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, Oct 7-13, 2017

implicit bias

rhetorical claim: the implicit bias theory, which argues that 90 percent of white people are prejudiced against blacks, has removed the concept of individual agency from law. The need to plumb the unconscious to explain racial gaps arises for one reason: It is taboo to acknowledge that socioeconomic disparities might be caused by intergroup differences in cultural values, family structure, interests or abilities. The large racial gap in academic skills renders preposterous any expectation that, absent bias, blacks and whites would be proportionally represented in the workplace. And vast differences in criminal offending are sufficient to explain racial disparities in incarceration rates. 

rhetorical effect: establishes the “reality” that blacks are disadvantaged relative to whites because blacks are inherently inferior and immoral. (see “bourgeois norms”, below.) Basically argues that there is no such things as implicit bias, but, oif there was such a thing, it would be justifiably based on reality.



rhetorical claim: the Harvey Weinstein cover-up reveals the hypocrisy of progressives and Hollywood liberals, whose false self-righteousness justifies their war on American norms and values.

rhetorical effect: self-righteously equates any progressive moral claims with sanctimonious hypocrisy, im[lying that progressives have no moral foundation and certainly no righteousness.


bourgeois norms

rhetorical claim: the race grievance industry falsely claims that what constitutes “normal” is different for whites and blacks. They make the racist claim that white “bourgeois norms” are an offense against black culture. In other words, they argue that blacks should not be held to standards of personal responsibility, self-restraint, delayed gratification, marriage, and a strong work ethic. As usual, black critics are the real racists.

rhetorical effect: distorts serious black criticism of what moral values by making morality synonymous with being white; marginalizes any criticism of white culture as uncivilized; overtly links blackness to laziness, sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility.


sincerely-held religious beliefs

rhetorical claim: companies or organizations with sincerely-held religious or moral beliefs against birth control should not be forced to cover contraception in their health insurance policies. health. The Trump administration’s new policy on excluding contraceptive coverage from insurance coverage was, according to Paul  Ryan, ” a great day for religious liberty”.

rhetorical effect: It was not a great day for the liberty of women who sincerely believe in birth control.  As Gail Collins re-framed the issue:

It was a tough day for the First Amendment, for the people who’ve been struggling to make unwanted pregnancies, and abortion, as rare as possible.

It worked really well, though, for the hypocrites who want to kowtow to the religious right without any concern for the inevitable consequences.

This phrase is not about deeply-held moral and religious beliefs–which art not being challenged–but, rather, the right to impose those beliefs on non-believers. It was an unforgiving assault on freedom of choice. Sincerity is not a trump card, so to speak, that can be used to deny the rights of others. After all, white supremacists can’t discriminate against non-whites just because they sincerely believe non-whites are inferior to them.


principled entrepreneurship

rhetorical claim: business is not the enemy of ethics, and the free market has a moral dimension. The best expression of this may be he Koch Foundation’s definition of “principled entrepreneurship”:

A principled entrepreneur:

1. Makes decisions in the long-run best interest of the company based on facts, reality, and reason.
2. Creates win-win relationships with both customers and suppliers, engaging in exchanges that are in both the long-run best interests of the company and the customers and suppliers; and trading value for value in the marketplace.
3. Manages their employees in a manner that rewards productivity, holds people accountable and responsible, encourages independent thinking, and fosters teamwork and mutual respect.
4. Conducts business relationships with honesty, integrity, and lives up to the promises they make and contracts they enter into.
5. Respects and competes with other businesses in the marketplace by providing customers with higher value at lower costs.

A principled entrepreneur does not:
1. Seek to gain an advantage over their competition by using or supporting government policies that restrict competition in the marketplace or harm their competitors.
2. Seek or accept government subsidies or bailouts as the route to business success or survival.
3. Evade the facts of reality when making decisions.
4. Attempt to take advantage of their customers or suppliers, engage in deception or fraud, nor pursues short-run profits at the detriment of the long-run best interest of the company

rhetorical effect: eliminates all government regulation over businesses. Defines Social Darwinism–a zero-sum, winner-take-all struggle–as the basic “fact of reality.”


judging political bias

rhetorical claim: Judges should not be involved in drawing state electoral borders because  gerrymandering is a political act and human judges will always lose their credibility when they inevitably act with political bias. Inherent political controversies such as redistricting  are best resolved by the political process. Proportional representation would lead to a European-style Congressional makeup, a perfect recipe for identity politics and gridlock.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to even legally challenge racially discriminatory, and maintains the US as a permanent  non-majority government. Baldly partisan redistricting. Shifts the analytical focus from outcomes (de facto segregation) to processes. After all, the GOP is not shy about accepting favorable Supreme Court opinions. Playing the “European” card is an always-reliable way to discredit a policy they don’t like, since Europe seems to be politically toxic, in the same way Nancy Pelosi is.


honoring the Confederacy

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ demanding the removal of Confederate statues are dishonoring America’s past and ignoring our history.

rhetorical effect: the upside-downness of this is astonishing, As Frank Bruni puts it, “Funny how people who accuse their rivals of being unpatriotic worship men who engaged in armed rebellion against the United States”.


Black Identity Extremists (BIE)

rhetorical claim: Amid a rancorous debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division has declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African-Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report, marked for official use only and obtained by Foreign Policy

rhetorical effect: As expressed in The Daily Kos:

While this is isn’t new, it is incredibly scary and we should remain very vigilant. This has important implications as to how the Trump administration plans to carry out a program to demonize and target black activists—and activists of color more broadly. With Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, who knows what kind of laws they’ll come up (or even break) to surveil and jail folks? It’s also yet another demonstration of their clear commitment to advancing a white nationalist agenda. So far they’ve identified Muslims as a terrorist group, identified Latino immigrants as a threat and now blacks. Who’s next?


the war on coal

rhetorical claim: by repealing the Clean Power Act, EPA head Scott Pruitt has ended the War on Coal.

rhetorical effect: deepens the war on the planet and public health.




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, Oct 1-6, 2017

“economically and technologically achievable standards”

rhetorical claim: science shouldn’t have anything to do with environmental policy. Instead, economic impacts and achievable standards should dictate our clean air and water standards. We can longer bankrupt American industry in the name of the unproven theory of climate change.

rhetorical effect: the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has removed the phrase “science-based standards” from its mission statement, replacing it with “economic and technologically achievable standards.”  Shortly after announcing that he wants climate researchers to “debate” climate deniers on live TV, EPA Director Scott Pruitt said “science should not be something that’s just thrown about to try and dictate policy in Washington DC. The idea that science should not dictate nor influence policy is insane. It really doesn’t need to be said that science is one of the key foundations of modern society, and that the Trump war on science and fact is eroding all the gains of the Enlightenment. The end of pluralism and the sharing and distribution of knowledge will lead to a new Dark Age.


relatively speaking

rhetorical claim: Trump on Puerto Rico relief efforts: “The loss of life, it’s always tragic. But it’s been incredible,” he said on CNN’s Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin. “The results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life. People can’t believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking.” 

rhetorical effect: Comparing the absolute needs of Puerto Ricans with the needs of other disaster victims diminishes their need and justifies inaction.



rhetorical claim: Debates about gun control in the days immediately following a mass shooting are always premature. .Those who preen on about eroding the Second Amendment are simply politicizing tragedy and disrespecting the victims.

rhetorical effect: “premature” is really saying that Congress will never enact even modest efforts to prevent mass shootings. Every time–any time– is an inappropriate time to talk about gun control, and the call for respectful silence on the issue to avoid “politicizing” it is itself a politicized speech act. It anesthetizes any calls to action to, say, expand background checks, ban automatic weapons, or keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable. After all, everything is political in America.


gender ideology

rhetorical claim: Progressives liberals want to feminize boys, turn girls into lesbians, and destroy the family, all in the name of an ideology of gender equality

rhetorical effect: according to The Economist, this meme is part of a long-standing campaign against feminism by conservatives in the Catholic church which has widened in recent years into opposition to gay marriage and gay rights. The aim is to create an entirely fictional moral panic that the family is disintegrating. As The Economist puts it gender is in fact “not an ideology but it is a lightning rod.” Calling feminism, gay rights and gender equality ideologies, neutralizes their moral weight, reducing them to matters of opinion and politics.


heath care as a privilege

rhetorical claim: health care is a privilege, not a right. So-called human rights almost always have a cost that taxpayers have to cover. The burden of this coverage is not shared by all. Self-reliance and the free market should determine a person’s medical coverage. As Senator Ron Johnson explained,

When a student asked him if he considers health care to be a right or a privilege, Johnson replied, “I think it’s probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as ‘rights’ is ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Everything else is a limited resource.

rhetorical effect: Social Darwinism in action because it turns a basic human need into something to be earned. Turns basic human rights into a zero-sum game.


the costs and benefits of tax reform

rhetorical claim: according to Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin, no one can credibly estimate the effect of the plan, given how many details are still up in the air. However, the plan will reduce deficits by $1 trillion by stimulating growth that primarily benefits the middle class.

rhetorical effect: because both of these claims cannot be simultaneously true, this statement is the rhetorical equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Mnuchin obscures the benefits of tax reform by claiming that corporate taxes are largely paid by workers, when they are in fact mostly paid by shareholders. The Trump administration will do everything it can to conceal and distort the true costs and benefits of their tax reform package and always falsely claim that its primary aim is to help the middle class. It estimated that by 2027 the proposal would increase deficits by $2.4 trillion, with about 80 percent of tax cuts going to the top 1 percent.”

Voters in the lower-income brackets have to pay attention. The GOP is essentially willing to blow a hole in the deficit to cut taxes for their wealthy donors and large corporations. This will increase income inequality in the nation; provide less money to invest in the items that have proven to grow the economy, like education, infrastructure and technology; burden future generations with more debt; and give the wealthy more money to fund lobbyists, campaign contributions and gamble on the stock market. The GOP wants us to look more like Latin America.



rhetorical claim: the Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center have sandbagged the GOP tax reform plan by trashing its consequences without any evidence.

rhetorical effect: “Sandbagging” is rhetorical shorthand for “criticizing.” Any criticism of the plan is called either  “premature” (see above) or “fake.” This pejorative thus short cuts any critical analysis because there is no middle ground for critical analysis, historical comparisons, or prevailing assumptions.


viewpoint discrimination

rhetorical claim: college administrators engage in viewpoint discrimination when they ban conservative speakers because of concerns over student safety. All opinions matter, and college-aged “snowflakes” have to get used to the rough and tumble of the real world.

rhetorical effect: encourages and even protects hate speech. In fact, this rhetorical inversion makes any demonstration against “white privilege” or “white supremacy” itself a racially biased act, subject to liability and the pulling of federal funding. Anything with a “viewpoint” is thus judged discriminatory, in the pejorative sense of the word. Of course, any distinction between terms or ideas is inherently discriminatory.


the price of freedom

rhetorical claim:  As Bill O’Reilly put it, “The NRA and its supporters want easy access to weapons, while the left wants them banned. This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons,”

rhetorical effect: This master covering meme could be a GOP slogan for our time because it implies that collective action cannot lead to collective benefit. Justifies doing nothing about gun control; confuses freedom with self-reliance, as if freedom is an absolute with no social dimension or social consequences, and  as if there is always just a binary choice between freedom and any effective gun control;  dooms us all to a Wild West permissiveness in an age of weapons of mass destruction. As Heather Richardson put it on

The American casualties at Mandalay Bay are the horrific embodiment of what happened to America with the rise of movement conservatism: business profits became more important than human lives. Wealth has moved upward dramatically while regular Americans have seen their jobs evaporate, their health fail, infrastructure crumble and the environment degrade. Last week’s figures from the Federal Reserve show that in 2016, the top 1 percent of Americans controlled 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth, almost twice that of the bottom 90 percent. Also last week, we had the stomach-turning spectacle of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin telling high school students that health care, food and shelter are privileges. And in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Republican media personality Bill O’Reilly called the carnage at Mandalay Bay “the price of freedom.”..Someday, people will wonder how we came to this state of insanity.


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, Sept. 25-30, 2017

Disrespecting the flag edition. The entirely moral and political argument over the national anthem has been turned into outright civil war, reminiscent of Nixonian “America love it or leave it” rhetoric. The controversy raises the most pressing questions of who decides what constitutes history, what values should be respected, appropriate ways of displaying patriotism, how to protect free speech so that criticism of injustice  the abuse of power is not criminalized ostracized, etc.


disrespecting the flag

rhetorical claim: professional athletes should stop disrespecting the flag that millions have died defending. (see “the flag is drenched in our blood,” below.

rhetorical effect: the sheer gall of this “respect the flag” meme is best unmasked by Colbert King in the Washington Post:

How could I not think of flag and country when I consider the actions of a hostile foreign power attempting to corrupt our basic American democratic franchise? The thought of Russia interfering in our presidential election to help Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton is as stunning as it is outrageous. But that is what Russian President Vladimir Putin did, according to the U.S. intelligence community. A clear threat to flag and country.

Trump questioned the patriotism of the protesting athletes. How is it patriotic for him and his private-jet-obsessed — and now former — health and human services secretary to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, as would have happened with their support for proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? What a display of national devotion.

Protect flag and country? By insulting, goading and threatening foreign leaders and international institutions around the globe?

We all sing with gusto: “Land of the free and home of the brave.” But watch as the president’s eyes glaze over at talk of injustice. Watch them light up at any chance to exploit racial and social divisions for political gain.

With liberty and justice for all.” Now, achieving that American ideal is worth fighting — and standing up — for.


the flag is drenched with our blood

rhetorical claim: NFL players have a right to free speech but no right to disrespect a flag that is drenched in the blood of Americans who died defending it.

rhetorical effect: tries to have it both ways: defending the right to free speech by stipulating what kinds of free speech cannot be practiced. (It’s a safe bet to say that any sentence beginning “I believe in free speech, but…” is going to be a denial of the right to free speech.) The outrageousness of this is best expressed by Charles Blow in the NY Times, reflecting on the history of state violence against blacks in the US:

Throughout most of this pain and bloodshed, some version of the flag has waved.

So how dare anyone suggest that people simply rise and conform to custom when they feel the urgent need to protest. How dare America say so cavalierly, “Forgive us our sins and grant us our laurels,” when forgiveness has never been sufficiently requested — nor the sins sufficiently acknowledged — and the laurels are tainted and stained by the stubbornness of historical fact. How dare we even pretend that the offenses have been isolated and anomalous and not orchestrated and executed by the nation?

So those football players should take a knee if they so choose. If America demands your respect it must grant you respect and the first order of that respect is equality and eradicating the ominous threat of state violence.

People upset with those who kneel seem to be more angry about black “disrespect” than black death. (Here, I need to applaud the non-black players who demonstrated their solidarity in the cause of free speech and equality.)

We have to accept that different Americans see pride and principle differently, but that makes none of them less American.

Indeed, we Americans see the flag itself differently. As the civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “The flag is drenched with our blood.”


retaining our history and heritage

rhetorical claim: keeping Confederate memorials is merely the retention of our history and heritage. Leftists want nothing more than an Orwellian brainwashing of the past so they can control the future.

rhetorical effect: this bedrock conservative cultural grievance somehow makes US history (or at least a pure-bred, whitewashed version of it) the sole property of Trump supporters, and any attempted historical revision a treasonous act. After all, purity builds and maintains the empire.


dependency-based culture

rhetorical claim: we can never achieve effective health care reform so long as we live in a dependency-based culture in which incentives to not work and stay on the dole are stronger than those supporting work.

rhetorical effect: A thinly-disguised argument that health care is a privilege to be earned, not a right. Makes poverty seem voluntary, ignoring all historical and institutional factors which create and perpetuate it; makes the social safety net sound like a massive fraud; makes “personal responsibility” a synonym for class and racial   privilege. Imagine the “responsibility” argument framed differently if, say, relying on the police or fire departments was called a “dependency.”


moralistic hectoring

rhetorical claim: NFL players are suddenly lionized as self-appointed moral experts on race relations in America. Everyone wold be better off if they stuck to playing football instead of bullying America into a wholly misleading condemnation of how the police maintain law and order.

rhetorical effect: conflates law enforcement with social justice, as though any police action is immune to prosecution; makes criticism of police brutality a form of condescending “lecturing” or bullying; turns moral judgements into “scolding.”


class-warfare brigades

rhetorical claim:  Dems can be counted on to play the class warfare card in any debate about health care or tax reform. They will gnaw away at the GOP tax plan like termites, all under the banner of “soak the rich.”

rhetorical effect: Undermines any opposition to tax reforms greatly advantaging the rich by labeling it “phony” class warfare; justifies huge tax advantages for the rich and privileged by calling reform measures a “middle class miracle.” Just as using the term “playing the race card” almost always means the speaker or writer is in fact racist (see “this has nothing to do with race,” below), the use of the term “class warfare” almost always means the speaker or writer is a classist.


strategic military assets

rhetorical claim: The U.S. has, in recent weeks, been regularly sending bombers and fighters, aircraft carriers and submarines, and troops to the peninsula for training exercises. As a South Korean spokesperson put it, “Surprise dispatch of strategic weapons is effective in maximizing fear in the North as it sends a message that such weapons can be mobilized any time in case of a contingency,”

rhetorical effect: The  vague term “strategic assets” has historically referred to heavy military assets meant to attack population centers, in contrast to “tactical” weapons meant to be of specific use on the battlefield. As such, the innocuous-sounding term itself is a euphemism for military escalation and dire threat. The only “strategy” is to bring the world to the brink of war.


thrown about

rhetorical claim:  EPA Director Scott Pruitt said it best: “Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington D.C.”

rhetorical effect: justifies a science-optional or an ascientific approach to environmental regulation. Reduces truth to opinion, and calls the entire Enlightenment into question. Returns us to the Dark Ages of faith, fanaticism, and dogma. ‘”Thrown about” also suggests that science is either a smokescreen or crazy theory.


this has nothing to do with race

rhetorical claim: despite what the Dems say, the NFL national anthem controversy has nothing to do with race. They’re just playing the race card.

rhetorical effect: makes any mention of race into the mere “playing” of “the race card,” as if this was a game and not a battle to save black lives and black dignity. Rest assured, anytime anyone says that something “has nothing to do with race,” then it has everything to do with race, just as they are the ones “plating the race card” whenever they use that phrase. They seem to argue that there re no racists in America, though they admit that racism somehow still exists.


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, Sept. 16-24, 2017.

de facto eugenics

rhetorical claim: abortion rights are inseparable from Dem shibboleths such as women’s rights and economic and racial justice. But is it really racial justice to practice de facto eugenics by advocating abortion as an essential “right” for minority women?

rhetorical effect: likens a woman’s right to choose to murder, and undermines any calls for racial justice or equal rights.


taxes on the poor

rhetorical claim: social “safety net” programs (such as Obamacare), assumed by the Dems to help the poor, actually hold the poor back and impose an unfair tax burden on them. Obamacare substitutes  the government’s political preferences for individual judgment, and forces the poor to pay for benefits they don;t want or need,

rhetorical effect: turns the argument inside out by blaming poverty on the government. By this logic, the quickest way to prosperity for all is no social safety net, and the imposition of a “pure market economy” (see below). As usual, the best way to understand the rhetorical effect of a GOP claim to help the poor is to “follow the money” in the sense of seeing what this argument justifies–in this case, repealing Obamacare and taking millions of poor people off Medicaid.


tremendous business potential

rhetorical claim: Addressing African leaders at the UN, Trump said:

Africa has tremendous business potential, I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets. … It’s really become a place they have to go, that they want to go.

rhetorical effect: “congratulates” Africa for its neo-colonial status as a place to be plundered and exploited by Americans; makes business potential the sole criteria for national success. In a section on the African economy titled ‘Why Has Africa Failed To industrialist?‘, the UN’s own website sums up the West’s – i.e. Trump’s friends’ – approach to the continent, using a book by Ha-Joon Chang to illustrate the perspective.

In the book, “Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” Mr. Chang, whom The Financial Times describes as “probably the world’s most effective critic of globalization,” argues that rich countries have historically relied on protectionist approaches in their quests for economic dominance.

In its review of the book, The Publishers Weekly, a US-based news magazine on book publishing, says rich nations that “preach free market and free trade to the poor countries in order to capture larger shares of the latter’s markets and to pre-empt the emergence of possible competitors are Chang’s bad Samaritans.”

So it’s probably not something to brag about, particularly as leader of the world’s capitalist powerhouse.



rhetorical claim: in his “America First” UN speech, Trump made national sovereignty the core criteria for foreign policy.  Stressing self-reliance, as the National Review put it,

Trump sees the norm-based international order not as an end in itself but as a very high-order means by which the United States, and other democracies, defend their own safety and sovereign rights. That means he values the global system but is willing to accept or even create stress on it where necessary to protect important American interests.

rhetorical effect: as Gail Collins put it, ” it was a little like going to the first meeting of the PTA and repeatedly pointing out that you only care about your own kid.” This lone wolfism promotes the opposite of collective security– a Hobbesian (“the war of all against all”) , every-country-for-itself world (best expressed by E. J. Dionne:

The notion that “sovereignty” is in such danger that it demanded 21 mentions is absurd. No member state at the United Nations rejects national sovereignty, and many use it as a cover for dismissing the values of democracy and human rights, casting both as the impositions of outsiders.

No wonder Trump won applause when he said that “you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.” Selfishness is popular. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping no doubt nodded approvingly when they were briefed about Trump’s words.

But Trump was so selective and inconsistent in his application of sovereignty that the concept itself had collapsed before he finished. If sovereignty is the highest principle, what justification does he have for threatening to destroy North Korea (which asserts its sovereign right to nuclear weapons)?

Trump’s world is a stark state of nature.


principled realism

rhetorical claim: the Trump Doctrine–“principled realism”–combines resolve, national sovereignty and a principle of peace through strength.

rhetorical effect: ennobles bullying, swagger and threat into a “principle.” In foreign policy circles, “realism” used to mean non-ideological countervailing forces, diplomacy, and trade-offs, but now the only “realism” seems to mean “whatever America wants” .



rhetorical claim: the Steele dossier has been widely discredited, and is probably an FBI plant.

rhetorical effect: proves that a well-coordinated GOP talking point can take the place of reality and become its own reality, turning the Trumpian colluders into the victims. In this case, a few incorrect facts in the dossier are used to discredit the entire document, even though the vast bulk of it has been upheld by subsequent disclosures. In such a case, “widely” refers only to GOP echo chambers, and “discredited” means denied but not refuted. In their furious attempt to make the dossier itself the smoking gun in a Democratic conspiracy to rig the election, the GOP has turned reality upside down and inside out.



rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is a great populist because he represents the will of real Americans, stands up to the elites, and is draining the swamp in Washington.

rhetorical effect: moralistic populist logic turns anyone opposed to Trump into an enemy of the people, since Trump represents 100% of the people–any opposition is thus immoral, corrupt and illegitimate, and even any negative poll or voting outcome is “rigged” or fake news. As Jan-Werner Muller puts it in his important book What Is Populism?

populism is always an exclusionary form of identity politics that is a danger to democracy…the idea of a single, homogeneous authentic people is a fantasy.

Even though they speak the language of democratic values, political populists will only be happy when their opponents are excluded. Opposition members are not considered proper members of the political community. Populists such as Trump have always already been the spokespersons of the real people, and anyone opposed to Trump simply doesn’t want America to be Great. Populists lay claim to exclusive moral representation of American values, so they cannot be proven wrong.

irresponsible policies

rhetorical claim: Dem social policies create dependency, irresponsibility, and a sense of entitlement. The welfare queen porch monkeys need to get off their butts, get off welfare, and get a job. Uncle Sam is your uncle, not your sugar daddy. As the Tea Party placard put it, “redistribute my work ethic.”

rhetorical effect: since the policies most often denounced as irresponsible always benefit the worst off, by definition anything that helps the poor actually hurts them.


direct representation

rhetorical claim: Trump’s tweets directly represent the will of the people, so he should not be vetted or restrained in making them.

rhetorical effect: makes it conceivable to have a representative democracy without  the majority being represented.


discriminatory legalism

rhetorical claim: not everyone is entitled to full protection under the law. For example, those who would undermine America, or are working actively against the people– criminals, illegal immigrants, suspected terrorists, Leftist thugs–should be harshly treated. Above the law stands the good of the nation.

rhetorical effect: translation: “for my friends, everything, for my enemies, the law.” The decline of the rule of law goes hand in hand with a lack of democratic accountability.


pure market economy

rhetorical claim: in a pure market economy, regulations wouldn’t exist, so any economic slowdown is the fault of regulation. Only free markets and limited government bring economic efficiency and clarity, and only the free market has the right to guide our civilization.

rhetorical effect: assumes that free markets are a fixed law of nature, so opposing them is unnatural or perverse. Government itself is framed as perverse because the only thing between us and permanent economic prosperity is government regulation. Also assumes that markets are “perfect” when left alone, because they self-regulate.


the New Segregation

rhetorical claim: coffee shops and restaurants displaying virtue-signalling ‘”All Are Welcome” signs are engaging in the New Segregation, as explained by the PJ Media website:

Let me interpret that for you, you low IQ dunce. These signs are to let you know, you hateful lover of law and order and restraint and decorum, that you are not welcome here. Contrary to “all are welcome,” you will notice that one group is decidedly missing. You. You think abortion is murder, so you don’t “stand with women,” even though half of those babies being killed are girls. You favor legal immigration, so you don’t “stand with immigrants,” which means allowing anyone including ISIS to just sally over the border willy-nilly as they please. You believe in traditional marriage and that children should not be denied a mother and father and so you do not “stand with the LGBTQWTF” crowd, even if you have no ill will toward them. Just the fact that you believe children have a right to their biological parents makes you a “hater.” You believe in biology and know that chromosomes don’t change because you want them to. This makes you “anti-science.”

You who believe that Black Lives Matter burning down cities and hurting people resembles domestic terror activities means you don’t like black people and so you can’t get a latte in this establishment, you cretin! And Allah forbid you should not believe the rallying cry that Islam is a “religion of peace,” even though it is drenched in the fresh blood of the infidel daily. YOU do not stand with “all” religions and so you are not welcome to do business with the super virtuous people inside this establishment. This establishment wants you to know they stand with “Our Community” and not yours. Got it?

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, Sept. 11-15, 2017.

The abuse of power becoming the reversal of truth edition. Lots of Karl Rove (and Lewis Carroll) inspired, up-is-down reversals this week: voters should be subject to greater legal scrutiny than gun owners; globalism is a greater hate crime than Nazism; tax cuts are not a boon to the rich but an economic miracle for everyone; the alt-right perpetrators of hate speech are themselves the victims of hate speech; inequality amelioration only leads to more inequality, and consumer protection only leads to increased consumer risk.



rhetorical claim: Trump should not only hold firm on eliminating DACA, but require e-Verify for all employees, all welfare recipients, and all voters.

rhetorical effect: converts Trumpinistas who supposedly loathe government into promoters of the most radical government intrusion into private lives ever.  Would basically disenfranchise millions of minority voters, throw minorities out of work, and end the social safety net. Would be a giant step toward a police state, where people no longer have the right to have rights.


economic hate crimes

rhetorical claim: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon told Charlie Rose that elites on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Washington, DC, have committed an “economic hate crime” against working-class Americans by eviscerating the country’s industrial base. (see The American System, below)

rhetorical effect: turns the tables on the Charlottesville rhetoric about white supremacists by calling the anti-Trump  forces the haters, while also neatly putting them all in the same category: enemies of the people.


3% growth norm

rhetorical claim: as Phil Gramm argues in the WSJ:

A tidal wave of new rules and regulations across health care, financial services, energy and manufacturing forced companies to spend billions on new capital and labor that served government and not consumers. Banks hired compliance officers rather than loan officers. Energy companies spent billions on environmental compliance costs, and none of it produced energy more cheaply or abundantly. Health-insurance premiums skyrocketed but with no additional benefit to the vast majority of covered workers.

…By waiving work requirements for welfare, lowering food-stamp eligibility requirements and easing standards for disability payments, Mr. Obama’s policies disincentivized work. Disability rolls have expanded 18.6% during the current recovery, compared with a 16% decline during the Reagan recovery. The CBO estimates ObamaCare alone will reduce work hours by 2% and eliminate 2.5 million jobs by 2024. At the current 1% growth in the civilian population above the age of 16, a mere reversion to the pre-Obama labor-force participation rates would supply more than enough workers to generate a 3% growth rate.

rhetorical effect: economic arrogance; belief  that tax cutting and deregulation are economic wonder drugs; maintains the illusion that economic growth can occur under Trump when all evidence points to the contrary, as explained in Business Insider:

“Six months into President Trump’s administration, there have been no signature legislative accomplishments, health care repeal appears stalled, tax reform has yet to show any public signs of progress, there is a seemingly constant barrage of investigation headlines, presidential pardoning power is a topic of conversation among real and imagined legal scholars, and the window for acting on the GOP’s legislative agenda is closing. With a quarter of the 115th Congress already elapsed, there has been no tangible evidence that the GOP is capable of legislating in a meaningful manner as nearly half of the bills signed into law thus far have either reversed Obama-era regulations or dealt with relatively minor matters

The International Monetary Fund has sharply revised its forecast for US economic growth in a direct indictment of President Donald Trump’s lack of action on promised policy changes.

The IMF downgraded its forecast for US gross-domestic-product growth to just 2.1% this year, down from 2.3%, and it also cut its 2018 estimate to 2.1% from 2.5%.

That revision is especially striking since it matched cuts not seen anywhere in the world other than two major emerging economies facing deep political crises — Brazil and South Africa.

The IMF’s chief economist, Maurice Obstfeld, said in a blog post that its “most important downgrade is the United States.”

“Near-term U.S. fiscal policy looks less likely to be expansionary than we believed in April,” he adds.


seductive Antifa violence

rhetorical claim: The danger posed by the extreme hard left is about the future. Leaders of tomorrow are being educated today on campus. The tolerance for censorship and even violence to suppress dissenting voices may be a foretaste of things to come. The growing influence of “intersectionality”—which creates alliances among “oppressed” groups—has led to a strange acceptance by much of the extreme left of the far-from-progressive goals and violent means of radical Islamic terrorist groups that are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. This combination of hard-left secular views and extreme Islamic theological views is toxic.

rhetorical effect: reduces all anti-Trump protestors with the Antifa; equates free speech with violence, and calls it the gateway drug to jihad, Sharia law, and ISIS; belittles the very idea of “oppression”; undercuts the very idea of “intersectionality”–the idea that inequality makes many disparate groups have more in common with one another; somehow ends up accusing dissidents of being sexist, racist and homophobic.


the American System

rhetorical claim: according to Steve Bannon (on Sixty Minutes):

America’s built on our citizens. Look at the 19th century. What built America is called the American System. From Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers and a control of our borders.”

America has had a winning game plan from the beginning — a combination of nationalism, federal government, and business coordination through which it has achieved greatness throughout history.

rhetorical effect: Bannon would have you believe that American identity is simple — that there is a clear line of logic throughout our history and that if we could just get back to that perfect place, we’ll be OK again. It’s a comforting thought, but it’s wrong. Moreover, it’s why white nationalists and neo-Nazis are attracted to him, so it’s also dangerous.


the right time to talk about climate change

rhetorical claim: it’s hugely cynical and politically exploitative to talk about climate change during major hurricanes or other extreme weather events. Doing so is to be insensitive to storm victims, as expressed by EPA Director Scott Pruitt.

rhetorical effect: makes it never the right time to talk about climate change, just as it’s never the right time to talk about gun control. In actuality, not talking about these things is a much greater disrespect to their victims than addressing the root causes head-on. As Thomas Friedman argues in the New York Times,

Makes me wonder … if Pruitt were afflicted with cancer, would he not want scientists discussing with him, let alone researching, the possible causes and solutions? Wouldn’t want to upset him.

Frauds like Pruitt like to say that the climate has been changing since long before any human drove a car, so how could humans be causing climate change? Of course they aren’t solely responsible. The climate has always changed by itself through its own natural variability. But that doesn’t mean that humans can’t exacerbate or disrupt this natural variability by warming the planet even more and, by doing so, making the hots hotter, the wets wetter, the storms harsher, the colds colder and the droughts drier….

Trump has recently fired various knuckle-headed aides whose behavior was causing him short-term embarrassment. The person he needs to fire is Scott Pruitt. Pruitt is going to cause Trump long-term embarrassment. But instead, together they are authoring a new national security doctrine — one that says when faced with a low-probability, high-impact event like North Korea, the U.S. should spend any amount of money, and if the threat doesn’t materialize, well, we’ll have a lot of Army surplus and scrap metal.

But when faced with an actually high-probability, high-impact threat called climate change, we should do nothing and poke both our eyes out, even though if the impact is less severe — and we prepare for it anyway — we will be left healthier, stronger, more productive, more resilient and more respected around the world.

That is the Pruitt-Trump Doctrine — soon to be known as “Trump’s Folly.”


the right word

rhetorical claim: Kris Kobach claims he didn’t “use the right word” recently when claiming that the New Hampshire Senate race was “stolen” by illegal Dem voters, adding “we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of this particular election.”

rhetorical effect: clouds the answer to his questions of legitimacy by claiming we need more data; raises a question where there is actually no question: the New Hampshire results were certified and legal;  as one commission member put it:

Making this equation that somehow people not updating their driver’s license is indicative of voter fraud would be almost as absurd as saying that if you have cash in your wallet, that that’s proof that you robbed a bank…it’s a reckless statement to make.


assaults on free speech

rhetorical claim: The Left is engaged in an all-out European-style war on free speech and freedom of assembly.  Today, a “racist” is someone who believes in legal immigration. An “extremist” is someone who doesn’t believe in mass, state-funded abortion. A “xenophobe” is someone who takes pride in their nation. An “anti-Semite” is — curiously — someone who supports the State of Israel, and “white supremacy” now occupies the Oval Office. The Overton window has shifted so far that even practicing Muslims are now decried by the most heavily quoted sources as “Islamophobes”.

rhetorical effect: by conflating  hate speech with free speech, sanctions hate speech; makes anti-racism positions seem unreasonable or ridiculous; confuses patriotism with white supremacy. By calling any attempt to curtail hate speech an “assault on free speech,” turns the perpetrators of hate speech into victims.


preoccupation with inequality

rhetorical claim: Liberals are bemoaning that the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, didn’t post a significant decline last year. But income inequality drops principally during recessions as the wealthy lose a larger share of their earnings than everyone else. As we learned in the Obama years, the preoccupation with inequality leads to economic policies that reduce growth, which leads to more inequality.

rhetorical effect: in classic Roveian reversal (a form of absurdity with its roots in Swift and Lewis Carroll), black becomes white, day becomes night, and a concern with inequality only leads to greater inequality. The more you try to help the poor, te poorer they get. By extension, then, doing absolutely nothing for the poor is the quickest way to make them rich.


fairness in lending

rhetorical claim: fair lending practices gave rise to the Equifax identity theft case. Fairness laws, in the form of protections against racial prejudice, should be relaxed or eliminated, and credit issuers be allowed to return to an open and free market where their judgment i more important than impersonal numbers.

rhetorical effect: a return to redlining. Consumer protection is once again the culprit because it makes consumers less protected.



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, Sept. 3-8, 2017

race ploy

rhetorical claim: the Dems still play the race card whenever they need to blame the dirty masses for racism, fascism, etc. Their constant moral bullying and stigmatizing is one of the main reasons Trump was elected. The Dems have gone from being the party of tax and spend to the party of hate and racism, and they somehow have managed to come out against an orderly, legal immigration system, against good jobs for all American citizens, against defending America first, and against allowing individuals to have the opportunity to build better lives for themselves without government telling them what to do and how to do it.

rhetorical effect: strengthens narratives of white victimology and treats historical racism as “fake news.”


the highest taxed nation in the world

rhetorical claim: the US is the highest taxed nation in the world, and these taxes are a major drag on economic expansion.

rhetorical effect: like all Big Lies, this one runs counter to known facts and yet creates its own momentum and veracity. As Paul Krugman argues,

The day after announcing that he would rescind DACA, Trump gave a speech on tax reform in which he claimed, as he has on multiple occasions, that America is the “highest-taxed nation in the world.” As fact-checkers have pointed out every time he says this, this isn’t just false, it’s almost the opposite of the truth — the U.S. collects less in taxes, as a share of national income, than almost any other advanced economy. But Trump just keeps repeating the lie.


Green Party ideology

rhetorical claim: according to The WSJ’s George Melloan,

Underlying the Green philosophy is a distrust of economic growth. That’s what distinguishes Greens from garden-variety environmentalists who simply want a safe and clean environment, as everyone does. Although the Greens operate under the flag of environmentalism, they have greater ambitions. They are a modern manifestation of a back-to-nature movement, feeding on the guilt and anxiety that accompany scientific advance.

Greens adopted the Democratic Party precisely because it is the party of government. They see government power as the way to suppress the animal spirits of private enterprise that produce innovation and new wealth.

rhetorical effect: reinforces the false dichotomy of no growth vs. no regulation; valorizes the “animal spirits,” which is conservative shorthand for corporate greed and social Darwinism.


the Reagan supply side boom

rhetorical claim: The Reagan tax cuts and deregulation created a boom in the US which extended through the Clinton Presidency. Supply-side economics are the only long-term way to create enough prosperity to end the immigration controversies because all boats float on a rising tide.

rhetorical effect: this fairy tale about the Reagan economic boom ignores the scandals, recession, tax increases and economic chaos that plagued his entire second term, and undercuts any credit due to the Clinton administration. As argued by Paul Krugman, Bill Clinton knew in 1991 that

“The Reagan-Bush years have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.” The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen…I understand why conservatives want to rewrite history and pretend that these good things happened while a Republican was in office — or claim, implausibly, that the 1981 Reagan tax cut somehow deserves credit for positive economic developments that didn’t happen until 14 or more years had passed. (Does Richard Nixon get credit for “Morning in America”?)


due process

rhetorical claim: Betsy DeVos has restored due process to the way Obama allowed US colleges and universities to run roughshod over human rights in sexual assault investigations. Campus rape hysteria justified these academic star chambers allowed political correctness to trample on due process, and prejudged all of the accused of guilt.

rhetorical effect: a rolling back of civil rights for rape victims. the Trump “grab them by the pussy” administration is hardly in a position to weaken sexual assault misconduct cases. What’s worse, though, as The New Yorker described it, among DeVos’s supporters of watering down sexual assault cases are

advocates for accused students and a men’s-rights group that has been accused of harassing and intimidating sexual-assault victims. At a rally outside the Education Department, assault survivors urged DeVos not to abandon the commitment to Title IX enforcement seen during the Obama years. Deepening the provocation, her acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson—a sexual-assault survivor who supported the alleged victims of Bill Clinton and called alleged victims of Donald Trump “fake victims”—had to apologize for telling the Times, on the eve of the event, that “90 percent” of campus accusations amount to drunk or regretted breakup sex. She was in the meetings with DeVos. At a news conference immediately after the closed-door meetings, DeVos said that it was “a really emotionally draining day.”

…..“due process” can be a code for rape denial or upholding rape culture. Concern for fairness for the accused is often mistakenly conflated with implying that many rape accusations are false. Fairness is important regardless of the truth or the falsehood of allegations. It is unclear whether DeVos is equipped to make nuance stick in this debate, and to make fair treatment of all parties compatible with the responsibility of schools and government to address sexual assault.


the Resistance

rhetorical claim: leftist “Resistance” malcontents are skulking around Washington like would-be usurpers, like Caesar’s assassins. They call it resistance, but it is really a putsch, abetted all the while by the mainstream media. The underpublicized fact is that Donald Trump ran against a complacent, biased, flabby, leftist media that had whitewashed the failures of the U.S. political class for decades. He won, they lost, they have been poor sports, and now the public is tired of their lies and their malice. Public approval of the media is under 20 per cent and polls now show Trump edging over 40 per cent. As argued by Victor David Hanson:

The Resistance has gone from melodramatic charges of Trump’s collusion with the Russians, to amateur diagnoses of his mental incapacity, to fear-mongering about his supposed wild desire for a Strangelovian nuclear war with North Korea, to castigating him for his apparently callous and uncaring reactions to Hurricane Harvey victims…

There is a populist and growing resistance to the Orwellian idea that free speech is hate speech, that equality of opportunity is defined only by equality of result, and that identity politics determines the degree of government-mandated penance and reparations.

rhetorical effect: makes resisting Trump seem like a treasonous act; transforms the press into an enemy of the people; brands all criticism of Trump as malicious, with no factual basis.


market-driven wages

rhetorical claim: liberals complain that right-to-work labor laws suppress wages and give the US an unfair foreign trade advantage.  Market-driven wages used to be called old fashioned competition.

rhetorical effect: this is the very claim that the US makes about China and Mexico–that low-wage workers are stealing jobs. “Competition” becomes an unassailable  virtue word justifying low wages, the end of workplace safety rules  and environmental degradation.



rhetorical claim: Trump’s America First foreign policy has led to tougher trade terms, more reciprocity in making allies pay for mutual defense, renewed respect for America’s military might, and a new realism not focused on “nation building.”

rhetorical effect: diplomacy via bombastic tweets; the end of multilateral trade agreements; increasing isolation and alienation from allies, China’s increasing influence, etc–these actual effects have been masked in a rhetoric of bluster, justification, victimhood, jingoism, and entirely unwarranted triumphalism. The overall, decidedly undiplomatic, rhetorical effect has been to make US foreign policy synonymous with US economic prosperity and worldwide domination.


virtue signalling

rhetorical claim: liberals, in their smug sense of moral superiority, are always virtue signalling. Their holier-than-thou attitude alienates voters, who care about jobs, security, family, retirement. Not bathrooms, gay marriage, climate and transgender. Those who purport to care about the latter set of issues — including, apparently, gay or transgender people — must be doing so for attention.

rhetorical effect: almost any public utterance of concern becomes easy to write off as false — as mere performance.  As argued in a recent New York Times Magazine “First Words” column:

Caring is not a crime; it is an argument, about what people should value in the first place. And accusations of ‘‘virtue signaling’’ are, more than anything, a way of walking out on that argument and dismissing it altogether — a quick and easy solution for those moments when engaging and listening, agreeing or disagreeing, seem too hard, too challenging, too personal, too dangerous.

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, Aug 30-Sept. 3, 2017

Sovereign democracy edition. Trump’s grand bargain (see “pro-growth tax policy,” below) is economic prosperity in exchange for limited political freedoms, suppression of the media, the judiciary and Congress, and toxic hostility to human rights, immigrants, women, LGBTQ, minorities, and non-Christians. Very much in the Putin mold, let the dog eat well but not bark too much, and get rid of or silence those who bark too much. This new “realism” is really just authoritarianism and political repression. All of this is disguised as populism, the will of the people. This is what is now called ‘illiberal democracy,” what the The Kremlin calls “sovereign democracy.”

What this might portend for America’s future is well spelled out by Indiana University political scientist Jeffrey Isaac:

A spectre is haunting Europe and the United States; the spectre of illiberal democracy.

The project of instituting a new form of ‘illiberal democracy’ in place of the supposedly outmoded form of liberal democracy is most closely linked to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has repeatedly announced this intention. But the idea is commonly associated with a broader range of political leaders – Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, among others – who have sought to institute illiberal measures and to justify them, at least in part, by appeal to a more authentic form of ‘democracy.’ As David Ost has recently observed of the Hungarian and Polish cases:

Eviscerating the Constitutional Court and purging the judiciary, complete politicization of the civil service, turning public media into a government mouthpiece, restricting opposition prerogatives in parliament, unilateral wholesale change of the Constitution or plain violation of it, official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts, surveillance without check – with such policies and more, right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland are engaged in a direct attack on the institutions of democracy. The ruling parties, Fidesz and Law and Justice (PiS) respectively, do not even claim to adhere to ‘liberal’ democracy anymore. Are they committed to democracy at all? Both accept it now that elections have brought unchecked one-party rule by the party representing ‘the nation.’ Otherwise, ‘democracy’ appears to be only a curtsy to the political correctness they otherwise abhor.



rhetorical claim: the Trump “America First” foreign policy sees the international environment as an inherently zero-sum arena in which the gains of other countries are America’s losses, all foreign policy is inherently competitive, the promotion of human rights and democracy are distractions from winning, and only America stands in the way of the undermining of civilization. (see “the triumph of Western civilization,” below)

rhetorical effect: this dog-eat-dog vision alienates long-time allies, encourages dictators and autocrats, undermines existing treaties and institutions, ignores the very values that have made the US into a foreign policy force in the first place, and undermines all trust and cooperation in our network of alliances. This deterioration of trust can only lead to political, economic and military instability, and thus serve as a form of national security  that actually makes America more insecure.


fake news

rhetorical claim: the mainstream media’s fake news is an effort to agitate, not inform, akin to foreign propaganda. It is a greater threat to the US than white supremacy.

rhetorical effect: putting the media on the same moral p[lane as the KKK and neo-Nazis further demonizes them. Hardens the cultural divisions between mainstream news media and those who consume it and the populist press and its supporters, resulting in a self-perpetuating cycle of mutual mistrust and hostility. Conveniently masks the fact just calling the media “fake news” is itself an example of fake news.


the triumph of Western civilization

rhetorical claim: political correctness in the form of tearing down Confederate statues, limiting free speech, changing the ways history is depicted in textbooks so that all non-Europeans are portrayed as victims of racist white colonialists–such Orwellian attempts to not only limit but set the terms of political debate are key to the Left’s ultimate opposition to the triumph of Western civilization.

rhetorical effect: narrows what qualifies as “civilization”; equates conquest with ‘”triumph”; invokes the sentiments of the Crusades by type-casting most of the world as uncivilized infidels.


pro-growth tax policy

rhetorical claim: President Trump’s supply-side tax cut proposal would stimulate the economy and help our workers, companies and country compete against China.

rhetorical effect: claims ownership of American workers and companies, so that anyone opposed to Trump’s massive tax cuts for the rich becomes an enemy of the people. Disguises trickle-down plutocracy as populism. Creates an authoritarian legitimacy by offering prosperity in exchange for political corruption, media intimidation, and playing to his racist, sexist white supremacy base.


system of values

rhetorical claim: Trump’s system of values is America’s system of values: hard work, individual liberty, honor, patriotism, and respect for law and order. Liberals, by contrast, do not share any of the “Make America Great Again” values. They value government handouts over hard work, collective values over individual rights, constant doubt about American power, scoffing at the idea of patriotism, and respect for the state.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound as if liberals only values obstructionism , mockery and the sheer will-to-power.


uncontrolled migration

rhetorical claim: uncontrolled migration is responsible for plummeting wages, rising crime and overcrowded schools.

rhetorical effect: skips over the facts that migration is strictly controlled, non-immigrants are far likelier to commit crimes than immigrants, technology has taken jobs away from Americans far more than immigrants have, overcrowding in schools is caused by a plethora of factors, and crime rates are lower among immigrants than among people born here


antiquated Congressional processes and procedures

rhetorical claim: ending the filibuster and the 60-vote rule in the Senate; changing the way the CBO scores bills, changing the ways baseline spending is tallied, changing the definitions of budget windows–all of these changes to antiquated Congressional policies and procedures will free the administration up to enact real tax cuts and stimulate a supply-side boom economy.

rhetorical effect: changing the rules of the game to rig the results means that the truly pernicious and inequality-producing aspects of the tax bill will be disguised and will also ease the way to passage. The GOP is out to create a grammar ans a rhetoric of greed.


race fatigue

rhetorical claim: Americans are experiencing race fatigue, no longer willing to feel guilty due to the progressives’  false charges of racism. The Left’s hypocritical false sense of moral superiority has been unmasked for what it truly is: the will to power, exclusion, and elitism. Racism is the wedge issue the haters want to use to destroy Trump and take over the entire the entire government

rhetorical effect: promulgates the pernicious myth that we live in a “post racial” society; makes any claims of racial bias false and self-serving, turning the victims into perpetrators of vicious stereotypes.


environmental resilience

rhetorical claim: Environmental resilience comes from economic growth, not the Paris accord or climate change hysteria. As argued by Bret Stephens in the New York Times,

Only sustained economic growth leads to better safety standards, funds scientific research, builds spillways and wastewater plants, creates “green jobs,” sets aside prime real estate for conservation, and so on. Poverty, not wealth, is the enemy of the environment. Only the rich have the luxury of developing an ethical stance toward their trash.

Resilient economies are built on hard work, little or no regulation and government interference, and little or no zoning, Progressives’ obstructionist government regulation will not stop people from moving to cities (such as Houston) in which the progressives’ hidden agenda of political opportunism has been exposed and rejected by the voters. Thus these are the cities where houses are cheap and jobs are plentiful.

rhetorical effect: calling poverty the enemy of the environment makes the poor into enemies of the people and the planet. This may be couched as a rallying cry to end poverty, but is really a rhetorical justification of unchecked, unregulated economic growth. Progressive notions such as zoning, growth limits, environmental and land use regulations


America’s CEO

rhetorical claim: as captured in this rant in The American Thinker:

President Trump, whatever one thinks of him, has taken off flying on the executive level. As a result of aggressive deregulation, the economy is roaring — record-low unemployment and a record-high stock market, plus an impressive rise in GDP, with new and major companies building and hiring. North Korea is being heavily sanctioned and dauntlessly confronted. (Imagine if Obama were President now; weakness is the last thing we need at this moment. Thank God that Trump is the Commander-in-Chief, rather than his predecessor, who left North Korea [and so many other totalitarian regimes] totally unchecked and enabled it to become a nuclear power.) Street gangs, such as MS-13, are being robustly prosecuted. Energy is on the move, including coal and the Keystone KL pipeline project. ISIS is on its deathbed, Taliban forces are in for a nasty surprise, and Iran and Syria have finally been shown that the U.S. means business. FEMA’s response to Hurricane Harvey was hailed and contrasted with the federal government’s response to disasters under previous administrations.

This progress is all the result of executive decisions, not legislation or anything related to Congress.

It is the intrepid and maverick approach of the current White House that cuts through the red tape and rushes to get things done, indifferent to naysayers and the weighty forces of inertia on the part of career politicians.

Trump is America’s CEO, and his executive-level successes will create his legacy and leave detractors to grope in their comfortable cloud of bureaucratic dust.

rhetorical effect: The impossible task of extolling Trump’s executive skills and accomplishments obviously relies on lies and distortions: everything except the pipelines was moving along under Obama as well. The real effects of having  a CEO, reality show marketer in the Oval are better explained by David Friend in The New York Times:

America has received what much of the nation had been asking for since the 1990s. In the electoral reckoning, civility had been trumped by hostility, respect by chauvinism, tolerance by bigotry, truth by fabrication and deceit, privacy by exposure, modesty by exhibitionism, achievement by fame, shame by shamelessness, and bridges by walls.