Sunday, July 26, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: July 26, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
UNIDENTIFIED QUESTIONER: What about this ad?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: By the way, that ad was from 1995. And I’ll ask you this, if you’ve not changed your mind once in 20 years, if you haven't changed your mind once in 20 years on any issue, then I'll tell you, you're not a thinking, breathing, living human being.
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), July 25, 2015. Christie was being questioned about his commitment to gun rights, and the questioner referred to an ad from 1995 in which Christie supported a ban on assault rifles.

Comment: Christie is being accused of flip-flopping, and he is defending the fact that he has changed positions.

***
Bills are being rushed to the floor in the House and Senate in response to a woman’s senseless killing in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant with a long criminal record. That single crime has energized hard-line Republican lawmakers who have long peddled the false argument that all illegal immigrants are a criminal menace, and that the best way to erase their threat is by new layers of inflexible policing. … Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina mused about the need to find and swiftly rid the country of criminal “aliens”: “How are we going to identify that universe, however small it may be?” he said, adding, “What is our plan to identify that universe before they reoffend?” Representative Steve King of Iowa likened crimes by unauthorized immigrants to the 9/11 attacks, “a tragedy that causes my hard heart to cry.” Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said “someone in this administration probably should be arrested for negligent homicide.” Language like that is hard to distinguish from the rantings of Donald Trump, who brought his racist road show to Laredo, Tex., on Thursday. But there is room — even in immigration — for sane, sound policy. … That would be a serious solution, one that gives deserving immigrants a foothold in this country and makes it easier to uncover those who come here to do harm. It is called comprehensive reform, which Mr. Smith, Mr. Gowdy and others in their anti-immigrant caucus, now consumed with exploitive fury over the San Francisco tragedy, have fought at every turn.
-- New York Times editorial, July 24, 2015.

Comment: First, the editorial board is knocking over a straw man: many Republicans have said some illegal immigrants are involved in criminal behavior, but few if any have said all illegal immigrants are criminals (apart, of course, from breaking immigration law). The editorial board is demonizing the Republicans mentioned as being racists and bigoted xenophobes (despite the fact that their comments aren't on par with presidential candidate Donald Trump's), and is also accusing them of exploiting a tragedy.

***
MARCO RUBIO: I think it's important for the president of the United States to be someone that can conduct, and be engaged in a public debate on an issue without demonizing their opponents, that can hold a speech where you don't invite Paul Ryan, sit him in the front row of the speech and lambast him and attack him in front of everybody, knowing he can't respond. It's important for the office the presidency to be be someone that is capable of doing those things. I have said repeatedly, Barack Obama is a great husband and great father. But I do believe the way he has conducted his presidency has been divisive. I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents on policy issues, not just disagreement on policies. He wants to convince people that you are a bad person, that you don't care about the disabled or children or women, or someone who is being hurt. I think that's bad for the country. I truly believe that sort of activity, and is he not alone in it, but I do believe that sort of activity is not what we need from a president.

BRET BAIER: So you stand by that statement that the president has no class?

MARCO RUBIO: I think, on the major issues of our time, he has not conducted himself of the dignity of worthy of that was office. Demonization of political opponents and divisions in America which have made it harder for us to solve our problems, and have poisoned the political environment as a result.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), July 23, 2015, being interviewed by Bret Baier of Fox News. The discussion concerned Rubio's July 22, 2015, remarks stating that President Barack Obama had "no class".

Comment: There are many things going on here. Rubio is calling for civility in political debate, and is accusing Obama of resorting to demonizing. Rubio is also using "hate the policies, not the person" rhetoric. It's not clear whether Rubio answers the question of whether Obama "has no class" or if he evades it. It's certainly true that Obama has resorted to demonization, but, first, is that appropriately summed up by saying Obama has "no class" whatsoever (or is that itself an act of demonizing)? Second, many Republicans have resorted to demonizing, too: will Rubio describe all of them the same way, or is he resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature?

***
This is the essence of Walker’s appeal — and why he is so dangerous. He is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible. Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy, but his technique is similar: He suggests that the nation’s ills can be cured by fighting labor unions (foremost among the “big government special interests” hurting America), even though unions represent just 11 percent of the American workforce and have been at a low ebb.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, July 23, 2015. Milbank's remarks concerned presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: This is "demagogue" (and perhaps also "fear-mongering") rhetoric. Plus, it seems like Milbank is knocking over a straw man: Walker has certainly criticized labor unions, but has he really said that they are the source of all the nation's problems?

***
Liberals who still refuse to condemn Planned Parenthood — which is almost all of them, with rare exception — have announced, either explicitly or implicitly, that they categorically do not care about what is right, true, humane, or moral. They have laid all of these concerns as burnt offerings on the altar of Liberalism, and in the process become morally indistinguishable from Nazi sympathizers. Thus, all of the rest of their opinions are worthless, and no rational person ought to respect their point of view or take any of their perspectives about anything seriously. If you are too selfish, obtuse, indifferent, brainwashed, or cruel to unequivocally condemn the trafficking and murder of infants, then you forfeit all intellectual credibility.
-- Pundit Matt Walsh, July 22, 2015. His remarks concern a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.

Comment: Walsh is demonizing liberals, saying they don't care about what is good. He is also using ad hominem reasoning, arguing that, because they are wrong on abortion, they are therefore wrong on everything else.

***
“Think about this war on CO2. If we don’t have CO2 we’re Mars. … CO2 is not a pollutant.”
-- Pundit Mark Levin, July 22, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program. Levin was referring to efforts by global warming advocates to lower CO2 levels.

Comment: First, this is "war" rhetoric. Second, Levin is knocking over a straw man. Global warming activists aren't proposing that we get rid of CO2  (carbon dioxide), which of course we need to live. Rather, they propose that we stop raising it to dangerous levels in the atmosphere (i.e., the dose makes the poison), which is different from eliminating it altogether. Levin is distorting their position.

***
A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.
-- New York Times editorial, July 22, 2015. The editorial concerns a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.

Comment: The New York Times is demonizing the makers of the video, saying they don't want women to have reproductive rights, care nothing about truth, and will say anything to win. Would it be fair to say that The New York Times editorial board supports infanticide, or would they call that demonizing?

***
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), reflecting nervousness in his party over the issue, read from a prepared statement when he was asked about the controversy by reporters Tuesday afternoon.

“These politically motivated videos raise questions, but nothing I’ve seen indicates Planned Parenthood violated federal law,” Reid said. “These edited videos should not take away from the important work that Planned Parenthood does on behalf of women.”
-- Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), July 21, 2015, from a story by Rachael Bade and Jake Sherman of Politico. Reid's remarks concerned a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.

Comment: The fact that the videos are politically motivated doesn't mean they are false. To argue otherwise is ad hominem reasoning. If the videos were edited to distort their content, they would be false regardless of any political motivation.

***
California Gov. Jerry Brown slammed global warming deniers in a keynote speech on Tuesday at a Vatican conference of environmentally friendly mayors. Politicians running for office who do not accept climate change as real are “troglodytes,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Deniers of climate change are spending “billions on trying to keep from office people such as yourselves and elect troglodytes and other deniers of the obvious science,” the Democratic governor said, according to the AP.



It’s not the first time Brown has hurled the “troglodyte” insult at political opponents.

In March, for example, he ripped the positions of Republican governors and attorneys general challenging President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions as “at best troglodyte, and at worst, un-Christian.”

Speaking at a climate change conference in Toronto earlier this month, Brown said that “[w]e have a lot of troglodytes south of the border.”
-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 21, 2015, from a story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: July 19, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
Trump was answering questions from Republican pollster Frank Luntz on stage when he declared that John McCain, who spent six years as a POW in Vietnam, was not a war hero. Trump went on to express his preference for soldiers who weren’t captured, suggesting a belief that prisoners of war have some say in their captivity. Luntz had asked Trump about his reaction to McCain’s comment that Trump had stirred up the “crazies” with his candidacy. When Trump attacked McCain, Luntz asked if Trump was comfortable with that kind of criticism of a war hero.

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The comments clearly shocked the crowd at the summit, some of whom reacted with boos and shouts of condemnation.



I asked Trump if he was blaming John McCain for his capture, as his comments implied. “I am saying John McCain has not done a good job,” Trump responded, dodging the question.

When I repeated the question, Trump said: “I am not blaming John McCain for his capture. If he gets captured, he gets captured.”

“Why would you say you like people who don’t get captured?”

Trump: “The people that don’t get captured I’m not supposed to like? I like the people who don’t get captured and I respect the people who do get captured.”

Why would you say that in the context of John McCain: “Excuse me, excuse me. I like the people that don’t get – you have many people that didn’t get captured. I respect them greatly. You’ve got people that got captured. I respect them greatly also. Why – I’m not supposed to respect the people that don’t get captured?

Are you suggesting that John McCain did something to lead to his capture?

Trump: “Of course not.”

Why would you say what you said?

At that point, Trump turned and answered a question about China.
-- From a July 18, 2015, story by pundit Stephen F. Hayes of The Weekly Standard. Hayes' questions to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump concerned Trump's comments about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Comment: Trump is evading Hayes' question. If we're to think poorly of McCain for his time as a prisoner of war (as Trump says he does), is that because McCain made some sort of mistake that got him captured, or is it because we should think poorly of all POWs? Trump never answers, likely because he realizes he's said something unfair about McCain (and, by extension, POWs) but doesn't want to publicly admit his error.

***
MR. EARNEST: This is an agreement not just between the United States and Iran; this is an agreement between the United States, Russia, China, Germany, the U.K., and France, and Iran. And this is an agreement that is enthusiastically supported by, as the President said, 99 percent of the international community.



KARL: Help me with the math. You said a number of times, 99 percent of the world community. The President said 99 percent of the world. Where is that number coming from?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess if you look at the population of the countries that are represented in this particular agreement, the vast majority -- 99 percent of the world -- is on the side of the United States and our international partners in implementing this agreement.

KARL: Have you done the math on our allies in the region, the ones that would be most directly affected by this agreement? What percentage of our allies in the Middle East support this deal?

MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I’ll let them all speak for themselves. But at least when it comes to Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir, who is at the Oval Office today, he indicated that -- when he was at Camp David he indicated that “we” -- meaning, Saudi Arabia -- “welcome the discussions on the nuclear program between the P5+1 and Iran.” And Saudi Arabia has been assured that the objective is to deny Iran the ability to have a nuclear weapon, and that all pathways to a nuclear weapon will be closed.

KARL: So you’re telling me the Saudis support this deal?

MR. EARNEST: I'm telling you that the Saudis will speak for themselves. But they -- it’s clear that the --

KARL: But you -- I just asked you about our allies in the region. So I know he supported diplomacy.

MR. EARNEST: But again, you can ask them what their view is of the agreement.

KARL: But the President just met with him; I assume the topic came up.

MR. EARNEST: I assure you that it did.

KARL: Do the Saudis support this deal?

MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I will let them speak for themselves.

KARL: Do the Emiratis support this deal?

MR. EARNEST: will let them speak for themselves.

KARL: Do the Israelis support this deal?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I think they made pretty clear that they don’t. But I think what’s clear, Jon, is you know who does support the deal? The Germans, the British, the French. Certainly, the President. The Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans, the Japanese, the Indians. All of the countries that were involved in pressuring Iran to come to the negotiating table in the first place.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, July 17, 2015, being questioned by ABC news reporter Jonathan Karl regarding international support for the Iranian nuclear deal.

Comment: This is an evasion. If Earnest and the administration of President Barack Obama (and Obama himself) are going to say that 99% of the world community supports the deal, then they have to support that claim by saying which countries it is that add up to 99%. To say "I will let other countries speak for themselves" on whether they support the deal – particularly after he's made it clear the overwhelming majority of countries do support it – is to also resort to a version of the "not my decision" evasion. Earnest just spoke for 99% of the world on the Iranian deal, but now won't answer on their behalf?

***
Donald Trump is exactly what the Republican Party deserves. The Republican Party has nurtured anti-immigrant, xenophobic nastiness for years, but it has tried to do so, at least at the national level, in language that disguised it as a simple issue of law and order. Trump has blown all that to bits. … You have to see Trump’s statement for what it was: A naked attempt at Willie Horton-izing Mexican immigrants, and thereby the exploiting of the image, substantiated or not, of the brown-bodied predator destroying our country and taking the virtue of our women. It provides language for people to hide their racism and nativism inside the more honorable shell of civility and chivalry. It allows Trump to tap into anger and call it adulation.
-- Pundit Charles Blow, July 16, 2015.

Comment: Blow is accusing the Republican Party of using code words. He is also demonizing Republicans as anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and racist.

***
What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism – a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.
-- Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), July 16, 2015. Perry was referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: This is "demagogue" and "stupid" rhetoric.

***
"This guy's quite the puke. … He looks the part."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, July 15, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio show. Levin was referring to former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Comment: Levin is using the "disgusting" form of name-calling against Brzezinski.

***
DAVID IGNATIUS: You heard Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday say this was one of the darkest days in human history. What was your reaction to that? That was a pretty extreme statement. He obviously wants to undo the deal. Is he going to succeed?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: You're setting me up. I think it was in character. I think he's not a very serious person. He may entertain the Congress occasionally because some people in Congress like to be entertained. But he's not really a very serious person. He dramatizes, he exaggerates and I don't think Israel benefits from that.
-- Former United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, July 15, 2015.

Comment: Brzezinski is resorting to name-calling, belittling Netanyahu by saying that he's entertaining, but "not serious".

***
The campaign ads from 2012 were more negative than the ads in 2008, 2008’s were more negative than 2004’s and, you guessed it, 2004’s more negative than 2000’s. But far from disparaging the form—or my thickening waistline—I celebrate it. Negative campaigning is a genuine positive for democracy. I come to my understanding both intuitively and from paging through a new book, The Positive Case for Negative Campaigning, by political scientists Kyle Mattes and David P. Redlawsk. The popular abhorrence for negative campaigning seems to stem from the word “negative,” for how could anything good come from something whose essence seems so retrograde? The press encourage this sort of thinking by declaiming each election the most negative or nasty or mudslinging without pausing to explain what constitutes a negative ad. A negative ad is not necessarily a false ad. As Mattes and Redlawsk explain, the standard political science definition for negativity in campaigns is “talking about the opponent.” … But in general, Mattes and Redlawsk applaud this switch, as do I, as long as the ads don’t engage in “scurrilous, nonrelevant attacks” or lie. … Imagine making a decision about what car to buy, what job to take, where to vacation or what restaurant meal to consume if the only information you were exposed to was the positive information provided by carmakers, employers, vacation spots or restaurants. Useful decisions are rarely made by comparing the positives of what’s on offer. One must also judge the negatives, which reveal failings and weaknesses. But sellers of cars or candidates never volunteer their own negatives or flaws.
-- Pundit Jack Shafer, July 15, 2015.

Comment: Shafer (with the help of Mattes and Redlawsk) is explaining that there is nothing bad about drawing a contrast between you and your opponent. In other words, doing so is not "negative politics" in the bad sense.

***
"Politicians, especially those elected as president, are very adept at creating straw men. Taking something that they feel rhetorically works to their advantage and using it. That’s exactly what the president did. My question did not suggest he was content with the captivity of those four Americans. My question was about the contentment, or the satisfaction, or the realization that it was necessary within the context of this deal to leave them unaccounted for. That was the essence of the question. Clearly it struck an serve. That was my intention. Because everyone who works for the president and the families of those four Americans have heard the president say he's not content, and they will work overtime to win their eventual release. That does not appear to me to be a sidelight issue in the whole context of the conversation about this Iran nuclear deal. Was it provocative? Yes. Was it intended to be as such? Absolutely."
-- Major Garrett of CBS News, July 15, 2015, remarking on President Barack Obama's objection to a question Garrett asked earlier that day. The question by Major Garrett of CBS News concerned Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, and Jason Rezaian, all being held by Iran.

Comment: This is "struck a nerve" rhetoric. If Garrett was intending to be provocative, was he also demonizing Obama as not caring about the detained Americans? If not, how was he being provocative? Also, Garrett is accusing Obama of knocking down a straw man.

***
GARRETT: As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran -- three held on trumped-up charges, according to your administration; one, whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all the fanfare around this deal, to leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?



THE PRESIDENT: I got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions. The notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails -- Major, that’s nonsense, and you should know better. I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody is content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out.
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program. The question by Major Garrett of CBS News concerned Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, and Jason Rezaian, all being held by Iran.

Comment: Was Garrett’s question really out of line? Did it amount to demonizing Obama as not caring about the plight of the detained Americans? It comes down to the ambiguity of the word “content,” which has at least a couple of different senses. There’s the sense in which “I am content to sip iced tea while laying in a hammock and watching ‘Game of Thrones,’” versus “I am content to default on my credit card while I pay my rent.” Being content in the former sense involves being happy, while the latter is just making the best of a bad situation. If Garrett meant the president was “content” in the latter sense, then he’s right: Obama made clear that he’d decided it was better not to include the Americans detained by Iran in the nuclear negotiations. If “content” meant happy, though, then Garrett was clearly in the wrong.

***
"Now, we’ll still have problems with Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism; its funding of proxies like Hezbollah that threaten Israel and threaten the region; the destabilizing activities that they're engaging in, including in places like Yemen. And my hope is that building on this deal we can continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile, more cooperative, to operate the way we expect nations in the international community to behave. But we're not counting on it. So this deal is not contingent on Iran changing its behavior. It’s not contingent on Iran suddenly operating like a liberal democracy. It solves one particular problem, which is making sure they don't have a bomb. And the point I’ve repeatedly made -- and is, I believe, hard to dispute -- is that it will be a lot easier for us to check Iran’s nefarious activities, to push back against the other areas where they operate contrary to our interests or our allies’ interests, if they don't have a bomb. And so will they change their behavior? Will we seek to gain more cooperation from them in resolving issues like Syria, or what’s happening in Iraq, to stop encouraging Houthis in Yemen? We’ll continue to engage with them. Although, keep in mind that unlike the Cuba situation, we're not normalizing diplomatic relations here. So the contacts will continue to be limited. But will we try to encourage them to take a more constructive path? Of course. But we're not betting on it. … But the argument that I’ve been already hearing -- and this was foreshadowed even before the deal was announced -- that because this deal does not solve all those other problems, that that's an argument for rejecting this deal, defies logic. It makes no sense. And it loses sight of what was our original number-one priority, which is making sure that they don't have a bomb."
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: This is at least an exaggeration, if not an accusation that the people making this objection are stupid. Obama is wrong. Logic says nothing in and of itself about whether the Iranian nuclear deal should encompass other issues. As such, it does not "defy logic" or "make no sense" to suggest that it should.

***
"It does not give me pause that Mr. Assad or others in Tehran may be trying to spin the deal in a way that they think is favorable to what their constituencies want to hear. That’s what politicians do."
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Does Obama mean that, because the leaders in Syria (i.e., Bashar Assad) and Iran are politicans, therefore what they're saying about the nuclear deal is false? That would be ad hominem reasoning. And it would also apply to Obama, as well, since he's a politician, too. Is he, in this press conference, "trying to spin the deal in a way that he thinks is favorable to what his constituents want to hear"?

***
"Now, with respect to Congress, my hope -- I won’t prejudge this -- my hope is, is that everyone in Congress also evaluates this agreement based on the facts -- not on politics, not on posturing, not on the fact that this is a deal I bring to Congress as opposed to a Republican President, not based on lobbying, but based on what’s in the national interest of the United States of America."
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Obama is suggesting that Congress (and Republicans in particular) might "politicize" the Iranian deal. How is their behavior, as opposed to his own, "politicizing"?

***
"I'm hearing a lot of talking points being repeated about “this is a bad deal” -- “this is a historically bad deal,” “this will threaten Israel and threaten the world and threaten the United States.” I mean, there’s been a lot of that. What I haven’t heard is, what is your preferred alternative?"
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: What's the significance of this objection being talking points? The content of the objection is what's important, not whether it's part of someone's talking points.

***
"The other problem with the argument that folks have been making about, oh, this is a windfall and suddenly Iran is flushed with cash, and they're going to take over the world. And I say that not tongue-in-cheek, because if you look at some of the statements by some of our critics, you would think that Iran is, in fact, going to take over the world as a consequence of this deal -- which I think would be news to the Iranians."
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Obama leaves unnamed who is making this objection. Who has said that Iran will literally (Obama insists this is not tongue-in-cheek) take over the world as a result of this deal? If Obama can't name someone, then it looks like he knocking over a straw man.

***
"You don’t sound that bright to me. … You don’t sound very intelligent. … You don’t care about security in the Middle East, you don’t care about the security of Israel. … Why are you such an apologist for the number one state sponsor of terror? … Why do you support them so much?"
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, July 14, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio show. Hannity made the remarks while speaking to Dr. Jim Walsh – a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who Hannity referred to as “Mr. M.I.T.” – about the deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Hannity is deriding Walsh, calling him stupid and demonizing him as someone who wants to support terrorism. Is it really the case that anyone who supports the nuclear deal is stupid and/or supports terrorism? Would it be fair to say those who oppose the deal (like Hannity) want war with Iran, or oppose surveillance of Iran's nuclear program (which the deal provides for)? Referring to Walsh as "Mr. M.I.T." is just more name-calling. It's a way of belittling Walsh with mock exaltation.

***
"And then I think the last thing that — this is maybe not something I’ve learned but has been confirmed — even with your enemies, even with your adversaries, I do think that you have to have the capacity to put yourself occasionally in their shoes, and if you look at Iranian history, the fact is that we had some involvement with overthrowing a democratically elected regime in Iran. We have had in the past supported Saddam Hussein when we know he used chemical weapons in the war between Iran and Iraq, and so, as a consequence, they have their own security concerns, their own narrative. It may not be one we agree with. It in no way rationalizes the kinds of sponsorship from terrorism or destabilizing activities that they engage in, but I think that when we are able to see their country and their culture in specific terms, historical terms, as opposed to just applying a broad brush, that’s when you have the possibility at least of some movement."
-- President Barack Obama, July 14, 2015, during interview with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

Comment: Obama is explaining, but not justifying, the behavior of the Iranian government.

***
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush lumped together Donald Trump and President Barack Obama Monday while lamenting that some Republicans prey on others' fears and angst.

"Whether it's Donald Trump or Barack Obama, their rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong," Bush said in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday.



"That Bush is willing to equate Trump to Obama, the most consequential president of my lifetime, is disgusting. How can we take anything Bush has to say seriously when he says hogwash like this," said Pablo Manriquez, a Democratic Party spokesman.
-- From a July 14, 2015, NBC News story by Suzanne Gamboa.

Comment: Manriquez is accusing Bush of "comparing" Trump and Obama. But Bush was not equating the two or their rhetoric. Bush was simply saying that divisive rhetoric should be protested, regardless of who it comes from: when Trump says something divisive, it should be criticized, and when Obama says something divisive, it should also be criticized. (It's not clear what Bush counts as "divisive" rhetoric, and whether both Obama and Bush are guilty of it.)

***
"We need to focus on the things that tie us together, and whether it's Donald Trump or Barack Obama, their rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong. … I campaign embracing diversity. Come join us - come join the team that is creating hope and opportunity. … A Republican will never win by striking fear into people's hearts. … on our side, there are people that prey on people's fears and their angst as well. … I don't know about you, but I think it is wrong. I believe we need to unify our country. We need to stop tearing, separating ourselves by race and ethnicity and income. We need to focus on what ties us together".
-- Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), July 13, 2015. This is a compilation of his remarks, and may not accurately reflect the order in which he said them.

Comment: This is "unify the country" and "fear-mongering" rhetoric.

***
"This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me … Because what he did was he fired up the crazies."
-- Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), July 13, 2015, from an interview with Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker posted July 16, 2015. McCain was referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: This is "stupid" or "divorced from reality" rhetoric.

***
Kathryn Steinle was killed on a pier in San Francisco on July 1, allegedly by a troubled immigrant who had a stolen gun and a long criminal history and had been deported five times. The shooting was inexplicable, yet Ms. Steinle’s family and friends have been shunning talk of politics and vengeance, while expressing the hope that some good might emerge from this tragedy. The shooting has turned the usual American tensions over immigration into a frenzy. The accused, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, has become the dark-skinned face of the Mexican killers that Donald Trump — in a racist speech announcing his presidential campaign, and numerous interviews thereafter — has been warning the nation about. Others in the race and in Congress have eagerly joined him in exploiting the crime, proposing bills to punish “sanctuary cities,” like San Francisco, that discourage local involvement in immigration enforcement, and to force them to cooperate with the federal government in an ever-wider, harsher deportation dragnet.
-- The editorial board of The New York Times, July 13, 2015.

Comment: This is "exploiting" rhetoric.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: July 12, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
“We have to reject this demagogue. If we don’t we will lose and we will deserve to lose.”
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), July 12, 2015. He was referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: This is “demagogue” rhetoric.

***
“The silent majority is back, and we’re going to take the country back”.
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, July 11, 2015.

Comment: This is “take back the country” rhetoric.

***
"Mr. Speaker, last night in the South Carolina legislature, we saw Democrats and Republicans join together to take down the Confederate battle flag, many with tears in their eyes as still grieving the nine lives lost lost in Charleston. And while the people of South Carolina move one step past this terrible tragedy, many House Republicans want to take our nation one hundred and fifty years back. We were scheduled to vote on the Interior appropriations bill today. The bill was pulled because members on the other side of the aisle objected to banning the display and sale of the Confederate flags at national park facilities. For years, I’ve heard all the arguments from those who defend the display of the Confederate battle flag. But it is moral cowardice to ignore this flag’s history of white supremacy and treason, to pretend it symbolizes anything other than a heritage of hate and human oppression. The Confederate battle flag does not belong atop our state capitols and it certainly should not be sold or displayed at our national parks. It belongs in a museum of shame, alongside the other relics of hate and division that tore our country apart."
-- Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), July 9, 2015.

Comment: This is exaggeration if not outright demonizing. Whatever the propriety of displaying Confederate flags at national park gift shops, it hardly amounts to reinstating slavery as existed 150 years ago.

***
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus phoned Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon, urging him to tone down his controversial comments on immigration.

The Washington Post reported that Priebus spent about an hour speaking to the GOP presidential candidate, a move that was motivated by concerns from party leaders.



Trump campaign spokesman Corey Lewandowski described the call as nothing “unusual” for “the leading candidate for the GOP nomination.”

The business mogul has since challenged reports about the phone conversation, writing on Twitter Thursday morning, “Totally false reporting on my call with @Reince Priebus. He called me, ten minutes, said I hit a ‘nerve,’ doing well, end!”
-- From a story in the Washington Free Beacon posted July 9, 2015. The phone call concerned remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is “struck a nerve” rhetoric.

***
Addressing climate change, Brown said, requires reckoning with things that have made life comfortable for billions of people.

“Oil, gas, coal has created the wealth we enjoy,” he said. “What was the source of our wealth now becomes the challenge of our future.”

He criticized politicians, particularly Republicans in Congress, who refuse to take action.

“We have a lot of troglodytes south of the border,” he said.
-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 8, 2015, from a story by Chris Megerian of the LA Times. Brown spoke at a conference in Canada; “south of the border” thus refers to the United States.

Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.

***
The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party. … But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about — or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate. Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, July 8, 2015. His remarks concerned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: This is distortion and demonizing. It’s far from clear that Trump holds all the positions Milbank says he does, and it’s certainly not true that all Republicans do.

***
“The Democrats nominate people who truly hate the country.”
-- Pundit Mark Levin, July 7, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio program. His remarks concerned former President Jimmy Carter (and presumably other Democratic presidents, as well).

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Democrats (both candidates and those involved in nominating candidates) of being unpatriotic.

***
AVILA: And briefly, just on another subject, out in San Francisco, on the shooting that happened there. The administration has been focused on prioritizing criminals as far as deporting those who have violated our immigration laws. Is this a failure in this case where this man apparently -- a criminal -- came over time after time and still was able to keep coming and was not deported? Is there a problem between the cooperation between some cities in this country and the United States government? Where do you see the problem?

EARNEST: Well, Jim, for this particular case, I’d refer you to DHS. I can’t speak to the details of this particular case. … I would say -- and it bears repeating in this case -- that these efforts would be significantly augmented had Republicans not blocked common-sense immigration reform. You’ll recall that the piece of legislation that was blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives actually included the biggest-ever increase in border security. And that’s why it’s particularly disappointing that congressional action -- or congressional inaction, in this case -- has blocked efforts to put in place common-sense reforms that would be good for our country, good for our economy, and good for public safety.

AVILA: I hear your reluctance to comment on this case, but this case is being used by opponents of the administration to say that your policy is not working and that repeat criminals are coming across the border.

EARNEST: And what I’m saying is that those critics are individuals who oppose legislation that would have actually made a historic investment in border security. So I recognize that people want to play politics with this, but if you take a simple look at the facts, the fact is the President has done everything within his power to make sure that we’re focusing our law enforcement resources on criminals and those who pose a threat to public safety. And it’s because of the political efforts of Republicans that we have not been able to make the kind of investment that we would like to make in securing our border and keeping our communities safe.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, July 6, 2015, being questioned by ABC News’ Jim Avila regarding the July 1, 2015, killing of Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Sanchez.

Comment: Earnest engages in “common-sense”, “politicizing”, and “obstruction” rhetoric. There is a legitimate debate about what immigration reform should look like, and whether it needs to include all thing things that President Barack Obama would like it to include. Opposing Obama’s views on immigration does not amount to opposing common-sense. More, it is not “politicizing” Steinle’s death to mention it in or claim it to be relevant to the debate about immigration.

***
"He's giving Iran a nuclear weapon. The largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world is moving towards a nuclear weapon with the permission of the United States. It's outrageous."
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-TX), July 6, 2015. His remarks concerned President Barack Obama, whose administration is part of negotiations concerning Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: There are legitimate disagreements about the best way to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It is demonizing for Christie to say Obama is intentionally giving or permitting Iran to get nuclear weapons.

***
“I’m glad they see us as a threat,” Mr. Rubio said in an interview. “They should.”

He added that it made sense that the Castro government was closely following a presidential candidate whose election would not, to put it mildly, be welcomed. “If that’s the line the Cuban government has taken against me and is trying to indoctrinate their people in that way, it shows that we’re on to something,” he said.

Cuban government officials claim disinterest when asked about American presidential candidates, but Mr. Rubio clearly strikes a nerve, prompting eye rolling, dramatic rocking-chair rocking and unkind comments.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), from a July 6, 2015, article in The New York Times.

Comment: This is "struck a nerve" rhetoric.

***
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Let's bring up Donald Trump. You've defended him. Your former governor, Rick Perry, has criticized him. You've had an experience with plenty of Mexican immigrants in Texas. Are they -- are these immigrants that are coming into Texas what Donald Trump describes? Are they drug dealers, rapists, and such?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Listen, I am a passionate advocate for legal immigrants. I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba. And I'll tell you, from the day I started campaigning, I traveled the state of Texas, talking about how all of us, we are the children of those who risked everything for freedom, that that immigrant experience of all of us is what makes us Americans, because we value in our DNA liberty and opportunity above all else. Now, when it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. He's bold, he's brash. And I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain't gonna do it. I'm not interested in Republican on Republican violence.

TODD: Rhetoric matters.

CRUZ: You know --

TODD: Doesn't rhetoric matter?

CRUZ: I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration. The Washington cartel doesn't want to address that. The Washington cartel doesn't believe we need to secure the borders. The Washington cartel supports amnesty and I think amnesty's wrong. And I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it. He has a colorful way of speaking. It's not the way I speak. But I'm not gonna engage in the media's game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans. I'm just not gonna do it.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), July 5, 2015, during an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press". Cruz was referring to remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion, as Cruz never addresses whether Trump's remarks were appropriate. Is Cruz never going to criticize remarks made by other Republicans, no matter what they are, because that would be "Republican on Republican violence"? (Note that Cruz also uses violent rhetoric, though as a (comically exaggerated?) metaphor.) Is he never going to oppose another GOP candidate on anything? What if someone doesn't like the idea of Americans being "encouraged to attack" one another: does that mean Republicans shouldn't criticize the remarks of Democrats, either, and vice versa? Of course not. Cruz isn't being asked to engage in name-calling, demonizing, or negative politics. He's being asked to take a stand on whether someone else's rhetoric is acceptable, and he's refused to. He's evaded the question by praising Trump for criticizing illegal immigration – which was never the issue; the issue was Trump's description of illegal Mexican immigrants as being mostly rapists and drug-runners – and by accusing the media of trying to draw him into some contrived conflict. But it's entirely appropriate to ask a politician to take a stand on the rhetoric of another politician. Note, the word "colorful" is essentially a way of designating Trump's rhetoric as being attention-getting, but not wrong (for the record, what Trump said was wrong).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rhetoric: “Hate the Policies, Not the Person”

In the midst of heated political debate, you’ll sometimes hear someone offer a defense of their passionate rhetoric. They’ll say something like:

“Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t hate this person: I just hate their policies.”

Leaving aside the debate about whether or not it’s OK to hate a person, what kind of behavior is this supposed to defend?

If I misrepresent someone’s position on an issue or resort to name-calling, it’s not defense for me to say that I hate that person’s policies, not the person themselves. So, there mere fact that you don’t hate a person says nothing about whether or not you’re saying something appropriate about their policies.

So, when somebody says, “So-and-so is a good person, but I hate their position on the issues”, that’s still consistent with them saying all sorts of unfair things about so-and-so’s position on the issues. If you demonize someone as a racist or a communist when they’re not, it does no good to defend your name-calling by saying that you don’t hate them.

We evaluate what people say based on the content of what they say, not based on the emotion behind it.


EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS
MARCO RUBIO: I think it's important for the president of the United States to be someone that can conduct, and be engaged in a public debate on an issue without demonizing their opponents, that can hold a speech where you don't invite Paul Ryan, sit him in the front row of the speech and lambast him and attack him in front of everybody, knowing he can't respond. It's important for the office the presidency to be be someone that is capable of doing those things. I have said repeatedly, Barack Obama is a great husband and great father. But I do believe the way he has conducted his presidency has been divisive. I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents on policy issues, not just disagreement on policies. He wants to convince people that you are a bad person, that you don't care about the disabled or children or women, or someone who is being hurt. I think that's bad for the country. I truly believe that sort of activity, and is he not alone in it, but I do believe that sort of activity is not what we need from a president.

BRET BAIER: So you stand by that statement that the president has no class?

MARCO RUBIO: I think, on the major issues of our time, he has not conducted himself of the dignity of worthy of that was office. Demonization of political opponents and divisions in America which have made it harder for us to solve our problems, and have poisoned the political environment as a result.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), July 23, 2015, being interviewed by Bret Baier of Fox News. The discussion concerned Rubio's July 22, 2015, remarks stating that President Barack Obama had "no class".

Comment: There are many things going on here. Rubio is calling for civility in political debate, and is accusing Obama of resorting to demonizing. Rubio is also using "hate the policies, not the person" rhetoric. It's not clear whether Rubio answers the question of whether Obama "has no class" or if he evades it. It's certainly true that Obama has resorted to demonization, but, first, is that appropriately summed up by saying Obama has "no class" whatsoever (or is that itself an act of demonizing)? Second, many Republicans have resorted to demonizing, too: will Rubio describe all of them the same way, or is he resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature?

***
"And I want to emphasize -- I know some of them well. They’re good people. It’s just their ideas are bad. And I want to emphasize that. We’re one country, we’re all on one team, and so we’re all one American family. But we all go -- we're at Thanksgiving and Uncle Harry starts saying something and you say, “Uncle Harry, that makes no sense at all.” You still love him. He’s still a member of your family. Right? But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him in charge of stuff. That’s all I'm saying."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: This is "hate the policies, not the person" rhetoric. It's also "stupid" rhetoric.

***
"After only four months in the United States Senate, as a 30-year-old kid, I was walking through the Senate floor to go to a meeting with Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. And I witnessed another newly elected senator, the extremely conservative Jesse Helms, excoriating Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole for promoting the precursor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. … When I walked into Mansfield’s office, I must have looked as angry as I was. … And he looked at me, he said, what’s bothering you, Joe? I said, that guy, Helms, he has no social redeeming value. He doesn't care … He doesn't care about people in need. He has a disregard for the disabled. Majority Leader Mansfield then proceeded to tell me that three years earlier, Jesse and Dot Helms, sitting in their living room in early December before Christmas, reading an ad in the Raleigh Observer, the picture of a young man, 14-years-old with braces on his legs up to both hips, saying, all I want is someone to love me and adopt me. He looked at me and he said, and they adopted him, Joe. I felt like a fool. He then went on to say, Joe, it’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don't know his motives. … From that moment on, I tried to look past the caricatures of my colleagues and try to see the whole person. Never once have I questioned another man’s or woman’s motive. And something started to change. If you notice, every time there’s a crisis in the Congress the last eight years, I get sent to the Hill to deal with it. It’s because every one of those men and women up there -- whether they like me or not -- know that I don't judge them for what I think they're thinking. Because when you question a man’s motive, when you say they're acting out of greed, they're in the pocket of an interest group, et cetera, it’s awful hard to reach consensus. It’s awful hard having to reach across the table and shake hands. No matter how bitterly you disagree, though, it is always possible if you question judgment and not motive. … So one piece of advice is try to look beyond the caricature of the person with whom you have to work. Resist the temptation to ascribe motive, because you really don’t know -— and it gets in the way of being able to reach a consensus on things that matter to you and to many other people."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, May 17, 2015.

Comment: This is calling for a higher standard and "don't hate the person" rhetoric. Biden is also indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature, and forgetting the times he has demonized Republicans.

***
"No, he's not. He's a good man, he's a decent man. But he demonstrated an overwhelming lack of understanding in international community. He demonstrated a lack of understanding in the military."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 23, 2012, responding to the question of whether Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is qualified to be president.

Comment: Biden is saying that his view on Romney is not based on hate.

***
"I want to be President of the United States and obviously, I don't want Senator Obama to be. But, I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States. … He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), October 10, 2008. His remarks concerned Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

Comment: This is "don't hate the person" rhetoric.

***
"I never met a man with more personal, more physical courage than John McCain. It's his judgment that I question. … If you walk from here to Bozeman, I don't think you'd find anyone who thinks the economy is doing well, unless you ran into John McCain".
-- Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), September 7, 2008. His remarks concerned Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Comment: This is "don't hate the person" rhetoric.

***
I'm a card-carrying member of The Great Liberal Backlash of 2003, one of the half-dozen or so writers now schlepping around the country promoting books that do not speak kindly of Our Leader's record. … What's wrong with this administration is not a short list. Nevertheless, we are, one and all, being dismissed by right-wing media, with its unmistakable lockstep precision -- that everybody-singing-off-the-same-page that so distinguishes the right -- as "Bush haters." Not a radio call-in show goes by, not a right-wing host fails to mention (even when I try to pre-empt the charge) that I am "just another Bush hater." If you do not suffer from amnesia, you may recall that this country was cursed with Clinton haters for eight long years. They were a little over the top -- they accused the man of rape, murder, drug-dealing, miscegenation, treason and more. And his wife of worse. … I wrote this new book ("Bushwhacked" -- my publisher would want me to mention it) in part as an effort to show how I think political differences should be addressed. This is a book about policy. … Over many years of covering politics, I have known and liked a lot of politicians with whom I never agreed about a single thing. Bob Dole and Alan Simpson come to mind as two of my favorite Republicans, and I could list Texas conservatives by the dozens. As it happens, I have known George W. Bush for a long time -- not well, but for a long time. Since we were both in high school. He went to prep school in the East, and I went to prep school in Houston, but he hung around with friends of mine, dated girls I knew. I would never claim we were friends, but he was someone I vaguely knew. … Although Bush rather promptly becomes defensive and prickly when questioned, he is by and large perfectly affable. You would have to work at it to dislike him personally. On the occasions when we meet, we would "rib" one another. I personally hope the photo of me sitting on his lap at a Christmas party with him dressed as Santa has disappeared for all time. Did you know that it is quite possible not to hate someone and at the same time notice their policies are disastrous for people in this country? … I honestly don't think you have to hate someone in politics to think they're wrong. I would like to remind all the lockstep conservatives that there is a difference between hatred and anger. What you are looking at in this country is not hatred of George W. Bush -- a perfectly affable guy -- it is growing anger. … You don't have to be hateful to have bad policies. You just have to be wrong.
-- Pundit Molly Ivins, October 16, 2003.

Comment: This is "don't hate the person" rhetoric.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: July 5, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"Every single one of these candidates serving in Congress has supported cutting taxes for folks at the top while slashing investments in education. I know that sounds familiar. Some of those members of Congress voted to do it. Every single one of them is still obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that, by every measure, it’s working. You know, look, you could make an argument against Obamacare before it passed -- it’s something new; it’s untried; you don’t know. But now, where it’s doing exactly what it was supposed to and actually costing less than we expected, and people are satisfied with the coverage we’re getting, it just seems a little mean to say that you don’t want to provide coverage to 16 million people. And you’ve got nothing to replace it with -- that’s a bad idea."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: The point of much of the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act (aka, "Obamacare") is that they don't believe it's working (for instance, people have lost their favored health care plan and/or doctor, premiums have not dropped by as much as $2,500 a year as Obama projected). To say that their position is "mean" is to accuse them of intentionally trying to hurt people, which is demonizing.

***
"And I want to emphasize -- I know some of them well. They’re good people. It’s just their ideas are bad. And I want to emphasize that. We’re one country, we’re all on one team, and so we’re all one American family. But we all go -- we're at Thanksgiving and Uncle Harry starts saying something and you say, “Uncle Harry, that makes no sense at all.” You still love him. He’s still a member of your family. Right? But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him in charge of stuff. That’s all I'm saying."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: This is "hate the policies, not the person" rhetoric. It's also "stupid" rhetoric.

***
"And they talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. Their menu doesn’t have a whole lot of options for the middle class. The one thing that the bus full of people who are fighting to lead the Republican ticket all share is they keep on coming up with the same old trickle-down, “you’re on your own” economics that helped bring about the crisis back in 2007-2008 in the first place."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: This is "failed policies" rhetoric. What evidence does Obama have – apart from flawed post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning – that Republican fiscal policy caused the Financial Crisis? Were Democrats – or, was Obama – offering any policies in the 2000 or 2004 presidential elections that would have prevented the recession?

***
"And so the question we’ve got to keep asking ourselves is, where do we go from here? Because we still have choices. Will we drift toward an economy where only a few of us do very well and everybody else is still scrabbling, struggling to get by? That’s not the right way to do it. Or will we keep working towards an economy where everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed? And over the next year and a half, you’re going to hear a lot of pitches from a lot of people -- they’re going to deny that any progress has been made. You’ll hear a lot of folks trying to sell you on their vision of where our country should go. They’re going to be making a whole bunch of stuff up. And when I say a lot of stuff, I mean a lot of stuff. We’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party, but I’ve lost count of how many Republicans are running for this job."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: First, it's a platitude to say we should have an economy that works for everyone. Everybody wants that, but there's a disagreement about which policies will achieve that goal. Second, Obama accuses Republicans of "making stuff up" without noting that Democrats (including Obama himself) are guilty of the same behavior. That is, Obama is indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature.

***
"He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn't belong there. And for him to say slaves had dignity. I mean, doesn't he know slaves were chained? That they were whipped on the back? If he saw the movie, "12 Years as a Slave", you know, they were raped, and he says they had dignity as slaves? My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives in their thirties. My father's business, our home, our freedom. And we're supposed to call that dignified? Marching out of our homes at gunpoint? This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrasment. He is a disgrace to America."
-- Actor and pundit George Takei, June 30, 2015. Takei was referring to a dissenting opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas released June 26, 2015, regarding the Obergefell v Hodges case legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Comment: First, Takei is distorting Thomas' opinion. Thomas' point was that the intrinsic dignity of people is not undermined by undignified treatment. That is, people don't lose their humanity when they are enslaved. Slavery mistreats them, but doesn't cause them to lose their inherent worth; rather, slavery is wrong because it is contradictory to peoples' inherent worth. So, he wasn't saying that slaves (or Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps) were being treated with dignity. Second, "blackface" is a racist term. Takei insists he used the word "to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts", but he must have known it wouldn't be taken that way. Third, calling Thomas a disgrace to America is akin to calling him un-American.

***
"After seven years I heard the President of the United States say the other day that the world respects America more because of his leadership. This convinces me, it is the final confirmation that President Obama lives in his own world, not in our world. "
-- Presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), June 30, 2015, regarding remarks made by President Barack Obama on June 1, 2015.

Comment: This is "out of touch" rhetoric.

***
TED CRUZ: When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth. And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Should he apologize for what he said?

TED CRUZ: I don’t think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration. I recognize that the PC world, the mainstream media, they don’t want to admit it. But the American people are fed up. Now, listen, we are also a nation of immigrants, and we should celebrate legal immigrants, but Donald Trump is exactly right to highlight the need –

BRIAN KILMEADE: Are they mostly drug dealers and rapists that are coming across the border?

TED CRUZ: Look, they’re not mostly that. But Donald Trump, he has a way of speaking that gets attention. And I credit him for focusing on an issue that needs to be focused on.
-- Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), June 30, 2015. Cruz was responding to remarks made by presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion. Trumps remarks made it sounds as if the Mexican people crossing the border illegally into the U.S. are largely drug dealers or rapists, which there is no evidence for. Trump wasn't being criticized for talking about the problem of illegal immigration (which is perfectly acceptable for Trump to do), Trump was being criticized for this slur against Mexicans. In other words, Cruz is knocking down a straw man. The problem isn't that Trump talked in a way that "gets attention"; the problem was that he spoke in a way that was false, and that demonized Mexicans.

***
Gerrard obviously intended for this to be a provocative piece, but he doesn’t offer any particular new affirmations of science and he ignores some obvious problems with his argument. For instance, if global warming has the impact he wants it to suggests it could, won’t the United States also have climate change refugees? … Those on the left who make these kind of bizarre assertions are feeding the fears of some, but the doubts of many others.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, June 29, 2015. Rogers' remarks concern an article by pundit Michael B. Gerrard entitled, “America is the worst polluter in the history of the world. We should let climate change refugees resettle here.”

Comment: In his strikethrough, Rogers seems to suggest that Gerrard wants global warming to have a negative impact, which is demonizing, perhaps even "rooting for failure" rhetoric. Also, Rogers uses "scare tactics" rhetoric.