Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Sept. 11-17, 2018

Obama vs. the nation

rhetorical claim:  As expressed on The American Thinker website:

In a moment reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s outrageous characterization of Trump voters as “deplorable” and “irredeemable,” President Obama said: “I have to say this… Over the past few decades, the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.”

Labeling the 63 million Trump voters as “deplorable” and “irredeemable” didn’t work out for Hillary Clinton when she ran a failed presidential campaign against Trump in 2016.  Labeling the same voters as divisive, resentful and paranoid will not work for Democrats in the November midterm elections.

No, it will not, and the remarks by this poster child for self-serving hypocrisy and delusion go a long way toward explaining how Obama shrank the Democratic Party by a thousand state, local, and federal legislative seats during his eight years in office.  Once again, to use President Obama’s own phrase, he “acted stupidly.”

From Ferguson to Baltimore and beyond, President Obama’s words aiding and abetting the war on cops and inciting racial division have been the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  He has encouraged a false narrative of racist cops and racist police departments whose officers are guilty until proven innocent, or buried, whichever comes first.  Never mind that in both Baltimore and Ferguson, the cops accused of racism and murder were found guilty of neither.

It was Ferguson, Missouri, where President Obama’s Justice Department sent forty FBI agents to prove that Officer Darren Wilson was a racist murder of an innocent black teen. He made the race-baiting Al Sharpton, who helped create the myth of “hands up, don’t shoot,” a key adviser on race matters and Ferguson…

Jesus preached peace long before the prophet Muhammad mounted a horse, grabbed his sword, and began beheading infidels on his way to Mecca.  As for the Crusades, they came after and in response to centuries of Islamic conquest and aggressive war against the infidels of the Christian West.  As Princeton scholar and Islamic expert Bernard Lewis explains, “The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war – to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.”  According to St. Louis University and Crusade scholar Thomas Madden, “[a]ll the Crusades met the criteria of just wars.”

Slavery was an institution supported by Democrats in the South.  Jim Crow laws were written by Democrats.  Evils may have been committed in the name of Christ, but not at the urging of Christ, who preached peace and love and mercy to one’s enemies.

It is Barack Hussein Obama who divided America and incited paranoia, attacking, cops, Christians, and clingers, just to name a few.

rhetorical effect: not even the Russians could do so well at stoking the dying embers of the Culture Wars.


pretty heavy cost

rhetorical claim: the National Park Service wants to charge protestors for the cost of the charges incurred by public protests. One NPS official said that last year’s Women’s March carried with it a “pretty heavy cost.”

rhetorical effect: essentially a tax on free speech. Ballots, vote-counting, poll watchers, etc. also cost money. Are they going to tax us to vote (i.e., impose a new [poll tax)?  Also makes it sound as if the NPS owns public lands, when, is essence, they are the steward of these lands on behalf of its citizen-owners.


color blind

rhetorical claim: since conservatives don’t  see color and that therefore there’s too much talk about racism. People of all colors can get ahead, so nobody should whine about outcomes. Just talking about racism is itself racist.

rhetorical effect:  classic rhetorical inversion, turning racism on itself and claiming that its actual meaning is the diametrically opposite of its commonly-held meaning; elides structural racism (minorities being more likely to attend underfunded schools, have far lower incomes and higher unemployment than whites, are far likelier to be imprisoned than whites, etc.) ; robs social justice advocates of their political voice.


the anti-Trump media firing squad

rhetorical claim: in the midterm election kickoff, the anti-Trump media firing loosed a fusillade of damp squibs, none of which had any effect on the President. They tried everything: disrupting Kavanaugh’s hearing, calling Kavanaugh a liar with, at best, cherry-picked evidence, the Bob Woodward fictional account of the White House, the New York Times’ fictional account of the White House (written by the Times but attributed to “anonymous”) wheeling out Barack Obama, falsely accusing Trump of killing thousands in Puerto Rico, etc. The American public just tunes this guff out.

rhetorical effect: undercuts, demonizes, or delegitimizes any criticism of Trump: this is total rhetorical war, scorched earth.


self-destructive anti-Trump rage

rhetorical claim: according to Michael Walsh:

We are witnessing a similar self-destructive rage today: the rage of the American Left against the Trump Administration in general and the president in particular, an explosion of frustrated, impotent (but still dangerous) anger that has given up all pretense of genuine protest—against the results of a duly constituted American election, let us remember—and has devolved instead into a toddler’s extended tantrum. It bears the hallmarks of one of the most unseemly displays in American political history.

It’s being conducted in the halls of Congress, where the Democrats have at last dropped all pretense of civility and shown the voters their true, foam-flecked faces. It’s being waged in the media, where the ladies and gentlemen of the press, such as they are, have thrown over journalistic practices that served the profession well over the past century or so, and now regard malicious gossip and news as one and the same thing.

Most ominously, it is taking place in the streets where, over the past year, Republican congressmen and Trump supporters have been shot, attacked with a switchblade knife, clubbed with a bicycle lock, had their vehicles and offices vandalized and set on fire; even the president’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed.

The masked fascist thugs who ludicrously call themselves “Antifa,” routinely attack public gatherings, and Left wingers sporting “Say No to Hate” t-shirts scream at the sky at the very thought of Trump and his policies. Not since the 1960s have we witnessed such a public breakdown in moral and psychological order.

rhetorical effect: again, infantalizes the Left as socialist and power hungry, rendering any criticism of Trump as misguided at best, and part of a voracious will to impose a socialist state on Americans at worst. Equates political dissidence with mental illness.



rhetorical claim: corruption from the Obama-Clinton era continues to be unearthed, in everything from the Clinton Foundation finances to the corrupt origins of the Mueller probe.

is really about the corruption of purity rather than of law. Officially, the fascist politician’s denunciations of corruption sound like a denunciation of political corruption. But such talk is intended to evoke corruption in the sense of the usurpation of traditional order.


toxic feminism

rhetorical claim: The damage that radical feminism has done to our education system is incalculable.  Yet the movement continues to grow exponentially, and gender studies faculties, which promote female empowerment at the expense of what is called “toxic masculinity,” continue to multiply.

Feminism has patently skewed the syllabus in the direction of gender asymmetry.  In the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion, women have progressively come to dominate campus life regardless of aptitude and competency.  Hiring protocols are female-friendly, as are faculty postings and grant opportunities.  Qualified male candidates need to make alternative arrangements.  (As Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute muses, in the prevailing climate, Einstein might have trouble getting hired for a professorship.)  Male students, already in declining numbers, are under threat of allegations of sexual assault or harassment, ad hoc tribunals, and arbitrary expulsion.  McGill University anthropology professor emeritus Philip Carl Salzman warns parents in a comprehensive essay for Minding the Campus, “Your sons will learn they should ‘step aside’ to give more space and power to females.”

Unfortunately, too many careers have been built on gender studies and feminist theory to allow surrender.  Leftist government bureaucrats, university administrators, “diversity and inclusion” officers, and faculty across the entire academic landscape are dependent on preserving perhaps the greatest scam in the systemic apparatus we call education.  Investing in a false theory or inequitable practice never prevented its adherents, whose reputations and livelihoods are at stake, from surrendering their perquisites.  Rather, educrats and their cohorts will double down and increase their efforts to further their agenda.  They will persist in finding ways to evade the most far-sighted and ethically determined efforts to redress the parietal imbalance by refusing to implement new directives from enlightened government agencies.

rhetorical effect: demonizes feminism as unethical, unequal, and self-serving, deeming it a kind of cabal or conspiracy against merit and equality.


right to work

rhetorical claim: an increase in freedom because workers can no longer be required to pay for union services as a requirement of their employment. This is a union security clause, which Right to Work laws ban. Imagine if Best Buy entered into a contract with Sony whereby the store promised if they sell any other manufacturers’ TVs they will charge them $10 per square foot of floor space. Now imagine the government came in and said, “no, you can’t have deals like this”. This may increase Panasonic’s freedom by not forcing them to pay $10 per square foot, and in a sense it increases Best Buy’s freedom by allowing them to violate the terms of their contract. But this is at the cost of Best Buy and Sony’s ability to contract. In most contexts conservatives would agree that the government’s action decreased, not increased freedom, and in most contexts they would be correct.

rhetorical effect: The “right to work” laws really mean “right to work for less pay.” But these laws are not about liberty. Their real purpose is to tilt the balance of power in favor of employers at the expense of their workers.Some whose ideology tells them that the market system metes out perfect justice see no reason to worry about the weakening of workers and their unions. Let everyone compete in the market. But in order to make an idol of the market system, one has to ignore both common sense and the history of labor in America.

Common sense should tell us that if workers have to deal one-by-one with a giant company, they will be on the short end of a huge imbalance of power between management, which is unified, and the workers, who are each on their own.

In every other contest of power – politics, war, etc. – the side that is unified and a coordinated defeats the side that is fragmented. Why should labor-management relations be any exception?

Also institutionalizes economic inequality, one hallmark of a fascist state. As  Hannah Arendt argued, fascism flourishes when individuals are “atomized” and divided. Hitler denounced labor unions because he feared they might create solidarity among racially and religiously diverse workers. And he shows that the “right to work” movement that today seeks to cripple unions in the United States has its roots in an effort by Southern business elites to divide black and white workers in the 1940s. Many commentators have linked Trump’s victory to the economic dislocation brought by globalization. But by focusing on declining participation in labor unions — which can. From this perspective, labor unions must be crippled because they create class solidarity across racial, ethnic and religious lines, and the resultant economic stress buttresses fascist politics.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 31-Sept. 11, 2018

it oughta be illegal

rhetorical claim: President Trump said it ought to be illegal for audience members to shout out at Congressional hearings.

rhetorical effect: suppresses free speech. Other things Trump has said “ought to be illegal” include White House leakers and sources, protestors at his rallies, black or Hispanic judges ruling on race cases, Mexicans, Muslims, the free press, libel laws, flag burning, abortions, “flipping” in criminal cases to avoid jail time, not cheering and standing for Trump at the State of Union address, not kneeling for the national anthem, LGBTQ rights, migration, etc. He often uses “maybe”, “possibly” or “perhaps” to qualify “ought to be illegal” as a form of fake hedging. These are the wish-fulfillments of a would-be dictator. As the NYT editorialized:

Mr. Trump quickly corroborated these accounts by demonstrating precisely the sort of erratic, antidemocratic behavior that is driving administration officials to come forward with their concerns. He ranted that the stories were all lies and raved that the gutless traitors who had slandered him must be rooted out and handed over to the government. Finger-pointing, name-calling, wild accusations, cries of treason — it was an unsettling display, not simply of Mr. Trump’s emotional fragility and poor impulse control, but also of his failure to understand the nature of the office he holds, the government he leads and the democracy he has sworn to serve.

Twenty months into the job, Mr. Trump has yet to grasp that the highest law of this land is the Constitution, not whoever occupies the Oval Office at any given moment.


fair and unbiased

Constitutional originalism

rhetorical claim: Brett Kavanagh will restore the Constitution to its rightful place as the lodestar for law-making in the US. Left-wing justices legislating from the bench will be a thing of the past.  The task of a justice will no longer be to formulate new constitutional law according to his personal preferences, but, rather to exercise restraint and wisdom in preserving the original constitutional scheme of separation of powers and preeminence of state and local governments.

rhetorical effect: Makes it harder for minorities to vote, for workers to bargain for better wages and conditions, for consumers to stand up to big business and for women to control what happens to their bodies. It also means making it easier for people to buy and sell weapons of mass killing, for lawmakers to green-light discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, for industries to pollute the environment with impunity, and for the wealthy to purchase even more political influence than they already have. the court had laid the groundwork for the destruction of our constitutional scheme, and had nearly abandoned the traditional ideas that judges were not legislators and that it was the state and local bodies, not the federal government, that were supposed to be the primary movers in national life. Justices David Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Anthony Kennedy, all Republican appointees, had been instrumental in this dismantling of jurisprudential tradition, but they are all gone now.


rigged search results

rhetorical claim:  Donald Trump denounced Google for having news results “RIGGED” against him, “so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” It happens on  various technology platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all of which have a liberal bias. according to  PJ Media, “96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are From Liberal Media Outlets.”

rhetorical effect: as Michelle Goldberg argues

Essentially, conservatives want to create a world where objective information and right-wing disinformation are treated equally. They’re running the same playbook on tech that they ran, for decades, on media, caterwauling about bias so that defensive editors would treat them with kid gloves. Only now, these howls about viewpoint discrimination have the force of the United States government behind them.


economic leveling

rhetorical claim: Congressional liberals want to change how GDP is measured in order to bring about a socialistic redistribution of wealth. This new, rigged way of counting–called distributional national accounts–will ignore trickle-down economics and be a stalking horse for fraudulent claims that a booming economy is stagnant. It is based on a misguided claim that economic inequality is a bug, not a feature, of capitalism.

rhetorical effect: best put by Paul Krugman:

By now everyone knows that conservatives routinely yell “socialist!” whenever anyone proposes doing something to help less fortunate members of our society — which is a key reason so many Americans now think favorably of socialism: If guaranteed health care is socialism, bring it on. But the right doesn’t just cry foul at any attempt to limit inequality; it does the same thing whenever anyone tries to talk about economic class, or measure how different classes are faring.

My favorite example here is still former senator Rick Santorum, who denounced the term “middle class” as “Marxism talk.” But that was just an especially ludicrous version of a general attempt on the right to suppress talk about and research into where the economy’s money goes. The G.O.P.’s basic position is that what you don’t know can’t hurt it.



rhetorical claim: the subversive who penned the anonymous NYT attack on Trump ought to be exposed, fired and jailed.

rhetorical effect: the exercise of free speech becomes subversive: the First Amendment is turned upside down. Anyone criticizing Trump is undermining the country because Trump is now synonymous with America.


your body is a battleground

rhetorical claim: your body is a battleground for the life of the fetus, which should be protected at all costs.

rhetorical effect: militarizes the abortion rights debate by turning women’s bodies into occupied territory and  robbing them of their autonomy.


the circus Resistance

rhetorical claim: the anti-Trump resistance continues to hit new lows: 1) Apparently, in the case of Elizabeth Warren, fabricating an ethnic identity is sane, and getting out of the Iran deal or the Paris Climate Accord is insanity and grounds for removal; 2) Barack Obama, in his sanctimonious way, has taken credit foe the economy that he failed to resuscitate for eight years; 3) according to Victor David Hanson:

Contrary to popular opinion, there was nothing “newsworthy” about the recent anonymous op-ed, written by an unnamed “senior official” about the supposed pathologies of President Trump.

Or rather to the extent the op-ed was significant, it confirmed what heretofore had been written off as a “right-wing” conspiracy theory of a “deep state.” The anonymous author confessed to being part of a group that is trying to use subterranean methods to thwart an elected president, not because his record is wanting (indeed, the author admits it is often impressive) but because he finds Trump unorthodox and antithetical to the establishment norms of governance and comportment….

To cut to the quick, the op-ed was published to coincide with the latest Bob Woodward “according-to-an-unnamed-source” exposé, Fear. The intent of anonymous and the New York Times was to create a force multiplying effect of a collapsing presidency—in need of the Times’ sober and judicious handlers, NeverTrump professionals, and “bipartisan” Democrats of the sort we saw during the Kavanaugh hearing to “step in” and apparently stage an intervention to save the country…The recent op-ed is yet another episode in an endless resistance cartoon, another pathetic effort of self-important grandees to undo by fiat what the voters did by voting in 2016.

The op-ed is the latest cartoon of Trump, the Road Runner, finally, at last, and for sure driven off the cliff by the Resistance as Wile E. Coyote—infuriated by yet another Road Runner beep-beep. There were earlier and serial Looney Tunes efforts to nullify the Electoral College, to sue about election machines, to boycott the Inauguration, to introduce articles of impeachment, to invoke the 25th Amendment, to try out the Emoluments Clause and the Logan Act, to sue by cherry picking liberal federal judges, to harass officials in public places and restaurants, to warp the FISA courts, to fund a foreign spy to do opposition research, and to weaponize even further the FBI, NSA, and Justice Department—along with the now-boring celebrity assassination chic rhetoric of blowing up, stabbing, shooting, burning, hanging, smashing, and decapitating Donald J. Trump….

The media’s hatred of Trump is not necessarily determinative, but it is a force multiplier of the 24/7 unhinged narrative of the universities, popular culture, and Hollywood. Their shared goal is to make saying that one supports the Trump agenda so socially unpalatable, so culturally Neanderthal, that no sane person wishes to confess his delight with a new economy, foreign policy, and approach to the administrative state.

rhetorical effect: minimizes the mounting internal criticism, of Trump as nothing bur Dem propaganda and unsubstantiated rumor; dismisses all attempts to derail Trump  as desperate measures of an increasingly unhinged and totally unscrupulous Deep State Resistance; portrays Trump opponents as, curiously enough, both clowns and “grandees”–in the latter case, stirring up old class warfare, us-vs.- the elites-sentiments.








Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps Aug 24-30, 2018

draining the swamp

rhetorical claim: During his extraordinary run for the presidency, Donald Trump vowed again and again to “drain the swamp” and rid our government of corruption, waste, and insider-dealing. Last week in West Virginia he claimed he is making enormous progress on what Steve Bannon called “deconstructing the administrative state.”

rhetorical effect:distraction from what’s going on behind the Trump circus curtain. According to USA Today:

More than 100 former federal lobbyists have found jobs in the Trump administration, despite President Trump’s campaign pledge to restrict the power of special interests in Washington, according to a tally provided to USA TODAY by a Democratic group.

And roughly two-thirds of them — 69 — work in the agencies they have lobbied at some point in their careers, according to research by American Bridge 21st Century. They include about three dozen recent lobbyists who have not received waivers from Trump’s ethics rule that bar industry insiders and former lobbyists from working on specific matters that benefited their former employers or clients for two years after their appointments.

The prevalence of lobbyists in the new administration shows that Trump and his aides are “are holding themselves to a different standard than we expected,” said Lisa Gilbert of the liberal-leaning group Public Citizen, which is expected to release its own study this week, highlighting ex-lobbyists working on the same issues in government as they did in their recent lobbying posts.

As argued by Edward Luce:

In practice, he has handed the country to the highest bidders. The big picture is a looting of public goods. Students will find it harder to pay off debt. Financial outfits will find it easier to secrete punitive clauses into contracts. People’s health will be damaged by toxins and dirty air. He will leave Washington more corrupt, and forgotten Americans more disenchanted, than he found them. While Mr Trump keeps us all amused, his crew is turning the swamp into a primeval soup.


environmental terrorist groups

wise use

rhetorical claim: according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,:

We have been held hostage by these environmental terrorist groups that have not allowed public access — that refuse to allow [the] harvest of timber,” he told Breitbart earlier this month. The underlying cause of catastrophic blazes, he said, is the “fuel load” of dead and dying timber in our forests.

rhetorical effect: demonizes environmentalist as eco-terrorists, planting a fictional boogeyman in the imagination of the American voters; ; undercuts the efficacy of climate science and fire management; polarizes the electorate in order to justify the privatization of public lands. Part of the “wise use” anti-environmentalist approach to managing federal lands that emphasizes extraction. Its agenda, spelled in 1988, includes drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opening all public lands to mining and oil exploration, and clear-cutting old growth in national forests — partly for wildfire prevention, of course. In other words, this tenuous link between ecoterrorism and logging is 20 years old.


sadism, not justice

power-drunk commisars

rhetorical claim: Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are being railroaded through the justice system and scapegoated, as explained by Roger Kimball:

One of the reasons so many people are confused by the operations of our self-appointed fourth branch of government—I mean in this instance the unending, Kafkaesque investigations conducted by Robert Mueller and his crack team of anti-Trump shock troops—is that while we have seen plenty of punishment meted out, crimes have been rather less populous on the ground.

Yes, I understand that Paul Manafort has been nabbed for tax evasion and bank fraud, and that he now faces additional charges in yet another court. One of the nice things about our modern prosecutors is their handy multiplication machine that takes what is essentially one crime and gins it up into dozens or even hundreds of counts. Presto! You’re facing 18 counts, peasant—try beating that

The point is, when you have carte-blanche to torment someone, why stop when you’ve got him locked up for life? Like a cat toying with an injured mouse, the modern major prosecutor keeps batting his prey about till he stops moving altogether. What might have been justice for a serial killer is gleefully applied to someone who fudged his tax returns or tripped over himself answering an FBI agent. Then we have sadism, not justice.

When it comes to our legal system, they say that it is the punishment. But that leaves out the other side of the equation: that for the system, for wretched power-drunk commissars like Robert Mueller, the process, because of the punishment, is all the fun. They enjoy tormenting people.

rhetorical effect: a corollary of the Guiliani “truth is not truth” master-meme: in this case, “crime is not crime.” The punishment becomes the crime, so the rule of law is even more eroded, all in preparation for the coming epoch confrontation between Trump, the law, and the Constitution. In alternative GOP universes: 1)  the only “crime” liberals care about is the election of Donald Trump; 2) the only real Russian collusion in the 2016 election, was between the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, and Christopher Steele on one side and “dubious” Russian sources on the other and,  3) the only truly unaccountable sectors in America are the justice system (FBI, intelligence community, Justice Dept.) and the media, even though they are the only remaining institutions that are actually functioning and accountable–and thus the only sectors to threaten Trump in any way. As Jonathan Chait puts it:

The implicit argument that this memo’s existence makes is striking. The fact that Trump’s combined self-dealing and lack of transparency create extensive possibilities for corruption, and the fact that Trump’s financial dealings with Russia and possible conspiracy with Russian sabotage of our election could subject him to blackmail, should ideally suggest to those tasked with oversight that they should, you know, exercise more oversight.

Instead, as Jonathan Chait points out, Republicans have converted all this into a rationale not to exercise oversight — and into a reason to keep Republicans in control of the House to keep this status quo undisturbed. Notes Chait: “Republicans have so internalized their subordination to Trump that they are now leaning into the cover-up as a case for maintaining their power.”

It’s also worth noting that Republicans have made this argument explicit. Remember, on leaked audio, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes flatly stated that if Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t rein in Mueller’s probe, House Republicans are Trump’s last line of protection. “If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones,” Nunes said. “We have to keep the majority.”


flipping almost ought to be illegal

rhetorical claim: Trump:

If somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail, but you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. … And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.

rhetorical effect: as explained by Charles Blow:

The use of informants is a central part of how some criminal prosecutions are executed. This is how the justice system works.

In his mind, the fact that he may be implicated by the justice system is a blasphemy, a distortion of the American power structure, in which the wealthy almost always win.

As he told Fox: “I’ve always had controversy in my life and I’ve always succeeded. I’ve always won. I’ve always won.”

Two additional rhetorical notes: 1) this shows that Trump divides the world into winners and losers, and that “winning” proves you were right, and, 2) saying that flipping “almost” ought to be illegal is classic Trump innuendo; hedging and qualifying a boldface outrage doesn’t mitigate it, but only strengthens it, while nonetheless providing a smokescreen of plausible denial later on if necessary.


media-fueled psychodrama

rhetorical claim: The pulling down of confederate statues reflects today’s frenzied ahistorical climate on campuses, there is only melodrama or rather media-fueled psychodrama of the zealous, but otherwise mostly ignorant. Few grasp the essence of tragedy in bravely fighting for a disreputable cause, sometimes one that is repugnant to one’s own sense of morality.  The ultimate logic of today’s statue smashers is a similar effort to war against the past, and erase all the complexities, all the tragic lessons of history, and to replace it was some easy Manichean morality play. Where exactly will it stop?

rhetorical effect: “where will it stop” reframes a moral crusade to acknowledge the past and correct for it, into  to an a apocalyptic “Manichean” wish to erase history and start at Marxist Year One.


Project Fear

rhetorical claim: the “restore” wing of British politics has fomented a hysterical prediction of economic devastation if Brexit is allowed to happen with no deal. Shortages of medicine; the garden of England turned into a lorry park; a surge in red-tape; new tariffs on cars and food; factories halted for lack of parts. Those are the grim scenarios conjured up by planning for a “ no-deal Brexit”. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles…The motivations of the hardline Brexiters are, in some ways, easiest to understand. They believe that the proposal of Theresa May’s government would be the worst of all worlds: leaving Britain with the obligations of EU membership, without the supposed benefits of Brexit. But their argument that Britain should hold out for something better depends on dismissing all the warnings about no-deal as scare stories or “Project Fear”.

rhetorical outcome: divides the electorate and demonizes compromise. As Gideon Rachman argues,

That argument is uncomfortably close to a Marxist embrace of the immiseration of the people as a necessary condition for political progress. It also rests on the questionable assumption that an economic and social crisis would strengthen the centre ground in politics. In the real world, it is more likely to empower the political extremes.



rhetorical claim: compensatory mitigation, the practice that energy companies must pay the federal government for restoring damaged land or buy new land to set aside for conservation, is nothing short of extortion.

rhetorical effect: transforms any form of mitigation, penalty, or fee into an unwarranted governmental intrusion, a trampling of individual rights. In this scenario, the government is always the bully and industry is always the victim. So federal agencies should be re-named The Environmental Plunder Agency and The Department of Exploitng (or Monetizing) the Interior.


cultural vandalism

rhetorical claim: the perpetually outraged cultural-Marxist Left is rapidly vandalizing American history and culture in the name of diversity. Like their Soviet, Chinese, and Cambodian forebears, they cannot abide anything that does not conform to their world-view right this minute, and therefore must constantly update their “Index of Forbidden Books, Films, Words, and Cultural Artifacts.” We know what kind of future the Left has planned: nasty, brutish, and short, except that instead of a state of nature in which every man’s hand is against all, and all against his, it will simply be a Stalinist State of Huxleyian proportions, in which everything that is not prescribed is forbidden, and overseen by battalions of Nurse Ratcheds, ready to administer psychotropic drugs or a lobotomy, as the case may be.

rhetorical effect: the classic defense of Volk white culture: “they” are stealing the present by covering over history and reinventing it as a one world socialist state. The denunciation of political correctness and globalization is used by the enemies of the constitution in a demagogic appeal to emotions. The politics of cultural despair never fail to fire up the Kulture, Trump’s base base.


Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps Aug 12-24, 2017

foisted on the American people

rhetorical claim: as expressed by Laura Ingraham:

In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically, in some ways, the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal, and in some cases legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.

rhetorical effect: perpetuates an us vs. them mentality; ignores the fact that Trump lost the election by three million votes; racial dog-whistle; encourages conspiracy theory paranoia about the Deep State, the  mongrelization of the white race, and disrespect of white people. Call this the art of the innuendo, never saying anything overtly racist, but only making sense (and having their intended outrage-stoking effect) if they are only abut race: akin to when Trump said “there are good people on both sides” or rails against NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, or repeatedly calling black celebrities (LeBron James, Don Lemon, Omarosa)  “not smart.”


this is not what’s happening

the truth is not the truth

rhetorical claim: as the President said, “Don’t believe the crap you hear from these people — the fake new. What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” Or, as Rudy Guiliani put it, the truth is not the truth.”

rhetorical effect: Alice-in-Wonderland down the rabbit hole rhetric. Descent into a labyrinth of lunacy, delusion, nihilism,and moral relativity. Brainwashing insofar as it attempts to get voters to ignore the administration’s flagrant daily misconduct, venality and criminality, allowing Trump to establish a dishonest fake narrative. (Trump is the true source of fake news.) Also, as David Remnick argues:

Nearly every day, Trump makes his hostility clear. He refers to reporters as “scum,” “slime,” and “sick people.” They are cast as unpatriotic––“I really think they don’t like our country,” he says. They are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” Trump has smeared critical news organizations as “fake news,” a term gleefully adopted by Putin, Bashar al-Assad, and other autocrats who are delighted to have their own repressive reflexes endorsed by an American President. Trump has threatened to sue publishers, cancel broadcast licenses, change libel laws. He betrays no sense of understanding, much less of endorsing, the rudiments of American liberty. During a visit from the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Trump told reporters that he thought it was “frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.”

By casting the press as an “enemy,” Trump is not merely joining a long list of Presidents who have bristled at criticism. He goes much further than his predecessors, including paranoiacs like Richard Nixon, who assembled a secret “enemies list” and raged in the Oval Office to his chief of staff about barring the Washington Post from the White House grounds. Trump’s rages are public. They are daily. And they are part of a concerted effort to undermine precepts of American constitutionalism and to cast his lot with the illiberal and authoritarian movements now on the rise around the world….

The assaults are part of his effort to cultivate—at any cost—a core political following, turbocharged by resentments, and thereby to boost his bid for reëlection.


First Amendment collusion

free press as an interest group

rhetorical claim: In a series of Twitter posts Trump wrote: “The fake news media is the opposition party. It is very bad for our great country…. but we are winning!

“The Boston Globe, which was sold to the failing New York Times for 1.3 billion dollars (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 billion dollars, was then sold by the Times for 1 dollar. Now the Globe is in collusion with other papers on free press. Prove it!

“There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true freedom of the press. The fact is that the press is free to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is fake news, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. Honesty wins!”

rhetorical effect: has a chilling effect on free speech; seems to be saying that the idea of liberty itself is a conspiracy theory, and that people are free to do and say anything as long as they agree with Trump; treats the media as an interest group, when the real interest groups are First Amendment and the United States. “Honesty” is not winning!


wandered into crime

rhetorical claim: as Phillip Rucker reports,

Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people” — namely Trump Jr., who is under scrutiny by Mueller for his role organizing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal ­jeopardy.Don Jr. may well have unwittingly wandered into crime by meeting with the Russians.

rhetorical effect: admits that he is guilty while arguing for his essential innocence. Justifies illegal chicanery.


white anxiety

rhetorical claim: Trump’s base of white voters  is increasingly anxious and resentful about global elites who scoff at the Trump supporters lifestyle, intelligence, and moral values.

rhetorical effect: constantly insists that character doesn’t matter, that winning is everything, and that might makes right. Gov. John Kasich (R), appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, correctly identified a key problem for Republicans — they have become cloistered in their own world of white grievance. Claiming victimhood, they become more bitter and resentful by the day. (“I’m not for people who say the reason you don’t have something is because somebody else took your stuff. That’s called victimization.”) What’s missing is any largeness of spirit, any sense of what others are experiencing. The party they lead in turn becomes, as Kasich noted, “increasingly unwilling to put themselves in the shoes of somebody else. Even when you think about family separation at the border, some people say, ‘Well, you know, they had a choice. They didn’t need to go there.’ Well, many of them had to go there to save their kids’ lives, literally.”

Kasich reminded his fellow Republicans:

I think what’s fundamentally changed our country is that many people have not come to understand what faith is, which is loving your neighbor, elevating others, sometimes in front of yourself, putting yourself in other people’s shoes. And when we don’t do that, we lose the essence of our country. When my father and my uncle talked about the Great Depression, everybody pulled together. And what we’re seeing now is people pulling apart rather than coming together. And I think that’s an element of religiosity. If you’re a humanist, I love you anyway because, you know, you believe in making a better tomorrow. But we need the compass back.


a dog

a lowlife

rhetorical claim: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

rhetorical effect: part of the Trump dehumanization cycle: first really like the person, then, when they criticize you, turn against them and call them either stupid or less-than-human. As Kathleen Parker  argues:

Trump should also know that dehumanization — or “othering,” to use current vernacular — leads to marginalization, which can lead to cruelty (say, separating young migrant children from their parents), which can lead to far worse…. it’s much easier to hurt, maim or kill another when you no longer see them as quite human. World history’s catalogue of atrocities confirms this. Which is why no one living today should be comfortable with the language of dehumanization, no matter how relatively minor the degree.


burdensome demands

rhetorical claim: according to Betsy DeVos, the government is making burdensome claims on for-profit colleges when it comes to asking them to account for the post-college careers of their graduates. Therefore, these colleges will once again be unregulated when it comes to accounting for vocational outcomes.

rhetorical effect: The end of consumer protection for student burdened by crushing loans for worthless degrees. Trump has no reservations about for-profit colleges that make grandiose promises to their students about future careers, while taking their money and preparing them for nothing whatsoever. When all  government accountability demands come to seem “burdensome,” how long will it be before the same can be said of the rule of law itself.


without this thinking

rhetorical claim: While economists cite an inverted yield curve as a precursor to a recession, U.S. President Donald Trump made his own economic prognostications, telling Fox News during an interview that his impeachment would result in a stock market crash. Furthermore, it would cause individuals to lose all their money.

“If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” President Trump said.

“Because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse,” Trump added. “I got rid of regulations. The tax cut was a tremendous thing.”

rhetorical effect: strongman effect: “Only I can fix it.” Leads the way to Trump becoming a dictator, a cult figure, a savior. Cuts out Congress’s ability to control the economy. Gives Trump credit undeserved credit for the economic boom, which a) started under Obama, and 2) is only a boom for the richest Americans, who are profiting from a soaring stock market.


Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 4-Aug 12, 2018.

majority rules

totalitarian socialism

rhetorical claim: the political will of a majority is nothing but a niche special interest, and should not be permitted to crush individual freedom or to constrain the free market. The relentless  push toward unlimited government (totalitarian socialism), has been disguised as the will of the people. The tyrannical rule of the majority sees nothing wrong with America’s government establishment employing vast resources educating people how to use the levers and processes of government to expand its size, scope, powers, and budgets. This is accomplished today with the help of the vast university system which has become one giant taxpayer-financed think tank for statism with only a handful of exceptions; through a “mainstream media” that seems every bit as propagandistic as Pravda was during the Cold War; hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats at all levels of government, every one of which is a propagandist/lobbyist for bigger government; a K-12 school system that is thoroughly embedded with leftist political correctness; huge armies of political consultants, lobbyists, and paid propagandists; a popular culture that endlessly repeats anti-capitalist, anti-libertarian, and pro-statist themes; and thousands of government-funded nonprofit organizations, from the AARP to the Wilderness Society, that promote more interventionism and less freedom. On top of that are private foundations like Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller that have showered leftist academics with foundation grants.

rhetorical effect: paranoid visions of imaginary Deep State conspiracies.



rhetorical claim: We are being assaulted by postmodernists, who especially despise notions of patriotism. Traditional patriotism is demonstrated love, support, loyalty, defense, and sacrifice for one’s country.  It is an expression of moral certainty.  It claims there is right and wrong behavior.  It puts the country ahead of factions based on ideology, politics, and personal ambition.  It creates the kinship of national identity.  It is objective and demands respect for the symbols of the nation, such as the flag and national anthem.  It values unity, accountability, and security more than diversity and the pursuit of happiness. The influential postmodernist school insists that truth is an instrument of power – except, of course, for its own categorical truth.  Thus unexamined belief takes precedence over analytical thought, and we are made to feel ashamed of being patriotic.

rhetorical effect: as a catch-all for anyone who questions the superiority of dominant Western political and scientific institutions, this rhetorical scheme of turning postmodernism into a pejorative term is perfectly geared towards those in the younger generation who feel alienated from identity politics. By the way, “we” here means rational Western males.


transpartisan elite

rhetorical claim: America is run by a transpartisan elite, which sustains a powerful collectivist managerial consensus. This consensus forms a deep state oligopoly. As Julius Krein argues:

This refusal to interrogate or even conceive of a ruling class of elites reflects the once prevalent—and still lingering—belief that ideological conflict ended after the Cold War. Without a critique of the dominant ideology, the distinct class consciousness and interests of the elite seem to disappear. If there is no critique of the general political consensus, then there is no critique of the political elite, for it is that elite which constitutes and defines the larger society.

But a politics that sees itself as non-ideological is always politics at its most ideological. Apparent political consensus is not the end of all ideologies but merely the temporary triumph of one. Now that the intellectual and political consensus of the last few decades is visibly crumbling, the managerial elite begins to reemerge as a class and managerialism as an ideology. Thus what is commonly seen today as the “rise of populism” is just as much—or rather, in fact, primarily—the decline of the elite..

“On the one hand, the scientific pretensions of these ideologies have been exploded.” They are increasingly seen to represent not universal laws of nature but “at best just temporary expressions of the interests and ideals of a particular class of men at a particular historical time.” Significant portions of social science research and even some of the basic principles of economics are now being questioned within their disciplines and beyond. As the power of academic economics in particular has risen, both its precepts and its most prominent figures have failed to comprehend the most important economic phenomena of recent years. This supposed science is increasingly revealed to be little more than the quantitative expression of global consumerism and managerial ideology.

Perhaps even the managers themselves have begun to lose confidence in their own ideologies. The economic, foreign policy, and technological optimism of previous decades is gone. Preserving the status quo has become the sole aspiration—and primarily for the purpose of preserving the class privilege of the current elite, which, even if not admitted, is becoming obvious to voters. The managerial class seems increasingly willing even to abandon democratic formalities. Once the elite itself loses faith in its ideologies and begins to see its class interests as essentially exploitative, it cannot survive.

rhetorical effect: fuels a paranoid conspiracy theory that “the administrative state” has run amuck. The greatest rhetorical sleight-of-hand of all is turning the manipulators of the political system into its supposed victims. After all, how can what Trump calls a managerial elite (federal bureaucrats, academics, teachers, urban planners, scientists, corporations, the media, Hollywood, etc.) be said the be “rigging” the system against the GOP when it is the GOP winning everything by their own rigging: voter suppression, gerrymandering, court-packing, etc.


there is no alternative to free market ideology

rhetorical claim: the free market contributions of the Chicago and Austrian schools of economic theory show that government works best when it furthers the needs of the free market. There is no alternative to free market ideology because it’s human nature to seek freedom from governments and other constraints. Only markets make freedom possible, and free the makers from the takers. Economic self-interest is the driving force of politics. According to public choice theory, people will vote for the candidate that they believe is going to give them the greatest access to more money.

rhetorical effect: a tautology, in that it assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that there are no alternatives to individual choice and that the only true freedom is freedom from government. Also assumes that human nature is fixed and unchangeable, thus ignoring the fact that voting can be influenced by advertising campaigns altering people’s perception of their economic interests. Makes it so that market metaphors are impossible to dislodge from political discourse.


the common good

the general welfare

public interest

rhetorical claim: Politicians must be understood as rational human beings who served their own interests (reelection) above all else. Notions such as the common good and the general welfare are smoke screens blocking from view the way in which individual public officials and those who sought to influence these officials pursue their own gain through government.  According to public choice, politicians rationally maximize their utilit-–their chances of being re- elected and remaining in power–by promising to raise taxes upon the wealthy to pay for programs that voters support. Since the poor can vote (and because there are more of them) but do not pay federal income taxes, all redistributive political action is prima facie illegitimate, because it inefficiently redistributes social wealth downward to those who have not earned it.

The notion of “public interest” is itself a vague, even meaningless term precisely because it papers over an ineluctable will to power on the part of politicians. Investing authority in the state in the name of an abstraction like the public interest represented the slippery slope leading to totalitarianism.

rhetorical effect: Once this simplifying assumption is made, there is no such thing as the public good or even the public–only greedy politicians promising programs with other people’s money. Fortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to convince a majority of voters that their rights deserve to be curtailed, and that the state should brutally enforce the private property rights of the minority makers against the majority takers. Since representative democracy is designed to expropriate money from the most productive members of society, representative democracy as such must be rewired. As Frederick Jameson argues, this discourse

succeeds by way of discrediting its alternatives and rendering unmentionable a whole series of thematic topics. It appeals to trivialization, naivete, material interest,

“experience,”political fear, and historical lessons, as the “grounds ” for decisively delegitimizing such formerly serious possibilities as nationalization, regulation, deficit spending, Keynesianism, planning, protection of national industries, the security net, and ultimately the welfare state itself


Medicare for all

rhetorical claim: “Medicare for all” schemes are misleadingly based on the undeniable but utopian claim that health care is a right, not a privilege. Ironically, health care coverage ususally leads to a decline in overall health. Typically in universal healthcare systems you see health services more interested in efficiency, you see death panels, you see overworked nurses and doctors, and you see a lack of innovation. Do you see many people flying into England or Canada for surgeries? Didn’t think so.

Beyond the costs and the decrease in quality of care, universal healthcare would be a smash and grab policy hurting our younger generations. We would have to steal from the idealistic and sometimes, sadly, very stupid young but healthy (there are some blessings still to being a young American) to fund Americans who are their opposites in all of these respects.  When the young finally figure this out they’ll be facing a hopelessly mortgaged future exactly when many businesses will abandon their states. As in they got played for suckers. But onward, comrades, and all that.

Adding to the absurdity of it all is this concept of using the vehicles of Medicare and Medicaid for all. The socialists’ idea is to ride those two broken, corrupt, and nearly insolvent (at least with respect to Medicare) systems to socialist glory.

rhetorical effect: turns the argument inside out: health insurance is actually bad for your health, in the same way that labor unions are anti-worker, environmental laws destroy the economy, thus keeping the environment less protected, feminism undermines women, and anti-discrimination laws actually increase discrimination.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 28-Aug 3, 2018

it continues to stain our country

rhetorical claim: as the President tweeted:

..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to US

rhetorical effect: branding any criticism or investigation of Trump as a “stain” equates criticism with dirt, vermin, and filth: something easily dispensed with. As argued by Ruth Marcus:

Note to the president: “Our country” is doing just fine with the Mueller probe. Actually, the United States is benefiting from it. The country being stained by the investigation is the one that tried to interfere with our election on Trump’s behalf. One of the indictments that Mueller has produced alleged that Russian individuals and companies engaged in a sophisticated social-media campaign to help swing the election to Trump. Another accused Russian military intelligence agents of hacking into the emails of Democratic campaigns and operatives.

Someone needs to ask — or would ask, if the president ever took more than a few shouted questions from a few favored reporters — how bringing such cases is a “stain” on the United States. Rather, it is a defense of the country and its electoral system, which is more than we have seen from the Trump administration.

Leave aside the matter of whether Trump’s attacks on the Russia “hoax” represent potential evidence in an obstruction case against him. That is worth considering, but the focus on his tweets as obstruction in plain sight has obscured the even more concerning fact that the tweets offer incontrovertible evidence of a president who cares nothing about the well-being of his country and the integrity of its elections

A president who cared about this would be insisting that Mueller get to the bottom of what happened, not doing his best to undermine the special counsel’s legitimacy. He would not be ordering, or even suggesting, that his attorney general — his properly recused attorney general — shut it all down.


progressive regression

rhetorical claim: according to Victor Davis Hanson:

When Trump appeared on the national scene, an all-out assault on civil liberties followed, in a manner that is now irrevocable. The Left destroyed for good the idea that progressives are the protectors of constitutional freedoms.

If fear of Trump, some connected with the National Security Council under Obama helped to surveil American citizens, unmasked them, and leaked their names to the press. The press, hand-in-glove, complied in spreading such unsubstantiated dirt.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice flat out lied in her denial about her involvement in unmasking. The Obama FBI and Justice Department officials deliberately misled FISA courts, on the premise that spying on American citizens even with flimsy or fabricated evidence was OK—if it at least neutered the Trump candidacy and presidency. Had they just told justices something like, “We present, as justification for these warrants of surveillance, opposition research compiled on candidate Donald Trump, and paid for by Hillary Clinton during the present campaign,” they likely would never have been able to spy on American citizens.

No one again will have much confidence either in the FISA courts or any rationale for spying on any American citizen. They will logically assume FISA requests are political efforts to spread dirt on the opposition—in the fashion that we now have no idea, in the era after Lois Lerner, what prompts an IRS letter in our mail. The legacy of the Obama Administration is that if one is not progressive and loud in the public sphere, he may well be monitored, audited, or investigated.

rhetorical effect: tendentiously strings together a series of half-truths and distortions to make a case out of nothing substantial. Cherry-picks the news to use any potentially damning detail to “prove” a vast progressive conspiracy. Assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that any of these so-called violations of free speech in fact even exist or violate anything. For example, just because Lois Lerner met with Bill Clinton doesn’t necessarily mean that she promised him an exoneration of Hillary.



rhetorical claim: the regimes in North Korea and Iran are anti-America, anti-west, and anti-the Iranian people.

rhetorical effect: delegitimizes the enemy at the level of language. Calling it a regime rather than a government implies transience, authoritarian, strong-arming tactics to get and maintain power, and a lack of popular support.


fake news

rhetorical claim: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading about is not happening,”according to the President.

rhetorical effect: the essence of Trumpian epistemology: trust no one but me because ‘I alone can fix it.” Since, by definition, everything the fake news media says about Trump  is a lie,  not only must we rely on Trump for the truth, but we have to accept the proposition that Trump never lies. Even if your own senses or all available evidence indicates that Trump is either wrong or lying, then you must ignore common sense and stubborn facts because they themselves are either deceptive lies or based on media lies.

As argued by Charles Blow:

It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.

The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.

At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.

Such was the case again this week at a Trump rally in Florida, at which his supporters aggressively heckled and harassed the free press that Trump incessantly brands with the false descriptor of “fake news.”

In fact, there is no such thing as fake news. If something isn’t true, it isn’t news. Opinions, like mine here, are also not news, even if printed in a newspaper or broadcast by a news station. There may be news in such opinions, but the vehicle is by definition subjective and a reflection of the writer’s or speaker’s worldview.

This “fake news” nonsense isn’t really about the dissemination of false information. If it were, the administration could demand a correction and would receive one from any reputable news outlet.

No, Trump has made a perversion of the word “fake,” particularly among his most ardent supporters, so that it has come to mean news stories he doesn’t like, commentary that is unflattering to him and inadequate coverage of what he views as positive news about him and his administration.

Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.


economic nationalism

rhetorical claim: Trump’s standing up to China is a prime example of his willingness to put America in his policy of economic nationalism.

rhetorical effect: according to Adam Posen in Foreign Affairs:

President Donald Trump’s hostility to globalization is ruining the United States’ attractiveness as a place to do business. Sometimes, after all, it takes just one bad landlord to destroy a whole neighborhood’s desirability. This year, net inward investment into the United States by multinational corporations—both foreign and American—has fallen almost to zero, an early indicator of the damage being done by the Trump administration’s trade conflicts and its arbitrary bullying of companies and governments. This shift of corporate investment away from the United States will decrease long-term U.S. income growth, reduce the number of well-paid jobs available, and reinforce the ongoing shift of global commerce away from United States. That shift will subject the entire world economy to greater instability.


the envy of the world

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is making America great again economically and militarily, just in the 1950s, America is once again the envy of the world.

rhetorical effect: As Alan Stephens argues in the Financial Times:

Today’s nostalgia has become an engine of nationalism. It thrives on the economic and cultural insecurities thrown up by globalisation. We look backwards for a safe identity. No one has been so adroit as Mr Trump in exploiting these emotions. When the US president promises to make America great again, he underlines the “again”. Coal miners head a hierarchy of blue collar heroes embracing metal bashers, auto workers and truck drivers. They are all white. The president’s promise is to take them back — another favourite word — to the glory days of the 1950s….

A fascinating report by the London-based think-tank Demos observes that recent elections in France and Germany, as well as the British referendum, show the “pervasive extent” to which language that plays up the status, security and simplicity of the past has infiltrated political culture. People who have lost faith in the future are seeking solace in old, imagined, certainties. The lesson for mainstream politicians should be evident. The nationalists will always win when the argument is framed by nostalgia. Progressive politics need a message about the future powerful enough to reclaim the voters’ collective gaze. They could make a start by explaining how to ensure our children are better off than their parents.


the forgotten men and women

rhetorical claim: Trump is a spokesman of regular folks. “The forgotten men and women of our country — people who work hard but no longer have a voice: I am your voice,” he said during the acceptance speech for his nomination at the Republican National Convention just over a year ago.

rhetorical effect: paranoid QANON conspiracy theory among the most radical Trumpinistas. Reinforces their permanent state of grievance and unquenchable thirst for revenge As explained by Molly Roberts in the Washington Post:

This anxiety also ties into a more amorphous sense among these voters that, though the Republican Party controls Congress and the executive, the country is still rigged against them. Trumpism has always been about insecurity: As a candidate, the president played on the paranoia of Americans who thought the country they knew was being taken away from them — by immigrants, by an overreaching government, by adversaries overseas.

The “forgotten men and women of our country” didn’t stop feeling forgotten when their self-proclaimed avatar walked into the White House. There was too much dissent, too much doubt cast on his (and, by extension, their) legitimacy and ability to lead. Now, they’ll only be assuaged by the destruction of everything and everyone that stands in their way, through the mass arrest of those who they say connived against them and the installation of a state filled only with loyalists.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 18-25, 2018

hating freedom

contempt for America

rhetorical claim: Today, America heroically takes on socialism’s pernicious bigotry and hate-mongering against freedom in the Democratic Party and the MSM in a head-to-head battle in front of all humankind, trying to put a nail in the coffin of the Left’s return to rule by oligarchs.  The left champions corrupt elites like Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, and their super-rich donors, who the left agrees should be above the law, the IRS, FBI, NSA, CIA – with these institutions even helping to break the law and hide the proof.  The left’s contempt for America is total – suggesting that leftists see nothing redeeming in who we are.  The left’s fifty-year slander of American history excludes the accomplishments of white males, the result of a unique degree of freedom blended with the Founders’ exceptional knowledge of history that created a trickle-down effect in moral influence that no one can match.

rhetorical effect: so many hatreds and grievances, so little time. As the litany of pet memes–socialism, hating freedom, corrupt elites, contempt for white males–gathers steam, this super whining becomes a defense of white males, and their “trickle-down moral influence.” Justifies treating white males as a superior lifeform.


safe speech zones

mental surrender

rhetorical claim: Universities had for centuries been halls of challenge and discovery, for the teachers as much as for the students.  Today, they are incubators of intellectual insulation.  A young person does not emerge from college with a broadened mind.  Those modern professors and instructors, who deferred their own minds to “liberation” in previous decades, indoctrinate new generations toward renouncing the necessities of thought for the capriciousness of “feelings” and emotion.  Colleges – and mostly taxpayer-funded at that – often provide “safe spaces” as emergency harbors from the perils of reason.  The ideologies of guest speakers have become largely homogenized, and those speakers who defy approved dogma are hounded off campus by rioting “protesters,” if the administration allows them on campus to begin with.  Holding to beliefs counter to the prevailing mentality is branded a threat to the world.  It does threaten a world: one of unsustainable denial and delusion.

Critical and rational thought is being vanquished.  In its place is a Randian horror of mental surrender.  Orwell described Eastasia’s dominant philosophy as “death worship,” better translated as “obliteration of the self.”  I can conceive of no more fitting phrase.  The academic world and the realms of entertainment and media have nurtured and encouraged too many to offer their minds as sacrifice to convenience and their souls to mass approval.  Most have happily complied if they have been cognizant of having a choice at all.

rhetorical effect: dismisses any dissent as delusional, irrational, and an attempt to obliterate reality. Assumes that Trumpians know the world, and their critics are lost in a world of denial and madness. Could eventually lead to the criminalization of dissenting speech.


LGBTQ totalitarianism

rhetorical claim: The infusion of LGBTQ sexuality will inevitably upend tried and true traditions and moral standards.  Their disordered sexual mores, with their parades and orgies, are true totalitarians, intent on no less than eliminating any  moral opposition to them.

rhetorical effect: turns a persecuted minority into victimizers and fascists; transforms any call for free speech into a “totalitarian” act of political suppression; defends the privilege of heterosexual culture as the universal “tried and true” moral standard.


post-modern neo-Marxism

rhetorical claim: college campuses have been taken over by dogmatic, anti-democratic post-modern neo-Marxists, who have been indoctrinating students for at least twenty years with their internationalist, anti-capital, blame-America first propaganda.

rhetorical effect: makes polemical or theory-bound critical approaches equivalent to “mind control,” even if the aim of such approaches is disciplined inquiry and argument-making, not “brainwashing.” Throw in the tired smears of “Marxist” or “Socialist,” add a little Saul Alinsky reference, and you’ve turned dissent into subversion, and made critical inquiry an enemy of the state. Part of the right wing’s hermeneutics of suspicion, its intense paranoia about any progressive ideas.



rhetorical claim: according to Victor Davis Hanson:

Russianism is a psychological malady in which furor at Donald Trump’s election victory and presidency — and the ensuing depression resulting from the inability to abort it — finds release through fixation on Russia…The Mueller/collusion façade, like the Russia-is-Satan construct, also serves progressives as a means of psychological projection. Damning Moscow 24/7 makes up for prior appeasement of Putin 24/7, the same way that the “collusion” fantasy diverts attention from the reality that Obama-administration officials sought to warp a U.S. election by abusing FISA courts, weaponizing the intelligence agencies, colluding with the Clinton campaign in peddling bought opposition research, working with unethical toady journalists, and planting informants in a presidential campaign.

And the font of this malaise? Progressives need a scapegoat to blame for their disastrous election loss in 2016 and their lack of a persuasive agenda, which, hand-in-glove, turned over the Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court to progressives’ worst nightmare.


rhetorical assassination

rhetorical claim: Progressives have been steadily trying to rhetorically assassinate Trump since he took office, calling him variously unhinged, involved in criminal conspiracies with the Russians, and even traitorous. Kathy Griffin and others have actually talked about beheading him. None of these charges have stuck, and it’s increasingly clear that the only criminality engaged in was committed by the Dems, the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department. Almost every aspect of American culture has been weaponized to delegitimize Trump, but his base isn’t fooled by this Dem desperation.

rhetorical effect: delegitimizes the delegitimization of Trump, inoculating him against any indictments or impeachment. Induces a widespread paranoid panic about sinister forces “out to get the President,” when in actuality Trump is his own worst enemy. The Trump administration is a Manichean hall of mirrors in which every distortion, smear, and lie is reflected back as a necessary response to supposed liberal assault. Thus they justify their lies as part of a broader campaign against Democrats’ dishonesty and knee-jerk hatred of all things Trump.


the Democrat-media complex

rhetorical claim: The left has been (correctly) called unhinged, serial liars, power-mad, angry, out of control, spite-filled, envious, spoiled, while constantly engaging in toddler-like tantrums, and in full, complete psychotic meltdown..  The left has been exposed (correctly) as brimming with hatred for opponents, being filled with inane, oft-times insane beliefs.  These are the libertine #MeTooers who all knew that their heroes were sexual predators, are fully gender confused, and are unsurpassed hypocrites.

The left apparently now supports socialism, despises free enterprise, can’t abide religious expression (hate god), can’t handle other opinions or debate, believes so many things that simply aren’t so, is trying to squelch the First Amendment as much as it can in institutions it rules,  has embraced the invasion of America by illegal aliens and the replacement of the American voting population by said illegals, and supports the demonization of white males. It’s mass delusion, confusion, lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.

rhetorical effect: treats dissent as a mental illness.


the Protestant work ethic

rhetorical claim: So-called “progressives” seem to have forgotten that the Protestant work ethic made America. They systematically seek to undo both the Protestant foundation of America by denying religious liberty or the work ethic part by pushing for a universal Obamaesque welfare state.

rhetorical effect: part of Trump’s pluto-populist campaign: “the people’s billionaire” who supposedly embodies hard work and the Horatio Alger myth of the self-made man is actually a  trust-funder who has done nothing but lie and cut corners in his very checkered business career. The GOP’s greed and grievance approach has only reinforced Trump’s phony populism as the middle and lower classes continue to get screwed and the top 1% get all the tax cuts and yet feel Trump has answered all of their grievances.


making baseless charges

rhetorical claim: the security clearances for several Trump haters should be revoked, According to the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they’ve politicized and, in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate. And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.

rhetorical effect: the pot calling the kettle black–reversing the field, in classic Trump rhetorical manner. As deconstructed by Paul Waldman:

Naturally, Sanders provides no details or specifics. But stand back and marvel for a moment that Trump’s White House is taking the position that “making … baseless charges” is absolutely intolerable and must be punished. Trump, the most profligate liar in the history of the American presidency. And the Trump administration now believes that you’re not supposed to monetize your public service? Good to know.

As to what it means to monetize your security clearance and government service, it’s what thousands of officials from Democratic and Republican administrations, not to mention Congress, do all the time. They serve on corporate boards, they make paid speeches, they become lobbyists, they go into “consulting,” they work for defense contractors or other corporations. Even those who go to think tanks or nonprofit advocacy groups are using what they learned in government to earn a salary. There’s plenty to criticize about the revolving door, but the idea that it’s something that only a few former officials who served under Barack Obama (as well as Republican presidents) have done is so plainly ludicrous that it’s almost surprising that even Sanders could say it with a straight face. Almost.

In the ever-growing list of moronic Trump administration ideas, stripping security clearances from former officials who have had the temerity to criticize the president won’t count among the most consequential. But it will be one of the most Trumpian.