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. 27, 2016-Jan 2, 2017


rhetorical claim: Obama’s presidency has been “ruinous” to US interests, especially in foreign policy. We have squandered both our moral and political world leadership, and given our economy over to the nameless, faceless forces of globalization.

rhetorical effect: makes nuanced foreign policy impossible. In a black-and-white world, you’re either defeating or condoning ISIS, Russia, Assad and the Iranians. The only proper response will be either military force or strong economic sanctions against any nation who doesn’t fully support US policies. There is no middle ground for subtle diplomatic or economic pressures, no moral leverage. If America has been “ruined” by Obama, any Trump initiative is automatically restorative



rhetorical claim: the US abstention in the recent UN vote on Israeli settlements was a “graceless” “stunt” by the Obama administration, aimed at humiliating Israel. This betrayal cheapens the US.

rhetorical effect: a stunt is hardly a moral act, but, instead, a trick, an act of cowardice and petty political revenge. Makes any Obama foreign policy initiative sound cynical and self-serving and runs the risk of making any policy opposed to Trump’s–such as nuclear disarmament–also be undercut by being labeled a stunt.



rhetorical claim: supporting Trump. Everyone who doesn’t is a hater and a loser. The only path to unity is to stop complaining about him and rally around him.

rhetorical effect: Trump will only be President to the minority of Americans who voted for him. His opponents will not only have no standing politically speaking, and thus not even get their day in court, but will be subject to endless bullying, distortions, lies, and political repression.


two-state solution

rhetorical claim: Palestinians can only have a state if it is demilitarized and not free to determine its own destiny. Otherwise, it will turn into another Yemen–a breeding ground for terrorists. The two-state solution has been a fairy tale all along, a two-state narrative, not a workable solution

rhetorical effect: makes a one-state solution inevitable and dooms Israel to forever be an apartheid regime with constant unrest and political repression of Palestinians and all Arabs. Guarantees endless deadly conflict and enmity in the region.



rhetorical claim: unlike Obama, under whose leadership America kept losing, Trump already has several domestic and foreign wins, and isn’t even President yet. He wins because he puts America first, not his political agenda.

rhetorical effect: makes any opposition to Trump’s foreign or domestic agenda a hypocritical, hyperpolitical ploy. Turns foreign and domestic policy into a zero-sum game, which can only have “winners” and “losers,” and the “winners” are tautologically defined as policies Trump supports. This circular argument is divisive to its core, equating his “enemies” with “losers.”


The War on Israel

rhetorical claim: the Obama administration waged an eight-year war on Israeli sovereignty and even Israeli democracy. This war will end on Jan. 20. Israel is surrounded by enemies whose fondest wish is its elimination. Obama used the smokescreen of “negotiations” to advance the illegal Palestinian claim to disputed territories.

rhetorical effect: hardens the Israeli right-wing, marginalizes and demonizes the Palestinians, completely justifies illegal Israeli settlements and expansionism, and makes a two-state solution impossible. Any criticism of Israeli actions reveals how much liberals hate the Israelis.


the freedom to fail

rhetorical claim: Liberals and progressives like socialism because it eliminates the notion of personal responsibility by eliminating the freedom to fail.

rhetorical effect: removes the social safety net on the way to creating a zero-sum, Darwinian world of winners and losers (those who fail). “Responsibility” is really a euphemism for laissez-faire society in which people can choose whether to succeed or not, and the only “freedom” the disadvantaged or discriminated against have is to “fail” without any government help.


Pax Americana

rhetorical claim: until Obama undid it, American military strength controlled the world and made possible a productive peace with stable institutions. We need to return to these notions of “America first” and “peace through strength.”

rhetorical effect: justifies military intervention anywhere in the world; assumes that America is always morally in the right; glosses over America’s military and political failures–Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Will make the world safe for US corporate exploitation–call it “cash Americana.”

climate religion

rhetorical claim: “climateers”–professional scolds, really–are incapable of discovering truths inconvenient to their theories about man-made climate change because they a dogmatic cult based more on faith than evidence.

rhetorical effect: belittling climate change science as a “religion” equates it with crackpots, fanatics, and zealots, and is an attempt to emasculate the scientific method. Once canons of scientific evidence and objectivity are discarded, truth becomes hostage to politics and reason gets reduced to being a “theory.”


comprehensive workforce strategy

rhetorical claim: the Labor Department should be renamed the Workforce Department to set the stage for a new, comprehensive workforce strategy to make American business more competitive. The current Labor Department keeps American workers from finding jobs and holds them back once they are employed.

rhetorical effect: entirely eliminates workers’ rights from the formula of what qualifies as fulfilling work and a thriving economy and society. Redefines workers as cogs in a machine rather than human beings with inalienable rights.


American retreat

rhetorical claim: Obama’s foreign policy of American retreat has left the world’s authoritarians advancing aggressively. We need to return to a realpolitik of carrying a big stick.

rhetorical effect: justifies an aggressive US foreign policy that will replace diplomacy with bullying, corruption,and intimidation.

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