Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 8-16, 2018

greatness

rhetorical claim: America is great again because President Trump has reaffirmed our military supremacy, made America first when it comes to trade deals, restored pride in patriotism, and defended American freedom against liberals, globalists, the fake news media, the fake global warming conspirators, and the forces out to undermine the  Christian foundations of the family and marriage.

rhetorical effect: justifies a whole range of political departures from the norms of civil society and democratic rule: aligning ourselves with autocrats and dictators; undercutting  the authority of the courts, the press and the justice system; denying basic human rights for immigrants; destroying the foundations of environmental protection; trashing the State Department; instigating trade wars, denying science, etc. Trump’s definition of greatness does not include human rights, sympathy, equality, diplomacy, justice or workers’ rights. It is the opposite of the key values of democracy: tolerance, sympathy, equality and justice.

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the reckoning

rhetorical claim: putting America first–whether in military power, trade, limits to immigration, etc.–is not rabid nationalism or an all out so-called trade war, but a reckoning, an end to China, Russia, Iran, Western Europe and even North Korea walking all over us. They have tested the limits of American patience. Not being willing any longer to be manipulated is not succumbing to isolationism.

rhetorical effect: justifies bellicose military initiatives; draconian cuts to foreign aid and the State Department; the abrogation of all treaties and trade pacts, and a new isolationism.

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redistributionist and entitlement agenda

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ redistributionist and entitlement agenda has come to an end as the complacent era of cheap money and huge government debt grinds to a halt.

rhetorical effect: justifies huge budget cuts to all social safety net programs as well as to Medicare and Social Security. Claiming that no one is “entitled” to government benefits is an indirect way to phase out all government benefits as wasteful. Calling it an “entitlement agenda” instead of basic human rights undercuts its legitimacy, just as does calling social justice “redistributionism.” Calling it an “agenda” instead of a moral commitment makes it sound hypocritical, dishonest, and partisan. When did basic human rights such as health, education, equality, and human well-being become partisan?

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discredited

rhetorical claim: For nearly a year before Mueller’s appointment, leaks have spread about collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign that supposedly cost Clinton a sure victory. Most of these collusion stories, as we now know, originated with Christopher Steele and his now-discredited anti-Trump opposition file.

rhetorical effect: discredited in this case simply means disputed by Trumpinistas. Any claim against Trump is automatically labeled “discredited,” as if only Trump can be the Accreditor-in Chief. To Trump, all criticism is a lie.

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progressivism’s savior complex

rhetorical claim: smug, moralizing progressives aim to change the way other people act—by force if necessary. Moralizing breeds intolerance and even tyranny because it springs from a belief that, like the pious Canadians, not only do you know the truth but you also have a solemn duty to impose it on others. They have a serious savior complex in which hubris and conceit mix with a tyrannical impulse, and it is one of the reasons we have so much moralizing in America today, yet so little morality.

rhetorical effect: undermines any oppositional progressive or liberal  moral judgments as self-righteous, hypocritical, self-serving, and absolutist. Of course, this accusation of moralizing absolutism is always framed in a moralizing, absolutist rhetoric of its own. As usual, Trumpinistas become the very thing they most excoriate.

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The War Against America

rhetorical claim: as argued by Angelo Codevilla on the website American Greatness, writing about the media’s, the judges’, the bureaucrats’, the corporate executives’ continuing war on ordinary Americans.  

That war is unabated because the power of the people who degraded our lives in their own image is undiminished. For them, the rest of America is and will remain irredeemable. They well nigh removed Christianity and Judaism from the public square. Their schools have dumbed down a generation. They reduced raising children within marriage to a vanishing majority in the country at large and to a rarity among blacks. They have filled our streets with criminals. Their corporations try dictating what people may say and even think. They have stigmatized the verbal currency of two centuries, and bid to outlaw it as hate speech. And they continue to tighten their vise. In the process, however, these rulers are convincing the rest of Americans that they are irredeemable as well….

…When one side rejects persuasion in favor of war, what are the other’s options? To convince our opponents to accept us as equals? The culture, the institutions, bureaucracies, corporations, they have made their own will never again admit us as equals. To reform them? Fat chance! To punish them? To push them to the margins before they push us? What is the good of that?

…Safeguarding, restoring or re-growing, the precepts, habits, and institutions with which and in which we have lived freely requires acting on our own behalf, almost as if the other side did not exist…Separating from the educational establishment is essential to securing a culture in which we can thrive socially and politically. It is discrediting itself academically, and by showing enmity to the rest of America.

rhetorical effect: openly declares war on the media, the rule of law, the educational system, big business and government, rendering compromise and public discourse impossible. Lays the groundwork for a cultural Civil War.

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The Comey-Media Collusion Machine

rhetorical claim: As Comey determined back in 2016, Clinton was “extremely careless” with her handling of classified information—but so was he. While she had classified and top secret emails on an unsecure server, Comey leaked memos about his conversations with President Trump to the press in retaliation for his firing, which ultimately led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

 Comey and Clinton both had the luxury of being shielded by the mainstream media. 2016 set a dangerous precedent that a former secretary of state can abuse her power while in office and not be held accountable simply because journalists vehemently opposed her GOP rival. As argued by Victor David Hanson on the National Review website:

Comey, McCabe, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch, Andrew Weissmann, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Harry Reid, Samantha Power, Clinton attorney Jeannie Rhee . . .If collusion is the twin of conspiracy, then there are lots of colluders running around Washington.

Robert Mueller was tasked to find evidence of Trump and Russia collusion that might have warped the 2016 campaign and thrown the election to Trump. After a year, his investigation has found no concrete evidence of collusion. So it has often turned to other purported Trump misadventures. Ironically, collusion of all sorts — illegal, barely legal, and simply unethical — has been the sea that Washington fish always swim in.

Christopher Steele, hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign through a series of firewall intermediaries, probably paid Russian sources for gossip and smears. If there is a crime of collusion, then Clinton-campaign contractors should be under investigation for seeking Russian help to find dirt on Trump, to spread smears around throughout the DOJ, FBI, and CIA, and to make sure that the dirt was leaked to the press in the final weeks of the campaign — for the sole “insurance” purposes of losing Trump the election.

Some sort of collusion likely occurred when the Obama DOJ and FBI sought FISA-court requests to surveille Carter Page and, indirectly, possibly many other members of the Trump campaign. On repeated occasions, they all made sure the FISA-court judges were not apprised that the Steele dossier, the chief basis for these requests, was paid for by the Clinton campaign, that the dossier was not verified by the FBI, that the dossier was the source of media stories that in circular fashion were used to convince the FISA judges to grant the surveillance requests, and that the FBI had severed relations with Steele on the basis of his unreliability. Such a collusion of silence was similar to James Comey’s admission that he apprised President Trump of every iota of lurid sexual gossip about him — except that his source was a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton and written by a campaign operative hired to find dirt on Trump and who had been working with Comey’s FBI to get FISA approval to spy on Trump’s own aides.

rhetorical effect: reduces all charges against Trump to “leaks”, thus making a looming indictment or series of charges themselves illegal. Criminalizes the justice system and the rule of law by inverting its logic, spirit and integrity.

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Comey’s prigishness

rhetorical claim: as argued by Rich Lowry on the National Review website:

James Comey has managed the seemingly impossible. The former FBI director is locked in a death struggle with an unpopular president who makes even his allies cringe with his belittling nicknames, foolish threats and strange view of the presidency — and somehow it is Comey who is coming away as the unlikable one.

That’s because no one likes a prig, especially when he has an ax to grind. Comey has good reason to disdain Donald Trump, who fired him in humiliating circumstances and whose warped view of the Justice Department as an institution for the protection of the president is rightly anathema to him. Comey is just the latest of Trump’s adversaries, though, who are diminished by the president dragging them down to his level and exposing their weaknesses.

Comey’s weakness is self-regard, clearly wounded by the widespread sense that he took an impossibly challenging assignment in 2016 and made a complete hash of it.

rhetorical effect: crminalizes Comey and Mueller. Equates the rule of law with “prigishness,” as if it is a distasteful technicality or partisan idea.  Morally judges the rule of law as immoral.

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Apr 3-6, 2018

antisocial black behavior

colorblind standards

rhetorical claim: as Jason L. Riley argues in the WSJ:

Where King tried to instill in young people the importance of personal responsibility and self-determination notwithstanding racial barriers, his counterparts today spend more time making excuses for counterproductive behavior and dismissing criticism of it as racist. Activists who long ago abandoned King’s colorblind standard, which was the basis for the landmark civil-rights laws enacted in the 1960s, tell black youths today that they are victims, first and foremost.

A generation of blacks who have more opportunity than any previous generation are being taught that America offers them little more than trigger-happy cops, bigoted teachers and biased employers. It’s not only incorrect, but as King and a previous generation of black leaders understood, it’s also unhelpful.

Black activists and liberal politicians stress racism because it serves their own interests, not because it serves the interests of the black underclass. But neglecting or playing down the role that blacks must play in addressing racial disparities can only exacerbate them.

rhetorical effect: arguing that blaming blacks for racial disparities is the way to begin to ameliorate those racial disparities is typically topsy-turvy  GOP rhetoric. In Riley’s upside-down rhetoric, blacks are said to neglect personal responsibility and to blame racism for all their problems. This argument reduces the cause of these problems–racism–into a myth that then becomes labeled as an effect of black behavior. This inversion of cause and effect allows him to make such absurd claims as that  talking about racism only hurts the underclass, who–who knew?– have more opportunities than ever!

the cultural-Marxist Left’s war on language

rhetorical claim: from the American Greatness blog:

The cultural-Marxist Left’s war on Western civilization and American society is conducted on many fronts, including the courts and the streets, but also on a daily basis in the arena of public opinion, via the language. One prominent example has been their transformation of the two human sexes, male and female, first into “genders” (a term drawn from English grammar, and of which there are three, including neuter) and then into multiple genders. This of course demands a new set of pronouns which promptly are given “identity” characteristics, the better to tribalize and thus weaponize these hitherto unknown species of human beings.

Another example is the transformation of the words “immigrants” and “asylum,” which in the space of a decade or so have now acquired a host of subtextual signifiers of race and class in order to change their meaning. To those of us who are the descendants of the last great wave of genuine immigration, which ended around 1920, the words have a sentimental patina about them, recalling the great-grandparents from the old countries of Europe still glimpsed in sepia-toned photographs—the folks who arrived with nothing, worked hard, married either within or without their ethnic group, built houses, started families, moved up and moved out into the mainstream of American society and disappeared into history.

But for the racially obsessed Left, “migrants” now mean brown and black people, while “asylum” means the right of free and unfettered entry into the First World, with no end either in sight or even contemplated. If these continue to be the meanings of the terms, we are in for the most profound period of social and national disruption since the fall of Rome.

rhetorical effect: justifies the last stand of the white, heterosexual male. Categorizing all liberal policies as “cultural-Marxist” makes political compromise impossible since liberals thus pose an existential threat to American democracy.

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the real jobs war

rhetorical claim: job losses caused by the tariff wars don’t matter because Trump won the real jobs war, which was with the Obama presidency’s eight years of economic stagnation.

rhetorical effect: changes the subject from harmful tariffs to past economic history, along the way totally distorting the fact that the Obama presidency saw at least six straight years of job growth after the worst recession since he Depression.

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dangerous immigrant flows

rhetorical claim: we need to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop dangerous immigrant flows from illegal entry. The National Guard should be deployed for national security’s sake.

rhetorical effect: immigration rates are at a 15-year low, so the “dangerous flows” are a mythical exaggeration intended to whip up hysteria to justify a totally unwarranted military deployment.

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cooperative federalism

rhetorical claim: as Scott Pruitt puts it, referring to California’s auto emissions standards, “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country.”

rhetorical effect: as explained in an LA Times editorial:

Pruitt, a stalwart shill for the fossil fuel industry claims the Obama administration rushed the analysis of whether the regulations were feasible and set the standards too high. That’s mere pretext, given that Pruitt has used his tenure at the EPA to systematically attack responsible, science- and health-based regulations. Nor, apparently, is it enough that he’s weakened national environmental protections; Pruitt has suggested he may go after California’s essential air quality regulations and climate change program as well.

In the Trump era, both “cooperative” and “federalism” mean that the federal government gets its way and overturns all precedent for state and local action–see sanctuary cities, for example. Thus, as usual, te Trump-era label for something is actually the opposite of what it advertises: in this case, there is neither cooperation nor federalism.

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manliness

rhetorical claim: Trump has reversed America’s steady march toward gender neutrality. His manly way of saying “Take It or Leave It” makes patriotism great again.

rhetorical effect: sanctions Trump’s bullying, swaggering bragging, lying, and corruption; puts all LGBTQ rights at risk; threatens the civil liberties of all Americans, and furthers Trump’s divisive white nationalism.

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progressive political correctness

rhetorical claim: Trump has also reversed America’s progressive political correctness problem. Americans hate identity politics and being told that they are sexist, racist homophobes.

rhetorical effect: see above.

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choice

rhetorical claim: David Shulkin was sacked from the VA because he resisted offering Veterans health care offering choices, which always lead to better and more efficient health care.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for the privatization of the VA, euphemistically cloaking expensive and exclusionary market forces as “freedom” and choice.”

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green virtue and phony fuel standard

rhetorical claim: liberals like to signal their green virtue with fake fuel standards that will never come to pass, run counter to the wishes of the vast majority of American car buyers, and, even if the did come to pass, would have zero effect on climate change. In other words, they are, like most liberal ideas, a cost without a benefit, or bureaucratic processes run amok. In fact, they actually pose a safety hazard, directly leading to about 4,000 extra auto accident deaths per year.

rhetorical effect: rhetorical inversion at its finest: fuel efficiency standards are not efficient; they incur costs with no benefits, and are actually a direct threat to the health and safety of Americans. Environmental standards in general are a threat to Americans, not a form of so-called “environmental protection.”

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, March 24-April 2, 2018

race-based gerrymandering

rhetorical claim: the Supreme Court’s tolerance for race-based gerrymandering has caused political mischief and division, and led to paint-by-numbers  racial-voting litigation. Race-based representation must be eliminated.

rhetorical effect: justifies the very outcome that it excoriates. The hideously prejudiced gerrymandered GOP districts that allocate House seats regardless of popular votes have created a huge imbalance in Congress, all done in the guise of racial blindness. The more the GOP calls for the end of race-based gerrymandering, the more race-based Congressional districts become.

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shadowy radical groups

rhetorical claim: According to Bill O’Reilly, the sponsor boycott of the Laura Ingraham Show “is not some spontaneous uprising by companies. It is being directed by powerful, shadowy radical groups who want Laura Ingraham off the air.”

rhetorical effect: discredits the Parkland High students, making them out to be pawns of the Deep State. No one who opposes Trump can escape being branded as  a Deep Stater, and all political opposition is said to come from this forever “shadowy” conspiracy.

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artificially low poll numbers

rhetorical claim: Trump’s approval rating remains artificially low because of the constant fake media anti-Trump mania. The economy is doing too well to merit these poll numbers, so the numbers are fake. The media, with its relentless and intentional efforts to undermine the Trump administration, is actually reducing confidence in America itself and its political institutions. The negativity has reached such a crescendo that the stability of our democracy is under threat.

President Trump has his faults, yes, but the irresponsibility and lack of professionalism in our media knows no bounds. It is time to turn off the mainstream media and start over. Alternatively, it is time to reconsider our libel laws in order to hold the worst journalists accountable for their fabrications.

rhetorical effect: blaming the messenger for the message; creating a misleading rationale to cover up a political reality; deceptively citing economic recovery numbers that’s don’t yet exist, thus creating a new false fact and using a false analogy to make an illogical argument; making economic growth the sole yardstick of successful governing; creating a fake “deep media” conspiracy; By this logic,  lower poll numbers simply mean that Trump is being so successful that the media has to up their attacks on him.

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the permanent American revolution

rhetorical claim: Philosophically, Bolton fully shares President Trump’s foundational security policy principles that an administration’s first priorities are to defend America and secure her strategic national interests. This is not “America alone,” as some critics claim. Rather, it is the starting point of harmonizing the mutual strategic interests of America and her allies. These principles  also guard against diminishing American sovereignty and preserve and promote America’s strategic interests  by pursuing “peace through strength.” Clearly, President Trump and Bolton believe America is an exceptional nation; a force for moral good in the world; and, consequently, must be ever vigilant and prepared to defend herself.

rhetorical effect: rationale for American “white man’s burden” exceptionalism; automatically making critics of US foreign policy traitorous or at least un-American; leads to concept of Fortress America; seems to guarantee that the only “permanence” is American bullying, racism, militarism, and economic nationalism.

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globalism

multilateralism

rhetorical claim: America has been subverted by globalists and multilateralists, and Trump’s MAGA is designed to stop these movements in their tracks and restore the concept of America First.

rhetorical effect: considered benign before the advent of Trumpism,  these terms have become pariah words, toxic labels used to undercut political opponents. Being a “globalist” now seems as un-American as being a socialist, and US foreign policy is quite literally one-sided.

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chain migration

rhetorical claim: the use of law-breaking, “anchor babies” and green card marriages to create a new army of illegal immigrants being courted and protected by the Dems for their electoral votes. Part of MAGA is building a wall to stop these job-stealers, drug addicts, and rapists from infecting our populace.

rhetorical effect: another term that has flipped in the Trump era from a positive to a pejorative. from a humane policy to a dehumanizing slur.. As explained by Stephen Kearse,

“chain migration” hasn’t always been a source of political rancor. For decades, it was a neutral description of a routine migration pattern, one in which migrants traced the previous paths of family members, friends or members of their communities. Social scientists used it to talk about black Americans moving from the South to the North in the Great Migration of the 20th century, Southern Italians venturing to New York in the late 1800s and rural Indians gathering into cities like Delhi and Calcutta. The story it told was a simple, uncontroversial one: Humans follow the humans they know.

Today, though, the use of the phrase “chain migration” encodes your stance on immigration. Nativists use it to signal support for American interests and a skepticism about whether would-be immigrants serve them; immigrant advocates avoid and criticize the term. The White House website dedicates three web pages to chain migration, all demanding that it end immediately. When the president reaffirmed this opposition during the State of the Union, Democrats booed….Chain migration was now being described not just as a process but also as a ploy, a loophole threatening our control of a looming tide.

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Deep State Fake News

rhetorical claim: the Fake News mainstream media  has finally been exposed as an arm of the Deep State, and the Mueller “investigation”–itself a Deep State operation– has lost all credibility with the American people. Lower taxes and massive deregulation have liberated the business community from Obama’s “progressive” socialism, itself a Deep State imperative.

rhetorical effect: Doubts about facts allow politics to take place in a fictional, infotainment-driven world. . Once we treat issues like  the desirability of racial equality as matters for debate rather than as first principles, we are lost.

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America is Great Again

rhetorical claim: From the American Thinker website:

A new Rasmussen tracking poll shows that President Trump’s approval has risen to 50%, with 49% stating some degree of disapproval, meaning that more Americans approve of President Trump than disapprove.  This is a first, and it knocks another leg out from under the argument that President Trump is disastrous.

So all the Beltway chatter about “chaos” in the Trump White House is a non-starter.  All the “Russia, Russia Russia” yak is a loser for the Democrats promoting it.  All the impeachment talk is rubbish.  All the media coverage about gun control, terrorist attacks, America’s supposed lost influence in the world, and homelessness is utterly irrelevant.

Trump, as a matter of fact, is popular.

And it’s not hard to see why.

Tax cuts have exploded through the economy, with multiple chain reactions of benefits raining down on workers.  This includes not just less to pay to the taxman, and that’s no small thing, but worker bonuses that thousands of industries have given, more jobs to choose from, and rising wages as more of the economy is taken back into action.  What’s more, the worst of Obamacare is now on the run.  No one is now required to buy health insurance plans that mandatorily subsidize some favored special interest groups (such as drug addicts and other people’s children’s dental needs), and people now have the freedom to purchase health care policies that fit their own needs, not other people’s.  America, in short, is baaack.

 rhetorical effect: This myth of rising wages and “money you can keep” justifies the US as a kleptocracy, no longer under the rule of law. Economic crime becomes systemic as the state itself becomes a criminal enterprise.  The rule of law is incoherent, inequality is entrenched and reform unthinkable–all in the name of the freedom of unrestrained capitalism.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Mar 17-23, 2018

business harassment

trial-lawyer enrichment

rhetorical claim: Dodd-Frank and every Elizabeth Warren idea and agency are parodies of true consumer protection, amounting instead to business harassment and trial-lawyer enrichment.

rhetorical effect: backwards logic: the best way to protect consumers is to end all protective regulation and let Mr. Market look after consumers’ best interests. Overall effect: letting the wolf guard he chicken coop. Also of course note the telltale slur “trial lawyer,” denoting hypocritical liberal lawyers using altruism and “the public interest” to line their own pockets.

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law and order

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump has restored law and order in America. Drug dealers now face execution; violent immigrants face certain deportation; Black Lives Matter protestors no longer can break the law with impunity, and the police no longer have their hands tied behind their backs.

rhetorical effect: A “Law and Order” rhetorical regime has replaced the rule of law, making justice subservient to power. “Law and order” has nothing to do with law and everything to do with order. The evocation of law is no longer rooted in fact or evidence, but is instead a weapon to be used. Public discourse is no longer rooted in objective truth. The only “order” is the arbitrary imposition of political will. Being “strong on crime” now means being loyal to white people, and immigration is conflated with criminality.  As Chris Hayes argues:

In this view, crime is not defined by a specific offense. Crime is defined by who commits it. If a young black man grabs a white woman by the crotch, he’s a thug and deserves to be roughed up by police officers. But if Donald Trump grabs a white woman by the crotch in a nightclub (as he’s accused of doing, and denies), it’s locker-room high jinks….

If all that matters when it comes to “law and order” is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption.

And this is what “law and order” means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law. It shouldn’t have taken this long to see what has always been staring us in the face. After all, the last president to focus so intensely on law and order, Richard Nixon, the man who helped usher in mass incarceration, was also the most infamous criminal to occupy the Oval Office. The history of the United States is the story of a struggle between the desire to establish certain universal rights and the countervailing desire to preserve a particular social order.

We are now witnessing a president who wholly embraces the latter. America can have that kind of social order, or it can have justice for all. But it can’t have both.

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wait for all the facts to come out

rhetorical claim: we need to wait for all the facts to come out–including FBI and Justice anti-Trump vendettas–before we rush to judgement about collusion with the Russians.

rhetorical effect: will be played as a hole card when and if Mueller indicts or even subpoenas Trump: “Mueller’s WITCH HUNT based on FAKE EVIDENCE.” This notion of a Mueller investigation coverup as part of an anti-Trump conspiracy will linger as a permanent stain on the rule of law, reducing a nation based on laws and evidence to a nation based on suspicion, paranoia, and cynicism. To the extent that the noose tightens around Trump, these claims will only increase, so the more actual facts that come out, the more fake, bye-and-bye conspiratorial fake facts will emerge.

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cultural relevance vs. personal responsibility

rhetorical claim: As argued on the National Review website, recent Aspen Institute calls for education reform in the form of more social and emotional learning:

are strewn with the buzzwords of education-school progressivism. While there’s little more than a solitary late-report nod toward personal responsibility, self-discipline, or delayed gratification, the report is rife with references to “cultural identities,” “culturally relevant materials,” “affirming diverse cultures,” “inclusive classrooms engender[ing] respect for diverse cultural identities,” and so on. While there’s nothing wrong with “cultural relevance” in the abstract, what’s offered here is a familiar shorthand for identity-driven, ideological agendas.

Meanwhile, behind the boilerplate talk of caring classrooms and safe school climates, Aspen calls for schools to reject traditional school discipline in favor of Obama-era enthusiasms such as “restorative practices” and “developmental discipline.” Anyone who raises concerns about the unintended consequences of “restorative justice” is presumably opposed to “caring classrooms” — and on the wrong side of the new “consensus.”

rhetorical effect: makes a mockery of any attempts to make education culturally relevant, collective, and developmental, rather than asocial, individualistic, Darwinian,  and instrumental. Tries to demonize notions of justice, empathy and diversity.

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denial as political speech

rhetorical claim: Trump’s denial of extra-marital affairs or anything doing with the Russians is a form of political speech, protected by the First Amendment.

rhetorical effect: turns a denial from being both an act itself and, in these cases, a lie, into a speech act. No one should be “protected” by the law when lying, so this argument is absurd on its face. Calling lying protected speech is a non-sequitur.

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the Trump-Russia collusion narrative

deep state revenge

rhetorical claim: If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise. No wonder democracy is a declining stock worldwide. The goal is to break Trump’s presidency, remove him, discredit his election as contaminated by Kremlin collusion, upend the democratic verdict of 2016, and ash-can Trump’s agenda of populist conservatism. Then, return America to the open borders, free trade, democracy-crusading Bushite globalism beloved by our Beltway elites.  As soon as Trump was elected, the Dems unleashed the phony Trump-Russia collusion narrative as a virus or a Trump antibody. In reality, the Dem’s fantasies of Trump-Russia collusion are nothing but a revenge drama. Trump’s only crime was to win the election.

rhetorical effect: labeling it a mere “narrative” or revenge drama automatically makes it out to be more fiction than fact, so the mere labeling itself is an attempt at persuading. This attempt, however, is never persuasive because stubborn facts keep emerging. Calling it a virus or an antibody, on the other hand,  makes it sound sinister, threatening, and posing a direct threat to democracy.

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uncompromising

rhetorical claim: New National Security Advisor John Bolton is uncompromising on U.S. national security interests. For him, the sine qua non of U.S. security is for us to be prosperous and well-armed in order to stave off aggressors and guarantee an international system we built and that serves us.

rhetorical effect: “uncompromising” really means inflexible, vengeful, rash, and rabidly ideological. Rhetorically, though, calling someone “uncompromising” is intended to ennoble them as principled, measured, and consistent. Good luck trying to sell John Bolton as any of those things!

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gun control propaganda

rhetorical claim: According to The Federalist website, :

The gun control lobby is borrowing the playbook from one of the most effective propaganda campaigns in history: anthropogenic global warming.

From engaging celebrity activists to bullying private industry to portraying opponents as murderers, the well-funded and highly-orchestrated gun control lobby is copying the same approach that has been successfully deployed by the international climate change movement to sell the dubious claim that humans are causing global warming. Textbooks are filled with bogus scientific “studies” about global warming and dire warnings about its consequences.

Schools commemorate environmental holidays like Earth Day, so they can push climate dogma. Teachers are encouraged to tag climate change in every subject area from science to health to history. And whoever disagrees, or even mildly objects, is portrayed as a child-hating monster. After all, who wants to deny a safe future for our kids? Climate crusaders are even using children as litigants in lawsuits to sue the federal government for violating “the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as fail[ing] to protect essential public trust resources.”

If you oppose either gun control or climate change, you are a killer. Republican lawmakers, NRA members, and regular citizens who oppose stringent gun control laws are accused of having “blood on their hands.”

The end-game of both the climate change and gun control movements are the same: subverting individual rights and choices while empowering the state. It has nothing to do with “the children,” no matter how many phony marches and scripted interviews they organize.

rhetorical effect: rebrands gun control advocates as conspiratorial fanatics creating fables and using children to get their way. Implies they are child molesters.

 

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Mar 9-16, 2018

law-abiding

rhetorical claim: NRA members are law-abiding,peaceable, patriotic, freedom-loving average citizens, whereas gun opponents are un-American, tyrannical, Communist, and elitist. As Wayne LaPierre put it at CPAC, the Democratic Party is:

infested with saboteurs who don’t believe in capitalism, don’t believe in the Constitution, don’t believe in our freedom, and don’t believe in America as we know it.

rhetorical effect: weaponizing standard political sentiments to create a social identity for gun advocates and to stigmatize all gun opponents. Equating gun ownership with patriotism calls the political allegiance of non gun owners into question. Casting gun control advocates as elitist undercuts polls that consistently show the vast majority of Americans favoring much more stringent gun control laws and policies. And, of course,’ creates an “us-vs. them: dichotomy by claiming a vision of “America as we know it.”

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great

rhetorical claim: as Trump (facetiously?) put it at the Gridiron Dinner, praising Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power:

He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.

rhetorical effect: Is this what he means by “make America great again”? Trump’s support for other dictators and autocrats, including, in addition to Putin, strongmen in Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Turkey,  and Egypt. Justifies political repression, the violation of human rights, and the abrogation of free speech and a free press and internet.

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indifference

rhetorical claim: For some Americans, nothing President Trump says or does would prompt them to withdraw their support. Trump has been aware of this for a while; his infamous “I could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue” comment was an acknowledgment of that reality. In part, this is a function of the passion many people feel for Trump. In part, it’s a function of Trump’s having pushed past so many different boundaries already. Once you’re miles into the wilderness, what’s another 10 feet?

rhetorical effect: The proliferation and intermingling of Trump scandals reduces the impact that any one of them would have by itself. Trump is saved by scandal overkill. Indifference contains its own monstrousness that overturns every rule and standard as reason and guilt become obliterated and everything gets disconnected. Most importantly, though, this is an abdication of what the presidency is supposed to be. After his election, Trump regularly called for Americans to unite around him, failing to recognize that the job of unity falls to the president, not the people. Trump’s campaign always had a significant demagogic component, centered on stoking prejudices and falsehoods, but he could theoretically have presided in a way that was more all-encompassing. He’s decided not to and instead has continued to foster political and cultural divides.

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equality and mediocrity

rhetorical claim: When equality becomes an organizing principle of an institution–be it the military, higher education, police departments, or business–it renders excellence and ability secondary and levels down to mediocrity.  Unequal outcomes are not allowed to be facts any more, but must conform to ideology in a Stalinesque way. Elitism gives way to political correctness, in the name of  artificial equality and catalyzing social change. Democracy cannot be discriminating because it discourages elites, even if that elitism is merit-based or innate.

rhetorical effect:  essentializing inequality is a time-honored way of perpetuating it. Consider all the invidious ways difference has been used to justify privilege: blacks are lazy or have limited intelligence, , women are weak or too emotional to be leaders, etc.

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if you take funds away, schools get better

rhetorical claim: Betsy DeVos, on 60 Minutes:

“In places where there have been — where there is — a lot of choice that’s been introduced — Florida, for example, the — studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better, as well.”

rhetorical effect: justifies privatizing education and creating an apartheid educational system. It seems totally counter-intuitive to argue that taking away funding makes things better, especially if you’ve never tried to remedy the situation with increased funding.

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hatred for God

hatred for our country

rhetorical claim: Standing next to Mr. Trump’s eldest son at a firehouse, Mr. Saccone said Democrats were energized by a hatred for the president, “a hatred for our country” and “a hatred for God.”

rhetorical effect: equating Trump with God and country leads to a theocracy; transforms any Trump critic into a traitorous atheist; turns all Dems into “haters.”

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the facts

rhetorical claim: The facts just don’t matter for the leftist media, who continue to pitch such nonsense as Hillary’s claim that married white women defer to their husbands when voting, to the American people.  This is about the left’s continued inclination to eschew any desire for truth in order to tilt at the windmills of “white supremacy” and battle the phantoms of “the patriarchy” and other unsubstantiated myths, such as the “gender wage gap”  which is supposed to result from systemic discrimination.

rhetorical effect: discounts in advance any claims of inequality; claims that the GOP is “reality-based” when it actually distorts or denies all forms of political reality; claims to be on the side of “the facts”, whatever “facts” they produce;

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the media is dead

rhetorical claim: Sean Hannity said it back in 2007: journalism is dead.  It always had bias, but it’s now become nothing more than a broadsheet for the far left, an instrument to pretend leftist propaganda is actual “news” that instructs us.  If you think of journalists as Democrats with bylines, you are correct, and that’s mainly what the American public needs to see.  It’s an institution torn apart. The brainwashing of the leftist voter may be the most injurious thing the left has done.  In the long run, if we cannot convince enough of them of the truth about their recent leadership, the left may finally win its long, hard fight to destroy the American culture it has come to hate so much.

rhetorical effect: paranoid, apocalyptic conspiracy theories always serve to totalize, rally the troops, demonize the opposition, and make compromise impossible. Every act of opposition to Trump becomes part of the conspiracy, so it is impossible to logically  refute this kind of charge.

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the judiciary is destroyed

rhetorical claim: This past year, it’s safe to say, has shown just how far the left has gone in destroying the judiciary.  Leftist judges with no pretense of adhering to the law now make insane proclamations from the bench on more than a weekly basis.  Reading what the laws actually say, any modicum of common sense tells you they are inserting their very own political and juvenile ideas for the rule of law.  They want it torn apart.  And they are getting close to their endgame of gumming up the works via judicial nullification.

rhetorical effect: see above

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Democrats win by running as Trump, not Clinton

rhetorical claim: Conor Lamb won in Pennsylvania by running as Trump, not Clinton.

rhetorical effect: designed to distract analysts from noting that Lamb supports Obamacare, opposes tax cuts as a “giveaway to the rich”; supports Roe v. Wade and protecting Social Security and Medicare from any cuts.

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the War on Men and Boys

rhetorical claim: Men seem to be becoming less male,” Tucker Carlson claims.  “Something ominous is happening[.] … Men are taught there is something wrong with them.  We took a close look at the numbers, and we found them so shocking that we’re devoting the month of March to a special series on men in America.”

Carlson concludes “You’ll be stunned by the scope of the crisis.  We were.  It’s a largely ignored disaster.  It affects every person in America.”

He notes, for example: “Men account for 77 percent of the nation’s suicides, they are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics, they are more likely to die of an overdose than women, and 90 percent of inmates are men.”

So what are the causes?  Eighteen years ago, Christina Hoff Sommers published The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.  Sommers concluded, “It’s a bad time to be a boy in America.  Boys are less likely than girls to go to college or do their homework.  They’re more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in detention, or drop out[.]”  In short, Sommers found the causes in feminist theory and, more surprisingly, inside the nation’s classrooms.

The dirty big secret here is that our public schools don’t announce social engineering; they simply do it, especially with regard to altering how children view themselves.  Public schools suppress boys and uplift girls in many furtive ways.  This manipulation has been hugely successful: 57% of college students are female; 43% are male.  More women stay in college and earn advanced degree.  Women wear business suits, and men drive pickup trucks.  Culturally similar men and women who used to marry each other are now separated by class differences!

The question still haunts us: how exactly are America’s social engineers able to win this war for females?

rhetorical effect: turns the patriarchs into victims; demonizes feminism; justifies inequality in the name of social justice.

 

 

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, March 2-8, 2018

picking winners and losers

rhetorical claim: the GOP believes in letting free markets work themselves out by their internal logic, whereas the Dems always want to pick winners and losers,  putting their thumb on the scale of economic liberty.

rhetorical effect: obscures the truth, as revealed by Catherine Rampell:

Republicans love picking winners and losers, too. They just choose different winners and different losers than Democrats do. In the case of today’s Republican officials, the winners are mostly donors, incumbents, culture-war favorites and cheats…OP officials nationwide keep proving that when they say they’re “pro-business,” what they really mean is that they’re pro-certain businesses and anti-others.

Rampell mentions subsidies, tax breaks, tariffs, regulatory relief and the suppression of lawsuits against companies as some of the ways the Trump administration plays favorites. Trump defines winning as selling more to the other guy than he sells to you–a zero-sum Darwinian struggle for survival. In reality, though, the goal of trade is increased imports, and a trade deficit is meaningless. The Balkanization of the global trading system can only damage the US.

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the global arena

rhetorical claim: from McMaster’s & Cohn’s WSJ op-ed on Trump’s America First policy:

the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

rhetorical effect: justifies: Ayn Rand-style American exceptionalism; the disruption of the post-war rules-based international order; tariffs; America’s bullying its way to get anything it wants and  the end of international cooperation. Seeing foreign affairs as an “arena” evokes gladiatorial, winner-take-all  contests

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the oppression of the oppressors

rhetorical claim: best articulated by Victor Davis Hanson:

We are reaching circular firing squad moments—and a topsy-turvy world.

The concept of “disparate impact” is asterisked by the disproportional “meritocracy” of the NFL or NBA. Yet meritocratic Asian admittances at UC Berkeley are seen as some sort of unnatural “overrepresentation,” and thus in the past were carefully and stealthily trimmed. (Isn’t a professional sports billet considered far more lucrative than an undergraduate slot at Berkeley?)

Cultural appropriation aimed at whites is not reciprocal. The doctrine does not absurdly mean that Latinas should not dye their hair blond, or that talented African-Americans should not become great violinists or opera singers, or that Asian actors should not play Hamlet or Lady Macbeth. But strangely, it does mean that those who are not minorities should not play minority roles, or even adopt for their own the fashions and styles of nonwhite peoples.

We are told that the concealing and carrying of firearms should be outlawed. Armed guards at schools only ensure greater violence. Mace and pepper spray suffice instead of bullets.

Yet politicians, celebrities and marquee athletes require well-armed bodyguards, on the premise that in their unique cases, guns really do both deter and in extremis protect the important. Do armed guards protect or provoke?

Post-Freddie Grey Baltimore has become a far more dangerous place for African-Americans and for small business owners—even as once oppressive and supposedly Neanderthal police became more socially aware and adopted enlightened reforms.

There are a few common denominators to all these paradoxes that overwhelm the daily news.

One, people are people, unique individuals, not monolithic cut-outs of classes, races, or religions.

Two, in comparative global terms, it is hard for anyone to be oppressed in a free-wheeling, rich, and leisured 21st-century America. The efforts to appear so can hinge on the embarrassing.

Three, when movements, such as the identity politics core of progressivism, rely on shared oppressions, and when the categories of the oppressed in many demographic groups outnumber the available oppressors, we should expect a confused competition of grievances.

Four, victimhood cannot serve as the basis of a viable political movement. Contemporary oppression requires a Byzantine regulatory handbook of qualifications, exceptions, and nuances to rank competing reparatory claims on society and culture. How else to account for things like multibillionaire Oprah Winfrey being “discriminated” against in a Swiss boutique on the basis of supposedly not easily being accorded a customer’s look at a $38,000 crocodile-skin handbag? And is such a luxury even permissible in the era of PETA?

Who can calibrate the current plight of California feminist icon, #MeToo leader, and Latina assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who in the recent past has called for fellow legislators merely accused of sexual harassment to resign from office and to be ostracized by their associates?

Yet Garcia herself now stands accused of sexual assault. She is on temporary sabbatical. She insists she is innocent, won’t quit the legislature, and denies the independent allegation of four subordinates, who claim that they were groped, and propositioned by a supposedly randy Garcia. She now finds herself in a Thucydidean moment in which she yearns for the civil liberty protections that she was so eager to deny to others.

So who will police the police? Who is left to victimize the victims? Is it possible that the oppressed can oppress other oppressed?

rhetorical effect: Uses a circular argument (oppressors must themselves oppress in order to make their case) to undercut any charges of oppression. Labeling charges of repression hypocritical justifies all oppression, and doubly victimizes the victims of oppression.

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equality of result, not of opportunity

rhetorical claim: In the eternal search for perfect justice and equality, what starts out as liberal can quickly end up as progressively absurd. The logic of equality of result, rather than equality of opportunity, demands that there is always one more group, one more grievance, one more complaint against the shrinking and overwhelmed majority.

rhetorical effect: justifies a Darwinian, winner-take-all world, a zero-sum game of winners and losers. Undercuts any progressive attempts to reduce inequality, provide any social safety net, or issue any regulations. Glibly assumes that everyone has equal opportunities,  so those who fall behind are just classic Trumpian losers.

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blaming racism

rhetorical claim: As Jason Riley argues in the WSJ

We can’t hope to address effectively the social pathology on display in so many black ghettos by playing down the role of culture and personal responsibility so as to keep the focus on white racism. What blacks were doing on their own to develop human capital and to narrow racial gaps in the first half of the 20th century has a far better record of success than any government program.

rhetorical effect: arguing that we live in a “post-racist” society brackets any discussion of racism, blaming its victims’ own cultural “pathologies” and lack of “personal responsibility.” These terms in themselves are euphemisms for calling blacks degenerate and lazy; using these racist dog whistles to justify ending all social safety net programs is an unconscionable rhetorical slight-of-hand–assuming the very thing you need to prove, a form of illogical inference.

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the mirage of social justice

rhetorical claim: the concept of social justice is a mirage or panacea, and does not offer a useful perspective on morality or political policy. More useful concepts include individual responsibility, justice toward individuals, protection of personal rights, and impartial application of the US Constitution as originally intended.

rhetorical effect: undercuts any discussion of collective or social justice, narrowly applying the term only to individual rights. Communitarianism, collectivity, redistributionism–all such concepts become suspect “pipe dreams.”

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democracy promotion

rhetorical claim: democracy promotion has proven to be an almost universal failure (See Iraq, Libya, Egypt) for America despite being a sacred cow for both liberal and conservative globalists. A realistic foreign policy has us acting on our interests, not our values. Democratic states are not more peaceful or stable than autocracies. Morality and law cannot tame power.

rhetorical effect: questions the idea of building democracy at home and undermines the rule of law; promotes an emperor approach to the Presidency, who is placed above the law; reinforces the “realist” notion that “might makes right.”

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not chaos, just tremendous energy

rhetorical claim: there is no chaos in the West Wing, only tremendous energy.

rhetorical effect: best explained by Charles Blow:

Lies. Of course the White House is in chaos. It’s just that Trump has lived his whole life in a state of chaos, so it feels perfectly normal to him. The only energy around Trump is a vortex of complicity and incompetence.

Furthermore, it should be clear to us all at this point that Trump’s public relations approach to dealing with unfavorable news is simply to rush to the nearest microphone — or log into Twitter — and say that the exact opposite is true, even when his statement is an easily provable lie.

Being right is never the point; retaliation is the point.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Feb. 24-March 1, 2018

clear and present danger

rhetorical claim: the FBI’s failure to intercept the Parkland shooter is just the latest in a long series of federal catastrophes: 9/11, Iraqi WMDs, Katrina, the many recent mass shootings–the list goes on. Clearly, the federal government is a clear and present danger to national security.

rhetorical effect: smears all government workers, from the postman to the park ranger, without discriminating; doesn’t mention what would happen to society without a federal government; by confusing many needs: better gun control, better foreign surveillance, better emergency preparedness, better mental health warning systems, etc., actually makes the case for more government, not less. Without government, there would be no national security.

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the media love mass shootings

rhetorical claim: the legacy media love mass shootings because crying white mothers are ratings gold and give the anti-second amendment folks a megaphone. The wall-to-wall press coverage of mass shootings that leads to more mass shootings.

rhetorical effect: blames the messenger for the message; deflects the blame from guns to the media, demonizing the media by accusing  them of  supporting  mass murder for profit. One of several counter-instinctual claims the NRA loves to make, such as calling mass shootings a mental health issue, or calling for more guns to fight gun violence, or branding  gun ownership with freedom.

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appearing presidential

rhetorical claim: the President does not need to “pivot” in order to appear more “presidential” because the lamestream media’s model of the Presidency is one of a lackey beholden to Congress and to political orthodoxy. The more Trump breaks the rules, the more “presidential” he is actually being because true leadership means breaking the rules in order to cut through the “fake news” in order to actually get things done.

rhetorical effect: Trump doesn’t govern, he campaigns. This inversion effectively transforms the Presidency from an embodiment of moral guidance and protector of national security to a perpetual campaign. Trump has in fact likened his Presidency to a campaign:

“Life is a campaign,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One. “Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign.”

Trump uses several classical rhetorical techniques to keep this “campaign” going, including proliferating his outrage, repeating his claims incessantly, projecting his own vices onto his opponents, and appearing to be persecuted. He sees himself enlisted in a Total War, where compromise is impossible and debate is either pointless or dangerous.

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anti-market extremists

rhetorical claim: anti-market extremists like Bernie Saunders aim to socialize American business and redistribute the national income. The market should be as deregulated as possible so the invisible hand of free market economics can work its magic.

rhetorical effect: uses a false either-or dichotomy to stifle any attempts to regulate financial and other markets, confusing regulation with strangulation. The term “extremist” is also a perennial favorite of the right, who use it to vilify any opponents as  enemies of the people.

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collusion hysteria

rhetorical claim: the only collusion so far is between the Clinton campaign, Christopher Steele, and the FBI. The Democrat-mainstream media axis and and its unrelenting “collusion” hysteria only show how easy it was for the Russians to manipulate a rabidly partisan, unreliable media and a biased or inept government.

rhetorical effect: calling the entire Trump-Russia matter a “fake news” “witch hunt” has had the effect of blunting whatever charges Mueller eventually brings against Trump and his inner circle. Labeling any criminal charges “hysteria” completely undercuts the rule of law, and discredits any story appearing in the mainstream media.

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nuisance lawsuits

rhetorical claim: the Trump administration has greatly succeeded in eliminating draconian liability laws that only produced nuisance lawsuits in the name of “consumer protection”, “environmental protection,” etc.

rhetorical effect: The rule of law is nothing but a “nuisance.” Possible motto for the Trump administration?

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identity politics

rhetorical claim: Identity politics—the artificial segmentation of Americans into antagonistic groups organized along often imagined ethnic, racial and sexual categories—is tearing America apart. President Trump can do something about it by rescinding all pan-ethnic categories in the 2020 census, replacing them with questions of national origin. This would encourage assimilation and end identitarian fever–the division of America by race and ethnicity.

rhetorical effect: This high-tech ethnic cleansing, along with a proposed citizenship question on the census, would lead to a population undercount, disproportionately harming states and cities with large immigrant communities. Combining this census undercount with the scrubbing of all racial, ethnic and sexual categories in any government records, would greatly deepen inequality and render minority populations helpless and without redress in the face of discrimination. Discrimination in the name of assimilation.

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just kidding

rhetorical claim: the President is often just kidding when he tweets stuff or makes off-the-cuff remarks. His aim is often to provoke the conversation and get Congress to do something–anything.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to believe anything Trump says, so we never know where he stands on anything. He is either “just joking,”  “doesn’t really mean that,” ‘”never really said that,” or “maybe really said it, but is totally misunderstood” Such prevarication masks his raging intolerance and smug self-satisfaction.