Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, July 28-Aug 3, 2018

it continues to stain our country

rhetorical claim: as the President tweeted:

..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to US

rhetorical effect: branding any criticism or investigation of Trump as a “stain” equates criticism with dirt, vermin, and filth: something easily dispensed with. As argued by Ruth Marcus:

Note to the president: “Our country” is doing just fine with the Mueller probe. Actually, the United States is benefiting from it. The country being stained by the investigation is the one that tried to interfere with our election on Trump’s behalf. One of the indictments that Mueller has produced alleged that Russian individuals and companies engaged in a sophisticated social-media campaign to help swing the election to Trump. Another accused Russian military intelligence agents of hacking into the emails of Democratic campaigns and operatives.

Someone needs to ask — or would ask, if the president ever took more than a few shouted questions from a few favored reporters — how bringing such cases is a “stain” on the United States. Rather, it is a defense of the country and its electoral system, which is more than we have seen from the Trump administration.

Leave aside the matter of whether Trump’s attacks on the Russia “hoax” represent potential evidence in an obstruction case against him. That is worth considering, but the focus on his tweets as obstruction in plain sight has obscured the even more concerning fact that the tweets offer incontrovertible evidence of a president who cares nothing about the well-being of his country and the integrity of its elections

A president who cared about this would be insisting that Mueller get to the bottom of what happened, not doing his best to undermine the special counsel’s legitimacy. He would not be ordering, or even suggesting, that his attorney general — his properly recused attorney general — shut it all down.


progressive regression

rhetorical claim: according to Victor Davis Hanson:

When Trump appeared on the national scene, an all-out assault on civil liberties followed, in a manner that is now irrevocable. The Left destroyed for good the idea that progressives are the protectors of constitutional freedoms.

If fear of Trump, some connected with the National Security Council under Obama helped to surveil American citizens, unmasked them, and leaked their names to the press. The press, hand-in-glove, complied in spreading such unsubstantiated dirt.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice flat out lied in her denial about her involvement in unmasking. The Obama FBI and Justice Department officials deliberately misled FISA courts, on the premise that spying on American citizens even with flimsy or fabricated evidence was OK—if it at least neutered the Trump candidacy and presidency. Had they just told justices something like, “We present, as justification for these warrants of surveillance, opposition research compiled on candidate Donald Trump, and paid for by Hillary Clinton during the present campaign,” they likely would never have been able to spy on American citizens.

No one again will have much confidence either in the FISA courts or any rationale for spying on any American citizen. They will logically assume FISA requests are political efforts to spread dirt on the opposition—in the fashion that we now have no idea, in the era after Lois Lerner, what prompts an IRS letter in our mail. The legacy of the Obama Administration is that if one is not progressive and loud in the public sphere, he may well be monitored, audited, or investigated.

rhetorical effect: tendentiously strings together a series of half-truths and distortions to make a case out of nothing substantial. Cherry-picks the news to use any potentially damning detail to “prove” a vast progressive conspiracy. Assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that any of these so-called violations of free speech in fact even exist or violate anything. For example, just because Lois Lerner met with Bill Clinton doesn’t necessarily mean that she promised him an exoneration of Hillary.



rhetorical claim: the regimes in North Korea and Iran are anti-America, anti-west, and anti-the Iranian people.

rhetorical effect: delegitimizes the enemy at the level of language. Calling it a regime rather than a government implies transience, authoritarian, strong-arming tactics to get and maintain power, and a lack of popular support.


fake news

rhetorical claim: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading about is not happening,”according to the President.

rhetorical effect: the essence of Trumpian epistemology: trust no one but me because ‘I alone can fix it.” Since, by definition, everything the fake news media says about Trump  is a lie,  not only must we rely on Trump for the truth, but we have to accept the proposition that Trump never lies. Even if your own senses or all available evidence indicates that Trump is either wrong or lying, then you must ignore common sense and stubborn facts because they themselves are either deceptive lies or based on media lies.

As argued by Charles Blow:

It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.

The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.

At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.

Such was the case again this week at a Trump rally in Florida, at which his supporters aggressively heckled and harassed the free press that Trump incessantly brands with the false descriptor of “fake news.”

In fact, there is no such thing as fake news. If something isn’t true, it isn’t news. Opinions, like mine here, are also not news, even if printed in a newspaper or broadcast by a news station. There may be news in such opinions, but the vehicle is by definition subjective and a reflection of the writer’s or speaker’s worldview.

This “fake news” nonsense isn’t really about the dissemination of false information. If it were, the administration could demand a correction and would receive one from any reputable news outlet.

No, Trump has made a perversion of the word “fake,” particularly among his most ardent supporters, so that it has come to mean news stories he doesn’t like, commentary that is unflattering to him and inadequate coverage of what he views as positive news about him and his administration.

Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.


economic nationalism

rhetorical claim: Trump’s standing up to China is a prime example of his willingness to put America in his policy of economic nationalism.

rhetorical effect: according to Adam Posen in Foreign Affairs:

President Donald Trump’s hostility to globalization is ruining the United States’ attractiveness as a place to do business. Sometimes, after all, it takes just one bad landlord to destroy a whole neighborhood’s desirability. This year, net inward investment into the United States by multinational corporations—both foreign and American—has fallen almost to zero, an early indicator of the damage being done by the Trump administration’s trade conflicts and its arbitrary bullying of companies and governments. This shift of corporate investment away from the United States will decrease long-term U.S. income growth, reduce the number of well-paid jobs available, and reinforce the ongoing shift of global commerce away from United States. That shift will subject the entire world economy to greater instability.


the envy of the world

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is making America great again economically and militarily, just in the 1950s, America is once again the envy of the world.

rhetorical effect: As Alan Stephens argues in the Financial Times:

Today’s nostalgia has become an engine of nationalism. It thrives on the economic and cultural insecurities thrown up by globalisation. We look backwards for a safe identity. No one has been so adroit as Mr Trump in exploiting these emotions. When the US president promises to make America great again, he underlines the “again”. Coal miners head a hierarchy of blue collar heroes embracing metal bashers, auto workers and truck drivers. They are all white. The president’s promise is to take them back — another favourite word — to the glory days of the 1950s….

A fascinating report by the London-based think-tank Demos observes that recent elections in France and Germany, as well as the British referendum, show the “pervasive extent” to which language that plays up the status, security and simplicity of the past has infiltrated political culture. People who have lost faith in the future are seeking solace in old, imagined, certainties. The lesson for mainstream politicians should be evident. The nationalists will always win when the argument is framed by nostalgia. Progressive politics need a message about the future powerful enough to reclaim the voters’ collective gaze. They could make a start by explaining how to ensure our children are better off than their parents.


the forgotten men and women

rhetorical claim: Trump is a spokesman of regular folks. “The forgotten men and women of our country — people who work hard but no longer have a voice: I am your voice,” he said during the acceptance speech for his nomination at the Republican National Convention just over a year ago.

rhetorical effect: paranoid QANON conspiracy theory among the most radical Trumpinistas. Reinforces their permanent state of grievance and unquenchable thirst for revenge As explained by Molly Roberts in the Washington Post:

This anxiety also ties into a more amorphous sense among these voters that, though the Republican Party controls Congress and the executive, the country is still rigged against them. Trumpism has always been about insecurity: As a candidate, the president played on the paranoia of Americans who thought the country they knew was being taken away from them — by immigrants, by an overreaching government, by adversaries overseas.

The “forgotten men and women of our country” didn’t stop feeling forgotten when their self-proclaimed avatar walked into the White House. There was too much dissent, too much doubt cast on his (and, by extension, their) legitimacy and ability to lead. Now, they’ll only be assuaged by the destruction of everything and everyone that stands in their way, through the mass arrest of those who they say connived against them and the installation of a state filled only with loyalists.

Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, June 21-26, 2018

child actors

fake news

rhetorical claim: To profess horror at the events taking place at the border, is to capitulate to those who care far more about foreigners than about their own people. It is to have lost the battle, and with it, the war. This is a matter of us and them, so don’t be fooled by child actors and fake news creating fake emotions to undermine a child-led human wave of illegal and vicious migrants. Progressives would make the entire population of Latin America into public charges for Americans, and ask Americans to nod and smile while it happens.

Should Congress and the president be manipulated by the social media outrage and the radical view that enforcement of the law is a totalitarian attack on democracy, they will be diminishing the essence of what it means to be a sovereign nation in a very fundamental way.

Without borders, there are no nations. Without a nation, there is no democracy, no civil society, and no liberal order.

These questions go to the heart of what it means to be a constitutional republic. How they are handled will determine, to a great extent, what kind of country America will be. Thus far, the national conversation largely has been driven by emotive images and grossly inappropriate Holocaust metaphors. This is not policy making, it is mob mentality. Our discourse, and our decision making, and the founding wisdom of our country deserve better.

rhetorical effect: talk about a slippery slope: if you don’t put families or separated kids in cages, you might as well kiss democracy goodbye. This reductio ad absurdum numbs us to the facts or even to the idea of the possibility of something–a word, an image, a video, a sound recording–being “real”; permits lies and distortions at all levels of government at all times; uses dehumanizing language to justify cruelty; gives people permission not to care, as argued by Megan Garber in The Atlantic:

The press conference conducted by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday was, overall, dedicated to the proposition that the reporting coming out of the holding facilities along the American border—the audio, the video, the images of tiny bodies held in massive cages, as a portrait of the American leader looks on—is wrong. (“Don’t believe the press,” Nielsen said, echoing one of the core intellectual and emotional propositions of Trumpism.) The president himself has embraced the corollary idea to Coulter’s claim that the screaming families are actors: that the compassion for them is misplaced. The real tragedy here, he has suggested, is the one perpetrated by Congress/the Democrats/the fake news/an infestation—again, an infestation—of people who are not American and therefore do not deserve the same level of sympathy that Americans might. Crisis actors of a different sort. 
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, similarly dismissed the moral questions at the heart of the family separations by suggesting that there is a more sweeping moral code than the fickle workings of your own heart. (“It is very Biblical to enforce the law.”) The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, suggested the same. Humans, ever fallible, must practice humility, this logic goes; part of that practice must involve the recognition that even empathy must answer to a higher power. The higher power that insists, despite so much evidence to the contrary, “I alone can fix it.” And so: You are looking at the wrong thing, insist the current stewards of the national soul. You are caring about the wrong thing. Sleight of hand meets sleight of heart.

Or, as Hannah Arendt put it when writing about totalitarianism, “After a while, people come to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true,”


the elite

rhetorical claim: “You ever notice they always call the other side ‘the elite’?” Trump asked. “The elite! Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.”

rhetorical effect: such naked envy and resentment feeds like a poison into the bloodstream of Trump’s base, which is tormented (as Nixon was by the Kennedys) by the sense that they are always being sneered at. Of course, Trump–the billionaire– is the one doing the sneering at them instead. He will start calling them the true elite, the real Americans, the yeoman farmers etc.,  invoking a false nostalgia for an America that never existed.


my people

rhetorical claim: Trump claims that his supporters (“my people”) are the real Americans, whereas liberals and progressives hate America, want open borders so gang members can flood into the country, and are actually opposed to the pursuit of happiness.

rhetorical effect: confirms that Trump’s base is not all Americans, as it should be for a President; implies that Trump loyalists are the only true “people”; creates a vigilante atmosphere; uses unfounded fear and bias to create a false sense of crisis; creates a sense of tribalism, as argued by David Brooks:

The problem is that Trump doesn’t base his belonging on the bonds of affection conservatives hold dear. He doesn’t respect and obey those institutions, traditions and values that form morally decent individuals.

His tribalism is the evil twin of community. It is based on hatred, us/them thinking, conspiracy-mongering and distrust. It creates belonging, but on vicious grounds.



rhetorical claim: In his remarks Tuesday before the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Trump suggested that many immigrants were “cheating” because they were following instructions from their attorneys.

“They have professional lawyers,” the president said. “Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people. And they tell these people exactly what to say. They say, ‘Say the following’ — they write it down — ‘I am being harmed in my country. My country is extremely dangerous. I fear for my life.’ ”

rhetorical effect: following (and presumably also giving) legal advice is now akin to “cheating.” Soon anything or anyone opposed to Trump will either be a liar, a cheat, or a gang member.


what we’re up against

rhetorical claim: non-stop media pummeling of Donald Trump should just remind us what we’re up against: a federal gvt deep state, the media, Hollywood, the scientific community, the universities and the sneering coastal elites and “cosmopolitan” globalists.

rhetorical effect: total culture war all the time; no possibility of retreat, compromise or reasoned debate; rejection of all inconvenient truth as “fake news”; raving paranoia, Biblical age and despair.



anti-human environmentalism

rhetorical claim: humans have a God-given right, or even duty, to use natural resources without restriction, to eliminate government regulation, and also to subdue those who are enemies of this divine hierarchy. So-called “environmentalists” are anti-human, and anti-God.

rhetorical effect: Calling environmentalists anti-human and anti-God is probably akin to calling migrants vermin infestations. Neither characterization bodes well for the future of reasoned, evidence-based debate.



rhetorical claim: liberals are being uncivil and degrading the nation.when they shout people like Sarah Huckaby Sanders out of restaurants. They should expect similar treatment from Trump supporters.

rhetorical effect: as argued by Michelle Goldberg:

Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. It’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy. Though it’s tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens.Sometimes, their strategies may be poorly conceived. But there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill.


deductive (or reductive) higher education

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor David Hanson, higher education:

aims to be deductive. We start with this premise that men are sexist, or capitalism destroys the environment, or America’s racist. Then you find the examples to fit that preconceived idea.

And the result of it is that we’ve turned out students that are highly partisan and highly mobilized, and even sort of arrogant, but they’re also ignorant … that came at a cost. They did not learn to write well. If you ask them who’s General Sherman, or what’s a Corinthian column, or who was Dante, all of the building blocks that they could refer to later in life to enrich their experience, they have no reference. And then they don’t know how to think inductively. So if you point out the contradictions in free speech the way they shout down some speakers and not others, or the way that they hate capitalism, but they love Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, they’re not able … they haven’t been trained philosophically to account for that, because they’re indoctrinated. And it’s quite sad to see the combination of ignorance and arrogance in young people, but that’s what we’ve turned out. A lot of people who are indebted and they’re arrogant, and they’re ignorant and they’re not up to the task of moving the United States forward as a leading country in the world.

rhetorical effect: because higher ed is judged to be nothing but an indoctrination into political correctness and Trump hatred, justifies turning higher ed into vocational school, as in the proposed merger of the Departments of Labor and Education. Uses the very existence of free speech to stifle free speech and evidence-based inquiry.





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, March 24-April 2, 2018

race-based gerrymandering

rhetorical claim: the Supreme Court’s tolerance for race-based gerrymandering has caused political mischief and division, and led to paint-by-numbers  racial-voting litigation. Race-based representation must be eliminated.

rhetorical effect: justifies the very outcome that it excoriates. The hideously prejudiced gerrymandered GOP districts that allocate House seats regardless of popular votes have created a huge imbalance in Congress, all done in the guise of racial blindness. The more the GOP calls for the end of race-based gerrymandering, the more race-based Congressional districts become.


shadowy radical groups

rhetorical claim: According to Bill O’Reilly, the sponsor boycott of the Laura Ingraham Show “is not some spontaneous uprising by companies. It is being directed by powerful, shadowy radical groups who want Laura Ingraham off the air.”

rhetorical effect: discredits the Parkland High students, making them out to be pawns of the Deep State. No one who opposes Trump can escape being branded as  a Deep Stater, and all political opposition is said to come from this forever “shadowy” conspiracy.


artificially low poll numbers

rhetorical claim: Trump’s approval rating remains artificially low because of the constant fake media anti-Trump mania. The economy is doing too well to merit these poll numbers, so the numbers are fake. The media, with its relentless and intentional efforts to undermine the Trump administration, is actually reducing confidence in America itself and its political institutions. The negativity has reached such a crescendo that the stability of our democracy is under threat.

President Trump has his faults, yes, but the irresponsibility and lack of professionalism in our media knows no bounds. It is time to turn off the mainstream media and start over. Alternatively, it is time to reconsider our libel laws in order to hold the worst journalists accountable for their fabrications.

rhetorical effect: blaming the messenger for the message; creating a misleading rationale to cover up a political reality; deceptively citing economic recovery numbers that’s don’t yet exist, thus creating a new false fact and using a false analogy to make an illogical argument; making economic growth the sole yardstick of successful governing; creating a fake “deep media” conspiracy; By this logic,  lower poll numbers simply mean that Trump is being so successful that the media has to up their attacks on him.


the permanent American revolution

rhetorical claim: Philosophically, Bolton fully shares President Trump’s foundational security policy principles that an administration’s first priorities are to defend America and secure her strategic national interests. This is not “America alone,” as some critics claim. Rather, it is the starting point of harmonizing the mutual strategic interests of America and her allies. These principles  also guard against diminishing American sovereignty and preserve and promote America’s strategic interests  by pursuing “peace through strength.” Clearly, President Trump and Bolton believe America is an exceptional nation; a force for moral good in the world; and, consequently, must be ever vigilant and prepared to defend herself.

rhetorical effect: rationale for American “white man’s burden” exceptionalism; automatically making critics of US foreign policy traitorous or at least un-American; leads to concept of Fortress America; seems to guarantee that the only “permanence” is American bullying, racism, militarism, and economic nationalism.




rhetorical claim: America has been subverted by globalists and multilateralists, and Trump’s MAGA is designed to stop these movements in their tracks and restore the concept of America First.

rhetorical effect: considered benign before the advent of Trumpism,  these terms have become pariah words, toxic labels used to undercut political opponents. Being a “globalist” now seems as un-American as being a socialist, and US foreign policy is quite literally one-sided.


chain migration

rhetorical claim: the use of law-breaking, “anchor babies” and green card marriages to create a new army of illegal immigrants being courted and protected by the Dems for their electoral votes. Part of MAGA is building a wall to stop these job-stealers, drug addicts, and rapists from infecting our populace.

rhetorical effect: another term that has flipped in the Trump era from a positive to a pejorative. from a humane policy to a dehumanizing slur.. As explained by Stephen Kearse,

“chain migration” hasn’t always been a source of political rancor. For decades, it was a neutral description of a routine migration pattern, one in which migrants traced the previous paths of family members, friends or members of their communities. Social scientists used it to talk about black Americans moving from the South to the North in the Great Migration of the 20th century, Southern Italians venturing to New York in the late 1800s and rural Indians gathering into cities like Delhi and Calcutta. The story it told was a simple, uncontroversial one: Humans follow the humans they know.

Today, though, the use of the phrase “chain migration” encodes your stance on immigration. Nativists use it to signal support for American interests and a skepticism about whether would-be immigrants serve them; immigrant advocates avoid and criticize the term. The White House website dedicates three web pages to chain migration, all demanding that it end immediately. When the president reaffirmed this opposition during the State of the Union, Democrats booed….Chain migration was now being described not just as a process but also as a ploy, a loophole threatening our control of a looming tide.


Deep State Fake News

rhetorical claim: the Fake News mainstream media  has finally been exposed as an arm of the Deep State, and the Mueller “investigation”–itself a Deep State operation– has lost all credibility with the American people. Lower taxes and massive deregulation have liberated the business community from Obama’s “progressive” socialism, itself a Deep State imperative.

rhetorical effect: Doubts about facts allow politics to take place in a fictional, infotainment-driven world. . Once we treat issues like  the desirability of racial equality as matters for debate rather than as first principles, we are lost.


America is Great Again

rhetorical claim: From the American Thinker website:

A new Rasmussen tracking poll shows that President Trump’s approval has risen to 50%, with 49% stating some degree of disapproval, meaning that more Americans approve of President Trump than disapprove.  This is a first, and it knocks another leg out from under the argument that President Trump is disastrous.

So all the Beltway chatter about “chaos” in the Trump White House is a non-starter.  All the “Russia, Russia Russia” yak is a loser for the Democrats promoting it.  All the impeachment talk is rubbish.  All the media coverage about gun control, terrorist attacks, America’s supposed lost influence in the world, and homelessness is utterly irrelevant.

Trump, as a matter of fact, is popular.

And it’s not hard to see why.

Tax cuts have exploded through the economy, with multiple chain reactions of benefits raining down on workers.  This includes not just less to pay to the taxman, and that’s no small thing, but worker bonuses that thousands of industries have given, more jobs to choose from, and rising wages as more of the economy is taken back into action.  What’s more, the worst of Obamacare is now on the run.  No one is now required to buy health insurance plans that mandatorily subsidize some favored special interest groups (such as drug addicts and other people’s children’s dental needs), and people now have the freedom to purchase health care policies that fit their own needs, not other people’s.  America, in short, is baaack.

 rhetorical effect: This myth of rising wages and “money you can keep” justifies the US as a kleptocracy, no longer under the rule of law. Economic crime becomes systemic as the state itself becomes a criminal enterprise.  The rule of law is incoherent, inequality is entrenched and reform unthinkable–all in the name of the freedom of unrestrained capitalism.

Politiscripts Glossary, Dec. 27, 2017-Jan. 4, 2018

fake news

rhetorical claim: the Mueller investigation tell-all books, leaks and reports from so-called “experts” are all fake news–the way the Swamp justifies and perpetuates itself.

rhetorical effect: best explained by the New Yorker’s Louis Menand:

Many Americans were shocked to hear their beliefs characterized as “fake science” or “fake news.” Those Americans thought that they understood what counts as evidence, what counts as reason, what counts as an argument. Suddenly, the rules changed. In national politics, you no longer need evidence or reason. You no longer need to make an argument. You need only to assert. If your assertion is questioned, you need only to repeat it.

“Fake” and “hoax” are the “abracadabra”s of the Trump world, words recited to make inconvenient facts disappear. In most of life after nursery school, “abracadabra” doesn’t work, because it stops fooling other people. For grownups, as a rule, saying something doesn’t make it so. This is not true of Presidents, however, grownup or not. Presidents are legally empowered to make what comes out of their mouths a reality for other people. This President has realized that he can say literally anything and someone will pop up to explain it, or explain it away.

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean,” Humpty Dumpty says to Alice. How can you make a word mean so many different things? Alice asks. “The question,” Humpty Dumpty replies, “is which is to be master, that’s all.” George Orwell said the same thing. Meaning, at bottom, is about power. “Truth,” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., once said, is “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.” A disagreeable thought, but not an inapposite one in 2017.

Or, as Masha Gessen argues:

Members of Congress who voted for the tax bill, which will disproportionately benefit the very wealthy and will gut Obamacare, may be justified in assuming that they can afford to make their donors happy at the expense of their voters: partisanship and gerrymandering, they reckon, will keep their seats safe. In other words, an informed public is a necessary condition of democracy, but not a sufficient one. Democracy may indeed die in darkness, but light is no guarantee that it will survive.


onerous disclosure

rhetorical claim: from the WSJ editorial, ‘The Great Rules Rollback”:

The 2017 list includes a regulation that would have imposed onerous disclosure requirements on mining and drilling companies operating overseas, carrying $700 million in initial costs and up to $590 million for annual compliance. Congress also nixed rules on education, public land and the use of family planning funds. By eliminating these 14 rules, lawmakers spared Americans from $3.7 billion in costs and eliminated 4.2 million hours of paperwork, says the American Action Forum…

The size of the economic impact of all this is hard to measure, though the Trump Administration projects the regulatory cost savings for the economy will be $9.8 billion over the next fiscal year. Mr. Crews has estimated that regulation took a $1.9 trillion annual toll on the economy last year.

rhetorical effect: pretty soon any  federally-mandated “disclosure” will be defined an “onerous”, and the federal government will at last be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub, as Grover Norquist predicted .  What seemed mere fantasy in 2001 is coming to fruition in 2018.


discipline and punish

rhetorical claim: leftists hate messages of discipline and punishment because they believe “society” is to blame for everything, removing all senses of personal responsibility.

rhetorical effect: justifies corporal punishment of children, maximum minimum prison terms, lifelong bans on felons’ rights, including voting rights, the end of the social safety net, and the moral foundations of any charges of racism, sexism, etc. Also insults liberals by saying they have no sense of responsibility, a neat reversal of foreground and background since it is the GOP that is trying to wash its hands of any responsibility for pain, deprivation, inequality, or injustice.


post-modern notions of tolerance

rhetorical claim: The hard left is aligned with Islamist organizations. Antifa has in effect aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, which operates in the US as Muslim Students Association and Council of American-Islamic Relations. Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed. Atomization of society must also occur at the individual level; with attacks directed against all levels of group and personal identity. Hence the sexism, racism and xenophobia memes. As a Judeo-Christian culture, forced inclusion of post-modern notions of tolerance is designed to induce nihilistic contradictions that reduce all thought, all faith, all loyalties to meaninglessness. Group rights based on sex or ethnicity are a direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed.

rhetorical effect: belittles the whole idea of a collectivity or common humanity, echoing Margaret Thatcher’s infamous claim that “there’s no such thing as society.”  Notice how “individual rights” are assumed to be based on “natural law,” as though collectivism is unnatural. Tolerance itself is represented as the gateway drug to nihilism.


anti-white, substandard foreign workers

rhetorical claim: America is being flooded with anti-white, substandard foreign workers.

rhetorical effect: heightened atmosphere of racial, ethnic and religious bigotry and persecution


fiscal discipline

rhetorical claim: tax reform that caps state and local tax  (SALT) deductions at $10,000 for individuals and $25,000 for couples is the gift  to highly-taxed blues states that will keep on giving. It forces these states to not only curtail any future tax increases, but to cut back taxes to prevent mass out-migration.  It will force states  such as New Yor, Illinois and New Jersey to at last practice some fiscal discipline.

rhetorical effect: It’s a rhetorical trap for Dems to allow the GOP to narrow the definition of the term “fiscal discipline.” Branding tax cuts “fiscal discipline” appropriates the concept of discipline, which ought to neutrally mean practicing a means to an end, not just shrinking government. You could just as easily describe increasing taxes on the rich as fiscal discipline if your aim was to use taxes to even the playing field and reduce tax advantages for the wealthy. In fact, if you are aiming for equality of opportunity, tax cuts for the wealthy are a profligacy, not a discipline.


sophisticates (aka, grandees, elites, the gentry)

rhetorical claim: Iranian demonstrations have also exposed the illusion..that President Trump’s more muscular policy toward Iran has united the regime with the Iranian public in opposition to the U.S. The ire of the protesters is aimed at their own rulers for corruption and wasting what they were told would be the fruits of the nuclear deal. Mr. Trump, the supposed foreign-policy bumpkin, understands this better than Mr. Obama and the arms-control sophisticates. Mr. Obama sought to win over the Tehran regime by avoiding confrontation and letting Iran have its way in Syria and elsewhere. His goal above all else was the nuclear deal.

rhetorical effect: the “bumpkins are smarter than the sophisticates” meme is the foundation of many a myth and fairy tale. Rhetorically, it mocks and undermines the hollow pretensions of what passes for sophistication, arguing for common sense and wisdom of the “forgotten men.” Thus this all-purpose meme can be used to mock science, diplomacy, academia, geopolitical and economic policy, etc. Nixon played it all the time to retaliate against the Kennedys, the Ivy League, etc.


incentives to work and invest

rhetorical claim: tax reform will inevitably lead to robust economic growth because it increases the incentives to work and invest.

rhetorical effect: the “incentive to work” is a euphemism for drastically cutting the social safety net and entitlements, as if no one getting any government assistance ever even thinks about working. The “incentive to invest” furthers the myth that lower corporate taxes will lead to higher wages and universal prosperity. The underlying assumption of this narrow definition of “incentive” is that it only applies to either benign, universally-beneficial behavior or behavior guided by the “unseen hand” of the market. Why isn’t greed ever considered an “incentive?”


white-informed civility

rhetorical claim: “white-informed civility,” the latest idiocy from college campuses, mocks the very ideas of civility, reasoning, debate and education. The argument is that prevailing notions of civility and reasonable debate are themselves rooted in privilege and power and are therefore outmoded. This makes for a brand of elitist inclusion that actually excludes all non-believers.

rhetorical effect: makes a straw man out of a fringe argument that in no way represents mainstream academic discourse. Precludes any claims of privilege or power–arguments for inclusion–as actually being exclusive, in the same way calling attention to write racism is itself labeled racism or hate speech.





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, Nov. 19-27, 2017


fake news

rhetorical claim: the lyin’ media–the forces of destruction–with its anti-Trump liberal bias, feeds America a daily stream of fake news and should be prosecuted for libel.

rhetorical effect: As argued by Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny:

Calling the news fake makes understanding the world in a different way than Trump a criminal offense…Since the GOP is a minority party, it either must fear democracy or destroy it… To abandon facts is to abandon freedom…If nothing is true, then no one can critique power because there’s no basis for doing so…Post-truth is pre-fascism.


little did we know

no one knew

rhetorical claim: Trump often says that “few people know” a certain fact (such as “few people knew” how hard reforming health care would be, or “it’s a little known fact that…”

rhetorical effect: justifies his yawning ignorance of every nuance of every policy. What he is really saying is “little did I know.”


egalitarian bitterness

rhetorical claim: Only liberals believe the myth that the poor begrudge the wealth of the rich.  As Irving Kristol wrote in the 1970’s, “Anyone who is familiar with the American working class knows . . . that they are far less consumed with egalitarian bitterness or envy than are college professors or affluent journalists.”

rhetorical effect: undercuts any notions of redressing financial inequality by accusing progressives of being nothing more than an academic-journalistic elite. Somehow makes calls for economic equality into an elite position, out of step with the working class. Justifies accelerating inequality by arguing that most Americans don’t care about the issue anyway. The classic defense of fascist oligarchies.


tax cuts for the rich

rhetorical claim: The upper income brackets pay an overwhelming percentage of total income taxes (a higher percentage than in any other developed country, by the way). So any substantial tax cut has to go disproportionately to the rich or there can be no tax cut. Maybe this why Dems always oppose any tax cuts.

rhetorical effect: turns logic on its head by arguing that tax cuts must favor the rich or aren’t really tax cuts at all. Makes it illogical to ever even consider cutting taxes for the non-rich. Conflates opposing any tax cuts with opposing tax cuts for the rich.


a crush of lawsuits

rhetorical claim: liberal regulatory policies such as consumer and environmental protection, net neutrality, and Obamacare were only devised by trial lawyers so they could file a crush of lawsuits.

rhetorical effect: turns the law into pure partisanship, thus removing any notions of impartiality or objectivity from the legal system. Delegitimizes class action suits and transforms even one of them into a “crush.”

pure price signals

rhetorical claim: As Andy Kessler puts it in The Wall Street Journal:

There is only one type of capitalism that works, and it goes like this: Someone postpones consumption, invests his savings to produce a good or service, delights customers, generates profits, and then consumes and invests what’s left in further production. These profits are pure, generated from price signals between buyers and sellers, without favoritism from experts or elites. It isn’t hard to grasp.

Profit is the ultimate measure of value to consumers—and therefore to society. Consumers benefit from buying stuff, or else they would make it all themselves, and producers benefit from selling, or else business wouldn’t be worth the effort. Of similar value, profits go both ways. “Experts” who poke their noses in only mess with this fine balance. And who needs central planning when there’s the stock market, where theories melt and reality bites? Stock exchanges are the true consiglieres of capitalism, providing capital to ideas deemed worthy of it and starving the rest.

rhetorical effect: eliminates regulations and other constraints on commerce and on the genius of pure price mechanisms. Lets the “invisible hand” do its magic because nothing should be allowed to “distort” the hallowed marketplace. Faith-based economics.



rhetorical claim: Every male conversational interruption, every boring male explanation, every sidelong and condescending male look, and even every sudden male sneeze has suddenly morphed into the root of a serious and unforgivable crime. There is no reasonable line to be drawn. The rules must be rewritten, and they must be weighted against all men. The startling growth in mangression-related outrage digs up a troubling question: Can men and women even argue any longer? How can women claim equal footing with men when every blowhard or “manterrupter” leads to a blown feminist gasket? Perhaps—and this might sound incredibly dated, but here we go—women just need to keep speaking up?

rhetorical effect: belittles the very idea of male arrogance while somehow simultaneously blames it on women’s passivity.


the people

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump’s victory hinged on the forgotten Americans  in flyover country. These hard-working Americans made Trump the first populist President since Andrew Jackson–the people’s choice. The law is meant to serve these good people, so what’s good for them is good for the law. In fact, what’s good for them is the law.

rhetorical effect: as explained by Conor Lynch on Salon, com:

This targeting of highly educated people and professionals tells us a lot about right-wing populism, which is not so much an anti-elitist movement as it is an anti-intellectual one. For the right-wing populist, economic elites aren’t thought of as true elites, unless they use fancy words and have an Ivy League education to go along with their wealth. The overeducated Ph.D. student who subsists on ramen noodles and coffee, at least according to this understanding of the world, is more of an “elitist” than the wealthy businessman without a college degree, who attends church every Sunday and uses unpretentious language.

In his 2016 book, “The Populist Explosion,” veteran journalist John Judis points out that terms like “the people” and “the elite” have very different connotations depending on who is using them. “Just as there is no common ideology that defines populism,” writes Judis, “there is no constituency that comprises ‘the people.’ It can be blue-collar workers, shopkeepers, or students burdened by debt; it can be the poor or the middle class.”

We are all, after all, part of “the people,” but when Trump refers to “the people” he really means some people, but not others. He is thus always “othering” his critics.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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, Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2017

enlightened nationalism

rhetorical claim: According to the National Review,

Domestically, since the 1960s and 1970s, what the late social scientist Samuel Huntington called a “denationalized” elite in this country has waged war on the nation and its common culture. Conservatives have fought back on issues such as bilingual education, the downgrading of traditional U.S. history in curricula, racial preferences, the elevation of subnational groups, and mass immigration — anything that has been part of the multiculturalist onslaught on national solidarity.

Instead of this denationalization:

Nationalism should be tempered by a modesty about the power of government, lest an aggrandizing state wedded to a swollen nationalism run out of control; by religion, which keeps the nation from becoming the first allegiance; and by a respect for other nations that undergirds a cooperative international order. Nationalism is a lot like self-interest. A political philosophy that denies its claims is utopian at best and tyrannical at worst, but it has to be enlightened. The first step to conservatives’ advancing such an enlightened nationalism is to acknowledge how important it is to our worldview to begin with.

rhetorical effect: conflates patriotism with nationalism; leads to “America First” rhetoric, but frames jingoism as high-minded idealism, as “enlightened.”


limiting choices

rhetorical claim: the rollback of the fiduciary rule for retirement investors will open up more investment choices for retirees. This is one way to expand the economy.

rhetorical effect: reinforces many lies and mendacities: the market is always right in the long run and should not be limited;  regulation always hurts the economy; retirement advisors’ vested interests in commission-making never get in the way of sound financial advice, etc. It’s like a doctor who orders losts of unnecessary tests because he has a financial interest in the lab. As explained by New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait,

“Americans are going to have better choices and Americans are going to have better products because we’re not going to burden the banks with literally hundreds of billions of dollars of regulatory costs every year,” National Economic Council Director and Goldman Sachs veteran Gary Cohn tells The Wall Street Journal.

Cohn is planning to weaken the fiduciary rule, which he believes robs Americans of their freedom to hire financial advisers who might want to rip them off. “This is like putting only healthy food on the menu,” he tells the Journal, “because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger.”

Cohn’s metaphor is worth exploring. Healthy food, in Cohn’s example, is equivalent of investment advice that’s good for the client. Unhealthy food is like investment advice that’s bad for the client (but good for the adviser he has hired). Why shouldn’t people choose how much healthy versus unhealthy financial advice to hire? Well, the reason financial advisers are required to follow their clients’ fiduciary interests, rather than assuming that the logic of the free market will naturally produce optimal scrupulousness, is that investing is extremely complex. There is a huge asymmetry of information between professionals who work at investment firms and their customers. A customer at a restaurant might be able to eyeball the menu and guess that the spinach salad is healthier than the pizza, but a customer shopping for financial advisers is not going to know which ones will give them the best financial advice versus the ones who might might be trying to enrich themselves at the customer’s expense.



rhetorical claim: the mainstream media outlets, as represented by the NY Times,  are failing financially so they should be discounted as legitimate news sources. The public has rejected them.

rhetorical effect: Everyone opposed to Trump is a failure, a loser or, as in the case of the Seattle federal judge, a fake. as Frank Bruni explains in the NY Times:

Trump’s analysis of people and situations hinges on whether they exalt him. A news organization that challenges him is inevitably “failing.” A politician who pushes back at him is invariably a loser. Middle-school cliques have more moral discernment.

He railed against executive orders until they were his. He denounced the coziness between politicians and Wall Street until he was doing the snuggling. He cried foul at presidential getaways that cost the taxpayers millions until Mar-a-Lago beckoned.

During the campaign he demonstrated no special concern for free speech, advocating looser libel laws and barring certain news organizations from events. But he took to Twitter on Thursday to register fury over the University of California at Berkeley’s cancellation of an appearance by the far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.


that’s not who we are

rhetorical claim: in defending multiculturalism and globalism, liberals consider themselves to be the moral arbiters of what constitutes the “real” America and the “real” American historical narrative.

rhetorical effect: Islamophobia, chauvinism,  and white resentment become the norm. Manifest Destiny, American exceptionalism, and America First become ubiquitous and unchallenged. The “we” in “who we are” is identified as white, European/Anglo-Saxon, and Judeo-Christian.


fake news

rhetorical claim: the NY Times and other “failing” mainstream media are the main opposition party to Trump, and every story they run about Trump is biased, distorted, annoying and negative. This “fake news” is nothing but a propaganda machine.

rhetorical effect: renders the term “fake news” meaningless because it has been totally politicized and made it impossible to even agree on facts. Trump is free to concoct his own narrative, metrics, and “alternative facts.” To Trump supporters, lying becomes impossible for Trump, just as the truth becomes impossible for the press to represent.  When the truth can no longer be agreed upon or is subject to change, “lies disappear into the past,” as Orwell explained.



rhetorical claim: Trumpism is a return to identity politics for white people. America has always been a homeland for white Europeans, and Trump is merely restoring that heritage to its rightful place as the lodestone of Americanism.

rhetorical effect: For the first time in a long time, people feel they can express themselves openly on questions of race, nationality, ethnicity and patriotism. This is not necessarily a good thing. Even as the so-called “dominant European culture” of America is being eclipsed by immigration and racial blending, Trump and Bannon are doubling down on white ethnoracialism. This destabilized language of citizenship is much more exclusive than inclusive, and uses national pride as a euphemism for the whitewashing, or obliteration, of racial and ethnic identity. It’s like a nightmare of a melting pot where what really melts down is America’s brain.


postmaterialist values

rhetorical claim: the liberals’ mantra of personal fulfillment, openness to new ideas, and support for previously marginalized populations has lead to their crushing defeat and marginalization. Their key concepts of globalization, internationalism, multiculturalism, self-expression,affirmative action and redistribution have been repudiated by history.

rhetorical effect: marginalization of the so-called “self expression” values has made it nearly impossible to define national success as anything other than  the predominance of white culture, nationalism, and material well-being. Success is now defined as a zero-sum Darwinian struggle with clear winners and losers, and patriotism defined as adherence to white supremacist, divisive, exclusionary, and populism.


non-stop hyperpanic

rhetorical claim: Dems’ hyperventilating over every Trump policy initiative and executive order will shortly lead to resistance fatigue. Dem tantrums only help Trump because they either lack common sense or run counter to what Trump’s supporters want–stopping terrorists from entering the country, for example.

rhetorical effect: makes dissent always seem extreme and hysterical. Favorite verbs and nouns used to describe any opposition to Trump include: hysterical, barrage, hyperventilating, hysterical, unhinged, doom-mongerers,  rancor, dopey, reflexive,  snarling, undifferentiated. Downplays the cumulative effect of Trump’s executive orders by isolating them and belittling any opposition to them. By claiming opposition to each particular Trump policy is foolish and self-defeating, the overall effect is to render any opposition fatuous and juvenile.


essential benefits

rhetorical claim: the fastest way to ACA reform is through eliminating mandated “essential benefits” so insurers can design economic policies that the public would actually find worth buying.

rhetorical effect: you have to wonder what will be left to cover if the  ACA’S 10 “essential benefits” (see below) are made optional. Let the race to the bottom in terms of reliable coverage begin:

    1. Ambulatory patient services (Outpatient care). Care you receive without being admitted to a hospital, such as at a doctor’s office, clinic or same-day (“outpatient”) surgery center. Also included in this category are home health services and hospice care (note: some plans may limit coverage to no more than 45 days).
    2. Emergency Services (Trips to the emergency room). Care you receive for conditions that could lead to serious disability or death if not immediately treated, such as accidents or sudden illness. Typically, this is a trip to the emergency room, and includes transport by ambulance. You cannot be penalized for going out-of-network or for not having prior authorization.
    3. Hospitalization (Treatment in the hospital for inpatient care). Care you receive as a hospital patient, including care from doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, laboratory and other tests, medications you receive during your hospital stay, and room and board. Hospitalization coverage also includes surgeries, transplants and care received in a skilled nursing facility, such as a nursing home that specializes in the care of the elderly (note: some plans may limit skilled nursing facility coverage to no more than 45 days).
    4. Maternity and newborn care. Care that women receive during pregnancy (prenatal care), throughout labor, delivery and post-delivery, and care for newborn babies.
    5. Mental health services and addiction treatment. Inpatient and outpatient care provided to evaluate, diagnose and treat a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder . This includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy. (note: some plans may limit coverage to 20 days each year. Limits must comply with state or federal parity laws. Read this document for more information on mental health benefits and the Affordable Care Act).
    6. Prescription drugs. Medications that are prescribed by a doctor to treat an illness or condition. Examples include prescription antibiotics to treat an infection or medication used to treat an ongoing condition, such as high cholesterol. At least one prescription drug must be covered for each category and classification of federally approved drugs, however limitations do apply. Some prescription drugs can be excluded. “Over the counter” drugs are usually not covered even if a doctor writes you a prescription for them. Insurers may limit drugs they will cover, covering only generic versions of drugs where generics are available. Some medicines are excluded where a cheaper equally effective medicine is available, or the insurer may impose “Step” requirements (expensive drugs can only be prescribed if doctor has tried a cheaper alternative and found that it was not effective). Some expensive drugs will need special approval.
    7. Rehabilitative services and devices – Rehabilitative services (help recovering skills, like speech therapy after a stroke) and habilitative services (help developing skills, like speech therapy for children) and devices to help you gain or recover mental and physical skills lost to injury, disability or a chronic condition (this also includes devices needed for “habilitative reasons”). Plans have to provide 30 visits each year for either physical or occupational therapy, or visits to the chiropractor. Plans must also cover 30 visits for speech therapy as well as 30 visits for cardiac or pulmonary rehab.
    8. Laboratory services. Testing provided to help a doctor diagnose an injury, illness or condition, or to monitor the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Some preventive screenings, such as breast cancer screenings and prostrate exams, are provided free of charge.
    9. Preventive services, wellness services, and chronic disease treatment. This includes counseling, preventive care, such as physicals, immunizations and screenings, like cancer screenings, designed to prevent or detect certain medical conditions. Also, care for chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes. (note: please see our full list of Preventive services for details on which services are covered.)
    10. Pediatric services. Care provided to infants and children, including well-child visits and recommended vaccines and immunizations. Dental and vision care must be offered to children younger than 19. This includes two routine dental exams, an eye exam and corrective lenses each year.

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, Dec. 9-14, 2016

entrepreneurial federalism

rhetorical claim: the economy most thrives when states compete to lure business. GOP state-level attempts to  oppose the Obama administration weren’t based on opposition to Obama’s policies, but to the usurpation of states’ right by the federal government. The Trump era heralds a new federalist revival.

rhetorical effect: amounts to a new industrial policy that does everything it can to unshackle business: provide direct subsidies, impose tariffs, cut or end all federal regulation, and effect what Lawrence Summers calls a transition from a rule-based economy to a deal-based economy, with the White house totally taking over:

Presidents have enormous latent power, and it is the custom of restraint in its use that is one of the important differences between us and banana republics. If its ad hoc use is licensed, the possibilities are endless. Most companies will prefer the good to the bad will of the U.S. president and his leadership team. Should that reality be levered to get them to locate where the president wants, to make contributions to the president’s reelection campaign, to hire people the president wants to see hired, to do the kinds of research the president wants carried out, or to lend money to those that the president wants to see assisted?

Going along with authoritarianism will come to be the norm for doing business.


fake news hysteria

rhetorical claim: Dems’ mainstream media bootlickers, panicked over Trump’s election, have engaged in a hysterical witch hunt accusing every Trump claim of being “fake news” and part of some vast conspiracy theory. Even though they make up their own facts and spin stories their way, the mainstream media mendaciously is claiming the moral high ground and their exclusive claim to the truth. It is part of their rage against reality. “Straight news” has become an oxymoron. Every mainstram media news story is a “false flag.”

rhetorical effect: the suppression of the media and the undermining of any possibility of establishing the barest facts: did the Russians try to influence the US election? is there such a thing as global warming? are there any racists left in America? are fracking and other forms of energy exploration harmful to the environment? According to this doublethink strategy, the fake news stories are real and any critical news stories are fake. Calling the media “hysterical” is exactly what women are called when they object to male behavior or gender power relations. Hysteria is an irrational state based on a misapprehension of reality, an overreaction to an imaginary threat. The ultimate outcome of this branding of your political opponents as crazy can lead to the Stalin-era move to put political opponents in mental wards.


very strong control

rhetorical claim: that Putin is a good model for leader who has “very strong control” over his country, and that Putin is “far more of a leader” than Obama ever was.

rhetorical effect: justifies authoritarian government, with claims of “leadership” justifying the suppression of  free speech and the media, and mass arrests and deportations.


the real Americans

rhetorical claim:  the flyover country voters who elected trump are the real Americans, the honest Americans, the hard-working Americans. Liberal elites live in an elitist bubble that keeps them separated from America and makes them un-American.

rhetorical effect: labels anyone who criticizes Trump as un-American–free speech becomes a thought crime. When they said that without phony California votes, Trump would have won the popular vote, they were laying the groundwork for claiming that coastal elites are not welcome in Trump’s America.


paycheck protection

rhetorical claim: mandatory union dues payments are a form of indentured servitude, and all states should adopt right-to-work laws that crush labor unions.

rhetorical effect: makes it sound like union dues are a form of robbery. Safety protection, environmental protection, wage protection are no longer considered, especially when the only real protection left will be profit protection.


self-appointed ethics watchdogs

rhetorical claim: Trump can’t avoid conflicts of interest, and to ask him to divest his business interests and give up the Trump name is ridiculous. Only scolds and self-appointed hypocrites are worried about Trump’s conflicts of interest.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to draw any line between ethical behavior and  Trump conflicts of interest. Renders him completely above the law. Calling ethicists “self-appointed” also undercuts them and makes it appear they have no moral authority whatsoever because morality in a post-truth, post-ideology world is situational and political.


soft despotism of government

rhetorical claim: according to William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, the real authoritarian regime has been the “unelected and increasingly assertive class that populates the federal bureaucracy and substitutes rule by regulation for rule by law.” Federal agencies meddle in our lives, and we’d be better off without these social engineers imposing their values on the rest of us.

rhetorical effect: demonizes governmental regulation, thus making it impossible to enforce or interpret any laws. Gets Trump off the hook for any of his authoritarian acts by calling government bureaucracies the root of all evil.


the Europeanization of the economy

rhetorical claim: Obama has entangled the US in financially ruinous international regulations, trade agreements, monetary policy goals and business taxation. This has lead to the weakest economic growth, the largest surge in government debt, the riskiest monetary expansion and the gravest deflationary pressures of the postwar era. This is part of a larger picture of centralized arbitrary financial powers, as explained in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Solon:

 After the 2008 financial crisis, the G-7 massively expanded international coordination. The Financial Stability Forum was expanded into the Financial Stability Board, charged with integrating the monetary policy of central banks and supervising financial institutions such as banks, insurers and asset managers. The G-20 worked to protect government revenues through the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project.

The result? Since 2007 the public debt of the G-7 nations, excluding sober Canada and Germany, has leapt to 130% of gross domestic product from 52%, according to each nation’s own reports. The EU’s monetary base has doubled, the U.K.’s is up 350%, and

The U.S. government has helped itself in debt financing, paying almost the same interest costs today as it did in 2007, despite almost tripling the publicly held debt. At the same time, bureaucrats won arbitrary and self-serving power over financial services. International regulators now override national and state laws without authority or input, turning domestic “independent regulators” into puppets. Political commissars embedded in banks own no shares yet veto board decisions. Money-market rules burden equities and public-purpose bonds, but favor federal debt. So do swap collateral rules and Basel rules on liquidity and capital.

The list goes on: Dodd-Frank’s Volcker rule threatens liquidity in market-making operations but exempts U.S. government securities. Housing regulators again proclaim that the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a “duty to serve” low-income buyers by underwriting higher risk mortgages. International regulators direct insurers to invest in public infrastructure, proclaiming the profitability of these projects when experience demonstrates otherwise. Ubiquitous capital requirements force financial institutions to buy highly leveraged government debt that pays ultralow returns.

 Meanwhile, America’s punitive 35% corporate tax rate—the highest in the developed world—has discouraged U.S. firms from investing at home and sets a global tax floor to stabilize government revenues and foster government growth. The result is average U.S. GDP growth of only 2.1% since 2010—40% less than the administration’s projected 3.6%. According to my firm’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office projections, that dismal growth rate has taken a $9.5 trillion bite out of U.S. GDP since 2010—$29,400 on average for every American.

rhetorical effect
: removes all financial regulation (including liquidity requirements and “ubiquitous capital requirements”), justifies huge corporate tax cuts (as if tax policy isn’t “centralized, arbitrary authority”), discourages mortgages to minorities, etc.


pro-Iranian tilt

rhetorical claim: Obama has abandoned American interests and allies in the Middle East by prematurely with drawing from Iraq and making favorable deals with the Iranians. He has thus allowed the Russians to dominate the region, confused our allies, and failed to differentiate between friends (Israel) and foes (Iran).

rhetorical effect: demonizes any agreements with the Iranians; makes war in the region far more likely, characterizes any criticism of Israel as being pro-ISIS.