Glossary: Key memes, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, August 29-Sept. 7, 2015

“can’t do-ism”: the Obama administration’s reflexive exculpatory refrain about why it can’t stop illegal immigration, grow the economy, make America energy-independent, defeat ISIS, create prosperity for the middle class, get the poor off welfare, etc. This “pervasive despondency and fear” is, according to Stephen Moore, the result of Obama’s ineptitude, not wider and deeper social, political and economic forces.

Note that this rhetorical move, similar to the “legal distinctions” one below, is actually a huge misdirection, a classic evasion by non-sequitur or stripping away all context. . Never mind that almost all of these conditions were created by the Bush administration, that no other country in the world economy has recovered from the Great Recession more thoroughly and enduringly than the US, that austerity has failed as an economic fix in Europe. Ignoring these mitigating circumstances is the only way they can get away with the standard litany of Tea party “fixes,” the Christmas list they’ve been peddling for the last 50 years: lower taxes, less regulation, market-driven, privatized health care, the end of the social safety net, etc. No matter how they couch their critique of the Dem scapegoat of the moment, be it Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, the Clintons, Gore or Kerry–it always comes down to the same solutions, even when these solutions are tried and fail disastrously.

chokehold: any Obama administration regulatory policy or practice. For example, the EPA is said to have  a “chokehold” over the economy.

demeaning: any Dem policy trying to maintain expanded voting rights. Limiting voting as much as possible through voter i.d. laws, shortened polling windows, registration restrictions, etc., is thus seen as “borderline racist” because it assumes that the disadvantaged black voters are too stupid or lazy to figure out how to vote. Thus, by GOP logic, Dems demean blacks by fighting for their rights.

difference happens:  An argument by non-sequitur: the argument against the “disparate impact” theory, claims that, just as some continents have deeper rivers than others, so too will differences emerge among different races and genders, like a force of nature. Never mind the substantive arguments that politics, economics and culture have shaped those outcomes and can be malleable, this “difference happens” argument is the ultimate complacent haven of the privileged–a form of Social Darwinism.

diversity: something to be overcome.

epidemic: inordinate black illegitimacy, crime, drug use, rap vulgarity, social service dependence, and the romance of the violent cult of the male”.

Astonishingly enough, this patronizing caricature of Black culture comes from Tea Partiers trying to argue that the GOP will do more for the Blacks than the Dems.

facts vs. rhetoric: all Tea Party arguments are fact-based, whereas Dem arguments are dismissed as sheer “rhetoric”–concocted and calculated language aiming to deceive in order to persuade.

Never mind that the Tea Party’s so-called “facts” themselves are concocted, partial and designed to deceive. This false dichotomy is the most subversive of all because of its naive assumption that language is merely a reflection of reality and not a generator of realities.

“I’m not saying…”: classic rhetorical tactic: villification by innuendo rather than direct assertion. So, for example, you say, “I’m not calling you a liar, but the truth isn’t be told here.” A current example from Matthew Continneti at The National Review:

I am not saying that the president or the Democratic party is anti-American in ideology or rhetoric or intent. What I am saying is that the net effect of President Obama’s actions has been to legitimize, strengthen, and embolden nations whose anti-Americanism is public and vicious and all too serious.

Revealingly, even the article’s own title calls Obama an “anti-American President.”

legal distinctions:  as in the phrase, “obviously, there are legal distinctions,” as used in The Federalist.

This weasel phrase is usually used to try and subordinate, trivialize or slip past a devastating difference that exposes the fundamental duplicity of your argument. In this case, author David Harsanyi is attempting to make a moral equivalence between Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis refusing to follow the law and Obama using executive orders or federal regulations to circumvent GOP Congressional opposition to nearly all of his policies. Even though executive orders and regulatory authority are legal, and have been used by all past presidents, Harsanyi nonetheless accuses them of “contempt of the rule of law.” In true Rovian fashion, the very crime Davis is jailed for–“contempt for the rule of law” is actually being attributed to the Dems. Masterful bait-and-switch, using a false equivalency. A similar non-sequitur is the argument against the disparate outcome theory, that, just as some continents have deeper rivers than others, so too will differences emerge between people. Difference happens, in other words. Never mind the substantive arguments that politics, economics and culture have shaped those outcomes and can be malleable, this “difference happens” argument is the ultimate complacent haven of the privileged–a form of Social Darwinism. Another variation on this theme is to dismiss Davis’s overt breaking of the law with the “entrenched criminality” of the Obama administration, especially the IRS, Justice Department, Hillary’s e-mail criminality, etc.

martyr: any Tea Partier jailed for not following the law. Similarly-jailed Dems are called “scofflaws” or criminals.

political stunt: any Obama policy issue or declaration. Aka, gimmick, ploy, cave-in, fiat.

praetorian defenders: the lapdog mainstream media that protects Hillary from criminal indictment by not reporting the “facts” of such “scandals” as Benghazi and the e-mail server. Like Whitewater, Travelgate and Vince Foster’s suicide, these so-called “scandals” will never go away in the minds of the Tea Party.

shackling: any Obama regulatory policy or action. In effect, any federal oversight does nothing but constrain the natural animal spirits of capitalism and stymie the natural freedom that is the birthright of all “original” Americans.

unfeeling opportunist: anyone advocating immigration reform or a “path to citizenship.” The assumption is that such liberals only care about immigrant and minority votes and not about the minorities themselves. Just as anyone advocating for racial justice is a “racist chauvinist,” and anyone calling for progressive social change is a “political manipulator.” Ultimately, the meme is that all so-called liberal “compassion” is a fraudulent cover for opportunism.

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