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, April 17-24, 2018

competitiveness clause

rhetorical claim: The GOP should insert a competitiveness clause in any new NAFTA agreement. Such a chapter would bolster infrastructure, create more jobs and streamline the permitting process. Ending the crushing regulatory chokehold of the Obama years (see “bludgeoning,” below) would thwart future Democratic mischief if they re-take the House.

rhetorical effect: “competitiveness” becomes a weaponized euphemism for corporate malfeasance, environmental destruction, the end of labor rights, and all consumer protection.



rhetorical claim: the GOP is slowly repealing the worst regulatory rules of the Obama administration, rules that were used to bludgeon entire industries–coal, auto and payday lenders, for-profit colleges–into submission.

rhetorical effect: any policy the GOP disagrees with is seen as nothing but government coercion, as if any regulation is suspect and coercive because it is inherently based on  the hypocritical Dem will-to-power. Claims of public interest or the common good are ridiculed as anti-jobs and anti-American.


superfluous legal jeopardy

rhetorical claim: when we metastasize laws for criminalizing politics, we become more like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The corrupt FBI has put Donald Trump into superfluous legal jeopardy. Mueller is framing his own investigation to justify the pre-election actions of the FBI.

rhetorical effect: undermines and poisons any Mueller indictments or claims of illegal acts. Transforms the rule of law into a pejorative, a form of “tyranny”.


bad science and statistical manipulation

rhetorical claim: the liberal worldview and policy framework are often based on junk science and statistical manipulation: irreproducible research is the rotten foundation of neo-liberal economic theory, concocted psychology research undergirds education policy, and, as Peter Wood and David Randall argue in the WSJ,

The whole discipline of climate science is a farrago of unreliable statistics, arbitrary research techniques and politicized groupthink….

The chief cause of irreproducibility may be that scientists, whether wittingly or not, are fishing fake statistical significance out of noisy data. If a researcher looks long enough, he can turn any fluke correlation into a seemingly positive result. But other factors compound the problem: Scientists can make arbitrary decisions about research techniques, even changing procedures partway through an experiment. They are susceptible to groupthink and aren’t as skeptical of results that fit their biases. Negative results typically go into the file drawer. Exciting new findings are a route to tenure and fame, and there’s little reward for replication studies.

rhetorical effect: part of the War on Science, turning the whole concept of  “government science” into an oxymoron.


reverse racism

rhetorical claim: liberal academics do not seek equality, but instead want to assert and maintain privilege. They thrive on racism, which they themselves help to perpetuate. It’s time to stop prattling about “race” altogether.

rhetorical effect: typical GOP inversion: anyone claiming X is actually perpetuating it: the poor keep themselves poor, the needy are actually parasites taking advantage of society via white guilt, minorities are the real racists, feminism turns women into victims, the courts, FBI and Justice Departments are actually undermining the rule of law, etc.  Call it the The World Turned Upside Down syndrome. While there is a certain twisted logic to this method, it rests on a poisoned, exclusionary  base of conspiracy theory (us vs. them).


Social Justice Warriors vs. western chauvinism

rhetorical claim: ultra-liberal Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) are out of step with the American people with their collectivist, globalist elitism. Instead, it’s time to practice making America Great Again,  time for the advent of sovefrign citizenship and  western chauvinism.

rhetorical effect: opposition to SJWs justifies misogyny, nativism, anti-Semitism, racism, the squelching of free speech, and the end of civil society. Undercuts the very oidea of social justice, reducing it from a moral imperative to a phony redistribution scheme.


unearned respect

rhetorical claim: as expressed by Victor David Hanson:

Washington’s self-righteous establishmentarians talk of professionalism when they act unprofessionally. They refer at length to their intellectual and professional pedigrees when they prove incompetent. And they cite their morality and ethics when they possess neither.

And then, adding insult to injury, when the public expresses abhorrence at their behavior, they accuse critics of unprofessionalism, a lack of patriotism, or reckless demagoguery.

A James Clapper can lie to Congress under oath about intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens; a John Brennan can lie about CIA monitoring of U.S. Senate computers, or mislead Congress about the absence of any collateral damage in the use of drones. Yet we are supposed to give both further credence based on their emeriti titles or to believe their current Captain Renault-like outrage over President Trump’s lack of presidential decorum? But what in their past has earned them the moral high ground? Claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was largely “secular,” or redefining jihad as “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam”?….

For the next decade, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the federal judiciary will have to explain exactly why some Americans can lie to federal investigators, lie to the Congress, destroy subpoenaed evidence, leak classified documents, and face no consequences—while other Americans would have had—and have had—their lives and careers ruined for much less.

Had General David Petraeus told the FBI that his notebooks were accidentally lost, but no matter, because they simply documented his private family plans for a wedding and his own yoga regimen, would he have been indicted? The danger of the present age is not James Comey’s self-righteousness or Robert Mueller’s peculiar latest focus, but a massive distortion of the foundational principle of the United States: equality under the law. In some sense, it no longer exists….

Self-righteousness and self-referencing become fatal when combined with incompetence and malfeasance. James Comey is our touchstone to a morally confused age.

rhetorical effect: demonizes and undercuts the entire criminal justice system; turns allegations and molehills into mountains; criminalizes long-held federal investigative techniques and practices; undermines respect for the rule of law. All of this is designed to inoculate Trump against any Mueller findings or indictments.


welfare abuse

rhetorical claim: In our well-intentioned effort to remove the stigma attached to entitlement programs, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that some people are now flaunting their entitlements and creating an underground culture where blatant fraud is being committed.

The absence of oversight is easy to understand. These programs are funded by taxpayer dollars; therefore the government has no incentive whatsoever to root out waste. They can simply raise taxes when they run out of money and you and I are called heartless for denying aid to the poor and downtrodden if we dare to protest.

There is no better example of how liberal social policy is implemented. As Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying, we are not allowed to look at the results of these programs or their unintended consequences. We are only to consider the intention.

If the intention was honorable, it doesn’t seem to matter that we are making people hopelessly dependent on the government.

Sadly, in the mind of liberal politicians this dependency translates into votes.

rhetorical effect: criminalizes the mere acceptance of social safety-net monies as “abuse”; equates welfare recipients with moochers; assumes all welfare recipients are dependent on the government, no matter how many jobs they have, etc. Rules out any sense of compassion, justice, context, historical racism, etc. Justifies draconian cuts in  social safety-net funding. Undoes the New Deal.



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. 28-Dec. 2, 2016

consumer protection

rhetorical claim: Borrowers need and want payday lenders, and the federal government should completely deregulate the industry,  and eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  (editorial: “Consumer Financial Protection Rewrite”).

rhetorical effect: the belief that consumer “protection” distorts the free market and only protects the vested interests of progressives. Consumers are best protected by no protection laws whatsoever, since the market always sorts things out.



rhetorical claim: to the Dems, a liberator for the ages. Actually, a brutal dictator who killed millions. Dems consider Gitmo the ultimate symbol of moral barbarity, but what Castro was doing in the rest of Cuba was far worse.

rhetorical effect: relativizes the torture and mass violation of human rights going on at Gitmo.


rhetorical claim: the Dems’ all-purpose pejorative for everything bad.

rhetorical effect: excuses any private sector, for-profit public works. Pull up a chair and watch how fast the US economy gets privatized, Thatcher style. Roads, bridges, Medicare, prisons, water supplies, etc. will all be run by private companies. Government oversight will be minimal.


power grab

rhetorical claim: any progressive law or regulation based on theories of global warming, inequality, racism, etc. In the name of these fabricated boogie men, Dems use the law to exercise power, while all the while claiming the moral high ground.

rhetorical effect: undermines any moral authority for progressive causes, reducing them all to hypocrisy or an insatiable will to power. Dems are said to “grab” power, whereas the Tea Party/GOP  is said the exercise the will of the voters.


 collective bargaining

rhetorical claim: mandatory collective bargaining makes the government the unions’ automatic dues collector. In right-to-work states,  where collective bargaining has been all but eliminated, economies are thriving. Unions, especially public workers’ unions,  are the worst thing that ever happened to workers, state finances, educational quality, and economic growth. Cutting back public unions also guarantees that state taxes won’t rise every year. There is a nexus of of public-union donations and government officials.

rhetorical effect: demonizes public unions by making them sound as if their ultimate aim is to cripple the economy and bankrupt the states. This rhetoric never mentions union members’ benefits, and the tremendous gains unions have made for workers’ rights over the decades. This rhetorical technique is akin to only discussing the cost of environmental regulations without considering the benefits, such as health and safety. It’s a form of reductio ad absurdum argument.



rhetorical claim: as with school choice and vouchers, any top-down, government control over the choice of the people leads to disaster. Any coercive public policy that runs counter to the will of the people is a form of meddling.

rhetorical effect: attempts to unionize teachers, give more support to public schools, avoid the privatization of education, or set educational standards is now defined as meddling.  How long before policies based on principles of equity, justice, and social responsibility are themselves characterized as meddling?


social justice warriors

rhetorical claim: liberals, aka social justice warriors, champion tolerance and open-mindedness, yet are among the most intolerant of Americans, especially towards Christians.  They ostracize and demonize Christians; replace right and wrong with healthy and unhealthy; steadfastly maintain that the state, not God, defines marriage;  and consider faith to be worse than racism. As memorably explained by David French in the National Review:

With their trademark combination of arrogance and stunning ignorance, they’ll tear down your faith and replace it with a philosophical dumpster fire, a belief system that’s four parts emotional and physical impulse, two parts junk psychology, and one part corrupted intellect. It’s about desire and ambition only partially modulated and limited by consent. Do what you want with your body and your life, so long as you’re not harming anyone else and have the consent of your partners. Wait, that’s not entirely right. You can harm and kill your unborn child. You can rip your family to pieces pursuing your heart’s desires. You can leave spouses in the dust and children in their cribs if you decide you love a different person — especially if that person is of the same sex. Then you’re brave and courageous. At the end of the day, I suppose, the Left believes there’s really only one relevant rule of sexual conduct: Don’t rape.

rhetorical effects: legitimizes  religious intolerance of LGBT; assumes Christians are morally superior to non-believers; makes all progressives seem soulless and morally dissolute, caring only about desire and ambition; assumes social justice is inherently immoral and unchristian, and renews all the culture wars–abortion, gay marriage, even divorce and birth control–as once again fair game for social control rather than settled law or custom.


banning Islamic refugees

rhetorical claim: immigrants from”jihadi states” should ber banned from the US because of the risk of their being terrorists. Otherwise, you are arguing that the inevitable human death toll in America is the price we have to pay for compassion toward immigrants. Immigrants from jihadi states should have to prove that they are not terrorists.

rhetorical effect: demonizes all immigrants as terrorists-in-waiting, and places all Muslims in America under suspicion and scrutiny.


regulatory clarity and predictability

 rhetorical claim: infrastructure spending will be unleashed if there is regulatory clarity and predictability. The private sector will only take the investment risk if the government gets off their back

rhetorical effect: the overall strategy of privatizing public works and turning everything into a concession (toll roads, airport fees, etc.) depends on massive tax credits to lure the private sector. In order to loosen the reigns, government agencies are going to have to overlook or abrogate environmental, land use, and equity considerations when granting permits, as well as relinquish all oversight. “Regulatory clarity and predictability” has always been GOP shorthand for doing away with government regulation.


banking regulation

 rhetorical claim: Dodd-Frank turned banks into public utilities.It needs to be repealed to unleash the “animal spirits” of the market.

rhetorical effect: Making this exaggerated claim  requires the belief that any regulation of the financial sector is destructive and robs banks of any choice or agency. Consumer protection is just another form of socialism.


a functioning marketplace

rhetorical claim: American health care is teetering because it relies too much on government coercion. A functioning marketplace can deliver high-quality care at lower cost.

rhetorical effect: a “fully functioning market” presumes a fully dysfunctional government and regulatory apparatus. “Fully functioning” means fully unregulated.


 school vouchers

rhetorical claim: a market-based approach to improving the schools, give parents the choice over their own children’s school, and make public school teachers actually teach.

rhetorical effect: undermines teachers’ unions; guarantees the continual decline of public schools via underfunding; privatizes the education system.









Glossary: Key memes, dog-whistles, canards, euphemisms, fake outrages, and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, Nov. 21-27, 2015

campus Huns: leftist college students and faculty stifling free speech.

cheap shots: any uncomfortable or inconvenient questions that reporters ask Tea Partiers. (see “sneaky”,. below). These kinds of attacks are also always rooted in political correctness, an Orwellian adherence to the Dem party line.

college: where incompetents indoctrinate sheep-like students in radical nonsense.

counterfeit identities: any lib flavor-of-the-month (see “libsplaining’, below). The only true identities are nation, family, and God. Everything else is unmoored or faked.

fantasy strawman: any attack on GOP positions. (see “cheap shots,” above, and “invective and derision,” below). Obama oversimplifies or exaggerates GOP shortcomings in order to attack them. Any criticism of the GOP is thus a “fantasy,” something that is by definition false and concocted.

foundational values: decency, tolerance, supporters of full rights for women, free speech and practice of religion, etc. Aka, everything Islam opposes.

human rights: in a time of war (such as the one we are now in), a luxury, rich liberal’s play thing–along with freedom of speech and assembly, racial justice, bans against torture, etc.

invective and derision: Obama’s governing rhetorical style

libsplaining: the Orwellian sludge of sanctimonious liberal gibberish and euphemisms, e.g., “safe spaces,” “a legacy of slavery,” “white privilege,” “leading from behind,” “universal human rights,” “disparate impact,” “cisgender,” “workplace violence,” etc. Aka, left-wing trollery, tendentious, question-begging twaddle. Liberalism itself is a progressive propaganda machine whole sole aim is to silence its enemies.

Obama: the hapless and bumbling nutty professor.

sneaky: any reporter who asks Tea Partiers an uncomfortable or inconvenient  question (see “cheap shots”, above)

social justice warriors: grim, angry and arrogant.


Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, dog whistles, canards, shibboleths and obsessions in the Wall Street Journal and other Grand Old Tea Party language factories, May 4-May 11, 2015

broken-windows policing: often held out as a panacea for overcoming the “unrest” (see below) in black neighborhoods. As if maintaining the outward appearance of social orderliness can make us overlook the bottom-line fact that blacks are poorer, sicker, and falling further behind than ever before.

constraint: the inevitable outcome of government regulation. People, like markets, “want to be free”, so constraint is always interpreted negatively, synonymous with being shackled.

destroying wealth: any economic policy centered on cooperation and equality rather than competition and inequality, Tax increases for the wealthy–in fact, almost any government regulation–is thus described as wealth destroying.

enemies of America: gay marriage supporters, according to Ben Carson.

hate speech: any speech that questions Christianity, especially when Christianity discriminates against sexual or ethnic minorities.

“I’m not a scientist”: as Elizabeth Kolbert points out in The New Yorker, this is the standard Tea Party preface/apologia to draconian cuts in federal spending on scientific research. Astonishingly enough, claiming that they don’t know anything about a subject somehow rhetorically gives them license to legislate against it. Any researcher whose work runs counter to Tea Party ideology is now a “scientist”–like Obama, basically a fraud. The ultimate aim is to render all of blue America somehow illegitimate.

routine investigative steps: chasing and arresting unarmed people without probable cause; subjecting detainees to “rough rides”; assuming black people are acting suspiciously.

run amok: any regulatory or taxing apparatus

social justice warriors: Lefties who are out for the scalps of “everyday Americans.”

tut-tutting: derisive term for any Dem moral argument. Akin to when Obama is said to get on his “high horse. or complaint about social, economic or political realities.

ugly aside: any Obama remark that directly calls out the Tea Partiers on issues of inequality, social justice, or poverty. When Obama isn’t said to be being just plain “ugly,” he’s called by Peggy Noonan’s favorite scold term: ungracious.

unrest: a euphemism for what Jelanie Cobb calls “a symbol of an entire web of failed social policies, on education, employment, health, and housing.”