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, Dec. 3-8, 2016

reversion to the norm

rhetorical claim: that the pro-growth, pro-business moderation of Trump is a reversion to the historical norm of American political life, and a rebuke to the ahistorical multiculturalists, sexual deviants, economic freeloaders and social justice warriors. The American Left simply can’t stand the fact that they are not the vanguard of American beliefs and practices.

rhetorical effect: labels any criticism of the Trump administration as socially deviant and extreme. This is all part of the demonization and criminalization of dissent, as well as part of the effort to normalize Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, and political repression.


finishing a war

rhetorical claim: that Dems don;t know how to win a war, as evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan. James Mattis will see to it that Trump gets as many troops as he needs to win a war.

rhetorical effect: normalizes a massive military buildup and reinforces the myth that wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were winnable.


disciplining health care costs

rhetorical claim: Obamacare should have included consumer involvement in disciplining health care costs, rather than unlimited amounts of health care

rhetorical effect: ultimately will shift the blame for rising health care costs for inadequate insurance from the insurance companies or government to consumers.  This blame-the-victim approach, ostensibly based on personal responsibility, will penalize consumers for any outcomes or behaviors that “discipline” corporate profits.


America haters

rhetorical claim: the George Soros-funded  ant-Trump “protestors” can’t stand Trump’s success and are damaging America.

rhetorical effect: political protest itself gets branded as damaging rather than protecting America. In this rhetorical climate, dissent becomes politically toxic  because it is stripped of any moral underpinnings and only seen as an existential threat to America.


Trump tantrum

rhetorical claim: mainstream media criticism of Trump is a kneejerk response to badly-needed social, political,  and economic change. Instead of automatically undercutting Trump when he saves jobs or stand up to china, the lamestream media should be supporting him and not making up fake news stories or criticisms.

rhetorical effect: again, dissent is treated as unpatriotic, unthinking, and unprincipled. Every opposition stance or statement is rendered childish, like a “tantrum.”


repealing Obamacare

rhetorical claim: repealing Obamacare will immediately lead to more competition, more choice, and cost awareness.  Here’s a vision of the promised land:

If much of ObamaCare is repealed, there will be room for more choice, competition and cost awareness. We can see a return of catastrophic health insurance with lower tax-deductible premiums, high deductibles and more payment up front, with government-run clinics for those who lack insurance.

 Those with pre-existing conditions or at the greatest risk of getting sick can pay a higher price for a more-comprehensive plan or use government-subsidized high-risk pools. Tort reform, including doctor-review panels to block frivolous suits, will put the brakes on doctors overtesting and overtreating patients.

rhetorical effect: the new norm will be high-deductible, high-cost, high advance payment policies, inadequate barebones catastrophic coverage, or restrictively expensive coverage for pre-existing conditions. The only remaining government program will be a high-risk pool for the sickest people, and it will offer almost no coverage at all. Note the ominous and telltale buzzwords: competition, cost awareness, catastrophic coverage, high deductibles, high payments up front, government-run clinics, much higher premiums for patients with pre-existing conditions, major tort reform limiting malpractice suits, etc. This is a veritable Christmas tree full of long wished-for GOP health care reforms. Don’t say we haven’t been warned about what’s coming.


 limited sue-and-settle practices

rhetorical claim: federal building and land use regulations have strangled the economy and need to be streamlined and repealed to unleash market forces. (Repealing Davis Bacon would be a good start.) Limiting liability awards and frivolous lawsuits will be a key factor in this streamlining.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for “fast track” permitting, with little legal recourse. Could potentially lead to a massive infrastructure spending spree with unprecedented avoidance of all environmental laws. Any “green” lawsuits are said to kill economic development.


right-to-work laws

rhetorical claim: Labor unions are the primary obstacle in the way of worker freedom. Right-to-work laws are the wedge issue to  increase workers’ rights.

rhetorical effect: justifies the destruction of labor unions. Portrays them as the worst thing ever to happen to workers.


ending the peace

rhetorical claim: Obama did not “end the war” in Iraq but ended the peace.The surge worked and won the war for us, but Obama lost it by bot sticking it out–just as lost our resolve in Vietnam.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for a re-invasion of Iraq, so we can once again engage in a perpetual war.


hate speech

rhetorical claim: liberals call all Trump supporters extremists, and accuse them of hate speech, whereas the actual hate speech comes from the liberal-progressives’ open hostility to Christianity, traditional marriage, Republicans, conservatives, white people, and the police.

rhetorical effect: bigots, homophobes, mysoginists, and neo-Nazis are feeling emboldened to step out of the shadows and openly spew their bile. This doublespeak maneuver allows them to claim that they are the victims whenever anyone criticizes them.


free markets

rhetorical claim: Mike Pence has already said that Trump is opposed to the free market, and this is evident in the opening “managerialist” maneuvers of the new administration, according to the National Review:

Trump may be culturally attached to the Right — or, more precisely, the Right may be culturally attached to Trump — but everything he has said and done thus far points to his being a progressive in the ancient mold of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and, yes, George Wallace and Theodore Bilbo. He means to put trade, and probably much more than trade, under political discipline. He means to stand between buyers and sellers with his hand out, making demands. He has expressed a longing for Keynesian stimulus projects, mercantilism, income redistribution, Bismarckian welfare-statism, and the consolidation of political power within the executive. He may talk like Archie Bunker, but politically he is Barack Obama rebranded for talk radio.

rhetorical effect: maintains the split between traditional conservatives and Trumpians, but also serves to make Trump sound like a Progressive.






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