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, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Feb 13-19, 2017

back to basics

rhetorical claim: when it comes to climate change, getting away from so-called “climate change” science to simply reducing pollution, on a voluntary basis.

rhetorical effect: removes objective data from the “discussion” about environmental regulation–in other words, turns evidence-based policy debates into matters of opinion. In such a case, the “basics” are always subordinated to economic growth

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cooperative federal-state relationships

rhetorical claim: turning environmental regulation, education, labor laws, Medicare and other programs over to the states will put the states and federal government into an equal partnership, rather than the feds’ command and control stranglehold.

rhetorical effect: removes federal oversight, allowing states to starve programs and policies they don’t like. At best, this will constitute  benign neglect of the letter and spirit of federal laws.

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racial civil rights

rhetorical claim:  pc identity politics that turns race into divisiveness and hatred.

rhetorical effect: by characterizing any civil rights argument as prejudiced, stigmatizes the very act of making racial distinctions.

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racism

rhetorical claim: a hypothesis to be explored, not a fact beyond dispute.

rhetorical effect: see “racial civil rights”, above

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predictable insurance markets

rhetorical claim: health insurance will be unaffordable until the market is deregulated so insurers can operate it in stable, predictable markets and not be subject to the whims of federal bureaucrats.

rhetorical effect: the only things predictable in this scenario are ever-higher higher rates for ever-skimpier and restrictive coverage.

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Alinski tactics

rhetorical claim: the media’s barrage of fake news and anti-Trump hysteria is wearing out its welcome with the American people. The media is turning into a 24/7 pile up accident.This technique of personalizing, polarizing and vilifying your opponent into submission is borrowed directly from socialist “community organizer” Saul Alinski.

rhetorical effect: turns dissent and political activism into smears, which by definition are dishonest and calculating. Part of Trump’s strategy is to turn everything into a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. Thus there is no problem with breaking every norm and tradition and govern by any means necessary. Turns lying into a rhetorical strategy, as explained by John Podesta:

We now see a toxic overlap between sensationalist politics and media manipulation. Each presidential stroke of bombast plunges the media, the administration and the public into a frenzied scramble for the truth, with the phrase “fake news” nonchalantly thrown around, adding a heaping spoonful of cynicism to the whole mess. These episodes distort our understanding of reality and put us in danger of experiencing an information void like Russia.

If Trump succeeds, something fundamental will be lost. Russians hear something on TV and assume it’s a lie. That attitude of reflexive cynicism makes it impossible to know the death toll from an industrial accident or a terrorist incident, or the risk to their kids of drinking the water, or even the results of the last election. It ruins everything.

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sleeper cells

rhetorical claim: according to Breitbart,

Many other potential Yateses—holdovers from the Obama administration who have found their way into spots throughout the Trump administration—await throughout government.

“They’re hiding like sleeper cells everywhere,” one source said.

White House and other government sources say there are as many as 50 of them throughout government, and Priebus has full knowledge of their whereabouts, who they are, and what potential for damage they may cause. He is not doing anything about it, these sources add.

rhetorical effect: career federal workers’ civil service protection could be endangered if they are likened to terrorists.

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restoring science to its rightful place

rhetorical claim: EPA diktats are based on junk science that cherry-picks the “facts”, relies on biased, subjective “modeling,” and has many detractors.  The EPA is less a government bureau than a secular church enforcing the dogmas of climate change. Science’s rightful place  is not to politicize and distort the facts, but just  to report them objectively.

rhetorical effect: makes all scientific research seem arbitrary and relative; creates cynicism toward all refereed publications; makes the “facts” opinion-based rather than evidence, in which case the only opinion that matters is that of the energy industry.

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street-based progressives

rhetorical claim: hysterical demonstrators, calling themselves the resistance, react to any Trump initiative as fascist or racist.

rhetorical effect: equates progressivism with violence and reaction, and makes anti-Trump demonstrators sound like hooligan armies of anarchy let loose in the streets.

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the dignity of the Office of President

rhetorical claim: according to Kellyanne Conway, media coverage of Trump lacks “respect for and recognition of the dignity for the Office of the President.”

rhetorical effect:  likens any dissent to a personal attack on Trump’s character. “Respect” and “dignity” are master rhetorical tropes encompassing society’s deepest values, so any attack on Trump is framed as an attempt to undermine the country. It’s hard to equate master-tweeter Trump with any notion of dignity as he disgraces the Presidency daily.

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financial independence

rhetorical claim: in June, the House Financial Services Committee released a proposed bill to dismantle the DFA and reform the CFPB. Titled the Financial CHOICE Act and introduced by Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling, the bill aims to replace the DFA and restructure the CFPB. In his statement at the release of the Bill, Hensarling asserted his opinion that the DFA was “a grave mistake” that “has failed.” The proposed Financial “Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs” (CHOICE) Act is intended to empower Americans to achieve greater financial growth “with real reforms that work.” Most significantly, the Bill changes many of the provisions that now enable the CFPB:

  • The new organization would get a new name, the Consumer Financial Opportunity Commission, or the CFOC.
  • The fundamental mission of the Bureau would change, with the addition of facilitating competitive markets along with assuring consumer protections.
  • The Office of Economic Analysis would perform a cost-benefit analysis of proposed agency rules before their adoption and implementation.

rhetorical effect: by substituting “opportunity” for “protection,” this becomes a right-to-be-fleeced agency, and would make it impossible to even gather consumer fraud information, according to The Washington Post.

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moving on

rhetorical claim: now that General Flynn has resigned, the nation needs to “move on” to more pressing matters.

rhetorical effect: exactly what didn’t happen in Watergate, despite Nixon’s best efforts to demote it to a “two-bit break-in.” Not denying the facts, but twisting and trivializing them has the effect of confusing the public, changing the subject, and making critics sound hectoring and vindictive.

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, Jan. 18-23, 2017

everybody will have insurance


rhetorical claim: everyone will have healthier insurance that is better and cheaper than anything offered in Obamacare. When insurance can be sold avross state borders and deregulated, consumers will have more choice.

rhetorical effect: it all depends on what you mean by “everybody”, “have,” “choice” and “insurance.” The GOP seems to mean “the opportunity to have access” to coverage  rather than a guarantee of coverage; available rather than affordable coverage, and greatly restricted Medicaid coverage with ultra-high deductibles. These hedges and obfuscations only insure that most Americans now covered under the ACA will be pole-axed  by medical bills because their cut-rate “choice”  won’t cover any major medical bills. As a NY Times editorial puts it:

It is hard to argue against choice. But in the ideological world inhabited by Mr. Price, House Speaker Paul Ryan and many other Republicans, choice is often a euphemism for scrapping sensible regulations that protect people.

Some Americans might well be tempted by this far-right approach. They would have to pay less up front for these skeletal policies than they do now for comprehensive coverage. But over time, when people need health care to recover from accidents, treat diabetes, have a baby or battle addiction, they will be hit by overwhelming bills. The Trump administration seems perfectly willing to sell those people down the river with false promises.

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free trade

rhetorical claim: trade is a zero-sum game, not an exchange of mutual benefit, and running a trade deficit is a sign of economic failure.

rhetorical effect: tariffs and other trade barriers and protectionist measures; inflation; mercantilism; trade wars with China, Mexico, Japan and others.

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anecdotes

rhetorical claim: Republicans offer the facts but not enough examples, whereas the Dems only offer anecdotes because the facts are against them on every single issue. For example, when it comes to the ACA, the Dems are only going to offer anecdotes about people dying if they lose their coverage, whereas the fact is that Obamacare is woefully undersubscribed because it’s a bad deal for young, healthy people. We have to get away from the ttranny of the anecdote.

rhetorical effect: makes all accounts of the effects of Trump-era cutbacks sound disingenuous and misleading. Assumes the GOP has cornered the market on facts, the Dems on colorful, woe-is-me fictions. Turns Trump critics into “outrage mongers.”

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high corporate taxes

rhetorical claim: America has the highest corporate tax rate  (39%) in the world, making  it impossible for US businesses to compete globally.

rhetorical effect: obscures that fact that the effective US corporate tax rate–what US businesses actually pay after deductions and amortizing–is only 14%.

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conflicts of interest

rhetorical claim: the media’s hysteria over so-called conflicts of interest among Trump and his appointees has reached a fever pitch, mistaking the appearance of an ethical lapse with an actual ethical lapse. It’s all based on sanctimony, jealousy and resentment. The reign of the aphid-like Beltway liberals, lawyers, lobbyists and journalists who make a living telling others how to live their lives is now over.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to criticize any Trump policies or people for ethical lapses without appearing to be a jealous scold or hypocrite, Erases the notion of conflict of interest because economic prosperity is now America’s  primary interest, so anyone prospering by definition has no conflict of interest. Ethics are merely an interpretive “gotcha” parlor game.

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ethnonationalism

rhetorical claim: Economic patriotism and ethnonationalism, personified by Trump, seem everywhere ascendant. Transnationalism is yielding to tribalism.

rhetorical effect: privileges “America first” sentiments and white supremacy; tariffs and trade wars; militarism; racial hatred and intolerance; protectionism and isolationism.

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social and political preoccupations

rhetorical claim: Obama and the Dems always put social and political preoccupations ahead of economic growth. Trump will restore growth as the lodestone of national progress. Business investment will be unleashed from the dead hand of over-regulation.

rhetorical effect: Economic might makes right, and crowds out or nullifies consideration of most rights. As long as GDP grows at least 3%, no one will care much about civil rights, voting rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, womens’ reproductive health, equal pay for equal work, workplace safety, environmental regulation, minimum wage, police violence, mass incarceration of African-Americans, etc.

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up-from-poverty agenda

rhetorical claim: Trump can control the narrative and upend enemy rhetoric by bringing African-Americans up from poverty through economic prosperity, a tough new doctrine of individual responsibility, and the elimination of the social safety net. Responsibility will come to be seen as the most important component of equality.

rhetorical effect: if there is still poverty at the end of Trump’s first term, it will be due to  minority laziness, self-pity, and drug use. Assumes the economic playing field is level, that everyone is getting the same head start, and that inequality is inevitable and shouldn’t be a part of the political-economic discourse, which will no longer even mention dead ideas such as The War on Poverty, the Great Society, affirmative action, or political correctness.

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static idealism

rhetorical claim: liberals’ intransigent belief in principles and ideals –“equality” in which injustice is anything less than perfect parity between all people; “diversity” that is color-coded and optically correct; stressless “spaces” of social and moral perfection, etc–that crowd out contingency,  choice, opportunity, innovation, and free markets.

rhetorical effect: masks the unyielding ideology of the right in the name of freedom, choice, and opportunity, and makes idealism seem naive, rigid, and stultifying.

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stopgap liberalism

rhetorical claim: The War on Poverty, the Great Society, affirmative action, political correctness—all this failure reveals a stopgap liberalism of expedience that sought only the fastest route back to moral authority and thus to power. Beyond this it was all dreams and self-congratulation.

rhetorical effect: liberalism is equated with expediency, the will to power and self-congratulation. Stripped of its idealism and moral compass, it becomes mere cynicism and opportunism, worthy of contempt. Conservatism thus becomes the only principled approach to public life.

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the rule of law

rhetorical claim: Obama’s big government, redistributionist policies favored environmentalist causes over economic growth. He disregarded the rule of law, distrusted markets, disregarded property rights, and was obsessed with economic equality over liberty.

rhetorical effect: opens up the carbon, extraction economy for unfettered development, all in the name of growth. Environmental degradation becomes synonymous with liberty, property rights, the rule of law and free markets

 

 

Lies, Distortions and Doublethink in the Wall Street Journal, Jan 17, 2017

doublethink: the ability to hold two contradictory opinions at the same time about the same question, remaining untroubled by the contradiction and expressing one opinion or the other as the convenience of the Party requires it. It is defined in Part II, Chapter IX of 1984, in the extract from “the Book” written supposedly by the Party heretic Goldstein. It enables Party members to constantly deceive themselves and others while at the same time remaining convinced that everything they say — even when it is contradictory — is the exact truth. For instance, the Party defies every principle that originally defined socialism, but still maintains that it upholds the only true socialism. Doublethink allows Party members to be fighting one enemy on Monday and another on Tuesday, but to believe and proclaim that their enemy of Tuesday has been their enemy not only on Monday but for all time — and to switch back again on Wednesday without any qualms. It is an enormously flexible system of rearranging reality to avoid contradictions, its main weakness being the tendency it has to detach its practitioners from concrete reality. “The greater the understanding, the greater the delusion.”

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Roe v. Wade has corrupted American politics because it enshrined the personal preferences of unelected justices into law, by-passing the will of the people and the democratic process. Those who do not believe in the sanctity of life are the real extremists. Human rights are best preserved by taking away women’s reproductive rights?

Payday lenders wouldn’t make risky loans if it didn’t make good business sense–there is no need for government regulation of that industry. Should we just leave to to the Darwinism of the free market to pick winners and losers?

Liberal animal rights groups destroyed the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey circus with frivolous lawsuits.

The Obama administration was the most scandalous in US history. Just think: Hillary’s e-mails, Benghazi, the IRS, Operation Fast and Furious,  hacking and data breaches, the continued deterioration of the VA, Solyndra, Bowe Bergdahl, executive orders, etc. Even though no one has even been charged with any crimes in these cases, they still are called scandalous?

The best way to reign in the Chinese is to challenge the “one China” policy. Antagonizing China is the best path to containment?

Lies, Distortions and Doublethink in the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14, 2017

  • The Obama years show liberalism to be exhausted, its ideas out of date and its advocates living in an imagined past. Compare this to Martin Luther King’s 1955 evocation of the eternal verities of charity, justice, tolerance, open-mindedness, and dignity:

And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. . . . If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.

And we are determined . . . to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

  • Trump represent a shift away from the self-serving ways of Washington.
  • Business is a model of efficiency for government. Privatization is the key to economic success.
  • Betsy DeVos’s only sin is caring too much about helping poor kids escape the public schools. The nasty campaign against her reeks of political desperation as public school teachers try to save their doomed jobs.
  • Afro Americans should have completely rejected Obama because he did more to keep them in poverty and a state of hostility toward dominant white culture than any other President. The only reason they voted for him was because he appeared to them as a good man, taking care of his family.
  • The “deplorables” aren’t so bad, once you get to know them. They’re great for talking about wrenches, football, and Chick-fil-A.
  • Trump has at times lead an indecorous life, but his indiscretions don’t matter so long as he delivers economic growth and defeats  ISIS.

 

 

Lies, Distortions and Doublethink, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 12-13,2017

The only defense against the dishonest media fake news and libel is litigation. In other words, the only way to guarantee a free press is to suppress and criminalize it.

Progressives, unable to govern or win elections, have created the current climate of political distrust and fake news by using the IRS to punish political opponents, phony prosecutions to punish and smear critics, send in political shock troops to threaten corporations, and engage in all forms of character assassination. The Dems are the true dumpster divers for dossiers.

The Dem opposition research “dossier” was “foisted” into the hands of the intelligence community.

The Obama Justice Department’s primary aim was to threaten political opponents and turn a blind eye to liberal abuse.

The Senate should conform Rex Tillerson because he can temper Donald trump’s frenzies.

The Russians did us a favor by hacking our election because they revealed the depths of Dem perfidy.

The real connection with Russia is to Obama, not Trump. It was Obama who stood aside as Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, and established a foothold in the Middle East.

 

Lies, Distortions and Doublethink in The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10-11, 2017

Obama’s emphasis on income equality killed economic growth during his presidency and only produced more inequality. In other words, fighting inequality only leads to more inequality, in the same way that crying “racism” only leads to more racism.

Obama’s primary economic aim was to lure more people out of the workforce via increased entitlements, subsidies, and disincentives to work. Only an incentive-based economy can produce sustained economic growth.

Meryl Streep’s Trump thumping at the Golden Globes only amounted to the usual Dem sneers: the preening, the ritual invocation of victimhood, the belittling of working-class tastes, the idea that no right-thinking person might have a different view of this election. There is no truth to her claim that Trump mocked a NY Times reporter because Trump has often used the same hand gestures to criticize others. This absurd defense of course overlooks his tome of voice and his personal animus against the reporter who dared to criticize Trump.

Climate science has contributed very little to the understanding of climate change.

Obama’s Russian “reset” is the cause of Exxon’s Russian oil stake.

Right-to-work laws are pro-union because they lead to more jobs.

Trump’s cabinet has few women and minorities because it was picked on the basis of merit, not identity politics.

80% of police stops should be of young black males because they are eight times as likely to commit a crime than whites.

Democrats represent America’s elites, not Republicans.