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.

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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.”

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demonize

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.

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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.

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unapologetic

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.

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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.

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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.

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compassionate

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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opportunity

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.

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negotiation

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.

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Trumpism

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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misspoke

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.)

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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.

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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

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reciprocity

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.

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appropriate

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, April 1-5, 2017

crime

rhetorical claim: crime is the new black entitlement. As long as black people are permanent victims of relentless white racism, cops should not chase them, juries should not convict them, judges should not sentence them, schools should not punish them, and white victims should not complain about the black crime and violence so wildly out of proportion.

This is what a growing number of lawmakers, professors and, of course, reporters are prescribing as a way to “improve the way our system serves justice.”

rhetorical effect: criminalizes being black; justifies all police violence against blacks; re-inforces the gross insinuation that blacks are dependent on the public dole and feel entitled to government support just because they are black.

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teachers’ unions

rhetorical claim: the only group ever able to give America’s teachers a bad name.

rhetorical effect: extends the demonization of teachers as greedy hypocrites hungry for power and indifferent to education outcomes. In other words, accuses teachers of caring least about their students, whose welfare is ostensibly the only reason anyone would take on such grinding, unforgiving, low-paid work.

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environmental extortion rackets

rhetorical claim: “global warming,” “climate change,” automobile fuel standards, scares over CO2 levels, almost all EPA regulations are all hoaxes and literally extortion rackets to fine corporations and force them to make outlandish financial investments in technology that can’t solve imaginary problems.

rhetorical effect: relativizes environmental regulation by either devaluing its causes or its effects. As is almost always the case, makes progressive environmental activists out to be power-hungry hypocrites.

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the Democratic steno pool

rhetorical claim: the dishonest MSM has c0ncocted the entire Russian election hacking story to discredit the Trump administration. They are little more than stenographers of whatever false narrative Hillary Clinton Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Susan Rice give them

rhetorical effect: seems to make it impossible to get at the facts–let alone the truth–of gettin of the extent of the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians. Reinforces the idea of a “post-truth” era, in which they challenge any assertion of fact. Yet they have it both ways because they also insist (see “rumor mongering,” below) that “the real story” is the Obama/Susan Rice monitoring of the Trump transition team. So none of te mainstream media news is considered real, and none of their news can ever be fake or self-serving.

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flexibility

rhetorical claim: states’ rights should guarantee flexibility is such broad areas as health care policy and mandates, environmental protection, public safety, birth control, gender discrimination laws, consumer laws, etc.

rhetorical effect: absolves the Trump administration from any of the political blame for inadequate or unaffordable insurance coverage, police violence against minorities, racial, sexual and gender discrimination, inadequate womens’ sexual health protections, air and water pollution, consumer fraud, etc.

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rumor-mongering

rhetorical claim: any of the Russian election-hacking stories. The real story is Susan Rice and the Obama administration’s surveillance of the Trump transition team.

rhetorical effect: reduces facts to rumors–that is, unsubstantiated claims made for politically partisan purposes. Any criticism of Trump is trivialized as rumor or gossip. If this was a courtroom, it would be impossible for the prosecutors to present any acceptable evidence because they could not conform to the canons of evidence. It’s the Alice in Wonderland scenario:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

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the war on fossil fuels

rhetorical claim: the “climate change” conspiracy has finally lost its war on fossil fuels now that the Trump administration has opened up oil and gas drilling, provided  regulatory relief, and more or less banned any climate change research.

rhetorical effect: denies the reality of harmful CO2 emissions; dismantles 50 years of environmental regulation; absolves corporations from any liability for harmful effects of their activities. Fossil fuels are now fighting a war on the earth.

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churches

rhetorical claim: America’s greatest cohering force. Religious freedom must be upheld.

rhetorical effect: the defense of religions at the expense of basic human rights–as in the cases of abortion, gay rights, gender identity, school curriculum, women’s rights, birth control, etc–not only sanctions prejudice but enshrines it as the cornerstone of national cohesion.

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, March 18-31, 2017

Fifth Column

rhetorical claim: Every day brings new evidence that today’s media are engaged in clandestine fifth column activities involving journalistic acts of sabotage, media malfeasance, blatant disinformation or media espionage conducted by secret sympathizers. President Trump is engaged in a vicious counter-terrorism war with the media and the Democratic Party.  Yes, terrorism, for what is terrorism but violence or intimidation to achieve some political mean?  The Democrat Party, aided and abetted by their army of fifth column “journalists,” are waging a clandestine war against the heart and soul of America. They are fake Americans producing fake news.

rhetorical effect: discredits any mainstream media reporting; turns them into “the enemy of the people,” and Obama collaborators, and could eventually lead to relaxed libel laws that will muzzle the press and consolidate government power. Turns the Trump Administration into the true resistance movement.

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virtue signalling

rhetorical claim: feel-good policies such as allowing men to use girls’ bathrooms and ruinous $15/hr. minimum wages are progressives’ way of signalling their virtue and political correctness.

rhetorical effect: reduces idealism, social justice, and equality to self-serving attempts at cynically holding power. Renders any claim of morality sound sanctimonious and hypocritical.

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the Obama-Clinton pushover axis

rhetorical claim: why would the Russians hack our election when they had the feckless, incompetent Clinton/Obama apparatchiks doing their very bidding. Obama was recorded on a hot mic telling “Vladimir” he would have more flexibility after the 2012 election (and boy did he).   Obama/Clinton let them take Crimea and Georgia without a peep.  Obama/Clinton apparently (allegedly) signed over 20% of America’s uranium for some huge donations (said to be over 100 million dollars) to the Clinton Foundation plus mega dollars for Clinton speeches that were of no value.  The botched Russian reset button, the drawdown of our military, the total feckless weakened foreign policy of Obama/Clinton, and more; the list of reasons for Vladimir to love Clinton are legion.

Given all those facts, why in the world would Putin want to change from the easy marks he had to a bulldog, a fighter, a man of accomplishment who ran on toughness, a man who wanted to reassert America’s greatness, a man who promised to build the strongest military in the world, a man who wanted to vie, compete and beat Russia as a player in the energy markets?

rhetorical effect: this incredible string of lies and half-truths shifts the narrative away from Trump and back onto the Clintons and Obama.

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reverse monitoring

rhetorical claim: In its final stages, the Obama administration ordered wiretaps on targets they knew that the Trump transition team would be speaking with. This subterfuge and deception was a backdoor way of mining the incoming administration for dirt

rhetorical effect: deflects attention away from the Russian election hack story; distorts events into a hurricane-strength dose of fake news; makes Obama sound like a traitor and a felon for authorizing these taps. Their claim that anyone who reveals names and details of this surveillance should go to prison also has a chilling effect on public disclosure and journalism.

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hard power

rhetorical claim: the strong-power administration needs a strong military to overcome Obama’s perpetual “apology tour”and make America respected and feared again. Makes sure that no one “messes with us” (see below) ever again.

rhetorical effect: justifies enormous defense budget increase at the expense of domestic programs; makes our allies less likely to build up their military spending;  purity and patriotism carry the day over compassion and alliance-building; an increased likelihood of  state-based aggression in the form of American bellicosity , coercion, and military intervention, and, as Nina Burleigh explained in Newsweek,:

What Trump’s budget ensures is that the nation continues down the road that got him elected in the first place—poorly informed and sickly people, ill-served by unfunded public education, lacking decent health care, poisoned by pollution, eating food and using machinery whose safety is not ensured by public agencies, and slipping behind other countries in science and innovation

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originalism and textualism

rhetorical claim: When interpreting the Constitution, judges should confine themselves to the words of the Constitution. Originalism says that if the words are at all unclear, then judges need to consult historical sources to determine their meaning at the time of ratification, and the correct application of these words to new cases should clearly  limit judicial discretion. As Justice Scalia argued, if judges are not bound by words and history, they will inevitably exceed the limits of their judicial authority and, like “activists” or “super-legislators,” make the Constitution say whatever they want.

rhetorical effect: guarantees conservative SCOTUS decisions because it does not take into account the modern meaning of terms such as “right,” “unreasonable,” “probable cause,” “due process,” “excessive,” “cruel and unusual” and “equal protection.”  Does not allow justices to consider context, the intent of the Constitution, contemporary circumstances, and the political and social effect of opinions. Also naively assumes that 250-year-old language is transparent, when clearly anyone attempting to channel the minds of the framers is herself interpreting. Interpretation is a speech act, and anyone reading anything is thus an “activist.”

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governance

rhetorical claim: Congress should do everything it can to dismantle government and eliminate regulation.Its mandate is not to use government to solve problems, but instead to treat government as the problem.

rhetorical effect: lets the private sector do whatever it wants, in effect making profit the sole government principle. Replaces a socially-oriented government–a public sphere– with a military-police operation.

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fashionable political statements

rhetorical claim: federal appeals judges blocking the travel ban are using fashionable political statements to undermine national security.and weaken America They should have no jurisdiction over national security judgement calls.

rhetorical effect: turns two of America’s greatest strengths–judicial review and the separation of powers–into a traitorous-sounding weakness.The GOP calls favorable judicial rulings “Constitutional originalism,” while unfavorable ones are demoted to being “political statements.” In what ways is the theory of original construction not a political statement in itself, since it is based on speculation, ideology and interpretation?

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messing with us

rhetorical claim: Trump has promised to make the U.S. armed forces “so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna mess with us.” Purity and patriotism carry the day.

rhetorical effect: Purity and patriotism carry the day. As Katrina vanden Huevel put it in the Washington Post:

The question is whether we will continue to mess with them. A military that can go anywhere and do anything is called on constantly to go somewhere and do something. The problem with endless wars without victory is that they must be ended without victory. The challenge for a true America First policy is to reduce the lives and resources squandered across the globe in order to rebuild at home. Trump’s budget submission omitted plans for his promised rebuilding of U.S. infrastructure. Clearly the military buildup took priority. And that buildup — along with the doubling down on current policies in Europe, the Middle East, Korea and the South China Sea — suggests that once more the bipartisan consensus of the United States as the “indispensable nation” on duty across the world will betray the promise to rebuild our country.

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, Feb 20-28, 2017

deconstructing the administrative state

rhetorical claim: The long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Critics of the administrative state — “the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live now,” as Scott Johnson, a conservative lawyer and co-founder of the Power Line blog, put it in 2014 — see it as unconstitutional because regulatory agencies make and enforce rules based on authority they claim was illegitimately ceded by Congress. Deconstruction actually means dismantle or destroy.

rhetorical effect: best described by E.J. Dionne:

this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.

It’s a very strange moment. Trump and Bannon are happy to expand the reach of the state when it comes to policing, immigration enforcement, executive-branch meddling in the work of investigative agencies, and the browbeating of individual companies that offend the president in one way or another. The parts of government they want to dismantle are those that stand on the side of citizens against powerful interests.

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ethnonationalism

rhetorical claim: “America First” means putting our economic and political interests ahead of the interests of the rest of the world

rhetorical effect: the end of multilateralism; the return to the zero-sum game of blood-and-soil xenophobia; narrow, tribal paranoia; brinksmanship and bellicosity. Creates an “us vs. them” rhetorical climate in which any internationalism is considered traitorous.

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freedom

rhetorical claim: according to Paul Ryan, “Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs.”

rhetorical effect: reduces the definition of freedom to economic activity (is freedom more than “the ability to buy”?); assumes that  people know their health “needs” even before they need substantive insurance, which will not exist under Trumpcare; does not address what happens to people who lack the ability to “buy what they want”, despite tax credits or medical savings accounts; in essence confuses (or “replaces”) “affordable” with “cheap”. Freedom to Paul Ryan is the right to get fleeced by insurance companies.

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hate crime laws

rhetorical claim: hate crime laws are designed to divide America, criminalize the Bible, and protect gay pedophiles.

rhetorical effect: criminalizes LGBT and directs all nationalistic anger and hostility at the LGBT community. Will eventually lead to the reversal of all discrimination laws.

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globalist covenant

rhetorical claim: those opposed to Trump’s travel ban see immigration law as a globalist covenant, not a mater of national sovereignty. They would open the immigrant floodgates, thus greatly threatening national security.

rhetorical effect: makes any multilateral p olicy suspect because it isn’t part of Trump’s “America First” economic nationalism. Makes it seem that foreign powers are dictating US immigration policies and practices, which certainly is not the case. “Globalist” has become one of the great pejoratives of Trump’s administration.

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lawyer-centered lawsuits

rhetorical claim: frivolous class-action lawsuits have long served as a revenue source for litigious attorneys, whose main interests are paydays, not their clients’ well-being. Class action suits have clogged the court system and cost billions in lost productivity. It’s time to make these suits  fairer in order to maximize recoveries by deserving victims and weed out unmeritorious claims that would otherwise siphon resources away from innocent parties.

rhetorical effect: in the name of “fairness,” severe limitation on all class action lawsuits, as explained here

Critics warn that proposed legislation designed to “reform” class action lawsuits, appears to be engineered to block consumers from joining together to pursue claims against corporations and big businesses. 

The legislation, H.R. 985, was introduced by Republicans in the House of Representatives on February 10, and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Known as the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017”, the bill seeks to add new requirements for plaintiffs attempting to bring a class action lawsuit, where they are seeking damages on behalf of a large number of individuals.

The proposed new requirements place the burden on plaintiffs to identify each class member, forbids class representatives from being a previous client of the class action lawyer, and prevents attorneys from being paid until all class members have been paid. In addition, each class member must prove they suffered the same “type and scope” of injury.

The bill would also require every class representative to describe the circumstances by which they were included in the complaint, and would force them to reveal any other class action lawsuits where they played a similar role.

The bill would not only affect class action lawsuits, but would impact multidistrict litigation (MDL) procedures as well, where similar lawsuits are consolidated for pretrial proceedings, yet are still considered individual claims. The bill would require every plaintiff to present evidence of injury before being allowed into the MDL, which may counter efforts by judges to streamline filing procedures and move the litigation forward efficiently.

Critics say that the bill’s measures are designed to be prohibitively restrictive, and will have a major effect on the ability of consumers to hold companies accountable for wrongdoing that results in damages for a number of individuals. For example, they note that proving the same type and scope of injury is almost impossible in discrimination cases and many similar claims. They also point out that prohibitions on being a previous client of the class lawyer more or less prevents class action lawsuits by investors, who may use the same attorney for investment lawsuits

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms, fake outrages and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, June 29-July 7, 2016

anti-trade: pro worker. As Paul Krugman argues, this is the the ultimate Trump sleight-of-hand, part of his phony populism:

No matter what we do on trade, America is going to be mainly a service economy for the foreseeable future. If we want to be a middle-class nation, we need policies that give service-sector workers the essentials of a middle-class life. This means guaranteed health insurance — Obamacare brought insurance to 20 million Americans, but Republicans want to repeal it and also take Medicare away from millions. It means the right of workers to organize and bargain for better wages — which all Republicans oppose. It means adequate support in retirement from Social Security — which Democrats want to expand, but Republicans want to cut and privatize.

Is Mr. Trump for any of these things? Not as far as anyone can tell. And it should go without saying that a populist agenda won’t be possible if we’re also pushing through a Trump-style tax plan, which would offer the top 1 percent huge tax cuts and add trillions to the national debt.

Sorry, but adding a bit of China-bashing to a fundamentally anti-labor agenda does no more to make you a friend of workers than eating a taco bowl does to make you a friend of Latinos.

debt: the key to success, according to Trump, the self-styled “Kine of Debt”. Apparently, though, US government debt and trade deficits are not OK, so Trump wants it both ways.

dishonest: what the media is whenever they claim Trump is lying. Thus, by definition, Trump is incapable of lying and the media is incapable of honesty–it’s all part of the “rigged” system.

Freddie-Franny Clintonite crowd: the crony capitalists who get rich by pushing sub-prime loans onto unsuspecting minority borrowers, and then bail each other out when the loans go belly-up. These were also the instigators of the 2008 market crash. To the Tea Party, anyone who advocates non-discriminatory loan practices for minorities falls into this category.

gradualism: Obama’s foreign policy; aka capitulation, disengagement, surrender, appeasement. The opposite of gradual is Trump’s threatened sudden and tumultuous changes to the world order.

pay-for-play: the Clinton way of governing, always maximizing privilege, power, and class.

political correctness run amok: lefty charges of Trump’s racism, sexism or anti-semitism  Even though Trump re-tweets these memes from proto-fascist and white supremacist websites, he’ll take the tweets down when criticized and then take credit for being such a steadfast champions of “the blacks,” the “Jews,” etc. This is a classic rhetorical ploy of innuendo and dog-whistle to his base–it’s all between the lines and has built-in plausible deniability. The fact that it keeps happening though, and that the material is always lifted from these heinous websites and web forums seems like proof that the Trump campaign knows exactly what it’s doing.

puritanical alarmism: any opposition to Trump. It’s called “puritanical” because liberals are characterized as being sanctimonious and hypocritical, pretending as they do to only noble, lofty ideals and censoring Trump for any of his foibles or failures. It’s called “alarmism” because Trump is not nearly the threat to civilization that they make him out to be. This works so well rhetorically because any criticism of Trump is deflected as being “alarmist”. It’s akin to calling Hillary “hysterical” whenever she speaks at all stridently about Trump.

race baiting: bringing up the subject of race, since racism is officially over in the US, according to the Supreme Court in Obergfell. Accusations of racism are the instinctive and cynical Dem response to any Tea Party candidate or policy. This rhetorical ploy turns any race-baiting Tea Partiers into the victim, and astonishingly talks about the GOP/Tea Party as the true home of Blacks and Hispanics, even though the party is against affirmative action, does everything it can to suppress minority voting rights, defends mass imprisonment of minorities and police violence against minorities. tries to get every social safety net program whenever possible, supports elitist white charter schools, etc. Here’s a typical counter-intuitive rant that turns the world upside down:

For too many years Republicans have acted helpless in the face of Democrats scapegoating us as racist.  Because we are then rejected by blacks, we allow Dems to claim that we are against blacks.  In reality, it is our values and our policies that would benefit blacks, while Democrat policies destroy them.  Blacks who join Republican or Tea Party ranks are welcomed with almost delirious enthusiasm.  We would love blacks to join us in our defense of freedom and prosperity for all, but scapegoating works.  We have let ourselves be marginalized as racists.

reckless: crooked Hillary has also become reckless Hillary, lacking the judgement to be President. Thus the Clinton Derangement Syndrome makes yet another pivot, as explained in the Financial Times:

Clinton scandals never end. They continue long after their purported original sin is forgotten and multiple investigations prove that there was nothing much there to begin with. We are still talking about the Vince Foster scandal, the allegation that the Clintons murdered their aide in 1993. That scandal is now into a third decade of groundless innuendo.

The email inquiry is a perfect example of this scandal-industrial complex and its capacity for perpetual motion.

resilience: deregulation, particularly in the financial sector. A resilient, robust economy releases the animal spirits, the unseen hand of the market–constraints removed, Atlas Unchained!

rights: constitutional rights, not human rights. Constitutional rights, like the right to bear arms, or the right to do whatever you want in the name of your religion,  are sacred, whereas human rights, like the right to health care, or the right to be free from discrimination, are not.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms, fake outrages and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, June 9-21, 2016

divorced from reality: Obama and Clinton, especially in their failure to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism”. “Reality” in this case is solely defined by the Tea Party/GOP, so any position antithetical to theirs is “divorced”–that is estranged–from reality.

global warming: an environmental scare campaign.

government tribunal: any rubber-stamping federal agency regime which holds a Sword of Damocles over capitalism, free enterprise and individual rights.

guilty until proven innocent: Hillary Clinton, Muslims.

multiculturalism: a twisted ideology, a sickness, a form of mass delusion, leading to the acceptance of terrorism.

Muslims: blood-cult monsters; the Aztecs of the Internet.

orthodoxy: any politically-correct Dem position, such as “climate change”, inequality, “the GOP war against women”, etc. These are all fictions,  confected for maximum political effect, full of empty calories, false promises, and faulty premises.

public sector: the chief role of the public sector is to produce wealth for the private sector. This is best done by lowering taxes, ending government regulation, and ending judicial interference in the private sector (aka, “tort reform”). To the Dems, the only role of the private sector is to produce wealth for the public sector.

rammed through (or snuck by): what the Dems have to do to win court decisions–either stack the courts or use subterfuge to fool gullible or inattentive judges.

real Americans: Trump and Romney supporters. Romney’s 47% aren’t genuine Americans, but social parasites not worthy of full citizenship.

there’s something going on: ban Muslims, period. Somebody needs to look into this.