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. 9-14, 2016

entrepreneurial federalism

rhetorical claim: the economy most thrives when states compete to lure business. GOP state-level attempts to  oppose the Obama administration weren’t based on opposition to Obama’s policies, but to the usurpation of states’ right by the federal government. The Trump era heralds a new federalist revival.

rhetorical effect: amounts to a new industrial policy that does everything it can to unshackle business: provide direct subsidies, impose tariffs, cut or end all federal regulation, and effect what Lawrence Summers calls a transition from a rule-based economy to a deal-based economy, with the White house totally taking over:

Presidents have enormous latent power, and it is the custom of restraint in its use that is one of the important differences between us and banana republics. If its ad hoc use is licensed, the possibilities are endless. Most companies will prefer the good to the bad will of the U.S. president and his leadership team. Should that reality be levered to get them to locate where the president wants, to make contributions to the president’s reelection campaign, to hire people the president wants to see hired, to do the kinds of research the president wants carried out, or to lend money to those that the president wants to see assisted?

Going along with authoritarianism will come to be the norm for doing business.


fake news hysteria

rhetorical claim: Dems’ mainstream media bootlickers, panicked over Trump’s election, have engaged in a hysterical witch hunt accusing every Trump claim of being “fake news” and part of some vast conspiracy theory. Even though they make up their own facts and spin stories their way, the mainstream media mendaciously is claiming the moral high ground and their exclusive claim to the truth. It is part of their rage against reality. “Straight news” has become an oxymoron. Every mainstram media news story is a “false flag.”

rhetorical effect: the suppression of the media and the undermining of any possibility of establishing the barest facts: did the Russians try to influence the US election? is there such a thing as global warming? are there any racists left in America? are fracking and other forms of energy exploration harmful to the environment? According to this doublethink strategy, the fake news stories are real and any critical news stories are fake. Calling the media “hysterical” is exactly what women are called when they object to male behavior or gender power relations. Hysteria is an irrational state based on a misapprehension of reality, an overreaction to an imaginary threat. The ultimate outcome of this branding of your political opponents as crazy can lead to the Stalin-era move to put political opponents in mental wards.


very strong control

rhetorical claim: that Putin is a good model for leader who has “very strong control” over his country, and that Putin is “far more of a leader” than Obama ever was.

rhetorical effect: justifies authoritarian government, with claims of “leadership” justifying the suppression of  free speech and the media, and mass arrests and deportations.


the real Americans

rhetorical claim:  the flyover country voters who elected trump are the real Americans, the honest Americans, the hard-working Americans. Liberal elites live in an elitist bubble that keeps them separated from America and makes them un-American.

rhetorical effect: labels anyone who criticizes Trump as un-American–free speech becomes a thought crime. When they said that without phony California votes, Trump would have won the popular vote, they were laying the groundwork for claiming that coastal elites are not welcome in Trump’s America.


paycheck protection

rhetorical claim: mandatory union dues payments are a form of indentured servitude, and all states should adopt right-to-work laws that crush labor unions.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound like union dues are a form of robbery. Safety protection, environmental protection, wage protection are no longer considered, especially when the only real protection left will be profit protection.


self-appointed ethics watchdogs

rhetorical claim: Trump can’t avoid conflicts of interest, and to ask him to divest his business interests and give up the Trump name is ridiculous. Only scolds and self-appointed hypocrites are worried about Trump’s conflicts of interest.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to draw any line between ethical behavior and  Trump conflicts of interest. Renders him completely above the law. Calling ethicists “self-appointed” also undercuts them and makes it appear they have no moral authority whatsoever because morality in a post-truth, post-ideology world is situational and political.


soft despotism of government

rhetorical claim: according to William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, the real authoritarian regime has been the “unelected and increasingly assertive class that populates the federal bureaucracy and substitutes rule by regulation for rule by law.” Federal agencies meddle in our lives, and we’d be better off without these social engineers imposing their values on the rest of us.

rhetorical effect: demonizes governmental regulation, thus making it impossible to enforce or interpret any laws. Gets Trump off the hook for any of his authoritarian acts by calling government bureaucracies the root of all evil.


the Europeanization of the economy

rhetorical claim: Obama has entangled the US in financially ruinous international regulations, trade agreements, monetary policy goals and business taxation. This has lead to the weakest economic growth, the largest surge in government debt, the riskiest monetary expansion and the gravest deflationary pressures of the postwar era. This is part of a larger picture of centralized arbitrary financial powers, as explained in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Solon:

 After the 2008 financial crisis, the G-7 massively expanded international coordination. The Financial Stability Forum was expanded into the Financial Stability Board, charged with integrating the monetary policy of central banks and supervising financial institutions such as banks, insurers and asset managers. The G-20 worked to protect government revenues through the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project.

The result? Since 2007 the public debt of the G-7 nations, excluding sober Canada and Germany, has leapt to 130% of gross domestic product from 52%, according to each nation’s own reports. The EU’s monetary base has doubled, the U.K.’s is up 350%, and

The U.S. government has helped itself in debt financing, paying almost the same interest costs today as it did in 2007, despite almost tripling the publicly held debt. At the same time, bureaucrats won arbitrary and self-serving power over financial services. International regulators now override national and state laws without authority or input, turning domestic “independent regulators” into puppets. Political commissars embedded in banks own no shares yet veto board decisions. Money-market rules burden equities and public-purpose bonds, but favor federal debt. So do swap collateral rules and Basel rules on liquidity and capital.

The list goes on: Dodd-Frank’s Volcker rule threatens liquidity in market-making operations but exempts U.S. government securities. Housing regulators again proclaim that the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a “duty to serve” low-income buyers by underwriting higher risk mortgages. International regulators direct insurers to invest in public infrastructure, proclaiming the profitability of these projects when experience demonstrates otherwise. Ubiquitous capital requirements force financial institutions to buy highly leveraged government debt that pays ultralow returns.

 Meanwhile, America’s punitive 35% corporate tax rate—the highest in the developed world—has discouraged U.S. firms from investing at home and sets a global tax floor to stabilize government revenues and foster government growth. The result is average U.S. GDP growth of only 2.1% since 2010—40% less than the administration’s projected 3.6%. According to my firm’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office projections, that dismal growth rate has taken a $9.5 trillion bite out of U.S. GDP since 2010—$29,400 on average for every American.

rhetorical effect
: removes all financial regulation (including liquidity requirements and “ubiquitous capital requirements”), justifies huge corporate tax cuts (as if tax policy isn’t “centralized, arbitrary authority”), discourages mortgages to minorities, etc.


pro-Iranian tilt

rhetorical claim: Obama has abandoned American interests and allies in the Middle East by prematurely with drawing from Iraq and making favorable deals with the Iranians. He has thus allowed the Russians to dominate the region, confused our allies, and failed to differentiate between friends (Israel) and foes (Iran).

rhetorical effect: demonizes any agreements with the Iranians; makes war in the region far more likely, characterizes any criticism of Israel as being pro-ISIS.


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