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.
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
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?”
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.