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, May 19-26, 2017.

libertarian America

rhetorical claim: America is a land of free individuals responsible for their own fate. The dynamism of the free market and personal freedom and responsibility produce consumers, entrepreneurs, workers, and taxpayers.

rhetorical effect: precludes any discussion of citizenship, compassion, collectivity, environmentalism, or human rights.


Fortress America

rhetorical claim: “America First”!  The country has lost its traditional identity because of contamination and weakness — the contamination of others, foreigners, immigrants, Muslims; the weakness of elites who have no allegiance to the country because they’ve been globalized.

rhetorical effect: This backward-looking and pessimistic narrative has contempt for democratic norms and liberal values, and it justifies autocracy and prejudice.  It personalizes power, routinizes corruption and destabilizes the very idea of objective truth.”



rhetorical claim: the Dump Trump Dems reflexively attack health care and tax reform bills in order to continue their scorched earth policy of villification and demonization of all things Trump and GOP. They will accept nothing less than Trump’s removal from office.

rhetorical effect: turns any criticism into a threat and a deliberate distortion and exaggeration. Makes the Dems sound like one-dimensional sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome. This projection of their own Total War strategy unto the Dems is an attempt to make themselves seem to be the reasonable and accommodating party instead of the callous, cruel, and conspiratorial party that they have turned into. . Makes any agreement with the Dems politically radioactive.


Tax Payer First Budget

rhetorical claim: to quote White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney:

If I had sort of a subtitle for this budget, it would be the Taxpayer First Budget. This is I think the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes. So often in Washington I think we look only on the recipient side: How does the budget affect those who either receive or don’t receive benefits?…Can I ask somebody, a family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to pay tax money to the government so that I can do X?…“We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, describing massive safety-net program cuts that would not “help” people “get off” safety net programs so much as eject them violently and immediately, regardless of where they land.

rhetorical effect: distorts reality in a number of ways:

  1.  assumes that anyone getting social safety net aid is not paying taxes.
  2. assumes that merely cutting social safety net programs will eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse without specifying how this will be accomplished.
  3. Applies that government programs Trump voters like–the military, Social Security, Medicare–aren’t really government programs at all.
  4. assumes that scapegoating the poor for federal budget deficits will fool people into accepting massive tax cuts for the rich.
  5.  Republicans only propose massive safety net cuts when the people they’re victimizing don’t have enough political power to fight back.
  6. massive safety-net program cuts will not “help” people “get off” safety net programs so much as eject them violently and immediately, regardless of where they land.
  7. As Catherine Rampell argues in The Washington Post,

    Trumponomics — like Ryanonomics — is based on the principle that living in poverty doesn’t suck quite enough. That is, more people would be motivated to become rich if only being poor weren’t so much fun. The political ideology is reflected in major cuts to anti-poverty programs and the social safety net, all in the name of not “discourag[ing] able-bodied adults from working.” And so, with the “compassionate” goal of making the poor a little less comfortable and a little more motivated, this budget savages nearly every anti-poverty program you can imagine.



rhetorical claim: President Trump’s unapologetic foreign policy puts America first. Unlike Obama, Trump wastes no time blaming America or making excuses for our adversaries. Trump also offers safety for the entire civilized world.

rhetorical effect: implies that anyone opposing Trump is uncivilized and on the side of the terrorist, and that you either love America or are cast out as an evil adversary. Being American once again means you never have to apologize. In this hypermasculinized world, apology is tantamount to weakness and surrender.


voluntary exchanges

rhetorical claim: a thriving free market relies on voluntary exchanges between willing parties, and rests on the assumption that customers know best what is good for them and their families. In a truly fee market, the little guy is king, and can challenge the big guys with the right new idea. Everyone can participate in this totally free market without the government dictating what they can and can’t do. Big government removes the critical “voluntary” dimension of the free market. if the government would just get out of the way, business investment and worker productivity would rise substantially

rhetorical effect: justifies monopolies, price fixing, and greed in the same of competition. Acts as if markets are not rigged by tax breaks, friendly regulators, monopoly pricing, and coercion. Perpetuates the Big Lie that the free market is any way truly “free,” and that we are all primary actors in that market, directing our own fate.


cost sharing

rhetorical claim: in the new Trump budget food stamps and other safety net programs will be phased out or put on a cost sharing basis with the states.

rhetorical effect: the only people sharing the costs of these cuts will be the poor. Cost sharing is a euphemism for starving a federal program to death and blaming its demise on the states.



rhetorical claim: Mick Mulvaney argues that the new budget shows compassion for the poor by making them honor the dignity of work and get off the dole. It’s tough love, but being dependent on government handouts is not in their long-term bests interests.

rhetorical effect: Lumps all the poor together, regardless of circumstances or disabilities; makes government assistance a shameful act; accuses the poor of deceit and laziness; defines compassion as the lack of any assistance–in Christian terms, the opposite of charity. As Gail Collins puts it,

Mulvaney claimed the new budget was all about “compassion.” It’s not everybody whose heart bleeds so much for wealthy taxpayers that he’s prepared to feed them the Children’s Health Insurance Program.


slapping on

rhetorical claim: Obama-era regulators “slapped on” layer after layer of unwanted, stifling, and preemptive regulations in their heavy-handed attempt to rule America by regulatory diktat. A “light touch” administrative approach better serves the consumer and the market.

rhetorical effect: makes any regulation sound draconian and unnecessary; paves the way for massive concessions to private industry.; conflates the concepts of the consumer and the market–as if the public’s best interests are always congruent with those of private corporations. (he old way of putting this was ‘What’s good for GM is good for America.”) Makes the case for government actions that are reactionary rather than preventative.


liberal media

rhetorical claim: the liberal media are creating a false narrative about Trump, Comey, and the Russians. There is not one shred of evidence of any electoral collusion with the Russians; Comey was fired because he is incompetent and because of the Clinton investigation, and now the media has made up a story about how Trump is either impeachable or crazy.

  • Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for his mishandling of the Clinton investigation and his stubborn insistence on continuing the Russia investigation despite no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  • The liberal media drove this narrative to take down Trump, who only wanted the investigation “done properly,” and then started to question Trump’s mental stability.
  • The “deep state” leaked classified info to the Washington Post. Plus, Trump has the right to disclose classified information to Russians, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster agrees.
  • Comey is getting revenge with memos that reveal Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

rhetorical effect: strips the Comey and Russia/Trump stories of context to make these events seem random or non-existent; makes up an imaginary third party–the evil liberal media–to be the main villain in the piece; creates a false narrative of Trump as the victim of a witch hunt. Stripping context away from these stories allows Trump supporters to make up a false alternative narrative. As Vox explains:

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here: Right-wing media is creating coherent alternate storylines with different characters and different context — but a narrative that competes with contextual facts that support a more accurate story. Even amid some of the most troubling presidential news in decades, a huge portion of this country is having a very different experience of these events, and repeating it over and over. Our collective memories — and, in turn, our shared culture — are being splintered.

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, May 13-17, 2017

economic nationalism

rhetorical claim: economic nationalism, especially fairer trade deals, will lead to more jobs, more investment, and greater prosperity for all Americans.

rhetorical effect: conflates economic nationalism with free trade, even though they are polar opposites.


peripheral and incidental

rhetorical claim: the fake Trump-Russia narrative is fueled by the constant, hyperventilating reporting of peripheral and incidental connections of the Trump campaign and business empire to Russia.

rhetorical effect: trivializes the possible collusion or else nonchalantly makes it sound like business as usual; discourages any attempts to connect the dots.


one of the greatest electoral victories ever

rhetorical claim: Trump’s electoral victory was one of the greatest ever, and he actually won the popular vote if you discount the three million fraudulent Hillary votes.  He is overwhelmingly the people’s choice, yet the media continues to undermine his legitimacy.

rhetorical effect: this ridiculous claim represents Trump’s signature style: crude myth-making rooted in paranoia and cloaked in the language of democracy and the rule of law.



rhetorical claim: the Trump boom will create unparalleled economic opportunity for all Americans.

rhetorical effect: conflates opportunity with opportunism. Not only are Trump family members and cronies cashing in, but proposed tax cuts will mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans. Trump is the greatest opportunity ever for the richest Americans to get richer in the greatest redistribution of wealth in American history.



rhetorical claim: negotiating better trade deals for America will create greater prosperity and stop foreign nations from taking advantage of the US.

rhetorical effect: turns the reciprocity of negotiation into a zero-sum game with clear winners and losers. Equates winning with justice and equity.



rhetorical claim: like racism and sexism, the media’s knee-jerk, eye-rolling response to Trump represents an inborn form of discrimination. It’s all about the “feigned pained look, the furrowed brow, the curled lip.”Or comments such as, “That makes no sense” or “You must be lying” that anchors make anytime an advocate of President Trump goes on television to defend him.

rhetorical effect: makes the media appear dismissive of Trump even when they are responding to the substance (or lack of substance)i of one of Trump’s tweets or one of his surrogates’ defenses. This attack leads to false equivalency (call it “on the one hand, on the other hand”ism). Makes them treat false facts and phony narratives as real, thus normalizing deceptions and creating an ultimately exhausting fog of confusion.


pansy America

rhetorical claim: from The American Thinker website:

Americans have become a wilting, withering mass of weak, needy crybabies who have departed far and away from the strength of back, intellect, and character of America’s Founders, who created a system that none other has ever equaled.  Rather than follow along the path that made America a strong, economically thriving and prosperous nation, many Americans, especially Millennials, pursue petty and paltry pleasures, as would a sloth and a glutton, and claim their slightest whim to be a “right.”

Some things, like food, shelter, clothing, water, and health care, are critical to our lives.  However, they are not “rights.”  Even if they were made rights, this would set in motion a confiscatory requirement to satisfy that right at the expense of others, much as America currently chafes against our current welfare system.

More and more, Americans hear a clamor from their progressive countrymen of all rank and file, for wants and desires to be provided through government funds, the taxpayers’ dollars.  Now, not only do many across the nation demand health care as a right, but they also demand a $15-per-hour minimum wage and free university educations.

rhetorical effect: this diatribe demeans concepts such as health care is a right, workers deserve a living wage, the social safety net. etc. It posits a Darwinian world where the government is reduced to the military/police complex.


Trump’s “hopes”

rhetorical claim: in Comey’s alleged memo, Trump is quoted as saying that he “hopes” Comey gives up the pursuit of Flynn. Note that he never directly orders Comey to do so. How can Trump be impeached for just “hoping” for something?

rhetorical effect: makes a thinly-veiled threat–an impeachable offense– sound like a reasonably honest wish or feeling–hardly an impeachable offense.


economic equality

rhetorical claim: under Obama (and really going to back to FDR), individual Americans’ right to personal property has been taken away in the name of “equality” and “economic security.” This redistributionism will lead to the collectivization of rights and then the collectivization of property. Individual rights will be a thing of the past. The current political fight is over the future of the Bill of Rights.

rhetorical effect: turns equality into a pejorative term; privileges property over human needs; reframes the social safety net as an iron cage of fascism.



rhetorical claim: Trump and his spokespersons sometimes misspeak when tweeting, characterizing events or making statements. This is equivalent to a typo, but is seized upon by the mainstream media as proof of collusion or deception.

rhetorical effect: bait and switch: swapping a major sin (lying) for a minor one (tripping up on language, using a malapropism, etc.)


obstruction of the executive

rhetorical claim: the mainstream media challenges Trump’s authority to manage the executive branch by obstructing his every statement and policy.

rhetorical effect: turns the phrase “obstruction of justice” upside down and inside out by making it appear that it is Trump who is being obstructed. Part of the master-meme to make the media the true threats to America.


light-touch regulatory framework

rhetorical claim: we need to return to the light-touch regulatory framework of the Clinton and Bush years, where government more or less got out of the way of Wall Street, public utilities, mortgage lenders, and payday loan companies.

rhetorical effect: a euphemism for a non-touch regulatory framework; complete deregulation



rhetorical claim: trade deals have to be reciprocal, otherwise America is getting taken advantage of.

rhetorical effect: conflates retaliatory tit-for-tat with matching concessions, so, instead of imposing, say, a 10% surcharge on a nation that has its own 10% surcharge on US exports, instead we charge 10% somewhere else in our trade portfolio with that country. In other words, the reciprocity should be impacts from initial conditions, not knee-jerk retaliation.



rhetorical claim: according to McMaster, what Trump said was “wholly appropriate to that conversation” and, “in the context of the conversation,” “wholly appropriate with what the expectations are of our intelligence partners,” and it is “wholly appropriate for the President to share whatever information he thinks to advance the safety of the American people. That’s what he did.” It was also “wholly appropriate given the purpose of that conversation and the purpose of what the President was trying to achieve”—whatever purpose he might have, it seems, and whatever he might be trying to achieve.

rhetorical effect: makes it seem literally impossible for the President to ever violate classification rules; makes appropriate behavior totally dependent on circumstances. Also, as Amy Davidson points out in The New Yorker:

“There are no sensitivities in terms of me,” McMaster said. He tried to return the reporters to what he, personally, considered the “real issue”: leakers. They were the ones endangering national security, McMaster said. It sounded like the coming attractions for the next episode of White House chaos: the bitter hunt for whoever on the inside was talking to the Post.

And yet it might be the leakers who are keeping the country safe. Government officials turn to reporters when there is something that strikes them as not right. The events of this week and last have gone to the heart of what it means to work for Donald Trump. The likelihood that one will be publicly humiliated may be the least of it; participation in policies that are not good for this country is a grimmer prospect. And so is the possibility that we might forget what we expect from a President, or from the people who work for him. It might be seen as improper for a member of the intelligence community to meet with a journalist, or out of line for a national-security adviser to publicly break with his boss. But there are times when it is appropriate to do so; there are even moments when it is necessary.

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, October 10-13, 2016

as someone who has a wife and a mother and is the father of three daughters:

Chivalry and patriarchy at work rhetorically. Men as protectors; women as property, only defined by their place in a man’s family.

beyond suspicious: all of Hillary’s behavior in the Benghazi and e-mail cover-ups. She is guilty as hell and all-but-convicted. As soon as Trump takes over the investigations, she will be imprisoned.

Rhetorically this is a ghostly wedge concept, suggesting absolute culpability without any proof, indictment, trial, convictions, etc. It is not the rule of law, but the rule of innuendo and surmise. It makes any defense of Hillary impossible, since she is clearly guilty. It is thus a form of circular logic.

citizen of the world: a citizen of nowhere. In a Hillary worldwide globalist dictatorship, US citizenship will be outlawed and only outlaws will call themselves American citizens.

the Constitution:  a self-authenticating document, to be adhered to, not “interpreted”.

More circular logic: since the Constitution is what it is and says what it means, and deviation from its original intent violates its integrity. Since there is no way to prove this assertion wrong, it is unverifiable and itself self-authenticating just by virtue of its own being.

healthy heterosexual: any male who boasts of sexual assault against women.

implicit bias: pc drivel. If Hillary is elected,  all white people will have to register for re-education classes and Stalinist self-criticism groups because they are inherently racist and don’t even know it!

media hysteria: any sustained examination of Trump; his taxes, his remarks about and treatment of women, his business practices, etc. The lamestream, government-run media only has two gears: full-on attack mode via manufactured stories that damage Trump, and full-on cover-up mode of stories that could damage Clinton.

moderator bias: asking Trump follow-up questions.

nation state: obsolete in the globalist dystopia that Hillary wants to bring about. Sjhe would end US sovereignty and  independence.

Trumpism heralds the return of Fortress America, the nation state as a bulwark against the tyranny of globalization, with all the swagger of protectionist authoritarianism.

neutral standards:  journalistic objectivity and restraint that results in analysis that is harmful to Hillary–as opposed to the government-run lamestream media’s so-called “fact checking,”which is just opinion-mongering and results in daily denunciations of Donald Trump. The liberal media has become a malignancy on the truth and destroyed any lingering sense of journalistic integrity.

offended female virtue: trumped up forms of hypocritical selective contempt.

politics and public service: like government, something to be despised. Public service is really just a euphemism for rent-seeking, social engineering government.

As Michael Gerson puts it: “This is what Republicans get for devaluing the calling of public service. When you have contempt for politics, you often get a politics worthy of contempt”.

swastika: a mere political symbol that “nervous nelly” liberals get hysterical about if spotted at a Trump rally.


Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, phrases, canards, shibboleths and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOTP language factories, March 28-April 4, 2015

conscience:  a cardinal virtue in GOTP terms; when Dems make conscience-based claims, however, they are called “fanatical and coercive rights.” (see below)

desperation: GOTP shorthand for Dem’s hope. See also “freakout” and “scorched earth policy” and :furious and unhinged,” below.

equality: stomping on religious liberty

fanatical, coercive rights: Democrats can’t help themselves–and become “furious and unhinged” (see below)–when they sanctimoniously claim special rights based on conscience. A moral imperative in a Republican becomes a deranged imposition on others when coming from a Democrat.

fealty: the pejorative form of loyalty. Only fit for vassals, slaves, and Dem ideologues.

fix: what the GOTP wants to do to a law when it becomes unpopular (as in the case of the Indiana and Arkansas religious freedom laws); but when the Dems want to “fix” , say, Obamacare, the GOTP says “end it, don’t mend it.”

freakout: any Dem moral or political stance; one of the ways that Dem ideals are belittled and diminished and made to appear freakishly out of touch with the “average” American.

furious and unhinged: any Dem claims of conscience or assertions of principles. This is basically akin to calling a woman “hysterical” whenever she raises her voice even an octave–a way of dismissing all arguments the GOTP finds discomfiting. Dismissal by hyperbole.

homofascism: Mike Huckabee’s spin on the backlash from Indiana and Arkansas “religious liberty” law. The revenge of the gays on lamestream culture.

indispensable nation: American exceptionalism, writ large. Let’s see, what “axis of evil” -type nations might the GOTP find “dispensable”? If a nation is truly “dispensable,” then annihilating it is morally permissible.

on paper: the pending agreement with Iran, for example, “sounds good on paper,” but when you spin out all the things that could go wrong or all the possible avenues for deception, no agreement is worth the paper it’s written on. Sometimes it seems that if Obama had written The Federalist Papers, the GOTP would say “it sounds good–on paper.”

prisoners: what orthodox Christians have become in an era of “intolerant” “political correctness” aka, pariahs, outcasts, the vilified, the smeared, the bullied, the crucified.

Selma envy: a particular malady of civil rights advocates protesting police brutality. The implication clearly is that any contemporary civil rights protests lack the moral weight of 1960’s civil rights demonstrations and marches. A particularly marginalizing and belittling smear, and a brilliant rhetorical way of turning using an iconic civil rights moment to argue against and current civil rights moments.

shield or sword?: another entirely manufactured distinction designed to undermine any liberal principle. For example, the GOTP says that the Indiana and Arkansas “religious freedom” laws are intended to be a a “shield” to ward off any interference with individual liberty, not a “sword” for bigots. yet merely saying that something is so doesn’t make it so, or, as The Onion put it, “Indiana Governor Insists New Law Has Nothing To Do With Thing It Explicitly Intended To Do.”

scorched earth policy: any Dem political tactic or moral stance. All Dem ideals are portrayed as absolutist and unyielding.

statist expansion: basically, any new law or regulation. Government is now called “statism”.

tolerance as a virtue: especially when it is invoked to defend intolerance, as in the Indiana and Arkansas “religious freedom” debate. We’re supposed to be “tolerant” of bigots.

true intent: Obama wants to make every Afro-American a welfare king or queen; Obama secretly promotes the interests of Iran over those of the US; Obamacare is a smokescreen for the “statist” takeover of all aspects of American life, etc.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, phrases, canards, shibboleths and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOTP language factories, Dec. 15-24, 2014

note: GOTP stands for Grand Old Tea Party

America hater: Obama, who loves the Cubans, Russians, Iranians, and illegal immigrants too much.

America’s moral standing: something Obama always talks about, but the GOTP actually does something about. This is the gold standard for GOTP criticism of Obama foreign policy because anything short of aggressive, unilateral action “tears down America” and “gives comfort to the bad guys”. Like the gold standard, only the GOTP seems to have the golden tablets on which are inscribed ways to gauge “America’s moral standing”.

anti-fossil fuel masochism: any opposition to fracking, coal production, or the use and consumption  of fossil fuels. Thus being “green” is not only to destroy the economy  but also to destroy oneself. Greenies are pathologically self-loathing.

comrades, cronies and pals: Obama supporters, especially any person or business getting a tax break or benefiting from a change in regulatory policy. The Grand Old Tea Party, of course, has “allies” and “supporters” rather than  comrades, cronies and pals.

demonizing the police: a prophylactic term intended to render the police immune from criticism. In this meme, freedom, as represented by the police, is equated with obeying authority, and order is privileged over justice. This all-purposecharge exemspts police from the social contract and the law.

hyena pack: journalists, progressive activist and trial lawyers (especially those pursuing class-action suits against corporations.

inappropriate: in the Peggy Noonan, moral scold, family of rhetorical sneers. An “adult” word, like “honor”, “dignity,” “duty,” etc. Somehow, Dems are always, like children, a little “inappropriate” and untempered in their public utterances. Any direct challenge to received GOTP pieties or shibboleths is automatically “inappropriate”. The idea of what is actually “appropriate” is lodged in the “moral bedrock” (see below) that only the GOTP seems to be born with.

to increase choice and competition:  Hold onto your wallet whenever you hear this ominous incantation. It’s axiomatic that decreased regulation and scrutiny invariably, over time, tend to lead to less choice and competition, but these two words are classic cases of what John Lanchester calls “reversification” of terms–when words become their opposites.

it’s only with hindsight: this is a deflective, prophylactic term, used to shield GOTP from especially effective challenges or criticism: e.g., it’s only “after the fact” or “with hindsight” that waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation policies” might be seen as amounting to torture. Invidious moral distinctions that run counter to GOTP dogma are thus portrayed as impossible to imagine in real time. (see also, “reasonable people can disagree,” below).

let the courts figure it out: another immunizing meme, intended to stifle public debate and free speech. Don’t criticize the legality of police actions because you aren’t “qualified” to speak out on subjects of justice, social equity, and morals or ethics.

moral bedrock: any GOTP ideology. Dem morality rests on the shifting sands of “moral relativism” and permissiveness. Playing this rhetorical card goes toward establishing one’s ethos. It is on this very bedrock that civilization itself rests.

norms of public speech: what deBlasio and Obama violate whenever they speak about race relations in America. This is a rhetorical term of scolding, based on high moral dudgeon that such “bleeding heart” Dems are irresponsible and “inappropriate”. (See above). This charge is typically couched in rhetoric around the notion of “truth,” which itself becomes relative when weighed against “appropriateness”.

political operatives, cowards, and apologists: anyone still supporting Obama. (see also, “comrades, cronies and pals,” above)

the political unrest of the 60s:  pejorative description of The Civil Rights Movement

pro-growth policies: like progress, “growth” is said to only be possible in an environment of such “free market” policies as right-to-work legislation, private school vouchers, and pension and tort reform. In other words, the only way to promote growth is to cripple unions, reduce retirement benefits and make corporations basically immune from litigation, especially class action suits.

reasonable people can disagree; you can disagree with those rules or facts: another prophylactic term, and a false claim to rationality, and a misleading, startegically concessionary term. When the GOTP prefaces their rhetorical attacks on Dems with this phrase, they are really saying that even if the facts work against them, they are morally in the right.

stifling: what government inevitably does to innovation and competition. the “animal spirits” of business yearn to live free and unfettered.








Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and meta-narratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, Nov 29-Dec. 9, 2014

(it’s) all about the country: (see “civilization”, below). This meme is trotted out in times of civil unrest or widespread dissent. Too much dissent undermines America, “tears at its very fabric,” etc. These dissenters put America into “retreat” (see below).

America in retreat: the mastermeme characterizing the Obama administration. Barry may have put us into “retreat,” according to this conceit, but we never go into “decline,” thanks to the free market and the forces of “liberty”.

anti-police ideology: any criticism of policing tactics. Such criticism is not fact-based but ideological (see “facts,” below), and is always characterized as “poisonous” or “toxic” to “civilization” (see below).

bureaucratic bloat: all government workers. The best government is the “thinnest” one.

civilization: this c-word gets played whenever there is civil unrest or mass dissent. Those in possession of the “facts” (see below) are the keepers of the flame of civilized behavior; everyone else is a “savage”. Read Huck Finn for the best critique of this position.

conspicuous compassion: all the Dems have to fall back on, instead of standing for the daddy words: truth, duty, honor, justice, security, liberty.

facts: whatever the GrandOldTeaParty says, since they are the “daddy” party. Thus in the cse of the Ferguson grand jury, the only “credible” “facts” or witnesses were those that exonerated Wilson. Dems don’t have “facts” (as in the case of climate change), but only opinions or “lies”. The basic argument underlying this position is that Dems only espouse “values” because they want power, not out of ethical principles. (See “conspicuous compassion,” above).

pitchfork justice: populism. When Dems demonstrate, it’s likened to a mobocracy, an irrational avenging army of self-righteous hypocrites; when the GOTP takes to the streets, it’s called “grassroots democracy”. Any current on-campus demonstration for the prosecution of rape charges is currently being tarred as “pitchfork justice”.

rampaging mobs (aka, “savages”): any protestors “playing the race card”. Typically portrayed as “other”: druggies, welfare freeloaders, barbarians, etc.

robust competition: only possible after massive tax cuts and the essential suspension of all regulation of business and finance.

superior attitude: what Dems are accused of practicing whenever they defend a moral position or attack any GOTP position. A version of being “uppity”.

taxes: always a “burden” or “barrier”; a force of “harm” or “damage”.

victimology: said to be at the heart of Dem ideology: the phony, false compassion for those suffering from racism, sexism, inequality, etc. To the Dems, “victims” are the real “heroes”.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and meta-narratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, October 22-28, 2014

banker-bashing: regulating the banks. Usually the nefarious work of the “Sandinista wing” of the Democratic Party (see below), especially Elizabeth Warren.

black-on-black crime: the real reason for the high incarceration rates of black males in the US. Even though it is a Non sequitur, this card is always played to re-direct any charges of white police brutality, “driving while black,” etc.

broken culture: another of the “real reasons” for the high incarceration rates of black males in the US. Just as the housing crisis was supposedly caused by scheming, lying  minorities cadging bad loans, any economic, political or social inequality in the US is blamed on Black Folks’ general lack of culture, shame or gumption. Just as with the meme of “black-on-black crime,” this serves as a Non sequitur designed to re-direct the conversation and blame the victims.

criminalize: regulate. See “banker-bashing,” above.

electoral integrity: voter suppression.

handover: under Obama, the allegedly vast wealth transfer from the middle class to the poor.

looting: suing BP. Another form of “banker-bashing” or “criminalizing” (see above).

moral compass: an inherently Republican character trait, usually entirely lacking in Democrats (who will say or do anything to get elected), especially Afro-American Democrats (who have a “broken culture”–see above).

(of) negligible economic impact: the Obama stimulus package, the largest in US history. Can also be used to refer to any disparate economic impacts that arise from price-gouging, monopoly pricing, restraint of trade, etc.

political speech: money talks.

sabotaging our borders: the secret Obama master plan to let in terrorists, Ebola, and undocumented aliens.

Sandinista wing of Democratic Party: Elizabeth Warren, Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Saunders.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and meta-narratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, October 3-12, 2014

burdensome licensing regimes: basically, ANY licensing body. It’s always a good touch to call a government office a “regime”.

capital unlocking: the projected fruits of the repeal of Dodd-Frank and the general loosening of financial market regulation.

common sense “free market” regulation: minimalism; see above, “capital unlocking”. “common sense” is always a rhetorical master trope (with Tom Paine turning over in his grave all the while). The “common” sense referred to is that of your average Goldman Sachs executive.

concrete moral action: something Obama is accused of forever lacking–all he gives us, according to this meme, is airy-fairy, idealized morality that is not pertinent to life on earth.

controlling the emotional narrative: what Dems are said to be “especially good” at because it implies a superficial ability to spin the facts into a wholly fictional narrative–i.e., “the war on women,” “global warming,” etc.

distributed public responsibilities: newspeak for ending almost all federal oversight, policy and administrative law. This “distribution” amounts to each state becoming a sovereign entity with its own laws and regulations.

gracious: whenever Obama criticizes Bush or any GOPers, who is accused (especially by Peggy Noonan) of lacking grace–being in fact “unseemly” (see below)

grit: another missing part of Obama; the meme is that he has “no stomach for a fight” and is inconsistent and flaccid when responding to foreign threats. This particular lack of character is also attributed to the “takers”–anyone getting any form of aid (except Medicare) is said to lack the true grit to get and keep a job or raise a family on their own.

incremental immigration reforms: none that anyone would ever notice

infantilization of women: any of the new “yes means yes” laws–more broadly, and government attempt to protect women from sexual assault, verbal or physical by keeping them “sheltered from reality”.

judicial activism: any legal decision opposed by the Tea Party. In the legal context, “activism” is pernicious, whereas it is highly encouraged in the public arena.

moral posturing: any moral position taken by a Democrat or liberal. They are never sincere (except when being “idealistic), but always have an ulterior motive. Thus they are said to be “posturing”–pretending to be something they aren’t.

tinpot dictator: an epithet revived every generation. Currently refers to Obama and his alleged takeover of the federal government. Infers that he’s a cheap alloy who cannot withstand any heat.

unseemly: another Peggy Noonan “mom” word. Peggy is always “disappointed” in poor, uncouth Barack.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and metanarratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, Aug 29-September 9, 2014

character: The major personal trait that the “takers” lack. This is a master trope in GOP rhetoric, linked to dignity, “personal responsibility” and “integrity”.  “Cynical” Dems, who take the politically expedient side of every opportunity, are especially deficient charcter-wise.

critical variables: any available extenuating circumstances that Republicans can come up to argue their case. Also, excuses they make for such failed policies and theories as “trickle down,” “regulatory strangulation” and the “invisible hand” of the “free” market.

cynical: any politically-expedient act of policy of Obama or the Dems. By the magical inversion of rhetoric, any statement of idealism or hope becomes a “cynical ploy”.

defeatism: any critique of American military action.

natural rights liberty: the God-given right to carry a semi-automatic weapon, shoot anyone suspicious, stifle free speech, refuse to pay taxes, etc. The ideological bedrock of libertarianism.

personal responsibility: what the “takers” are critically lacking. No one receiving any government aid in any form whatsoever is said to lack this quality, which is semantically linked to dignity, honor

reckless: any Dem claim of facts, outcomes, accomplishments, etc.

social capital: what people lacking “personal responsibility” lack and can’t even conceive of.

sycophant: any Obama supporter.

tawdry: any Obama rationale, behavior, or explanation. Everything he does is “tawdry” because he lacks “character” and won’t take “personal responsibility” for anything.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, and innuendos in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, March 27-April 3, 2014

abdication: any regulatory retreat by the Obama administration on an issue important to the GOP. Even though government and regulation are routinely demonized, they sometimes come in handy–most recently when it comes to internet registration.

“affordable housing”:  now always put in fright quotes, to denote the hypocrisy and nefariousness of anyone  supporting such a position. The “affordable housing crowd” is of course still being blamed for the financial meltdown.

broadened opportunity: prosperity for the few, by reducing opportunity for the many. See also, “upward mobility”).

creative destructionism: outsourcing, corporate takeovers, globalization.

crowd: any Dem interest group, however broadly defined. Not exactly a mob–more like a suspect group, with parochial self interests. A good recent example is  “the affordable housing crowd” (see above).

devolution: an oldie-but-a-goodie from the Thatcher era. The kissin’ cousin of privatization, its latest avatar is one of the centerpieces of the latest Ryan budget (aka, the race to adversity): devolving all safety net programs to the states, in the form of a lump sum payment. (David Cameron is also trying this one on for size in Britain).

disrespecting the citizens:apparently, according to Charles Koch, any form of government regulation. Government regulation, in the Koch Brothers’ universe, is nothing but a form of “collectivization,” always a pejorative term. In simple Kochean terms, “more government equals less liberty”. Why bother, then, to have any government at all?

effective safety net: as in the latest Paul Ryan budget, the only acceptable funding levels for social services presume draconian cuts in current budgets. “Effectiveness,” like its cousin, “efficiency,” is not defined by human well-being but by how little the government ends up doing or providing.

elites:educated, critical thinkers. (Thanks for that definition to Mike Lofgren, in his book “The Party Is Over”).

expeditions:semantically related to “fishing trip”, these are Dem forays into policy issues or initiatives, always with a hidden agenda.

fidelity to the law: what Obama, as Imperial President, is said to lack.

improving access to college: turning colleges and universities into voc tech institutes.

introducing competition and innovation into Medicare:a key element of the new Ryan budget. “Competition” in this case of course means privatization.”Innovation” (sometimes called “modernization”) in this case of course means new ways to get seniors off the federal budget. “Competition and innovation” together are the black hole at the center of the GOP political economy: they suck every human service into their vortex, never to be seen again as federal expenditures.

markets and merit: the only definition of, and way to, any concept of prosperity and well-being. Only made possible by “competition” and “choice” (though this is NOT a “pro-choice” position).

modernizing health care:  privatizing and deregulating.

one-sixth of the economy: an epithet, or mantra, for the Affordable Care Act. Most commonly used in the phrase “trying to transform one-sixth of the economy”, as if the very idea of trying to do so is laughable.

real world president: obviously not the space alien incumbent we have in the White House. of course, the last “real world” President we had got us involved in two “real” unwinable wars in the Middle East and supported po0licies that directly lead to a “real” financial meltdown.

restoring the value of work: assumes right off the bat that “some” Americans (Paul Ryan can tell you which ones), are lazy freeloaders and need to be “restored” to the American Dream.

state power: in the Tea Party world, it’s almost always better to let the “laboratories of democracy” decide national issues, except when it isn’t. For example, the Republican mantra of making it possible to sell insurance across state lines, thus taking insurance regulation out of the hands of the state. Of course, when you think about it, if the states can’t do and the feds shouldn’t do it, then maybe there won’t be any regulation at all! A pure experiment in Social Darwinism!

a straightforward matter of statutory construction: any legal position held by the GOP/Tea Party.

upward mobility: Ok for those who’ve got it. Made ever more impossible by Tea Party economic policies.

worker flexibility: if corporations are people, my friend, why not let Walmart run the Department of Labor? Then we’ll see just how “flexible” and Gumby-like US workers can be.