Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 17-23, 2017

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



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

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


moral plane

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

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


nation building

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

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

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


civil debate

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

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



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

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


rules of engagement

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

rhetorical effect: justifies the indiscriminate killing of civilians.


cultural cleansing

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

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

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

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


hate speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


principled realism

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

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

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



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. 3-8, 2016

reversion to the norm

rhetorical claim: that the pro-growth, pro-business moderation of Trump is a reversion to the historical norm of American political life, and a rebuke to the ahistorical multiculturalists, sexual deviants, economic freeloaders and social justice warriors. The American Left simply can’t stand the fact that they are not the vanguard of American beliefs and practices.

rhetorical effect: labels any criticism of the Trump administration as socially deviant and extreme. This is all part of the demonization and criminalization of dissent, as well as part of the effort to normalize Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, and political repression.


finishing a war

rhetorical claim: that Dems don;t know how to win a war, as evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan. James Mattis will see to it that Trump gets as many troops as he needs to win a war.

rhetorical effect: normalizes a massive military buildup and reinforces the myth that wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were winnable.


disciplining health care costs

rhetorical claim: Obamacare should have included consumer involvement in disciplining health care costs, rather than unlimited amounts of health care

rhetorical effect: ultimately will shift the blame for rising health care costs for inadequate insurance from the insurance companies or government to consumers.  This blame-the-victim approach, ostensibly based on personal responsibility, will penalize consumers for any outcomes or behaviors that “discipline” corporate profits.


America haters

rhetorical claim: the George Soros-funded  ant-Trump “protestors” can’t stand Trump’s success and are damaging America.

rhetorical effect: political protest itself gets branded as damaging rather than protecting America. In this rhetorical climate, dissent becomes politically toxic  because it is stripped of any moral underpinnings and only seen as an existential threat to America.


Trump tantrum

rhetorical claim: mainstream media criticism of Trump is a kneejerk response to badly-needed social, political,  and economic change. Instead of automatically undercutting Trump when he saves jobs or stand up to china, the lamestream media should be supporting him and not making up fake news stories or criticisms.

rhetorical effect: again, dissent is treated as unpatriotic, unthinking, and unprincipled. Every opposition stance or statement is rendered childish, like a “tantrum.”


repealing Obamacare

rhetorical claim: repealing Obamacare will immediately lead to more competition, more choice, and cost awareness.  Here’s a vision of the promised land:

If much of ObamaCare is repealed, there will be room for more choice, competition and cost awareness. We can see a return of catastrophic health insurance with lower tax-deductible premiums, high deductibles and more payment up front, with government-run clinics for those who lack insurance.

 Those with pre-existing conditions or at the greatest risk of getting sick can pay a higher price for a more-comprehensive plan or use government-subsidized high-risk pools. Tort reform, including doctor-review panels to block frivolous suits, will put the brakes on doctors overtesting and overtreating patients.

rhetorical effect: the new norm will be high-deductible, high-cost, high advance payment policies, inadequate barebones catastrophic coverage, or restrictively expensive coverage for pre-existing conditions. The only remaining government program will be a high-risk pool for the sickest people, and it will offer almost no coverage at all. Note the ominous and telltale buzzwords: competition, cost awareness, catastrophic coverage, high deductibles, high payments up front, government-run clinics, much higher premiums for patients with pre-existing conditions, major tort reform limiting malpractice suits, etc. This is a veritable Christmas tree full of long wished-for GOP health care reforms. Don’t say we haven’t been warned about what’s coming.


 limited sue-and-settle practices

rhetorical claim: federal building and land use regulations have strangled the economy and need to be streamlined and repealed to unleash market forces. (Repealing Davis Bacon would be a good start.) Limiting liability awards and frivolous lawsuits will be a key factor in this streamlining.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for “fast track” permitting, with little legal recourse. Could potentially lead to a massive infrastructure spending spree with unprecedented avoidance of all environmental laws. Any “green” lawsuits are said to kill economic development.


right-to-work laws

rhetorical claim: Labor unions are the primary obstacle in the way of worker freedom. Right-to-work laws are the wedge issue to  increase workers’ rights.

rhetorical effect: justifies the destruction of labor unions. Portrays them as the worst thing ever to happen to workers.


ending the peace

rhetorical claim: Obama did not “end the war” in Iraq but ended the peace.The surge worked and won the war for us, but Obama lost it by bot sticking it out–just as lost our resolve in Vietnam.

rhetorical effect: paves the way for a re-invasion of Iraq, so we can once again engage in a perpetual war.


hate speech

rhetorical claim: liberals call all Trump supporters extremists, and accuse them of hate speech, whereas the actual hate speech comes from the liberal-progressives’ open hostility to Christianity, traditional marriage, Republicans, conservatives, white people, and the police.

rhetorical effect: bigots, homophobes, mysoginists, and neo-Nazis are feeling emboldened to step out of the shadows and openly spew their bile. This doublespeak maneuver allows them to claim that they are the victims whenever anyone criticizes them.


free markets

rhetorical claim: Mike Pence has already said that Trump is opposed to the free market, and this is evident in the opening “managerialist” maneuvers of the new administration, according to the National Review:

Trump may be culturally attached to the Right — or, more precisely, the Right may be culturally attached to Trump — but everything he has said and done thus far points to his being a progressive in the ancient mold of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and, yes, George Wallace and Theodore Bilbo. He means to put trade, and probably much more than trade, under political discipline. He means to stand between buyers and sellers with his hand out, making demands. He has expressed a longing for Keynesian stimulus projects, mercantilism, income redistribution, Bismarckian welfare-statism, and the consolidation of political power within the executive. He may talk like Archie Bunker, but politically he is Barack Obama rebranded for talk radio.

rhetorical effect: maintains the split between traditional conservatives and Trumpians, but also serves to make Trump sound like a Progressive.






Glossary: Key memes, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms, fake outrages, and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, Feb. 16-21, 2016

court packing: Obama’s deluded belief that he can appoint the next Supreme Court justice

classless society: what America was until the liberals seized control under FDR and sowed the seeds of envy, class warfare, and redistributionist blackmail. Upward mobility has  been eliminated in America, and we thus are stuck in a quasi-socialist, Euro-style class-driven doldrums.

the cognoscenti : the super elite Dems and their dogma that we will all be saved by expansive government spending, globalization free trade, and combined with a comprehensive and overarching regulatory regime. They always think they know best.

the democratic process: works when the outcome favors Tea Party policies or aims. For example, it applies to “letting the people” rather than the sitting President, decide on the next Supreme Court justice, even if the President has a constitutional duty to do so.

divisive: any extreme Dem policy position or ideology, including reparations, climate change, political correctness, evolution, gay rights, etc. aka, “identity politics.”

As pointed out in a recent New York Times Magazine column by Wesley Morris, this term used to mean “something worth arguing about. ”  Now it’s always modified with “too”, meaning that the subject is too controversial to discuss. This is a weaponized, master rhetorical trope used to marginalize–as in make toxic– almost any of President Obama’s policies or statements. When the Tea Party says that something is “too divisive,” or that the Dems are  playing a “card” (“race card,” “war-against-women card,” etc), they are signalling that the Dems are opportunistically polarizing the nation in order to demonize the Tea Party. Every subject that threatens the Tea Party is thus too fraught , polarizing, or sensitive, and so should be “taken off the table.” So “divisive” now means subjects we can’t even talk about because they have no authority or basis in fact. By calling everything threatening “divisive,” the Tea Party is actually further dividing the country. Of course, Tea Party shibboleths or God Terms–trickle down economics, free enterprise, Creationism and Intelligent Design, etc.–are accepted as fixed, eternal, unchallengeable truths, like the Bible.

The Geneva Convention: tying our troops’ hands behind their backs.

hate speech: what used to be called an honest disagreement, before the pc police took over.

honest disagreement: a polite way of saying we disagree, you’re wrong, but I’ll create the pretense of impartiality.  A corollary is to say “honest people can disagree,” which is slightly different in that it acknowledges your opponent to be honest, if stupid. When “honest people disagree,” the rhetorical deck is always stacked in favor of the speaker.

partisan gamesmanship: any Obama political appointment or policy. If he really is interested in bipartisan compromise, he will appoint a conservative to the Supreme Court. So Dems are engaged in gamesmanship when they act to their political advantage, but when the Tea Party does so it’s called “compromise” or “principled.” A Tea Party “compromise” always means they get their way.

police: neutered by the Obama-Beyonce axis of political correctness and racial pandering.

the work ethic and honest labor: tools of bondage and oppression, according to Dems and the Black Lives Matter crowd,