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, Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2017

too close to the FBI

rhetorical claim: Robbie Mueller is too close to the FBI to do a credible job as Special Counsel.

rhetorical effect: demonizes the FBI, transforming it from a law enforcement agency to a runaway, law-breaking conspiracy against America.


entitlement reform

rhetorical claim: now that tax reform is a done deal, it’s now at last time to shift to entitlement reform.

rhetorical effect:  euphemism for greatly reducing the social safety net, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Also neatly ignores the fact that Americans are entitled to these benefits because they have already paid for them via payroll deductions.


in tatters

rhetorical claim: the FBI has been ruined–left in tatters–under the Comey-Mueller regimes.

rhetorical effect: (see “too close to the FBI”, above.)


tough on crime

rhetorical claim: Alabamans have to elect Roy Moore because Doug Jones is weak on crime.

rhetorical effect: obscures the obvious: the only crime in this election is Moore’s sexual predation.


Mueller’s media protectorate

rhetorical claim: Robbie Mueller is being shielded from contempt of Congress charges by his media protectorate.

rhetorical effect: part of the attempt to shift the criminal onus from Trump to Mueller; makes any defense of the rule of the law regarding the sanctity of the Special Prosecutor itself part of a criminal conspiracy against the White House.Makes any media reports critical of Trump part of the deep state’s “fake news” conspiracy.


the great replacement

rhetorical claim: American whites are being replaced by a mongrelized group of “people of color,” Muslims, etc. We live in an era of ethnic and civilizational substitution. The only way to fight this white genocide is via identity politics, because whites have a right to be different than the pc crowd, with its desire to erase all otherness in a homogenized world of globalized universalism and global capitalism.

rhetorical effect: panders to Trump’s racist nationalism; co-opts the left’s inclusive language of diversity; tries to head off inevitable demographic shifts toward pluralism and ethnopluralism.


“whether it’s a real video, the threat is real”

rhetorical claim: according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckaby Sanders, the President may have retweeted a bogus video about Islamic terrorism, but “whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.”

rhetorical effect: a declaration that truth is no longer necessary or even relevant. A classic defense of the “post-truth” ethic. As Timothy Egan explains,

Do you see what they’re doing? If facts don’t matter, then a professional press that tries to deal scrupulously in facts is irrelevant. Everyone is a liar. Welcome to the club.


American exceptionalism

rhetorical claim: the heroic cause of national self government lies at the heart of Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

rhetorical effect: Obscures the plain fact that a slow leakage of relative power is America’s fate in this century, just as it was England’s fate in the not too distant past. International isolationism and bullying can only take the US so far in a globalized world based on reciprocity and mutual dependence.


the democratization of capitalism (aka, “the wealth effect”)

rhetorical claim: liberal analysts of the GOP tax reform package fail to take into account the “wealth effect” that accrues across society when the stock indexes argued by John Steele Gordon in Commentary, commenting on Tom Steyer’s ads calling for the impeachment of President Trump,

And Steyer’s political complaints are straight out of 1905. He claims that the tax bill now in the Senate would be a giveaway to “big corporations.” But who owns the “big corporations?” The answer is not the J. P. Morgans, John D. Rockefellers, and Andrew Carnegies of today. It is the American people at large. Forty-seven percent of American families own stock in their own names. They and millions of other families own mutual funds and are the beneficiaries of pension funds. This is where the locus of corporate ownership lies today.

One of the great stories of the American economy in the 20th century was the democratization of capitalism. But Steyer, like all liberals, doesn’t know about it. These commercials are just one more sign of the utter intellectual and political bankruptcy of today’s left. They are still fighting the battles of two generations ago.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound as if American corporate wealth, profits and dividends  are equally distributed among the US population, whereas, in reality, according to NPR,

Those richest Americans own far greater amounts of stock. As of 2013, the top 10 percent of Americans owned an average of $969,000 in stocks. The next 40 percent owned $132,000 on average. For the bottom half of families, it was just under $54,000.

Combine the uneven ownership rates and ownership amounts, and the total inequality in the stock market is astounding. As of 2013, the top 1 percent of households by wealth owned nearly 38 percent of all stock shares, according to research by New York University economist Edward Wolff.

Indeed, nearly all of the stock ownership in the U.S. is concentrated among the richest. According to Wolff’s data, the top 20 percent of Americans owned 92 percent of the stocks in 2013.

Put another way: Eighty percent of Americans together owned just 8 percent of all stocks….

Th stock market expansion isn’t necessarily even, though. Former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher explained to CNBC in 2016 that the Fed’s quantitative easing program boosted the prices of stocks and other assets, but that the economic benefits were limited.

“We were going to have a wealth effect. That was achieved. We made wealthy people wealthier,” Fisher said. “But the point is it didn’t trickle down.”


the middle class growth initiative

rhetorical claim: the GOP tax plan, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in he House and represented as “the middle class growth initiative” in the Senate, offers the largest tax cut in US history, especially for the middle class, and will create millions of new jobs as US corporations repatriate overseas funds. It also will increase wages and productivity.

rhetorical effect: covers over the fact that the tax reform bill is fundamentally redistributionist–in favor of the wealthy and corporations. The Tax Policy Center has found that more than 60 per cent of the benefits of tax reform would accrue to the top 1 per cent of earners in 2027. By that year, taxes would rise modestly for the lowest-income group, change little for middle-income groups, and decrease for higher-income groups. As Paul Krugman explains,

One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.

The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income from lower- and middle-income families to corporations and business owners. Corporate tax rates go down sharply, while ordinary families are nickel-and-dimed by a series of tax changes, no one of which is that big a deal in itself, but which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the bill would partially repeal Obamacare, in a way that would sharply reduce aid to lower-income families and raise the cost of insurance for many in the middle class.


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