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, April 11-19, 2017.

Inspector Clousseau feel

rhetorical claim: Congressional investigations of alleged Trump-Russian ties have lost all momentum and have a bumbling, Inspector Clousseau feel to them.

rhetorical effect: undermines any serious attempt to get at the facts of Russian election hacking; shifts any blame to hapless hacks such as Michael Flynn or Carter Page. Minimizes the entire process as comic ineptitude or outright Dem lies and as the last Dem attack to delegitimize the election.

social justice warrior

rhetorical claim: Progressives see every issue through the distorting lens of social justice, leading to exclusionary, elitist identity politics. What they consider “just” is always based on redistributionism and wealth envy. Above all,they foment class warfare.

rhetorical effect: the very concept of social justice is demeaned and made to seem like a self-righteous, partisan indulgence. Calling social activists “warriors” makes them appear to be foolish and single-minded. “Justice” itself is now a politicized concept–replacement Trumpian synonyms include “freedom” and “fairness.” There is no more possibility of “class warfare” because the wealthy have won.



rhetorical claim: progressives. No more bowing to political correctness: its OK to use the word “retarded” again.

rhetorical effect: continues Trump’s assault on the physically and mentally disabled; turns liberalism into a pathology or mental derangement or even mental illness. Lays the groundwork for demonizing all liberal causes.



rhetorical claim: feminists (especially men pretending to be feminists) are politically correct public predators always virtue signaling and happy to smear others viciously with false accusations of sexism, racism, white nationalism, hate speech, etc.” Masculinists, on the other hand, acknowledge male superiority.

rhetorical effect: progressives supporting gender equity, gay rights, women’s rights, etc. are not only stigmatized as “politically correct”, but also as being public predators, akin to sex offenders. This is rhetorically equivalent to the Nazis calling the Jews vermin.


germ warfare

rhetorical claim: putting immigrant children in our public schools is a form of germ warfare since they re-infect our kids with supposedly eradicated diseases.

rhetorical effect: demonizes immigrants; equates “others” with vermin–call if verminization.


regulatory onslaught

rhetorical claim: the Obama administration nearly killed American business with over-regulation. To unleash American innovation, the Trump administration is eliminating thousands of rules and regulations governing workforce and product safety, environmental regulation, corporate liability, workers’ rights, and the scope of class action lawsuits.

rhetorical effect: makes any regulation seem to be part of the “onslaught,” like some deeply unpatriotic fifth column of rule-makers.  Regulations come to be seen as “shackles” and “problems” rather than protections. Deregulation is defined as “burden reduction.” This rollback all but eliminates the possibility of fair and sustainable economic growth.


coming into focus

rhetorical claim: what with the Syrian bombing, the Gorsuch conformation, and the tough stance against North Korea, the Trump administration is finally coming into focus.

rhetorical effect; the mere lack of lying presidential tweets and the absence of any congressional or legal setbacks is interpreted as strong leadership when it actually is just a respite in the crazy salad that is Donald Trump. Every major campaign promise is unfulfilled, but the claim is that they will all be accomplished sometime in the near future, like his secret plan for defeating ISIS, which has yet to be revealed. Erratic lurching from one policy position to its opposite is hardly a moment of equilibrium, focus or direction.


corporatist welfare model

rhetorical claim: The ultra-liberal French Left’s poisoned and failed legacy of state control, redistributive taxation and social management may be coming back in vogue in the pre-election surge of Jean-Luc Mélenchon . The Left’s basoc economic illiteracy guarntees the ultimate collapse of all of the economic policies.

rhetorical effect: undermines any strong government action for social or environmental justice; leads to tax cuts for the wealthy; creates a laissez-faire, Darwinian economy without legal or economic protections against economic predators.



rhetorical claim: Trump c;aims that he congratulated Turkish Prime Miniter Erdogan’s victory in Suday’s referendum partly because he has major business interests in Istanbul and that he “thrives on complicated.”

rhetorical effect: as a ephemism for “conflicts of interest”, “complicated acts as a rationale for any Trumpian policy affected by his investments. The complications do not come from moral dilemmas or equally fraught p[olicy alternatives, but, ragher, from his desires to protect his investments, bolszter his poll numbers, and get his own way.  They are akin to complications caused by a two-year-old’s tantrums.



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