Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct. 23-28, 2018

the real drivers of debt

the demographics of the future

rhetorical claim: According to Mitch McConnell, the rising budget deficit is “disturbing” and  “entitlement programs” are “the real drivers of the debt” and must be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.” McConnell also promises to try again to repeal the ACA, calling the failure to achieve that “the one disappointment of this Congress.” Cuts in “entitlements,” he suggested, must be done in a bipartisan fashion, while ACA repeal is a partisan Republican fixation. If Democrats take the House, he will push for cuts in Social Security. If Republicans retain control, they will try to repeal Obamacare again.

rhetorical effect: Beltway code for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans pass tax cuts largely for the rich and for corporations, then use the exploding deficits to justify slashing core security programs that most Americans rely on. Social Security provides the majority of cash income for 61 percent of seniors, and 90 percent of income for one-third of the elderly.  As Jennifer Rubin explains,

This Republican duck-and-cover effort impedes the debate we need to have. Corporations continue to abandon pension plans; most Americans have no retirement plan at work. Boomers are beginning to retire, after laboring during the decades of unprecedented wage stagnation. Rising health-care costs continue to eat up small raises for workers. Congress should be moving to expand Social Security, not cut it, and to make health care universal and affordable, not try to weaken the programs we have. If Trump and Republicans succeed in their mendacious scare campaign against those calling for Medicare-for-all, they will torpedo progress on any of these issues. And for that, millions of Americans will pay dearly.


the politics of personal destruction

rhetorical claim:  The aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings continues. Chuck Grassley has referred Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. He is right to do so.

As Judiciary Chairman, Senator Grassley’s burden was to preside over the extraordinary chaos that engulfed the committee after its Democratic members brought forth accusations of sexual misconduct against then Judge, now Justice, Kavanaugh.

Amid high political tension, Mr. Avenatti, famous only for representing porn star Stormy Daniels, produced another accuser who claimed to have been gang-raped at a party attended by Mr. Kavanaugh in the early 1980s. Senator Grassley’s criminal referral alleges that Mr. Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, made false statements to the committee’s investigators, which is a crime.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral of this nature,” Senator Grassley said, “but ignoring this behavior will just invite more of it in the future.” Deterring the politics of personal destruction sounds like an excellent idea.

rhetorical effect: Attacking the attacker rhetoric demeans and even delegitimizes any legal action or criticism brought against Trump or his administration as both  “personal” and destructive. Tries to criminalize free speech by turning Kavanaugh into the victim.


the Antifa threat

rhetorical claim: according to the American Thinker blog, the Swamp continues to lionize the ultra-left

Antifa mobocracy. Antifa operates with near impunity due to supporting the establishment’s values of open borders, globalist socialism, censorship, social degeneracy, and limitless centralized power. There is an organized network of leftist lawyers who will defend these terrorists free of charge, and countless deep state apparatchiks working as judges, journalists, law enforcement officials, university administrators, and federal bureaucrats who regularly abuse their power to protect these unabashedly violent activists. This is a far worse problem than Antifa merely getting payoffs from Soros and other far-left oligarchs through their shady non-profit networks…The leftists tuned us out when we talked about nonaggression, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, free-market economics, and all of our other talking points. These people are jackals and on the march. Complacency only emboldens them. It is time for unity to emerge amongst the right, along with an understanding that we are all under attack and all in this together. It is time for unity to emerge amongst the right, along with an understanding that we are all under attack and all in this together. Whether you are a moderate Christian like Brett Kavanaugh or a rowdy Trump-supporting Proud Boy or anywhere in between, the organized left means business and are rapidly advancing to destroy you and everything you hold dear.

rhetorical effect: Trump uses this right-wing paranoid conspiracy theory to shore up his base and undercut the media. This rage and paranoia is what leads to mail bombs and, ultimately, to attempts to he suppression of free speech and the media. Time to start preparing for a new Civil War?


tech censorship

rhetorical claim: Tech companies have been censoring and will continue to censor the news to prevent “fake news” and “hate speech” from spreading.  Congress should pass the Social Media Anti-Censorship Act (SMACA), which would “prohibit censorship of lawful speech on major social media platforms.”

rhetorical effect: government interference is search results; tHe nationalization and even control of  the Internet by the GOP.


Deep State henchmen

rhetorical claim: The process by which the FBI and Department of Justice were corrupted into serving as political attack machines for the Democrats is finally coming into focus.  In an article in The Hill that is today’s read of the day, a retired senior FBI executive puts together the evidence already on the record to offer a roadmap of how the politicization of these powerful bureaucracies was accomplished.

Kevin R. Brock, who is identified as “former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC),” sees Andrew McCabe as the point man, pulled up through the career bureaucracy of the bureau by his mentor, James Comey, who was, after all, an outsider political appointee in need of a henchman to implement his political machinations.  Once Comey was fired, McCabe became the key figure leading the law enforcement branch of the Deep State’s resistance to Trump.

rhetorical effect: this purely fanciful confecting of “facts” will continue forever, like Benghazi. Both are part of the GOP’s long-running Clinton Derangement Syndrome, their Great White Whale: a phantasm that has seized hold of their souls and will destroy them in their endless pursuit of it.



rhetorical claim: the media’s endless battering and baiting of Trump incites his base and directly translates into their anger and resentment. They have truly become the enemy of the people–the vast majority of whom, especially in flyover America– support Trump.

rhetorical effect: as argued by Jennifer Rubin:

Incitement is defined as “an act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action.”

Trump and his defenders claim the mainstream media incites anger. There is no denying that his followers get angry when they read news accounts that do not adopt their conspiracy theories or when journalists debunk Trump’s falsehoods or when wrongdoing in his administration is revealed. However, incitement to hate and attempts to stir anger along gender, racial and ethnic lines do not come from the press; they come from the president.

Trump calls the press the “enemy of the people” and describes journalists as “very bad people,” “truly bad people,” “the worst,” “among the most dishonest groups of people I have had to deal with,” “corrupt,” “a great danger to our country,” and “troublemakers.” He encourages his crowds to turn around to harangue members of the media covering his events, and at times has directed his attention — and the crowd’s abuse — at a single journalist. When demonizing a specific outlet, he most frequently picks CNN.

It should be obvious that such language is designed to increase anger and resentment in his base, to delegitimize the free press and to suggest it is undeserving of its constitutional protections. (He actually threatened to “pull the license” on NBC for its unfavorable reporting.) Such language from a president is unprecedented in modern American history. His followers get the message; they chant and insult the traveling press, and social media is full of abusive, threatening and/or hateful messages directed to or about the press.

One would think the distinction between critical coverage (even unfair coverage!) or persuasive commentary, on one hand, and, on the other, vituperative, dehumanizing speech designed to provoke an emotional, irrational response should be obvious. And yet Trump and his ilk blame the media for a toxic political environment that has cast a pallor over our politics since his election…Trump’s notion that any criticism of him (no matter how provable) is equivalent to his baseless insults, expressions of bigotry and praise for violence is the sort of moral equivalence that conservatives used to deplore.


Shariah law in Europe

the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas

rhetorical claim: As argued in The National Review:

In European law, It is verboten to say things that might upset Muslims. Particularly offensive is mention of Islam’s many doctrinal tenets that make us cringe in the 21st century — approbation of child marriage, violent jihad, the treatment of women as chattel, the duty to kill apostates, and so on. That these tenets are accurately stated, supported by undeniable scriptural grounding, is beside the point. Or as the ECHR put it, reliance on scripture could be classified as “an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam, which could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.”

What the vestiges of Western civilization are coming to: I say something that is true; it hurts your feelings, so — of course — you blow up a building; and it’s my fault…

If a society is to be a functioning, flourishing, free society, it must safeguard the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas. Absent that, the rule of reason dies, and with it freedom of conscience, equality before the law, due process, property rights, and equality of opportunity.

Islamists and their transnational-progressive allies seek to redefine democracy as a guarantee of domestic tranquility, on the road to global tranquility in a post-Westphalian order. It is a sweet-sounding roadmap to tyranny, in which “tranquility” is enforced Soviet-style, with an official version of history and truth that is not open to question or debate. Your “freedom” to speak is strictly limited to those confines.

There is no free speech in Islam. Sharia states do not merely forbid speech that insults or denigrates Islam; they regard as blasphemy — and punish with cruelty — any form of expression that casts Islam in an unfavorable light.

rhetorical effect: reduces Islam to a totalitarian state bent on world domination; suppresses free speech; defines “the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas” as discourse that reinforce Christianity, white supremacy, and all things Trump. Argues for free religious speech while condemning Islamic religious speech, thus invoking the very thing (in this case, censorship) it ostensibly opposes.



rhetorical claim: In their own smear and fear campaign, The Dems claim that Republicans are campaigning on fear. At least, that’s the latest overwhelming consensus that the journalistic hivemind occasionally produces. And when the GOP is not stoking unfounded terror in the hearts of their constituents, they’re being patently mendacious.

The Washington Post declared that Trump and the GOP have settled on “fear” and “falsehoods” as a closing argument, with a little “racially tinged rhetoric” as a topper. On health care and entitlements, the report noted, the GOP has shown a willingness to “instill fear in their electorate.” On that topic, CNN’s reporters also accused Republicans of appealing to “fear and misdirection.”

rhetorical effect: You have to read GOP rhetoric backwards and upside down, as if you are deciphering it in a mirror . As is the case of the politiscripts cited above (incitement, the politics of personal destruction, the real drivers of public debt, etc.) the GOP’s language is primarily used to reverse engineer any liberal or progressive claims–calls for tolerance become a form of intolerance, or gun control laws lead to more shootings, etc. Turning the tables, false equivalencies and Whataboutism are their means and ends, their weapons of mass distraction. They create the fear, then make the voters fear the fear that has been artificially constructed. Isn’t this a description of hysteria?