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. 10-18, 2017

regulatory expansion

real-world evidence

public-utility controls of the internet

active forest management

a constitutional federal government

regulatory pathologies

maximizing rules vs. maximizing environmental quality

rhetorical claim: Trump is systematically dismantling the liberals’ deep regulatory state, itself an unconstitutional, illegal, and pathological power grab. He is making the federal government constitutional again.

rhetorical effect: individually, each of these phrases and labels serves as a wrecking ball to particular government regulations; collectively, they add up to a state of nature (see “natural law,” below), a coming era of social Darwinism, a cynical use of the Constitution to nullify or privatize all government functions

Translating them one-by-one:

regulatory expansion = any regulation

real-world evidence = ignoring scientific evidence

public-utility controls of the internet = the end of net neutrality, and a new era of online tolls, blockages, and dominance. Privatizes the internet.

active forest management = clear cutting

constitutional federal government = an Ayn Rand state

maximizing environmental quality rather than environmental rules = no environmental rules, combined with the rejection of  scientific evidence so that environmental quality cannot be quantified or ever agreed upon.


natural law

rhetorical claim: the GOP favors natural law–individual freedom, the free market, laissez-faire–over social engineering.  There’s a way things simply ought to be.  There are rules about how societies should work hardwired into the fabric of reality and that to act against them would be as foolish as trying to break the law of gravity. Liberal arguments, on the other hand, tend to focus on a belief in some concept of natural rights. They believe that simply being born and having humanity entitles every individual to certain universal rights such life, happiness, equality etc.

The left now believes that, if left alone, people will naturally attempt to one-up and exploit each other, bringing society farther and farther away from the universal levels of happiness, equality, etc. that people are entitled to. Thus heavy government intervention is required to ensure rights to all. The right, however, largely holds the belief that rights are determined by natural law, and that those who are most good or nice or deserving will tend to end out on top simply because that’s the way the rules work.

rhetorical effect: labeling all progressivism  as “social engineering” reduces government to a form of authoritarian utopian fantasy.  Apparently any attempt to comfort the afflicted or help the poor is doomed because it is unnatural, and you can’t change human nature. Thus attempts to ameliorate inequality are themselves misguided and futile.


if true

rhetorical claim: Roy Moore should resign only if the alleged sexual assault allegations are true.

rhetorical effect: gives Moore cover to win the election because the charges can never be confirmed. This is the GOP rhetorical strategy to weasel out of the conflict.


$4000 tax savings per person

rhetorical claim: The average American family would get a $4,000 raise under the President’s tax cut plan.” claims Sarah Huckaby Sanders, “So how could any member of Congress be against it?”

rhetorical effect: establishes  a lie at the heart of GOP tax claims, based on the “magic beans” claim that corporate tax cuts would stimulate the economy so much that all boats will float on a rising tide. As Sonali Kolhatkar explains on Truthdig,

Who indeed? The GOP, apparently, as PolitiFact notes in its analysis of the tax plan. According to the fact-checking site, in some specific scenarios some families may save $1,182, but given that the GOP tax plan eliminates a number of popular deductions, families that choose to itemize their tax bills are “likely to end up worse off if the bill is passed as is, even with the higher standard deduction.” Both Ryan and Ferguson also wrongly claimed that the estimated savings would be “$1,182 a year” and “every year,” when in fact the savings, if they appeared at all, would occur only in the first year.

Ryan, Ferguson, Trump and their fellow Republicans are hoping against hope that Americans will buy their scam. Charlie Fink, a member of the progressive organization Patriotic Millionaires, told me in an interview that “Paul Ryan and the right have adopted a populist language to mislead people about what they’re going to get.” In fact, the Republican website about the tax bill touts “more jobs,” “fairer taxes” and “bigger paychecks” as selling points, when in fact readers of the actual bill would rationally conclude that it would likely do nothing to increase jobs, would make taxes less fair by benefiting the rich and either temporarily increase paychecks by a minuscule amount, leave them the same or make them smaller.




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, Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2017

dynamic scoring

rhetorical claim: the only reason the country thinks the GOP tax bill increases the deficit is that the Senate Parliamentarian won’t allow the GOP to use dynamic scoring, which shows that increased growth will erase the deficit.

rhetorical effect: makes magic beans the center of economic analysis: plant them and the beanstalk will grow all the way to heaven. In reality, Dynamic Scoring is making up growth numbers that will let you cut taxes for billionaires. When the bill comes due and the deficit spikes as a result, it’s time to…cut spending on things that help the middle class, of course.  Dynamic scoring, like “health care freedom” and “the free market”  is a euphemism wrapped within a panacea.


educational opportunity schools

rhetorical claim: charter schools are educational opportunities, and anyone who opposes them is oppressing the very students they would serve–especially minority students. It is a criminal act to keep pouring money into failing public schools.

rhetorical effect: demonizes public education as racist and devoid of any learning “opportunities”; justifies underfunding public schools for charter schools; supports vouchers–another subsidy for charter schools; acts as an excuse to close public schools.


shame politics

rhetorical claim: Progressives are doubling down on their major political miscalculation of relying on shame politics and bad-faith messaging about immigration, identity politics, and trade. By demonizing Trump policies as biased, racist, and isolationist, they further alienate populist voters.

rhetorical effect: stokes populist resentment; brands all Trump opponents as manipulative liars whose main motive is to ridicule Trump supporters as deplorable, racist morons.


coddling the terrorists

rhetorical claim: According to Sarah Huckaby Saunders, the media’s reckless defense of terrorists and immigrants only deepens the jihadi threat to America. Trump did not politicize the deaths of eight people in Lower Manhattan because the immigration complaints that he almost instantly raised were ones that he had raised before. The attacks were the fault of Chuck Schumer’s “soft on immigrants” policy-a real Chuck Schumer Beauty.

rhetorical effect: best explained by Frank Bruni, describing Saunders’ Daily White House press briefings, which are a form of constant moral inversion:

For some 20 minutes every afternoon, down is up, paralysis is progress, enmity is harmony, stupid is smart, villain is victim, disgrace is honor, plutocracy is populism and Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia if anyone would summon the nerve to investigate her (because, you know, that never, ever happens). I watch and listen with sheer awe.


political weaponization of criminal law

rhetorical claim: Trump should pardon any person caught up in the Mueller Russian collision” fake news investigation because criminal law should not be used to fight political battles. Congress is the proper venue for political battles, so Congress should investigate Russian meddling, especially the relationship between the Russians and the Clinton campaign. We need a politically accountable democratic process, not a partisan witch hunt.

rhetorical effect: shifts the focus from Trump to Clinton; trivializes clearly criminal GOP acts as “political” in nature; paves the way for a complete Congressional whitewash of Trump-Russia collusion; naturalizes the idea that Mueller is a political partisan.



rhetorical claim: as Trump tweeted after the Manafort indictment, “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus????? Of course, there is no collusion. DO SOMETHING!

rhetorical effect: as explained on Salon:

Trump’s “DO SOMETHING” is also an example of what has been called stochastic terrorism, in which right-wing politicians, their toadies in the media and conservative opinion leaders repeatedly threaten violence against liberals, progressives and Democrats — and then act shocked when said outcome actually happens.

Psychologist Valerie Tarico explains the elements of stochastic terrorism in more detail:

  1. A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
  2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous — arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
  3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language — all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
  4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it — claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”

In this moment, the possibility of violence is very real. Donald Trump is the champion of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and right-wing militias. These are groups which collectively have killed hundreds of people in the United States since 2007 and are considered by federal and other law enforcement agencies to be a greater threat than Islamic terrorism.


post-liberal world order

rhetorical claim: The West’s liberal world order is bankrupt and should be replaced by a Eurasian neo-conservative post-liberal world order, which defends tradition, conservative values, and true liberty.

rhetorical effect: this Bannonesque call to arms comes straight via the Kremlin, and merges Putin’s agenda with Trump’s. Assumes the demise of the liberal world order, the very thing it needs to prove. Normalizes the existence of a worldwide autocracy, disguised under the ultimate euphemism, “liberty.” Normalizes the weaponization of culture, language, information and history as political tools in the hastening of this new world order.


class realignment

rhetorical claim: the Dems lost the 2016 Presidential Election because they alienated the middle class by promulgating their self-righteous, elitist identity politics. Their blinding self-regard (they see themselves as the “sanity bubble”) is the best weapon Trump has for his re-election–a shield against popular support. As Matthew Continetti argues at the National Review website:

That is the mistake Hillary Clinton made when she decided that she could win the presidency without the support of a white working class mangled by economic stagnation, family breakdown, and drug addiction. And it is the same mistake the Democrats at the Obama Foundation and on Capitol Hill are making now, in real time, as they wrap themselves in the illusions that growing minority populations will carry them ineluctably to power, and that identity politics is somehow an electoral winner.

rhetorical effect: basically justifies the argument that Dems can only win if they stop being Dems by renouncing goals racial equality, diversity, equal opportunity; racial justice, etc. Assumes the working class is permanently alienated from the Democratic Party.


the judicial resistance

rhetorical claim: Obama holdover federal judges have joined the resistance in opposing any Trump policies. Rather than upholding the Constitution, they are taking justice into their own hands and legislating from the bench. of the law. They are political hacks and frauds  in judges’ robes.

rhetorical effect: As Dahlia Lithwik and Stephen L. Vladeck argue , this rhetorical strategy, “in the guise of dispassionate legal analysts, uses  the same kinds of language and tactics deployed by the president that his defenders claim not to be defending to attack judges and their rulings”. It delegitimizes any judicial dissent; assumes that any pro-Tump ruling is unconstitutional; and assumes that if Trump loses any legal battles it is because progressive judges are out to get him. ;

Much like criticism of all unflattering media reports as “fake news,” and attacks on the loyalty or patriotism of legislators who don’t vote in support of the president’s agenda, denouncing and dismissing all judges with the temerity to rule against Mr. Trump represents a direct attack on the independence and integrity of the entire judicial branch.

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, Oct 19-31, 2017

witch hunt

rhetorical claim: “The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics,” tweeted Trump, “but the R’s are now fighting back like never before.”

Note how a federal investigation of Russian influence on American democracy has become “the Dems.” Note also that it is not the president and his lawyers fighting this investigation but the “R’s.” Trump is conditioning Republicans and conservatives to view his upcoming legal defense entirely through the lens of partisanship. With the broad cooperation of conservative media, there is every reason to think he might succeed.

rhetorical effect: best described by Michael Gerson:

Note how a federal investigation of Russian influence on American democracy has become “the Dems.” Note also that it is not the president and his lawyers fighting this investigation but the “R’s.” Trump is conditioning Republicans and conservatives to view his upcoming legal defense entirely through the lens of partisanship. With the broad cooperation of conservative media, there is every reason to think he might succeed….

Do Republicans and conservatives really want to be remembered as a bodyguard of enablers for this man? For this cause? Few enter the fray of political ideas, or make the considerable sacrifices of entering public life, to defend corruption and the abuse of power. That is now the calling of the Republican partisan, and the downward path of dishonor.


criminalization of policy differences

rhetorical claim: the anti-Trump forces are crowing for his impeachment based on their policy differences with him. Just as they have criminalized free speech on campus, they are now trying to criminalize any policies that differ from their ow. In other words, their utopia is an authoritarian state based on political correctness.

rhetorical effect: makes it so that no policies are inherently wiser or juster or more efficient, but just ‘”different.” Makes it so that all criticism is oppositional, and all critiics are enemies. Removes any evidence-based argumentation from policy debates, reducing everything to a matter of opinion. As best explained by David Frum, referring to Trump’s discrediting of the media:

modern strongmen seek merely to discredit journalism as an institution, by denying that such a thing as independent judgment can exist. All reporting serves an agenda. There is no truth, only competing attempts to grab power.


health care freedom

rhetorical claim: according to Phil Gramm, the collectivist nightmare of Obamacare shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with a person’s health care freedom:

A money-for-freedom compromise would at last provide an opportunity to debate health-care freedom, something the public was denied by the great ObamaCare lie. If Democrats refuse to allow ObamaCare’s losers to escape in return for funding for the program’s beneficiaries, it will be Democrats who let the program collapse. Throughout the debate they will be forced to argue against the very health-care freedom they falsely promised when they adopted ObamaCare

rhetorical effect: gives people the “freedom” to sign up for skinny policies that will prove more or less useless in the face of any serious medical crisis. The market always gives people the right to get screwed. Also legitimizes the absurd idea that insurance is totally an individual choice, though the whole idea of a risk pool is a collective one.


nuclear racketeering

rhetorical claim: The real Russia scandal: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of a deal to transfer control of 20% of U.S. uranium deposits to a Russian company was a quid pro quo exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton should be charged for treason for allowing the Russians to corner the uranium market

rhetorical effect: just like the e-mail and Benghazi charges, these will persist forever despite being patently false (see here for all the reasons the claim is false.) Part of the comprehensive GOP strategy of misdirection and confusion, this meme shifts the Russian collusion/meddling narrative focus from Trump to Clinton–it’s Hillary who colluded, not Donald! As masterfully explained by Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman:

What’s happening now is an audacious effort on the part of Republicans to convince everyone that not only did Trump and his campaign not work with Russia, in fact it was Hillary Clinton who did so, and Vladimir Putin (whose hatred of Clinton burns with the fire of a thousand suns) actually wanted her to win and tried to help her.

If you’ve been conscious for the last year and a half, that surely strikes you as deranged, something no one could be dumb enough to believe. But Republicans have run this play many times before, and by the time they’re done, half the public will believe it.

It has three essential components. The first is the cranking up of the conservative calliope: all of the right’s information sources, from Fox News to conservative talk radio to web sites like Breitbart and Drudge, immediately begin shouting about the same story and repeating the same line. Then to keep it going and force mainstream media to cover it, they create an official “investigation” that will provide a steady stream of tantalizing leaks and events that can become the occasion of news coverage, even if it all ends up proving nothing. Then the whole narrative gets validated by top-level Republicans whose words are news in and of themselves.

All of these components are now in motion. Fox and the other outlets are doing hour after hour of discussion about what they are calling the “Russia dossier,” an opposition research document prepared for Democrats that gathered together facts and rumors about Trump’s dealings in Russia (I explained why their line on this document is so bogus here). Now that story is being joined to absurd charges about the sale of a uranium mining company, with all kinds of dark allegations of corruption.


the real Russia scandal

rhetorical claim: In the Russia dossier scandal, since Steele had Russian sources and was working for the Clinton campaign, that proves it was she and not Donald Trump who colluded with a foreign power. Furthermore, the fact that the FBI treated Steele’s information seriously means it too was in on the collusion; that implicates James Comey along with Robert Mueller, because they know each other. Therefore, Mueller must resign to “prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.”

rhetorical effect:  As a masterful piece of misleading disinformation,  this charge is an excuse for Congressional committees to stop investigating Trump’s Russia ties. As Digby Diehl points out in Salon,

There are a dozen flaws in this argument but the most important is the one set forth by Robert Litt, former general counsel to the office of the director of national intelligence under the Obama administration:

The dossier itself played absolutely no role in the coordinated intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in our election. That assessment, which was released in unclassified form in January but which contained much more detail in the classified version that has been briefed to Congress, was based entirely on other sources and analysis.

Other than that, they have an airtight case.



rhetorical claim: see “nuclear racketeering,” above.

rhetorical effect:  euphemizes misdirection and with-hunt into an innocent-sounding investigation. In a truly Rovian misdirection, this tactic actually means the end of the investigation of Trump-Russia collusion. Normalizes deception.


Hecklers’ Veto

rhetorical claim: the ACLA supports free speech unless it comes to speech they don’t like. In that case, they support hecklers who shout down unpalatable, politically incorrect speakers,

The increasing use of the heckler’s veto is distressing considering that the judiciary has been overruling the heckler’s veto since the Civil Rights Movement, when black protestors were frequently arrested for peacefully occupying segregated areas because their acts unnerved and unsettled onlookers. The Court addressed this practice in Brown v. Louisiana (1966), ruling that the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights may not be curtailed merely because “their critics might react with disorder or violence.”

The heckler’s veto is rooted in the misguided belief that an argument can be defeated by forcefully shutting up its proponents. On the college campuses of a free society, a viewpoint gains acceptance in the “marketplace of ideas” by the persuasive power of the arguments in support of it, not the physical might of its advocates. Rather than using force to silence a speaker, the answer to speech with which one disagrees is more speech, not violence or censorship.

rhetorical effect: permits racist and xenophobic speech to dominate the public discourse by removing all moral and ethical guidelines for speech decency and accuracy. Normalizes spite and bigotry. As Tim Wu argues,

Some might argue, based on the sophomoric premise that “more speech is always better,” that the current state of chaos is what the First Amendment intended. But no defensible free-speech tradition accepts harassment and threats as speech, treats foreign propaganda campaigns as legitimate debate or thinks that social-media bots ought to enjoy constitutional protection. A robust and unfiltered debate is one thing; corruption of debate itself is another. We have entered a far more dangerous place for the republic; its defense requires stronger protections for what we once called the public sphere.


saving our heritage

rhetorical claim: electing Ed Gillespie Virginia governor is critical to maintaining America’s “great statues and heritage” according to President Trump.

rhetorical effect: The usual master-meme of race-bating. Trump has repeatedly cast Democrat Ralph Northam as soft on immigration and crime, and Gillespie has heavily trafficked in these same attacks, with dishonest ads featuring scary, tattooed, brown-skinned gang members. In the state that was recently the site of white supremacist violence and murder, Gillespie has said Confederate statues should remain. All this is designed to energize Virginia Trump voters.


 tax cuts for American workers

rhetorical claim: corporate tax cuts would largely benefit workers, who would see giant increases in salaries and productivity. They would be a job engine as well. The only way to beat class-war politics is to make the case that reform and rate cuts will yield faster growth, higher wages, more jobs and broadly shared prosperity. The politics of envy, the heart of the liberal response to tax cuts, falsely claim that tax cuts only help the wealthy.

rhetorical effect: best explained by Paul Krugman:

Realistically, then, the benefits from cutting corporate taxes would overwhelmingly flow into after-tax profits rather than wages, especially in the first few years and probably for a decade or more. And this in turn means that the main beneficiaries would be stockholders, not workers.

So who are these stockholders, exactly? You can guess part of the answer: We’re talking mainly about the very affluent. Even if we count indirect holdings in retirement accounts and mutual funds, the richest 10 percent of U.S. residents account for about 80 percent of American-owned stocks, and the richest 1 percent own about 40 percent. So we’re talking, as always when it comes to Republican plans, about tax cuts heavily tilted toward the wealthy.


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, Oct 14-19, 2017

speech codes

rhetorical claim: According to The Federalist, 

Campuses, offices and businesses increasingly have strict codes—written or unwritten—dictating what can be said and what can’t. Colleges especially have widely adopted speech codes restricting speech that is considered offensive or that creates a “hostile environment,” as judged by the feelings of people who don’t like what you have to say.

In recent years, these formal codes have been challenged in courts and frequently struck down, so they have been replaced by “Bias Response Teams”—what the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calls “speech police in a quite literal sense.” Two professors writing in The New Republic worry that BRTs will “degrade education by encouraging silence instead of dialogue, the fragmentation of campuses into groups of like-minded people, and the deliberate avoidance of many of the most important—and controversial—topics across all academic disciplines.”

The remit of these teams is broad and vague:

A bias incident can occur ‘whether the act is intentional or unintentional,’ meaning that ‘microaggressions’ (subtle, often unintended slights) are squarely within bias incident territory. All ‘verbal, written, or physical’ conduct is fair game, whether it transpires in actual spaces such as cafeterias and classrooms or in the endless virtual world of social media. Examples include ‘symbols, language, and imagery objectifying women’ (University of Utah); ‘name calling,’ ‘avoiding or excluding others’ and ‘making comments on social media about someone’s political affiliations/beliefs,’ (Syracuse); ‘I don’t see skin color,’ ‘I was joking. Don’t take things so seriously,’ and ‘Thanks, Sweetie.’ (University of Oregon). Given the expansive definitions of bias incidents, it is no surprise that some dubious complaints are filed: Last month, at the University of Michigan, a hall director reported a ‘phallic snow object.’ ‘It is the height of privilege and entitlement to be obsessively concerned with utterly inconsequential events such as this,’ a member of the university’s residential staff said.

This is the best kind of dystopian speech police: the kind that operates without any written code and can decide to target you arbitrarily for imaginary infractions.

rhetorical effect: confuses hate speech with free speech.



rhetorical claim: academic, government and business cultures have produced a wholly new species that devours American free speech and competitiveness: the diversocrat. Fed by discredited “implicit bias” theory, this invasive species hires and promotes based on gender and race rather than merit, thus creating a culture of mediocrity. Not only is “implicit bias” an unproven because unverifiable theory, but statistics actually show that women and other alleged victim groups already have a natural hiring advantage over men because of political correctnesss.

The only thing that the academic diversity racket achieves is to bid up the salaries of plausibly qualified candidates, and redistribute those candidates to universities that can muster the most resources for diversity poaching.

rhetorical effect: props up the enduring discriminatory hiring practice of white men first; assumes that judgements of “merit” have no built-in cultural biases; assumes that women and minorities are naturally inferior to white males, so the hiring gap can never be filled.


socialist superstate

rhetorical claim: According to the American Thinker website,

The Democrats, America’s de facto leftist party (note how a sworn socialist, Bernie Sanders, is effectively exercising leadership of the party without anyone so much as blinking) have lost over 1,000 offices nationwide in the past year. The GOP controls nearly two-thirds of all governorships and nearly half of state governments. The left’s political presence and influence is negligible across vast areas of the heartland. They have abandoned the working class, the bedrock of any leftist movement, in favor of representing transsexuals, ball club millionaires, and noncitizen criminals, not a strategy with much of a future, on the face of it.

We look back on an eighty-year period in which the elite attempted to replace America’s representative democracy with a socialist superstate by a process of accretion – putting in place, one at a time, policies that removed only one single aspect of society from the hands of the people while at the same time building up an interlocking system of control and manipulation. Their error lay in the fact that you can’t put in socialism gradually, but only in a single action, a revolutionary coup de main at the point of a gun, as Lenin, Mao, and Castro all knew. Gradualism gives the individual programs time to fail, to reveal how empty the effort is, exactly as has happened here. There is not a single socialist policy, from social security to affirmative action to ObamaCare, that is not nearing collapse.

It ended with Obama, a man who embodied leftist incompetence, frivolity, and egomania in one package. For a few months in 2009, Obama had it all in his hands, and he frittered it away. Obama failed completely, left no legacy and no alternative. Obama was the last of the commissars. Now nothing remains.

rhetorical effect: frames the Left as being in total decline and as a failed ideology, and implies that the entire New Deal is  totally undone and will have no lasting impact. This magical, epochal thinking is an apocalyptic view of a Manichean world locked in perpetual war, an eschatological view of secular decline and of a coming kingdom of God.


careless dishonesty

rhetorical claim: the careless dishonesty and outright lies of the media has created Trumpism. The media’s bombastic rhetoric and doom-mongering have created a toxic DC atmosphere.

rhetorical effect: makes the Liar In Chief a victim of lies rather than a source of them; accuses the media of the very behavior they criticize Trump for–in other words, a classic inversion by labeling something the opposite of what it really is.


scare pollution

rhetorical claim: the global warming/climate change hoax is its own form of pollution–scaring people into believing a falsehood. The EPA HAS tried to justify crippling regulations by using scary scenarios that misrepresent actual costs and benefits.

rhetorical effect: undercuts any authoritative, evidence-based proof of climate change as part of a massive hoax, thus making climate change scientists out to be the true polluters–polluters of public discourse and honesty.



rhetorical claim: according to Nikki Haley, Trump’s decertification of the Iran nuclear deal was based on the concept of proportionality: the overall Iranian strategic  threat to the US is disproportionate to the offsetting meager gains the deal offers.

rhetorical effect: deflects the question of whether Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement, to a set piece about the “proportionality” of Iran’s threat to US security. But the “proportionality” provision in the 90-day review language has to do with containing the nuclear threat, not Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism. In fact, all Haley talks about are things irrelevant to the nuclear agreement. The agreement is not intended to be a comprehensive defanging of the Iranian threat; rather, it just slows down their nuclear progress. If that is the case, then the more Trump fulminates against and undercuts the nuclear pact, the likelier the possibility of Iran actually resuming their nuclear development. As usual, Trump is doing the very thing to himself that he accuses others of doing to him.


fix the Iran deal

rhetorical claim: the Iran nuclear deal needs to be fixed because it is a terrible deal for the US, protects the terrorist Iranian regime from sanctions, and actually hastens their path to nuclear weapons.

rhetorical effect: best explained in the NYT editorial:

By “fix” Mr. Trump means legislation to impose new conditions on Iran beyond the purview of the agreement and to extend its constraints indefinitely. That would put the United States, not Iran, in violation of the agreement and isolate Washington, not Tehran, around the world. It would allow Iran to resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons or to stick with the deal for its economic benefits, forcing the United States to sanction its closest allies for doing business with Tehran. It would provide a “we told you so” gift to Iranian hard-liners in their struggle with pragmatists. It would shackle, not advance, Mr. Trump’s ability to sign others on to his broader strategy to confront Iranian aggression. More broadly, it would undermine America’s credibility — and its ability to strike agreements that make the country safer in the future.


the father of daughters

rhetorical claim: “as the father of daughters, I condemn Harvey Weinstein.”

rhetorical effect: do the fathers of sons have less of a moral claim to criticize sexual predation? As Kate Lister argues in The Pool website:

All hail fatherhood – the watershed moment for women’s rights! What would feminism do without it? It’s hard to ignore the possessive enlightenment of the “I have daughters” response, in spite of the good intentions that might accompany the condemnation. Understanding sexual boundaries, championing women’s rights or, while we’re at it, expressing abhorrence at sexual assault, shouldn’t hinge on a man’s personal relationship to any woman – daughter, mother, sister, girlfriend or wife. Paternal prefaces in response to sexism or sexual assault says one thing before anything else: it matters more because my DNA is involved. It deflects from the sheer scale and magnitude of a violent reality that affects thousands of women every day.

I wasn’t the only one who grimaced reading Damon’s statement; Twitter collectively groaned, too. As Vulture staff writer E. Alex Jung joked, “I have a daughter” is getting up there with “thoughts and prayers”. The jibes didn’t stop there. ‘”As the father of 25 daughters, I’m starting to think women might actually be people,” another tweeter quipped. English actor Samuel West joined in with a gag of his own. “Now I have daughters, I’m fed up with men saying “I have daughters, so this matters to me”,” he tweeted before making a serious point to his followers. “Stop treating women by their relation to you; that’s the problem. Just don’t fucking sexually assault them. It’s a pretty low bar.”

The gold medal for satire, however, goes to the New Statesman this morning. ‘While I feel no empathy for women at the moment, I believe that this would change were I to produce female offspring of my own,’ wrote Jonn Elledge. ‘That is because my daughter would not simply be a woman: she would be my own, miniature woman, grown from the seed of the homunculi which lie waiting in my loins.’


the culture

rhetorical claim: Confronted with allegations of serial sexual abuse and rape, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein said: “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

rhetorical effect: As Eugene Robinson explains,

Blaming the 1960s and 1970s has become the first refuge of abusive creeps. But those of us who lived through that time can recall — yes, perhaps through a slight haze — that “the culture” never approved of the kinds of things Weinstein is accused of doing.

That era was about personal liberation, the biggest component of which involved women’s empowerment. The sexual revolution gave women options that had been forbidden to them, but it never took away the option of rejecting unwanted advances. And never did “the culture” give men the moral right to use money and power to coerce sexual favors — or the legal right to commit sexual assault.


values voters

rhetorical claim: Steve Bannon told the Values Voters Summit that economic nationalism “is the centerpiece of values voters.” As good Christians, they fight for the supremacy of the Judeo Christian tradition in a new holy war against the GOP,  liberals, the media and globalists, and have made jobs the centerpiece of their values.

rhetorical effect:  Somehow the religious right has hijacked the notion of “values” for themselves because apparently anyone who doesn’t share their fundamentalism has no values whatsoever. As Michael Gerson argues in The Washington Post,

Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear? Rather than confidently and persistently representing a set of distinctive beliefs, they pant and beg to be a part of someone else’s movement. In this case, it is a movement that takes advantage of racial and ethnic divisions and dehumanizes Muslims, migrants and refugees. A movement that has cultivated ties to alt-right leaders and flirted with white identity politics. A movement that will eventually soil and discredit all who are associated with it.

The religious right is making itself a pitiful appendage to this squalid agenda. If Christian conservatives are loyal enough, Bannon promises that they can be “the folks who saved the Judeo-Christian West.” All that is required is to abandon the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition: a belief in the inherent value and dignity of every life.

Rather, the religious right is an interest group seeking preference and advancement from a strongman — and rewarding him with loyal acceptance of his priorities. The prophets have become clients. The priests have become acolyt

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, Oct 7-13, 2017

implicit bias

rhetorical claim: the implicit bias theory, which argues that 90 percent of white people are prejudiced against blacks, has removed the concept of individual agency from law. The need to plumb the unconscious to explain racial gaps arises for one reason: It is taboo to acknowledge that socioeconomic disparities might be caused by intergroup differences in cultural values, family structure, interests or abilities. The large racial gap in academic skills renders preposterous any expectation that, absent bias, blacks and whites would be proportionally represented in the workplace. And vast differences in criminal offending are sufficient to explain racial disparities in incarceration rates. 

rhetorical effect: establishes the “reality” that blacks are disadvantaged relative to whites because blacks are inherently inferior and immoral. (see “bourgeois norms”, below.) Basically argues that there is no such things as implicit bias, but, oif there was such a thing, it would be justifiably based on reality.



rhetorical claim: the Harvey Weinstein cover-up reveals the hypocrisy of progressives and Hollywood liberals, whose false self-righteousness justifies their war on American norms and values.

rhetorical effect: self-righteously equates any progressive moral claims with sanctimonious hypocrisy, im[lying that progressives have no moral foundation and certainly no righteousness.


bourgeois norms

rhetorical claim: the race grievance industry falsely claims that what constitutes “normal” is different for whites and blacks. They make the racist claim that white “bourgeois norms” are an offense against black culture. In other words, they argue that blacks should not be held to standards of personal responsibility, self-restraint, delayed gratification, marriage, and a strong work ethic. As usual, black critics are the real racists.

rhetorical effect: distorts serious black criticism of what moral values by making morality synonymous with being white; marginalizes any criticism of white culture as uncivilized; overtly links blackness to laziness, sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility.


sincerely-held religious beliefs

rhetorical claim: companies or organizations with sincerely-held religious or moral beliefs against birth control should not be forced to cover contraception in their health insurance policies. health. The Trump administration’s new policy on excluding contraceptive coverage from insurance coverage was, according to Paul  Ryan, ” a great day for religious liberty”.

rhetorical effect: It was not a great day for the liberty of women who sincerely believe in birth control.  As Gail Collins re-framed the issue:

It was a tough day for the First Amendment, for the people who’ve been struggling to make unwanted pregnancies, and abortion, as rare as possible.

It worked really well, though, for the hypocrites who want to kowtow to the religious right without any concern for the inevitable consequences.

This phrase is not about deeply-held moral and religious beliefs–which art not being challenged–but, rather, the right to impose those beliefs on non-believers. It was an unforgiving assault on freedom of choice. Sincerity is not a trump card, so to speak, that can be used to deny the rights of others. After all, white supremacists can’t discriminate against non-whites just because they sincerely believe non-whites are inferior to them.


principled entrepreneurship

rhetorical claim: business is not the enemy of ethics, and the free market has a moral dimension. The best expression of this may be he Koch Foundation’s definition of “principled entrepreneurship”:

A principled entrepreneur:

1. Makes decisions in the long-run best interest of the company based on facts, reality, and reason.
2. Creates win-win relationships with both customers and suppliers, engaging in exchanges that are in both the long-run best interests of the company and the customers and suppliers; and trading value for value in the marketplace.
3. Manages their employees in a manner that rewards productivity, holds people accountable and responsible, encourages independent thinking, and fosters teamwork and mutual respect.
4. Conducts business relationships with honesty, integrity, and lives up to the promises they make and contracts they enter into.
5. Respects and competes with other businesses in the marketplace by providing customers with higher value at lower costs.

A principled entrepreneur does not:
1. Seek to gain an advantage over their competition by using or supporting government policies that restrict competition in the marketplace or harm their competitors.
2. Seek or accept government subsidies or bailouts as the route to business success or survival.
3. Evade the facts of reality when making decisions.
4. Attempt to take advantage of their customers or suppliers, engage in deception or fraud, nor pursues short-run profits at the detriment of the long-run best interest of the company

rhetorical effect: eliminates all government regulation over businesses. Defines Social Darwinism–a zero-sum, winner-take-all struggle–as the basic “fact of reality.”


judging political bias

rhetorical claim: Judges should not be involved in drawing state electoral borders because  gerrymandering is a political act and human judges will always lose their credibility when they inevitably act with political bias. Inherent political controversies such as redistricting  are best resolved by the political process. Proportional representation would lead to a European-style Congressional makeup, a perfect recipe for identity politics and gridlock.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to even legally challenge racially discriminatory, and maintains the US as a permanent  non-majority government. Baldly partisan redistricting. Shifts the analytical focus from outcomes (de facto segregation) to processes. After all, the GOP is not shy about accepting favorable Supreme Court opinions. Playing the “European” card is an always-reliable way to discredit a policy they don’t like, since Europe seems to be politically toxic, in the same way Nancy Pelosi is.


honoring the Confederacy

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ demanding the removal of Confederate statues are dishonoring America’s past and ignoring our history.

rhetorical effect: the upside-downness of this is astonishing, As Frank Bruni puts it, “Funny how people who accuse their rivals of being unpatriotic worship men who engaged in armed rebellion against the United States”.


Black Identity Extremists (BIE)

rhetorical claim: Amid a rancorous debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division has declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African-Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report, marked for official use only and obtained by Foreign Policy

rhetorical effect: As expressed in The Daily Kos:

While this is isn’t new, it is incredibly scary and we should remain very vigilant. This has important implications as to how the Trump administration plans to carry out a program to demonize and target black activists—and activists of color more broadly. With Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, who knows what kind of laws they’ll come up (or even break) to surveil and jail folks? It’s also yet another demonstration of their clear commitment to advancing a white nationalist agenda. So far they’ve identified Muslims as a terrorist group, identified Latino immigrants as a threat and now blacks. Who’s next?


the war on coal

rhetorical claim: by repealing the Clean Power Act, EPA head Scott Pruitt has ended the War on Coal.

rhetorical effect: deepens the war on the planet and public health.



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, Oct 1-6, 2017

“economically and technologically achievable standards”

rhetorical claim: science shouldn’t have anything to do with environmental policy. Instead, economic impacts and achievable standards should dictate our clean air and water standards. We can longer bankrupt American industry in the name of the unproven theory of climate change.

rhetorical effect: the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has removed the phrase “science-based standards” from its mission statement, replacing it with “economic and technologically achievable standards.”  Shortly after announcing that he wants climate researchers to “debate” climate deniers on live TV, EPA Director Scott Pruitt said “science should not be something that’s just thrown about to try and dictate policy in Washington DC. The idea that science should not dictate nor influence policy is insane. It really doesn’t need to be said that science is one of the key foundations of modern society, and that the Trump war on science and fact is eroding all the gains of the Enlightenment. The end of pluralism and the sharing and distribution of knowledge will lead to a new Dark Age.


relatively speaking

rhetorical claim: Trump on Puerto Rico relief efforts: “The loss of life, it’s always tragic. But it’s been incredible,” he said on CNN’s Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin. “The results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life. People can’t believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking.” 

rhetorical effect: Comparing the absolute needs of Puerto Ricans with the needs of other disaster victims diminishes their need and justifies inaction.



rhetorical claim: Debates about gun control in the days immediately following a mass shooting are always premature. .Those who preen on about eroding the Second Amendment are simply politicizing tragedy and disrespecting the victims.

rhetorical effect: “premature” is really saying that Congress will never enact even modest efforts to prevent mass shootings. Every time–any time– is an inappropriate time to talk about gun control, and the call for respectful silence on the issue to avoid “politicizing” it is itself a politicized speech act. It anesthetizes any calls to action to, say, expand background checks, ban automatic weapons, or keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable. After all, everything is political in America.


gender ideology

rhetorical claim: Progressives liberals want to feminize boys, turn girls into lesbians, and destroy the family, all in the name of an ideology of gender equality

rhetorical effect: according to The Economist, this meme is part of a long-standing campaign against feminism by conservatives in the Catholic church which has widened in recent years into opposition to gay marriage and gay rights. The aim is to create an entirely fictional moral panic that the family is disintegrating. As The Economist puts it gender is in fact “not an ideology but it is a lightning rod.” Calling feminism, gay rights and gender equality ideologies, neutralizes their moral weight, reducing them to matters of opinion and politics.


heath care as a privilege

rhetorical claim: health care is a privilege, not a right. So-called human rights almost always have a cost that taxpayers have to cover. The burden of this coverage is not shared by all. Self-reliance and the free market should determine a person’s medical coverage. As Senator Ron Johnson explained,

When a student asked him if he considers health care to be a right or a privilege, Johnson replied, “I think it’s probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as ‘rights’ is ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Everything else is a limited resource.

rhetorical effect: Social Darwinism in action because it turns a basic human need into something to be earned. Turns basic human rights into a zero-sum game.


the costs and benefits of tax reform

rhetorical claim: according to Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin, no one can credibly estimate the effect of the plan, given how many details are still up in the air. However, the plan will reduce deficits by $1 trillion by stimulating growth that primarily benefits the middle class.

rhetorical effect: because both of these claims cannot be simultaneously true, this statement is the rhetorical equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Mnuchin obscures the benefits of tax reform by claiming that corporate taxes are largely paid by workers, when they are in fact mostly paid by shareholders. The Trump administration will do everything it can to conceal and distort the true costs and benefits of their tax reform package and always falsely claim that its primary aim is to help the middle class. It estimated that by 2027 the proposal would increase deficits by $2.4 trillion, with about 80 percent of tax cuts going to the top 1 percent.”

Voters in the lower-income brackets have to pay attention. The GOP is essentially willing to blow a hole in the deficit to cut taxes for their wealthy donors and large corporations. This will increase income inequality in the nation; provide less money to invest in the items that have proven to grow the economy, like education, infrastructure and technology; burden future generations with more debt; and give the wealthy more money to fund lobbyists, campaign contributions and gamble on the stock market. The GOP wants us to look more like Latin America.



rhetorical claim: the Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center have sandbagged the GOP tax reform plan by trashing its consequences without any evidence.

rhetorical effect: “Sandbagging” is rhetorical shorthand for “criticizing.” Any criticism of the plan is called either  “premature” (see above) or “fake.” This pejorative thus short cuts any critical analysis because there is no middle ground for critical analysis, historical comparisons, or prevailing assumptions.


viewpoint discrimination

rhetorical claim: college administrators engage in viewpoint discrimination when they ban conservative speakers because of concerns over student safety. All opinions matter, and college-aged “snowflakes” have to get used to the rough and tumble of the real world.

rhetorical effect: encourages and even protects hate speech. In fact, this rhetorical inversion makes any demonstration against “white privilege” or “white supremacy” itself a racially biased act, subject to liability and the pulling of federal funding. Anything with a “viewpoint” is thus judged discriminatory, in the pejorative sense of the word. Of course, any distinction between terms or ideas is inherently discriminatory.


the price of freedom

rhetorical claim:  As Bill O’Reilly put it, “The NRA and its supporters want easy access to weapons, while the left wants them banned. This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons,”

rhetorical effect: This master covering meme could be a GOP slogan for our time because it implies that collective action cannot lead to collective benefit. Justifies doing nothing about gun control; confuses freedom with self-reliance, as if freedom is an absolute with no social dimension or social consequences, and  as if there is always just a binary choice between freedom and any effective gun control;  dooms us all to a Wild West permissiveness in an age of weapons of mass destruction. As Heather Richardson put it on

The American casualties at Mandalay Bay are the horrific embodiment of what happened to America with the rise of movement conservatism: business profits became more important than human lives. Wealth has moved upward dramatically while regular Americans have seen their jobs evaporate, their health fail, infrastructure crumble and the environment degrade. Last week’s figures from the Federal Reserve show that in 2016, the top 1 percent of Americans controlled 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth, almost twice that of the bottom 90 percent. Also last week, we had the stomach-turning spectacle of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin telling high school students that health care, food and shelter are privileges. And in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Republican media personality Bill O’Reilly called the carnage at Mandalay Bay “the price of freedom.”..Someday, people will wonder how we came to this state of insanity.


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, Sept. 25-30, 2017

Disrespecting the flag edition. The entirely moral and political argument over the national anthem has been turned into outright civil war, reminiscent of Nixonian “America love it or leave it” rhetoric. The controversy raises the most pressing questions of who decides what constitutes history, what values should be respected, appropriate ways of displaying patriotism, how to protect free speech so that criticism of injustice  the abuse of power is not criminalized ostracized, etc.


disrespecting the flag

rhetorical claim: professional athletes should stop disrespecting the flag that millions have died defending. (see “the flag is drenched in our blood,” below.

rhetorical effect: the sheer gall of this “respect the flag” meme is best unmasked by Colbert King in the Washington Post:

How could I not think of flag and country when I consider the actions of a hostile foreign power attempting to corrupt our basic American democratic franchise? The thought of Russia interfering in our presidential election to help Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton is as stunning as it is outrageous. But that is what Russian President Vladimir Putin did, according to the U.S. intelligence community. A clear threat to flag and country.

Trump questioned the patriotism of the protesting athletes. How is it patriotic for him and his private-jet-obsessed — and now former — health and human services secretary to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, as would have happened with their support for proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? What a display of national devotion.

Protect flag and country? By insulting, goading and threatening foreign leaders and international institutions around the globe?

We all sing with gusto: “Land of the free and home of the brave.” But watch as the president’s eyes glaze over at talk of injustice. Watch them light up at any chance to exploit racial and social divisions for political gain.

With liberty and justice for all.” Now, achieving that American ideal is worth fighting — and standing up — for.


the flag is drenched with our blood

rhetorical claim: NFL players have a right to free speech but no right to disrespect a flag that is drenched in the blood of Americans who died defending it.

rhetorical effect: tries to have it both ways: defending the right to free speech by stipulating what kinds of free speech cannot be practiced. (It’s a safe bet to say that any sentence beginning “I believe in free speech, but…” is going to be a denial of the right to free speech.) The outrageousness of this is best expressed by Charles Blow in the NY Times, reflecting on the history of state violence against blacks in the US:

Throughout most of this pain and bloodshed, some version of the flag has waved.

So how dare anyone suggest that people simply rise and conform to custom when they feel the urgent need to protest. How dare America say so cavalierly, “Forgive us our sins and grant us our laurels,” when forgiveness has never been sufficiently requested — nor the sins sufficiently acknowledged — and the laurels are tainted and stained by the stubbornness of historical fact. How dare we even pretend that the offenses have been isolated and anomalous and not orchestrated and executed by the nation?

So those football players should take a knee if they so choose. If America demands your respect it must grant you respect and the first order of that respect is equality and eradicating the ominous threat of state violence.

People upset with those who kneel seem to be more angry about black “disrespect” than black death. (Here, I need to applaud the non-black players who demonstrated their solidarity in the cause of free speech and equality.)

We have to accept that different Americans see pride and principle differently, but that makes none of them less American.

Indeed, we Americans see the flag itself differently. As the civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “The flag is drenched with our blood.”


retaining our history and heritage

rhetorical claim: keeping Confederate memorials is merely the retention of our history and heritage. Leftists want nothing more than an Orwellian brainwashing of the past so they can control the future.

rhetorical effect: this bedrock conservative cultural grievance somehow makes US history (or at least a pure-bred, whitewashed version of it) the sole property of Trump supporters, and any attempted historical revision a treasonous act. After all, purity builds and maintains the empire.


dependency-based culture

rhetorical claim: we can never achieve effective health care reform so long as we live in a dependency-based culture in which incentives to not work and stay on the dole are stronger than those supporting work.

rhetorical effect: A thinly-disguised argument that health care is a privilege to be earned, not a right. Makes poverty seem voluntary, ignoring all historical and institutional factors which create and perpetuate it; makes the social safety net sound like a massive fraud; makes “personal responsibility” a synonym for class and racial   privilege. Imagine the “responsibility” argument framed differently if, say, relying on the police or fire departments was called a “dependency.”


moralistic hectoring

rhetorical claim: NFL players are suddenly lionized as self-appointed moral experts on race relations in America. Everyone wold be better off if they stuck to playing football instead of bullying America into a wholly misleading condemnation of how the police maintain law and order.

rhetorical effect: conflates law enforcement with social justice, as though any police action is immune to prosecution; makes criticism of police brutality a form of condescending “lecturing” or bullying; turns moral judgements into “scolding.”


class-warfare brigades

rhetorical claim:  Dems can be counted on to play the class warfare card in any debate about health care or tax reform. They will gnaw away at the GOP tax plan like termites, all under the banner of “soak the rich.”

rhetorical effect: Undermines any opposition to tax reforms greatly advantaging the rich by labeling it “phony” class warfare; justifies huge tax advantages for the rich and privileged by calling reform measures a “middle class miracle.” Just as using the term “playing the race card” almost always means the speaker or writer is in fact racist (see “this has nothing to do with race,” below), the use of the term “class warfare” almost always means the speaker or writer is a classist.


strategic military assets

rhetorical claim: The U.S. has, in recent weeks, been regularly sending bombers and fighters, aircraft carriers and submarines, and troops to the peninsula for training exercises. As a South Korean spokesperson put it, “Surprise dispatch of strategic weapons is effective in maximizing fear in the North as it sends a message that such weapons can be mobilized any time in case of a contingency,”

rhetorical effect: The  vague term “strategic assets” has historically referred to heavy military assets meant to attack population centers, in contrast to “tactical” weapons meant to be of specific use on the battlefield. As such, the innocuous-sounding term itself is a euphemism for military escalation and dire threat. The only “strategy” is to bring the world to the brink of war.


thrown about

rhetorical claim:  EPA Director Scott Pruitt said it best: “Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington D.C.”

rhetorical effect: justifies a science-optional or an ascientific approach to environmental regulation. Reduces truth to opinion, and calls the entire Enlightenment into question. Returns us to the Dark Ages of faith, fanaticism, and dogma. ‘”Thrown about” also suggests that science is either a smokescreen or crazy theory.


this has nothing to do with race

rhetorical claim: despite what the Dems say, the NFL national anthem controversy has nothing to do with race. They’re just playing the race card.

rhetorical effect: makes any mention of race into the mere “playing” of “the race card,” as if this was a game and not a battle to save black lives and black dignity. Rest assured, anytime anyone says that something “has nothing to do with race,” then it has everything to do with race, just as they are the ones “plating the race card” whenever they use that phrase. They seem to argue that there re no racists in America, though they admit that racism somehow still exists.