Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, June 30-July 11, 2018.

hysterical commentary

rhetorical claim: as Donald Trump put it, the Supreme Court’s upholding of his travel ban is, “a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”

rhetorical effect: one lie and one distortion. The lie of course is that the Dems don’t care enough about America’s security to do anything to protect it.  The distortion is that any anti-Trump commentary is automatically “hysterical,”i.e. unhinged, desperate, frantic, hyperbolic and easily dismissed. Trump’s greed and grievance strategy keeps the inequality gap growing ever wider, and keeps his base at a perpetual boil. Talk about hysteria!


progressive discrimination

rhetorical claim: we have replaced racial discrimination with progressive discrimination (aka, political correctness). The core of progressive training is demonizing normal Americans as deplorables. Once you tar opponents as evil racist-sexist-homophobes, you are justified in any mode of attack, from blacklisting to physical violence.

rhetorical effect: turns the victimizers into the victims. imperils free speech, equal rights, and concepts of justice.


job-creating tariffs

rhetorical claim: Harley-Davidson’s threat to move production to Europe proves tariffs work. By raising the cost of importing American motorcycles, EU tariffs created a powerful incentive for Harley-Davidson to invest in Europe. They responded to this incentive. Now Europe will have its own slice of Harley’s pie—and benefit from the capital investment, jobs, and technical know-how that Harley will bring with them. Imagine that. But in the long run US tariffs will create more jobs than they will destroy, and limp-wristed Dems won’t be buying Harleys anyway.

rhetorical effect: counter-intuitively turns the tables, trying to make a virtue out of job loss. According to this theory, the more jobs that are lost, I guess, the more Trump’s plan is working. It’s kind of like that old joke “what we lose on each sale we make up in volume.”


restoring public trust in the FBI

rhetorical claim: the FBI and Justice Department need to find a way to restore the public’s trust of them. Their partisanship, lies, evasions, and cover-ups have badly damaged them, and  they need a thorough housecleaning and mass firings before the public can trust them again. The entire Mueller probe must also be shut down since it is a poisoned tree. The Russian interference theme also gives coherence and motive to the story the Dems wish to ignore. This story concerns a consistent pattern of meddling in the race by our own intelligence agencies, using Russian intelligence as an excuse.

rhetorical effect: assumes the very thing it needs to prove: that the Justice Dept. and FBI engaged in behavior that merits the loss of public trust in them. So far, the evidence of their malfeasance or anti-Trump conspiracy is sparse to non-existent, as the IG’s report concludes. Merely repeating something over and over again (Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!)–does not make it true.


the dominance hierarchy

rhetorical claim: there is a natural dominance hierarchy that places men above women, and women like it that way. Order–not freedom–is a fundamental human need, one now foolishly neglected. The order today’s deconstructed society so desperately lacks can be reintroduced, even now, through a renewed engagement with the Bible and inherited religious tradition.

rhetorical effect: promotes a view of society as static and unchanging; mocks the very ideas of inequality or distributive justice; enshrines racism and sexism as the cornerstone of human nature, and prizes “might” above “right.”

the liberal order

rhetorical claim: the old liberal order–globalization, unfair trade agreements, phony environmental agreements, NATO countries sponging off US military power,etc– is dead. America is great again, and no longer the patsy and bankroller of carping, freeloading global elites.

rhetorical effect: best argued by Martin Wolf:

In the words of the King James Bible, “there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph”. That ignorant king is Mr Trump, who knows not those Americans who created the postwar order. He believes in transactions over alliances, bilateralism over multilateralism, unpredictability over consistency, power over rules and interests over ideals. He prefers authoritarians such as China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the leaders of his democratic allies. In his view, might makes right. Striking features of Mr Trump’s behaviour are his fabrications, self-pity and bullying: others, including historic allies, are “laughing at us” over climate or “cheating” us over trade. The EU, he argues, “was put there to take advantage of the United States, OK? . . . Not any more . . . Those days are over.” These are absurd claims.


trade as national security

rhetorical claim: the US has weakened its national security through unfair trade deals that created huge trade deficits and let other nations walk all over us.

rhetorical effect: conflating trade with national security can only lead to endless crises, mounting trade wars, hostility, prolonged retaliation, and, ultimately, conflict and economic disaster. Confusing commerce with national security almost surely means that there will be no way to resolve economic conflicts except militarily, and military conflicts except economically–the opposite of a charmed circle–a lose-lose, winner-take-all world.



control of our borders

rhetorical claim: Merely arguing that the United States enforce existing immigration laws is to be called a Nazi, heckled in public, and picketed at one’s home. But the pro-illegal immigrant, anti-native-born Left can vent their spleens and prosper. The open-borders crowd is losing the war, and the mongrelization of America is no longer a done deal.  America is not the common property of all mankind. It belongs to the Americans, and we alone get to determine who may—and who may not—become one of us. Immigration is not a human right. America must take back control of its borders. The open borders ploy is only part of the liberals’ assault on our history, customs, and traditions. Liberals and their illegal immigrant army of potential new voters  are the vandals who cannot abide something they had little or no hand in creating, and just want to see the world burn.

rhetorical effect: justifies racism and xenophobia; separates children from their families; creates permanent resentment toward and suspicion of all immigrants; furthers the national polarization; makes compromise on immigration policy impossible; perpetuates the myth that we are being overrun by illegal immigrants.


freedom of religious discrimination

separation of church and state

rhetorical claim: in hiring, serving the public and health care, for example, people should be free to make choices based on their religious beliefs. The government should not be involved in these choices except to make sure to find ways to promote them. Separation of church and state is just a matter of political correctness.

rhetorical effect: As explained by Susan Jacoby,

The very meaning of the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”— traditionally understood as referring to the right of Americans to practice whatever faith they wish or no faith at all — is being altered to mean that government should foster a closer relationship with those who want to mix their Christian faith with taxpayer dollars. This usage can be found in numerous executive orders and speeches by Mr. Trump and his cabinet members. Changes in language have consequences, as the religious right’s successful substitution of “pro-life” for “anti-abortion” has long demon

Trump uses religious freedom to justify everything from environmental regulation to separating infants from their parents to tax cuts. Separation of church and state now means protecting the church from the government, not the other way around.


letting Trump be Trump

rhetorical claim: Trump’s tweets are the purest expression of his leadership and instincts, and the more we let Trump be Trump, the better.

rhetorical effect: As Michiko Kakutani writes in her new book, “The Death of Truth”:

Trump, of course, is a troll — both by temperament and by habit. His tweets and offhand taunts are the very essence of trolling — the lies, the scorn, the invective, the trash talk, and the rabid non sequiturs of an angry, aggrieved, isolated, and deeply self-absorbed adolescent who lives in a self-constructed bubble and gets the attention he craves from bashing his enemies and trailing clouds of outrage and dismay in his path.


sexual libertinism

rhetorical claim: the effects of the sexual revolution have led the West to the brink of social and economic ruin. Think of the inverse of “The Handmaid’s Tale”: no patriarchal dystopia but instead a bloated welfare state run into the ground by shrieking feminists and perpetually aggrieved outrage merchants justifying their own power by worsening the very problems they claim to be solving. Ongoing efforts by radical feminists and homosexual activists to demonize and dismantle the two-parent heterosexual family show how these movements are deeply intertwined with a dangerous growth in state power and bureaucratic intrusion. As Stephen Baskerville argues :

Feminists and more recently homosexual political activists have now positioned themselves at the vanguard of left-wing politics, shifting the political discourse from the economic and racial to the social and increasingly the sexual…These groups are pursuing a social and sexual confrontation with the private family, marriage, masculinity, and religion.

rhetorical effect: promotes gender inequality, traditional models of stay-at-home moms, homophobia and misogyny. Portrays sexual freedom as sexual slavery. Leads directly to the most extreme of culture wars, blaming progressives for the decline and fall of Western Civ.


Constitutional relativism

rhetorical claim: as argued by David Harsanyi:

an increasing number of Democrats believe the Constitution must bend to the will of their policy preferences rather than preserve legal continuity, limited government, individual liberty, or enlightenment ideals.

Sure, some of the anger aimed Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is partisan bluster meant to placate the activist base. Still, most Democrats were going to get hysterical about any pick, because any conservative pick was going to take the Constitution far too literally for their liking. For those who rely on the administrative state and coercion as a policy tool — forcing people to join political organizations, forcing them to support abortion, forcing them to subsidize socially progressive sacraments, forcing them to create products that undermine their faith, and so on — that’s a big problem.

Some, like former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, indulged in the histrionic rhetoric we’ve come to expect in the Trump era, claiming that Kavanaugh would “threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.” But almost none of the objections coming from leading Democrats were, even ostensibly, about Kavanaugh’s qualifications as a jurist or, for that matter, with his interpretation of the Constitution.

“Specifically,” prospective presidential candidate Kamala Harris argues, “as a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy, his nomination presents an existential threat to the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.” Surely the former attorney general of California comprehends that “health care” is not a constitutional right, but rather a policy concern whose contours are still being debated by lawmakers, and probably will be for decades.

What Harris probably means is that Kavanaugh is an existential threat to the practice of forcing Americans to buy products in the private marketplace against their will. Kavanaugh, incidentally, upheld Obamacare as an appellate judge for jurisdictional reasons even though it displeased him on policy grounds (he wrote that the law was without “principled limit”). He did this because he has far more reverence for the law than Harris does.

rhetorical effect: rhetorically argues that the Constitution is not a rhetorical document: that is, not a document open to interpretation, persuasion, or modification. Treats the Constitution like the stone tablets Moses found on Mt. Zion–forever fixed and foundational. Privileges the right’s interpretation of the Constitution as the only true law, thus making all opponents’ arguments heretical by definition. No need to even have courts any more–just a quasi-religious central authority that dictates all laws in strict accordance to a document that doesn’t really exist except in their own dogmatic minds.


the alleged affronted

the social justice paradigm

rhetorical claim: Those who engage in the white privilege argument merely perpetuate racism under the spurious umbrella of compassion.  They are not to be trusted, believed, or promoted. Under the social justice rubric, being born white makes one evil, plain and simple. Everything is seen through the prism of race, since they very presence of whiteness is an affront to people of color.

If white people ask people of color to teach them how to say things correctly to avoid racism, this actually results in a burden on people of color to constantly educate.  Thus, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

In fact, calling on someone to check his so-called privilege is an ad hominem attack.  In particular, this logical fallacy is guilt by association.  Being a part of the Caucasian race automatically makes a person guilty.

rhetorical effect: justifies racism, sexist, homophobia, environmental destruction, the end of affordable, comprehensive health care, etc. Turns everything into its opposite, so that claims of racism are themselves racist, feminists hate women, etc.


leftist selectivity

rhetorical claim: The left of today are the founders of a new religion called selectivity. Every aspect of the left’s current extreme ideology involves being selective. Selective outrage, selective morality, selective media reporting, selective justice and selective “facts,” all have become the “go to” weapons of the radical left. All of the above are becoming vital characteristics one must exemplify if one is going to become a practicing member of this new leftist religious cult.

Every member of this leftist religious sect must take a solemn vow to always be selective when it comes to reporting on any kind of news, evidence or facts. All must be willing to advance the left’s radical agenda through any means necessary. Each member must learn to subscribe to double standards. Many of these cult members must learn to feign selective outrage on cue and even manufacture a crisis when necessary to aide their cause. The members must choose to exist within a life of illusion/delusion where perception and confirmation bias trump facts and evidence, and reality itself.

Sadly, the truth no longer matters to the modern day left. Their whole existence has basically boiled down to advancing a radical Marxist agenda, no matter what kind of damage it ultimately causes. Even if it means tearing down the country, dividing the citizenry and destroying Western Civilization. To the left, their nefarious ends will always justify their illogical means.

rhetorical effect: relativizes the truth in a way that undercuts all criticism of the Trump administration as partial and distorted. Makes political dissent, free speech, even contrary legal findings suspect and easily dispensed with. In other words, as in the above arguments about Constitutional originalism, fetishizes their own selective “truths” as inclusive and total.