Board, and $400K to the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office.)

Over at the political blog Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has been having an inordinate amount of fun with this one, indulging in punning headlines ("Raking the shag") and a flurry of neologisms like these (emphasis added):

On the Rudy shagonomics story, the details are even richer than the headline. Not only did Rudy pick obscure public agencies to bill for his trips out to hang in the Hamptons with Judy Nathan, he seemed to pick them to guarantee the maximum impression of tastelessness and chutzpah should he ever be found out.

Admittedly he only charged $10,000 to the people with disabilities fund. Chump change for the shag fund. But the office charged with getting counsel for indigent defendants got stuck with $400,000.

and these:

Tuned in late here to the Youtube debate. I was thinking Rudy's big problem tonight was the govt-funded shagoramas with then-mistress Judith Nathan. But I think that this answer about gun control might be a bigger problem.

In related linguistic news, Giuliani's explanation is an excellent example of an apparent tautology that is actually informative -- in this case, on several levels at once:

"And they took care of me, and they put in their records, and they handled them in the way they handled them."

Posted by Mark Liberman at November 29, 2007 08:43 AM