Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Dec. 11-20, 2018


Trump and that sort of thing

I just don’t know about that

I wasn’t there

Trump and that sort of thing

I just don’t know about that

rhetorical claim: Trump’s supporters are making statements such as “I don’t talk about Trump and that sort of thing,” “I just don’t know about that,” and “I wasn’t there” when asked about the convictions of Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and Paul Manafort.

rhetorical effect: distances them from convicted felons; contradicts the many ways they defended these same people until very recently. Weasel words from weasels jumping ship? Pretty soon they’ll be saying they weren’t there the first two years of the Trump administration.



rhetorical claim: Accusing Flynn of treason gets things exactly backwards–the real traitors are the Dems with their insistence on open borders, Hillary and her “lost” emails, and treacherous globalists who want to neutralize and colonize the USA.

rhetorical effect: shifts attention away from Flynn’s betrayal of American values; “otherizes” all foreigners, turning them into nothing but threats to the US. Can this grand, nationalistic conspiracy theory ever be debunked in its promulgators’ eyes?


the Russia hoax

rhetorical claim: Bad as it may have been, the worst of the Russia Hoax was not the abuse of the FISA electronic surveillance regime for political purposes. Nor is the worst even the patent involvement of our intelligence agencies — and in particular the FBI and CIA — in electoral politics. No, the worst aspect of the Russia Hoax is that our intelligence agencies, including elements of DoJ and the State Department cooperating with the Clinton campaign, enlisted the intelligence services of foreign powers — first in their effort to defeat the candidacy of Donald Trump and, when that effort failed, turning their efforts to what can only be described as an attempted coup against the elected President of the United States.

Shockingly, these later stages of the Russia Hoax have included members of the Legislative Branch who, in the face of clear evidence that the true collusion with foreign powers was that of the Clinton campaign, have worked to delay and to ultimately obstruct Congressional oversight and investigation of the entire Russia Hoax.

rhetorical effect: parodies itself. Talk about living in an alternative universe: while most Americans are now starting to see that Trump is a con man surrounded by con men, his small, super-loyal coterie see every new development as confirmatory of their own Deep State conspiracy.


the church of progressive sanctimony

rhetorical claim: Tucker Carlson pointed out a few days ago how the already insufferable leader of the Congressional Democrats has recently been “ordained….an archbishop in the church of progressive sanctimony.”  For a while now, Nancy Pelosi’s been the country’s expert on morality (e.g., border wall: immoral; abortion on demand: moral).  She’s now taken to telling the country how much she prays, and she’s urging others to do it, too – at least that old sinner, Donald Trump.  After last Thursday’s televised squabble in the Oval Office, Pelosi shared with reporters how she told Trump she was praying for him and urged the president (whom she also called a “skunk” while ridiculing his manhood) to accept the Democrats’ budget proposal with no funding for a border wall.  “In fact,” she said with stomach-turning piety, “I asked him to pray over it.”

When a smug person ends an argument by telling you to “pray over it,” she’s really saying, “Ask God.  He knows I’m right!”

Summarizing her and Chuck Schumer’s meeting with Trump, she told the media, “I myself thought we should open the meeting with a prayer, which I did.  I told him about King Solomon, when he was to become king of the Jews, he prayed to God, he said: ‘I need you to give me great understanding and wisdom, Lord.'”

King Solomon is Pelosi’s favorite Bible character, especially because he proposed solving a problem by cutting a baby in half. 

rhetorical effect: deflects attention away from the growing boycott against Carlson, due to his calling immigrants “dirty.” Also sanctimoniously accuses Pelosi of religious sanctimony, and continues the meme of treating progressive thought as a cult of smug hypocrites. Also obscures the real conservative hit list: Western constitutional democracy”, promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the GOP or Trump administration. Curiously, these enduring targets of the GOP almost exactly mirror the Chinese notion of the Seven Perils facing the current regime.


Marxist socialism

rhetorical claim: The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the subsequent dissolution of the so-called “socialist camp” did not result in the demise of Marxist ideology. Marxism exhibited remarkable endurance. It successfully adapted to a new reality and relocated to the United States, where it acquired a new life within the Democratic Party. In 2008 this virus culminated in the election of the Marxist-socialist Barack Obama, whose principal achievement was the successful transformation of the Democratic Party into the de facto Social Democratic Party. Social democracy is a political ideology that has as its goal the establishment of socialism through implementation of a policy regime that includes, but is not limited to, high taxation, government regulation of private enterprises, and establishment of a universal welfare state. 

The elections are a clear warning to America that Karl Marx’s vision; “Democracy is the road to socialism” is poised to be fulfilled.

The Democrats have dropped all liberal or progressive pretenses. They run on pro-Marxist ideology, denouncing capitalism and promising miraculous fulfillment of egalitarian dreams.

rhetorical effect: more stops on “the road to socialism.” Among the many ;lies in thios line of thinking: Dems are opposed to capitalism; taxes are evil, the welfare state will obliterate private enterprise, etc. Sheer paranoia, like rust, never sleeps.


his base loves it

rhetorical claim: every time Trump flouts or mocks convention (as in acting “unpresidential” with Nancy and Chuck in the Oval Office last week), or the justice system convicts any of his supporters with fake charges and perjury traps, Trump’s base loves it.

rhetorical effect: girding up his base is costing him the center. “Playing to his base” is now clearly a losing strategy, yet Trump is trapped because he cannot now turn to the center without alienating his base. The tragedy of his Presidency will be his failure to transcend his base and unify the country. He has painted himself into a corner and his hubris prevents him from getting out of this ideological trap.


the progressive patriarchy

rhetorical claim:   Even if one accepts the notion that some biological males can feel so female that they essentially are, in some intangible way, women, such a view necessarily conflicts with the feminist claim that there is something unique about being a woman — and that womanhood deserves to be shielded from the encroachment of male power.

The wholehearted embrace of transgender ideology necessarily, and quite intentionally, erases womanhood. It allows biological males to don the mantle of femaleness simply by asserting that it is their birthright. There has never been a more patriarchal claim.

rhetorical effect: turns the tables by claiming that feminism itself rests on the claim hat womanhood must be protected. This argument not only ignores all philosophical claims of equality, but also tries to turn gender identity into a partisan political act rather than a biological imperative.


politicized academic orthodoxy

rhetorical claim: as argued by Victor Davis Hanson:

If higher education’s increasing fixation on job training is the whirlpool that swallows history majors, the monster across the narrow straits of liberal-arts education is a many-headed politicized orthodoxy, a Scylla that consumes the flesh of the liberal arts and leave the bones as dreary reminders of boilerplate race, class, gender, and culture agendas. In the case of history, few increasingly wish to sit in a class where the past becomes tedious melodrama rather than complex tragedy, a sort of reeducation camp in which modern standards of suburban orthodoxy time-travel to the past in order to judge materially impoverished historical figures or pivotal events as either culpable or exonerated.

The tragedy, then, is not just that a campus of the University of Wisconsin would drop the history major but that the custodians of history in the 21st century lost the ability to teach and write about history in a way that sustains a hallowed 2,500-year tradition. In other words, what is being jettisoned is likely not just history as we once understood it but rather de facto poorly taught “-studies” courses — which sadly become snapshots of particular (and often small) eras of history — designed to offer enough historical proof of preconceived theories about contemporary modern society. The students then are assumed by the course’s end to be outraged, persuaded, galvanized, and shocked in politically acceptable ways. Usually they are just bored, as supposedly with-it professors endlessly regurgitate the esoterica picked up in graduate schools.

rhetorical effect: creates a false dichotomy between discourse about race, sex and gender and subtlety and ambiguity in historical analysis. There is of course no reason to pick one or the other, and the best inductive historical methods make the strongest cse for consideration of what “identity” has come to mean.