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, June 20-25, 2017

suicide by diversity

rhetorical claim: Europe is creating cultural suicide with lax immigration policies. Increasing terrorism across Europe is a direct result of these lax immigration policies.

rhetorical effect: demonizes and delegitimizes immigrants; assumes that cultural firewalls are possible and that cultural purity can be maintained in an age of digital technology, globalization, and cultural change and recombination. By demonizing immigrants, limits who counts as “real” people, worthy of citizenship.


bomb the shit out of ’em

rhetorical claim: Trump’s America First militancy doesn’t include any apology tours, “red lines” or “reset buttons.” He means what he says, and his actions back up his words.

rhetorical effect: Ready. Fire. Aim, The hell with international law, diplomacy, the efficacy of NATO, the immorality of torture, or the inadvisability of using the rhetoric of “radical Islamic terrorism.”


judicial pretexts

rhetorical claim: liberal-leaning federal appeals courts have discovered pretexts to strike down the Muslim travel ban. Their ends-justify-the-means ransacking and undermining of the Constitution threatens the balance of power.

rhetorical effect: calling legal opinions mere “pretexts” insures that no opinions Trumpinistas oppose can be taken seriously because they are hypocritical, naked power grabs, not based on constitutional principles. The rhetorical effect is to consider them “so-called judges,” thus completely undermining their authority. Judicial opinions acceptable to the GOP are defended as bring “originalist” and based on sound Constitutional reasoning.


cultural norms

rhetorical claim: the sexual revolution of the 1960s completely undermined long-standing cultural norms, thus excusing and even condoning deviancy. It also made women sexual slaves by reducing sex from its elevated Genesis vision of human dignity to a mere bodily function.

rhetorical effect: leads directly to abortion bans, the banning of contraception, and abstinence-only education. Tries to establish eternal, fixed “cultural norms,” especially those established in the 1950s; paternalisticly undermines any belief in the equality of the sexes by claiming that women need to be protected from their own sexuality.


innocuous, incidental and routine

rhetorical claim: the absurd notion that the President of the United States committed treason with the Russians is a Dem fantasy built entirely on innocuous, incidental and routine contacts between Americans and Russians. It is an attempt to criminalize perfectly innocent human contacts that are natural and grounded in Washington practice.

rhetorical effect: trivializes any charges of collusion with Russians as overblown and baseless by attempting to normalize them as “business as usual.” Makes it impossible to make a case for criminal charges because the threshold for such charges–outright transcripts or recordings of collusion- is set so high and is so literal-minded. Dismisses any attempt to prove a discernible pattern of behavior;”connecting the dots” is impossible if there are no “dots,” only innocent contacts. Truth disregarded becomes truth degraded.


the exterminating Left

rhetorical claim: political correctness and charges of “cultural appropriation” have led the Left to unparalleled intolerance of free speech, and they are quick to exterminate anyone who challenges their Taliban-like control over thought and speech.

rhetorical effect: defames, discredits and delegitimizes all liberal policy positions and language. Treats all ideals about injustice, intolerance and  inequality as intolerant ideology; acts as if the GOP doesn’t also police their own language by using phrases such “the death tax” rather than “the estate tax,” and doesn’t mercilessly cast out any apostates.


more flexibility to the states

rhetorical claim: under Trumpcare, everyone will have access to affordable health care, and will have a choice of doctors and plans. Trumpcare is pAtient-centered, and market-driven.

rhetorical effect: softens the regressive, redistrubutionist effects of the Trumpcare bill, as explained by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post:

All of this suggests that in some key ways, the GOP strategy is working. Republicans have gone to enormous lengths to obscure the plan’s profoundly regressive features. They have endlessly told the lie that no one will be worse off (because everyone will have “access” to affordable coverage), and they’ve developed numerous cleverly designed talking points designed to create the impression that, by slowly phasing in the loss of coverage for millions over time, this will create a painless transition to … well, to a blissful state in which everyone, again, has “access” to affordable coverage. Among these: “Smooth glide path.” “Rescue mission.” “Bridge to better health care.” “Soft landing.”

As Sargent goes on to point out, the irony is that starting in 2021, when federal Medicaid expansion starts to be phased out, states will have no flexibility because they must balance their own budgets and will only be able to do so by reducing health care for the poor.


dodgy dossier

rhetorical claim: Democratic leaders in Congress keep referring to it to cook up more charges against Trump, while liberal media continue to use it as a road map to find “scoops” on Trump in the “Russiagate” conspiracy they’re peddling — still hoping against hope that the central thrust of the report — that Trump entered into an unholy alliance with the Russian government during the election — will one day prove true and bring about the downfall of his presidency.

rhetorical effect: pejoratives such as “cook up,” “scoops”, “peddling,” undermine the efficacy and motivation behind “Russiagate.” itself also in  fright quotes. Reinforces the argument that the entire things is “fake news” and a ‘witch hunt”.


special interests

rhetorical claim: special interests such as seniors, hospitals, doctors and nurses are out to derail the Trumpcare bill.

rhetorical effect: turns the majority into a “special” interest. This seemingly neutral or even approving phrase has long been weaponized in political discourse to mean parochial, selfish interests that should be dismissed. Justifies Trump’s authoritarian pseudopopulism, all done in the name of the people against the “special interests,” “the swamp” or “the Deep State”


place at the table

rhetorical claim: instead of being obstructionist, the Dems should compromise on health care and take their place at the table in negotiating health care reform.

rhetorical effect: makes the Dems seem obstructionist when they have in fact never been invited to the table, and when the price of a seat is to surrender all of their values and policies.

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