Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov 30-Dec 11, 2018

it’s a well-known fact

rhetorical claim: speaking in Mississippi earlier this week, Trump repeated  that the Bush and Obama administrations had “identical policies” of child separation; that the border wall was already being built; that his healthcare proposals would protect those with pre-existing conditions; that “steel mills are being built all over the country”. Shortly afterwards he announced outside the White House that “I don’t believe” his own government’s report on the effects of climate change.

rhetorical effect: outright lies become received truths, facts are no longer relevant to persuasive arguments, and the government can make any claims it wants to. Rhetorically speaking this is scorched earth policy: total war all the time means there is no possibility of common ground. As rhetorician Sam Leith argues:

This is, perhaps, the inevitable symptom of a disaggregated media and an accelerated culture. What you might call “pop-up commonplaces” are quickly minted, virally spread through an in-group, and given authority by repetition. In the circles of the US right you might include notions that the people in the migrant caravan are largely criminals; that liberals are free-speech-suppressing “snowflakes”; that Christine Blasey Ford’s sworn testimony against Brett Kavanaugh was a Democrat smear; that George Soros funds left wing protesters; and that reports of Russian interference in the US election are “fake news”.


nothing is off the table

rhetorical claim: at the G-20 Summit, Trump said that nothing is off the table, including meeting with Saudi Crown Prince MBS.

rhetorical effect: Trump’s embrace of MBS is universally condemned, yet he persists in a rhetorical show of courage and under the guise of fighting for US defense-related jobs.  Trump’s pro-MBS stance shows that Trump is not as a builder of the world order but its enemy, not an advocate for traditional U.S. values but an amoral transactionalist.

The G-20 meeting will be unlike any in the gathering’s short history. Instead of showcasing U.S. international leadership it will compound America’s increasing isolation, and showcase a rogue president on the world stage.


noble nations

rhetorical claim: Mike Pompeo argues that America’s allies should become “noble nations” by going it alone in the world, without the UN, EU, WHO, etc. They are part of a globalist plot to weaken national sovereignty and also have made China prosper. “Our mission is to reassert our sovereignty,” Mr Pompeo said in Brussels. “We want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty as well.” Nationalism, not multilateralism, is the best way to confront China.

Pompeo declared that Trump “sees the world as it is, not as we wish it to be,” adding: “He knows that nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests.” Pompeo defended Trump’s efforts to revamp the international order on terms supposedly more friendly to U.S. interests, articulating the nationalist trope that international institutions and multilateral cooperation, in their current form, are failing globally and, more important, eroding U.S. sovereignty — its right and ability to act in its own interests.

rhetorical effect: makes the entire world equivalent to China and Russia in the sense of being nationalistic and solitary. Greatly complicates the pursuit of mutual interests among countries, thus making China and Russia stronger, not weaker.



rhetorical claim: privatization is the most efficient way to organize education, natural resource development, even the military. The private sector has to be responsive to the pubic will, unlike government bureaucrats. Privatization will Make America Great Again.

rhetorical effect: MAGA is a threat, not a promise: a threat to sell off America and sell out America. The new Gilded Age of profiteering and self-dealing cloaks itself in the rhetoric of individuality and the family–rhetorics in which the concept of society does not exist, and doing good for others is actually damages those you’re trying to help.


sovereignty and transcendence

rhetorical claim: as Conrad Black argues:

Christmas and Hanukkah, the two premier holidays of December in America, both celebrate concepts that are an anathema to the Left. Hanukkah, with its celebration of religious liberty and military victory carries with it a commemoration of national sovereignty in the face of a godless and power-hungry government. The religious meaning of Christmas and its focus upon the advent of a historical incarnation of the Divine within a human being places inherent worth within the individual. In the case of the Christian tradition, a human incarnation of the Divine is predicated upon the notion that the human being is something more than a simple biological being. Instead, man is also a spiritual being that is transcendent and worthy enough of the Divinity’s attention to be saved at great sacrifice to Himself. To the Left, these notions are not only parochial, but also dangerous.

It is no secret that the Left loathes the concept of national sovereignty. President Trump triggered CNN in October by claiming to be a “nationalist” at a rally in Texas. For the Left, “nationalism” is synonymous with “racism.” Yet despite the Left’s manipulation of language, it forgets that nationalism is essentially limited in its aims and based upon shared identity and sovereignty. In his new book, The Virtue of Nationalism, Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony outlines nationalism in its historical terms. No stranger to leftist animosity, modern Israel epitomizes everything the Left hates in its strong national identity, a vibrant religiosity among much of its population, and a willingness to defend its borders.

rhetorical effect: Manichean paranoia: the heathens are at the gates, the end is nigh, and you must choose a side. Moreover, since God reigns over all creation, there is no point in trying to perfect society, fight global warming, h or practice any form of state redistributionism. If human nature is fundamentally flawed at an elemental level, no amount of wealth redistribution, no environmental program, and no global governance can fix it. Indeed, utopian projects lead to authoritarianism despite their good intentions.


process crime

rhetorical claim: Mueller’s charges as mere “process crimes.” Senator Lindsey Graham called Michael Cohen’s Friday plea a “process crime,” and Rush Limbaugh chimed in that “every one of Mueller’s indictments is a process crime.”

rhetorical effect: makes an overtly criminal act (such as perjury) a non-punishable technicality, and turns the whole process of weighing evidence into a mere “process” with crazy rules rather than a tradition rooted in jurisprudence, reason, argumentation, and the scientific method. As Charles Blow argues:

Trump likes to say on the issue of immigration that if we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. I say that if we don’t have justice, we also don’t have a country.

America is a country of laws, and if we are to believe that, and not allow that to become a perversion, no man or woman can be above the law.

As Thomas Paine wrote in his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense”:

“In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

And yet, Trump, his team and to some degree his supporters in Congress seem to view Trump as very much above the law — or at least some laws. The defense is bizarre: Since he is the president, there are laws he isn’t obliged to obey. In other works, it is permissible for him to break some laws, but not others.

Last year, one of the president’s lawyers went even further, claiming that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

This all holds the potential to further make a mockery of a system of justice that already privileges power.


private transaction

rhetorical claim: Trump argues that he isn’t guilty of campaign finance law violations because his payments to Stormy Daniels were a “private transaction.”

rhetorical effect: downgrades convictions of Cohen of campaign finance law violations, fraud, paying hush money, perjury, and criminal conspiracy via a cover-up from criminal acts to mere “bookkeeper errors” or just private transactions. Apparently “private transactions” cover everything Trump ever said or did. He seems to believe that he can self-exonerate himself!

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 23-27, 2018.


rhetorical claim: the current unrest at the Mexican border provides fodder for Trump’s claims that the immigration is out of control.

rhetorical effect: Covers over the fact that this chaos demonstrates that Trump’s immigration agenda is a total and abject failure and that he is covering up this glaring reality with lies. There is no way what happened Sunday gives Trump “ammunition” to argue for any of those things. The border patrol claims it used tear gas only after migrants threw things at them, but at the same time, tear gas was used on groups that included children. The resulting horrifying imagery only underscores the deep disconnect between the root causes of the crisis and Trump’s “solutions” to it, which only highlights that the crisis remains intractable in the face of Trump’s fabled toughness.

not law

rhetorical claim: President Trump lashed out on Tuesday against the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, calling it a lawless disgrace and threatening unspecified retaliation.

“That’s not law,” he said of the court’s rulings. “Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten.”

“It’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came after a federal trial judge ordered the administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States.

The ruling was issued by Judge Jon S. Tigar, of the United States District Court in San Francisco, and not by the Ninth Circuit itself, which hears appeals from that court and others in nine western states. The appeals court’s geographic jurisdiction is also sometimes called the Ninth Circuit.

“This was an Obama judge,” Mr. Trump said of Judge Tigar, who was indeed appointed by President Barack Obama.

rhetorical effect: even got under John Roberts’ skin, who spoke out infavor of impartial judges. Combined with the hostile takeover of the Mueller probe and his incessant attacks on the judiciary, Trump is laying the foundation for the complete abrogation of the rule of law. As Harry Litman argues:

But that stability is ultimately built on a foundation of shared political cultural norms, not laws. Especially today, it is entirely conceivable that an attorney general armed with a jackhammer might in fact come to destabilize it. It sounds like a sort of bad joke, but it also did when candidate Trump announced in the debate that if he were president, Mrs. Clinton “would be in jail.” Now that joke seems like it’s on us. Were it not for the coincidence of Mr. McGahn, she might well be.

The crazy and terrifying lesson of the order to prosecute Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey is not that our legal norms can withstand a despot; rather, it’s that within a matter of months we can find ourselves praying that they hold, and with little recourse if they don’t. Repairing the damage to our basic political culture will require many years and shared resolve across the political spectrum.


toning Trump down

rhetorical claim:All Trump needs to do is tone down his ad hominem invective and tweeting to reassure an additional 10 percent of independent and middle-class suburban women that his national security agenda, free-market prosperity, traditionalism, law-and-order, and national sovereignty policies ensure greater tranquility, safety, and opportunity—even if they are not packaged in the manner of his more mellifluous and vacuous “presidential” predecessor?

rhetorical effect: artificially separating Trump from his policies reveals why the GOP is willing to put up with this moral monster: they are accomplishing their entire GOP agenda.


the Progressive panoptican

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor Davis Hanson:

Imagine the traditionalist as living in synopticon—a suspect that is the target of 24/7 viewing, indoctrination, and conditioning by progressive auditors. In other words, a 40-45 percent minority of Americans is relentlessly lectured, sermonized, demonized, and neutered by a 360- degree ring of prying institutional overseers.

There is no escape. There is no respite. There is no quarter given.

The media has become an extension of the progressive movement, partly because its farm teams are the universities and the upper-middle class suburban professional classes. Journalists, such as Jim Rutenberg and Christiane Amanpour, concede they can no longer stay neutral in the era of Trump—“neutral” in the sense that old partisans of a bygone age like Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather were careful to mask their progressivism on the air.

Not now. The major networks and public affiliates are proudly overt in their efforts to oppose conservative traditionalism often defined (for now) as the agenda of Donald Trump—in 93 percent negative coverage fashion, as is the case with MSNBC/NBC and CNN according to the liberal Shorenstein Center.

Conservatives believe Fox is a powerful counterweight. It may be, but it is one that is surrounded and overwhelmed by liberal networks and state media. After all, Fox is only one of about six corporate conglomerates that control almost 90 percent of televised and print news.

The masters of our social media and Internet universe are the most insidiously partisan. Open your laptop or power on your smartphone, and you meet their shadow personas nonstop. It is not just that the smug class of Menlo Park and Palo Alto censor and disallow posts, podcasts, and messaging along partisan lines, or that a search engine’s headers and footers are advertisements for a new progressive America. It is that social media has also been on the vanguard of redefining the Democratic Party, from Hubert Humphrey’s old workers party to a pyramid of the very wealthy overseeing a government-subsidized underclass.

rhetorical effect: unbridled paranoia, linking together entirely disparate villains, from the Silicon valley to ESPN. Serves to further Trump’s bunker mentality and further divide the country.


the tearing down of values

rhetorical claim: Today’s younger generation of Americans is to be pitied, for many reasons:

  • The unconscionable debt we are leaving them.
  • The obliteration of male and female as separate and distinct categories—and the sexual confusion that is left in its wake.
  • The emasculation of men and the de-feminization of women.
  • The undermining of the value of marriage.
  • The lack of God and religion in their lives—and the consequent search for meaning in the wrong places.
  • The receiving of indoctrination, rather than education, in most schools from elementary through graduate.
  • The inability to celebrate being American.

Tragically and ironically, each one of these was brought on by the very group many young people identify with: the left. If you do not understand the left is a wholly destructive force whose primary mission is to tear down the leading institutions and individuals of the Western world, you do not understand the left.

rhetorical effect: misplaced nostalgia for an America that never existed.


my decision is not based on that

maybe he did and maybe he didn’t

rhetorical claim: “Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that,” said President Trump.

rhetorical effect: use of this rhetorical ploy, called paraleipsis (saying something by professing not to say it) is one of the many ways Trump prevaricates, dodges, and denies, thus making it impossible to pin him down on any one statement. It’s probably an old legal habit of never saying anything that could be used in court against you against you. As Jackson Diehl argues,

The Khashoggi affair similarly confirms several fundamental truths about Trump. The first and most obvious is that his narrow, idiosyncratic and sometimes personalinterests take precedence over the defense of traditional American values and even the expectation of honest treatment by an ally. Not just Mohammed’s fellow Arab rulers but despots everywhere will study this case and conclude: If you heap flattery on Trump, court him with exotic entertainment, patronize his family businesses and promise to buy American, you can get away with outrages that would once have ensured censure and sanction from Washington.

If the facts are irrelevant, America can easily be fleeced so long as Trump insists that the opposite is happening. The hard-nosed determinations of interest that traditional foreign policy realists so admire are calculated by an alternative math in which only the president’s sentiments count. If there is no truth, there is no trade-off between accountability for crimes and other American interests. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t” becomes the new cover for any dictator — provided he gives Trump cause to say, “He likes me.”


fake science

rhetorical claim: The climate scare “experts” have an obvious financial and emotional stake in global warming doomsday scenarios. If the global warming doomsday is shown to be imaginary, the experts will lose their financial support and in many cases their jobs. The global warming scare is used to provide ideological support for wind and solar energy. Billions of dollars have been wasted on useless wind and solar energy. Wind and solar are not even effective for reducing CO2 emissions.

The corruption of science has its roots in the political funding of science by the federal government. Somehow we have to make it less profitable for scientists to make up science. Peer review is a joke and doesn’t work. Certainly it would help if the public and the media were skeptical about any scientific theory that predicts a disaster unless we do what the scientists and their allies want us to do.

rhetorical effect: keeps the nation in denial of the climate change crisis and allows Trump to get away with saying there is no hard evidence of man-made climate change.


the Russia hoax

rhetorical claim: Bad as it may have been, the worst of the Russia Hoax was not the abuse of the FISA electronic surveillance regime for political purposes. Nor is the worst even the patent involvement of our intelligence agencies — and in particular the FBI and CIA — in electoral politics. No, the worst aspect of the Russia Hoax is that our intelligence agencies, including elements of DoJ and the State Department cooperating with the Clinton campaign, enlisted the intelligence services of foreign powers — first in their effort to defeat the candidacy of Donald Trump and, when that effort failed, turning their efforts to what can only be described as an attempted coup against the elected President of the United States.

Shockingly, these later stages of the Russia Hoax have included members of the Legislative Branch who, in the face of clear evidence that the true collusion with foreign powers was that of the Clinton campaign, have worked to delay and to ultimately obstruct Congressional oversight and investigation of the entire Russia Hoax.

rhetorical effect: deepens the myth of the Deep State. Chronic paranoia run amok. Laying the groundwork for spurning any damaging charges from the Mueller probe. Turns the criminals into law enforcement agents. Classic rhetorical table-turning; creating a hoax that the other (truthful) side has created a hoax.



Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 7-21, 2018.

inherently racist

rhetorical claim: aggrieved victimhood poses from trouble-makers like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris only shows that their “hands up” stance is inherently racist, since they assume that all whites are themselves racist.

rhetorical effect: concocts a fake narrative about a non-racist past to fill in the present Promotes ahistoricism and anti-egalatarianism, all in the name of equality and equal treatment under the law. Leads to benighted racism, justifications for violence, and ahistorical erasures. Creates a racial oligarchy.Widens the gap between the representation of events and their reality. In the long run, a form of paranoid racism toward black plots that will criminalize blackness. Besides, victims of racism should not be expected to eradicate it. Makes it impossible to see racism as a structural problem, unless of course you consider blacks inherently more violent and criminal than whites. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t blame blacks for the violence, prejudice and hatred they face.


stealing an election

rhetorical claim: Dems failed in their attempts to steal elections in Georgia and Florida.

rhetorical effect: just counting ballots is now equated with “stealing” votes. How soon before voting itself is called fraudulent? (Maybe the 2020 election?) Even in triumph,  the Dems are accused of having only a ‘”very, very narrow victory.” “Winning” to Trump only means the other side is unhappy with the outcome–he cannot conceive of a win-win situation.


the other side

rhetorical claim: Trump wonders when Whitaker’s Justice Dept. will get around to appointing a Special Counsel to investigate the other side–Hillary and Comey.

rhetorical effect: in true “whataboutism,” makes it appear that there is indeed another side to the Trump-Russia story even though there is no “other side”, just as there was no “other side” to the anti-Clinton Benghazi false narrative. Trump’s repeated reference to “the other side” shows he sees politics as a zero sum game with only winners and losers, rendering  compromise impossible. This “winner take all” approach (the equivalent of Sherman’s”total war”) eventually will discredit and silence all non-supporters. The rhetorical creation of external and internal enemies, who are responsible for all the crisis within the state, is nothing more than scapegoating to protect the rich and offer no real protection for the very people he is claiming to protect. Order this means no freedom, and progress means no equality.


the people’s President

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is the people’s President.

rhetorical effect: justifies fascist political conduct and abuse, not just ideological differences. Justifies what is, at best, a highly selective populism, while not really addressing the root causes of middle class social frustration. Actually uses the “populism” branding to justify ever-greater capital accumulation among the upper classes and corporations.


Trump’s not responsible

rhetorical claim: Trump was not responsible for the GOP’s midterm losses.

rhetorical effect: Trump denies responsibility for his promotion of irresponsibility.


letting Trump be Trump

rhetorical claim: letting Trump be Trump has lead to the most successful Presidency in recent history.

rhetorical effect: the personification of the Presidency, leading to the spectacularization of the persona of the President. Breaks all boundaries between the personal and the public space as Trump becomes the only spokesperson and embodiment of the state.


rational Mueller oversight

rhetorical claim: with the head of Justice no longer recused, we can finally expect rational oversight of the runaway Mueller witch-hunt.

rhetorical effect: “rational oversight” means the closing off of investigative avenues.



Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct. 29-Nov. 6, 2018


rhetorical claim: now exclusively used as a weapon of mass political destruction; has lost all credibility when used by so-called “victims”.

rhetorical effect: turns victims into perps; assumes women are liars; turns a historical moment into a vast left-wing conspiracy.


incendiary rhetoric

rhetorical claim: media figures and Democratic leaders are to blame for political violence. Recent attempts by liberal protesters to challenge GOP officials in public are more responsible for the national unrest than the president’s combative politics or the rise of conspiracy theories on the right. Mr. Trump’s team rejected any linkage between his language and the acts of isolated extremists. “Everyone has their own style, and frankly, people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences,” Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News. “But I just don’t think you can connect it to acts or threats of violence.” Trump himself tweeted: “The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country,” he wrote. “Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”

rhetorical effect: Justifies Trump’s defense of white nationalists, his dehumanizing language about undocumented immigrants and his nativist appeals. Even though those theories appear to have driven the suspects behind the bombs sent to Democratic officials and the mass shooting Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue, charging that the media and Democratic protesters have been largely responsible for inciting hate, Trump and his allies have seemingly equated the influence of activists and journalists with the singular power and reach of the American presidency.

“The idea that Trump and conservatives share no blame for scaremongering on immigrants and the refugees is really ridiculous,” said William Kristol, a veteran conservative commentator and Trump critic who is Jewish — and was called a “loser” by Trump at a Saturday rally in Illinois. “A little dignity and cessation of ‘what-about-ism’ or ‘you-too-ism’ would be welcome.”


them or us

rhetorical claim: Democrats are “evil,” “un-American” and “treasonous” subversives who are in league with criminals. It’s either them or us in this election, which has turned into an all-out battle for the existence of the real America.

rhetorical effect: Eliminates the political middle. Gives the unhinged right an excuse to display their blatant racism, As Max Boot put it:

Most of all, I’m sick and tired of Republicans who feel that Trump’s blatant bigotry gives them license to do the same — with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) denouncing his opponent as an “Indo-American carpetbagger,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warning voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) labeling his “Palestinian Mexican” opponent a “security risk” who is “working to infiltrate Congress,” and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) accusing his opponent, who is of Indian Tibetan heritage, of “selling out Americans” because he once worked at a law firm that settled terrorism-related cases against Libya.

This hate speech also ought to put an end to Trump apologists, as argued by Ruth Marcus:

To all the Republicans who think that words don’t matter, who rationalize support for the president because of judges or tax cuts, who insist that domestic terrorism is unrelated to normalization of virulent racist rhetoric and who remain silent believing they have no moral responsibility for this brand of politics, I would say this is reason enough to vote, as my colleague Max Boot has suggested, against each and every Republican on the ballot. We have not seen individual Republican candidates, let alone House and Senate leaders, denounce the ad or insist that Trump take it down. Silence is assent. And therefore each one deserves the ire of decent voters.

To all the White House staffers who think they are “saving” the United States from harm, who bristle at the notion they should be shunned from polite society (not harassed, shunned) and who insist that they be treated like staffers of previous administrations (e.g. thanked for their service), I would say that you will share the blame for a dark chapter in American history.

To Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, Fox shareholders, Fox producers and Fox executives and other on-air Fox personalities, I would say that this is in large part your doing. You’ve spent years drumming up fear of immigrants, misrepresenting the danger they pose, blurring the line between criminals and noncriminals (including “dreamers”) and sending dog whistles — no, make that trumpet blasts — to the white nationalists. I would say to you that Fox is not a news organization but a source of material and affirmation for the worst elements in our society, a small sliver of whom become violent. It’s not a place where reputable news people should want to work, nor a network that advertisers should support or viewers should indulge.


it’s costing us billions

this crazy lunatic policy

rhetorical claim: as the President put it

The Democrats want to continue giving automatic birthright citizenship to every child born to an illegal alien. Even if they’ve been on our soil for a mere matter of seconds. Hundreds of thousands of children born to illegal immigrants are made automatic citizens of the United States every year, because of this crazy lunatic policy that we can end.

And they’re all made instantly eligible for every privilege and benefit of American citizenship. All of you, you get nothing more than they do. They’re full citizens. And it’s costing us many, many billions of dollars a year.

rhetorical effect: Two more of Trump’s many hate narratives. Us vs. themism,  even if “they” are legal US citizens, with full protection under the law. The “crazy lunatic policy” is not a policy at all of course, but a cornerstone of American democracy, enshrined in the 14th Amendment. Pits US citizens competing against each other, with some apparently “more equal than others.” They cost us, and so they should not be granted the privileges of American citizenship that you are granted, because this deprives you of what is yours. This meme proves once again that Trump knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


full Trumpism

rhetorical claim: Trump told thousands of red-capped supporters, “If Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the legendary Maxine Waters, if they take power, they will try to erase our gains and eradicate our progress.

“The Democrats want to raise your taxes. They want to restore job-killing regulations. They want to shut down your steel mills. And that will happen.”

“They want to take away your real health care and use socialism to turn America into Venezuela,” Trump continued. “Lovely place, lovely place. And Democrats want to totally open borders.”

rhetorical effect: As Phillip Rucker explains,

President Trump is painting an astonishingly apocalyptic vision of America under Democratic control in the campaign’s final days, unleashing a torrent of falsehoods and portraying his political opponents as desiring crime, squalor and poverty.

As voters prepare to render their first verdict on his presidency in Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump is claiming that Democrats want to erase the nation’s borders and provide sanctuary to drug dealers, human traffickers and MS-13 killers. He is warning that they would destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere. And he is alleging that they would transform the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok.

Trump has never been hemmed in by fact, fairness or even logic. The 45th president proudly refuses to apologize and routinely violates the norms of decorum that guided his predecessors. But at one mega-rally after another in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump has taken his no-boundaries political ethos to a new level — demagoguing the Democrats in a whirl of distortion and using the power of the federal government to amplify his fantastical arguments.


protecting the integrity of the vote

rhetorical claim: acts of so-called voter suppression are just legal ways to guarantee the integrity of the vote.

rhetorical effect: Voter suppression is a slow-moving coup, and completely undermines the integrity of the vote–the very thing they say they are protecting.  What is voter suppression anyway but an attempt to thwart the will of the people? And what is democracy itself if not a government formed by the will of the people and designed to protect their rights — the rights of all of them, whether they are in the majority or the minority? In its baldest terms, any attempt to prevent people from voting, or to dilute the governing force of those who do manage to vote, is really nothing less than an act of treason.


psychological warfare

rhetorical claim: after two years’ worth of psychological warfare directed at Trumpism by the Deep State, the liberal, mainstream media, academia, the Dems and the Establishment, public education, popular culture, films, television, music, etc., the day of reckoning is here at last.

The nation is in turmoil largely because of the MSM. Many of the issues that have emerged and been flogged to death are nothing more than emotional triggers. Their purpose is to obscure larger more important concerns – like the existential threats posed by Jihad, Red China, and massive illegal immigration, the loss of our constitutionally protected rights including to free speech, and so many more.

The latest looming illegal alien caravan invasion for example – a major lead story in recent weeks – should never have happened. If it did, it could have been dealt with swiftly and definitively without the MSM dragging it out and making it a big polarizing issue to help the Democrats. But of course it is another in a series of PsyOps – made to guilt trip the white middle class population, especially “educated white independent voters in the suburbs” –  the swing voters who will hold the balance of power this year, as we have been told.

The further descent of the MSM – especially but not limited to CNN and MSNBC – into a sea of total lies and left wing propaganda is mind boggling. Nothing like it has ever been seen before. The complete debasement of almost all of the nation’s media and journalism – these purveyors of Fake News – truly has become, as President Trump has insisted, an “Enemy of the People.” This the end point of the century-long march toward Marxism.

rhetorical effect: more conspiracy theory run amok. Criminalizing free speech as an act of psychological terrorism.Sowing the seeds of distrust of all institutions, in order to justify attacks on freedoms of speech and assembly, immigration, diversity and racial and gender equality, etc. Trotting out the long-since dated chestnut of “Marxism.”


open season on whites

rhetorical claim: The increasing threat of violence against Trump supporters continues to expand. Violence is a classic tactic employed throughout history by hardcore leftists, Communists, Bolsheviks, Maoists, Castroites, and Chavistas in Venezuela.

The fact is, it is already unsafe in many areas of the country to be visible in public as a conservative, Trump-supporting, Christian white person. It is open season on what is now this new minority. Where will that lead, since it’s growing worse? And the Democrats have openly advocated their unhinged followers to get in the face of Republicans and make their lives miserable.

Whites are now the new N-word in this country. Last week, innocuous handmade signs that were posted in a Texas neighborhood reading “It’s OK to be White” were treated like a hate crime. Police said they were searching for those responsible so they can be charged and prosecuted. No more I’M OK, YOU’RE OK. Similar signs popped up at Tufts University near Boston. Again, officials there decried them as hate speech and said they will not be tolerated.  The nation’s anti-white trajectory continues.

Your daughter’s daffy feminism, the lionization of increasingly bizarre sexual anomalies, undying dream of economic collectivism and Christophobia are all skirmishes that need managing but America is becoming dangerously anti-white at a time when with the world’s only white-majority societies are becoming white minority.

The main reason Trump is popular is not because he “hates brown people” like the Left hopes or even because he’s some free market bulwark like Reagan. Trump sees what awaits our posterity if society does not change course.

rhetorical effect: tries to turn whites, the nation’s most dominant and powerful majority, into the new pariahs and victims. Likens diversity to anti-whiteness. Hopelessly divides America in a way that will take decades to heal.


affluent progressivism

rhetorical claim: As Victor David Hanson puts it:

The old working-class Democrat ethos was insidiously superseded by a novel
affluent progressivism.

Conservationism morphed into radical green activism. Warnings about global warming transmogrified into a fundamentalist religious doctrine. Once contested social issues such as gay marriage, abortion, gun control, and identity politics were now all-or-nothing litmus tests of not just ideological but moral purity.

A strange new progressive profile supplanted the old caricature of a limousine liberal, in that many of the new affluent social-justice warriors rarely seemed to be subject to the ramifications of their own ideological zealotry. New share-the-wealth gentry were as comfortable as right-wing capitalists with private prep schools, expansive and largely apartheid gated neighborhoods, designer cars, apprentices, and vacations.

For the other half of America, cause and effect were soon forgotten, and a new gospel about “losers” (deplorables, irredeemables, crazies, clingers, wacko birds) explained why the red-state interior seemed to stagnate both culturally and economically — as if youth first turned to opioids and thereby drove industry away rather than vice versa.

Half the country, the self-described beautiful and smart people, imagined a future of high-tech octopuses, financial investments, health-care services, and ever more government employment. The other half still believed that America could make things, farm, mine, produce gas and oil — if international trade was fair and the government was a partner rather than indifferent or hostile.

rhetorical effect: us vs. themism; defensive stance against inexorable global forces; siege-and-fortress mentality; sneering inferiority complex; hatred of change.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct. 23-28, 2018

the real drivers of debt

the demographics of the future

rhetorical claim: According to Mitch McConnell, the rising budget deficit is “disturbing” and  “entitlement programs” are “the real drivers of the debt” and must be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.” McConnell also promises to try again to repeal the ACA, calling the failure to achieve that “the one disappointment of this Congress.” Cuts in “entitlements,” he suggested, must be done in a bipartisan fashion, while ACA repeal is a partisan Republican fixation. If Democrats take the House, he will push for cuts in Social Security. If Republicans retain control, they will try to repeal Obamacare again.

rhetorical effect: Beltway code for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans pass tax cuts largely for the rich and for corporations, then use the exploding deficits to justify slashing core security programs that most Americans rely on. Social Security provides the majority of cash income for 61 percent of seniors, and 90 percent of income for one-third of the elderly.  As Jennifer Rubin explains,

This Republican duck-and-cover effort impedes the debate we need to have. Corporations continue to abandon pension plans; most Americans have no retirement plan at work. Boomers are beginning to retire, after laboring during the decades of unprecedented wage stagnation. Rising health-care costs continue to eat up small raises for workers. Congress should be moving to expand Social Security, not cut it, and to make health care universal and affordable, not try to weaken the programs we have. If Trump and Republicans succeed in their mendacious scare campaign against those calling for Medicare-for-all, they will torpedo progress on any of these issues. And for that, millions of Americans will pay dearly.


the politics of personal destruction

rhetorical claim:  The aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings continues. Chuck Grassley has referred Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. He is right to do so.

As Judiciary Chairman, Senator Grassley’s burden was to preside over the extraordinary chaos that engulfed the committee after its Democratic members brought forth accusations of sexual misconduct against then Judge, now Justice, Kavanaugh.

Amid high political tension, Mr. Avenatti, famous only for representing porn star Stormy Daniels, produced another accuser who claimed to have been gang-raped at a party attended by Mr. Kavanaugh in the early 1980s. Senator Grassley’s criminal referral alleges that Mr. Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, made false statements to the committee’s investigators, which is a crime.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral of this nature,” Senator Grassley said, “but ignoring this behavior will just invite more of it in the future.” Deterring the politics of personal destruction sounds like an excellent idea.

rhetorical effect: Attacking the attacker rhetoric demeans and even delegitimizes any legal action or criticism brought against Trump or his administration as both  “personal” and destructive. Tries to criminalize free speech by turning Kavanaugh into the victim.


the Antifa threat

rhetorical claim: according to the American Thinker blog, the Swamp continues to lionize the ultra-left

Antifa mobocracy. Antifa operates with near impunity due to supporting the establishment’s values of open borders, globalist socialism, censorship, social degeneracy, and limitless centralized power. There is an organized network of leftist lawyers who will defend these terrorists free of charge, and countless deep state apparatchiks working as judges, journalists, law enforcement officials, university administrators, and federal bureaucrats who regularly abuse their power to protect these unabashedly violent activists. This is a far worse problem than Antifa merely getting payoffs from Soros and other far-left oligarchs through their shady non-profit networks…The leftists tuned us out when we talked about nonaggression, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, free-market economics, and all of our other talking points. These people are jackals and on the march. Complacency only emboldens them. It is time for unity to emerge amongst the right, along with an understanding that we are all under attack and all in this together. It is time for unity to emerge amongst the right, along with an understanding that we are all under attack and all in this together. Whether you are a moderate Christian like Brett Kavanaugh or a rowdy Trump-supporting Proud Boy or anywhere in between, the organized left means business and are rapidly advancing to destroy you and everything you hold dear.

rhetorical effect: Trump uses this right-wing paranoid conspiracy theory to shore up his base and undercut the media. This rage and paranoia is what leads to mail bombs and, ultimately, to attempts to he suppression of free speech and the media. Time to start preparing for a new Civil War?


tech censorship

rhetorical claim: Tech companies have been censoring and will continue to censor the news to prevent “fake news” and “hate speech” from spreading.  Congress should pass the Social Media Anti-Censorship Act (SMACA), which would “prohibit censorship of lawful speech on major social media platforms.”

rhetorical effect: government interference is search results; tHe nationalization and even control of  the Internet by the GOP.


Deep State henchmen

rhetorical claim: The process by which the FBI and Department of Justice were corrupted into serving as political attack machines for the Democrats is finally coming into focus.  In an article in The Hill that is today’s read of the day, a retired senior FBI executive puts together the evidence already on the record to offer a roadmap of how the politicization of these powerful bureaucracies was accomplished.

Kevin R. Brock, who is identified as “former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC),” sees Andrew McCabe as the point man, pulled up through the career bureaucracy of the bureau by his mentor, James Comey, who was, after all, an outsider political appointee in need of a henchman to implement his political machinations.  Once Comey was fired, McCabe became the key figure leading the law enforcement branch of the Deep State’s resistance to Trump.

rhetorical effect: this purely fanciful confecting of “facts” will continue forever, like Benghazi. Both are part of the GOP’s long-running Clinton Derangement Syndrome, their Great White Whale: a phantasm that has seized hold of their souls and will destroy them in their endless pursuit of it.



rhetorical claim: the media’s endless battering and baiting of Trump incites his base and directly translates into their anger and resentment. They have truly become the enemy of the people–the vast majority of whom, especially in flyover America– support Trump.

rhetorical effect: as argued by Jennifer Rubin:

Incitement is defined as “an act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action.”

Trump and his defenders claim the mainstream media incites anger. There is no denying that his followers get angry when they read news accounts that do not adopt their conspiracy theories or when journalists debunk Trump’s falsehoods or when wrongdoing in his administration is revealed. However, incitement to hate and attempts to stir anger along gender, racial and ethnic lines do not come from the press; they come from the president.

Trump calls the press the “enemy of the people” and describes journalists as “very bad people,” “truly bad people,” “the worst,” “among the most dishonest groups of people I have had to deal with,” “corrupt,” “a great danger to our country,” and “troublemakers.” He encourages his crowds to turn around to harangue members of the media covering his events, and at times has directed his attention — and the crowd’s abuse — at a single journalist. When demonizing a specific outlet, he most frequently picks CNN.

It should be obvious that such language is designed to increase anger and resentment in his base, to delegitimize the free press and to suggest it is undeserving of its constitutional protections. (He actually threatened to “pull the license” on NBC for its unfavorable reporting.) Such language from a president is unprecedented in modern American history. His followers get the message; they chant and insult the traveling press, and social media is full of abusive, threatening and/or hateful messages directed to or about the press.

One would think the distinction between critical coverage (even unfair coverage!) or persuasive commentary, on one hand, and, on the other, vituperative, dehumanizing speech designed to provoke an emotional, irrational response should be obvious. And yet Trump and his ilk blame the media for a toxic political environment that has cast a pallor over our politics since his election…Trump’s notion that any criticism of him (no matter how provable) is equivalent to his baseless insults, expressions of bigotry and praise for violence is the sort of moral equivalence that conservatives used to deplore.


Shariah law in Europe

the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas

rhetorical claim: As argued in The National Review:

In European law, It is verboten to say things that might upset Muslims. Particularly offensive is mention of Islam’s many doctrinal tenets that make us cringe in the 21st century — approbation of child marriage, violent jihad, the treatment of women as chattel, the duty to kill apostates, and so on. That these tenets are accurately stated, supported by undeniable scriptural grounding, is beside the point. Or as the ECHR put it, reliance on scripture could be classified as “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam, which could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”

What the vestiges of Western civilization are coming to: I say something that is true; it hurts your feelings, so — of course — you blow up a building; and it’s my fault…

If a society is to be a functioning, flourishing, free society, it must safeguard the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas. Absent that, the rule of reason dies, and with it freedom of conscience, equality before the law, due process, property rights, and equality of opportunity.

Islamists and their transnational-progressive allies seek to redefine democracy as a guarantee of domestic tranquility, on the road to global tranquility in a post-Westphalian order. It is a sweet-sounding roadmap to tyranny, in which “tranquility” is enforced Soviet-style, with an official version of history and truth that is not open to question or debate. Your “freedom” to speak is strictly limited to those confines.

There is no free speech in Islam. Sharia states do not merely forbid speech that insults or denigrates Islam; they regard as blasphemy — and punish with cruelty — any form of expression that casts Islam in an unfavorable light.

rhetorical effect: reduces Islam to a totalitarian state bent on world domination; suppresses free speech; defines “the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas” as discourse that reinforce Christianity, white supremacy, and all things Trump. Argues for free religious speech while condemning Islamic religious speech, thus invoking the very thing (in this case, censorship) it ostensibly opposes.



rhetorical claim: In their own smear and fear campaign, The Dems claim that Republicans are campaigning on fear. At least, that’s the latest overwhelming consensus that the journalistic hivemind occasionally produces. And when the GOP is not stoking unfounded terror in the hearts of their constituents, they’re being patently mendacious.

The Washington Post declared that Trump and the GOP have settled on “fear” and “falsehoods” as a closing argument, with a little “racially tinged rhetoric” as a topper. On health care and entitlements, the report noted, the GOP has shown a willingness to “instill fear in their electorate.” On that topic, CNN’s reporters also accused Republicans of appealing to “fear and misdirection.”

rhetorical effect: You have to read GOP rhetoric backwards and upside down, as if you are deciphering it in a mirror . As is the case of the politiscripts cited above (incitement, the politics of personal destruction, the real drivers of public debt, etc.) the GOP’s language is primarily used to reverse engineer any liberal or progressive claims–calls for tolerance become a form of intolerance, or gun control laws lead to more shootings, etc. Turning the tables, false equivalencies and Whataboutism are their means and ends, their weapons of mass distraction. They create the fear, then make the voters fear the fear that has been artificially constructed. Isn’t this a description of hysteria?

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct. 14-19, 2018

Democratic bloodlust

rhetorical claim: the majority of voters are now expressing about their extreme distaste for the Democrats’ bloodlust. They see it for what it is: there is no search for truth, it’s not about justice. It’s a well-orchestrated political hit-job designed to destroy a good man and accomplished judge because he represents an end to Leftist control of the Supreme Court which they have used since the 1930s as a super-legislature to force their radical, dehumanizing agenda on the country over the objections of the American people. At least they know what’s at stake. When looking back on the 1930s and Britain’s failure to rearm or oppose Hitler when it would have been easy, Churchill described the nation as having been ‘lost in a pacifist daydream.’ The same could be said for some Republican Senators who seem not to know that the new politics is, sadly, one of no holds barred political warfare. They need not engage in the immoral tactics of the Democrats, but they must at least recognize what they’re up against.

This will have an impact on the upcoming midterm elections—but not the way Democrats will hope. They envision their pussy-hat wearing legions descending on the polls and sweeping into power a host of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clones and their “male allies.” “This is it comrades,” you can hear them say, “today we overthrow the patriarchy!” But no. They have done, once again, for Republicans what Republicans could not do for themselves: energize the base.

rhetorical effect: classic table-turning: in their no holds barred, Total War mode, the GOP accuses the Dems of the same. Dems are also smeared as “immoral,” “radical,” “dehumanizing” and Communists (“comrade”). Labeling  political opposition as “bloodlust” plays into the meme of the Dems as hypocrites who only care about getting and keeping power and also on the conspiratorial idea that the Dems want to “foist” their radical Leftism onto “the American people,” as if the Dems are un American people.


Donald Trump in Full

(aka, letting Trump be Trump)

rhetorical claim: Kellyanne Conway says it’s time to unleash Donald Trump in Full.

rhetorical effect: unfiltered, unedited, unleashed: the Full Donald just doubles down on lies, mendacity, cruel taunting, and the flouting of all moral norms. Expect the worst the next two weeks.


I never did anything wrong in the first place

I made the right decision at the time

I did it but it’s not illegal

rhetorical claim: President Trump is often accused of things he never did, such as collude with Russians, profited from government business with his companies, paid off Stormy Daniels with campaign funds, etc.

rhetorical effect: the Trump three-step retreat: 1) I never did it in the first place 2) I may have done it unwittingly because I was misinformed or trusted the wrong people 3) I did it but it isn’t illegal anyway.

Never admit you were wrong or made a mistake because you always want to appear strong.


being a baby

rhetorical claim: Trump says he never wants to appear to be a “baby.”

rhetorical effect: being a “baby” not only means being defenseless but also being civil, sympathetic, generous, tolerant, gracious, accommodating, cooperative and moral or ethical. The irony of course is that Trump is the ultimate enfant terrible. As William Galston puts it in the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Trump has a consistent way of judging people. Strong is good, weak is bad. Big is impressive, small is defective: “Little Marco.” Winners are admirable, while losers are contemptible. A corollary is that there is neither dishonorable victory nor honorable defeat, which is why Mr. Trump poured scorn during his candidacy on John McCain for having been captured — never mind McCain’s heroic conduct as a prisoner of war.


bourgeois values

rhetorical claim: minorities could overcome economic and educational disparities by embracing bourgeois values, including child-rearing within marriage, hard work, self-discipline on and off the job, and respect for authority. It’s quite revealing that Dems see the espousal of these values as “hate speech.” The late 1960s took aim at the bourgeois ethic, encouraging an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal [of] sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.” Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution are all around us: lagging education levels, the lowest male work-force participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates.

rhetorical effect: toxic racism, sexism, homophobia, tribalism, the erosion of standards of decency, tolerance and charity, and the encouragement of a Darwinian, winner-take-all society.


we don’t want to lose any jobs

rhetorical claim: when pressed on his denial of man-made climate change, Trump said,”I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.” Trump also says that punishing the Saudis would cost lots of money and jobs in lost arms sales.

rhetorical effect: dollars before decency, today’s jobs before tomorrow’s earth. Trump indeed knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


Trump’s unexpressed thoughts

rhetorical claim: Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana’s said, in relation to Trump’s characterization of Stormy Daniels as a “horseface”,  “We’ve all done something like that before.” To which Kennedy unhelpfully added that he believes the president “grows anxious when he has unexpressed thoughts.”

rhetorical effect: makes you realize that we are all trapped inside Trump’s id. conjures up the unsettling thought that we are now just prisoners trapped inside Trump’s rage and bottomless vindictiveness. The Trump Wound oozes bile and venom like some toxic, infernal volcano of the soul as his “unexpressed thoughts” sooner or later surface. Thus he defends Nazi sympathizers, Confederate generals, and murderous dictators the world over. Unlike with the Sphinx-like Obama, everyone already knows just what Trump really has on his mind, or maybe just lurking under it. Trump is truly the American id, unleashed, barely censored, and annihilating.


tough cookie

rhetorical claim: In praise of Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, President Trump said:

“Never wrestle him. You understand that? Never. Any guy who can do a body-slam. He’s my kind of,” said President Trump, mimicking the act of body-slamming someone,”he’s my guy. … So I was in Rome with a lot of the leaders from other countries … And I heard about it. And we endorsed Greg very early, but I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter.”

Applause and cheers rose from the audience.

“And he was way up. And he was way up, and I said … ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him.’ And it did. Nah, he’s a great guy. Tough cookie.”

rhetorical effect: endorses physical assault of the media; encourages lawless violence and silencing of first amendment rights; further erodes civility and tolerance, and turns politics into an open war with no rules. It seems that in Trumptown you’re either a “baby” or a “tough cookie.”





Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Sept. 27-Oct 9, 2018

no big deal

rhetorical claim:  the administration has decided it is really no problem to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards, though this would increase greenhouse-gas emissions. Why? Because, the administration reasons, the planet’s temperature is already set to rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century — so a little bit more warming will hardly matter. They also argue that radiation exposure is not as dangerous as it seems, and that a little bit of it may actually be good for us.

rhetorical effect: the “no big deal” ploy not only demeans any findings or policies they don’t like, but turns the logic of regulation inside-out: we shouldn’t regulate to protect because regulation causes even bigger problems without addressing underlying problems, which you can’t do anything about anyway. It’s a weird combination of fatalism and outright hostility toward regulation-as-protection. Moreover, they argue that “small differences” are not differences at all–so that you might as well not regulate guns since such regulation would make “no difference” in gun deaths.



rhetorical claim: Dr. Ford should be respected, not insulted, not ignored.

rhetorical effect: like the entire GOP  Kavanaugh campaign, this disingenuous plea for “respect” is self-contradictory: they “respect” her but claim she’s either a liar, a pawn of the vast left-wing conspiracy, or just plain confused. Call this cynicism or irony, but they clearly mean the opposite of what they say. In the same fashion, “hearing her out” means letting her talk until she shuts up; calling her testimony “compelling” means it’s really just a vivid lie, and saying she “shouldn’t be insulted” means humoring her to the extent of appearing to care about what she says but dismissing it from the start. False respect is like false outrage: manufactured emotion and smug condescension  designed to claim the high moral ground. “Respect” is thus an insult.



rhetorical claim: In July, Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the “constitutional originalist Federalist Society,” as RealClearPolitics phrased it, told Fox News:

Any Supreme Court confirmation is transformative. This is a court that is often equally divided. At the end of the day, I think what’s really important to remember is that there’s been a movement on the court toward being more originalist and textualist. In other words, the idea that law means something, it has determinate meaning. And that’s the trend that I think this president wants to continue.

rhetorical effect: as Charles Blow argues:

when I think of originalism, I think this: Many of the founders owned slaves; in the Constitution they viewed black people as less than fully human; they didn’t want women or poor white men to vote. The founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn’t want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it.

Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist “follow the Constitution” rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.

We have to learn to see everything around us, all that is happening on the political front, through that lens. This is what the extreme measures on illegal immigration and even the efforts to dramatically slash legal immigration are all about.


economic nationalism

rhetorical claim: as explained in The Financial Times

Eric Chewning, deputy assistant secretary of defence for industrial policy: “The US is strategically repositioning for [a] period of interstate competition. A competition that recognises the inter-relationship between economic security and national security.” As part of this, the Pentagon is having ongoing conversations with US multinationals about issues like IP theft, insourcing, and so on. “Based on our conversations, corporations recognise that the strategic conditions are changing,” says Chewing. “As China continues to pursue the objectives laid out in Made in China 2025 and actively distorts the economic playing field in favour of their national champions, western businesses will also likely need to re-evaluate their confidence in the long-term China business case.”

Translation: businesses may, by choice or by force, have to take sides in this new trade war/cold war. The same is true in China. I moderated an event last week at the China Institute in New York, with former Google China head and venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee (pictured below). He told me he doesn’t expect to be able to make any further investments in the US, thanks to tighter rules around capital inflows. He believes that the US and China will develop their own separate technology ecosystems, with the big race being between Google, the company, and China, the country, in terms of who is able to develop the most sophisticated artificial intelligence systems.

rhetorical effect: total war between the US and China over trade, economic influence, and the spread of technology. The end of economic globalization, and a return to a Cold War mentality.


the war on men

rhetorical claim: a culture of victimization has been foisted on America by angry, vengeful feminists. All of our sons, brothers, fathers and husbands–good men–are in mortal danger of having their lives ruined by one of these harpies.

rhetorical effect: turns victimizers into victims by presuming that all women claiming assault or either lying or mistaken.


angry mob

rhetorical claim: best described by Robert Costa:

The characterization evokes fear of an unknown and out-of-control mass of people, and it taps into grievances about the nation’s fast-moving cultural and demographic shifts that Republicans say are working against them. With its emphasis on the impact on traditional values and white voters, particularly men, it strikes the same notes as earlier Trump-fanned attention to immigrants, MS-13 gang members and African American football players protesting police treatment of young black men….

This time, the GOP’s foil is composed of leftists, elitists and feminists, of academics and celebrities, of Trump nemesis Michael Avenatti, philanthropist George Soros and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who has called for the president’s impeachment.

The turn toward a culture war is also a tacit admission that many of the issues that Republicans had sought to run on, from tax cuts to the upbeat state of the economy, have not been enough to fan GOP voters’ enthusiasm and counter an electrified Democratic electorate.

“It’s aimed at firing up Fox viewers and the more strident elements of Trump’s base; it’s fearmongering,” said John Weaver, a longtime Republican strategist who is a frequent Trump critic. “I’m sure there is some little old lady in Iowa who now keeps her doors locked because she thinks there’s going to be some anarchist mob coming through Davenport….“They want to take the freedom to assemble and turn it into a negative,” Weaver said. “ ‘The mob’ is trying to dehumanize and belittle and dismiss the current activism that we’re seeing around the country.

Never mind that anti-Trump protestors are far from being a mob, and have as much right to be “angry” as Bart Kavanaugh. And also never mind that all Trump criticism is now being demonized, and protest itself could ultimately be punishable, as in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc.  Never mind that showing anti-Trump “anger” may soon be a hate crime or a sign of derangement. And, finally, never mind what it means to call a gathering a “mob” rather than a crowd. It’s OK to use deadly force on “mobs”, especially “angry” ones.


rape apologists

gender traitors

rhetorical claim: From American Greatness:

It’s hard to see the value of the Democratic Party picking a fight with the largest voting demographic four weeks before a crucial election. But the tactic is obvious: Democrats cannot sway white women based on their ideas for the economy or national security or tax policy, so they’re left with coercion and intimidation. They want to shame white women voters into electing more Democrats by implying if we vote for Republicans, we are enabling and empowering rapists.

It is a highly cynical, if not craven, ploy with major implications for the health and sustainability of our political system. It does nothing to ensure the consideration of real sexual assault victims, assigns automatic guilt to half of the population based on gender, and empowers the peddlers of despair and racial hostilities. And it unfortunately guarantees the nation will suffer through many more horrific periods like the past few weeks.

rhetorical effect: hyperbolic turning of the tables: now that all men are considered rapists, to even vote for a man makes a woman a “rape apologist.” While this is far from the more nuanced position of most women that sexual assault often goes undisclosed, unaddressed or unredressed, putting these words into feminists’ mouths turns “women’s rights” into cartoon parody of itself.


the new Dark Ages

rhetorical claim: In our own age, the disproven but still legendary tales of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” the Duke Lacrosse fantasies, the Rolling Stone folktales, or Lena Dunham’s fictive memoir won out and became fact, inasmuch as such lies were not real lies given their service to progressive aims. And that is where we are now headed—the world of the Athenian popular court, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the Star Chamber, the cycles of the French Revolution—except that in all those cases, reason and sanity eventually returned. Perhaps not now. We are entering a new Dark Ages.

If we to look to the universities for truth and courage we find increasingly medieval darkness, wherein matters of alleged sexual harassment there is no due process for the accused.

Free speech on campus vanishes if minority views are dubbed “hate” speech or declared merely “hurtful.”

There is little diversity of opinion and even less tolerance of any dissent from majority dogma. Obsequiousness so often is redefined as courage; real courage condemned as a crime against the people. Campus segregation becomes desirable, if privileged by “safe spaces.” Censorship is sensitivity and justified by “trigger warnings.” The apparent absence of bias becomes proof of bias if dubbed a “micro-aggression.” Racial discrimination in admissions affirms liberality.

rhetorical effect: lumps together vastly dissimilar things (college admisssions policies, false news stories, etc.) to tar them all with the same brush. Turns Trump critics into “haters” undermining civilization. Turns everything apocalyptic, and renders all Trump criticism null and void.