Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Jan 14-18, 2018

an unwavering commitment to the rule of law

rhetorical claim: when it comes to DACA or any immigration policy, what we need above all is an unwavering commitment to the rule of law, which we haven’t had for decades.

rhetorical effect: their commitment to the rule of law wavers quite a bit when it comes to legal opinions they don’t like, freedom of speech and the press for their critics, federal laws protecting the natural environment, consumer protection and reproductive rights, etc.  The entire concept of ‘the rule of law” sounds a lot more fixed and foundational than it really is–sort of like Constitutional originalism. The course and nature of the “rule of law” is really up to its interpreters; and, especially under Trump, all rules can change.

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chain migration

merit-based immigration

rhetorical claim: we need to end chain migration and move to a merit-based immigration policy. We need more highly-skilled immigrants from countries such as Norway, not a floodtide of losers from loser nations.

rhetorical effect: Trump makes off-hand racist comments, he promotes racist stereotypes and he incites racism as a political strategy, best explored by Eugene Robinson:

That is what the immigration battle is really about. When Trump and his allies say they want to end “chain migration” — in which family members sponsor other family members for entry — they mean they want to halt the influx of immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries. When Trump says he wants to bar Haitians and Africans, he aims to admit fewer black people. When he pines for more Norwegians, he wants to welcome more white people. (Not that Norwegians, at the moment, are very eager to move to Trump’s America.)

Republicans say they want a “merit-based” system of immigration. That has a nice, neutral sound. Who can argue against merit?

But Trump has made clear that what he means to do is halt or reverse the demographic trends that are making this nation increasingly diverse — trends that are wholly consistent with U.S. history.

A century ago, there were nativists who railed against Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigration, claiming that unwashed hordes from poor countries were “mongrelizing” the nation. We now have a president who rejects American ideals of diversity and inclusion in favor of racial purity.

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middle class tax cut

rhetorical claim: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the tax deal was designed to “put more money in more companies so they could compete competitively with international companies.”

rhetorical effect: So much for Republican claims that the Trump tax cuts would help working people or the middle class. It was all a pretty thin short-term con, which is a fair description of the business world today.

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salty (or tough) language

letting Donald be Donald

rhetorical claim: Trump’s tweets and rough language are the purest expression of his disruptive political sensibility and his connections to Joe Sixpack. Letting Donald be Donald is the GOP’s best strategy for continuous political domination. His occasional tough or salty language is merely an honest reflection of views held by his followers.

rhetorical effect: best expressed by New Yorker editor David Remnick:

Future scholars will sift through Trump’s digital proclamations the way we now read the chroniclers of Nero’s Rome—to understand how an unhinged emperor can make a mockery of republican institutions, undo the collective nervous system of a country, and degrade the whole of public life.

Or, as Masha Gessen puts it, “The news is not that he’s a racist; it’s that he’s dragging us all down with him.”

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fake outrage

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ gleeful embrace of moral outrage over Trump’s alleged “shitholes”  remark only shows how their political correctness inures them to the truth. As Roger Kimball argues on the website American Greatness:

Everyone, near enough, knows that he was telling a home truth. It was outrageous not because he said something crude that was untrue. Quite the contrary: it was outrageous precisely because it was true but intolerable to progressive sensitivities.

In other words, the potency of taboo is still strong in our superficially rational culture. There are some things—quite a few, actually, and the list keeps growing—about which one cannot speak the truth or, in many cases, even raise as a subject for discussion without violating the unspoken pact of liberal sanctimoniousness.

rhetorical effect: reduces all progressives’ moral principles and political policies to hypocritical posing, political correctness, smug self-serving and sanctimoniousness. Assumes tat liberals have no moral core; they only crave power as their means and end.

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open borders

rhetorical claim: Open-border advocates in politics and the media vilify those who dare suggest that the laws be changed, and the status quo prevails. This tradition needs to end immediately. “Open borders” is the status quo American immigration policy, and that the diversity visa program is part of it.

rhetorical effect: This claim is completely ridiculous. In 2016, 11.4 million people entered the lottery for 50,000 diversity visas. An authentically “open borders” version of the diversity visa program would admit 100 percent of those applicants, not less than one-half of one percent. The mathematicians among us might note that 50,000 is 11.35 million closer to zero than 11.4 million. The restrictionist tradition of labeling those who favor the almost totally closed immigration policy status quo as “open-borders advocates” is grossly dishonest and “needs to end immediately.”

Perhaps more importantly, practical advocates of a more inclusive and permissive immigration system need to be much clearer about the fact that the real-world political debate takes place within an overwhelming international consensus favoring almost completely closed borders. The liberalizing side of the politically relevant immigration debate is, in fact, plumping for reforms that are slightly less restrictive than the draconian closed-borders status quo.

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dubious allegations

broken and unfair

rhetorical claim: the Dems continue to make dubious allegations about President Trump: so-called collusion with the Russians, racism, mental instability, unfitness for office, etc. Along the same lines, the mainstream media is producing fake news, the FBI is corrupt and biased against Trump, and the court system is broken and unfair. Presidential reporting is not a medieval morality play in which an irate CNN chooses sinners to be damned to hell and the virtuous to be deified.

rhetorical effect: anything that goes against Trump is demonized; anyone who opposed or thwarts him is subject to vilification of some kind: they are either liars, hypocrites or corrupt., and all allegations against Trump are “dubious” and so automatically dismissed. He uses false conspiratorial narrative framing (including derogatory nicknames) to condemn all critics.

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victim-focused identity

rhetorical claim: As Shelby Steele argues in the WSJ, the oppression of black people is over with. Black Americans must come to terms with the accountability freedom demands, and not hide behind their victim-focused identity, or the excuse of oppression.  No more elaborate narrative excuses for black poverty or underdevelopment: no more talks of “systemic” or “structural” racism, of racist “microaggressions”, “white privilege”, etc.

rhetorical effect: This label tries to make it so that talking about racism–not actual racism– is over with, thus serving as its own taboo. Tries toi make racism into “the r-word,” never to be uttered aloud. This phrase also of course blames the victims for the crime.

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scare pollution

rhetorical claim: liberals engage in scare pollution with their fake news and fake science about so-called “climate change” or “global warming.”  They are like Chicken Little–the sky is always falling.

rhetorical effect: transforms environmental protection concerns into a form of pollution. Ridicules any consequences of man-made climate change as either illusory or scare-mongering. Ridicules any notion of sincere desire to protect the air and water.

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excellent health

rhetorical claim: Trump is in excellent physical and mental health, dashing the Dems’ hopes of 25th-amendment remedies.

rhetorical effect: excuses Trump’s unhealthy lifestyle and  legitimizes authoritarianism as normal, unless of course you count a terrible attention deficit disorder and rampaging narcissism as mental issues.

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shitholes

rhetorical claim: from PJ Media:

The U.S. is not a charity, forced to take anyone who wants to come here because their need is great. We are a great country, and thriving like none other in the history of this sorry world, but even we can’t give shelter and opportunity to everyone who wants to come here to escape the mess their countries have become.

We get to pick and choose, and while we have traditionally given refuge to those in dire need, economic hardship is not, by itself, dire need. Nor are we, for that matter, forced to give refuge if we think you’ll bring the mess back in your country of origin with you.

Do you want to come to the U.S.? Great. Splendid. Come because you want to be an American, not because you want to defend tooth and nail the sh*thole you left behind. We are not your mommy. We are not your daddy. We want you to leave your parents’ basement and make your own way to American freedom and prosperity.  If you can’t do that, go back to the sh*thole.

Fit in or f*ck off.

We don’t care what sh*thole you came from, we just care that you want to be an American.

And if you’re not here, don’t want to come here, and don’t want to be an American but are offended because your country was called names, don’t waste spit defending your pride. Prove us wrong by making your country one that people don’t want to leave in droves. And shut up about it.

rhetorical effect: racism, xenophobia, nativism, manifest destiny, “the white man’s burden.”

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Jan 5-11, 2018.

investigative mania

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ Russian obsession has deepened into a desperate pathological mania  that will maintain the Mueller inquiry well beyond its shelf life. This Ahab-like obsession will in the end only embarrass the Dems when they have nothing to show. They have created an evidence-free zone of accusation.

rhetorical effect: precludes the inquiry by likening a desire for justice to a “mania”.  They not only are trying to demonize the FBI and weaponize Congressional committee tampering with an ongoing investigation, but also are trying to make they very notions of money laundering or collusion into dangerous delusions. The theory behind the strategy seems to be that if you deny something long enough, people start doubting its existence or veracity, even if it right before their eyes and backed up by evidence and legal reasoning. On the other hand, there is talk of reviving Hillary witch hunts over the Clinton Foundation and e-mail servers. Talk about investigative manias!

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anti-white racism

rhetorical claim: As Tucker Carlson argued recently on Fox News, it is not right-wing media or good-old fashioned racism that’s help fueling white nationalism, but, instead, anti-white propaganda disseminated by progressive, pro-inclusion websites such as Buzzfeed and The Root. Unless people start deciding they’re going to treat one another as individuals, rather than as members of groups, and if The Root doesn’t stop pointing out the ways in which white people discriminate against black people, it could lead to an angry, bifurcated society in which Americans fight against each other.

There’s a basic moral principle that was, for a long time, conventional wisdom in this country, you probably grew up with it,” he said. “It was this: people deserve to be treated as individuals, judged by their own efforts and abilities on the things they can control. Attacking people on the basis of their race is wrong — that was the standard and, for a long time, people believed it.

On the left, it is now acceptable, even encouraged, to attack and discriminate against people solely on the basis of their skin color.

Dressing his message up in the words and notions of the civil rights movement, Note that Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few. That, he said, was what created white nationalism.

rhetorical effect: Note that Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few.Dressing his message up in the words and notions of the civil rights movement, Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few. That, he said, was what created white nationalism.

Turns the victims of racism into the perpetrators; justifies attacking people based on their skin color; falsely and glibly  compares what The Root writes to, say, systematic racist efforts such as voter suppression, stop-and-frisk or others. It’s important to always keep in mind in the face of this kind of false argument that white people simply aren’t an at-risk class in this country.

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conjecture and commentary

rhetorical claim: the liberal mainstream media is a threat top democracy because it has replaced objective reporting with conjecture and commentary. Instead of reporting te facts, it reports mere opinions–Trump/Russia collusion, etc– as facts

rhetorical effect: this is another false fact disguising itself as an immutable truth. The Trump administration, which has absolutely no interest in objectivity or even science has made all facts up for grabs. Calling any reporting you don’t like “conjecture” or “commentary” is but another step in destabilizing the very concept of verifiable facts or reasoned argument. Thus they create their own commentary–the running narrative that the media is incapable of truth.

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vanity signalling

rhetorical claim: the self-righteous “Me Too” display a the Golden Globes does indeed mark a cultural milestone: when preening replaced principle, when women rebelled against being considered as objects by being judged by how they dressed. The hypocrisy is epic. Many actors expressing such outrage use sexual chemistry to attract the predatory male movie executives they then profess to despise. They habitually wear outfits that leave little to the imagination, split upwards or downwards or utterly transparent. What’s more, many of the movies and TV series in which they appear, some of them having forgotten to put on any clothes at all, have long crossed the line into soft porn. They see themselves as rebels, but are actually slaves to body image.

rhetorical effect: turns the victims of sexual harassment into predators; turns political protest into into an act of self-serving hypocrisy; reduces any statement of moral principle into a cynical act of manipulation; reduces self-worth to vanity.

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trade crackdown

rhetorical claim: it’s time for an aggressive trade crackdown on China. As candidate Trump put it, “We can’t continue to let China keep raping us and that’s what they’re doing.” The administration’s National Security Strategy makes explicit for the first time the country’s “America first” foreign policy, which defends the country’s sovereignty “without apology”. The US, Mr Trump says, will no longer tolerate economic aggression or unfair trading practices — in a world full of threats, the danger of Chinese economic hegemony ranks among the greatest.

rhetorical effect: weaponizes the language of trade, as described in a recent Financial Times op-ed:

We now talk of enemies and adversaries instead of trade partners; of national interest, instead of opportunities for all; and of protectionism and walls rather than open borders and the end of the nation-state. Gone are the halcyon days of the “everyone’s a winner” version of globalisation that we have become accustomed to over the past 30 years.

 

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taxing college endowments

rhetorical claim: it’s time that universities pay their fair share of taxes, and that’s why the tax bill includes a tax on large college endowments.

rhetorical effect: the authoritarian theocratic wing of American politics wants to use the tax code as a bludgeon to advance their cultural agenda. As in the case of ending the SALT deduction, which hits blue states the hardest,  the GOP is using fiscal policy to punish people with views they don’t like. In particular, they object to what they see as the “noxious, unflinching left-liberal ideology” promoted by places such as Yale, Princeton, and, apparently, CalTech. (What exactly makes this “ideology” so “noxious” was unspecified but it seems to include the notion that homosexuals should be treated equally under the law.)

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sneaky

rhetorical claim: Sneaky Diane Feinstein probably broke the law releasing confidential Senate transcripts.

rhetorical effect: silences dissent; sanctions withholding of information; weaponizes laws stifling free speech; turns the Senate into a majoritarian autocracy, eliminating bipartisanship. Why isn’t it “sneaky” that the GOP just passed the largest tax reform bill in thirty years with no hearings, no witnesses and no Democratic support?

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offshore drilling is good for the earth

rhetorical claim: offshore drilling in Alaska (ANWR) is actually good for the earth because it is so much more environmentally safe than fracking or deepwater drilling. As argued in the WSJ;

As long as the global economy demands hydrocarbons, companies will produce them, even if they must go to great lengths to do so. Scarcity leads to high prices, which makes fracking and high-risk deep-water drilling possible. Boosting the supply of oil from land and shallow-water rigs would reduce these hazards.

Deregulating government-controlled territories like the ANWR and the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf is a step in the right direction. If a freer market can prevent another tragedy like Deepwater Horizon, environmentalists should see it as a win.

rhetorical effect: Classic counter-intuitive GOP inversion: black is white, up is down, offshore drilling is good for the earth, the social safety net actually puts people at risk, guns make people safer, lack of regulation and consumer protection makes banking, finance, Wall Street and retail more transparent and less risky, universal health care means worse health care for everyone, calling attention to black identity or white nationalism is itself racist, the “Me Too” movement turns men into victims of a kind of sexual stereotyping, etc., etc., etc.

Politiscripts Glossary, Dec. 27, 2017-Jan. 4, 2018

fake news

rhetorical claim: the Mueller investigation tell-all books, leaks and reports from so-called “experts” are all fake news–the way the Swamp justifies and perpetuates itself.

rhetorical effect: best explained by the New Yorker’s Louis Menand:

Many Americans were shocked to hear their beliefs characterized as “fake science” or “fake news.” Those Americans thought that they understood what counts as evidence, what counts as reason, what counts as an argument. Suddenly, the rules changed. In national politics, you no longer need evidence or reason. You no longer need to make an argument. You need only to assert. If your assertion is questioned, you need only to repeat it.

“Fake” and “hoax” are the “abracadabra”s of the Trump world, words recited to make inconvenient facts disappear. In most of life after nursery school, “abracadabra” doesn’t work, because it stops fooling other people. For grownups, as a rule, saying something doesn’t make it so. This is not true of Presidents, however, grownup or not. Presidents are legally empowered to make what comes out of their mouths a reality for other people. This President has realized that he can say literally anything and someone will pop up to explain it, or explain it away.

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean,” Humpty Dumpty says to Alice. How can you make a word mean so many different things? Alice asks. “The question,” Humpty Dumpty replies, “is which is to be master, that’s all.” George Orwell said the same thing. Meaning, at bottom, is about power. “Truth,” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., once said, is “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.” A disagreeable thought, but not an inapposite one in 2017.

Or, as Masha Gessen argues:

Members of Congress who voted for the tax bill, which will disproportionately benefit the very wealthy and will gut Obamacare, may be justified in assuming that they can afford to make their donors happy at the expense of their voters: partisanship and gerrymandering, they reckon, will keep their seats safe. In other words, an informed public is a necessary condition of democracy, but not a sufficient one. Democracy may indeed die in darkness, but light is no guarantee that it will survive.

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onerous disclosure

rhetorical claim: from the WSJ editorial, ‘The Great Rules Rollback”:

The 2017 list includes a regulation that would have imposed onerous disclosure requirements on mining and drilling companies operating overseas, carrying $700 million in initial costs and up to $590 million for annual compliance. Congress also nixed rules on education, public land and the use of family planning funds. By eliminating these 14 rules, lawmakers spared Americans from $3.7 billion in costs and eliminated 4.2 million hours of paperwork, says the American Action Forum…

The size of the economic impact of all this is hard to measure, though the Trump Administration projects the regulatory cost savings for the economy will be $9.8 billion over the next fiscal year. Mr. Crews has estimated that regulation took a $1.9 trillion annual toll on the economy last year.

rhetorical effect: pretty soon any  federally-mandated “disclosure” will be defined an “onerous”, and the federal government will at last be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub, as Grover Norquist predicted .  What seemed mere fantasy in 2001 is coming to fruition in 2018.

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discipline and punish

rhetorical claim: leftists hate messages of discipline and punishment because they believe “society” is to blame for everything, removing all senses of personal responsibility.

rhetorical effect: justifies corporal punishment of children, maximum minimum prison terms, lifelong bans on felons’ rights, including voting rights, the end of the social safety net, and the moral foundations of any charges of racism, sexism, etc. Also insults liberals by saying they have no sense of responsibility, a neat reversal of foreground and background since it is the GOP that is trying to wash its hands of any responsibility for pain, deprivation, inequality, or injustice.

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post-modern notions of tolerance

rhetorical claim: The hard left is aligned with Islamist organizations. Antifa has in effect aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, which operates in the US as Muslim Students Association and Council of American-Islamic Relations. Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed. Atomization of society must also occur at the individual level; with attacks directed against all levels of group and personal identity. Hence the sexism, racism and xenophobia memes. As a Judeo-Christian culture, forced inclusion of post-modern notions of tolerance is designed to induce nihilistic contradictions that reduce all thought, all faith, all loyalties to meaninglessness. Group rights based on sex or ethnicity are a direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed.

rhetorical effect: belittles the whole idea of a collectivity or common humanity, echoing Margaret Thatcher’s infamous claim that “there’s no such thing as society.”  Notice how “individual rights” are assumed to be based on “natural law,” as though collectivism is unnatural. Tolerance itself is represented as the gateway drug to nihilism.

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anti-white, substandard foreign workers

rhetorical claim: America is being flooded with anti-white, substandard foreign workers.

rhetorical effect: heightened atmosphere of racial, ethnic and religious bigotry and persecution

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fiscal discipline

rhetorical claim: tax reform that caps state and local tax  (SALT) deductions at $10,000 for individuals and $25,000 for couples is the gift  to highly-taxed blues states that will keep on giving. It forces these states to not only curtail any future tax increases, but to cut back taxes to prevent mass out-migration.  It will force states  such as New Yor, Illinois and New Jersey to at last practice some fiscal discipline.

rhetorical effect: It’s a rhetorical trap for Dems to allow the GOP to narrow the definition of the term “fiscal discipline.” Branding tax cuts “fiscal discipline” appropriates the concept of discipline, which ought to neutrally mean practicing a means to an end, not just shrinking government. You could just as easily describe increasing taxes on the rich as fiscal discipline if your aim was to use taxes to even the playing field and reduce tax advantages for the wealthy. In fact, if you are aiming for equality of opportunity, tax cuts for the wealthy are a profligacy, not a discipline.

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sophisticates (aka, grandees, elites, the gentry)

rhetorical claim: Iranian demonstrations have also exposed the illusion..that President Trump’s more muscular policy toward Iran has united the regime with the Iranian public in opposition to the U.S. The ire of the protesters is aimed at their own rulers for corruption and wasting what they were told would be the fruits of the nuclear deal. Mr. Trump, the supposed foreign-policy bumpkin, understands this better than Mr. Obama and the arms-control sophisticates. Mr. Obama sought to win over the Tehran regime by avoiding confrontation and letting Iran have its way in Syria and elsewhere. His goal above all else was the nuclear deal.

rhetorical effect: the “bumpkins are smarter than the sophisticates” meme is the foundation of many a myth and fairy tale. Rhetorically, it mocks and undermines the hollow pretensions of what passes for sophistication, arguing for common sense and wisdom of the “forgotten men.” Thus this all-purpose meme can be used to mock science, diplomacy, academia, geopolitical and economic policy, etc. Nixon played it all the time to retaliate against the Kennedys, the Ivy League, etc.

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incentives to work and invest

rhetorical claim: tax reform will inevitably lead to robust economic growth because it increases the incentives to work and invest.

rhetorical effect: the “incentive to work” is a euphemism for drastically cutting the social safety net and entitlements, as if no one getting any government assistance ever even thinks about working. The “incentive to invest” furthers the myth that lower corporate taxes will lead to higher wages and universal prosperity. The underlying assumption of this narrow definition of “incentive” is that it only applies to either benign, universally-beneficial behavior or behavior guided by the “unseen hand” of the market. Why isn’t greed ever considered an “incentive?”

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white-informed civility

rhetorical claim: “white-informed civility,” the latest idiocy from college campuses, mocks the very ideas of civility, reasoning, debate and education. The argument is that prevailing notions of civility and reasonable debate are themselves rooted in privilege and power and are therefore outmoded. This makes for a brand of elitist inclusion that actually excludes all non-believers.

rhetorical effect: makes a straw man out of a fringe argument that in no way represents mainstream academic discourse. Precludes any claims of privilege or power–arguments for inclusion–as actually being exclusive, in the same way calling attention to write racism is itself labeled racism or hate speech.

 

 

 

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec. 18-22, 2017

banned words

rhetorical claim: government language has to get more objective. A longtime analyst with the public health agency told the Washington Post in a report Friday that senior CDC officials who oversee the agency’s budget were told at a meeting in Atlanta on Thursday that they are no longer allowed to use the words: “evidence-based,” “science-based,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” and “fetus.”

In the case of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the analyst said an alternative phrase suggested for use was: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Some of the other words did not get replacements.

rhetorical effect: Orwellian mind control. Banning terms such as “science”and ‘”evidence” does not diminish their status as  the pillars of rational thought and civic discourse. Saying that “community standards” should replace the concept of science is to sanction mob control and will lead to a new idiocracy.

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benign administrative despotism

free, republican and limited government

rhetorical claim: according to Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams:

The notion that America should focus on helping others and on exporting its values to the rest of the globe [is] sheer tomfoolery …We have a more urgent task at home. We must focus, and with a sense of urgency, on saving free, republican, and limited governments at home. We have over the last hundred years been heading down the slippery slope of despotism—even if an often benign and administrative despotism.

The hedonism and decadence of America, coupled with previous immigration policies, might not only make it impossible to return to the founders’ vision of America but ultimately result in the collapse of the American government itself. True American character—rough and ready—has been submerged underneath steady inundations of political correctness, illegal immigration, imperious judicial rulings, and a lax educational system.

rhetorical effect: justifies the dismantling of the administrative state in the name of following “the moral laws of nature.” Applying these “laws” permits discrimination, which is “the right to freedom itself.” Following this logic, this freedom to discriminate between domestic friends and foes is the only way to MAGA. Democracy The key is the libertarian idea, woven into the right’s ideological DNA, that redistribution is the exploitation of the “makers” by the “takers.” It immediately follows that democracy, which enables and legitimizes this exploitation, is itself an engine of injustice. As the novelist Ayn Rand put it, under democracy “one’s work, one’s property, one’s mind, and one’s life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority.”

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misleading Americans

rhetorical claim: the lying media continually attempts to mislead the American public with inaccurate reporting–mistruths. By distorting the facts, they are practicing the worst kind of yellow journalism.

rhetorical effect: implies that anyone believing media stories critical of the Trump administration is somehow un-American.

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the forgotten man

rhetorical claim: The GOP tax reform package will finally bring financial relief to the forgotten man, long neglected by elitist Democrats. According to Paul Ryan, “When people see their withholding improving, when they see the jobs occurring, when they see bigger paychecks, a fairer tax system, a simpler tax code, that’s what’s going to produce the results.”

rhetorical effect: The GOP has become its own caricature as the party of the rich. As Dana Millbank argues,

Republicans worked hard to convince Americans that Obamacare was a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor. Democrats can now argue, truthfully, that the Trump Tax is a transfer of income from the middle class to the wealthy and big business. Under the law, the middle fifth of American households will see an average increase in after-tax income next year of $930, while the top 1 percent get an average increase of $51,140, according to the Tax Policy Center. The rich even get a greater proportional increase in after-tax income: 2.3 percent, compared with 1.4 percent for the middle class.

While the “forgotten man” Trump lured with phony populism gets little benefit, the things that bothered the forgotten man about the tax code — a tangled mess of loopholes for businesses, the rich and Wall Street — remain intact. This will be a “bigger albatross” for Republicans than Obamacare was for Democrats, argues Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “They own the tax code. When you are upset about taxes, you’re going to be upset about the Trump Tax.”

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demographic replacement

rhetorical claim: according to Tucker Carlson:

Democrats know if they keep up the flood of illegals into the country, they can eventually turn it into a flood of voters for them. They don’t have to foster economic growth, or be capable administrators, or provide good government. They just have to keep the pump flowing, and power will be theirs.

It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s happening in public. You can watch it happen. So, when Democrats howl about shutting down the government because they want total surrender on DACA, remember, this is the reason why. Their political success does not depend on good policies, but on demographic replacement, and they’ll do anything to make sure it happens.

rhetorical effect: justifies voter suppression, criminalizes any vote that goes against Trump or the GOP.

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mixing cultures

rhetorical claim: according to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa),

Diversity is not our strength…Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one,”

rhetorical effect: summons up such classic past hate words as “mongrelization” and “miscegenation” suggesting a racist, ethnic-cleaning agenda.

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ungrateful

rhetorical clam: according to FOX ‘s Laura Ingraham, Afro-Americans ae ungrateful for the good life most of them have, especially in comparison to the lives they had 100 years ago. Whereas the only urban agenda Dems have for blacks are handouts,  to

Donald Trump in one year has done more for the African American standard of living than any president in my lifetime! … Right now, the response to that is, Donald Trump has to be a racist.

rhetorical effect: “ungrateful” is a euphemism for “uppity.” Extends Trump’s labeling black culture broken and devastated. As he put it during the campaign, addressing Afro-Americans directly,

What do you have to lose?” Trump asks African-Americans as he argues that Democrats have failed them and so they should support him “You live in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs.”

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rooting for failure

rhetorical claim: redistributionist Dems (the social justice brigades)  are now rooting for economic failure and stuck in the politics of envy. The party this week has issued an all-but-official announcement that its core interests are at odds with those of the entire private economy of business owners and employers. For modern Democrats, the employer class is a lumpen corporatariat, with no other function in the life of the country than to be taxed and regulated.

rhetorical effect: reduces concerns about inequality to “the politics of envy”; reduces and demonizes any resistance to GOP tax cuts as a betrayal of the American people; makes Dems seem as though they instinctually oppose “growth,” whereas they really oppose corporate greed and feathering the nests of the wealthy. Also makes economic growth (measured solely by one number–the GDP) the be-all and end-all of the defiintion of national prosperity

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championing American values

rhetorical claim: Trump’s national security policy, unlike Obama’s “leading from behind”, puts the strength back into the phrase “peace through strength.” Offering a clear-eyed view of America’s enemies, it ends the period of Obama- induced national self doubt.  As Victor Davis Hanson puts it,

The theme of the Trump document is American restoration. In Reaganesque fashion, the administration sees itself as similarly overturning an era of strategic stagnation, analogous to the self-doubt, self-imposed sense of decline, and thematic malaise of the Carter era. Instead, the “strategic confidence” and “principled realism” of the Trump Administration will purportedly snap America back out its Obama recessional in the same manner that Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

If the United States is not strong, then the world order will weaken: “America first is the duty of our government and the foundation for U.S. leadership in the world. A strong America is in the vital interests of not only the American people, but also those around the world who want to partner with the United States in pursuit of shared interests, values, and aspirations…

The Trump document does not assume a shared global agenda worth emulating. And while it is not an illiberal document, the 2017 national security strategy assumes that Thucydidean fear, honor, and perceived self-interest will always drive rival powers to dethrone the postwar order of consensual government, consumer capitalism, and individual liberty that are protected not by the United Nations, but only by the United States and its loyal allies of like mind: “We learned the difficult lesson that when America does not lead, malign actors fill the void to the disadvantage of the United States. When America does lead, however, from a position of strength and confidence and in accordance with our interests and values, all benefit.”

rhetorical effect: bellicosity–the tendency to be eager for confrontation and war–is now the centerpiece of US foreign policy, and we no longer have friends we can count on, but only temporary allies in the Hobbesian war of all against all. Reduces our national agenda to GDP growth and military dominance–hardly the shining City on a Hill. Makes us more ike Sparta than Athens.

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec. 11-18, 2017

price discrimination

paid prioritization

rhetorical claim: according to The Wall Street Journal 12/15 editorial “The Internet is Free Again”:

internet regulations have created uncertainty about what the FCC would or wouldn’t allow. This has throttled investment. Price discrimination and paid prioritization are used by many businesses [and will not] make the internet less free.

rhetorical effect: Green lights predatory and monopolistic pricing.

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investing in growth

rhetorical claim: as the new tax bill takes effect, businesses will once again invest in growth and American prosperity, shaking free of  dead hand of federal regulation and uncertainty it produced. When Washington stops the beatings, growth happens on its own.

rhetorical effect: assumes that investment and hiring will drive a huge economic surge, whereas in reality most of the corporate tax saving will probably go to shareholders and buybacks. turns government regulation from a necessity to a “hardship” to be overcome. “Growth” doesn’t happen on its own, but needs the government to look the other way. When national growth, prosperity and civic health are measured solely by GDP and stock indexes, America loses its investment in human capital, tolerance, equality, and the rule of law.

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Muslim apologists

rhetorical claim: why are we in the United States importing a population whose religious tenets clearly call for jihad upon non-Muslims? Muslim apologists like to point out that not all Muslims commit violent or civilizational jihad, but that is irrelevant to the question of why we would even consider taking in a population raised with a religion the dogma of which in its literal form mandates our submission or death.

For the last 1,400 years, approximately 270 million people have been murdered in the name of Islam.  This horrific outrage is not due to poverty, external oppression, or crusade.  Islamic doctrine as recorded in the faith’s holiest texts mandates jihad upon all infidels until all of mankind is under the dominion of Allah.  Nearly 61% of Quranic doctrine consists of violent verses, which call for conquest against the non-believers.

Europe is on its way to becoming an Islamist continent due to decades of Muslim immigration and a high Muslim birth rate.  The face of Western civilization in Europe, with its rich cultural history and past, is being erased with an intolerant backward 7th-century ideology devoid of pluralism, equality, and tolerance.  The adherents’ mission, to eradicate Western civilization, is being conducted upon an unsuspecting population who no longer believe in their own civilization’s worth and who seem incapable of understanding of the threat they face from Islam.

rhetorical effect: demonizes Muslims’ distorts Islam’s overall emphasis on tolerance and payer, not murder; reinforces Trump’s total ban on Muslims. Turns anyone defending Islam into an “apologist,” thus putting them on the defensive and implying that they have something to hide or apologize for. Similar to what was characterized as Obama’s “apology tour”: turning critical reflection into cravenness or hypocrisy.

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people were strong in the family

rhetorical claim:  When asked by one of the only African-Americans in attendance at a September campaign event in Florence, Ala., what Trump means when he says, “Make America Great Again,” Moore responded in part: “I think it was great at the time when families were united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. People were strong in the family.

rhetorical effect: best explicated by Charles Blow:

See folks, this is how racism’s reasoning works: It requires a revisionist view of history, with stains removed and facts twisted. It strips away ancestral horror so that the legend of the lineage can be told as hagiography.

The sheer audacity of this historical lie, the depth of the deceit, is galling and yet it is clear that fabulists and folklorists have so thoroughly and consistently assaulted the actual truth, that this bastard truth has replaced it for those searching for an easy way out of racial responsibility.

If you can’t deal with it, lie about it.

Slavery was unfortunate, but tolerable. It was brutal, but people were happy. Enslavers were wrong, but their families were strong. These are all lies racists tell.

The same thing is happening with Roy Moore. These Republicans are willing to sacrifice Moore’s then-teenage accusers, because they believe in his fundamentalist zealotry.

That is a defining feature of these modern Republicans: contorted moral rationalization.

Moore and the GOP use the politics of memory to create false memories. They want to replace most people’s versions of the past with different ones that aren’t even good replicas. The real past–just like the real present–becomes “fake news” as we enter into the politics of memory.

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a disgrace to the American justice system

rhetorical claim: Mueller’s investigation is politically biased or worse.  Sean Hannity has called Mueller a “disgrace to the American justice system” and said his investigation is “corrupt” and abusive. Newt Gingrich, says Mueller’s probe is corrupt, dishonest and a “partisan hit.”

rhetorical effect: The War on Mueller continues. In fact, NOT to investigate him is to be part of a coverup. The danger of this blame-the-messenger approach is perhaps  best explained by E.J. Dionne:

The more Mueller imperils Trump, the more McCarthyite the GOP becomes.

The apotheosis of Republican congressional collusion with Trump’s efforts to hang on at all costs came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. One Republican after another attacked Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as if the latter should be placed on a new compendium of subversive organizations…When Republicans are FBI haters who are sidetracking probes into Russian subversion, the world truly is turned upside down.

Note also the statement of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that if every member of Mueller’s team who was “anti-Trump” were kicked off, “I don’t know if there’d be anyone left.” The implication is that even if Mueller’s investigation produced unassailable evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, we should ignore the truth, because Mueller’s team should have been vetted to exclude anyone who had a smidgen of doubt about the president.

Even if [the investigation] ultimately hurts Trump or proves Russian collusion, are Americans supposed to brainwash themselves? Trump’s allies want us to say: Too bad the president lied or broke the law, or that Russia tried to tilt our election. This FBI guy sending anti-Trump texts is far more important, so let’s just forget the whole thing.

Really?

Because we are inured to extreme partisanship and to the political right’s habit of rejecting inconvenient facts, we risk overlooking the profound political crisis that a Trumpified Republican Party could create. And the conflagration may come sooner rather than later, as Mueller zeroes in on Trump and his inner circle.

Only recently, it was widely assumed that if Trump fired Mueller, many Republicans would rise up to defend our institutions. Now, many in the party are laying the groundwork for justifying a coverup. This is a recipe for lawlessness.

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government’s moral ends:

rhetorical claim: as PJ Media argues, :

Government does not exist to make us equal, but to treat us equally. It does not exist to make life fair, but to treat us fairly. Most importantly, it exists to secure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Only in liberty can we treat each other ethically, because only in liberty can we make the choices that are the necessary condition for ethical life.

Trump has made our government more moral by making less of it: fewer regulations, fewer judges who will write law instead of obeying the law, fewer bureaucrats seeking to expand the power of their agencies, less money for the government to spend on itself. He has made government treat us more fairly and equally by ceasing to use the IRS and Justice Department for political ends like silencing enemies and skewing elections.

This is what moral government looks like. And if every male senator in America is grabbing the buttocks of some unsuspecting female while, at the same time, voting for more limited and less corrupt government, the senators are immoral, yes, but the government is more moral. That is why we should never let the leftist press game us with scandal hysteria, but should keep focused on voting in those who will help fulfill government’s moral ends.

rhetorical effect: The only morality for government is to have no morality at all. by limiting the definition of good government to what the government doesn’t do, justifies every Trump policy in the name of creating “liberty.” By arguing that the best government is one that doesn’t care about equality, fairness or regulation, makes the very concepts of social justice economic regulation seem unethical and self-serving, forms of “moral narcissism.”

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conscience protection

rhetorical claim: Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said there is “wide support” among congressional Republicans for allowing medical professionals to pursue “legal action” if their personal anti-abortion beliefs are violated.

The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 would “amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit governmental discrimination against providers of health services that are not involved in abortion.”

“Leadership will have to make the call on exactly when to be able to place it. I know [Mitch] McConnell is very pro-life as well, but this to me is not even an issue of being pro-life or not pro-life. This is allowing Americans to be able to live out their conscience and their values. Again, the conscience protection piece doesn’t stop with one abortion. It just allows individuals to say, ‘please don’t compel me to participate in that and to not have to,’” Lankford said at after a recent news conference on Capitol Hill. “There will be opposition by some. I mentally can’t understand why there would be opposition by some, but I’m sure there will be.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said conscience protection is “a civil rights issue.”

“You can’t coerce people,” he said after the press conference.

rhetorical effect: “conscience protection” is a euphemism for discrimination–whether it’s against women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, or progressives. Allows almost any kind of behavior if it is based on a matter of conscience of someone in a “faith community,” whatever that is.

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec. 7-10, 2017

Jacksonian foreign policy

rhetorical claim: Trump’s voters take a very Jacksonian approach to foreign policy: military might without the humanitarian interventions and foreign entanglements of the Bush-Obama years. This hawkish realism has America defending forward, not leading from behind.

rhetorical effect: justifies the use of overwhelming military force and the end of nuance, alliances, and nation-building. Ends any ambitious moral attempts to spread democracy, free speech, and equality. Reduces foreign policy to a Darwinian zero-sum power struggle.

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the war on Trump

rhetorical claim: the liberal media and deep state are waging a war on the Trump presidency, trying to undermine its legitimacy. The Mueller probe is the spearhead of these attempts to eventually impeach the President. The biggest scandal in the long run will not be Russian meddling with our democracy but, rather the FBI’S.

rhetorical effect: a distraction because it shifts the focus away from Trump and the Russians, and undermines any Mueller indictments. inoculates Trump from any legal or political jeopardy.

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taking sides

rhetorical claim: anyone attacking Roy Moore is taking sides and using fact news.

rhetorical effect: “taking sides” used to be called being objective and making an argument using evidence and persuasion. But now truth has become a mere “side”–a version, a self-serving, inherently flawed narrative. There’s no middle when you’re on one side or the other.

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humiliating Israel

rhetorical claim: It is humiliating to deny Israel the right to having Jerusalem as its capital–the only capital Jews have ever known.

rhetorical effect: Israel thus becomes the victim even though they are insisting on forcing the Palestinians to capitulate on questions of Jerusalem. Inflaming the entire Arab world in the name of so-called Israeli “humiliation” is itself an act of humiliation of the Arab world.

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obstruction of Congress

rhetorical claim: Robbie Mueller’s entire investigation is a partisan witch hunt, staffed by virulent anti-Trump prosecutors and investigators–what Sean Hannity calls “Mueller’s stooges who are trying to remove Trump from office.” A Fox anchor rails that The probe is illegitimate and corrupt and the FBI has become, according to Fox,  like “the old KGB, that comes for you in the dark of the night.” They have repeatedly demonstrated utter contempt of Congress by withholding documents, and should themselves be investigated. No Democrats are capable of conducting an impartial investigation of Donald Trump.

rhetorical effect: another brick in the stone wall that the GOP is building to shield Trump from any consequences of the Mueller probe. Firts they said there were no Russian contacts at all with any members of Trump’s campaign team. Then they said they may have forgotten some such contacts, but that was an innocent oversight. Then they conceded that such contacts took place, but nothing consequential was discussed. Then they argued that even if such contacts took place and campaign strategy was discussed, that that’s no proof of collusion or obstruction. Then they claimed that, in any event, Presidents are immune from collusion or obstruction charges. Now they are claiming that Mueller is the real criminal here, and is obstructing Congress. Soon we’ll be hearing “lock him up.” If he is fired or investigated, it will mean the end of the rule of law in Trump’s America.

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tackling the debt

rhetorical claim: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

rhetorical effect: poses as a solution to the deficit problem the tax bill caused in the first place; completely violates Trump’s campaign pledge to never cut entitlements; justifies the huge GOP tax cut for the wealthy, which apparently is also considered some form of “tackling the debt”; further polarizes the country, cruelly punishes the sick, poor, and elderly.

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concealed carry

rhetorical claim: Liz Cheney says that the right to carry a concealed weapon is “god-given.” It is simply a common-sense measure to protect our constitutional rights.

rhetorical effect: as Gail Collins puts it, makes you wonder “What Would Jesus Pack?”

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let the people of Alabama decide

rhetorical claim:  it’s up to the people of Alabama decide Roy Moore’s fate. Beltway pundits and hypocritical liberals shouldn’t impose their values on Alabamans.

rhetorical effect: relatives morality to the point where there is no coherent moral consensus; plays the states’ rights card when it suits, but takes it away on such measures as universal carry/conceal, sanctuary cities, and environmental regulation

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cultural protectionism

rhetorical claim: Trump supporters aren’t racist or anti-Muslim, they are simply engaging in cultural protectionism. Immigrants exact huge social costs on traditional societies (crime, deteriorating schools, strained social and health services, etc.), and the globalized liberal elites are shielded from these externalities.

rhetorical effect: a new euphemism for bigotry, xenophobia and ethnic cleansing.

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regulatory raj

rhetorical claim: the Obama administration tried to install a permanent regulatory raj, which, like the British in India, intended to control every aspect of national life.

rhetorical effect: likens any government regulation to a foreign dictatorship; turns civil servants into foreign invaders; makes people cynical about any government regulation, which in turns releases corporations and small business from oversight.

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the death of self-restraint

rhetorical claim: As Daniel Henninger argues in the WSJ:


The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment fire rages on. Incidents of sexual abuse on this scale don’t randomly erupt. They grow from the complex climate of a nation’s culture. These guys aren’t blips or outliers. These men are a product of their times.

Their acts reveal a collapse of self-restraint. That in turn suggests a broader evaporation of conscience, the sense that doing something is wrong. We are seeing now how wrongs can hurt others when conscience is demoted as a civilizing instrument of personal behavior.

Intellectuals have played a big role in shaping arguments for loosening the traditions of self-restraint in the realm, as they would say, of eros. In Oscar Wilde’s quip, “There is no sin except stupidity.”…Our long national freedom from organized conscience formation  simply isn’t working.”

Since liberals have lost all shame and moral bearings, everything is permitted, and the Weinsteins of the world will continue to be exposed.

rhetorical effect: re-opens the 60’s culture wars, trying to return us to the stifling patriarchy of the 1950s.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2017

too close to the FBI

rhetorical claim: Robbie Mueller is too close to the FBI to do a credible job as Special Counsel.

rhetorical effect: demonizes the FBI, transforming it from a law enforcement agency to a runaway, law-breaking conspiracy against America.

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entitlement reform

rhetorical claim: now that tax reform is a done deal, it’s now at last time to shift to entitlement reform.

rhetorical effect:  euphemism for greatly reducing the social safety net, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Also neatly ignores the fact that Americans are entitled to these benefits because they have already paid for them via payroll deductions.

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in tatters

rhetorical claim: the FBI has been ruined–left in tatters–under the Comey-Mueller regimes.

rhetorical effect: (see “too close to the FBI”, above.)

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tough on crime

rhetorical claim: Alabamans have to elect Roy Moore because Doug Jones is weak on crime.

rhetorical effect: obscures the obvious: the only crime in this election is Moore’s sexual predation.

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Mueller’s media protectorate

rhetorical claim: Robbie Mueller is being shielded from contempt of Congress charges by his media protectorate.

rhetorical effect: part of the attempt to shift the criminal onus from Trump to Mueller; makes any defense of the rule of the law regarding the sanctity of the Special Prosecutor itself part of a criminal conspiracy against the White House.Makes any media reports critical of Trump part of the deep state’s “fake news” conspiracy.

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the great replacement

rhetorical claim: American whites are being replaced by a mongrelized group of “people of color,” Muslims, etc. We live in an era of ethnic and civilizational substitution. The only way to fight this white genocide is via identity politics, because whites have a right to be different than the pc crowd, with its desire to erase all otherness in a homogenized world of globalized universalism and global capitalism.

rhetorical effect: panders to Trump’s racist nationalism; co-opts the left’s inclusive language of diversity; tries to head off inevitable demographic shifts toward pluralism and ethnopluralism.

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“whether it’s a real video, the threat is real”

rhetorical claim: according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckaby Sanders, the President may have retweeted a bogus video about Islamic terrorism, but “whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.”

rhetorical effect: a declaration that truth is no longer necessary or even relevant. A classic defense of the “post-truth” ethic. As Timothy Egan explains,

Do you see what they’re doing? If facts don’t matter, then a professional press that tries to deal scrupulously in facts is irrelevant. Everyone is a liar. Welcome to the club.

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American exceptionalism

rhetorical claim: the heroic cause of national self government lies at the heart of Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

rhetorical effect: Obscures the plain fact that a slow leakage of relative power is America’s fate in this century, just as it was England’s fate in the not too distant past. International isolationism and bullying can only take the US so far in a globalized world based on reciprocity and mutual dependence.

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the democratization of capitalism (aka, “the wealth effect”)

rhetorical claim: liberal analysts of the GOP tax reform package fail to take into account the “wealth effect” that accrues across society when the stock indexes rise.as argued by John Steele Gordon in Commentary, commenting on Tom Steyer’s ads calling for the impeachment of President Trump,

And Steyer’s political complaints are straight out of 1905. He claims that the tax bill now in the Senate would be a giveaway to “big corporations.” But who owns the “big corporations?” The answer is not the J. P. Morgans, John D. Rockefellers, and Andrew Carnegies of today. It is the American people at large. Forty-seven percent of American families own stock in their own names. They and millions of other families own mutual funds and are the beneficiaries of pension funds. This is where the locus of corporate ownership lies today.

One of the great stories of the American economy in the 20th century was the democratization of capitalism. But Steyer, like all liberals, doesn’t know about it. These commercials are just one more sign of the utter intellectual and political bankruptcy of today’s left. They are still fighting the battles of two generations ago.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound as if American corporate wealth, profits and dividends  are equally distributed among the US population, whereas, in reality, according to NPR,

Those richest Americans own far greater amounts of stock. As of 2013, the top 10 percent of Americans owned an average of $969,000 in stocks. The next 40 percent owned $132,000 on average. For the bottom half of families, it was just under $54,000.

Combine the uneven ownership rates and ownership amounts, and the total inequality in the stock market is astounding. As of 2013, the top 1 percent of households by wealth owned nearly 38 percent of all stock shares, according to research by New York University economist Edward Wolff.

Indeed, nearly all of the stock ownership in the U.S. is concentrated among the richest. According to Wolff’s data, the top 20 percent of Americans owned 92 percent of the stocks in 2013.

Put another way: Eighty percent of Americans together owned just 8 percent of all stocks….

Th stock market expansion isn’t necessarily even, though. Former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher explained to CNBC in 2016 that the Fed’s quantitative easing program boosted the prices of stocks and other assets, but that the economic benefits were limited.

“We were going to have a wealth effect. That was achieved. We made wealthy people wealthier,” Fisher said. “But the point is it didn’t trickle down.”

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the middle class growth initiative

rhetorical claim: the GOP tax plan, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in he House and represented as “the middle class growth initiative” in the Senate, offers the largest tax cut in US history, especially for the middle class, and will create millions of new jobs as US corporations repatriate overseas funds. It also will increase wages and productivity.

rhetorical effect: covers over the fact that the tax reform bill is fundamentally redistributionist–in favor of the wealthy and corporations. The Tax Policy Center has found that more than 60 per cent of the benefits of tax reform would accrue to the top 1 per cent of earners in 2027. By that year, taxes would rise modestly for the lowest-income group, change little for middle-income groups, and decrease for higher-income groups. As Paul Krugman explains,

One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.

The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income from lower- and middle-income families to corporations and business owners. Corporate tax rates go down sharply, while ordinary families are nickel-and-dimed by a series of tax changes, no one of which is that big a deal in itself, but which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the bill would partially repeal Obamacare, in a way that would sharply reduce aid to lower-income families and raise the cost of insurance for many in the middle class.