Tag Archives: politics


Prodiorthosis (pro-di-or-tho’-sis): A statement intended to prepare one’s audience for something shocking or offensive. An extreme example of protherapeia.

I will begin what I have to say innocently enough, but I warn you, my words may drill holes in the bottom of your heart, provoke anger, and disgust you.

There is the “same” thing. There is the “different” thing. Same and different.  Different and same. Different times. Different places. Same intentions. Same effects.

Brussels. Paris. Haifa. Istanbul. Kabul. Iskandariya. And 100’s of other obscure and not-so-obscure places.

2014-2015: 17,041 wounded; 9,314 dead.

March 27, 2016. Easter Sunday. Lahore, Pakistan. 320 wounded; 72  dead–mostly woman and children.

Suicide bombers.

Different times. Different places. Same intentions. Same effects.

Nobody doubts that Lahore happened. Nobody doubts the intention and the effects.

But, there is a difference between not doubting that Lahore happened, and believing that Lahore happened, and I warn you, understanding the difference between “not doubting” and believing is where terror begins.

The truth produced by believing will not set you free.

It will terrify you.

It will drape dread in the background of your everyday life, like some sort of Satanic bunting celebrating your unexpected death: your slow bleed on the pavement, your eye torn from your innocent face, your ears ringing–the carillon of concussion colluding with shrapnel and your gaping socket, leaking out what’s left of your stupefied fate.

Why aren’t you terrified? Why aren’t you afraid?

Is it because you are strong and impervious and courageous and young and playing the odds and all the other reasons that keep you away from CNN and call to you seductively to go out, to act like everything’s NIMBY (and get mutilated with your buddies on a Saturday night)?

Well, there are Sirens and there are sirens. The Befores of not doubting, and the afters of believing.

Will you live the know the difference?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Paragoge (par-a-go’-ge): The addition of a letter or syllable to the end of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

Compared to “Mahmoud the Iraniac‘s” tirades against the US, Rouhoni’s overtures and phone call with Obama are encouraging!

Let’s just hope their future meetings aren’t like “Carrying carpets to Kerman” or “Carrying coal to Schuylkill”!

Togther, may they “Carry peace to the world”!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Procatalepsis (pro-cat-a-lep’-sis): Refuting anticipated objections.

The opposition believes that our proposal is not warranted by what it believes is moral or by what it believes is practical. We believe, in this particular case, that the opposition’s got it wrong. So wrong, in fact, that their reasoning will take us to a place where none of us want to go be: standing on the side of immorality, mired in a twisted vision of what we should do next, as we waste material and human resources in pursuit of yet another blunder.

Contrary to their vision of what’s expedient and good, our proposal is grounded in what will work and is guided by principles that are pertinent to brining our hoped-for outcome to fruition. All this, without underming our status as a morally sound, reasonable, and forward-looking assembly. In short, our proposal explicitly and prudently assesses the likely pitfalls and prospects that lie ahead, and ecompasses them with a principled and productive plan.

First, as far as our proposal’s practicality is concerned . . .

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Hypozeuxis  (hyp-o-zook’-sis): Opposite of zeugma. Every clause has its own verb.

As Lincoln said, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

Last night, President Obama gave a speech on Syria, the pundits yelled at each other, Chris Matthews went nuts, and I turned off my TV.

The House is divided. Whither are we tending?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epicrisis (e-pi-cri’-sis): When a speaker quotes a certain passage and makes comment upon it.

Related figuresanamenesis–calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author from memory–and chreia (from the Greek chreiodes, “useful”) . . . “a brief reminiscence referring to some person in a pithy form for the purpose of edification.” It takes the form of an anecdote that reports either a saying, an edifying action, or both.

The political philosopher Eric Vogelin tells us that “the role of human existence must be played in uncertainty of its meaning as an adventure in decision along the edge of freedom and necessity.”

Uncertainty motivates decision. Decision entails risk.  Risk is the estimated consequence of action, and action is the herald of sorrow and joy, regret and satisfaction, and all the other dialectically-poised and unknowable outcomes of human being–of being always, all the time, a prisoner of choice on an island of freedom.

Yet, the island may be as large as the future is unknowable. So, as we set off on our next adventure in decision, somehow we must transform our uncertainty as to where we will end up into the belief that we’re going in the right direction.

Our hope is history’s backward-looking map and rhetoric is the star that sets our course.

We are Janus’ children born into the present.  Looking back and seeing forward, we are able to move ahead.

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Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epiplexis (e-pi-plex’-is): Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh. A kind of rhetorical question [–the speaker does not expect an answer].

Did you think that invading Iraq was a good idea?  What about Afghanistan? Good idea? What about Syria?  Good idea? When is war ever a good idea?  Never? Sometimes? Later this week?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Metabasis (me-ta’-ba-sis): A transitional statement in which one explains what has been and what will be said.

Now that I’ve offered a broad justification for going to Hell, I’d like to turn our attention specifically to Syria and explain why cutting through Syria is possibly the best way to get to Hell.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Ampliatio (am’-pli-a’-ti-o): Using the name of something or someone before it has obtained that name or after the reason for that name has ceased. A form of epitheton.

(1) Good morning Ms. President! Mommy and Daddy will be so proud. Here’s your lunch. Have fun at school! Bye bye Ms. President!

(2) Stop calling me “Studly.” Those days are gone forever. Why don’t you just call me “Quits” and bring me another beer and a bowl of chips?  Who farted?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Diazeugma (di-a-zoog’-ma): The figure by which a single subject governs several verbs or verbal constructions (usually arranged in parallel fashion and expressing a similar idea); the opposite of zeugma.

A: Anthony Weiner’s shocking photographic forays mangled his political career, roughed up his marriage, and kicked his supporters in the crotch. I think we’ve seen him go under once and for all.

B: Under where?

A: That’s not funny.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Perclusio (per-clu’-si-o): A threat against someone, or something.

If you don’t stop the political craziness in Washington, DC, we’re going to stop paying federal income tax.  We’re sick of shelling out money to pay for bickering boring bunglers blaming their way toward dystopia in buggies drawn by toadies, sycophants, and lickspittles wearing cocked hats, smelly wool suits, and manifest destiny flip-flops.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Orcos (or’-kos): Swearing that a statement is true.

I swear, I won’t release any more NSA secrets. I want to stay in Москва, drink Шуба, eat Шуба, and Барыня ты моя, сударыня ты моя all night long! Anyway, I’ve run out of clean socks and underwear, it’s too hot in Bolivia, and I miss my mommy.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Catacosmesis (kat-a-kos-mees’-is): Ordering words from greatest to least in dignity, or in correct order of time.

Three steps you can take to protect yourself from on-line spying: 1. Voltage SecureMail Cloud Standard ($99.00), 2. Disconnect from the Internet, 3. Die.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Paromologia (par-o-mo-lo’-gi-a): Conceding an argument, either jestingly and contemptuously, or to prove a more important point. A synonym for concessio.

Yes, you’re right! NSA: Big Bad Big Brother. Yes, that’s right, big enough and bad enough to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way! You should be grateful.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries).  2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])

It’s unfair, unjust, and inequitable! It’s not morally right! It’s cheating! It’s  peddling lies! It’s pedaling on EPO! Lance Armstrong, loser of his own Tour de Farce!


He shoved. He hugged. He closed his eyes. He ran. He stopped. He sat. He listened. He cleared his throat. He tied his shoe. It was a boot. It was a balloon. He woke up. It was his birthday.


We were grateful for the shelter. We trusted the soldiers who had led us there. We prayed for our brothers and sisters who died without warning in the catastrophe’s wake. Gratitude, trust, and prayer drew us together and cradled our grief, and softened the blows of despair.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Auxesis (ok-see’-sis): (1) Arranging words or clauses in a sequence of increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to climax and has sometimes been called incrementum.  (2) A figure of speech in which something is referred to in terms disproportionately large (a kind of exaggeration or hyperbole). (3) Amplification in general.

(1) First it was a protest, then it was a revolution, now it is a civil war.

70,000 killed and countless victims living in misery: hungry, horrified and maimed. Where’s the Red Line? In Obama’s head? In the bloodstains on the streets of Damascus? On Satan’s tachometer? Or, on the flatlined puffy faces of the UN’s living dead?

(2) The world’s tribulations churn in whirlpools of misery–from Mali to Manhattan spinning in the wake of speedy Catastrophe: Hell’s flagship luxury liner.

The Brochure: “Powered by Greed and commanded by Captain Temerity! Stow your immortal souls below, cast off all hope, and lose the 21st century! Enjoy the cruise–it lasts for eternity!”

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).



Enantiosis (e-nan-ti-o’-sis): Using opposing or contrary descriptions together, typically in a somewhat paradoxical manner.

If you don’t know the truth, tell the truth.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Consonance: The repetition of consonants in words stressed in the same place (but whose vowels differ). Also, a kind of inverted alliteration, in which final consonants, rather than initial or medial ones, repeat in nearby words. Consonance is more properly a term associated with modern poetics than with historical rhetorical terminology.

Sad dreaded bard speaks to my heart–his lamentation sifts through the ashes of my war-torn life–son gone, blood on the wall, twilight beckons, darkness calls. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. How can I believe that God is just?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta: a conjoined heap).

Asyndeton: the omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect.

Close your eyes, feel your heart, open your eyes, now start. Start being here, being where is was is, now and again.

Polysydeton: employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm.

After doing a little shopping, on my way to the parking lot I tripped in a pothole and I dropped my bag of oranges, and I skinned my knee, and I twisted my ankle, and I was humiliated, and I was late to work, and I got yelled at by the manager, and I’m going to hire a lawyer, and I’m going to sue Walymart!

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Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Antirrhesis (an-tir-rhee’-sis): Rejecting reprehensively the opinion or authority of someone.

You keep telling us to stop talking and do something. Instead of telling us to stop talking, why don’t you just shut up? That’s something actually worth doing! Go sit in the corner and send Tweets to your nutty friends, Rand.

Now, let’s continue our discussion. Let’s see . . . where were we?  Mitch, what are your thoughts on furloughing the Coast Guard so we won’t be forced to close the Senate Cafeteria while the sequester’s up and running?  Seems like a classic case of guns vs. butter.  What say, Mitch? Send the Coasties home?

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Definition courtesy of Silva Rhetoricae (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Charientismus (kar-i-en-tia’-mus): Mollifying harsh words by answering them with a smooth and appeasing mock.

Another Big Whopper! All bun and no meat! Don’t you have anything else to dish up to the American people? Now that you’ve stuffed them with big empty whoppers for the past three months, don’t you think they’re just about fed up?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Asyndeton (a-syn’-de-ton): The omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect. [Compare brachylogia. Opposite of polysyndeton.]

Mitt joked, gestured, scowled, shook his head, sighed, grimaced, blustered, interrupted, spoke overtime, and lied, lied, lied.

That guy knows how to impress an audience and win a debate! None of that “empty Ombamababble” for Mitt! He’s knows how to tell it like it isn’t with such conviction that it’s better than the truth!!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Epitrope (e-pi’-tro-pe): A figure in which one turns things over to one’s hearers, either pathetically, ironically, or in such a way as to suggest a proof of something without having to state it. Epitrope often takes the form of granting permission (hence its Latin name, permissio), submitting something for consideration, or simply referring to the abilities of the audience to supply the meaning that the speaker passes over (hence Puttenham’s term, figure of reference). Epitrope can be either biting in its irony, or flattering in its deference.

A specific form of epitrope is the (apparent) admission of what is wrong in order to carry your point.

Go ahead and vote for Mr. Romney if you want to!  If you want to send Big Bird to the ostrich farm, if you want Elmo to talk like George Bush, if you want amphibians to be banned from having relationships with pigs, go ahead, vote for Mr.Romney. He’s got a heart of gold.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Anadiplosis (an’-a-di-plo’-sis): The repetition of the last word (or phrase) from the previous line, clause, or sentence at the beginning of the next. Often combined with climax.

If debating is something you don’t enjoy it will show through your delivery, delivery induces the audience’s sense of your sincerity, sincerity lays a foundation for trust, trust wins elections.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Symploce (sim’-plo-see or sim’-plo-kee): The combination of anaphora and epistrophe: beginning a series of lines, clauses, or sentences with the same word or phrase while simultaneously repeating a different word or phrase at the end of each element in this series.

Without some degree of certainty about healthcare reform, it is difficult for businesses and investors to plan for the future.

Without some degree of certainty about healthcare reform, it is difficult for parents and their children to plan for the future.

Without some degree of certainty about healthcare reform, it is difficult for working people and retirees to plan for the future; andfor people with preexisting conditions, even after the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is nearly immoral to force them to sweat out the summer in fear, at the edge of catastrophe, not knowing whether they will be insured after November’s election.

Stop beating your Republican chest and boasting that you will repeal the Affordable Care Act (or what you call “Obamacare”) when you’re elected.

Your cruelty is unbearable.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Palilogia (pa-li-lo’-gi-a): Repetition of the same word, with none between, for vehemence. Synonym for epizeuxis.

That’s all he wants to do: spend, spend, spend! You cannot spend your way out of a recession. It’s simple math. You must slash your way out of a recession: Taxes! Public employees! Entitlements! Slash, slash, slash! That’s the way to do it!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).