Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, May 12-17, 2018


rhetorical claim: President Trump above all prizes loyalty because leaks are part of the Washington Swamp culture.

rhetorical effect: best expressed by The Economist:

Mr Trump’s takeover has its roots in the take-no-prisoners tribalism that gripped American politics long before he became president. And in the past the Oval Office has occasionally belonged to narcissists some of whom lied, seduced, bullied or undermined presidential norms. But none has behaved quite as blatantly as Mr Trump.

At the heart of his system of power is his contempt for the truth….James Comey, whom Mr Trump fired as director of the FBI, laments “the lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth”. Mr Trump does not—perhaps cannot—distinguish between facts and falsehoods. As a businessman and on the campaign he behaved as if the truth was whatever he could get away with. And, as president, Mr Trump surely believes that his power means he can get away with a great deal.

When power dominates truth, criticism becomes betrayal. Critics cannot appeal to neutral facts and remain loyal, because facts are not neutral. As Hannah Arendt wrote of the 1920s and 1930s, any statement of fact becomes a question of motive. Thus, when H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser, said (uncontroversially) that Russia had interfered in the election campaign, Mr Trump heard his words as unforgivably hostile. Soon after, he was sacked.


merit-based immigration

rhetorical claim: As asserted by Tomi Lahren on Fox News,  would-be immigrants “need to understand that it’s a privilege to be an American — and that’s a privilege that you work toward. It’s not a right, You don’t just come into this country with low skills, low education, not understanding the language — and come into our country, because someone says it makes them feel nice. That’s not what this country is based on. The fact that we care more about feelings and kinship over actually improving the United States of America is the problem.” As White House Chief of Staff John Kelly put it,

The vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13 … but they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. …

They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. … The big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

rhetorical effect: increases xenophobia, racism,  and mindless nationalism; demonizes immigrants as freeloaders; breaks up families; decimates the American rags-to-riches dream by turning immigration into a meritocracy.


militant Normals

rhetorical claim: Trump’s election stopped the liberals’ war on normalcy. Regular Americans rebelled against the elite to reclaim their democracy.

rhetorical effect: divides the country against itself; casts liberals as abnormal and un-American; accuses liberals of directly assaulting American democracy. supports Trump’s pony embrace of coal miners, auto workers, construction workers, etc., and thus camouflages the fact that the tax cut only is helping the very wealthy.


so-called allies

rhetorical claim: the moment of truth is coming for our so-called European allies when it comes to Iran: will they enforce sanctions or appease a murderous regime and oppose US interest. In a Donald Trump presidency, the US must be respected or there will be a heavy price to pay.

rhetorical effect: undermines our key alliances with England, France, and Germany; prefers bullying and brute force to diplomacy; concedes America’s moral leadership in foreign policy; reduces foreign policy to a zero-sum, “with us or against us” discourse.


let us reason together

safe spaces

rhetorical claim: college speech codes unduly protect campus “snowflakes” from true political debate. They should respect the age-old academic tradition of “let us reason together.” Argument should never be a safe space.

rhetorical effect: by ignoring the disproportionate inequalities created by power and privilege, simply reinforces power and privilege. Uses a false call to “reason” because it will not accept any claims of power or privilege. Premises the call for reason on the false premise of a level playing field.


cost-benefit analysis

green button-pushing

rhetorical claim: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been squandering his chances to make New Yorkers energy-sufficient, all in the name of virtue-signaling his green credentials. His energy policies–and those of “greens” cannot sand up to cost-benefit analysis because there is no benefit–they only affect a vanishingly-small percentage of total greenhouse gases. As explained by Holman Jenkins:

Careers like Mr. Cuomo’s are built on running down what might be called “good policy” political capital. Mr. Cuomo is using up the state’s margin of energy survival to burnish his green potentials. He is sacrificing upstate’s economy to burnish his green credentials.

President Trump may lack decorum, but his corporate tax reform addressed a universally recognized problem, and now future politicians have a fresh cushion for antibusiness tax gestures without unduly risking the economy.

Ditto his trimming back of President Obama’s expensive but ineffectual climate policies: Now future politicians can dip their buckets in this well to advance their careers without overtaxing the citizenry’s ability to sustain costly climate gestures that produce no benefit.

This is the good-policy capital buffer at work. Mr. Cuomo is doing statewide what Mayor David Dinkins did for New York City in the early 1990s, using up the buffer.

rhetorical effect: dismisses alternative energy proposals as hypocritical, short-sighted and even dangerous to national security. Uses personal attack to undercut green policies, and repeats the old lie that responsible energy policies are, by definition, “anti-business.”


looking forward, not backward

rhetorical claim: Gina Haspel should be confirmed to head the CIA because we need to look forward, not backward, when it comes to protecting national security. Her past support of torture should not be used against her because it is no longer relevant and she has also pledged to defy President Trump if he orders torture.

rhetorical effect: once again postpones the day or reckoning for past US uses of torture; uses the “rule of law” argument to support her when Trump violates the “rule of law” every day in every way and she has no track record of saying no to power. Whitewashes the past.



rhetorical claim: many immigrants into the US are animals, not people, and should be treated as such. We are under siege by a group of determined criminals and rapists and terrorists, and should even think about closing our border down altogether until we figure out what is going on.

rhetorical effect: dehumanizes all immigrants; condones abusing immigrants; furthers Trumps racist, xenophobic, hate-filled policies.


Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 6-11, 2018

energy dominance

rhetorical claim: America is once again pursuing a policy of energy dominance rather than being beholden to foreign oil. This means unleashing America’s great energy potential through more mining, fracking, oil drilling, and offshore oil production.

rhetorical effect: this dominance comes at the expense of environmental safeguards and replaces the Obama-era policy of mixed use, and to put an end to all collaborative, locally-grounded land management. Reinforces the whole nationalist agenda of America First–the need to “dominate” a world much better suited to collaboration.


American Greatness

rhetorical claim: throwing out the Iranian deal, cracking down on the Chinese trade cheaters and ending NAFTA , reigning in the North Koreans, and walls and Muslim travel bans are some of the moving parts of MAGA.

rhetorical effect: the nationalist narrative of American greatness: the highest profits and the biggest bombs. This populist narrative is grounded in 1) a core conspiracy theory of history: Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim; foreigners like him and immigrants are trying to steal “our” elections, 2) the Koch brothers’ experiments in crushing labor unions, denying women reproductive rights, dismantling public schools, poisoning the water and the air, and disfranchising minority voters, and, 3) defending  the “real people” against their enemies by manipulating and pressuring the courts, the civil service, the Constitutions, and the media. The violence of Donald Trump’s verbal assaults on the media, the courts, and other institutions suggests a similar mindset, and he leads a political party that has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to trample on institutional norms and bend the mechanisms of government toward undemocratic ends. That is the meaning of the GOP’s voter-suppression campaigns, aggressive gerrymandering, and theft of a Supreme Court seat in the name of letting “the people have a say.” With Trump leading the way, America’s ruling party is lurching down the road of  “damaged” or “illiberal” or “defective” democracy.


left-wing NGOs

rhetorical claim: George Soros and his fellow travelers make up the left-wing NGO cabal, with its so-called human rights campaign masking greed, corruption, hypocrisy and lawlessness. They have become an extra-judicial paramilitary of their own.

rhetorical effect: spreads vast cynicism about any human rights campaign, labeling them “so-called” “extrajudiciary” and destabilizing of the rule of law. In most countries where Soros operates, human rights are endangered daily, and this smearing of the very concept of human rights turns them into their opposite. Any NGO championing basic human rights is now automatically tagged, Nancy Pelosi style, as “left wing.” Apparently human rights have become a solely liberal concept.


failed socialist experiment

rhetorical claim: desegregation efforts are a failed socialist experiment, and that’s why HUD is now allowing local and state governments to continue receiving grants even if they don’t comply with the full requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

rhetorical effect: justifies and encourages residential segregation; makes the federal government itself an agent of discriminatory housing policies; allows states to look the other way when it comes to housing discrimination complaints. Equality is reduced to being a theory or “experiment”, human rights are made into a pejorative when branded as “socialist,” and the claim of failure is undefined and treated as a fact rather than an assertion.


pulling out of the Iran deal

rhetorical claim: the US is pulling out of the Iran deal because it is so one-sided and does not guarantee that Iran won’t develop nuclear capability. It is the worst deal ever drawn up by anybody.

rhetorical effect: masks the fact that, since the agreement had no escape clause, the US is simply violating the agreement, not just pulling out of it. Even so, we continue to claim that the Iranians are the ones doing the violating, despite no supporting evidence. Trump claims that Iran is cheating on the deal, but his own intelligence directors have said there is no evidence of this claim whatsoever. The International Atomic Energy Agency has certified Iran’s compliance 10 times since the deal was signed. Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified to a Senate committee last month that, after reading the 140-page agreement three times, he was struck by how “robust” the deal’s verification provisions were.


ornamental political correctness

rhetorical claim: liberals excel at promoting phony, ornamental, politically correct issues they know nothing about, such as the uncertainties of climate change theory

rhetorical effect: undercuts any liberal position as being unthinking, automatic and knee jerk. Delegitimizes liberalism by equating it with fake news, posturing, and ignorance.


civil terrorists

rhetorical claim: gun control advocates are civil terrorists, The NRA has become the target of a cyber war, death threats and intimidation from the mainstream media. Gun owners’ civil rights have been trampled at least as much as blacks were under slavery and Jim Crow.

rhetorical effect: criminalizes any call for gun control as a civil rights violation. Uses the logic of social justice to justify violence and turn gun owners into victims. Part of the rhetorical attempt to equate dissent (aka, terrorism) with treason  and turn non-violence an act of violent aggression.


the excellent Kim Jong -un

rhetorical claim: Kim Jong-un is, according to Donald Trump,  “honorable” and “excellent.”

rhetorical effect: If a mass murderer such as Kim is deemed “honorable” and “excellent”, what heinousness does it take for Trump to condemn human rights violations? Ignores Kim’s bloody, dictatorial rule, in which he rules a police state with no human rights whatsoever. As with strongmen ruling Russia, China, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, the Philipines, etc., Trump is willing to look the other way if he can somehow get a diplomatic “win”–even a symbolic one. Notice also that Trump’s very limited vocabulary seems to be rooted in meaningless superlatives such as excellent, great, incredible, etc., as if he has a 10-year-old publicist.


disparate outcomes

anti-racism pc

rhetorical claim: Liberals maintain the unfounded assumption that “there would be no disparate outcomes unless there were disparate treatment,”  despite abundant evidence to the contrary. The knee jerk liberal charge of racism used to explain disparate outcomes is itself racist, and part of the grievance mentality that is holding blacks back from economic prosperity. Anti-racism has become a new civic religion, a kind of über pc. The relatively new legal standard of “disparate impact” disregards the American legal principle of “burden of proof.” Economic outcomes vary greatly across individuals and groups and concepts like “disparate impact” fail to take into account these variations.

rhetorical effect: strips the moral dimension from claims of racism and inequality, reducing them to mere opinions at best and kniving forms of cynical “grievance-mongering” at worst. Defies common sense by arguing that unequal effects have nothing to do with causes rooted in inequality and prejudice.




Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 30-May 4, 2018

Trump is genuine

rhetorical claim: we can believe Trump because he is genuine–he tells it like it is and doesn’t filter or lie, like the Fake News Media. Americans want action, and he’s giving it to them–draining the swamp.

rhetorical effect: as asserted by Michael Hayden, in the so-called “post truth era”:

Political partisanship in America has become what David Brooks calls “totalistic.” Partisan identity, as he writes, fills “the void left when their other attachments wither away — religious, ethnic, communal and familial.” Beliefs are now so tied to these identities that data is not particularly useful to argue a point.

Intelligence work — at least as practiced in the Western liberal tradition — reflects these threatened Enlightenment values: gathering, evaluating and analyzing information, and then disseminating conclusions for use, study or refutation.

How the erosion of Enlightenment values threatens good intelligence was obvious in the Trump administration’s ill-conceived and poorly carried out executive order that looked to the world like a Muslim ban….

These are truly uncharted waters for the country. We have in the past argued over the values to be applied to objective reality, or occasionally over what constituted objective reality, but never the existence or relevance of objective reality itself.

In this post-truth world, intelligence agencies are in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science — all of which, like intelligence gathering, are evidence-based. Intelligence shares a broader duty with these other truth-tellers to preserve the commitment and ability of our society to base important decisions on our best judgment of what constitutes objective reality.

The historian Timothy Snyder stresses the importance of reality and truth in his cautionary pamphlet, “On Tyranny.” “To abandon facts,” he writes, “is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so.” He then chillingly observes, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.”


we’ll see what happens

rhetorical claim: Trump’s fluid, transactional rhetoric keeps possibilities open while also making veiled threats–“we’ll see what happens.”

rhetorical effect: Leaves everything as open-ended and vague as possible for as long as possible to avoid accountability. As explained by Kathleen Hall Jamieson:

The occasions in which he’s made specific promises, like ‘we’ll build a wall and Mexico would pay for it,’ he has had trouble delivering. Instead of forecasting and being accountable for the forecast, he’s opening the possibility that there are a range of possibilities not anticipated for which he does not want to be held accountable.”

…In Trumpese, many people are saying” means “I wish many people were saying this because I want you to believe they are.” “People don’t know” likely means “I just found out,” and “believe me,” on some level, may signal “I have real doubts.”


fighting and winning for the hardworking taxpayer

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump continues to fight and win for the hardworking American taxpayer against government overreach, fake news, trial lawyers, unions, and so-called “green” environmentalists.

rhetorical effect: fighting and winning for corporate interests; eroding wage standards, benefits, and workplace rights of workers, especially in the private sector; eliminating public services and the social safety net programs; eliminating workplace safety regulation; eliminating the regulation of clean air and clean water, and making sure the tax cuts go mostly to the wealthy. The “hard-working taxpayer” is generally not “winning”. For example, so far:

    • 9: Percent of the 500 major companies that make up the S&P 500 index that have paid employees cash bonuses since the passage of the Republican tax plan.
    • 109Billions of dollars in dividends paid to shareholders following the passage of the Republican tax plan, setting a new record for dividend payments.
    • 84: Percent of all stocks owned by the wealthiest 10% of households.


As argued by Gordon Lafer in The One Percent Solution:

The vast majority of American employees go to work every day for a private company, with no union protections. For these workers, it is not a union contract but state and local laws that shape working conditions and frame the balance of power between employers and employees. Corporate rhetoric around these laws sounds different from that aimed at public servants—rather than attacking overpaid employees, they stress the need for flexibility, the danger of government mandates, and the power of unrestrained entrepreneurialism to lift all boats. But the aim of these arguments is ultimately the same: to restrict, weaken, or abolish laws governing wages, benefits, or working conditions; to preempt, defund, or dismantle every legal or organizational mechanism through which workers may challenge employer prerogatives; and to block, wherever possible, citizens’ ability to exercise democratic control over corporate behavior.



paycheck protection

rhetorical claim: tyrannous labor unions can no longer force workers to support politically correct causes they oppose. Their paychecks will be protected from forced payment of union dues.

rhetorical effect: paralyzes union political campaigns, thus severely limiting workers’ rights and freedom of speech.



rhetorical claim: Starbuck’s protestors are decoys and dupes of the racial grievance industry.

rhetorical effect: charges of racism are themselves suspected of being inherently racist; concepts of racial equality are reduced to being hypocritical con games, played by suckers only. Racism is said to not only not exist, but to be an excuse for laziness and fraud. Grievances are commodified and reduced to being an “industry.”


shareholder value maximization

rhetorical claim: government is a parasite on economic growth, and the only measure of value should be shareholder value maximization.

rhetorical effect: As explained by Martin Wolf:

That it is hard to see much wider economic benefit from the massive increase in the relative size and influence of finance over the past half century seems self-evident. Today, many western economies are, after all, burdened by high levels of private debt, high inequality and low rate of productivity growth. If this is success, what might failure look like?


the Employment Protection Agency

the Employment Prevention Agency

environmental originalism

environmental stewardship

self-implementing regulation

stakeholders who care about outcomes

fuel diversity

cooperative federalism

rhetorical claim: the EPA’s confiscatory war on industry is over–no more regulatory overreach.We need a return to environmental originalism, in which the government practices environmental stewardship. not prohibition.  Regulations will be self-implementing and immune to wasteful lawsuits. The EPA is no longer what Trump called the Employment Prevention Agency; instead, it’s now the Employment Protection Industry. Power plants will now be allowed to implement their own compliance programs without the intervention of a permitting authority.

rhetorical effect: protecting jobs, not the environment; allowing unlimited mining and development on public lands; ending regulation of polluters.


stakeholders who care about outcomes: often portrayed as “farmers and ranchers,” this label always applies to fossil fuel companies.

fuel diversity: cuts in alternative and green energy, thus the opposite of energy diversity policies

cooperative federalism: leaving environmental and workplace safety, policy and monitoring entirely up to the states, which are typically either reluctant to act due to political connections or lack the funds to act.



rhetorical claim: federal workers who are members of the Democrat Deep State engage in a form of collusion they sometimes call ethics or the rule of law.

rhetorical effect: codes of ethics get reduced to being “collusion,” a sort of conspiracy based not on a moral bedrock but on partisanship.


Deep State attempted coup

rhetorical claim: the Deep State’s attempted coup is being played out by Robert Mueller, and should be resisted.  According to the website American Greatness,

If you look at the categories of questions Mueller allegedly wishes to pose to Trump, you will notice they focus on exactly those areas of inquiry made possible by Obama and his henchmen through the NSA rule change. Among them are Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. A second group of questions has to do with the firing of Comey, the man who orchestrated the entire “special counsel” by writing memos and then leaking them to the New York Times through his friend, Columbia law professor Dan Richman—who just so happens to be on Comey’s legal team now. If you want to see real collusion in action, look no farther than the sanctimonious Comey and his rum crew.

By now, it’s clear that Mueller never had any intention of investigating Russian “collusion,” aside from issuing some meaningless indictments of persons over whom he has no legal authority. Rather—as the enemedia breathlessly hopes!—the inquiry has morphed into an “obstruction of justice” investigation into the firing of Mueller’s pal, Comey. And now we arrive at the heart of the matter.

The title of Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, gives the game away: higher than what? The Left is always nattering on about an “arc of history” that bends toward “justice,” but an educated populace should be able to see right through this classic example of Marxist cant. The purpose of such a meaningless phrase is to get you to believe that there is some authority—not God, God forbid!—“higher” than the laws of the United States, and that a true patriot’s allegiance belongs not to the Constitution but to some “higher” power.

Since the 1960s, that power has been the abstract (which is to say, unconstitutional) authority of the federal courts, principally the Supreme Court. To make this case—that the Court is the final judge of the constitutionality of just about everything—they’ve leveraged Marbury v. Madison and convinced the American public through a dazzling exercise in circular reasoning, that because the Court itself has said it is the arbiter of all things constitutional, it is therefore, under the Constitution, the arbiter of all things constitutional.

rhetorical effect: paranoid conspiracy theory run amuck–and even the Supreme Court is in on it. Defends the notion that the President is not subject to obstruction of justice charges because he represents and dispenses justice, and is only responsible to his interpretation of the Constitution. Turns the President into a dictator.





Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 25-29, 2018

transparency vs. “secret science”

rhetorical claim: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a rule would only allow the EPA to consider studies where the underlying data is made available publicly. Such restrictions could affect how the agency protects Americans from toxic chemicals, air pollution and other health risks.

Pruitt and proponents describe the new approach as an advance for transparency, one that will increase Americans’ trust and confidence in the research on which EPA decisions are based. “Today is a red-letter day,” he told a group of supporters at agency headquarters. “The science that we use is going to be transparent. It’s going to be reproducible.”

…The American Chemistry Council praised Pruitt’s effort. “Our industry is committed to working with EPA to help ensure the final rule increases transparency and public confidence in the agency’s regulations,” its statement said, “while protecting personal privacy, confidential business information, proprietary interest and intellectual property rights.”

rhetorical effect: spells the end of the use of scientific studies to underpin clean air, clean water, and public health environmental regulations; in the name of “transparency” obscures any basis for EPA policies apart from industry approval; blocks the EPA from relying on long-standing, landmark studies on the harmful effects of air pollution and pesticide exposure. Such research often involves confidential personal or medical histories or proprietary information. Also, the idea of required replicability rules out relying on huge, long-term studies, since they can only replicated over the course of several years.; endangers confidentiality safeguards in scientific studies. Further giving the game away, the American Chemistry Council praised Pruitt’s effort. “Our industry is committed to working with EPA to help ensure the final rule increases transparency and public confidence in the agency’s regulations,” its statement said, “while protecting personal privacy, confidential business information, proprietary interest and intellectual property rights.” To translate, “transparency” now means total opaqueness and immunity from scrutiny, all in the name of property rights.


anti-Trump opportunism

threat to democracy

rhetorical claim: anti-Trump forces have no problems jettisoning objectivity, spying on US citizens, illegally leaking classified intelligence, disobeying legal statutes to maintain power, etc. Their sanctimonious political opportunism constitutes a greater threat to democracy than anything Trump is accused of doing.

rhetorical effect: legitimate, honest dissent is unmasked as mere opportunism; idealism is transformed into cynicism and self-serving; free speech becomes a direct “threat to democracy”.


pay to play

rhetorical claim: “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mike Mulvaney, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday at the American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

He told the crowd that trying to sway legislators is one of the “fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy.”

rhetorical effect: “swaying” here means bribing and extortion; justifies the “pay to play” culture that Trump said he wanted to end; turns votes into a commodity, up for sale. As argued by Jonathan Chait:

The levels of corruption in this administration are simply staggering, and they range from open self-enrichment to openly selling policy to the highest bidder. The completely accurate sense that Trump and his party are out to get themselves and their friends rich is the administration’s gaping vulnerability. What’s especially odd is that nobody in the administration seems to have taken even cursory steps to address or paper over this weakness. They’re all just grabbing as much cash for themselves and their allies as they can, while they can.


weaponizing political disagreement

rank partisanship

rhetorical claim: the Left is escalating contempt for their fellow Americans and the increasing tendency to turn political disagreement into political war, or what Kim Strassel calls “the intimidation game,” in which the Left seeks to “[m]ake political opponents pay a high price for expressing their opinions” through harassment from government agencies, followed by investigations and prosecution, and then blackmail. By using the justice system as a political weapon to attack the enemies of the country’s elite, Robert Mueller and his supporters in both parties are confirming what many Americans already believe…we are not all equal under one law. Restoring this core principle of civil liberty is a cause around which all Americans of good faith can and must unite. By its actions, the Left is proving it does not believe either in liberty or in equal justice under the law and they are willing to use the power of government against their fellow Americans to get their way.

The only real question about the Mueller probe is  not Trump’s role but how we were conned into naming a Special Counsel in the first place.

rhetorical effect: criminalizes dissent; undermines the rule of law; makes it a crime to even investigate the Trump administration; uses the concept of “civil liberty” to give the Trump administration liberty to do and take anything they want; equates any criticism of Trump as a “smear.”

fair press

rhetorical claim: As expressed by Sarah Huckaby Sanders:

We support a free press, but we also support a fair press, and I think that those things should go hand in hand. And there’s a certain responsibility by the press to report accurate information. I think a number of people in this room do that every single day, they do their very best to provide fair and accurate information. Certainly support that and that’s one of the reason I’m standing here taking your questions. And a lot of times taking your questions in a tone that’s completely unnecessary, unneeded and frankly doesn’t help further the conversation or help the American people get any more information in a better way, which is your job and my job, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

rhetorical effect: qualifying the concept of a “free” press by saying it must also be a “fair” press opens door to justifying the stifling of a free press in the names of such nebulous concepts as accuracy, objectivity,” and “responsibility.”


American Political Prisoner

rhetorical claim: As West Virginia GOP Senate challenger Don Blankenship explains, the smear campaign against him has turned him into The American Political Prisoner:

Over the past thirty years I have been threatened with death several times: had urine thrown on me: had eleven bullet holes shot into my office: had two cars smashed with ball bats and clubs while I was in them: been continually lied about: been the subject of several false books: been branded with multiple derogatory names: been sued numerous times: been slandered on national television many times: been subjected to continued ridicule by newspapers: been falsely accused of causing the Upper Big Branch (UBB) tragedy: been falsely arrested: endured a trial where I faced thirty years in prison for made up charges, and been put in federal prison for a misdemeanor.

 This booklet is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do because all Americans deserve a fair trial, and not one like I had. It is right to do this booklet because coal miner safety is more important than political correctness.

Lies about accidents and improper prosecutions are serious matters, as they prevent worker safety improvements and deprive people of their basic human rights.

rhetorical effect: furthers the “fake news” meme;  sets up a false dichotomy between coal mine safety and political correctness, arguing that political correctness somehow undermines mine safety; turns himself into a victim despite the fact that he is actually the one who has been convicted of criminal negligence; covers over some inconvenient facts about Blankenship, as reported in The New Republic:

There are a lot of people who loathe Don Blankenship, the former head of Massey Energy. Start with the coal miners, 29 of whom were killed in 2010 when an explosion ripped through Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Then there are the employees who have accused him of verbal and physical harassment; neighbors whose drinking water was poisoned by Massey’s improper disposal of hazardous waste; rival businessmen Blankenship squeezed into bankruptcy; and Appalachians whose health has been impaired by the disastrous environmental effects of mountaintop removal, an extractive technique Blankenship helped pioneer…. “Massey ran on three principles: fear, intimidation, and propaganda,” said Stewart, repeating a line he used in testimony before a federal court and a congressional committee. All three stemmed from Blankenship. During his nearly 30-year stint at Massey, Blankenship broke a violent labor strike, devoured competitors, bought a state court of appeals seat, normalized the use of mountaintop removal mining, and regularly flouted environmental and workplace standards. That all might once have made him persona non grata among national Republicans. But in Trump’s Republican Party, Blankenship’s record is a selling point.


criminalizing the exercise of presidential power

rhetorical claim: Presidents cannot obstruct justice while exercising core executive powers, so Robby Mueller’s witch hunt has no constitutional basis. The judiciary cannot question the President’s motives–otherwise, we would no longer have separation of powers.

rhetorical effect: reinforces the concept of the unitary executive; moots all criticism of Trump, removes him from being subject to the rule of law. In other words, this is the legal foundation of a looming coup d’etat.


bland welfare corporatism

rhetorical claim: the Dems are once again pedalling their stale brand of bland welfare corporatism and globalist elitism.

rhetorical effect: reduces Dem principles to cynical ploys to keep the poor addicted to welfare while caving in to corporate power.


the value of pushback

rhetorical claim: Americans are pushing back against liberal sophisticates’ political correctness, no longer accepting asocial behavior, a culture of grievance and victimhood, law breaking, sexual perversity, or unfettered “free” speech. Lax morals have created social mayhem in America

rhetorical effect: condones bullying, the abrogation of constitutional rights, the suppression of a free press, and authoritarianism.



Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 17-24, 2018

competitiveness clause

rhetorical claim: The GOP should insert a competitiveness clause in any new NAFTA agreement. Such a chapter would bolster infrastructure, create more jobs and streamline the permitting process. Ending the crushing regulatory chokehold of the Obama years (see “bludgeoning,” below) would thwart future Democratic mischief if they re-take the House.

rhetorical effect: “competitiveness” becomes a weaponized euphemism for corporate malfeasance, environmental destruction, the end of labor rights, and all consumer protection.



rhetorical claim: the GOP is slowly repealing the worst regulatory rules of the Obama administration, rules that were used to bludgeon entire industries–coal, auto and payday lenders, for-profit colleges–into submission.

rhetorical effect: any policy the GOP disagrees with is seen as nothing but government coercion, as if any regulation is suspect and coercive because it is inherently based on  the hypocritical Dem will-to-power. Claims of public interest or the common good are ridiculed as anti-jobs and anti-American.


superfluous legal jeopardy

rhetorical claim: when we metastasize laws for criminalizing politics, we become more like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The corrupt FBI has put Donald Trump into superfluous legal jeopardy. Mueller is framing his own investigation to justify the pre-election actions of the FBI.

rhetorical effect: undermines and poisons any Mueller indictments or claims of illegal acts. Transforms the rule of law into a pejorative, a form of “tyranny”.


bad science and statistical manipulation

rhetorical claim: the liberal worldview and policy framework are often based on junk science and statistical manipulation: irreproducible research is the rotten foundation of neo-liberal economic theory, concocted psychology research undergirds education policy, and, as Peter Wood and David Randall argue in the WSJ,

The whole discipline of climate science is a farrago of unreliable statistics, arbitrary research techniques and politicized groupthink….

The chief cause of irreproducibility may be that scientists, whether wittingly or not, are fishing fake statistical significance out of noisy data. If a researcher looks long enough, he can turn any fluke correlation into a seemingly positive result. But other factors compound the problem: Scientists can make arbitrary decisions about research techniques, even changing procedures partway through an experiment. They are susceptible to groupthink and aren’t as skeptical of results that fit their biases. Negative results typically go into the file drawer. Exciting new findings are a route to tenure and fame, and there’s little reward for replication studies.

rhetorical effect: part of the War on Science, turning the whole concept of  “government science” into an oxymoron.


reverse racism

rhetorical claim: liberal academics do not seek equality, but instead want to assert and maintain privilege. They thrive on racism, which they themselves help to perpetuate. It’s time to stop prattling about “race” altogether.

rhetorical effect: typical GOP inversion: anyone claiming X is actually perpetuating it: the poor keep themselves poor, the needy are actually parasites taking advantage of society via white guilt, minorities are the real racists, feminism turns women into victims, the courts, FBI and Justice Departments are actually undermining the rule of law, etc.  Call it the The World Turned Upside Down syndrome. While there is a certain twisted logic to this method, it rests on a poisoned, exclusionary  base of conspiracy theory (us vs. them).


Social Justice Warriors vs. western chauvinism

rhetorical claim: ultra-liberal Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) are out of step with the American people with their collectivist, globalist elitism. Instead, it’s time to practice making America Great Again,  time for the advent of sovefrign citizenship and  western chauvinism.

rhetorical effect: opposition to SJWs justifies misogyny, nativism, anti-Semitism, racism, the squelching of free speech, and the end of civil society. Undercuts the very oidea of social justice, reducing it from a moral imperative to a phony redistribution scheme.


unearned respect

rhetorical claim: as expressed by Victor David Hanson:

Washington’s self-righteous establishmentarians talk of professionalism when they act unprofessionally. They refer at length to their intellectual and professional pedigrees when they prove incompetent. And they cite their morality and ethics when they possess neither.

And then, adding insult to injury, when the public expresses abhorrence at their behavior, they accuse critics of unprofessionalism, a lack of patriotism, or reckless demagoguery.

A James Clapper can lie to Congress under oath about intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens; a John Brennan can lie about CIA monitoring of U.S. Senate computers, or mislead Congress about the absence of any collateral damage in the use of drones. Yet we are supposed to give both further credence based on their emeriti titles or to believe their current Captain Renault-like outrage over President Trump’s lack of presidential decorum? But what in their past has earned them the moral high ground? Claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was largely “secular,” or redefining jihad as “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam”?….

For the next decade, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the federal judiciary will have to explain exactly why some Americans can lie to federal investigators, lie to the Congress, destroy subpoenaed evidence, leak classified documents, and face no consequences—while other Americans would have had—and have had—their lives and careers ruined for much less.

Had General David Petraeus told the FBI that his notebooks were accidentally lost, but no matter, because they simply documented his private family plans for a wedding and his own yoga regimen, would he have been indicted? The danger of the present age is not James Comey’s self-righteousness or Robert Mueller’s peculiar latest focus, but a massive distortion of the foundational principle of the United States: equality under the law. In some sense, it no longer exists….

Self-righteousness and self-referencing become fatal when combined with incompetence and malfeasance. James Comey is our touchstone to a morally confused age.

rhetorical effect: demonizes and undercuts the entire criminal justice system; turns allegations and molehills into mountains; criminalizes long-held federal investigative techniques and practices; undermines respect for the rule of law. All of this is designed to inoculate Trump against any Mueller findings or indictments.


welfare abuse

rhetorical claim: In our well-intentioned effort to remove the stigma attached to entitlement programs, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that some people are now flaunting their entitlements and creating an underground culture where blatant fraud is being committed.

The absence of oversight is easy to understand. These programs are funded by taxpayer dollars; therefore the government has no incentive whatsoever to root out waste. They can simply raise taxes when they run out of money and you and I are called heartless for denying aid to the poor and downtrodden if we dare to protest.

There is no better example of how liberal social policy is implemented. As Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying, we are not allowed to look at the results of these programs or their unintended consequences. We are only to consider the intention.

If the intention was honorable, it doesn’t seem to matter that we are making people hopelessly dependent on the government.

Sadly, in the mind of liberal politicians this dependency translates into votes.

rhetorical effect: criminalizes the mere acceptance of social safety-net monies as “abuse”; equates welfare recipients with moochers; assumes all welfare recipients are dependent on the government, no matter how many jobs they have, etc. Rules out any sense of compassion, justice, context, historical racism, etc. Justifies draconian cuts in  social safety-net funding. Undoes the New Deal.



Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 8-16, 2018


rhetorical claim: America is great again because President Trump has reaffirmed our military supremacy, made America first when it comes to trade deals, restored pride in patriotism, and defended American freedom against liberals, globalists, the fake news media, the fake global warming conspirators, and the forces out to undermine the  Christian foundations of the family and marriage.

rhetorical effect: justifies a whole range of political departures from the norms of civil society and democratic rule: aligning ourselves with autocrats and dictators; undercutting  the authority of the courts, the press and the justice system; denying basic human rights for immigrants; destroying the foundations of environmental protection; trashing the State Department; instigating trade wars, denying science, etc. Trump’s definition of greatness does not include human rights, sympathy, equality, diplomacy, justice or workers’ rights. It is the opposite of the key values of democracy: tolerance, sympathy, equality and justice.


the reckoning

rhetorical claim: putting America first–whether in military power, trade, limits to immigration, etc.–is not rabid nationalism or an all out so-called trade war, but a reckoning, an end to China, Russia, Iran, Western Europe and even North Korea walking all over us. They have tested the limits of American patience. Not being willing any longer to be manipulated is not succumbing to isolationism.

rhetorical effect: justifies bellicose military initiatives; draconian cuts to foreign aid and the State Department; the abrogation of all treaties and trade pacts, and a new isolationism.


redistributionist and entitlement agenda

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ redistributionist and entitlement agenda has come to an end as the complacent era of cheap money and huge government debt grinds to a halt.

rhetorical effect: justifies huge budget cuts to all social safety net programs as well as to Medicare and Social Security. Claiming that no one is “entitled” to government benefits is an indirect way to phase out all government benefits as wasteful. Calling it an “entitlement agenda” instead of basic human rights undercuts its legitimacy, just as does calling social justice “redistributionism.” Calling it an “agenda” instead of a moral commitment makes it sound hypocritical, dishonest, and partisan. When did basic human rights such as health, education, equality, and human well-being become partisan?



rhetorical claim: For nearly a year before Mueller’s appointment, leaks have spread about collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign that supposedly cost Clinton a sure victory. Most of these collusion stories, as we now know, originated with Christopher Steele and his now-discredited anti-Trump opposition file.

rhetorical effect: discredited in this case simply means disputed by Trumpinistas. Any claim against Trump is automatically labeled “discredited,” as if only Trump can be the Accreditor-in Chief. To Trump, all criticism is a lie.


progressivism’s savior complex

rhetorical claim: smug, moralizing progressives aim to change the way other people act—by force if necessary. Moralizing breeds intolerance and even tyranny because it springs from a belief that, like the pious Canadians, not only do you know the truth but you also have a solemn duty to impose it on others. They have a serious savior complex in which hubris and conceit mix with a tyrannical impulse, and it is one of the reasons we have so much moralizing in America today, yet so little morality.

rhetorical effect: undermines any oppositional progressive or liberal  moral judgments as self-righteous, hypocritical, self-serving, and absolutist. Of course, this accusation of moralizing absolutism is always framed in a moralizing, absolutist rhetoric of its own. As usual, Trumpinistas become the very thing they most excoriate.


The War Against America

rhetorical claim: as argued by Angelo Codevilla on the website American Greatness, writing about the media’s, the judges’, the bureaucrats’, the corporate executives’ continuing war on ordinary Americans.  

That war is unabated because the power of the people who degraded our lives in their own image is undiminished. For them, the rest of America is and will remain irredeemable. They well nigh removed Christianity and Judaism from the public square. Their schools have dumbed down a generation. They reduced raising children within marriage to a vanishing majority in the country at large and to a rarity among blacks. They have filled our streets with criminals. Their corporations try dictating what people may say and even think. They have stigmatized the verbal currency of two centuries, and bid to outlaw it as hate speech. And they continue to tighten their vise. In the process, however, these rulers are convincing the rest of Americans that they are irredeemable as well….

…When one side rejects persuasion in favor of war, what are the other’s options? To convince our opponents to accept us as equals? The culture, the institutions, bureaucracies, corporations, they have made their own will never again admit us as equals. To reform them? Fat chance! To punish them? To push them to the margins before they push us? What is the good of that?

…Safeguarding, restoring or re-growing, the precepts, habits, and institutions with which and in which we have lived freely requires acting on our own behalf, almost as if the other side did not exist…Separating from the educational establishment is essential to securing a culture in which we can thrive socially and politically. It is discrediting itself academically, and by showing enmity to the rest of America.

rhetorical effect: openly declares war on the media, the rule of law, the educational system, big business and government, rendering compromise and public discourse impossible. Lays the groundwork for a cultural Civil War.


The Comey-Media Collusion Machine

rhetorical claim: As Comey determined back in 2016, Clinton was “extremely careless” with her handling of classified information—but so was he. While she had classified and top secret emails on an unsecure server, Comey leaked memos about his conversations with President Trump to the press in retaliation for his firing, which ultimately led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

 Comey and Clinton both had the luxury of being shielded by the mainstream media. 2016 set a dangerous precedent that a former secretary of state can abuse her power while in office and not be held accountable simply because journalists vehemently opposed her GOP rival. As argued by Victor David Hanson on the National Review website:

Comey, McCabe, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch, Andrew Weissmann, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Harry Reid, Samantha Power, Clinton attorney Jeannie Rhee . . .If collusion is the twin of conspiracy, then there are lots of colluders running around Washington.

Robert Mueller was tasked to find evidence of Trump and Russia collusion that might have warped the 2016 campaign and thrown the election to Trump. After a year, his investigation has found no concrete evidence of collusion. So it has often turned to other purported Trump misadventures. Ironically, collusion of all sorts — illegal, barely legal, and simply unethical — has been the sea that Washington fish always swim in.

Christopher Steele, hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign through a series of firewall intermediaries, probably paid Russian sources for gossip and smears. If there is a crime of collusion, then Clinton-campaign contractors should be under investigation for seeking Russian help to find dirt on Trump, to spread smears around throughout the DOJ, FBI, and CIA, and to make sure that the dirt was leaked to the press in the final weeks of the campaign — for the sole “insurance” purposes of losing Trump the election.

Some sort of collusion likely occurred when the Obama DOJ and FBI sought FISA-court requests to surveille Carter Page and, indirectly, possibly many other members of the Trump campaign. On repeated occasions, they all made sure the FISA-court judges were not apprised that the Steele dossier, the chief basis for these requests, was paid for by the Clinton campaign, that the dossier was not verified by the FBI, that the dossier was the source of media stories that in circular fashion were used to convince the FISA judges to grant the surveillance requests, and that the FBI had severed relations with Steele on the basis of his unreliability. Such a collusion of silence was similar to James Comey’s admission that he apprised President Trump of every iota of lurid sexual gossip about him — except that his source was a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton and written by a campaign operative hired to find dirt on Trump and who had been working with Comey’s FBI to get FISA approval to spy on Trump’s own aides.

rhetorical effect: reduces all charges against Trump to “leaks”, thus making a looming indictment or series of charges themselves illegal. Criminalizes the justice system and the rule of law by inverting its logic, spirit and integrity.


Comey’s prigishness

rhetorical claim: as argued by Rich Lowry on the National Review website:

James Comey has managed the seemingly impossible. The former FBI director is locked in a death struggle with an unpopular president who makes even his allies cringe with his belittling nicknames, foolish threats and strange view of the presidency — and somehow it is Comey who is coming away as the unlikable one.

That’s because no one likes a prig, especially when he has an ax to grind. Comey has good reason to disdain Donald Trump, who fired him in humiliating circumstances and whose warped view of the Justice Department as an institution for the protection of the president is rightly anathema to him. Comey is just the latest of Trump’s adversaries, though, who are diminished by the president dragging them down to his level and exposing their weaknesses.

Comey’s weakness is self-regard, clearly wounded by the widespread sense that he took an impossibly challenging assignment in 2016 and made a complete hash of it.

rhetorical effect: crminalizes Comey and Mueller. Equates the rule of law with “prigishness,” as if it is a distasteful technicality or partisan idea.  Morally judges the rule of law as immoral.


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, Apr 3-6, 2018

antisocial black behavior

colorblind standards

rhetorical claim: as Jason L. Riley argues in the WSJ:

Where King tried to instill in young people the importance of personal responsibility and self-determination notwithstanding racial barriers, his counterparts today spend more time making excuses for counterproductive behavior and dismissing criticism of it as racist. Activists who long ago abandoned King’s colorblind standard, which was the basis for the landmark civil-rights laws enacted in the 1960s, tell black youths today that they are victims, first and foremost.

A generation of blacks who have more opportunity than any previous generation are being taught that America offers them little more than trigger-happy cops, bigoted teachers and biased employers. It’s not only incorrect, but as King and a previous generation of black leaders understood, it’s also unhelpful.

Black activists and liberal politicians stress racism because it serves their own interests, not because it serves the interests of the black underclass. But neglecting or playing down the role that blacks must play in addressing racial disparities can only exacerbate them.

rhetorical effect: arguing that blaming blacks for racial disparities is the way to begin to ameliorate those racial disparities is typically topsy-turvy  GOP rhetoric. In Riley’s upside-down rhetoric, blacks are said to neglect personal responsibility and to blame racism for all their problems. This argument reduces the cause of these problems–racism–into a myth that then becomes labeled as an effect of black behavior. This inversion of cause and effect allows him to make such absurd claims as that  talking about racism only hurts the underclass, who–who knew?– have more opportunities than ever!

the cultural-Marxist Left’s war on language

rhetorical claim: from the American Greatness blog:

The cultural-Marxist Left’s war on Western civilization and American society is conducted on many fronts, including the courts and the streets, but also on a daily basis in the arena of public opinion, via the language. One prominent example has been their transformation of the two human sexes, male and female, first into “genders” (a term drawn from English grammar, and of which there are three, including neuter) and then into multiple genders. This of course demands a new set of pronouns which promptly are given “identity” characteristics, the better to tribalize and thus weaponize these hitherto unknown species of human beings.

Another example is the transformation of the words “immigrants” and “asylum,” which in the space of a decade or so have now acquired a host of subtextual signifiers of race and class in order to change their meaning. To those of us who are the descendants of the last great wave of genuine immigration, which ended around 1920, the words have a sentimental patina about them, recalling the great-grandparents from the old countries of Europe still glimpsed in sepia-toned photographs—the folks who arrived with nothing, worked hard, married either within or without their ethnic group, built houses, started families, moved up and moved out into the mainstream of American society and disappeared into history.

But for the racially obsessed Left, “migrants” now mean brown and black people, while “asylum” means the right of free and unfettered entry into the First World, with no end either in sight or even contemplated. If these continue to be the meanings of the terms, we are in for the most profound period of social and national disruption since the fall of Rome.

rhetorical effect: justifies the last stand of the white, heterosexual male. Categorizing all liberal policies as “cultural-Marxist” makes political compromise impossible since liberals thus pose an existential threat to American democracy.


the real jobs war

rhetorical claim: job losses caused by the tariff wars don’t matter because Trump won the real jobs war, which was with the Obama presidency’s eight years of economic stagnation.

rhetorical effect: changes the subject from harmful tariffs to past economic history, along the way totally distorting the fact that the Obama presidency saw at least six straight years of job growth after the worst recession since he Depression.


dangerous immigrant flows

rhetorical claim: we need to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop dangerous immigrant flows from illegal entry. The National Guard should be deployed for national security’s sake.

rhetorical effect: immigration rates are at a 15-year low, so the “dangerous flows” are a mythical exaggeration intended to whip up hysteria to justify a totally unwarranted military deployment.


cooperative federalism

rhetorical claim: as Scott Pruitt puts it, referring to California’s auto emissions standards, “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country.”

rhetorical effect: as explained in an LA Times editorial:

Pruitt, a stalwart shill for the fossil fuel industry claims the Obama administration rushed the analysis of whether the regulations were feasible and set the standards too high. That’s mere pretext, given that Pruitt has used his tenure at the EPA to systematically attack responsible, science- and health-based regulations. Nor, apparently, is it enough that he’s weakened national environmental protections; Pruitt has suggested he may go after California’s essential air quality regulations and climate change program as well.

In the Trump era, both “cooperative” and “federalism” mean that the federal government gets its way and overturns all precedent for state and local action–see sanctuary cities, for example. Thus, as usual, te Trump-era label for something is actually the opposite of what it advertises: in this case, there is neither cooperation nor federalism.


rhetorical claim: Trump has reversed America’s steady march toward gender neutrality. His manly way of saying “Take It or Leave It” makes patriotism great again.

rhetorical effect: sanctions Trump’s bullying, swaggering bragging, lying, and corruption; puts all LGBTQ rights at risk; threatens the civil liberties of all Americans, and furthers Trump’s divisive white nationalism.


progressive political correctness

rhetorical claim: Trump has also reversed America’s progressive political correctness problem. Americans hate identity politics and being told that they are sexist, racist homophobes.

rhetorical effect: see above.



rhetorical claim: David Shulkin was sacked from the VA because he resisted offering Veterans health care offering choices, which always lead to better and more efficient health care.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for the privatization of the VA, euphemistically cloaking expensive and exclusionary market forces as “freedom” and choice.”


green virtue and phony fuel standard

rhetorical claim: liberals like to signal their green virtue with fake fuel standards that will never come to pass, run counter to the wishes of the vast majority of American car buyers, and, even if the did come to pass, would have zero effect on climate change. In other words, they are, like most liberal ideas, a cost without a benefit, or bureaucratic processes run amok. In fact, they actually pose a safety hazard, directly leading to about 4,000 extra auto accident deaths per year.

rhetorical effect: rhetorical inversion at its finest: fuel efficiency standards are not efficient; they incur costs with no benefits, and are actually a direct threat to the health and safety of Americans. Environmental standards in general are a threat to Americans, not a form of so-called “environmental protection.”