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, Sept. 16-24, 2017.

de facto eugenics

rhetorical claim: abortion rights are inseparable from Dem shibboleths such as women’s rights and economic and racial justice. But is it really racial justice to practice de facto eugenics by advocating abortion as an essential “right” for minority women?

rhetorical effect: likens a woman’s right to choose to murder, and undermines any calls for racial justice or equal rights.

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taxes on the poor

rhetorical claim: social “safety net” programs (such as Obamacare), assumed by the Dems to help the poor, actually hold the poor back and impose an unfair tax burden on them. Obamacare substitutes  the government’s political preferences for individual judgment, and forces the poor to pay for benefits they don;t want or need,

rhetorical effect: turns the argument inside out by blaming poverty on the government. By this logic, the quickest way to prosperity for all is no social safety net, and the imposition of a “pure market economy” (see below). As usual, the best way to understand the rhetorical effect of a GOP claim to help the poor is to “follow the money” in the sense of seeing what this argument justifies–in this case, repealing Obamacare and taking millions of poor people off Medicaid.

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tremendous business potential

rhetorical claim: Addressing African leaders at the UN, Trump said:

Africa has tremendous business potential, I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets. … It’s really become a place they have to go, that they want to go.

rhetorical effect: “congratulates” Africa for its neo-colonial status as a place to be plundered and exploited by Americans; makes business potential the sole criteria for national success. In a section on the African economy titled ‘Why Has Africa Failed To industrialist?‘, the UN’s own website sums up the West’s – i.e. Trump’s friends’ – approach to the continent, using a book by Ha-Joon Chang to illustrate the perspective.

In the book, “Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” Mr. Chang, whom The Financial Times describes as “probably the world’s most effective critic of globalization,” argues that rich countries have historically relied on protectionist approaches in their quests for economic dominance.

In its review of the book, The Publishers Weekly, a US-based news magazine on book publishing, says rich nations that “preach free market and free trade to the poor countries in order to capture larger shares of the latter’s markets and to pre-empt the emergence of possible competitors are Chang’s bad Samaritans.”

So it’s probably not something to brag about, particularly as leader of the world’s capitalist powerhouse.

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sovereignty

rhetorical claim: in his “America First” UN speech, Trump made national sovereignty the core criteria for foreign policy.  Stressing self-reliance, as the National Review put it,

Trump sees the norm-based international order not as an end in itself but as a very high-order means by which the United States, and other democracies, defend their own safety and sovereign rights. That means he values the global system but is willing to accept or even create stress on it where necessary to protect important American interests.

rhetorical effect: as Gail Collins put it, ” it was a little like going to the first meeting of the PTA and repeatedly pointing out that you only care about your own kid.” This lone wolfism promotes the opposite of collective security– a Hobbesian (“the war of all against all”) , every-country-for-itself world (best expressed by E. J. Dionne:

The notion that “sovereignty” is in such danger that it demanded 21 mentions is absurd. No member state at the United Nations rejects national sovereignty, and many use it as a cover for dismissing the values of democracy and human rights, casting both as the impositions of outsiders.

No wonder Trump won applause when he said that “you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.” Selfishness is popular. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping no doubt nodded approvingly when they were briefed about Trump’s words.

But Trump was so selective and inconsistent in his application of sovereignty that the concept itself had collapsed before he finished. If sovereignty is the highest principle, what justification does he have for threatening to destroy North Korea (which asserts its sovereign right to nuclear weapons)?

Trump’s world is a stark state of nature.

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principled realism

rhetorical claim: the Trump Doctrine–“principled realism”–combines resolve, national sovereignty and a principle of peace through strength.

rhetorical effect: ennobles bullying, swagger and threat into a “principle.” In foreign policy circles, “realism” used to mean non-ideological countervailing forces, diplomacy, and trade-offs, but now the only “realism” seems to mean “whatever America wants” .

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widely-discredited

rhetorical claim: the Steele dossier has been widely discredited, and is probably an FBI plant.

rhetorical effect: proves that a well-coordinated GOP talking point can take the place of reality and become its own reality, turning the Trumpian colluders into the victims. In this case, a few incorrect facts in the dossier are used to discredit the entire document, even though the vast bulk of it has been upheld by subsequent disclosures. In such a case, “widely” refers only to GOP echo chambers, and “discredited” means denied but not refuted. In their furious attempt to make the dossier itself the smoking gun in a Democratic conspiracy to rig the election, the GOP has turned reality upside down and inside out.

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populism

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is a great populist because he represents the will of real Americans, stands up to the elites, and is draining the swamp in Washington.

rhetorical effect: moralistic populist logic turns anyone opposed to Trump into an enemy of the people, since Trump represents 100% of the people–any opposition is thus immoral, corrupt and illegitimate, and even any negative poll or voting outcome is “rigged” or fake news. As Jan-Werner Muller puts it in his important book What Is Populism?

populism is always an exclusionary form of identity politics that is a danger to democracy…the idea of a single, homogeneous authentic people is a fantasy.

Even though they speak the language of democratic values, political populists will only be happy when their opponents are excluded. Opposition members are not considered proper members of the political community. Populists such as Trump have always already been the spokespersons of the real people, and anyone opposed to Trump simply doesn’t want America to be Great. Populists lay claim to exclusive moral representation of American values, so they cannot be proven wrong.

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irresponsible policies

rhetorical claim: Dem social policies create dependency, irresponsibility, and a sense of entitlement. The welfare queen porch monkeys need to get off their butts, get off welfare, and get a job. Uncle Sam is your uncle, not your sugar daddy. As the Tea Party placard put it, “redistribute my work ethic.”

rhetorical effect: since the policies most often denounced as irresponsible always benefit the worst off, by definition anything that helps the poor actually hurts them.

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direct representation

rhetorical claim: Trump’s tweets directly represent the will of the people, so he should not be vetted or restrained in making them.

rhetorical effect: makes it conceivable to have a representative democracy without  the majority being represented.

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discriminatory legalism

rhetorical claim: not everyone is entitled to full protection under the law. For example, those who would undermine America, or are working actively against the people– criminals, illegal immigrants, suspected terrorists, Leftist thugs–should be harshly treated. Above the law stands the good of the nation.

rhetorical effect: translation: “for my friends, everything, for my enemies, the law.” The decline of the rule of law goes hand in hand with a lack of democratic accountability.

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pure market economy

rhetorical claim: in a pure market economy, regulations wouldn’t exist, so any economic slowdown is the fault of regulation. Only free markets and limited government bring economic efficiency and clarity, and only the free market has the right to guide our civilization.

rhetorical effect: assumes that free markets are a fixed law of nature, so opposing them is unnatural or perverse. Government itself is framed as perverse because the only thing between us and permanent economic prosperity is government regulation. Also assumes that markets are “perfect” when left alone, because they self-regulate.

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the New Segregation

rhetorical claim: coffee shops and restaurants displaying virtue-signalling ‘”All Are Welcome” signs are engaging in the New Segregation, as explained by the PJ Media website:

Let me interpret that for you, you low IQ dunce. These signs are to let you know, you hateful lover of law and order and restraint and decorum, that you are not welcome here. Contrary to “all are welcome,” you will notice that one group is decidedly missing. You. You think abortion is murder, so you don’t “stand with women,” even though half of those babies being killed are girls. You favor legal immigration, so you don’t “stand with immigrants,” which means allowing anyone including ISIS to just sally over the border willy-nilly as they please. You believe in traditional marriage and that children should not be denied a mother and father and so you do not “stand with the LGBTQWTF” crowd, even if you have no ill will toward them. Just the fact that you believe children have a right to their biological parents makes you a “hater.” You believe in biology and know that chromosomes don’t change because you want them to. This makes you “anti-science.”

You who believe that Black Lives Matter burning down cities and hurting people resembles domestic terror activities means you don’t like black people and so you can’t get a latte in this establishment, you cretin! And Allah forbid you should not believe the rallying cry that Islam is a “religion of peace,” even though it is drenched in the fresh blood of the infidel daily. YOU do not stand with “all” religions and so you are not welcome to do business with the super virtuous people inside this establishment. This establishment wants you to know they stand with “Our Community” and not yours. Got it?

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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, Sept. 11-15, 2017.

The abuse of power becoming the reversal of truth edition. Lots of Karl Rove (and Lewis Carroll) inspired, up-is-down reversals this week: voters should be subject to greater legal scrutiny than gun owners; globalism is a greater hate crime than Nazism; tax cuts are not a boon to the rich but an economic miracle for everyone; the alt-right perpetrators of hate speech are themselves the victims of hate speech; inequality amelioration only leads to more inequality, and consumer protection only leads to increased consumer risk.

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e-Verify

rhetorical claim: Trump should not only hold firm on eliminating DACA, but require e-Verify for all employees, all welfare recipients, and all voters.

rhetorical effect: converts Trumpinistas who supposedly loathe government into promoters of the most radical government intrusion into private lives ever.  Would basically disenfranchise millions of minority voters, throw minorities out of work, and end the social safety net. Would be a giant step toward a police state, where people no longer have the right to have rights.

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economic hate crimes

rhetorical claim: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon told Charlie Rose that elites on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Washington, DC, have committed an “economic hate crime” against working-class Americans by eviscerating the country’s industrial base. (see The American System, below)

rhetorical effect: turns the tables on the Charlottesville rhetoric about white supremacists by calling the anti-Trump  forces the haters, while also neatly putting them all in the same category: enemies of the people.

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3% growth norm

rhetorical claim: as Phil Gramm argues in the WSJ:

A tidal wave of new rules and regulations across health care, financial services, energy and manufacturing forced companies to spend billions on new capital and labor that served government and not consumers. Banks hired compliance officers rather than loan officers. Energy companies spent billions on environmental compliance costs, and none of it produced energy more cheaply or abundantly. Health-insurance premiums skyrocketed but with no additional benefit to the vast majority of covered workers.

…By waiving work requirements for welfare, lowering food-stamp eligibility requirements and easing standards for disability payments, Mr. Obama’s policies disincentivized work. Disability rolls have expanded 18.6% during the current recovery, compared with a 16% decline during the Reagan recovery. The CBO estimates ObamaCare alone will reduce work hours by 2% and eliminate 2.5 million jobs by 2024. At the current 1% growth in the civilian population above the age of 16, a mere reversion to the pre-Obama labor-force participation rates would supply more than enough workers to generate a 3% growth rate.

rhetorical effect: economic arrogance; belief  that tax cutting and deregulation are economic wonder drugs; maintains the illusion that economic growth can occur under Trump when all evidence points to the contrary, as explained in Business Insider:

“Six months into President Trump’s administration, there have been no signature legislative accomplishments, health care repeal appears stalled, tax reform has yet to show any public signs of progress, there is a seemingly constant barrage of investigation headlines, presidential pardoning power is a topic of conversation among real and imagined legal scholars, and the window for acting on the GOP’s legislative agenda is closing. With a quarter of the 115th Congress already elapsed, there has been no tangible evidence that the GOP is capable of legislating in a meaningful manner as nearly half of the bills signed into law thus far have either reversed Obama-era regulations or dealt with relatively minor matters

The International Monetary Fund has sharply revised its forecast for US economic growth in a direct indictment of President Donald Trump’s lack of action on promised policy changes.

The IMF downgraded its forecast for US gross-domestic-product growth to just 2.1% this year, down from 2.3%, and it also cut its 2018 estimate to 2.1% from 2.5%.

That revision is especially striking since it matched cuts not seen anywhere in the world other than two major emerging economies facing deep political crises — Brazil and South Africa.

The IMF’s chief economist, Maurice Obstfeld, said in a blog post that its “most important downgrade is the United States.”

“Near-term U.S. fiscal policy looks less likely to be expansionary than we believed in April,” he adds.

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seductive Antifa violence

rhetorical claim: The danger posed by the extreme hard left is about the future. Leaders of tomorrow are being educated today on campus. The tolerance for censorship and even violence to suppress dissenting voices may be a foretaste of things to come. The growing influence of “intersectionality”—which creates alliances among “oppressed” groups—has led to a strange acceptance by much of the extreme left of the far-from-progressive goals and violent means of radical Islamic terrorist groups that are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. This combination of hard-left secular views and extreme Islamic theological views is toxic.

rhetorical effect: reduces all anti-Trump protestors with the Antifa; equates free speech with violence, and calls it the gateway drug to jihad, Sharia law, and ISIS; belittles the very idea of “oppression”; undercuts the very idea of “intersectionality”–the idea that inequality makes many disparate groups have more in common with one another; somehow ends up accusing dissidents of being sexist, racist and homophobic.

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the American System

rhetorical claim: according to Steve Bannon (on Sixty Minutes):

America’s built on our citizens. Look at the 19th century. What built America is called the American System. From Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers and a control of our borders.”

America has had a winning game plan from the beginning — a combination of nationalism, federal government, and business coordination through which it has achieved greatness throughout history.

rhetorical effect: Bannon would have you believe that American identity is simple — that there is a clear line of logic throughout our history and that if we could just get back to that perfect place, we’ll be OK again. It’s a comforting thought, but it’s wrong. Moreover, it’s why white nationalists and neo-Nazis are attracted to him, so it’s also dangerous.

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the right time to talk about climate change

rhetorical claim: it’s hugely cynical and politically exploitative to talk about climate change during major hurricanes or other extreme weather events. Doing so is to be insensitive to storm victims, as expressed by EPA Director Scott Pruitt.

rhetorical effect: makes it never the right time to talk about climate change, just as it’s never the right time to talk about gun control. In actuality, not talking about these things is a much greater disrespect to their victims than addressing the root causes head-on. As Thomas Friedman argues in the New York Times,

Makes me wonder … if Pruitt were afflicted with cancer, would he not want scientists discussing with him, let alone researching, the possible causes and solutions? Wouldn’t want to upset him.

Frauds like Pruitt like to say that the climate has been changing since long before any human drove a car, so how could humans be causing climate change? Of course they aren’t solely responsible. The climate has always changed by itself through its own natural variability. But that doesn’t mean that humans can’t exacerbate or disrupt this natural variability by warming the planet even more and, by doing so, making the hots hotter, the wets wetter, the storms harsher, the colds colder and the droughts drier….

Trump has recently fired various knuckle-headed aides whose behavior was causing him short-term embarrassment. The person he needs to fire is Scott Pruitt. Pruitt is going to cause Trump long-term embarrassment. But instead, together they are authoring a new national security doctrine — one that says when faced with a low-probability, high-impact event like North Korea, the U.S. should spend any amount of money, and if the threat doesn’t materialize, well, we’ll have a lot of Army surplus and scrap metal.

But when faced with an actually high-probability, high-impact threat called climate change, we should do nothing and poke both our eyes out, even though if the impact is less severe — and we prepare for it anyway — we will be left healthier, stronger, more productive, more resilient and more respected around the world.

That is the Pruitt-Trump Doctrine — soon to be known as “Trump’s Folly.”

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the right word

rhetorical claim: Kris Kobach claims he didn’t “use the right word” recently when claiming that the New Hampshire Senate race was “stolen” by illegal Dem voters, adding “we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of this particular election.”

rhetorical effect: clouds the answer to his questions of legitimacy by claiming we need more data; raises a question where there is actually no question: the New Hampshire results were certified and legal;  as one commission member put it:

Making this equation that somehow people not updating their driver’s license is indicative of voter fraud would be almost as absurd as saying that if you have cash in your wallet, that that’s proof that you robbed a bank…it’s a reckless statement to make.

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assaults on free speech

rhetorical claim: The Left is engaged in an all-out European-style war on free speech and freedom of assembly.  Today, a “racist” is someone who believes in legal immigration. An “extremist” is someone who doesn’t believe in mass, state-funded abortion. A “xenophobe” is someone who takes pride in their nation. An “anti-Semite” is — curiously — someone who supports the State of Israel, and “white supremacy” now occupies the Oval Office. The Overton window has shifted so far that even practicing Muslims are now decried by the most heavily quoted sources as “Islamophobes”.

rhetorical effect: by conflating  hate speech with free speech, sanctions hate speech; makes anti-racism positions seem unreasonable or ridiculous; confuses patriotism with white supremacy. By calling any attempt to curtail hate speech an “assault on free speech,” turns the perpetrators of hate speech into victims.

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preoccupation with inequality

rhetorical claim: Liberals are bemoaning that the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, didn’t post a significant decline last year. But income inequality drops principally during recessions as the wealthy lose a larger share of their earnings than everyone else. As we learned in the Obama years, the preoccupation with inequality leads to economic policies that reduce growth, which leads to more inequality.

rhetorical effect: in classic Roveian reversal (a form of absurdity with its roots in Swift and Lewis Carroll), black becomes white, day becomes night, and a concern with inequality only leads to greater inequality. The more you try to help the poor, te poorer they get. By extension, then, doing absolutely nothing for the poor is the quickest way to make them rich.

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fairness in lending

rhetorical claim: fair lending practices gave rise to the Equifax identity theft case. Fairness laws, in the form of protections against racial prejudice, should be relaxed or eliminated, and credit issuers be allowed to return to an open and free market where their judgment i more important than impersonal numbers.

rhetorical effect: a return to redlining. Consumer protection is once again the culprit because it makes consumers less protected.

 

 

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, Sept. 3-8, 2017

race ploy

rhetorical claim: the Dems still play the race card whenever they need to blame the dirty masses for racism, fascism, etc. Their constant moral bullying and stigmatizing is one of the main reasons Trump was elected. The Dems have gone from being the party of tax and spend to the party of hate and racism, and they somehow have managed to come out against an orderly, legal immigration system, against good jobs for all American citizens, against defending America first, and against allowing individuals to have the opportunity to build better lives for themselves without government telling them what to do and how to do it.

rhetorical effect: strengthens narratives of white victimology and treats historical racism as “fake news.”

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the highest taxed nation in the world

rhetorical claim: the US is the highest taxed nation in the world, and these taxes are a major drag on economic expansion.

rhetorical effect: like all Big Lies, this one runs counter to known facts and yet creates its own momentum and veracity. As Paul Krugman argues,

The day after announcing that he would rescind DACA, Trump gave a speech on tax reform in which he claimed, as he has on multiple occasions, that America is the “highest-taxed nation in the world.” As fact-checkers have pointed out every time he says this, this isn’t just false, it’s almost the opposite of the truth — the U.S. collects less in taxes, as a share of national income, than almost any other advanced economy. But Trump just keeps repeating the lie.

 

Green Party ideology

rhetorical claim: according to The WSJ’s George Melloan,

Underlying the Green philosophy is a distrust of economic growth. That’s what distinguishes Greens from garden-variety environmentalists who simply want a safe and clean environment, as everyone does. Although the Greens operate under the flag of environmentalism, they have greater ambitions. They are a modern manifestation of a back-to-nature movement, feeding on the guilt and anxiety that accompany scientific advance.

Greens adopted the Democratic Party precisely because it is the party of government. They see government power as the way to suppress the animal spirits of private enterprise that produce innovation and new wealth.

rhetorical effect: reinforces the false dichotomy of no growth vs. no regulation; valorizes the “animal spirits,” which is conservative shorthand for corporate greed and social Darwinism.

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the Reagan supply side boom

rhetorical claim: The Reagan tax cuts and deregulation created a boom in the US which extended through the Clinton Presidency. Supply-side economics are the only long-term way to create enough prosperity to end the immigration controversies because all boats float on a rising tide.

rhetorical effect: this fairy tale about the Reagan economic boom ignores the scandals, recession, tax increases and economic chaos that plagued his entire second term, and undercuts any credit due to the Clinton administration. As argued by Paul Krugman, Bill Clinton knew in 1991 that

“The Reagan-Bush years have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.” The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen…I understand why conservatives want to rewrite history and pretend that these good things happened while a Republican was in office — or claim, implausibly, that the 1981 Reagan tax cut somehow deserves credit for positive economic developments that didn’t happen until 14 or more years had passed. (Does Richard Nixon get credit for “Morning in America”?)

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due process

rhetorical claim: Betsy DeVos has restored due process to the way Obama allowed US colleges and universities to run roughshod over human rights in sexual assault investigations. Campus rape hysteria justified these academic star chambers allowed political correctness to trample on due process, and prejudged all of the accused of guilt.

rhetorical effect: a rolling back of civil rights for rape victims. the Trump “grab them by the pussy” administration is hardly in a position to weaken sexual assault misconduct cases. What’s worse, though, as The New Yorker described it, among DeVos’s supporters of watering down sexual assault cases are

advocates for accused students and a men’s-rights group that has been accused of harassing and intimidating sexual-assault victims. At a rally outside the Education Department, assault survivors urged DeVos not to abandon the commitment to Title IX enforcement seen during the Obama years. Deepening the provocation, her acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson—a sexual-assault survivor who supported the alleged victims of Bill Clinton and called alleged victims of Donald Trump “fake victims”—had to apologize for telling the Times, on the eve of the event, that “90 percent” of campus accusations amount to drunk or regretted breakup sex. She was in the meetings with DeVos. At a news conference immediately after the closed-door meetings, DeVos said that it was “a really emotionally draining day.”

…..“due process” can be a code for rape denial or upholding rape culture. Concern for fairness for the accused is often mistakenly conflated with implying that many rape accusations are false. Fairness is important regardless of the truth or the falsehood of allegations. It is unclear whether DeVos is equipped to make nuance stick in this debate, and to make fair treatment of all parties compatible with the responsibility of schools and government to address sexual assault.

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the Resistance

rhetorical claim: leftist “Resistance” malcontents are skulking around Washington like would-be usurpers, like Caesar’s assassins. They call it resistance, but it is really a putsch, abetted all the while by the mainstream media. The underpublicized fact is that Donald Trump ran against a complacent, biased, flabby, leftist media that had whitewashed the failures of the U.S. political class for decades. He won, they lost, they have been poor sports, and now the public is tired of their lies and their malice. Public approval of the media is under 20 per cent and polls now show Trump edging over 40 per cent. As argued by Victor David Hanson:

The Resistance has gone from melodramatic charges of Trump’s collusion with the Russians, to amateur diagnoses of his mental incapacity, to fear-mongering about his supposed wild desire for a Strangelovian nuclear war with North Korea, to castigating him for his apparently callous and uncaring reactions to Hurricane Harvey victims…

There is a populist and growing resistance to the Orwellian idea that free speech is hate speech, that equality of opportunity is defined only by equality of result, and that identity politics determines the degree of government-mandated penance and reparations.

rhetorical effect: makes resisting Trump seem like a treasonous act; transforms the press into an enemy of the people; brands all criticism of Trump as malicious, with no factual basis.

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market-driven wages

rhetorical claim: liberals complain that right-to-work labor laws suppress wages and give the US an unfair foreign trade advantage.  Market-driven wages used to be called old fashioned competition.

rhetorical effect: this is the very claim that the US makes about China and Mexico–that low-wage workers are stealing jobs. “Competition” becomes an unassailable  virtue word justifying low wages, the end of workplace safety rules  and environmental degradation.

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diplomacy

rhetorical claim: Trump’s America First foreign policy has led to tougher trade terms, more reciprocity in making allies pay for mutual defense, renewed respect for America’s military might, and a new realism not focused on “nation building.”

rhetorical effect: diplomacy via bombastic tweets; the end of multilateral trade agreements; increasing isolation and alienation from allies, China’s increasing influence, etc–these actual effects have been masked in a rhetoric of bluster, justification, victimhood, jingoism, and entirely unwarranted triumphalism. The overall, decidedly undiplomatic, rhetorical effect has been to make US foreign policy synonymous with US economic prosperity and worldwide domination.

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virtue signalling

rhetorical claim: liberals, in their smug sense of moral superiority, are always virtue signalling. Their holier-than-thou attitude alienates voters, who care about jobs, security, family, retirement. Not bathrooms, gay marriage, climate and transgender. Those who purport to care about the latter set of issues — including, apparently, gay or transgender people — must be doing so for attention.

rhetorical effect: almost any public utterance of concern becomes easy to write off as false — as mere performance.  As argued in a recent New York Times Magazine “First Words” column:

Caring is not a crime; it is an argument, about what people should value in the first place. And accusations of ‘‘virtue signaling’’ are, more than anything, a way of walking out on that argument and dismissing it altogether — a quick and easy solution for those moments when engaging and listening, agreeing or disagreeing, seem too hard, too challenging, too personal, too dangerous.

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, Aug 30-Sept. 3, 2017

Sovereign democracy edition. Trump’s grand bargain (see “pro-growth tax policy,” below) is economic prosperity in exchange for limited political freedoms, suppression of the media, the judiciary and Congress, and toxic hostility to human rights, immigrants, women, LGBTQ, minorities, and non-Christians. Very much in the Putin mold, let the dog eat well but not bark too much, and get rid of or silence those who bark too much. This new “realism” is really just authoritarianism and political repression. All of this is disguised as populism, the will of the people. This is what is now called ‘illiberal democracy,” what the The Kremlin calls “sovereign democracy.”

What this might portend for America’s future is well spelled out by Indiana University political scientist Jeffrey Isaac:

A spectre is haunting Europe and the United States; the spectre of illiberal democracy.

The project of instituting a new form of ‘illiberal democracy’ in place of the supposedly outmoded form of liberal democracy is most closely linked to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has repeatedly announced this intention. But the idea is commonly associated with a broader range of political leaders – Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, among others – who have sought to institute illiberal measures and to justify them, at least in part, by appeal to a more authentic form of ‘democracy.’ As David Ost has recently observed of the Hungarian and Polish cases:

Eviscerating the Constitutional Court and purging the judiciary, complete politicization of the civil service, turning public media into a government mouthpiece, restricting opposition prerogatives in parliament, unilateral wholesale change of the Constitution or plain violation of it, official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts, surveillance without check – with such policies and more, right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland are engaged in a direct attack on the institutions of democracy. The ruling parties, Fidesz and Law and Justice (PiS) respectively, do not even claim to adhere to ‘liberal’ democracy anymore. Are they committed to democracy at all? Both accept it now that elections have brought unchecked one-party rule by the party representing ‘the nation.’ Otherwise, ‘democracy’ appears to be only a curtsy to the political correctness they otherwise abhor.

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realism

rhetorical claim: the Trump “America First” foreign policy sees the international environment as an inherently zero-sum arena in which the gains of other countries are America’s losses, all foreign policy is inherently competitive, the promotion of human rights and democracy are distractions from winning, and only America stands in the way of the undermining of civilization. (see “the triumph of Western civilization,” below)

rhetorical effect: this dog-eat-dog vision alienates long-time allies, encourages dictators and autocrats, undermines existing treaties and institutions, ignores the very values that have made the US into a foreign policy force in the first place, and undermines all trust and cooperation in our network of alliances. This deterioration of trust can only lead to political, economic and military instability, and thus serve as a form of national security  that actually makes America more insecure.

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fake news

rhetorical claim: the mainstream media’s fake news is an effort to agitate, not inform, akin to foreign propaganda. It is a greater threat to the US than white supremacy.

rhetorical effect: putting the media on the same moral p[lane as the KKK and neo-Nazis further demonizes them. Hardens the cultural divisions between mainstream news media and those who consume it and the populist press and its supporters, resulting in a self-perpetuating cycle of mutual mistrust and hostility. Conveniently masks the fact just calling the media “fake news” is itself an example of fake news.

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the triumph of Western civilization

rhetorical claim: political correctness in the form of tearing down Confederate statues, limiting free speech, changing the ways history is depicted in textbooks so that all non-Europeans are portrayed as victims of racist white colonialists–such Orwellian attempts to not only limit but set the terms of political debate are key to the Left’s ultimate opposition to the triumph of Western civilization.

rhetorical effect: narrows what qualifies as “civilization”; equates conquest with ‘”triumph”; invokes the sentiments of the Crusades by type-casting most of the world as uncivilized infidels.

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pro-growth tax policy

rhetorical claim: President Trump’s supply-side tax cut proposal would stimulate the economy and help our workers, companies and country compete against China.

rhetorical effect: claims ownership of American workers and companies, so that anyone opposed to Trump’s massive tax cuts for the rich becomes an enemy of the people. Disguises trickle-down plutocracy as populism. Creates an authoritarian legitimacy by offering prosperity in exchange for political corruption, media intimidation, and playing to his racist, sexist white supremacy base.

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system of values

rhetorical claim: Trump’s system of values is America’s system of values: hard work, individual liberty, honor, patriotism, and respect for law and order. Liberals, by contrast, do not share any of the “Make America Great Again” values. They value government handouts over hard work, collective values over individual rights, constant doubt about American power, scoffing at the idea of patriotism, and respect for the state.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound as if liberals only values obstructionism , mockery and the sheer will-to-power.

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uncontrolled migration

rhetorical claim: uncontrolled migration is responsible for plummeting wages, rising crime and overcrowded schools.

rhetorical effect: skips over the facts that migration is strictly controlled, non-immigrants are far likelier to commit crimes than immigrants, technology has taken jobs away from Americans far more than immigrants have, overcrowding in schools is caused by a plethora of factors, and crime rates are lower among immigrants than among people born here

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antiquated Congressional processes and procedures

rhetorical claim: ending the filibuster and the 60-vote rule in the Senate; changing the way the CBO scores bills, changing the ways baseline spending is tallied, changing the definitions of budget windows–all of these changes to antiquated Congressional policies and procedures will free the administration up to enact real tax cuts and stimulate a supply-side boom economy.

rhetorical effect: changing the rules of the game to rig the results means that the truly pernicious and inequality-producing aspects of the tax bill will be disguised and will also ease the way to passage. The GOP is out to create a grammar ans a rhetoric of greed.

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race fatigue

rhetorical claim: Americans are experiencing race fatigue, no longer willing to feel guilty due to the progressives’  false charges of racism. The Left’s hypocritical false sense of moral superiority has been unmasked for what it truly is: the will to power, exclusion, and elitism. Racism is the wedge issue the haters want to use to destroy Trump and take over the entire the entire government

rhetorical effect: promulgates the pernicious myth that we live in a “post racial” society; makes any claims of racial bias false and self-serving, turning the victims into perpetrators of vicious stereotypes.

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environmental resilience

rhetorical claim: Environmental resilience comes from economic growth, not the Paris accord or climate change hysteria. As argued by Bret Stephens in the New York Times,

Only sustained economic growth leads to better safety standards, funds scientific research, builds spillways and wastewater plants, creates “green jobs,” sets aside prime real estate for conservation, and so on. Poverty, not wealth, is the enemy of the environment. Only the rich have the luxury of developing an ethical stance toward their trash.

Resilient economies are built on hard work, little or no regulation and government interference, and little or no zoning, Progressives’ obstructionist government regulation will not stop people from moving to cities (such as Houston) in which the progressives’ hidden agenda of political opportunism has been exposed and rejected by the voters. Thus these are the cities where houses are cheap and jobs are plentiful.

rhetorical effect: calling poverty the enemy of the environment makes the poor into enemies of the people and the planet. This may be couched as a rallying cry to end poverty, but is really a rhetorical justification of unchecked, unregulated economic growth. Progressive notions such as zoning, growth limits, environmental and land use regulations

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America’s CEO

rhetorical claim: as captured in this rant in The American Thinker:

President Trump, whatever one thinks of him, has taken off flying on the executive level. As a result of aggressive deregulation, the economy is roaring — record-low unemployment and a record-high stock market, plus an impressive rise in GDP, with new and major companies building and hiring. North Korea is being heavily sanctioned and dauntlessly confronted. (Imagine if Obama were President now; weakness is the last thing we need at this moment. Thank God that Trump is the Commander-in-Chief, rather than his predecessor, who left North Korea [and so many other totalitarian regimes] totally unchecked and enabled it to become a nuclear power.) Street gangs, such as MS-13, are being robustly prosecuted. Energy is on the move, including coal and the Keystone KL pipeline project. ISIS is on its deathbed, Taliban forces are in for a nasty surprise, and Iran and Syria have finally been shown that the U.S. means business. FEMA’s response to Hurricane Harvey was hailed and contrasted with the federal government’s response to disasters under previous administrations.

This progress is all the result of executive decisions, not legislation or anything related to Congress.

It is the intrepid and maverick approach of the current White House that cuts through the red tape and rushes to get things done, indifferent to naysayers and the weighty forces of inertia on the part of career politicians.

Trump is America’s CEO, and his executive-level successes will create his legacy and leave detractors to grope in their comfortable cloud of bureaucratic dust.

rhetorical effect: The impossible task of extolling Trump’s executive skills and accomplishments obviously relies on lies and distortions: everything except the pipelines was moving along under Obama as well. The real effects of having  a CEO, reality show marketer in the Oval are better explained by David Friend in The New York Times:

America has received what much of the nation had been asking for since the 1990s. In the electoral reckoning, civility had been trumped by hostility, respect by chauvinism, tolerance by bigotry, truth by fabrication and deceit, privacy by exposure, modesty by exhibitionism, achievement by fame, shame by shamelessness, and bridges by walls.

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, Aug 23-29, 2017

This edition highlights the Trump administration’s populist war on truth. Conviction has replaced persuasion in the art of political rhetoric. No truths are any more self-evident. Information is no longer neutral, but is either for you or against you. Pop truths–that Sheriff Joe was just doing his job, removing Confederate statues is an attempt to erase white heritage, hatred and bigotry only exist on the alt Left, etc.–have more staying power than facts or truths. Yet who knew that the most-fact, post-truth culture would be populist? Populism always offers a cure worse than the disease. When truth becomes inherently political, how far are we from an Orwellian state?
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just doing his job

rhetorical claim: Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted for just doing his job of protecting real Americans from illegal immigrant criminals and rapists.

rhetorical effect: In pure Roveian fashion, language is used to turn reality inside out: Arpaio was convicted for actually NOT doing his job, which is following the rule of law.

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great American patriot

rhetorical claim: Sheriff Joe is a great American patriot.

rhetorical effect: as explained by the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, this version of patriotism

includes extreme ethnic profiling, terror raids, and cruel and unusual punishment. A definition of patriotism that covers using internment camps in extreme heat, parading women and juvenile offenders for the cameras in chain gangs, and degrading inmates in creative acts of bullying. This is not patriotism; it is the abuse of power in the cause of bigotry…

Arpaio made a career of dehumanizing prisoners in his charge. His pardon sends the signal that some people are less than human. In one sense, this is perfectly consistent. Trump has employed dehumanization as a political tool from the start — of refugees, of migrants, of Muslims. By his pardon of Arpaio, he has metaphorically pardoned his own cruel and divisive approach to politics. It is a further step in Trump’s normalization and entrenchment of bigotry in our public life.

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our history and our heritage

rhetorical claim: Opposition to President Trump is now taking the form of threats to obliterate our history and our heritage by removing statues of Confederate generals. Marxist true-believers understand that the transformation of any nation begins by systematically altering its history and obliterating its culture.  As the sanctioned march by the so-called “Alt Right” in Charlottesville was ostensibly to protest the potential removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the pretext was in place for the left-wing locusts to swarm and openly declare war on American history, symbols and institutions.   It was not just the fringe elements of the Left but many Democratic Party leaders and media figures taking up the cause.

rhetorical effect: promulgates an authoritarian version of national history in which “our” refers only to whites, whose manifest destiny is to rule America. Anything that has happened to non-whites (such as slavery) is whitewashed from this history. Thus Trump spends far more time criticizing journalists than white supremacists. Anyone who calls themselves neutral on any given issue is in collusion with the progressives.

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angry toddlers

rhetorical claim: Trump’s supporters are the adults in the room, as compared to anti-Trump protestors, the angry toddlers in the room. Like toddlers, they are only absorbed in their own needs, cry until they get their way. As explained in The American Thinker,

They decline mental exercises that require objectivity, reason, and actual morality, because these do not bring the desired result, which is their presumed moral primacy over those their handlers seek to dominate and control, not to mention the wealth and property of those targets.  These people are not the most dangerous among us, but they run a close second because of their utter inability to process basic information and come up with a correct answer.  The most dangerous are those who manipulate such people to steal what they want while pretending to be making things better.

They are committed to eradicating the Bill of Rights for its protection of those they hate, those against whom they are deeply bigoted, those whose declared right to refuse to be owned by tyrants is the single biggest obstacle to their victory.  They have decided for themselves that violence, but only their violence, is acceptable, because their motives are so “moral.”  Their “morality” encourages violence to achieve peace, which is akin to encouraging rape to achieve virginity.  Such is the intellectual depth of the tools being manipulated by a communist movement to destroy capitalism and, with it, their own individual freedom.

rhetorical effect: this paranoid vision of anarcho-Communists not only conjures up the cold war, but sounds like a call to arms to defend America before it’s too late. It also substitutes the concept of “mobocracy” for the exercise of democracy. It also doubles as a pre-emptive charge of treason.

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the mainstream media

rhetorical claim: The MSM is like the standard government propaganda machine found in all fascist states. Those organizations’ job is not to provide facts to enable the people to exercise their power through the ballot box but to help maintain the oppression of the people by the ruling elite. Whether it’s the media in North Korea telling the people how much better their lives are than the poor fools in South Korea, the media in the Soviet Union telling the people how great their lives are, the media in China explaining why forced abortions are a good thing, or the MSM saying that someone who once had lunch with Trump also talked to a Russian and that’s treason the song remains the same; the party we support is good, you should listen to what your betters tell you to do, don’t try and resist the establishment.

rhetorical effect: undermines the legitimacy of a free press by calling any anti-Trump claims mere “propaganda.”

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hatred and bigotry

rhetorical claim: Remember what the left means when it says there are not two sides to hate and bigotry.  Leftists are actually saying it is hate and bigotry to resist them.  It is hate and bigotry to wish freedom for yourself and your children, to demand to keep what you earn, to live your life peacefully, and to reject totalitarianism.  It is hate and bigotry to live in white skin and not believe that it should determine one’s future any more than dark skin should, to refuse to be owned by those whose every word and deed is itself motivated by hatred and bigotry against us.  To them, refusal to accept the place in society they have reserved for us is the epitome of hate and bigotry.

rhetorical effect: projects the alt-Right’s hatred and bigotry onto the anti-Trump forces, thus both absolving themselves of any taint of hatred and bigotry, but also turning the Left into the bigots and tyrants.

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presidential

rhetorical claim: to the Left, bring “presidential” means being acceptable to coastal and foreign elites.

rhetorical effect: lowers the bar for qualifying as “presidential” to the mere occasional display of decency, compromise, consistency, and rationality

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notorious

rhetorical claim: The Southern Poverty Law Center is unfairly branding anyone who disagrees with them a “hate group.” As explained by Kimberly Strassel in The Wall Street Journal:

The press is still obsessing over President Trump’s incompetent handling of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and that has suited some profiteers just fine. The notorious Southern Poverty Law Center is quietly cashing in on the tragedy, raking in millions on its spun-up reputation as a group that “fights hate.” Apple CEO Tim Cook informed employees that his company is giving $1 million to SPLC and matching employee donations. J.P. Morgan Chase is pitching in $500,000, specifically to further the SPLC’s “work in tracking, exposing and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations,” in the words of Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.

What Mr. Scher is referring to is the SPLC’s “Hate Map,” its online list of 917 American “hate groups.” The SPLC alone decides who goes on the list, but its criteria are purposely vague. Since the SPLC is a far-left activist group, the map comes down to this: If the SPLC doesn’t agree with your views, it tags you as a hater.

rhetorical effect: In pure Karl Rove and Frank Lunz fashion, the fright quotes not only subvert the terms they bracket, but actually make them mean their opposite. So, for example, groups that fight hate become hate groups; “tolerance education” becomes intolerance; “white nationalists” become defenders of American liberty, and the SPLC becomes simply “notorious.”  This opprobrium undermines any of their policies or positions.

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populism

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is a true populist, the voice of the people. The silent majority is no longer silent.

rhetorical effect: equates populism with democracy and pluralism, though it isn’t necessarily composed of either. Populists–with their “my way or the highway” mentality– actually despise pluralism and don’t mind bending the rules of democracy. Without pluralism, democracy loses its foundation.

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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, Aug 17-23, 2017

In this edition, Trump’s opponents are either grandstanders (the corporate community), anarchists (protestors), Mao-like revolutionaries out to destroy even the memory of American culture, or lying purveyors and protectors of hate speech (the media). These last few days have made it clearer than ever that Trump is only representing his base and considers the other 65-70% of Americans as the enemy. No President has ever had such an enormous enemies list.

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grandstanding

rhetorical claim: Trump’s business council weasel advisers bailed on him when they encountered political headwinds. Their cowardice is only topped by their grandstanding hunger for accolades.

rhetorical effect: deters other business leaders from criticizing Trump out of fear of retaliation. This bullying projection dampens dissent and turns the moral calculus inside-out: Trump is, after all, the greatest grandstander of them all.

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moral plane

rhetorical claim: Trump claims that he isn’t making false equivalencies because he “isn’t putting anyone on a moral plane.”

rhetorical effect: Exactly. Since Trump has no “moral plane,” he expects the rest of the country to also abandon morality in favor of social Darwinism, power, white  grievance-mongering and ethnonationalism.

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nation building

rhetorical claim: America is no longer going to engage in nation building in Afghanistan or anywhere else. Our job is to kill the enemy and then get out.

rhetorical effect: removes the moral dimension from war and foreign entanglements, thus allowing for loosened rules of engagement. (see below). Allows Trump to engage in several contradictions: 1) that we will remain in Afghanistan indefinitely until we are we are  “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,”  yet we also have limited patience for a long engagement; 2) that in the end we will “win,” though it’s not clear what “winning” would look like; 3) that we will not tell other nations how to live–unless of course we don’t agree with how they want to live, as in the case of the Taliban and Sharia law; and, 4) that we don’t want to enable other nations to build stable democracies, yet we continue to euphemistically  engage in “capacity building,” “enabling” and “working by, through and with.” But the intent is the same: to create Afghan government institutions that can overcome the threats from the Taliban, the Haqqani network, the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups active in that country. So we can neither afford to leave Afghanistan nor to stay there indefinitely. As a New York Times editorial put it,

“Having spent years criticizing America’s involvement in Afghanistan, he now appears inclined toward an open-ended commitment, but with no real ways to measure success and no hint of a timetable for withdrawal.argued in an

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civil debate

rhetorical claim: The Dems’ scorched earth policy amounts to do or say anything to get Trump our of power. This isn’t self-government through civil debate. This is not the workings of a healthy society. This is will-to-power politics.

rhetorical effect: accuses the Dems of engaging in the uncompromising behavior that characterizes the Trump administration. “Civil debate” to the Trumpinistas means capitulating to their positions. The are the ones to engage in sheer power to get their way.

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anarchists

rhetorical claim: anti-Trump resistors are in essence anarchists, seeking to erase American culture, capitulate to terrorism and political correctness, and challenge any moral authority.

rhetorical effect: another rhetorical step in criminalizing dissent. Protestors are not just dissidents, they are enemies, “bad people” and now anarchists–opposed to any and all government or moral authority. This disparagement of dissidents is reminiscent of the 1960’s when anti-war protestors were likened to “hippies,” “bums,” “degenerates” and “outside agitators.” The opposition always has to be “other”–outside the fold. Support of Trump is thus inquestioningly absolute, shutting off all skepticism and investigation.

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rules of engagement

rhetorical claim: we must loosen the rules of engagement in Afghanistan so our military does not have one hand tied behind their backs.

rhetorical effect: justifies the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

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cultural cleansing

rhetorical claim: The ultimate goal is to disable rational thinking and to ensure the destruction of our history and our heritage.  Progressives’ ultimate aim is a Mao-like cultural cleansing, and the erasure of all historical memories. They want to cntrol the language, the narrative, and the past. As argued in The American Thinker:

There are, in short, ways to silence voices other than to not allow the opposition to speak. There is a way to make speech meaningless by rendering language meaningless; to annihilate the ability to think altogether — a sort of mental nihilism; a Sherman’s march through the brain.

America will not be cleansed of “original sin” and become purer if her collective memory is erased and she is made unable to speak intelligibly. She will not achieve salvation by targeting a race as inherently evil, be that race black, white, red or yellow skinned. She will not become good by erasing her history. Her purity will not be achieved until opposing voices are silenced and the opposition degraded to a social status of untouchables.  She will not attain utopia by ensuring every institution and every person is saying and doing the same things. She will not become righteous by memorizing the new leftist commandments while seeing to it the Ten Commandments are destroyed. She will not be made better by making her people mute.

rhetorical effect: this hysterical conspiracy-mongering makes any opposition to Trump sound subversive and totalitarian–in other words, pure projection on the part of the Trumpinistas. Part of their cultural war is to declare the Left of fomenting a cultural revolution. Note also that the emphasis is on “our” heritage and “our history,” as if Trump supporters are the only real Americans–and the only “heritage” worth preserving is the Confederacy.

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hate speech

rhetorical claim: the lying media are actually engaging in hate speech everyday that they relentlessly attack the President. As President Trump put it in Phoenix Tuesday night, according to Breitbart

The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news,” Trump said during his campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.

The president challenged the patriotism of many of the mainstream correspondents, news anchors, reporters, and producers in the mainstream media, but clarified that there were a few “very good reporters” and “very fair journalists.”

“They’re bad people and I really think they don’t like our country,” he said. “I really believe that.”

The crowd booed the press at the rally and chanted “CNN sucks!” after Trump re-litigated his response to the protester violence in Charlottesville and spent 30 minutes trashing the media’s attempt to paint himself and his supporters as racist, white supremacists.

He criticized the media for failing to focus on issues important to the country, choosing to inflame racial tensions instead.

“If you wanted to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media which would rather get ratings and clicks than tell the truth,” Trump said.

Trump said the media turned a “blind eye” to issues like gang violence, the failure of public schools, and the effect trade deals were having in middle America.

He also pointedly criticized the media for “unaccountable hostility against our incredible police, who work so hard and such a dangerous job.”

rhetorical effect: justifies suppression of free speech and the abrogation of the First Amendment.

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principled realism

rhetorical claim: In foreign policy, especially in the case of Afghanistan, America must practiced principled realism, a clear-eyed, heard-headed, commitment to killing terrorists

rhetorical effect: makes the unprincipled Trump sound as if he has stumbled upon a set of principes, whereas, in reality, as asserted New York Times opinion writer Roger Cohen,

His presidency has been about unprincipled recklessness: allies shunned, dalliances with dictators, environmental sabotage. The man who earlier this month could not distinguish between neo-Nazi white supremacists with blood on their hands and leftist protesters calls for America’s soldiers to come home to a country that rejects bigotry and “has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty.”

Really?

 

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, Aug. 10-16, 2017

restoring white rights

rhetorical claim: affirmative action, political correctness, academic victimology and  diversity mania have all systematically stripped white Americans of their rights and core liberties. Donald Trump is restoring those rights and the white pride that goes with them.

rhetorical effect: turns the victimizers–the racists, haters, misogynists, homophobes–into victims. Trump should get no credit for calling out the KKK and neo-Nazis, who should just be condemned with no equivocation or false equivalencies.  As explained by Alexandra Petri in The Washington Post

Of course they gathered with torches, because the only liberty they have lost is the liberty to gather with torches and decide whose house to visit with terror. That is the right that is denied them: the right to other people’s possessions, the right to be the only person in the room, the right to be the only person that the world is made for. (These are not rights. They are wrongs.)

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trapped oil and gas

rhetorical claim: environmentalists are holding back the US economy with their intransigent opposition to domestic oil and gas production. The US’s oil and gas reserves are thus needlessly trapped in the ground.

rhetorical effect: makes oil and gas exploration sound inevitable, a form of American Manifest Destiny. Calling them “trapped” in the ground rather than merely being in the ground, makes their captivity seem to be an unnatural or criminal act, rather than an ideological or political decision. It also makes oil drillers and frackers heroic, like rescuers saving miners.

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diplomatic politesse

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump may lack diplomatic politesse, but his plain speaking leaves no ambiguity when it comes to clarifying what America will do to North Korea. No more appeasement!

rhetorical effect: undermines the very concept of careful, reasoned diplomatic language, which exists to allow states maneuverability that precludes armed conflict. Greatly increases the possibility of armed conflict, while also proving to be highly attractive to Trump’s base, whose bellicosity from the very advent of Trumpmania has been like a hammer in search of a nail. Thus rhetoric could get America into a war, much like happened to Saddam Hussein with his overstated braggadocio about Iran’s WMD. capabilities.

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media caterwauling

rhetorical claim: GOP swamp drainers are wary of taking on the deep state because of anticipated media caterwauling about liberty, equality, free speech, etc. But politically incorrect views are not the equivalent of violence and nonconformist views will not be silenced.

rhetorical effect: undermines  the concept of free speech by likening the media to crying babies. Rhetorically, helps reinforce the meme of the GOP as the daddy party. And when the media or Trump critics aren’t being accused of being crybabbies or hysterics, they are accused of mendaciousness–always telling lies. It’s thus axiomatic that any criticism of Trump is either sour grapes, irrationality, or an outright lie.

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ruin and rule

rhetorical claim: the liberal-progressive governing strategy is ruin and rule. For proof, see NYC’s crumbling subway system, Chicago and Baltimore’s murder rate, Hartford’s insolvency, etc.

rhetorical effect: lays all that plagues America’s largest cities solely at the feet of liberals, as if institutional and historical racism, inequality, restrictive voting policies and GOP economic strangulation haven’t played any role.

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the diversity dilemma

rhetorical claim: the liberal-progressive Left relies on two contradictory core assumptions: (1) that people are everywhere the same and thus any unequal outcomes must be due to racism and/or sexism, and (2) that people are everywhere different in terms of minds, backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, and insights, so diversity hiring ought to be encouraged.

rhetorical effect: precludes any attempts at social amelioration or redistribution. Makes all progressive policy positions seem illogical and confused, thus allowing all forms of discrimination, based on a Social Darwinism rooted in the survival of the fittest.

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coddling

rhetorical claim: social justice agitators, Beltway media enablers and Democratic resistance knuckleheads all coddle the alt-left agitators–especially Black Lives Matter.

rhetorical effect: reduces any defense of free speech as “coddling” criminals; criminalizes dissident political speech; leads to racist demands for draconian laws, law enforcement, and sentencing when it comes to dealing with political dissidents and civil right activists.

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killing black people

rhetorical claim: as Michelle Malkin argues,

It is in killing black people that Planned Parenthood really shines. Around 941 black babies are aborted in this country every day. Planned Parenthood, netting more than a third of the abortion market in the country, is responsible for 329 of those daily deaths. That averages out to a little more than 120,000 black abortions at Planned Parenthood per year, or around a third of the total abortions the organization performs—this from a demographic that makes up about 13 percent of the United States population. According to the Guttmacher Institute, black women get abortions at five times the rate of white women.

If you were a white supremacist who wanted to sharply reduce the black population to make way for more whites, what would you be doing differently than Planned Parenthood?

rhetorical effect: equates abortion (a woman’s right to choose) with murder; makes all medical providers potential accessories to murder; portrays Planned Parenthood as a criminal organization.

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American Maoism

rhetorical claim: The call to tear down statues of Confederates is not about the Confederacy, nor about the Civil War. This is about political power and it’s about a small group of people on the Left trying to exert outside influence on American politics by following in the footsteps of Mao, of the armed thugs in Weimar Republic, of the Taliban. These are tactics that are well-known. You start by tearing down statues, and burning books, and eventually you go after people.”

If you push identity politics, eventually you get around to identity politics for white people, which is a dangerous thing in a country that has a huge white majority. This is why the Left has been sowing these seeds of what’s been happening for a long time. Are they surprised eventually some white people are going to say, ‘Yeah, let’s do identity politics,’ and we have white identity politics. It’s all poisonous garbage.

America is not about ethnicity. It’s not about national origin. It’s about creed. There is no place in the American constitutional system for identity politics, left or right. Plain and simple.

rhetorical effect: shifts the blame for Charlottesville unto the protestors; protestors are seen as un-American terrorists, and free speech is again criminalized. Claims that America is about creed and culture and belief rather than racial identity delegitimizes any claims of racism. A so-called “color blind” or “post-racial” society is the most segregated and racist society of all.