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, Mar 9-16, 2018


rhetorical claim: NRA members are law-abiding,peaceable, patriotic, freedom-loving average citizens, whereas gun opponents are un-American, tyrannical, Communist, and elitist. As Wayne LaPierre put it at CPAC, the Democratic Party is:

infested with saboteurs who don’t believe in capitalism, don’t believe in the Constitution, don’t believe in our freedom, and don’t believe in America as we know it.

rhetorical effect: weaponizing standard political sentiments to create a social identity for gun advocates and to stigmatize all gun opponents. Equating gun ownership with patriotism calls the political allegiance of non gun owners into question. Casting gun control advocates as elitist undercuts polls that consistently show the vast majority of Americans favoring much more stringent gun control laws and policies. And, of course,’ creates an “us-vs. them: dichotomy by claiming a vision of “America as we know it.”



rhetorical claim: as Trump (facetiously?) put it at the Gridiron Dinner, praising Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power:

He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.

rhetorical effect: Is this what he means by “make America great again”? Trump’s support for other dictators and autocrats, including, in addition to Putin, strongmen in Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Turkey,  and Egypt. Justifies political repression, the violation of human rights, and the abrogation of free speech and a free press and internet.



rhetorical claim: For some Americans, nothing President Trump says or does would prompt them to withdraw their support. Trump has been aware of this for a while; his infamous “I could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue” comment was an acknowledgment of that reality. In part, this is a function of the passion many people feel for Trump. In part, it’s a function of Trump’s having pushed past so many different boundaries already. Once you’re miles into the wilderness, what’s another 10 feet?

rhetorical effect: The proliferation and intermingling of Trump scandals reduces the impact that any one of them would have by itself. Trump is saved by scandal overkill. Indifference contains its own monstrousness that overturns every rule and standard as reason and guilt become obliterated and everything gets disconnected. Most importantly, though, this is an abdication of what the presidency is supposed to be. After his election, Trump regularly called for Americans to unite around him, failing to recognize that the job of unity falls to the president, not the people. Trump’s campaign always had a significant demagogic component, centered on stoking prejudices and falsehoods, but he could theoretically have presided in a way that was more all-encompassing. He’s decided not to and instead has continued to foster political and cultural divides.


equality and mediocrity

rhetorical claim: When equality becomes an organizing principle of an institution–be it the military, higher education, police departments, or business–it renders excellence and ability secondary and levels down to mediocrity.  Unequal outcomes are not allowed to be facts any more, but must conform to ideology in a Stalinesque way. Elitism gives way to political correctness, in the name of  artificial equality and catalyzing social change. Democracy cannot be discriminating because it discourages elites, even if that elitism is merit-based or innate.

rhetorical effect:  essentializing inequality is a time-honored way of perpetuating it. Consider all the invidious ways difference has been used to justify privilege: blacks are lazy or have limited intelligence, , women are weak or too emotional to be leaders, etc.


if you take funds away, schools get better

rhetorical claim: Betsy DeVos, on 60 Minutes:

“In places where there have been — where there is — a lot of choice that’s been introduced — Florida, for example, the — studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better, as well.”

rhetorical effect: justifies privatizing education and creating an apartheid educational system. It seems totally counter-intuitive to argue that taking away funding makes things better, especially if you’ve never tried to remedy the situation with increased funding.


hatred for God

hatred for our country

rhetorical claim: Standing next to Mr. Trump’s eldest son at a firehouse, Mr. Saccone said Democrats were energized by a hatred for the president, “a hatred for our country” and “a hatred for God.”

rhetorical effect: equating Trump with God and country leads to a theocracy; transforms any Trump critic into a traitorous atheist; turns all Dems into “haters.”


the facts

rhetorical claim: The facts just don’t matter for the leftist media, who continue to pitch such nonsense as Hillary’s claim that married white women defer to their husbands when voting, to the American people.  This is about the left’s continued inclination to eschew any desire for truth in order to tilt at the windmills of “white supremacy” and battle the phantoms of “the patriarchy” and other unsubstantiated myths, such as the “gender wage gap”  which is supposed to result from systemic discrimination.

rhetorical effect: discounts in advance any claims of inequality; claims that the GOP is “reality-based” when it actually distorts or denies all forms of political reality; claims to be on the side of “the facts”, whatever “facts” they produce;


the media is dead

rhetorical claim: Sean Hannity said it back in 2007: journalism is dead.  It always had bias, but it’s now become nothing more than a broadsheet for the far left, an instrument to pretend leftist propaganda is actual “news” that instructs us.  If you think of journalists as Democrats with bylines, you are correct, and that’s mainly what the American public needs to see.  It’s an institution torn apart. The brainwashing of the leftist voter may be the most injurious thing the left has done.  In the long run, if we cannot convince enough of them of the truth about their recent leadership, the left may finally win its long, hard fight to destroy the American culture it has come to hate so much.

rhetorical effect: paranoid, apocalyptic conspiracy theories always serve to totalize, rally the troops, demonize the opposition, and make compromise impossible. Every act of opposition to Trump becomes part of the conspiracy, so it is impossible to logically  refute this kind of charge.


the judiciary is destroyed

rhetorical claim: This past year, it’s safe to say, has shown just how far the left has gone in destroying the judiciary.  Leftist judges with no pretense of adhering to the law now make insane proclamations from the bench on more than a weekly basis.  Reading what the laws actually say, any modicum of common sense tells you they are inserting their very own political and juvenile ideas for the rule of law.  They want it torn apart.  And they are getting close to their endgame of gumming up the works via judicial nullification.

rhetorical effect: see above


Democrats win by running as Trump, not Clinton

rhetorical claim: Conor Lamb won in Pennsylvania by running as Trump, not Clinton.

rhetorical effect: designed to distract analysts from noting that Lamb supports Obamacare, opposes tax cuts as a “giveaway to the rich”; supports Roe v. Wade and protecting Social Security and Medicare from any cuts.


the War on Men and Boys

rhetorical claim: Men seem to be becoming less male,” Tucker Carlson claims.  “Something ominous is happening[.] … Men are taught there is something wrong with them.  We took a close look at the numbers, and we found them so shocking that we’re devoting the month of March to a special series on men in America.”

Carlson concludes “You’ll be stunned by the scope of the crisis.  We were.  It’s a largely ignored disaster.  It affects every person in America.”

He notes, for example: “Men account for 77 percent of the nation’s suicides, they are more than twice as likely to become alcoholics, they are more likely to die of an overdose than women, and 90 percent of inmates are men.”

So what are the causes?  Eighteen years ago, Christina Hoff Sommers published The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.  Sommers concluded, “It’s a bad time to be a boy in America.  Boys are less likely than girls to go to college or do their homework.  They’re more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in detention, or drop out[.]”  In short, Sommers found the causes in feminist theory and, more surprisingly, inside the nation’s classrooms.

The dirty big secret here is that our public schools don’t announce social engineering; they simply do it, especially with regard to altering how children view themselves.  Public schools suppress boys and uplift girls in many furtive ways.  This manipulation has been hugely successful: 57% of college students are female; 43% are male.  More women stay in college and earn advanced degree.  Women wear business suits, and men drive pickup trucks.  Culturally similar men and women who used to marry each other are now separated by class differences!

The question still haunts us: how exactly are America’s social engineers able to win this war for females?

rhetorical effect: turns the patriarchs into victims; demonizes feminism; justifies inequality in the name of social justice.




Glossary: an anatomy of key memes, euphemisms, sneers, innuendos, and meta-narratives in the Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories, Nov 29-Dec. 9, 2014

(it’s) all about the country: (see “civilization”, below). This meme is trotted out in times of civil unrest or widespread dissent. Too much dissent undermines America, “tears at its very fabric,” etc. These dissenters put America into “retreat” (see below).

America in retreat: the mastermeme characterizing the Obama administration. Barry may have put us into “retreat,” according to this conceit, but we never go into “decline,” thanks to the free market and the forces of “liberty”.

anti-police ideology: any criticism of policing tactics. Such criticism is not fact-based but ideological (see “facts,” below), and is always characterized as “poisonous” or “toxic” to “civilization” (see below).

bureaucratic bloat: all government workers. The best government is the “thinnest” one.

civilization: this c-word gets played whenever there is civil unrest or mass dissent. Those in possession of the “facts” (see below) are the keepers of the flame of civilized behavior; everyone else is a “savage”. Read Huck Finn for the best critique of this position.

conspicuous compassion: all the Dems have to fall back on, instead of standing for the daddy words: truth, duty, honor, justice, security, liberty.

facts: whatever the GrandOldTeaParty says, since they are the “daddy” party. Thus in the cse of the Ferguson grand jury, the only “credible” “facts” or witnesses were those that exonerated Wilson. Dems don’t have “facts” (as in the case of climate change), but only opinions or “lies”. The basic argument underlying this position is that Dems only espouse “values” because they want power, not out of ethical principles. (See “conspicuous compassion,” above).

pitchfork justice: populism. When Dems demonstrate, it’s likened to a mobocracy, an irrational avenging army of self-righteous hypocrites; when the GOTP takes to the streets, it’s called “grassroots democracy”. Any current on-campus demonstration for the prosecution of rape charges is currently being tarred as “pitchfork justice”.

rampaging mobs (aka, “savages”): any protestors “playing the race card”. Typically portrayed as “other”: druggies, welfare freeloaders, barbarians, etc.

robust competition: only possible after massive tax cuts and the essential suspension of all regulation of business and finance.

superior attitude: what Dems are accused of practicing whenever they defend a moral position or attack any GOTP position. A version of being “uppity”.

taxes: always a “burden” or “barrier”; a force of “harm” or “damage”.

victimology: said to be at the heart of Dem ideology: the phony, false compassion for those suffering from racism, sexism, inequality, etc. To the Dems, “victims” are the real “heroes”.