Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 4-Aug 12, 2018.

majority rules

totalitarian socialism

rhetorical claim: the political will of a majority is nothing but a niche special interest, and should not be permitted to crush individual freedom or to constrain the free market. The relentless  push toward unlimited government (totalitarian socialism), has been disguised as the will of the people. The tyrannical rule of the majority sees nothing wrong with America’s government establishment employing vast resources educating people how to use the levers and processes of government to expand its size, scope, powers, and budgets. This is accomplished today with the help of the vast university system which has become one giant taxpayer-financed think tank for statism with only a handful of exceptions; through a “mainstream media” that seems every bit as propagandistic as Pravda was during the Cold War; hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats at all levels of government, every one of which is a propagandist/lobbyist for bigger government; a K-12 school system that is thoroughly embedded with leftist political correctness; huge armies of political consultants, lobbyists, and paid propagandists; a popular culture that endlessly repeats anti-capitalist, anti-libertarian, and pro-statist themes; and thousands of government-funded nonprofit organizations, from the AARP to the Wilderness Society, that promote more interventionism and less freedom. On top of that are private foundations like Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller that have showered leftist academics with foundation grants.

rhetorical effect: paranoid visions of imaginary Deep State conspiracies.

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postmodernists

rhetorical claim: We are being assaulted by postmodernists, who especially despise notions of patriotism. Traditional patriotism is demonstrated love, support, loyalty, defense, and sacrifice for one’s country.  It is an expression of moral certainty.  It claims there is right and wrong behavior.  It puts the country ahead of factions based on ideology, politics, and personal ambition.  It creates the kinship of national identity.  It is objective and demands respect for the symbols of the nation, such as the flag and national anthem.  It values unity, accountability, and security more than diversity and the pursuit of happiness. The influential postmodernist school insists that truth is an instrument of power – except, of course, for its own categorical truth.  Thus unexamined belief takes precedence over analytical thought, and we are made to feel ashamed of being patriotic.

rhetorical effect: as a catch-all for anyone who questions the superiority of dominant Western political and scientific institutions, this rhetorical scheme of turning postmodernism into a pejorative term is perfectly geared towards those in the younger generation who feel alienated from identity politics. By the way, “we” here means rational Western males.

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transpartisan elite

rhetorical claim: America is run by a transpartisan elite, which sustains a powerful collectivist managerial consensus. This consensus forms a deep state oligopoly. As Julius Krein argues:

This refusal to interrogate or even conceive of a ruling class of elites reflects the once prevalent—and still lingering—belief that ideological conflict ended after the Cold War. Without a critique of the dominant ideology, the distinct class consciousness and interests of the elite seem to disappear. If there is no critique of the general political consensus, then there is no critique of the political elite, for it is that elite which constitutes and defines the larger society.

But a politics that sees itself as non-ideological is always politics at its most ideological. Apparent political consensus is not the end of all ideologies but merely the temporary triumph of one. Now that the intellectual and political consensus of the last few decades is visibly crumbling, the managerial elite begins to reemerge as a class and managerialism as an ideology. Thus what is commonly seen today as the “rise of populism” is just as much—or rather, in fact, primarily—the decline of the elite..

“On the one hand, the scientific pretensions of these ideologies have been exploded.” They are increasingly seen to represent not universal laws of nature but “at best just temporary expressions of the interests and ideals of a particular class of men at a particular historical time.” Significant portions of social science research and even some of the basic principles of economics are now being questioned within their disciplines and beyond. As the power of academic economics in particular has risen, both its precepts and its most prominent figures have failed to comprehend the most important economic phenomena of recent years. This supposed science is increasingly revealed to be little more than the quantitative expression of global consumerism and managerial ideology.

Perhaps even the managers themselves have begun to lose confidence in their own ideologies. The economic, foreign policy, and technological optimism of previous decades is gone. Preserving the status quo has become the sole aspiration—and primarily for the purpose of preserving the class privilege of the current elite, which, even if not admitted, is becoming obvious to voters. The managerial class seems increasingly willing even to abandon democratic formalities. Once the elite itself loses faith in its ideologies and begins to see its class interests as essentially exploitative, it cannot survive.

rhetorical effect: fuels a paranoid conspiracy theory that “the administrative state” has run amuck. The greatest rhetorical sleight-of-hand of all is turning the manipulators of the political system into its supposed victims. After all, how can what Trump calls a managerial elite (federal bureaucrats, academics, teachers, urban planners, scientists, corporations, the media, Hollywood, etc.) be said the be “rigging” the system against the GOP when it is the GOP winning everything by their own rigging: voter suppression, gerrymandering, court-packing, etc.

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there is no alternative to free market ideology

rhetorical claim: the free market contributions of the Chicago and Austrian schools of economic theory show that government works best when it furthers the needs of the free market. There is no alternative to free market ideology because it’s human nature to seek freedom from governments and other constraints. Only markets make freedom possible, and free the makers from the takers. Economic self-interest is the driving force of politics. According to public choice theory, people will vote for the candidate that they believe is going to give them the greatest access to more money.

rhetorical effect: a tautology, in that it assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that there are no alternatives to individual choice and that the only true freedom is freedom from government. Also assumes that human nature is fixed and unchangeable, thus ignoring the fact that voting can be influenced by advertising campaigns altering people’s perception of their economic interests. Makes it so that market metaphors are impossible to dislodge from political discourse.

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the common good

the general welfare

public interest

rhetorical claim: Politicians must be understood as rational human beings who served their own interests (reelection) above all else. Notions such as the common good and the general welfare are smoke screens blocking from view the way in which individual public officials and those who sought to influence these officials pursue their own gain through government.  According to public choice, politicians rationally maximize their utilit-–their chances of being re- elected and remaining in power–by promising to raise taxes upon the wealthy to pay for programs that voters support. Since the poor can vote (and because there are more of them) but do not pay federal income taxes, all redistributive political action is prima facie illegitimate, because it inefficiently redistributes social wealth downward to those who have not earned it.

The notion of “public interest” is itself a vague, even meaningless term precisely because it papers over an ineluctable will to power on the part of politicians. Investing authority in the state in the name of an abstraction like the public interest represented the slippery slope leading to totalitarianism.

rhetorical effect: Once this simplifying assumption is made, there is no such thing as the public good or even the public–only greedy politicians promising programs with other people’s money. Fortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to convince a majority of voters that their rights deserve to be curtailed, and that the state should brutally enforce the private property rights of the minority makers against the majority takers. Since representative democracy is designed to expropriate money from the most productive members of society, representative democracy as such must be rewired. As Frederick Jameson argues, this discourse

succeeds by way of discrediting its alternatives and rendering unmentionable a whole series of thematic topics. It appeals to trivialization, naivete, material interest,

“experience,”political fear, and historical lessons, as the “grounds ” for decisively delegitimizing such formerly serious possibilities as nationalization, regulation, deficit spending, Keynesianism, planning, protection of national industries, the security net, and ultimately the welfare state itself

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Medicare for all

rhetorical claim: “Medicare for all” schemes are misleadingly based on the undeniable but utopian claim that health care is a right, not a privilege. Ironically, health care coverage ususally leads to a decline in overall health. Typically in universal healthcare systems you see health services more interested in efficiency, you see death panels, you see overworked nurses and doctors, and you see a lack of innovation. Do you see many people flying into England or Canada for surgeries? Didn’t think so.

Beyond the costs and the decrease in quality of care, universal healthcare would be a smash and grab policy hurting our younger generations. We would have to steal from the idealistic and sometimes, sadly, very stupid young but healthy (there are some blessings still to being a young American) to fund Americans who are their opposites in all of these respects.  When the young finally figure this out they’ll be facing a hopelessly mortgaged future exactly when many businesses will abandon their states. As in they got played for suckers. But onward, comrades, and all that.

Adding to the absurdity of it all is this concept of using the vehicles of Medicare and Medicaid for all. The socialists’ idea is to ride those two broken, corrupt, and nearly insolvent (at least with respect to Medicare) systems to socialist glory.

rhetorical effect: turns the argument inside out: health insurance is actually bad for your health, in the same way that labor unions are anti-worker, environmental laws destroy the economy, thus keeping the environment less protected, feminism undermines women, and anti-discrimination laws actually increase discrimination.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 28-Aug 3, 2018

it continues to stain our country

rhetorical claim: as the President tweeted:

..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to US

rhetorical effect: branding any criticism or investigation of Trump as a “stain” equates criticism with dirt, vermin, and filth: something easily dispensed with. As argued by Ruth Marcus:

Note to the president: “Our country” is doing just fine with the Mueller probe. Actually, the United States is benefiting from it. The country being stained by the investigation is the one that tried to interfere with our election on Trump’s behalf. One of the indictments that Mueller has produced alleged that Russian individuals and companies engaged in a sophisticated social-media campaign to help swing the election to Trump. Another accused Russian military intelligence agents of hacking into the emails of Democratic campaigns and operatives.

Someone needs to ask — or would ask, if the president ever took more than a few shouted questions from a few favored reporters — how bringing such cases is a “stain” on the United States. Rather, it is a defense of the country and its electoral system, which is more than we have seen from the Trump administration.

Leave aside the matter of whether Trump’s attacks on the Russia “hoax” represent potential evidence in an obstruction case against him. That is worth considering, but the focus on his tweets as obstruction in plain sight has obscured the even more concerning fact that the tweets offer incontrovertible evidence of a president who cares nothing about the well-being of his country and the integrity of its elections

A president who cared about this would be insisting that Mueller get to the bottom of what happened, not doing his best to undermine the special counsel’s legitimacy. He would not be ordering, or even suggesting, that his attorney general — his properly recused attorney general — shut it all down.

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progressive regression

rhetorical claim: according to Victor Davis Hanson:

When Trump appeared on the national scene, an all-out assault on civil liberties followed, in a manner that is now irrevocable. The Left destroyed for good the idea that progressives are the protectors of constitutional freedoms.

If fear of Trump, some connected with the National Security Council under Obama helped to surveil American citizens, unmasked them, and leaked their names to the press. The press, hand-in-glove, complied in spreading such unsubstantiated dirt.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice flat out lied in her denial about her involvement in unmasking. The Obama FBI and Justice Department officials deliberately misled FISA courts, on the premise that spying on American citizens even with flimsy or fabricated evidence was OK—if it at least neutered the Trump candidacy and presidency. Had they just told justices something like, “We present, as justification for these warrants of surveillance, opposition research compiled on candidate Donald Trump, and paid for by Hillary Clinton during the present campaign,” they likely would never have been able to spy on American citizens.

No one again will have much confidence either in the FISA courts or any rationale for spying on any American citizen. They will logically assume FISA requests are political efforts to spread dirt on the opposition—in the fashion that we now have no idea, in the era after Lois Lerner, what prompts an IRS letter in our mail. The legacy of the Obama Administration is that if one is not progressive and loud in the public sphere, he may well be monitored, audited, or investigated.

rhetorical effect: tendentiously strings together a series of half-truths and distortions to make a case out of nothing substantial. Cherry-picks the news to use any potentially damning detail to “prove” a vast progressive conspiracy. Assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that any of these so-called violations of free speech in fact even exist or violate anything. For example, just because Lois Lerner met with Bill Clinton doesn’t necessarily mean that she promised him an exoneration of Hillary.

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regimes

rhetorical claim: the regimes in North Korea and Iran are anti-America, anti-west, and anti-the Iranian people.

rhetorical effect: delegitimizes the enemy at the level of language. Calling it a regime rather than a government implies transience, authoritarian, strong-arming tactics to get and maintain power, and a lack of popular support.

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fake news

rhetorical claim: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading about is not happening,”according to the President.

rhetorical effect: the essence of Trumpian epistemology: trust no one but me because ‘I alone can fix it.” Since, by definition, everything the fake news media says about Trump  is a lie,  not only must we rely on Trump for the truth, but we have to accept the proposition that Trump never lies. Even if your own senses or all available evidence indicates that Trump is either wrong or lying, then you must ignore common sense and stubborn facts because they themselves are either deceptive lies or based on media lies.

As argued by Charles Blow:

It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.

The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.

At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.

Such was the case again this week at a Trump rally in Florida, at which his supporters aggressively heckled and harassed the free press that Trump incessantly brands with the false descriptor of “fake news.”

In fact, there is no such thing as fake news. If something isn’t true, it isn’t news. Opinions, like mine here, are also not news, even if printed in a newspaper or broadcast by a news station. There may be news in such opinions, but the vehicle is by definition subjective and a reflection of the writer’s or speaker’s worldview.

This “fake news” nonsense isn’t really about the dissemination of false information. If it were, the administration could demand a correction and would receive one from any reputable news outlet.

No, Trump has made a perversion of the word “fake,” particularly among his most ardent supporters, so that it has come to mean news stories he doesn’t like, commentary that is unflattering to him and inadequate coverage of what he views as positive news about him and his administration.

Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.

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economic nationalism

rhetorical claim: Trump’s standing up to China is a prime example of his willingness to put America in his policy of economic nationalism.

rhetorical effect: according to Adam Posen in Foreign Affairs:

President Donald Trump’s hostility to globalization is ruining the United States’ attractiveness as a place to do business. Sometimes, after all, it takes just one bad landlord to destroy a whole neighborhood’s desirability. This year, net inward investment into the United States by multinational corporations—both foreign and American—has fallen almost to zero, an early indicator of the damage being done by the Trump administration’s trade conflicts and its arbitrary bullying of companies and governments. This shift of corporate investment away from the United States will decrease long-term U.S. income growth, reduce the number of well-paid jobs available, and reinforce the ongoing shift of global commerce away from United States. That shift will subject the entire world economy to greater instability.

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the envy of the world

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is making America great again economically and militarily, just in the 1950s, America is once again the envy of the world.

rhetorical effect: As Alan Stephens argues in the Financial Times:

Today’s nostalgia has become an engine of nationalism. It thrives on the economic and cultural insecurities thrown up by globalisation. We look backwards for a safe identity. No one has been so adroit as Mr Trump in exploiting these emotions. When the US president promises to make America great again, he underlines the “again”. Coal miners head a hierarchy of blue collar heroes embracing metal bashers, auto workers and truck drivers. They are all white. The president’s promise is to take them back — another favourite word — to the glory days of the 1950s….

A fascinating report by the London-based think-tank Demos observes that recent elections in France and Germany, as well as the British referendum, show the “pervasive extent” to which language that plays up the status, security and simplicity of the past has infiltrated political culture. People who have lost faith in the future are seeking solace in old, imagined, certainties. The lesson for mainstream politicians should be evident. The nationalists will always win when the argument is framed by nostalgia. Progressive politics need a message about the future powerful enough to reclaim the voters’ collective gaze. They could make a start by explaining how to ensure our children are better off than their parents.

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the forgotten men and women

rhetorical claim: Trump is a spokesman of regular folks. “The forgotten men and women of our country — people who work hard but no longer have a voice: I am your voice,” he said during the acceptance speech for his nomination at the Republican National Convention just over a year ago.

rhetorical effect: paranoid QANON conspiracy theory among the most radical Trumpinistas. Reinforces their permanent state of grievance and unquenchable thirst for revenge As explained by Molly Roberts in the Washington Post:

This anxiety also ties into a more amorphous sense among these voters that, though the Republican Party controls Congress and the executive, the country is still rigged against them. Trumpism has always been about insecurity: As a candidate, the president played on the paranoia of Americans who thought the country they knew was being taken away from them — by immigrants, by an overreaching government, by adversaries overseas.

The “forgotten men and women of our country” didn’t stop feeling forgotten when their self-proclaimed avatar walked into the White House. There was too much dissent, too much doubt cast on his (and, by extension, their) legitimacy and ability to lead. Now, they’ll only be assuaged by the destruction of everything and everyone that stands in their way, through the mass arrest of those who they say connived against them and the installation of a state filled only with loyalists.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 18-25, 2018

hating freedom

contempt for America

rhetorical claim: Today, America heroically takes on socialism’s pernicious bigotry and hate-mongering against freedom in the Democratic Party and the MSM in a head-to-head battle in front of all humankind, trying to put a nail in the coffin of the Left’s return to rule by oligarchs.  The left champions corrupt elites like Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, and their super-rich donors, who the left agrees should be above the law, the IRS, FBI, NSA, CIA – with these institutions even helping to break the law and hide the proof.  The left’s contempt for America is total – suggesting that leftists see nothing redeeming in who we are.  The left’s fifty-year slander of American history excludes the accomplishments of white males, the result of a unique degree of freedom blended with the Founders’ exceptional knowledge of history that created a trickle-down effect in moral influence that no one can match.

rhetorical effect: so many hatreds and grievances, so little time. As the litany of pet memes–socialism, hating freedom, corrupt elites, contempt for white males–gathers steam, this super whining becomes a defense of white males, and their “trickle-down moral influence.” Justifies treating white males as a superior lifeform.

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safe speech zones

mental surrender

rhetorical claim: Universities had for centuries been halls of challenge and discovery, for the teachers as much as for the students.  Today, they are incubators of intellectual insulation.  A young person does not emerge from college with a broadened mind.  Those modern professors and instructors, who deferred their own minds to “liberation” in previous decades, indoctrinate new generations toward renouncing the necessities of thought for the capriciousness of “feelings” and emotion.  Colleges – and mostly taxpayer-funded at that – often provide “safe spaces” as emergency harbors from the perils of reason.  The ideologies of guest speakers have become largely homogenized, and those speakers who defy approved dogma are hounded off campus by rioting “protesters,” if the administration allows them on campus to begin with.  Holding to beliefs counter to the prevailing mentality is branded a threat to the world.  It does threaten a world: one of unsustainable denial and delusion.

Critical and rational thought is being vanquished.  In its place is a Randian horror of mental surrender.  Orwell described Eastasia’s dominant philosophy as “death worship,” better translated as “obliteration of the self.”  I can conceive of no more fitting phrase.  The academic world and the realms of entertainment and media have nurtured and encouraged too many to offer their minds as sacrifice to convenience and their souls to mass approval.  Most have happily complied if they have been cognizant of having a choice at all.

rhetorical effect: dismisses any dissent as delusional, irrational, and an attempt to obliterate reality. Assumes that Trumpians know the world, and their critics are lost in a world of denial and madness. Could eventually lead to the criminalization of dissenting speech.

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LGBTQ totalitarianism

rhetorical claim: The infusion of LGBTQ sexuality will inevitably upend tried and true traditions and moral standards.  Their disordered sexual mores, with their parades and orgies, are true totalitarians, intent on no less than eliminating any  moral opposition to them.

rhetorical effect: turns a persecuted minority into victimizers and fascists; transforms any call for free speech into a “totalitarian” act of political suppression; defends the privilege of heterosexual culture as the universal “tried and true” moral standard.

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post-modern neo-Marxism

rhetorical claim: college campuses have been taken over by dogmatic, anti-democratic post-modern neo-Marxists, who have been indoctrinating students for at least twenty years with their internationalist, anti-capital, blame-America first propaganda.

rhetorical effect: makes polemical or theory-bound critical approaches equivalent to “mind control,” even if the aim of such approaches is disciplined inquiry and argument-making, not “brainwashing.” Throw in the tired smears of “Marxist” or “Socialist,” add a little Saul Alinsky reference, and you’ve turned dissent into subversion, and made critical inquiry an enemy of the state. Part of the right wing’s hermeneutics of suspicion, its intense paranoia about any progressive ideas.

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Russianism

rhetorical claim: according to Victor Davis Hanson:

Russianism is a psychological malady in which furor at Donald Trump’s election victory and presidency — and the ensuing depression resulting from the inability to abort it — finds release through fixation on Russia…The Mueller/collusion façade, like the Russia-is-Satan construct, also serves progressives as a means of psychological projection. Damning Moscow 24/7 makes up for prior appeasement of Putin 24/7, the same way that the “collusion” fantasy diverts attention from the reality that Obama-administration officials sought to warp a U.S. election by abusing FISA courts, weaponizing the intelligence agencies, colluding with the Clinton campaign in peddling bought opposition research, working with unethical toady journalists, and planting informants in a presidential campaign.

And the font of this malaise? Progressives need a scapegoat to blame for their disastrous election loss in 2016 and their lack of a persuasive agenda, which, hand-in-glove, turned over the Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court to progressives’ worst nightmare.

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rhetorical assassination

rhetorical claim: Progressives have been steadily trying to rhetorically assassinate Trump since he took office, calling him variously unhinged, involved in criminal conspiracies with the Russians, and even traitorous. Kathy Griffin and others have actually talked about beheading him. None of these charges have stuck, and it’s increasingly clear that the only criminality engaged in was committed by the Dems, the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department. Almost every aspect of American culture has been weaponized to delegitimize Trump, but his base isn’t fooled by this Dem desperation.

rhetorical effect: delegitimizes the delegitimization of Trump, inoculating him against any indictments or impeachment. Induces a widespread paranoid panic about sinister forces “out to get the President,” when in actuality Trump is his own worst enemy. The Trump administration is a Manichean hall of mirrors in which every distortion, smear, and lie is reflected back as a necessary response to supposed liberal assault. Thus they justify their lies as part of a broader campaign against Democrats’ dishonesty and knee-jerk hatred of all things Trump.

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the Democrat-media complex

rhetorical claim: The left has been (correctly) called unhinged, serial liars, power-mad, angry, out of control, spite-filled, envious, spoiled, while constantly engaging in toddler-like tantrums, and in full, complete psychotic meltdown..  The left has been exposed (correctly) as brimming with hatred for opponents, being filled with inane, oft-times insane beliefs.  These are the libertine #MeTooers who all knew that their heroes were sexual predators, are fully gender confused, and are unsurpassed hypocrites.

The left apparently now supports socialism, despises free enterprise, can’t abide religious expression (hate god), can’t handle other opinions or debate, believes so many things that simply aren’t so, is trying to squelch the First Amendment as much as it can in institutions it rules,  has embraced the invasion of America by illegal aliens and the replacement of the American voting population by said illegals, and supports the demonization of white males. It’s mass delusion, confusion, lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.

rhetorical effect: treats dissent as a mental illness.

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the Protestant work ethic

rhetorical claim: So-called “progressives” seem to have forgotten that the Protestant work ethic made America. They systematically seek to undo both the Protestant foundation of America by denying religious liberty or the work ethic part by pushing for a universal Obamaesque welfare state.

rhetorical effect: part of Trump’s pluto-populist campaign: “the people’s billionaire” who supposedly embodies hard work and the Horatio Alger myth of the self-made man is actually a  trust-funder who has done nothing but lie and cut corners in his very checkered business career. The GOP’s greed and grievance approach has only reinforced Trump’s phony populism as the middle and lower classes continue to get screwed and the top 1% get all the tax cuts and yet feel Trump has answered all of their grievances.

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making baseless charges

rhetorical claim: the security clearances for several Trump haters should be revoked, According to the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they’ve politicized and, in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate. And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.

rhetorical effect: the pot calling the kettle black–reversing the field, in classic Trump rhetorical manner. As deconstructed by Paul Waldman:

Naturally, Sanders provides no details or specifics. But stand back and marvel for a moment that Trump’s White House is taking the position that “making … baseless charges” is absolutely intolerable and must be punished. Trump, the most profligate liar in the history of the American presidency. And the Trump administration now believes that you’re not supposed to monetize your public service? Good to know.

As to what it means to monetize your security clearance and government service, it’s what thousands of officials from Democratic and Republican administrations, not to mention Congress, do all the time. They serve on corporate boards, they make paid speeches, they become lobbyists, they go into “consulting,” they work for defense contractors or other corporations. Even those who go to think tanks or nonprofit advocacy groups are using what they learned in government to earn a salary. There’s plenty to criticize about the revolving door, but the idea that it’s something that only a few former officials who served under Barack Obama (as well as Republican presidents) have done is so plainly ludicrous that it’s almost surprising that even Sanders could say it with a straight face. Almost.

In the ever-growing list of moronic Trump administration ideas, stripping security clearances from former officials who have had the temerity to criticize the president won’t count among the most consequential. But it will be one of the most Trumpian.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 13-17, 2018

we’re not going to put up with it any more

rhetorical claim: Trump is reported to have warned the allies that if they did not meet the 2 percent standard by January the United States would “go it alone.” To Stoltenberg he publicly warned that the United States was “not going to put up with it.” In his tweets, he asked, “What good is NATO” if Germany was paying Russia for gas? Why should the United States pay billions to “subsidize Europe” while it was losing “Big on Trade”? In his rallies, Trump describes America’s closest allies as “our worst enemies” and says they “kill us” on both security and trade. “We’re the schmucks,” he bemoans about America in its dealings with NATO and the European Union.

rhetorical effect: Making bullying great again. Designed to discredit the alliance in the eyes of Trump’s  faithful throng back home, these demands signal that Trump wants to destroy NATO, not shore it up. Trump is training his base to hate NATO and love Putin.  Disrupting NATO is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. As Robert Kagan argues

But even Trump must know the likely response in Europe. The insults and humiliations he inflicted on allied leaders will not be forgotten or forgiven. They will make it impossible for European leaders to win public support for the spending Trump disingenuously claims to want. What German leader after such a tongue-lashing could do Trump’s bidding and hope to survive politically?

Any student of history knows that it is moments like this summit that set in motion chains of events that are difficult to stop. The democratic alliance that has been the bedrock of the American-led liberal world order is unraveling. At some point, and probably sooner than we expect, the global peace that that alliance and that order undergirded will unravel, too. Despite our human desire to hope for the best, things will not be okay. The world crisis is upon us.

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one of the great acts of American generosity and charity

rhetorical claim: HHS Secretary Alex Azar described the administration’s treatment of immigrant children as “one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”

rhetorical effect: taking credit for addressing a crisis they created in the first place; justifies kidnapping; turns the kidnapped children into a political hostage shield for administration propaganda purposes; densensitizes us to inhumane and cruel  public policy, etc. As Eugene Robinson put it, “tell me how adopting child abuse as a policy is supposed to Make America Great Again….Kidnapping children. Failing even to account for them. Sending families home to be killed. Give us your huddled masses, this administration seems to say, and let us kick them in their little faces.”

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pulling a stunt

rhetorical claim: at Thursday’s House hearing about the investigation into Clinton e-mails, the Dems pulled a stunt by bring up the forced separation of childen from their families.

rhetorical effect: labeling dissent a “stunt” reduces free speech to being considered a subversive act at best, and a hypocritical ploy to score political points at worst.

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the art of the deal

rhetorical claim: Trump’s negotiating strategy is clear: be tough with your demands, don’t get taken advantage of, be prepared to walk away if things aren’t going your way, and, above all, project power and unwavering commitment. You can’t reach agreement on a deal on your terms by playing nice.

rhetorical effect: Best explained by Paul Krugman:

It’s all of a piece. Whatever claims Trump makes about other countries’ misbehavior, whatever demands he makes on a particular day, they’re all in evident bad faith. Mr. Art of the Deal doesn’t want any deals. He just wants to tear things down.

The institutions Trump is trying to destroy were all created under U.S. leadership in the aftermath of World War II. Those were years of epic statesmanship — the years of the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, in which America showed its true greatness. For having won the war, we chose not to behave like a conqueror, but instead to build the foundations of lasting peace.

When every policy, ethic, tradition, and accommodation–is considered nothing but a “deal”, the world is reduced to being a transactional, zero-sum Hobbesian universe of all against all.

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the war on poverty worked

rhetorical claim: The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty “largely over and a success,” arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty.

“Over the past 54 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty, federal spending on welfare programs targeting low-income households has grown dramatically, contributing to a substantial reduction in material hardship,” the White House Council of Economic Advisers wrote, saying that poverty had fallen by 90 percent since the programs began.

“None of these statistics is intended to deny the ways in which millions of Americans sometimes struggle to make ends meet,” the economic advisers wrote, but “the vast majority of Americans are able to meet their basic human needs.”

rhetorical effect: an excuse to justify massive cuts in the social safety net and onerous new work rules as a condition for any federal aid, even health care and food; makes inequality a policy aim of the administration; claims success for a government policy that just weeks earlier had been called a total failure; turns the satisfying of “basic human needs” into a ceiling rather than a floor, sort of like counting ketchup as a vegetable. Undercounts the poor and underestimates the difficulty of climbing out of poverty, even in a robust economy. Most people who can work are already working or are looking for employment–the problem is that the jobs available to that group do not pay a living wage.

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cultural-Marxist panic

rhetorical claim: The modern American Left has no faith in the Constitution (in fact, it loathes it), and on its long march through the institutions it has sought to diminish our founding document via emanations and penumbras of phantom “rights” whose existence, like that of Planet X, can only be inferred but not proven. What the panicking Democrats see as a hijacking of their country is, in fact, a restoration of basic American principles that have been nearly Alinskyed to death via the practical application of critical theory—a cultural-Marxist battering-ram that has been used to lethal effect against such institutions as the family, religion, and patriotism.

rhetorical effect: the entirely misleading smear of calling liberal policies Marxist or socialist or Alinsky-like is thus revealed to rely on the notion that the Constitution only pertains to the family, to religion, and to patriotism, and that all other rights–women’s rights, civil rights, environmental rights, human rights–are bogus. The GOP, for all its talk of individual rights, sure seems to only believe in the rights of the collective–the family, the nation, religion, etc.

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liberal racism

rhetorical claim: Racism used to mean harming or disparaging people based on race.  The new standard is that white people are not allowed to disagree with or dislike any person of minority background, no matter how egregious or abhorrent his or her behavior.  The only exception is that liberals are allowed to attack black conservatives mercilessly because, well, they’re not really black. It’s also perfectly acceptable to disparage, condemn, and vilify all white people. The left has created a cult that rewards hatred, hypocrisy, delusion, and destruction of those outside the cult.  We are witnessing dangerous and psychotic mass hysteria.  Those of us who still live in the real world must be vigilant.

rhetorical effect: Everything becomes its opposite. Anyone defending racial equality or protesting police brutality or white privilege is called a hysterical, hypocritical, deluded racist. Believers in racial equality are called a cult. The left is psychotic. Thus anti-Trumpism is insane, and anyone calling Trump supporters racist is themselves a racist.

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ending the sexual revolution

rhetorical claim: Roe vs. Wade rests upon the foundations of the sexual revolution of the sixties that shattered and still shatters the lives of countless Americans. The overturning of the decision must also be the beginning of a restoration of marriage, the family, and faith if it is to be truly effective. It must signal the return to a moral law with a respect for God and His law. This represents a great challenge to those defending the unborn since the culture is decadent. The struggle ahead will still be great, but the rewards will also be substantial.

rhetorical effect: reinforces one of the Right’s main projects: to veto everything the Sixties accomplished: women’s right to control their own bodies, civil liberties, sexual freedom, gay rights, birth control, etc. (The other major project is to repeal the New Deal. Call it the Great GOP Time Machine.)

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the transatlantic ruling class

rhetorical claim: today the transatlantic ruling class has its own civilizational agenda, manifested by its subsidies for constituencies both business and cultural, ranging from “renewable energy resources,” to education, the arts, and lifestyle. Far from allied to safeguard and promote Western civilization, this ruling class treats its cornerstone, Christianity, as unmentionable at best and usually as the main feature to be extirpated from people’s lives. This class also regards self-rule, the capacity of people in towns, regions, or nations to decide by vote how they shall live, as among the evils to be done away with. It treats as enemy anything—thoughts, practices, institutions—that limit its own its own power and prestige. For their power and prestige, after all, are what it is allied to protect.

Since ordinary people in each and all of NATO’s countries pose the clearest and most present danger to that power and prestige, whenever any country’s people have challenged the  power or prestige of their local member of the club, the other countries’ ruling classes have treated it as an attack on themselves. Under this updated version of the famous Article 5, the allied transatlantic rulers have warned, on pain of horrid consequences, the people of Britain to stay in the EU, the peoples of France to elect anybody but Le Pen, the peoples of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and most recently of Italy, not to vote as they did.

Nothing has equaled their fury against Donald Trump. This, of course, has little to do with Trump himself. Rather, it is the transatlantic allies’ reaction to their inability to bend the American people to their ways. The American people’s adherence to Western civilization, our inflexible desire to rule ourselves, is the negation of everything for which this class stands. And because America is what it is, the election of an anti-ruling class candidate has inspired European peoples to do likewise.

rhetorical claim: revives the old meme of Trump, the people’s billionaire, even as he consistently acts in the best interests of the 1% and harms the interests of the working class; stokes resentment against banks, corporations, the media, environmentalist–the list goes on. Manichean jihads like this keep America divided, Trump’s base festering with molten resentment and fury, and conspiracy theory dominating public policy debate.

 

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

hysterical commentary

rhetorical claim: as Donald Trump put it, the Supreme Court’s upholding of his travel ban is, “a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”

rhetorical effect: one lie and one distortion. The lie of course is that the Dems don’t care enough about America’s security to do anything to protect it.  The distortion is that any anti-Trump commentary is automatically “hysterical,”i.e. unhinged, desperate, frantic, hyperbolic and easily dismissed. Trump’s greed and grievance strategy keeps the inequality gap growing ever wider, and keeps his base at a perpetual boil. Talk about hysteria!

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progressive discrimination

rhetorical claim: we have replaced racial discrimination with progressive discrimination (aka, political correctness). The core of progressive training is demonizing normal Americans as deplorables. Once you tar opponents as evil racist-sexist-homophobes, you are justified in any mode of attack, from blacklisting to physical violence.

rhetorical effect: turns the victimizers into the victims. imperils free speech, equal rights, and concepts of justice.

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job-creating tariffs

rhetorical claim: Harley-Davidson’s threat to move production to Europe proves tariffs work. By raising the cost of importing American motorcycles, EU tariffs created a powerful incentive for Harley-Davidson to invest in Europe. They responded to this incentive. Now Europe will have its own slice of Harley’s pie—and benefit from the capital investment, jobs, and technical know-how that Harley will bring with them. Imagine that. But in the long run US tariffs will create more jobs than they will destroy, and limp-wristed Dems won’t be buying Harleys anyway.

rhetorical effect: counter-intuitively turns the tables, trying to make a virtue out of job loss. According to this theory, the more jobs that are lost, I guess, the more Trump’s plan is working. It’s kind of like that old joke “what we lose on each sale we make up in volume.”

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restoring public trust in the FBI

rhetorical claim: the FBI and Justice Department need to find a way to restore the public’s trust of them. Their partisanship, lies, evasions, and cover-ups have badly damaged them, and  they need a thorough housecleaning and mass firings before the public can trust them again. The entire Mueller probe must also be shut down since it is a poisoned tree. The Russian interference theme also gives coherence and motive to the story the Dems wish to ignore. This story concerns a consistent pattern of meddling in the race by our own intelligence agencies, using Russian intelligence as an excuse.

rhetorical effect: assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that the Justice Dept. and FBI engaged in behavior that merits the loss of public trust in them. So far, the evidence of their malfeasance or anti-Trump conspiracy is sparse to non-existent, as the IG’s report concludes. Merely repeating something over and over again (Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!)–does not make it true.

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the dominance hierarchy

rhetorical claim: there is a natural dominance hierarchy that places men above women, and women like it that way. Order–not freedom–is a fundamental human need, one now foolishly neglected. The order today’s deconstructed society so desperately lacks can be reintroduced, even now, through a renewed engagement with the Bible and inherited religious tradition.

rhetorical effect: promotes a view of society as static and unchanging; mocks the very ideas of inequality or distributive justice; enshrines racism and sexism as the cornerstone of human nature, and prizes “might” above “right.”

the liberal order

rhetorical claim: the old liberal order–globalization, unfair trade agreements, phony environmental agreements, NATO countries sponging off US military power,etc– is dead. America is great again, and no longer the patsy and bankroller of carping, freeloading global elites.

rhetorical effect: best argued by Martin Wolf:

In the words of the King James Bible, “there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph”. That ignorant king is Mr Trump, who knows not those Americans who created the postwar order. He believes in transactions over alliances, bilateralism over multilateralism, unpredictability over consistency, power over rules and interests over ideals. He prefers authoritarians such as China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the leaders of his democratic allies. In his view, might makes right. Striking features of Mr Trump’s behaviour are his fabrications, self-pity and bullying: others, including historic allies, are “laughing at us” over climate or “cheating” us over trade. The EU, he argues, “was put there to take advantage of the United States, OK? . . . Not any more . . . Those days are over.” These are absurd claims.

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trade as national security

rhetorical claim: the US has weakened its national security through unfair trade deals that created huge trade deficits and let other nations walk all over us.

rhetorical effect: conflating trade with national security can only lead to endless crises, mounting trade wars, hostility, prolonged retaliation, and, ultimately, conflict and economic disaster. Confusing commerce with national security almost surely means that there will be no way to resolve economic conflicts except militarily, and military conflicts except economically–the opposite of a charmed circle–a lose-lose, winner-take-all world.

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mongrelization

control of our borders

rhetorical claim: Merely arguing that the United States enforce existing immigration laws is to be called a Nazi, heckled in public, and picketed at one’s home. But the pro-illegal immigrant, anti-native-born Left can vent their spleens and prosper. The open-borders crowd is losing the war, and the mongrelization of America is no longer a done deal.  America is not the common property of all mankind. It belongs to the Americans, and we alone get to determine who may—and who may not—become one of us. Immigration is not a human right. America must take back control of its borders. The open borders ploy is only part of the liberals’ assault on our history, customs, and traditions. Liberals and their illegal immigrant army of potential new voters  are the vandals who cannot abide something they had little or no hand in creating, and just want to see the world burn.

rhetorical effect: justifies racism and xenophobia; separates children from their families; creates permanent resentment toward and suspicion of all immigrants; furthers the national polarization; makes compromise on immigration policy impossible; perpetuates the myth that we are being overrun by illegal immigrants.

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freedom of religious discrimination

separation of church and state

rhetorical claim: in hiring, serving the public and health care, for example, people should be free to make choices based on their religious beliefs. The government should not be involved in these choices except to make sure to find ways to promote them. Separation of church and state is just a matter of political correctness.

rhetorical effect: As explained by Susan Jacoby,

The very meaning of the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”— traditionally understood as referring to the right of Americans to practice whatever faith they wish or no faith at all — is being altered to mean that government should foster a closer relationship with those who want to mix their Christian faith with taxpayer dollars. This usage can be found in numerous executive orders and speeches by Mr. Trump and his cabinet members. Changes in language have consequences, as the religious right’s successful substitution of “pro-life” for “anti-abortion” has long demon

Trump uses religious freedom to justify everything from environmental regulation to separating infants from their parents to tax cuts. Separation of church and state now means protecting the church from the government, not the other way around.

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letting Trump be Trump

rhetorical claim: Trump’s tweets are the purest expression of his leadership and instincts, and the more we let Trump be Trump, the better.

rhetorical effect: As Michiko Kakutani writes in her new book, “The Death of Truth”:

Trump, of course, is a troll — both by temperament and by habit. His tweets and offhand taunts are the very essence of trolling — the lies, the scorn, the invective, the trash talk, and the rabid non sequiturs of an angry, aggrieved, isolated, and deeply self-absorbed adolescent who lives in a self-constructed bubble and gets the attention he craves from bashing his enemies and trailing clouds of outrage and dismay in his path.

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sexual libertinism

rhetorical claim: the effects of the sexual revolution have led the West to the brink of social and economic ruin. Think of the inverse of “The Handmaid’s Tale”: no patriarchal dystopia but instead a bloated welfare state run into the ground by shrieking feminists and perpetually aggrieved outrage merchants justifying their own power by worsening the very problems they claim to be solving. Ongoing efforts by radical feminists and homosexual activists to demonize and dismantle the two-parent heterosexual family show how these movements are deeply intertwined with a dangerous growth in state power and bureaucratic intrusion. As Stephen Baskerville argues :

Feminists and more recently homosexual political activists have now positioned themselves at the vanguard of left-wing politics, shifting the political discourse from the economic and racial to the social and increasingly the sexual…These groups are pursuing a social and sexual confrontation with the private family, marriage, masculinity, and religion.

rhetorical effect: promotes gender inequality, traditional models of stay-at-home moms, homophobia and misogyny. Portrays sexual freedom as sexual slavery. Leads directly to the most extreme of culture wars, blaming progressives for the decline and fall of Western Civ.

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Constitutional relativism

rhetorical claim: as argued by David Harsanyi:

an increasing number of Democrats believe the Constitution must bend to the will of their policy preferences rather than preserve legal continuity, limited government, individual liberty, or enlightenment ideals.

Sure, some of the anger aimed Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is partisan bluster meant to placate the activist base. Still, most Democrats were going to get hysterical about any pick, because any conservative pick was going to take the Constitution far too literally for their liking. For those who rely on the administrative state and coercion as a policy tool — forcing people to join political organizations, forcing them to support abortion, forcing them to subsidize socially progressive sacraments, forcing them to create products that undermine their faith, and so on — that’s a big problem.

Some, like former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, indulged in the histrionic rhetoric we’ve come to expect in the Trump era, claiming that Kavanaugh would “threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.” But almost none of the objections coming from leading Democrats were, even ostensibly, about Kavanaugh’s qualifications as a jurist or, for that matter, with his interpretation of the Constitution.

“Specifically,” prospective presidential candidate Kamala Harris argues, “as a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy, his nomination presents an existential threat to the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.” Surely the former attorney general of California comprehends that “health care” is not a constitutional right, but rather a policy concern whose contours are still being debated by lawmakers, and probably will be for decades.

What Harris probably means is that Kavanaugh is an existential threat to the practice of forcing Americans to buy products in the private marketplace against their will. Kavanaugh, incidentally, upheld Obamacare as an appellate judge for jurisdictional reasons even though it displeased him on policy grounds (he wrote that the law was without “principled limit”). He did this because he has far more reverence for the law than Harris does.

rhetorical effect: rhetorically argues that the Constitution is not a rhetorical document: that is, not a document open to interpretation, persuasion, or modification. Treats the Constitution like the stone tablets Moses found on Mt. Zion–forever fixed and foundational. Privileges the right’s interpretation of the Constitution as the only true law, thus making all opponents’ arguments heretical by definition. No need to even have courts any more–just a quasi-religious central authority that dictates all laws in strict accordance to a document that doesn’t really exist except in their own dogmatic minds.

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the alleged affronted

the social justice paradigm

rhetorical claim: Those who engage in the white privilege argument merely perpetuate racism under the spurious umbrella of compassion.  They are not to be trusted, believed, or promoted. Under the social justice rubric, being born white makes one evil, plain and simple. Everything is seen through the prism of race, since they very presence of whiteness is an affront to people of color.

If white people ask people of color to teach them how to say things correctly to avoid racism, this actually results in a burden on people of color to constantly educate.  Thus, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

In fact, calling on someone to check his so-called privilege is an ad hominem attack.  In particular, this logical fallacy is guilt by association.  Being a part of the Caucasian race automatically makes a person guilty.

rhetorical effect: justifies racism, sexist, homophobia, environmental destruction, the end of affordable, comprehensive health care, etc. Turns everything into its opposite, so that claims of racism are themselves racist, feminists hate women, etc.

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leftist selectivity

rhetorical claim: The left of today are the founders of a new religion called selectivity. Every aspect of the left’s current extreme ideology involves being selective. Selective outrage, selective morality, selective media reporting, selective justice and selective “facts,” all have become the “go to” weapons of the radical left. All of the above are becoming vital characteristics one must exemplify if one is going to become a practicing member of this new leftist religious cult.

Every member of this leftist religious sect must take a solemn vow to always be selective when it comes to reporting on any kind of news, evidence or facts. All must be willing to advance the left’s radical agenda through any means necessary. Each member must learn to subscribe to double standards. Many of these cult members must learn to feign selective outrage on cue and even manufacture a crisis when necessary to aide their cause. The members must choose to exist within a life of illusion/delusion where perception and confirmation bias trump facts and evidence, and reality itself.

Sadly, the truth no longer matters to the modern day left. Their whole existence has basically boiled down to advancing a radical Marxist agenda, no matter what kind of damage it ultimately causes. Even if it means tearing down the country, dividing the citizenry and destroying Western Civilization. To the left, their nefarious ends will always justify their illogical means.

rhetorical effect: relativizes the truth in a way that undercuts all criticism of the Trump administration as partial and distorted. Makes political dissent, free speech, even contrary legal findings suspect and easily dispensed with. In other words, as in the above arguments about Constitutional originalism, fetishizes their own selective “truths” as inclusive and total.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, June 21-26, 2018

child actors

fake news

rhetorical claim: To profess horror at the events taking place at the border, is to capitulate to those who care far more about foreigners than about their own people. It is to have lost the battle, and with it, the war. This is a matter of us and them, so don’t be fooled by child actors and fake news creating fake emotions to undermine a child-led human wave of illegal and vicious migrants. Progressives would make the entire population of Latin America into public charges for Americans, and ask Americans to nod and smile while it happens.

Should Congress and the president be manipulated by the social media outrage and the radical view that enforcement of the law is a totalitarian attack on democracy, they will be diminishing the essence of what it means to be a sovereign nation in a very fundamental way.

Without borders, there are no nations. Without a nation, there is no democracy, no civil society, and no liberal order.

These questions go to the heart of what it means to be a constitutional republic. How they are handled will determine, to a great extent, what kind of country America will be. Thus far, the national conversation largely has been driven by emotive images and grossly inappropriate Holocaust metaphors. This is not policy making, it is mob mentality. Our discourse, and our decision making, and the founding wisdom of our country deserve better.

rhetorical effect: talk about a slippery slope: if you don’t put families or separated kids in cages, you might as well kiss democracy goodbye. This reductio ad absurdum numbs us to the facts or even to the idea of the possibility of something–a word, an image, a video, a sound recording–being “real”; permits lies and distortions at all levels of government at all times; uses dehumanizing language to justify cruelty; gives people permission not to care, as argued by Megan Garber in The Atlantic:

The press conference conducted by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday was, overall, dedicated to the proposition that the reporting coming out of the holding facilities along the American border—the audio, the video, the images of tiny bodies held in massive cages, as a portrait of the American leader looks on—is wrong. (“Don’t believe the press,” Nielsen said, echoing one of the core intellectual and emotional propositions of Trumpism.) The president himself has embraced the corollary idea to Coulter’s claim that the screaming families are actors: that the compassion for them is misplaced. The real tragedy here, he has suggested, is the one perpetrated by Congress/the Democrats/the fake news/an infestation—again, an infestation—of people who are not American and therefore do not deserve the same level of sympathy that Americans might. Crisis actors of a different sort. 
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, similarly dismissed the moral questions at the heart of the family separations by suggesting that there is a more sweeping moral code than the fickle workings of your own heart. (“It is very Biblical to enforce the law.”) The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, suggested the same. Humans, ever fallible, must practice humility, this logic goes; part of that practice must involve the recognition that even empathy must answer to a higher power. The higher power that insists, despite so much evidence to the contrary, “I alone can fix it.” And so: You are looking at the wrong thing, insist the current stewards of the national soul. You are caring about the wrong thing. Sleight of hand meets sleight of heart.

Or, as Hannah Arendt put it when writing about totalitarianism, “After a while, people come to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true,”

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the elite

rhetorical claim: “You ever notice they always call the other side ‘the elite’?” Trump asked. “The elite! Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.”

rhetorical effect: such naked envy and resentment feeds like a poison into the bloodstream of Trump’s base, which is tormented (as Nixon was by the Kennedys) by the sense that they are always being sneered at. Of course, Trump–the billionaire– is the one doing the sneering at them instead. He will start calling them the true elite, the real Americans, the yeoman farmers etc.,  invoking a false nostalgia for an America that never existed.

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my people

rhetorical claim: Trump claims that his supporters (“my people”) are the real Americans, whereas liberals and progressives hate America, want open borders so gang members can flood into the country, and are actually opposed to the pursuit of happiness.

rhetorical effect: confirms that Trump’s base is not all Americans, as it should be for a President; implies that Trump loyalists are the only true “people”; creates a vigilante atmosphere; uses unfounded fear and bias to create a false sense of crisis; creates a sense of tribalism, as argued by David Brooks:

The problem is that Trump doesn’t base his belonging on the bonds of affection conservatives hold dear. He doesn’t respect and obey those institutions, traditions and values that form morally decent individuals.

His tribalism is the evil twin of community. It is based on hatred, us/them thinking, conspiracy-mongering and distrust. It creates belonging, but on vicious grounds.

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cheating

rhetorical claim: In his remarks Tuesday before the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Trump suggested that many immigrants were “cheating” because they were following instructions from their attorneys.

“They have professional lawyers,” the president said. “Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people. And they tell these people exactly what to say. They say, ‘Say the following’ — they write it down — ‘I am being harmed in my country. My country is extremely dangerous. I fear for my life.’ ”

rhetorical effect: following (and presumably also giving) legal advice is now akin to “cheating.” Soon anything or anyone opposed to Trump will either be a liar, a cheat, or a gang member.

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what we’re up against

rhetorical claim: non-stop media pummeling of Donald Trump should just remind us what we’re up against: a federal gvt deep state, the media, Hollywood, the scientific community, the universities and the sneering coastal elites and “cosmopolitan” globalists.

rhetorical effect: total culture war all the time; no possibility of retreat, compromise or reasoned debate; rejection of all inconvenient truth as “fake news”; raving paranoia, Biblical age and despair.

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Dominionism

anti-human environmentalism

rhetorical claim: humans have a God-given right, or even duty, to use natural resources without restriction, to eliminate government regulation, and also to subdue those who are enemies of this divine hierarchy. So-called “environmentalists” are anti-human, and anti-God.

rhetorical effect: Calling environmentalists anti-human and anti-God is probably akin to calling migrants vermin infestations. Neither characterization bodes well for the future of reasoned, evidence-based debate.

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civility

rhetorical claim: liberals are being uncivil and degrading the nation.when they shout people like Sarah Huckaby Sanders out of restaurants. They should expect similar treatment from Trump supporters.

rhetorical effect: as argued by Michelle Goldberg:

Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. It’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy. Though it’s tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens.Sometimes, their strategies may be poorly conceived. But there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill.

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deductive (or reductive) higher education

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor David Hanson, higher education:

aims to be deductive. We start with this premise that men are sexist, or capitalism destroys the environment, or America’s racist. Then you find the examples to fit that preconceived idea.

And the result of it is that we’ve turned out students that are highly partisan and highly mobilized, and even sort of arrogant, but they’re also ignorant … that came at a cost. They did not learn to write well. If you ask them who’s General Sherman, or what’s a Corinthian column, or who was Dante, all of the building blocks that they could refer to later in life to enrich their experience, they have no reference. And then they don’t know how to think inductively. So if you point out the contradictions in free speech the way they shout down some speakers and not others, or the way that they hate capitalism, but they love Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, they’re not able … they haven’t been trained philosophically to account for that, because they’re indoctrinated. And it’s quite sad to see the combination of ignorance and arrogance in young people, but that’s what we’ve turned out. A lot of people who are indebted and they’re arrogant, and they’re ignorant and they’re not up to the task of moving the United States forward as a leading country in the world.

rhetorical effect: because higher ed is judged to be nothing but an indoctrination into political correctness and Trump hatred, justifies turning higher ed into vocational school, as in the proposed merger of the Departments of Labor and Education. Uses the very existence of free speech to stifle free speech and evidence-based inquiry.

 

 

 

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, June 12-20, 2018

America First–European edition

rhetorical claim: ideas basic to the European project that Mr. Trump categorically rejects include believing 1) that the future will be one of interdependent, postnationalist states engaged in win-win trade; 2) that military power will become less relevant as progress marches on., and, 3) that international law and international institutions can, should or will dominate international life. Individual nation-states will remain, in Mr. Trump’s view, the dominant geopolitical force.

Mr. Trump therefore thinks the EU’s political establishment is just as blind and misguided as they believe he is. He thinks Europe is making itself steadily weaker and less relevant in international life, and that Vladimir Putin’s view of the world is almost infinitely more clear-eyed and rational than Angela Merkel’s.

rhetorical effect: The distillation of the idea that foreign policy is driven only by self-interest. This argument about ideals vs. realism goes back at least to Thucydides, with the realists almost always coming out the worst.  A perfect storm is brewing in the Atlantic. In personality and in style, Mr. Trump represents almost everything Europeans dislike most about American life. He is even more abrasive when it comes to matters of substance. The Trumpian mix of zero-sum trade policy, hard-nosed foreign-policy realism, and skepticism about Europe’s future leads him to think of Europe as both a weak partner and an unreliable one. Small wonder, then, that virtually every encounter between Mr. Trump and his European counterparts leaves the relationship under greater strain.

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affirmative action bias

rhetorical claim: In the upside-down thinking of affirmative-action advocates, academically rigorous schools should be more focused on achieving racial balance and less focused on maintaining high standards. Asian displays of academic excellence therefore become problematic. Asians are somehow to blame for outperforming others, and they are to be punished for the historical injustices that blacks suffered at the hands of whites. This is what happens when you try to reconcile what is irreconcilable: group preferences on the one hand and equal treatment of individuals on the other.

rhetorical effect: justifies racially segregated schools, the privatization of public education, and the destruction of teachers’ unions.

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foreign policy “experts”

rhetorical claim: thank God Trump isn’t a foreign policy “expert.”. Our increasingly miseducated rulers sought abstract impossibilities, the quest for “everlasting peace” over the last century has increasingly given us “never-ending war.” As Matthew Peteron argues:

Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to give away as much to North Korea as the American foreign-policy establishment, with all its experience, top-shelf degrees, and stratospheric test scores, has given away in the past 30 years?

Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to keep the hostile stalemate the American foreign-policy establishment created and fostered with North Korea since America first waged the Korean War?

For that matter, does Trump even have the experience and caste of mind to start a war, say, in the Middle East, that costs trillions of dollars and disrupts and inflames the region as President Bush and his entourage did? Does he even know how?

Does Trump have the expertise to take over the wreckage of such a war and support jihadist rebels, help create ISIS and a global refugee crisis, and give Russia the most power it’s had in the region since the peak of the Cold War, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did?

The truth may alarm you. Trump has never even started a war before—not even a little one.

Trump understands the other guy better, and read and dealt with him personally and politically, without the baggage of the silly and contradictory views of human nature absorbed by our elites at fancy schools and exposed in their hollow rhetoric.

rhetorical effect: belittles education and experience in foreign policy; makes Trump out to be an agent of peace whereas he is antagonizing almost every other country; lumps together apples, oranges and bananas (North Korea, ISIS, Russia)  in a crazy rhetorical salad

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a special place in hell

betrayal

rhetorical claim: Justin Trudeau’s betrayal of America on trade has earned him a special place in hell.

rhetorical effect: reinforces Trump’s “you’re either for me or against me”, winner-take- all siege mentality. Crisis is his brand, and he’s always under fire from “enemies” eager to “betray” him, any opposition no branded as a “betrayal” in this total war mentality. As Thomas Friedman argues, this idea that Canada is now an enemy

tells you all you need to know about how differently Trump looks at the world from any of his predecessors — Republican or Democrat. Everything is a transaction: What have you done for ME today? The notion of America as the upholder of last resort of global rules and human rights — which occasionally forgoes small economic advantages to strengthen democratic societies so we can enjoy the much larger benefits of a world of healthy, free-market democracies — is over.

“Trump’s America does not care,” historian Robert Kagan wrote in The Washington Post. “It is unencumbered by historical memory. It recognizes no moral, political or strategic commitments. It feels free to pursue objectives without regard to the effect on allies or, for that matter, the world. It has no sense of responsibility to anything beyond itself.”

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sitting up at attention

rhetorical claim: Trump on Kim Jong-un: “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

rhetorical effect: reveals Trump’s true aim: to become an autocractic dictator. He subsequently said this was a “joke,” which it is, in a Freudian way of giving away the game–revealing all in a thinly-veiled way. Americans do indeed need to “sit up at attention” when it comes to Trump’s further tyrannous maneuvers, lies and policies designed to criminalize debate and dissent.

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infest

rhetorical claim: America is being infested my immigrants who may well be murderers, gang members, rapists or whatever.

rhetorical effect: best explained by David Leonhardt of the New York Times:

continues his ugly pattern of describing illegal immigrants as subhuman. And “infest” is particularly stark, because it suggests that immigrants are akin to insects or rats — an analogy that Nazis frequently used to describe Jews, as Aviya Kushner notes in The Forward.
On the same subject, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie predicts that Trump’s dehumanizing language “will only get worse as November approaches.” Bouie adds: “To energize its voters, the White House plans a campaign of vicious demagoguery.”

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tender age facilities

rhetorical claim: the Trump administration has had to set up “tender age” facilities to house babies and infants who were being illegally smuggled into the US.

rhetorical effect: justifies what Jennifer Rubin calls:

moral madness, a betrayal of universal human values that marks the lowest point in the Trump presidency — or any presidency since the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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bias

insubordination

rhetorical claim: the DOJ’s Inspector General’s report clearly shows anti-Trump bias and insubordination by James Comey and various investigators. It shows beyond any doubt that the DOJ was out to clear Hilary and fame Trump. The entire Hilary e-mail investigation and the entire Mueller investigation must themselves be investigated by a Special Counsel

rhetorical effect: a hall-of-mirrors: let’s investigate the investigation of the investigation. Similarly to Benghazi, this Clinton derangement syndrome will never go away. Anyone opposed to Trump is by definition both biased and insubordinate (see “sitting up.” above.)