Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Jan 14-21, 2019

modern slave trade

rhetorical claim: As argued by Chris Buskirk:

President Trump described a humanitarian crisis at the border contrived by Democrats with the active complicity of misguided Republicans who think that attracting a helot class from Latin America to clean their houses, mow their lawns, and drive down wages for low-skill jobs is some sort of capitalist charity scheme that signals their virtue. It isn’t.

In fact, it’s inhumane. How can we describe the human trafficking racket that transports so many of these people here, including many thousands involved in the sex trade or forced into servitude for the cartels,  as anything other than a modern slave trade?

And it comes with all of the violence and degradation you would expect. For example, a 2017 report by Doctors Without Borders says that “1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” And in 2016 over 20,000 children crossed the border alone and were apprehended by ICE. For what purpose are children being sent without their parents across the desert in the custody of gangsters? There is no good answer. The solution is to stop enticing people north with hopes of off-the-books jobs, fake IDs, access to American welfare programs, and a potential future amnesty.

What these virtue signalers are really engaging in is not charity or mercy; it is the strip mining of Latin America’s most valuable assets—its people—and the break-up of families and traditional cultures and social structures for their own purposes.

To make matters worse, they are creating social and economic crises for their fellow Americans. Not that they see displaced Rust Belt workers, broken working class families, or unemployed and underemployed men across the country as fellow Americans. They’re just anonymous economic inputs who can be replaced by a cheaper model or, worse, just losers who can be ignored and vilified as deplorables and bitter clingers. That’s a violation of the social compact.

rhetorical effect: shifts the blame from the Trump administration–which ordered that migrants be stopped at the border, asylum seekers denied, and children separated from their families–to the Dems. Plus the usual toxic brew of  fearmongering, defensiveness, cherry-picked statistics, dehumanization of asylum seekers (“helots”–slaves in ancient Greece), and outrageous claim–in this case that the Dems want the asylum-seekers into the country to act as their slaves). Outrageous effrontery to use the term “slave” so loosely. Talk about breaking the “social compact”!

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Western civilization

rhetorical claim: In a recent interview,  Steve King told the New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

rhetorical effect: unvarnished racism, as argued in the Washington Post:

Part of the project of modernity has been to justify itself. During and after the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, citizens of the monarchical European powers attempted to explain how they got to where they were by looking to their roots. They started from the idea that their world was “better” than what had come before. Europe had supposedly crawled out of the “Dark Ages” and into the light. Those familiar terms — dark and light — mirrored the value judgment behind this investigation of the past, one that selectively privileged white skin.

These were, after all, countries ruled by rich white men for other rich white men. So in searching for the history of “the West,” they ignored stories they didn’t recognize — stories of people who didn’t act, think or look like them. That was true even when those stories were central to European and Mediterranean history, as was the case with a history of “the West” told in other languages such as Arabic, Turkish and Hebrew; written by women; or enacted by medieval people of color……

King’s understanding of “Western civilization,” entwined as it is with white supremacy, offers little more than bad, outdated history. To combat this, history teachers are going to have to discuss both the newer voices and the old, those who use the history of the West as cover for racism as well as those both past and present who worked to challenge that narrative. Teaching the real story of the West — one that’s multiethnic, encompasses all genders, and takes account of both its horrors and its triumphs — will ensure that the Kings of the future will no longer be able to fall back on semantics to paper over their bigotry.

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coming back now

rhetorical claim: Trump announced that our troops would “be coming back now” from Syria because ISIS was defeated there.

rhetorical effect: Creates a false sense of closure and certainty, belied by the shambolic follow-up to Trump’s initial announcement, as analyzed by the LA Times:

Trump and his national security advisor, John Bolton, sent conflicting messages about how quickly the withdrawal would take place and under what conditions. First, Trump said the troops would be “coming back now.” Then Bolton said that troops wouldn’t leave northeastern Syria until Islamic State was defeated and Kurdish fighters were protected. A few days later, a U.S. military official told the Associated Press that the withdrawal had begun — although that announcement may have been confined to equipment.

Trump later said that “we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!” — whatever that means. The president also has suggested that U.S. commandos based in Iraq could launch missions into Syria.

In other words, almost a month after Trump sprang the idea of a withdrawal on the nation and his own advisors, it remains alarmingly unclear how the administration plans to achieve that objective and fulfill his pledge to eradicate the remnants of Islamic State. The timing remains mysterious too.

Trump campaigned for the presidency as a critic of unnecessary military intervention. He is right to worry about the dangers of mission creep and of unsuccessful military endeavors that lack an exit strategy. But the impulsive announcement of the withdrawal from Syria, followed by contradictory explanations about how it would be implemented, has shown the Trump administration at its amateurish worst.

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minority privilege

rhetorical claim: Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, as she complained about “minority privilege.”

In Thursday’s episode of “The Laura Ingraham Show Podcast,” the Fox News primetime host claimed that Ocasio-Cortez was “continuing [an] effort to beat everything into the ground as a racist offense.”

“So, when you can’t debate a point, you throw back, ‘White privilege – you can’t understand. And then there’s nowhere for that person to go. You shut down debate,” she said. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is trying that little trick on Tucker Carlson and me.”

“You don’t know me. Don’t judge me. My authentic self has a right to speak and to make a living just like your authentic self — whatever that is. Progressive, Marxist, socialist — whatever you want to call it,” Ingraham said, in reference to the New York congresswoman.

“But, you see: They are so eager to take away the rights of other people, as they claim to be the most tolerant people on the face of the planet,” she continued.

rhetorical effect: turns the victimizers into the victims, the privileged into the persecuted, and the tolerant into the intolerant. Call it the smug, toxic Midas touch: every thing they touch turns to bitter resentment, vituperation, and racist hate-mongering. Big capital uses racism, sexism and gender bigotry in intricate and extremely imaginative ways to reinforce itself, protect itself, to undermine democracy, and to splinter resistance.

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divisive

rhetorical claim: Roe vs. Wade continues to be a divisive issue among Americans, with equal parts support and opposition.

rhetorical effect: calling it “divisive” tips the scales rhetorically by creating a false picture of a divided electorate.  In actuality, about two-thirds of Americans agree that abortion should be legal in “all” or “most” cases. When pollsters press voters on specifics, such as asking whether legislators should pass laws banning certain kinds of abortions, respondents balk. So, for instance, 85 percent of the people who say abortion should not be “allowed” after the first three months of pregnancy then reject potential laws that would ban abortions performed after that point.  All of this reinforces the finding that a strong majority of Americans do not want new abortion restrictions.

Part of what’s going on here is that people are responding to their own preferences and imagining an ideal world when they’re asked vaguely worded questions about whether abortion should be “allowed” in various hypothetical circumstances.

But when follow-up questions ask ‘Do you want a new law?’ or ‘Do you think it’s better if lawmakers stay out?’ many people who may hold stigmatizing views on abortion still strongly believe it should be legal.

The reason so much polling creates the sense that abortion is “divisive” is because pollsters are asking questions that focus on people’s lingering shame over sexuality rather than on clearer issues of laws and right.

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limited government

rhetorical claim: the President practices what he preaches: limited government, individual autonomy, freedom of religious practice, free markets, the rule of the people, respect for law and order, etc.

rhetorical effect: rhetorical smokescreen for big government: limiting women’s reproductive rights and options; demonizing religions (Islam); protectionism–telling people what they can buy and how much it should cost; promoting voter suppression; denigrating the FBI as “dirty cops,” etc. The government shutdown is a form of gigantic executive overreach and self-destruction.

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pro-life is pro-science

rhetorical claim: The theme of this year’s March For Life is “Unique From Day One.” Perhaps the biggest change in the long, sad debate over abortion is that science, which was once seen as an ally of abortion advocates, is now recognized as being squarely on the side of life. Every few months brings a technological advancement or scientific breakthrough that more fully reveals the unborn child as a living, feeling human being.

In the abortion debate, the science deniers are those who decry the taking of an innocent human life while somehow also celebrating the right to take an innocent unborn human life.

Science isn’t the only consideration in matters that carry profound moral and ethical significance. But on abortion, it can no longer be argued that science and faith are at odds.

In fact, science confirms what the Bible and other sacred texts teach us — that we are uniquely made from the moment we are conceived, and that we have moral status as human beings from that moment on.

rhetorical effect: omits the fact that 90% of doctors and researchers do not believe that the embryo can be considered the same as a newborn. You can’t cherry-pick science by emphasizing only the papers that support your position.

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saboteurs

rhetorical claim: most federal workers are actively sabotaging the President’s agenda, and agency heads should use the shutdown to purge them altogether. They are only “essential” for perpetuating the Deep State. As an anonymous essay in The Daily Caller put it:

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country.  I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else.  But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results.  If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they?  We can’t fire them.  They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position – some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value.  That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands – administering, refining, following and collaborating on process.  “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves.  Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

rhetorical effect: extends the “enemies of the people” list to any anti-Trump federal workers. Soon the majority of Americans will be characterized as “enemies of the people.” Anyone opposing the wall, foe example, is said to advocate open borders, gang violence and rape. Also fulfills the GOP wet dream of shrinking the government enough to, in the immortal words of Grover Norquist, “drown it in a bathtub.”

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Jan 8-12, 2019

urgent humanitarian needs

rhetorical claim: the White House laid out its latest proposal for addressing the border tumult. The administration called for more immigration and Border Patrol agents, more detention beds and, of course, $5.7 billion to build 234 new miles of border wall. The White House also demanded an additional $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs,” such as medical support, transportation and temporary facilities for processing and housing detainees.

translation: More hyperbole and fear-mongering. As editorialized by the New York Times:

Trump’s mass incarceration of migrant families is overwhelming an already burdened system that, without a giant injection of taxpayer dollars, will continue to collapse, leading to ever more human suffering.

The situation is an especially rich example of the Trump Doctrine: Break something, then demand credit — and in this case a lot of money — for promising to fix it. Late last week, frustrated by his standoff with Democrats, Mr. Trump even threatened to declare a national emergency in order to get his wall built without Congress’s approval — a move guaranteed to prompt a ferocious legal challenge.

Any attempt to sell Mr. Trump’s cruel immigration agenda with a veneer of humanitarian measures should be viewed with skepticism. This administration has long held that the best way to deal with asylum seekers fleeing the horrors of their home countries is to increase their suffering upon reaching the United States to discourage others from even trying.

The Trump administration is asking Congress and the American public to embrace warped logic, that its policies are going to continue and that the only question is whether any money should be spent on measures to ease the suffering caused by those policies. After two years of watching this administration run amok, surely Democratic lawmakers can come up with a better approach.

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American blood

rhetorical claim: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” Trump asked from the White House.


rhetorical effect: 
as the NYT editorializes:

Mr. Trump is now invoking the urgency of the situation as a justification for pursuing more wasteful, hard-line measures that most Americans do not support, chiefly the ludicrous border wall over which he has shut down critical pieces of the government. The president and his enablers have been busily knitting together inaccurate data, misleading anecdotes, exaggerations and other “alternative facts” about the flow of criminals, drugs and terrorists across the southern border. He seems to hope he can paint a dystopian landscape of security threats and human suffering so dire that the American people will rally to his side and pressure congressional Democrats to succumb to his demands for a towering wall — preferably concrete, but at this point, it seems, steel will suffice.

Moreover, as argued by Jorge Ramos:

The president, once again, has created his own reality, manufactured a crisis, invented an invasion, criminalized immigrants, made up facts and, in a nationally televised speech on Tuesday, argued for a new wall at the United States-Mexico border. “Mr. Trump’s wall is a symbol of hate and racism, it would be completely useless, and it does not address any national emergency

The chant “Build that wall, build that wall” became his hymn — and an insult not just to Latinos but also to all people who do not share his xenophobic ideals. The wall went from a campaign promise to a monument built on bigoted ideas. That is why most Americans cannot say yes to it. Every country has a right to protect its borders. But not to a wall that represents hate, discrimination and fear.

No, Mexico will not pay for the wall. And it seems Congress won’t either. But the concept of America as an unwelcoming country to immigrants and uncomfortable for minorities is already here.

In a way, Mr. Trump already got what he wanted. He is the wall.

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humanitarian crisis

rhetorical claim: there is a real humanitarian crisis at our southern border that must be addressed by building a wall.

rhetorical effect: as usual, has done to himself what he blames others for doing. He has created the humanitarian crisis with his cruel border enforcement policies and his negation of the spirit and letter of US asylum law. His self-immolation is boundless.

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gross mismanagement of forests

rhetorical claim: Trump threatens to cut off federal aid to Californians for fire disaster relief due to “the gross mismanagement of forests.”

rhetorical effect: Using the vast powers of the Presidency to punish people instead of helping them; creating divisions between Californians and “real” Americans; using “mismanagement” as all-purpose attack on anyone who opposes him.

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walking away

rhetorical claim: Trump’s deal-making magic, he claims, rests on the maxim that “you’ve got to be able to walk away.”

rhetorical effect: justifies his walking away from his own government. As usual, this move is both unprecedented and horrifying. How could indifference toward the duties of his office not be an impeachable offense? Instead of stiffing his contractors, he is now stiffing the American people, using lies, fear-mongering and histrionic, hyperactive fakery and manipulative delusions.

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China’s honorability

rhetorical claim: “I find China, frankly, in many ways, to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy. I really do,” Trump said. “I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.”

translation: your opponents are your enemies — and your actual enemies are your friends.

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the buck stops with everybody

rhetorical claim: “The buck stops with everybody,” President Trump told reporters on the White House lawn on day 20 of the government shutdown crisis.

rhetorical effect: as argued by Dana Milbank:

With Trump, the buck stops with everyone, everywhere. Responsibility for the shutdown is like an electron in a probability cloud, with no fixed location, impossible to pin down.

This has been happening for a while now — the unstoppable slippage of familiar expressions into Trumpian absurdities. Maybe it’s just a verbal tic. Or maybe it’s a way of constructing a new reality, using catchy images to warp the way we speak and think.

In the classic 1980 book “Metaphors We Live By,” George Lakoff and Mark Johnson argued that thought and language really are linked on a fundamental level. “Metaphors as linguistic expressions are possible precisely because there are metaphors in a person’s conceptual system,” the authors wrote.

The passage of a buck, in other words, is not just an old saying but a concept of responsibility, which can be accepted or passed on from one official to another, but must ultimately land somewhere.

What then does it mean when Trump says the buck is everywhere?Nothing good, says Lakoff, a cognitive scientist and linguist who, nearly 40 years after his book was published, argues that Trump literally tries to “change your brain” by twisting language.“This is not mangling anything; this is taking ordinary linguistic uses and changing them,” Lakoff told The Washington Post. “What he’s saying is it’s up to you to pay for the border wall. The shutdown is your responsibility”.

“And what’s most scary is he’s very, very clever,” he continues. “People think he’s just a 5-year-old, and he’s not. That’s his strength. They don’t understand what he’s doing is changing the way a lot of people think.”

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animals

rhetorical claim: “You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work,” Donald Trump Jr wrote in a post on Instagram. Trump’s father has doubled down on his pledge to build a wall on the border with Mexico, leading to a partial shutdown of the US government. The president himself has described some migrants in similar terms, saying in May last year that: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are, these aren’t people, these are animals.”

translation: it’s OK to keep migrants in cages and separate the young from their parents because that’s how you have to treat animals sometimes. They aren’t really full-fledged human beings, but only look like them.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Jan 1-8, 2018

china trade war

rhetorical claim: China has cheated us on foreign trade for too long. They will no longer get away with trade barriers, steep tariffs, and currency manipulation.

rhetorical effect: as Martin Wolf argues:

It is a violation of the principles of non-discrimination, multilateralism and market-conformity that underpin the trading system the US created. It should be ashamed of itself. It ignores the overwhelming probability that this will not reduce overall US deficits, particularly given US fiscal irresponsibility. It ignores the inevitable adverse effects on third countries…

The notion that the US may insist on unrestricted access for investment in China while reserving the right to restrict Chinese investment, as it wishes, must also be unacceptable. Finally, the idea that the US will be judge, jury and executioner, while China will be deprived of the rights to retaliate or seek recourse to the WTO is crazy. No great sovereign power could accept such a humiliation. For China, it would be a modern version of the “unequal treaties” of the 19th century.

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sucker

rhetorical claim: America is not being played for a sucker any more in international politics. Governments are now paying their fair share for US support, the US flag is respected once again, and complacent, arrogant institutions such as NATO, THE UN, and the EU, are on notice that “America First” can do without them.

rhetorical effect: the real sucker of course is Trump. Like all con men, in the end he is the one conned most of all. As the world economy teeters, trade becomes a zero-sum game, America’s reputation as a defender of democracy fades, America’s reliability quotient sinks, our diplomacy is in tatters. This forfeiting of our future in the world is the greatest tragedy of all. As Anthony Blinken and Robert Kagan argue in the Washington Post:

Most Americans do not know the role our diplomats have played over the decades in preventing wars between nuclear-armed nations such as India and Pakistan; between Israel and the Arab states; and between China and Japan in the East China Sea. U.S. diplomacy helped end the Cold War, reunify Germany and build peace in the Balkans. The United States led others to begin addressing climate change, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to fight the Ebola epidemic, to confront the Islamic State and to level economic playing fields. Properly empowered, U.S. diplomacy can save trillions of dollars and many thousands of lives that would otherwise be spent responding to crises that explode because we ignored problems while they were still manageable.

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build that wall

rhetorical claim: Most federal workers, even those with rent owed and bills due, would gladly forgo their paycheck as a measure of support for his $5.6 billion border wall, President Trump said on Friday.

He also noted that Mexico would actually be paying for the wall through a new trade agreement, which at the very least raised the question of why the government had to be shut down over a funding dispute involving American tax dollars if the funding was coming from another country. And then there was a Plan C: He said he could use “emergency powers” to build the wall.

The wall was needed for many reasons, Mr. Trump said. Stopping drug and human trafficking, and a nonspecific reference to a torrent of terrorists and coyotes easily flowing in over the southern border. “They drive right in, and they make a left,” he said.

rhetorical effect: Trump’s disingenuous mendacity is revealed in his non-stop lying, deviousness, making up or twisting statistics, blaming the Dems, bragging about his electoral college “landslide” etc.  If there is an emergency, it is one caused entirely by Trump’s ignorance, hysteria and vanity. His big lie at the moment is that the Dems (which include a vast majority of laid-off federal employees) actually support the building of a wall. Meanwhile, Democrats argue that a wall is an expensive and ineffective means of curbing illegal immigration. The majority of undocumented immigrants are people who overstay visas, not people who sneak across the border. A report released in March by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee found that Border Patrol agents on the front lines said they needed more technology and additional personnel to curb illegal immigration and drug traffic, with less than one half of one percent mentioning a wall.

As for Mexico paying for the wall, Congress has yet to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and it does not compel Mexico to pay for the wall. Whatever federal revenue it generates would come from American taxpayers, not Mexico.)

And, Mr. Trump said, why shouldn’t Mexico pay for the wall through

Trump argues that the new US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement will ensure that, in effect, Mexico is paying for it. (Congress has yet to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and it does not compel Mexico to pay for the wall. Whatever federal revenue it generates would come from American taxpayers, not Mexico.)

When pressed anout what money was coming from Mexico to pay for the wall, he  listed all the taxes newly-wealthy American would be paying thanks to the booming econmy that would ensue from the trade pact. Astonishingly enough, he seems unaware that taxes paid by Americans are not the equivalent of Mexican funds.

Or, as Masha Gessen argues:

Trump loves the Wall and hates the government: these were the cornerstones of his election campaign and form the foundation of his world view. (The Times on Saturday reported that Trump’s campaign advisers used the Wall as “a mnemonic device” to help him remember to talk tough on immigration.) Shutting down the government in perpetuity is one way to “drain the swamp.” Wall becomes a lid that covers the swamp and suffocates it.

Declaring a national emergency would be another way to use Wall to choke America. Trump apparently imagines that such a move would allow him to govern the way he thinks he wants to: by barking commands rather than by throwing tantrums. Technically, he probably wouldn’t need to declare a national emergency—there are thirty states of emergency effective in the U.S. right now, many of them in effect for many years. (Presidents renew states of emergency annually, and though Congress is legally required to meet every six months to reassess a state of emergency, this has not happened since the relevant law was passed, in 1976.) States of emergency have already been used to enable grievous violations of people’s rights—as, for example, when the state of emergency declared after 9/11 (and renewed every year since) was used to make it possible to torture people captured in a war that had nothing to do with the attacks. In other words, Trump may not even need a new state of emergency to claim extraordinary Wall-related powers, but in his imagination he can create a national emergency that’s all Wall all the time.

Like all things imagined by Trump, Wall sets a trap. People who think of themselves as reasonable relentlessly point out that much of the Wall already exists, that building more Wall would not be an effective barrier against people trying to enter the country. This argument sets aside the fundamental immorality of the effort. The more thoughtful commentators note that people who have been trying to enter the country recently are asylum seekers, who wish to present themselves to American authorities rather than try to live in the U.S. without official status. Sometimes these commentators even remember that the right to seek asylum is guaranteed by international law with no requirement that asylum seekers enter at so-called ports of entry—the holes in the Wall that Trump and his D.H.S. want to plug up. But all of these arguments miss the point, because they address the issue of a physical wall rather than the immeasurable substance of Wall, which envelops all of us now.

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the Russians were right to be there

rhetorical claim: The first cabinet meeting of the new year found the president claiming that “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan” — i.e., the reason the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 — “was because terrorists were going into Russia…They were right to be there.”

rhetorical effect: makes the argument that any attempt to fight terrorism is justified, thus laying the basis for any attacks he may launch under this pretext. As Andrew McCarthy argues:

These are such shocking assertions for an American president to make, it is difficult to know where to begin. The invasion was a familiar episode of totalitarian Communist aggression. There was nothing defensive about it. Moscow swarmed Afghanistan to prop up a deeply unpopular pro-Soviet regime that had seized power and was under insurgent attack for attempting to impose Communist “reforms” on a fundamentalist Islamic population. Terrorists did not provoke the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; as I outlined in Willful Blindness, the global jihadist movement is an outgrowth of the response to that invasion: specifically, the summons to Muslims worldwide to join the battle, and the aid provided by the United States and its Sunni allies (mainly Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) to the mujahideen — in particular, to the so-called “Arab Afghans” who forged al-Qaeda. The president’s statements indicate that he grasps neither (a) the geopolitical challenge posed to the West by the Soviet Union and, derivatively, Putin’s revanchist regime nor (b) the roots of militant Islam in the modern era.

For a guy under investigation for colluding with the Kremlin, the president’s remarks are also noteworthy because they are exactly what Putin would want Trump to say….Trump, as president of the United States, has offered a revisionist history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — pure fiction that not only contradicts American policy and actions taken to counter Moscow’s aggression, but is indistinguishable from the propaganda that Putin himself would peddle.

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pro-immigrant expenditures

rhetorical claim: The Wall isn’t anti-immigrant; in fact, it might be the most pro-immigrant expenditure in American history – a ubiquitous reminder that America is the most generous nation in the history of the world – which admits two legal immigrants every minute of every day and will welcome with open arms those who adhere to our rule of law.  Nationalism is the glue that holds this whole American experiment together.

Some presidents wants freeways, hospitals, and airports named after them.  Not our president.  The Donald J. Trump Great Wall of America is what he wants, and it’s what the majority of people in the majority of states want.  Time to get this “elections have consequences” party started.

rhetorical effect: the reverse-spin continues. Among the lies in the above statement:

  1. the Wall is not by an stretch pro-immigant. Its sole purpose is to keep immigrants out.
  2. It will not remind people about American generosity, but, rather,  intimidate them and remind people of American arrogance, indifference and brutality
  3. Immigrants–legal or not–overwhelmingly obey the laws and are productive citizens.
  4. The most recent election showed that the will of the people was against the wall.
  5. Throw in the other big lie that there is a dire terrorist threat along the Southern Border and you get the full recipe for demagoguery and Presidential overreach.

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equal speech

rhetorical claim: Like their leftist counterparts, Muslims in the Islamic world are “interested in transforming free speech into what they call equal speech.”  Thus, they favor the “narrowing of the First Amendment for the sake of redistribution of speech rights from the rich to the poor.”  The Muslim world has already shown that any criticism about Islam is tantamount to a crime, and punishment will ensue.  Why would things be different in America as Islam gains ascendancy? Once again, the left partners with the Islamic world to effectively criminalize the most cherished of American freedoms: the freedom of speech and press, the silencing of critics.

rhetorical effect: makes equality a pejorative term; justifies the suppression of free speech; equates the Left with radical Islam.

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Trump’s character

rhetorical claim: Trump was elected by the people, character and all.  He set out a clear agenda for America, attempting to reverse decades of mismanagement, foreign and domestic, pulling the country back from the brink of “radical transformation” into something most Americans don’t want.

It’s a testament to his strength of character that he is able to persevere, advancing his agenda, despite opposition from so many quarters.  Lesser men would fold to the establishment, seeking compromise with the uni-party and accolades from the media for doing so.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”  In Trump’s case, the tree is what he is doing and accomplishing.  The shadow is everything else – the tweets and “character” that the NeverTrumps are in a lather over.

rhetorical effect: overlooks Trump’s lies, proven crimes, self-dealing flim-flam, and abuses of power on the basis that he has delivered on tax cuts and narrow-minded judges. The ultimate case of the ends justifying the means.

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they’ll learn to adjust

rhetorical claim: “Mr. President, can you relate to the pain of federal workers who can’t pay their bills?” a reporter asked Trump outside the White House on Sunday.“I can relate,” the president responded. “And I’m sure that the people that are toward the receiving end will make adjustments, they always do. And they’ll make adjustments. People understand exactly what’s going on.“Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing,” he added.

rhetorical effect: it’s absurd that a billionaire can “relate” to government workers; it’s a real “let them eat cake” response–indifference at best, cynicism at worst (Trump, of course, has never “adjusted” to any setback), and the same workers he called “Democrats” last week are now said to support his spiteful insistence on building a wall. Trump swims in an ocean of lies.

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec 21-Jan 1, 2019

spending problem

rhetorical claim: the budget deficit is not a revenue problem but is caused by Congress’ spending problem.

rhetorical effect: the trickle-sown fantasy at work: the deregulated, low-tax economy will somehow, magically, produce enough new revenue generated by a booming economy, to wipe out the deficit. Ignores several inconvenient facts: the budget deficit (like the trade deficit) is increasing; Trump himself wants to spend billions more on the border wall and defense; and the trickling has only reached the top .1 percent.

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the Trump Doctrine

rhetorical claim: no one should meddle with either the President’s personal finances or his foreign and domestic policies. Prosecutorial mischief is rampant as Mueller illegally and unconstitutionally deepens his fake investigations into trumped-up charges.

rhetorical effect: the Trump doctrine–even when couched as “America First”– is always and only “Trump First”, with no accountability nor honor whatsoever. His despotic personality is proving to be his undoing. This brazen indifference toward any standards of accountability obscures just how disgusting Trump is, and actually enables him–making things much worse almost every day now. As David Brooks puts it, “Trump doesn’t recognize, understand or respect institutional authority. He only understands personal power. He sees every conflict as a personal conflict in which he destroys or gets destroyed”.

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government shutdown

rhetorical claim: the government shutdown is the President’s principled, stalwart defense of border security.

rhetorical effect: obscures what is in reality a breakdown, not a shutdown or showdown.

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disrupter

rhetorical claim: Trump is a disrupter, so what appears to be chaos is actual reform and even revolutionary change coming into being in real time. This is what it looks and feels like to drain the swamp.

rhetorical effect: best expressed by Paul Krugman

People wanted disruption, but too often Trump has given us destruction, distraction, debasement and sheer ignorance.

And while, yes, we need disruption in some areas, we also desperately need innovation in others. How do we manage these giant social networks? How do we integrate artificial intelligence into every aspect of our society, as China is doing? How do we make lifelong learning available to every American? At a time when we need to be building bridges to the 21st century, all Trump can talk about is building a wall with Mexico — a political stunt to energize his base rather than the comprehensive immigration reform that we really need.

Indeed, Trump’s biggest disruption has been to undermine the norms and values we associate with a U.S. president and U.S. leadership. And now that Trump has freed himself of all restraints from within his White House staff, his cabinet and his party — so that “Trump can be Trump,” we are told — he is freer than ever to remake America in his image.

And what is that image? According to The Washington Post’s latest tally, Trump has made 7,546 false or misleading claims through Dec. 20, the 700th day of his term in office. And all that was supposedly before “we let Trump be Trump.”

If America starts to behave as a selfish, shameless, lying grifter like Trump, you simply cannot imagine how unstable — how disruptive — world markets and geopolitics may become.

We cannot afford to find out.

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the American pantheon

rhetorical claim: As we look to our celebrities, billionaires, intellectuals and senior statesmen, a sort of American pantheon, do we to find sources of reassurance in Hollywood, perhaps in the statements and behavior of the last two years of Cher, Barbra Streisand, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, or Madonna? Do the Oscars, Tonys, and Emmys showcase the expertise, competence, and professionalism of our entertainers?

Our self-righteous anti- and pre-Trump aristocracy was so often a mediocracy. It had assumed status and privilege largely on suspect criteria. Its record abroad and at home inspired little confidence. Doing mostly the opposite of what elite conventional wisdom advocated since January 2017 has made the nation stronger, not weaker.

Strangest of all, the elite’s furious venom directed at Trump, couched in ethical pretense, has had the odd effect to remind the American people how unethical and incompetent these people were, are, and likely will continue to be.

rhetorical effect: calling moral objections to Trump ‘”ethical pretenses” strips them of their import: if they are only an excuse to bash Trump, then they have no ethical foundation. Thus, the logic goes, all Trump critics lack ethics, morals, principles, self-distance and competence. The New Man–a Trump man–becomes the new measure of the ideal American–jingoistic, racist, sexist, indifferent to human suffering. As Michael Gerson argues–in this case about Trump’s wall–:

Even as a political metaphor, the wall is badly lacking. It is the symbol of a political movement that has left liberty, inclusion and optimism behind it. Trumpism cultivates public fears to increase the role and power of the state. It locates national strength not in the character of a people but in the actions of an empowered leader. This is not even in the general category of conservatism.

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manifest destiny

rhetorical claim: from the American Greatness website:

Trump is not looking to Europe and the nationalists of the 1930s but he drawing on the spirit and the history of America’s founding and early decades, looking to the great men who solidified a great nation.

We can call it whatever we want, but theirs is the intellectual heritage that Trump is harking back to when he speaks of American nationalism. Clay, Jackson, Polk and the rest had flaws, God knows. The Left holds as a matter of faith and doctrine that America was founded on racism, imperialism, slavery, and exploitation large and small. Is that what our contemporary “conservatives” now think, too?

The truth is, America’s first nationalists took the reins from the founding generation and secured America’s future as a growing power. America came of age during in the 19th century and the imprint that period left is still very much with us today. When Donald Trump talks about “America First,” he’s calling upon a long and noble tradition of fighting for the country’s best interests.

Trump yearns for an America that can fulfill its destiny.

rhetorical effect: Lionizing Trump as a disrupter on behalf of the “the people”, fulfilling  a mystical and self-serving  sense of a national destiny,  is tantamount to creating a myth about history and turning unfolding history into a myth.

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the Trump Prophecy

rhetorical claim: The month before the 2018 midterms, a thousand theaters screened “The Trump Prophecy,” a film that tells the story of Mark Taylor, a former firefighter who claims that God told him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be elected president.

At a critical moment in the film, just after the actor representing Mr. Taylor collapses in the flashing light of an epiphany, he picks up a Bible and turns to the 45th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which describes the anointment of King Cyrus by God. In the next scene, we hear Mr. Trump being interviewed on “The 700 Club,” a popular Christian television show.

As Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author and speaker who appears in the film, once said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”

rhetorical effect: contributes to the sense that Trump can do no wrong and is above the law.  King Donald. Resistance to Trump equates with resistance to God. As Katherine Stewart puts it:

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

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California elitism

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor Davis Hanson:

California residents by far buys more Lexuses and Mercedes than people buy in any other state; 16 percent of all in-state car sales are luxury brands. The reigning ideology of aristocratic wealth, however, is neither conservatism nor blue-stocking Republicanism, but a strange blend of capitalism and socialism.

Or, rather, it’s explained best in the medieval terms of absolution and penance: a Gallic-like psychological syndrome of wanting lots of money in the concrete but in the abstract justifying such retrograde appetites by promoting cultural progressivism, with the caveat that the wages of entitlements, high taxes, illegal immigration, radical environmentalism, soaring home prices, multiculturalism, and diversity do not really affect those in Palo Verdes, Malibu, Healdsburg, or Menlo Park.

In other words, the costly effects of green mandates on power and gasoline, the rising bloated diversity bureaucracy in the public schools and colleges, the release to the ocean of millions of acre feet of precious stored water in reservoirs, and the $100 billion high-speed-rail debacle under way in Fresno and Kings County are simply the psychological atonements for living the life in a cloistered Versailles….

There is a new mentality in which the virtue-signaling elite enjoy the cheap labor of the poor and do not much care about the poor’s inability to access reasonably priced gasoline and electrical power, safe neighborhoods, and quality schools and infrastructure. From their secure keeps, they square that circle by offering generous entitlements, open borders, and progressive empathy — and lots of self-righteous bumper-sticker rhetoric.

rhetorical effect: class warfare, anti-intellectualism; techphobia; racism.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec. 11-20, 2018

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Trump and that sort of thing

I just don’t know about that

I wasn’t there

Trump and that sort of thing

I just don’t know about that

rhetorical claim: Trump’s supporters are making statements such as “I don’t talk about Trump and that sort of thing,” “I just don’t know about that,” and “I wasn’t there” when asked about the convictions of Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and Paul Manafort.

rhetorical effect: distances them from convicted felons; contradicts the many ways they defended these same people until very recently. Weasel words from weasels jumping ship? Pretty soon they’ll be saying they weren’t there the first two years of the Trump administration.

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treasonous

rhetorical claim: Accusing Flynn of treason gets things exactly backwards–the real traitors are the Dems with their insistence on open borders, Hillary and her “lost” emails, and treacherous globalists who want to neutralize and colonize the USA.

rhetorical effect: shifts attention away from Flynn’s betrayal of American values; “otherizes” all foreigners, turning them into nothing but threats to the US. Can this grand, nationalistic conspiracy theory ever be debunked in its promulgators’ eyes?

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the Russia hoax

rhetorical claim: Bad as it may have been, the worst of the Russia Hoax was not the abuse of the FISA electronic surveillance regime for political purposes. Nor is the worst even the patent involvement of our intelligence agencies — and in particular the FBI and CIA — in electoral politics. No, the worst aspect of the Russia Hoax is that our intelligence agencies, including elements of DoJ and the State Department cooperating with the Clinton campaign, enlisted the intelligence services of foreign powers — first in their effort to defeat the candidacy of Donald Trump and, when that effort failed, turning their efforts to what can only be described as an attempted coup against the elected President of the United States.

Shockingly, these later stages of the Russia Hoax have included members of the Legislative Branch who, in the face of clear evidence that the true collusion with foreign powers was that of the Clinton campaign, have worked to delay and to ultimately obstruct Congressional oversight and investigation of the entire Russia Hoax.

rhetorical effect: parodies itself. Talk about living in an alternative universe: while most Americans are now starting to see that Trump is a con man surrounded by con men, his small, super-loyal coterie see every new development as confirmatory of their own Deep State conspiracy.

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the church of progressive sanctimony

rhetorical claim: Tucker Carlson pointed out a few days ago how the already insufferable leader of the Congressional Democrats has recently been “ordained….an archbishop in the church of progressive sanctimony.”  For a while now, Nancy Pelosi’s been the country’s expert on morality (e.g., border wall: immoral; abortion on demand: moral).  She’s now taken to telling the country how much she prays, and she’s urging others to do it, too – at least that old sinner, Donald Trump.  After last Thursday’s televised squabble in the Oval Office, Pelosi shared with reporters how she told Trump she was praying for him and urged the president (whom she also called a “skunk” while ridiculing his manhood) to accept the Democrats’ budget proposal with no funding for a border wall.  “In fact,” she said with stomach-turning piety, “I asked him to pray over it.”

When a smug person ends an argument by telling you to “pray over it,” she’s really saying, “Ask God.  He knows I’m right!”

Summarizing her and Chuck Schumer’s meeting with Trump, she told the media, “I myself thought we should open the meeting with a prayer, which I did.  I told him about King Solomon, when he was to become king of the Jews, he prayed to God, he said: ‘I need you to give me great understanding and wisdom, Lord.'”

King Solomon is Pelosi’s favorite Bible character, especially because he proposed solving a problem by cutting a baby in half. 

rhetorical effect: deflects attention away from the growing boycott against Carlson, due to his calling immigrants “dirty.” Also sanctimoniously accuses Pelosi of religious sanctimony, and continues the meme of treating progressive thought as a cult of smug hypocrites. Also obscures the real conservative hit list: Western constitutional democracy”, promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the GOP or Trump administration. Curiously, these enduring targets of the GOP almost exactly mirror the Chinese notion of the Seven Perils facing the current regime.

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Marxist socialism

rhetorical claim: The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the subsequent dissolution of the so-called “socialist camp” did not result in the demise of Marxist ideology. Marxism exhibited remarkable endurance. It successfully adapted to a new reality and relocated to the United States, where it acquired a new life within the Democratic Party. In 2008 this virus culminated in the election of the Marxist-socialist Barack Obama, whose principal achievement was the successful transformation of the Democratic Party into the de facto Social Democratic Party. Social democracy is a political ideology that has as its goal the establishment of socialism through implementation of a policy regime that includes, but is not limited to, high taxation, government regulation of private enterprises, and establishment of a universal welfare state. 

The elections are a clear warning to America that Karl Marx’s vision; “Democracy is the road to socialism” is poised to be fulfilled.

The Democrats have dropped all liberal or progressive pretenses. They run on pro-Marxist ideology, denouncing capitalism and promising miraculous fulfillment of egalitarian dreams.

rhetorical effect: more stops on “the road to socialism.” Among the many ;lies in thios line of thinking: Dems are opposed to capitalism; taxes are evil, the welfare state will obliterate private enterprise, etc. Sheer paranoia, like rust, never sleeps.

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his base loves it

rhetorical claim: every time Trump flouts or mocks convention (as in acting “unpresidential” with Nancy and Chuck in the Oval Office last week), or the justice system convicts any of his supporters with fake charges and perjury traps, Trump’s base loves it.

rhetorical effect: girding up his base is costing him the center. “Playing to his base” is now clearly a losing strategy, yet Trump is trapped because he cannot now turn to the center without alienating his base. The tragedy of his Presidency will be his failure to transcend his base and unify the country. He has painted himself into a corner and his hubris prevents him from getting out of this ideological trap.

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the progressive patriarchy

rhetorical claim:   Even if one accepts the notion that some biological males can feel so female that they essentially are, in some intangible way, women, such a view necessarily conflicts with the feminist claim that there is something unique about being a woman — and that womanhood deserves to be shielded from the encroachment of male power.

The wholehearted embrace of transgender ideology necessarily, and quite intentionally, erases womanhood. It allows biological males to don the mantle of femaleness simply by asserting that it is their birthright. There has never been a more patriarchal claim.

rhetorical effect: turns the tables by claiming that feminism itself rests on the claim hat womanhood must be protected. This argument not only ignores all philosophical claims of equality, but also tries to turn gender identity into a partisan political act rather than a biological imperative.

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politicized academic orthodoxy

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor Davis Hanson:

If higher education’s increasing fixation on job training is the whirlpool that swallows history majors, the monster across the narrow straits of liberal-arts education is a many-headed politicized orthodoxy, a Scylla that consumes the flesh of the liberal arts and leave the bones as dreary reminders of boilerplate race, class, gender, and culture agendas. In the case of history, few increasingly wish to sit in a class where the past becomes tedious melodrama rather than complex tragedy, a sort of reeducation camp in which modern standards of suburban orthodoxy time-travel to the past in order to judge materially impoverished historical figures or pivotal events as either culpable or exonerated.

The tragedy, then, is not just that a campus of the University of Wisconsin would drop the history major but that the custodians of history in the 21st century lost the ability to teach and write about history in a way that sustains a hallowed 2,500-year tradition. In other words, what is being jettisoned is likely not just history as we once understood it but rather de facto poorly taught “-studies” courses — which sadly become snapshots of particular (and often small) eras of history — designed to offer enough historical proof of preconceived theories about contemporary modern society. The students then are assumed by the course’s end to be outraged, persuaded, galvanized, and shocked in politically acceptable ways. Usually they are just bored, as supposedly with-it professors endlessly regurgitate the esoterica picked up in graduate schools.

rhetorical effect: creates a false dichotomy between discourse about race, sex and gender and subtlety and ambiguity in historical analysis. There is of course no reason to pick one or the other, and the best inductive historical methods make the strongest cse for consideration of what “identity” has come to mean.

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 23-27, 2018.

ammunition

rhetorical claim: the current unrest at the Mexican border provides fodder for Trump’s claims that the immigration is out of control.

rhetorical effect: Covers over the fact that this chaos demonstrates that Trump’s immigration agenda is a total and abject failure and that he is covering up this glaring reality with lies. There is no way what happened Sunday gives Trump “ammunition” to argue for any of those things. The border patrol claims it used tear gas only after migrants threw things at them, but at the same time, tear gas was used on groups that included children. The resulting horrifying imagery only underscores the deep disconnect between the root causes of the crisis and Trump’s “solutions” to it, which only highlights that the crisis remains intractable in the face of Trump’s fabled toughness.

not law

rhetorical claim: President Trump lashed out on Tuesday against the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, calling it a lawless disgrace and threatening unspecified retaliation.

“That’s not law,” he said of the court’s rulings. “Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten.”

“It’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came after a federal trial judge ordered the administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States.

The ruling was issued by Judge Jon S. Tigar, of the United States District Court in San Francisco, and not by the Ninth Circuit itself, which hears appeals from that court and others in nine western states. The appeals court’s geographic jurisdiction is also sometimes called the Ninth Circuit.

“This was an Obama judge,” Mr. Trump said of Judge Tigar, who was indeed appointed by President Barack Obama.

rhetorical effect: even got under John Roberts’ skin, who spoke out infavor of impartial judges. Combined with the hostile takeover of the Mueller probe and his incessant attacks on the judiciary, Trump is laying the foundation for the complete abrogation of the rule of law. As Harry Litman argues:

But that stability is ultimately built on a foundation of shared political cultural norms, not laws. Especially today, it is entirely conceivable that an attorney general armed with a jackhammer might in fact come to destabilize it. It sounds like a sort of bad joke, but it also did when candidate Trump announced in the debate that if he were president, Mrs. Clinton “would be in jail.” Now that joke seems like it’s on us. Were it not for the coincidence of Mr. McGahn, she might well be.

The crazy and terrifying lesson of the order to prosecute Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey is not that our legal norms can withstand a despot; rather, it’s that within a matter of months we can find ourselves praying that they hold, and with little recourse if they don’t. Repairing the damage to our basic political culture will require many years and shared resolve across the political spectrum.

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toning Trump down

rhetorical claim:All Trump needs to do is tone down his ad hominem invective and tweeting to reassure an additional 10 percent of independent and middle-class suburban women that his national security agenda, free-market prosperity, traditionalism, law-and-order, and national sovereignty policies ensure greater tranquility, safety, and opportunity—even if they are not packaged in the manner of his more mellifluous and vacuous “presidential” predecessor?

rhetorical effect: artificially separating Trump from his policies reveals why the GOP is willing to put up with this moral monster: they are accomplishing their entire GOP agenda.

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the Progressive panoptican

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor Davis Hanson:

Imagine the traditionalist as living in synopticon—a suspect that is the target of 24/7 viewing, indoctrination, and conditioning by progressive auditors. In other words, a 40-45 percent minority of Americans is relentlessly lectured, sermonized, demonized, and neutered by a 360- degree ring of prying institutional overseers.

There is no escape. There is no respite. There is no quarter given.

The media has become an extension of the progressive movement, partly because its farm teams are the universities and the upper-middle class suburban professional classes. Journalists, such as Jim Rutenberg and Christiane Amanpour, concede they can no longer stay neutral in the era of Trump—“neutral” in the sense that old partisans of a bygone age like Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather were careful to mask their progressivism on the air.

Not now. The major networks and public affiliates are proudly overt in their efforts to oppose conservative traditionalism often defined (for now) as the agenda of Donald Trump—in 93 percent negative coverage fashion, as is the case with MSNBC/NBC and CNN according to the liberal Shorenstein Center.

Conservatives believe Fox is a powerful counterweight. It may be, but it is one that is surrounded and overwhelmed by liberal networks and state media. After all, Fox is only one of about six corporate conglomerates that control almost 90 percent of televised and print news.

The masters of our social media and Internet universe are the most insidiously partisan. Open your laptop or power on your smartphone, and you meet their shadow personas nonstop. It is not just that the smug class of Menlo Park and Palo Alto censor and disallow posts, podcasts, and messaging along partisan lines, or that a search engine’s headers and footers are advertisements for a new progressive America. It is that social media has also been on the vanguard of redefining the Democratic Party, from Hubert Humphrey’s old workers party to a pyramid of the very wealthy overseeing a government-subsidized underclass.

rhetorical effect: unbridled paranoia, linking together entirely disparate villains, from the Silicon valley to ESPN. Serves to further Trump’s bunker mentality and further divide the country.

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the tearing down of values

rhetorical claim: Today’s younger generation of Americans is to be pitied, for many reasons:

  • The unconscionable debt we are leaving them.
  • The obliteration of male and female as separate and distinct categories—and the sexual confusion that is left in its wake.
  • The emasculation of men and the de-feminization of women.
  • The undermining of the value of marriage.
  • The lack of God and religion in their lives—and the consequent search for meaning in the wrong places.
  • The receiving of indoctrination, rather than education, in most schools from elementary through graduate.
  • The inability to celebrate being American.

Tragically and ironically, each one of these was brought on by the very group many young people identify with: the left. If you do not understand the left is a wholly destructive force whose primary mission is to tear down the leading institutions and individuals of the Western world, you do not understand the left.

rhetorical effect: misplaced nostalgia for an America that never existed.

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my decision is not based on that

maybe he did and maybe he didn’t

rhetorical claim: “Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that,” said President Trump.

rhetorical effect: use of this rhetorical ploy, called paraleipsis (saying something by professing not to say it) is one of the many ways Trump prevaricates, dodges, and denies, thus making it impossible to pin him down on any one statement. It’s probably an old legal habit of never saying anything that could be used in court against you against you. As Jackson Diehl argues,

The Khashoggi affair similarly confirms several fundamental truths about Trump. The first and most obvious is that his narrow, idiosyncratic and sometimes personalinterests take precedence over the defense of traditional American values and even the expectation of honest treatment by an ally. Not just Mohammed’s fellow Arab rulers but despots everywhere will study this case and conclude: If you heap flattery on Trump, court him with exotic entertainment, patronize his family businesses and promise to buy American, you can get away with outrages that would once have ensured censure and sanction from Washington.

If the facts are irrelevant, America can easily be fleeced so long as Trump insists that the opposite is happening. The hard-nosed determinations of interest that traditional foreign policy realists so admire are calculated by an alternative math in which only the president’s sentiments count. If there is no truth, there is no trade-off between accountability for crimes and other American interests. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t” becomes the new cover for any dictator — provided he gives Trump cause to say, “He likes me.”

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fake science

rhetorical claim: The climate scare “experts” have an obvious financial and emotional stake in global warming doomsday scenarios. If the global warming doomsday is shown to be imaginary, the experts will lose their financial support and in many cases their jobs. The global warming scare is used to provide ideological support for wind and solar energy. Billions of dollars have been wasted on useless wind and solar energy. Wind and solar are not even effective for reducing CO2 emissions.

The corruption of science has its roots in the political funding of science by the federal government. Somehow we have to make it less profitable for scientists to make up science. Peer review is a joke and doesn’t work. Certainly it would help if the public and the media were skeptical about any scientific theory that predicts a disaster unless we do what the scientists and their allies want us to do.

rhetorical effect: keeps the nation in denial of the climate change crisis and allows Trump to get away with saying there is no hard evidence of man-made climate change.

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the Russia hoax

rhetorical claim: Bad as it may have been, the worst of the Russia Hoax was not the abuse of the FISA electronic surveillance regime for political purposes. Nor is the worst even the patent involvement of our intelligence agencies — and in particular the FBI and CIA — in electoral politics. No, the worst aspect of the Russia Hoax is that our intelligence agencies, including elements of DoJ and the State Department cooperating with the Clinton campaign, enlisted the intelligence services of foreign powers — first in their effort to defeat the candidacy of Donald Trump and, when that effort failed, turning their efforts to what can only be described as an attempted coup against the elected President of the United States.

Shockingly, these later stages of the Russia Hoax have included members of the Legislative Branch who, in the face of clear evidence that the true collusion with foreign powers was that of the Clinton campaign, have worked to delay and to ultimately obstruct Congressional oversight and investigation of the entire Russia Hoax.

rhetorical effect: deepens the myth of the Deep State. Chronic paranoia run amok. Laying the groundwork for spurning any damaging charges from the Mueller probe. Turns the criminals into law enforcement agents. Classic rhetorical table-turning; creating a hoax that the other (truthful) side has created a hoax.

 

 

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 7-21, 2018.

inherently racist

rhetorical claim: aggrieved victimhood poses from trouble-makers like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris only shows that their “hands up” stance is inherently racist, since they assume that all whites are themselves racist.

rhetorical effect: concocts a fake narrative about a non-racist past to fill in the present Promotes ahistoricism and anti-egalatarianism, all in the name of equality and equal treatment under the law. Leads to benighted racism, justifications for violence, and ahistorical erasures. Creates a racial oligarchy.Widens the gap between the representation of events and their reality. In the long run, a form of paranoid racism toward black plots that will criminalize blackness. Besides, victims of racism should not be expected to eradicate it. Makes it impossible to see racism as a structural problem, unless of course you consider blacks inherently more violent and criminal than whites. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t blame blacks for the violence, prejudice and hatred they face.

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stealing an election

rhetorical claim: Dems failed in their attempts to steal elections in Georgia and Florida.

rhetorical effect: just counting ballots is now equated with “stealing” votes. How soon before voting itself is called fraudulent? (Maybe the 2020 election?) Even in triumph,  the Dems are accused of having only a ‘”very, very narrow victory.” “Winning” to Trump only means the other side is unhappy with the outcome–he cannot conceive of a win-win situation.

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the other side

rhetorical claim: Trump wonders when Whitaker’s Justice Dept. will get around to appointing a Special Counsel to investigate the other side–Hillary and Comey.

rhetorical effect: in true “whataboutism,” makes it appear that there is indeed another side to the Trump-Russia story even though there is no “other side”, just as there was no “other side” to the anti-Clinton Benghazi false narrative. Trump’s repeated reference to “the other side” shows he sees politics as a zero sum game with only winners and losers, rendering  compromise impossible. This “winner take all” approach (the equivalent of Sherman’s”total war”) eventually will discredit and silence all non-supporters. The rhetorical creation of external and internal enemies, who are responsible for all the crisis within the state, is nothing more than scapegoating to protect the rich and offer no real protection for the very people he is claiming to protect. Order this means no freedom, and progress means no equality.

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the people’s President

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is the people’s President.

rhetorical effect: justifies fascist political conduct and abuse, not just ideological differences. Justifies what is, at best, a highly selective populism, while not really addressing the root causes of middle class social frustration. Actually uses the “populism” branding to justify ever-greater capital accumulation among the upper classes and corporations.

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Trump’s not responsible

rhetorical claim: Trump was not responsible for the GOP’s midterm losses.

rhetorical effect: Trump denies responsibility for his promotion of irresponsibility.

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letting Trump be Trump

rhetorical claim: letting Trump be Trump has lead to the most successful Presidency in recent history.

rhetorical effect: the personification of the Presidency, leading to the spectacularization of the persona of the President. Breaks all boundaries between the personal and the public space as Trump becomes the only spokesperson and embodiment of the state.

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rational Mueller oversight

rhetorical claim: with the head of Justice no longer recused, we can finally expect rational oversight of the runaway Mueller witch-hunt.

rhetorical effect: “rational oversight” means the closing off of investigative avenues.