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, Jan 5-11, 2018.

investigative mania

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ Russian obsession has deepened into a desperate pathological mania  that will maintain the Mueller inquiry well beyond its shelf life. This Ahab-like obsession will in the end only embarrass the Dems when they have nothing to show. They have created an evidence-free zone of accusation.

rhetorical effect: precludes the inquiry by likening a desire for justice to a “mania”.  They not only are trying to demonize the FBI and weaponize Congressional committee tampering with an ongoing investigation, but also are trying to make they very notions of money laundering or collusion into dangerous delusions. The theory behind the strategy seems to be that if you deny something long enough, people start doubting its existence or veracity, even if it right before their eyes and backed up by evidence and legal reasoning. On the other hand, there is talk of reviving Hillary witch hunts over the Clinton Foundation and e-mail servers. Talk about investigative manias!

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anti-white racism

rhetorical claim: As Tucker Carlson argued recently on Fox News, it is not right-wing media or good-old fashioned racism that’s help fueling white nationalism, but, instead, anti-white propaganda disseminated by progressive, pro-inclusion websites such as Buzzfeed and The Root. Unless people start deciding they’re going to treat one another as individuals, rather than as members of groups, and if The Root doesn’t stop pointing out the ways in which white people discriminate against black people, it could lead to an angry, bifurcated society in which Americans fight against each other.

There’s a basic moral principle that was, for a long time, conventional wisdom in this country, you probably grew up with it,” he said. “It was this: people deserve to be treated as individuals, judged by their own efforts and abilities on the things they can control. Attacking people on the basis of their race is wrong — that was the standard and, for a long time, people believed it.

On the left, it is now acceptable, even encouraged, to attack and discriminate against people solely on the basis of their skin color.

Dressing his message up in the words and notions of the civil rights movement, Note that Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few. That, he said, was what created white nationalism.

rhetorical effect: Note that Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few.Dressing his message up in the words and notions of the civil rights movement, Carlson was not — not — defending minorities or any actual groups that suffer from systematic oppression here. Instead, his concern was with how some websites were monolithing white people, blaming the whole of the ethnic group for the actions of a guilty few. That, he said, was what created white nationalism.

Turns the victims of racism into the perpetrators; justifies attacking people based on their skin color; falsely and glibly  compares what The Root writes to, say, systematic racist efforts such as voter suppression, stop-and-frisk or others. It’s important to always keep in mind in the face of this kind of false argument that white people simply aren’t an at-risk class in this country.

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conjecture and commentary

rhetorical claim: the liberal mainstream media is a threat top democracy because it has replaced objective reporting with conjecture and commentary. Instead of reporting te facts, it reports mere opinions–Trump/Russia collusion, etc– as facts

rhetorical effect: this is another false fact disguising itself as an immutable truth. The Trump administration, which has absolutely no interest in objectivity or even science has made all facts up for grabs. Calling any reporting you don’t like “conjecture” or “commentary” is but another step in destabilizing the very concept of verifiable facts or reasoned argument. Thus they create their own commentary–the running narrative that the media is incapable of truth.

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vanity signalling

rhetorical claim: the self-righteous “Me Too” display a the Golden Globes does indeed mark a cultural milestone: when preening replaced principle, when women rebelled against being considered as objects by being judged by how they dressed. The hypocrisy is epic. Many actors expressing such outrage use sexual chemistry to attract the predatory male movie executives they then profess to despise. They habitually wear outfits that leave little to the imagination, split upwards or downwards or utterly transparent. What’s more, many of the movies and TV series in which they appear, some of them having forgotten to put on any clothes at all, have long crossed the line into soft porn. They see themselves as rebels, but are actually slaves to body image.

rhetorical effect: turns the victims of sexual harassment into predators; turns political protest into into an act of self-serving hypocrisy; reduces any statement of moral principle into a cynical act of manipulation; reduces self-worth to vanity.

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trade crackdown

rhetorical claim: it’s time for an aggressive trade crackdown on China. As candidate Trump put it, “We can’t continue to let China keep raping us and that’s what they’re doing.” The administration’s National Security Strategy makes explicit for the first time the country’s “America first” foreign policy, which defends the country’s sovereignty “without apology”. The US, Mr Trump says, will no longer tolerate economic aggression or unfair trading practices — in a world full of threats, the danger of Chinese economic hegemony ranks among the greatest.

rhetorical effect: weaponizes the language of trade, as described in a recent Financial Times op-ed:

We now talk of enemies and adversaries instead of trade partners; of national interest, instead of opportunities for all; and of protectionism and walls rather than open borders and the end of the nation-state. Gone are the halcyon days of the “everyone’s a winner” version of globalisation that we have become accustomed to over the past 30 years.

 

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taxing college endowments

rhetorical claim: it’s time that universities pay their fair share of taxes, and that’s why the tax bill includes a tax on large college endowments.

rhetorical effect: the authoritarian theocratic wing of American politics wants to use the tax code as a bludgeon to advance their cultural agenda. As in the case of ending the SALT deduction, which hits blue states the hardest,  the GOP is using fiscal policy to punish people with views they don’t like. In particular, they object to what they see as the “noxious, unflinching left-liberal ideology” promoted by places such as Yale, Princeton, and, apparently, CalTech. (What exactly makes this “ideology” so “noxious” was unspecified but it seems to include the notion that homosexuals should be treated equally under the law.)

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sneaky

rhetorical claim: Sneaky Diane Feinstein probably broke the law releasing confidential Senate transcripts.

rhetorical effect: silences dissent; sanctions withholding of information; weaponizes laws stifling free speech; turns the Senate into a majoritarian autocracy, eliminating bipartisanship. Why isn’t it “sneaky” that the GOP just passed the largest tax reform bill in thirty years with no hearings, no witnesses and no Democratic support?

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offshore drilling is good for the earth

rhetorical claim: offshore drilling in Alaska (ANWR) is actually good for the earth because it is so much more environmentally safe than fracking or deepwater drilling. As argued in the WSJ;

As long as the global economy demands hydrocarbons, companies will produce them, even if they must go to great lengths to do so. Scarcity leads to high prices, which makes fracking and high-risk deep-water drilling possible. Boosting the supply of oil from land and shallow-water rigs would reduce these hazards.

Deregulating government-controlled territories like the ANWR and the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf is a step in the right direction. If a freer market can prevent another tragedy like Deepwater Horizon, environmentalists should see it as a win.

rhetorical effect: Classic counter-intuitive GOP inversion: black is white, up is down, offshore drilling is good for the earth, the social safety net actually puts people at risk, guns make people safer, lack of regulation and consumer protection makes banking, finance, Wall Street and retail more transparent and less risky, universal health care means worse health care for everyone, calling attention to black identity or white nationalism is itself racist, the “Me Too” movement turns men into victims of a kind of sexual stereotyping, etc., etc., etc.

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