The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m on the road again, relying on the hotel WiFi, so this morning’s Sift may experience unexpected delays.

This week I ran across two statements that, according the way I use language, were so outrageous as to be almost humorous: The RNC praised Donald Trump’s “commitment to religious freedom”, and Mike Pence called Joe Arpaio “a champion of the rule of law”. Neither, however, was trying to be amusing or shocking. Both were saying things that seemed true to them.

Puzzling over that led me to a larger theme: Both religious freedom and the rule of law are centuries-old phrases that conservatives have repurposed to mean something new. People who know the new usages say things to each other that appear ridiculous to those who don’t. To us, it may look like Pence and the RNC are being dishonest or hypocritical, but actually they’re just misappropriating words. If you’re going to argue with them, you need to know what they’re really saying.

That’s the topic of this week’s featured post, “Speaking in Code: two phrases that no longer mean what they used to”. It should be out before 10 EDT, hotel WiFi willing.

The weekly summary has to cover the barrage of lies and contradictions that came out of the administration this week, particularly from Trump’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. More and more, I’m thinking of the administration as running a new kind of disinformation campaign. Previous administrations have presented a spin on the truth, possibly bolstering weak points in their defenses with lies (or, more likely, statements that deceive while being technically true). But the Trump administration seems to be doing away with truth completely. Often they have no version of events, but simply label somebody else’s version as “fake news”. Rather than present a narrative, they just say things, and tomorrow they may say different things without acknowledgement or apology.

In addition, I’ll discuss Adam Schiff’s warning against “taking the bait” of impeachment, the debate over what role party establishments should play in primaries, the bizarre candidates who might be emerging from those primaries, the problems caused by high-deductible health insurance, how the economy is doing, and a few other things. I’ll try to get that out by noon.

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