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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms, fake outrages, and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, October 8-19, 2015

beating up: regulating (the drug companies, the banks, etc.)

big government: any government.

cost-benefit tradeoffs: any regulation that incurs any costs nullifies its supposed benefits. This analysis always overestimates the costs and understates or underestimates or ignores the benefits. For example, clean air is not a calculable benefit.

culture-war leftists: any Dem who wants to play the race card, the war-on-women card, the gun control etc. Any issue that threatens the Tea Party is called part of “the culture war,” and thus intended to be “taken off the table.”

economic know- nothings: anyone who wants to regulate the free market, the banks, the insurance companies, Big Pharm, etc. Also, anyone who wants to raise taxes on the rich.

House leader: a Speaker who takes directions from the Freedom Caucus. More of a follower than a leader.

inequality: solely caused by the successes of our millionaires and billionaires. A temporary condition caused by hard work and entrepreneurial guile. Anyone shouting “inequality” simply disrespects success.

Pander bears: Dems offering the poor “free stuff”.

personal responsibility: blaming the government. The more vociferously someone goes on about “personal responsibility,” the more that obsessively that person blames government for all the country’s woes.

Presidential veto: a frustration

the rich: the middle class–the ones Dems really want to tax.

utopianism:  any species of idealism. Since inequality, poverty, war, and guns will never go away, attempts to regulate them or ameliorate their impact are delusional and naive.

Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, phrases, canards, shibboleths and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOTP language factories, Dec. 29, 2014-Jan 6, 2015

note: GOTP=Grand Old Tea Party

adherence to the rule of law: like “Constitutional originalism” or “American exceptionalism,” this is a GOTP appeal to so-called natural law.  By definition, any GOTP law or policy is orderly and supportive of “common sense” values, whereas any Dem law or policy is by definition unruly, irrational, and socially destructive. Just another instance of “how the GOTP saved civilization” rhetoric.

balancing : lip-service phrase for seeming to compromise when you actually have no intention. Somehow, the “balance” always seems to tip in favor of the GOTP. For example, fracking proponents argue that they are willing to “balance” (or “take into account”–another weasle phrase) their position against “environmental concerns.” But they always have their finger on the scale: when the “balancing” is done, the fix is in.

first principles: GOTP bedrock: Constitutional originalism (always “strictly adhered to”), limiting the federal government, and protecting individual liberties. Dems, by contrast, don’t have “principles” so much as “dogmas” or “ideologies”. GOTP “first principles” serve “the people,” whereas Dem policies serve “cronies and special interests.”

gridlock is a good thing: only GOTP Congress members–people with government jobs, being paid with taxpayer money–has the audacity to say that Washington gridlock is a good thing because it means no governmental acts are taking place.  Using their usual form of reverse English, where everything means its opposite, their highest principles are thus realized when they get paid for doing nothing.

judicial engagement:  when the GOTP agrees with court decisions; judicial “activism”, on the other hand, is when courts implement Dem laws & policies, or overturn GOTP laws & policies,. (see “adherence to the rule of law,” above)

malign: what libs do when they criticize the police.

market-driven and patient-centered: the paradox at the heart of the GOTP’s Obamacare alternatives. This mythical creature could also be called a griffin, minotaur or dragon: pure fantasy. As if anything that is purely “market driven” can be anything other than that.

mob: any public gathering opposing GOTP policies or positions. Sometimes, in a nifty bit of thinly-veiled racism, it’s called a “lynch-mob mentality”. When Teabaggers gather, it’s simply called a “crowd.”

self-government: since any government is axiomatically nothing but “meddlesome,” it’s useful for the GOTP to enforce this dichomy netween “free people” somehow governing themselves, and “Washington — its officeholders-for-life, its strangling bureaucratic sprawl, its incestuous network of staffers and lobbyists, its naked cronyism, and its invested media.” Apparently, every person is to be a government of one; radical self-reliance without any mitigating mutuality; freedom without responsibility.

the time for debate is over: what either side says when they are losing the argument.


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 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, innuendos, and metanarratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, July 7-July 13, 2014.]

actual: the Reality Principle, represented by GOP positions. For example, there is said to be no proof of man’s “actual” contribution to climate change.

barnacled leviathan state: government as Moby-Dick.

the benefits of market cycles: never measured relative to the costs or imbalances.

complexities and ambiguities: invoked only to undercut a Dem policy provision, this classic tactical rhetorical turn justifies a haze of statistics, half-truths, and faculty causal links and associations. The end effect of this technique is to show that a liberal policy or position is either groundless (e.g., there is no global warming caused by human behavior), or dangerous because it it only makes things worse ( e.g., redistributionist social policy increases poverty and dependency, higher taxes increase deficits, or regulation of the market only makes the market more inefficient).

disparaging of the successful: the war on the rich, based on the envy of the takers at the success of the makers.

doom-mongering: what Dems resort to when defining social issues; basically, any assessment of any but the rosiest future for an unfettered America. Not a problem when the GOP starts talking about the sense of “besiegment and foreboding” the Obama administration has caused in “normal” people.

dynamism of American enterprise: only unleashed by the removal of government regulation. Government here is by definition the opposite of dynamic.

fear and peril: what “normal” Americans are feeling as the cumulative impact of the Obama administration; a sense of “besiegement and foreboding”.

foisted: how Dem legislation is imposed on the American people.

the fumes of greatness: what we’re said to be huffing in this era of American decline under Obama. Afaded glory, a nostalgia for a lost utopia that never was.

green handouts: (cronyism): any government subsidy of alternative energy companies or technologies.

liturgy: standard Dem screeds. Actually, any Dem policy position, here characterized as a rote, ritualistic form of supplication.

normal people:everyone who doesn’t support Obama. Part of the long-standing attempt to villify the Dems as “other”: weird, elitist, and self-serving.

preach: what Dems use their “liturgy” in support of. All Dem positions are thus a moralistic defense of  rigid ideology or faith.

predictable: the inevitable failure of Dem policies. For example, it is predictable that any market regulation will strangle the market, that anti-poverty programs increase poverty, and that government spending starves the economy.

“the rich”:a mythical entity conjured up the the Left to fire up “normal” people into class warfare.Best used in fright quotes.

self-correcting and self-immunizing: the free market, here characterized as a kind of perpetual motion machine.

unserious: the feckless, golf-crazy Obama, when he isn’t plotting a socialist takeover of the entire US economy.

subsidy and mandate: the only way progressive social policy can operate, thus guaranteeing it’s “predictable” demise.