Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and metanarratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, April 26-May 3, 2014

American possibilities (or promise): The root narrative of America as the “exceptional” City on the Hill–what Obama either doesn’t “get” or is indifferent to.  Apparently, approving the the Keystone Pipeline is the current sure-fire way to promote American possibilities and overcome Obama’s “Opportunity Gap”.

“assault weapons”: Never used without fright quotes, which always mean “so-called”. Maybe “assault” will be the next verb slapped into fright-quote handcuffs, as in “standing your ground” rather than assaulting someone.

base-pandering: what Democrats unfailingly–and primarily– engage in when they issue any policy, opinion, or regulation.

cerebral: one of Obama’s many fatal flaws. Strangely enough, he is simultaneously accused of being “simple-minded” (see below).

cynical promotion of fears:what Dems really do do whenever they attack right-wing ideas or policies. It’s cynical because it’s calculated, disingenuous, and self-serving: no one in their right mind could believe in climate change, the stifling of political speech, racism, or income inequality. Never mind that it’s actually the right wing that is totally dependent on a permanent culture war, enduring political enemies such as Hillary, and the steady blue flame of outrage and fear of “losing the country”.

economic gimmicks: what Dems have to resort to whenever they report (see below, “eke out” ) good economic numbers. The biggest economic gimmick of all is demand-side economic policy.

eked out: very grudging GOP description of any positive economic news–used only when they aren’t disparaging or ignoring  the news altogether, as when they refer to jobs lost rather than jobs gained.

encroachment on states’ sovereignty: any federal law or policy that doesn’t defer to the states.

ensconced: the quality of being any Dem office holder or employee. Subtly undermines the legitimacy of holding a job in public service, as if it’s all due to patronage and (see above), base-pandering.

grandees: especially “ensconced” Dem office holders, lobbyists, lawyers, commentators, etc. Clearly implies that they “think they’re better” than average folks. Republican grand poobahs are instead called “leaders”.

hostage to lobbyists: said to be the defining characteristic of the entire Democratic D.C. establishment; Republicans, on the other hand, are said to be “responsive to constituencies” and respecters of The Market.

obsessions: any Dem policy position that is stated more than once.

one-size-fits-all: the Dems’ ideological strait-jacket and political orthodoxy that is imposed on the American People

simple-minded: part of the tragedy of our fatally-flawed, “cerebral” President is that his ideas are one-dimensional and simplistic: markets are evil and inherently unfair; economic growth is only for the rich and should be regulated and choked at the source, the only way to lead is “from behind,” etc.

“wage gap”: exactly like “the war on women,” this phrase now must always be used with fright quotes because it is purely fictional Dem propaganda. After all, everyone knows there are no glass ceilings, except when there are, and that’s because of obvious “structural” or “inherent” reasons that maybe only men can grasp. Other phrases that right wingers consider insulting or risible: “living wage,” “income inequality,” save the earth”.


Parallel GOP Universes: Hyperbolic and Counter-Intuitive Myths, Claims and Canards, September 4, 2013

1. The GOP, split over our next move in Syria, continues to produce some furious attempts at Politiscripting the moment. In this case, Eric Erickson of Red State manages a triple word score: likening Obama to a homeless schizophrenic, an “effete liberal ninnie”, and the destroyer of the US military. Thus “effete” makes its return to the rhetorical stage, having last been the main rhetorical battering ram of Spiro Agnew:

A strike now is nothing more than the President trying to salvage credibility he dithered away over several years of ignoring Syria to focus on Libya only to see it blow up in his face. Striking now in an act of war the President refuses to call an act of war and making it known that the act is designed to hurt, but not end, the Assad regime, is an effete response only a liberal ninny could come up with….This Administration’s foreign and military policies make all the sense of a homeless schizophrenic off his meds running down the Washington Mall. They make even less sense when coupled with Administration rhetoric on the sequestration making it impossible for the military to do anything with the military….Words mean things and this Administration has yet to seriously put honest words together to explain what it intends and desires.

2. From Tea Party LaLaLand, a Tennessee state representative manages an even more impressive rhetorical flourish, linking the potential bombing of Syria with every failed GOP attempt to “scandal”-monger:

Tennessee state representative Joe Carr (R.), who is mounting a tea-party challenge against incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), also cited a lack of trust in explaining his opposition to military intervention. “This is an administration that has been cloaked in secrecy since [Obama’s] first inauguration,” he told National Review Online, before reeling off a list of administration scandals — NSA spying, IRS targeting, Fast and Furious, Benghazi. “We can’t get a straight answer out of the president. I don’t believe we’re getting accurate information out of the president now, and I don’t believe we should go to war because he drew an arbitrary red line.” The White House has yet to provide a compelling national-interest argument for intervention, which the vast majority of Tennesseans oppose, he added.

3. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) upped the ante even more with a truly-inspired piece of hyperbole, virtually calling Obama’s looming bombing of Syria a treasonous act, turning the US military into “Al Qaeda’s air force”:

“Nobody wants to see another Benghazi in Syria, and that’s really the fear, isn’t it?” Pags wondered.

“That’s exactly right,” Cruz agreed. “But there’s a broader problem. This administration, when it conducts foreign policy, it doesn’t do so based on U.S. national security interests… It appears what the president is pressing for is essentially protecting his public relations because he drew a red line, and essentially the bluff was called.”

“We’re not going to resolve the tensions over there and the last thing we ought to be doing is sending our sons and daughters into harm’s way to get into the middle of this sectarian civil war,” he added. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America.”

“That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to — as you know — you know, serve as Al-Qaeda’s air force.”

4. The American Spectator also piles on, astonishingly linking a Syrian missile strike with abortion:

The justification for this war, from the vantage point of vital American interests, is nil. It makes about as much sense as Assad announcing that he will launch military strikes on the U.S. because Obama supports the killing of over a million unborn babies a year.

It is sad to see Republicans like Boehner join in this phony harrumphing about evil abroad. Fix your own country. Address America’s moral evils. Pols who can’t stop chemical abortions in America won’t stop chemical bombing in Syria.

5.  In a classic “they don’t know what’s good for them” moment, Richard Epstein of the libertarian Hoover Institute ridicules the “living wage” campaign of Bill de Blasio in NYC. After all, Epstein modestly proposes, who ever said that a person’s wages should amount to “anything they can live on”?

What is characteristic about these and other similar attempts is how little effort they make to understand anything about the underlying principle. For example, de Blasio’s stunt makes it appear that the test of a good minimum wage law is whether people can live on that salary. In so doing, he ignores all the non-pecuniary benefits that a job can give people: exposure to business, professional skills, networking, and the like. College seniors are eagerly seeking unpaid internships to gain experience in the work force. Why deny that opportunity to those from less privileged backgrounds who must contend with unemployment rates of 41.6 percent in the case of black teenagers aged 16 to 19?