"The main point here that I think everybody needs to understand is the president is about to make a very bad deal. He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved in it at all, and we’re worried about it. We don’t think he ought to make a bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world."-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), March 15, 2015. His remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: This is a platitude. Who on Earth does want to make a bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Let's talk about the letter and what these Republican Senators did. You heard what the president said. You were with Secretary Kerry when he lambasted them in his Hillary testimony. How does that influence what Iran does at the negotiating table starting Sunday?-- State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, March 13, 2015. Her remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, the negotiations remain between the negotiators. So, do we think think this will have a direct impact on the room? No. But the fact is, as the president said, this is nearly unprecedented. It's bringing into question what has been precedent for hundreds of years back to when members of Congress were riding horse and buggies to do their job. It really does bring into question whether they want to see a deal, whether they want to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And that is of course what our objective is here.
Comment: Psaki is accusing Republicans of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which is just as much demonizing as when Obama's critics have accused Obama of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
"Someday, years from now, people will look back on this presidency and see it in sharper contrast. They will read how it started, with the Republican senate leader calling for the president’s defeat, declaring that the business of the opposition from the first day was to ensure the new president (a) accomplishes nothing and (b) gets booted from office as quickly as possible. They will read of a U.S. Congressman yelling “You lie” during a State of the Union. They will read how the Speaker invited, without informing the President, a foreign leader to denigrate his foreign policy before the entire Congress. And, as of this week, they will learn that a new Senator from Arkansas got the signatures of 46 other Senators on a letter to the hardliners in Iran, urging that they reject the efforts of this President to keep them from building a nuclear weapon. They will read all this and wonder: what was it that made the Republican opposition so all-out contemptuous of an American president? What made it treat him as below respect, below the dignity historically accorded his office? They will look at the concerted effort of Republican legislative leaders in three dozen states to make it harder for minorities to vote, even claiming partisan victory when successful in the effort. They will then look at a picture of this president and, perhaps, get the idea that the age of Jim Crow managed to find a new habitat in the early 21st century Republican Party."-- Pundit Chris Matthews, posted March 13, 2015.
Comment: Matthews is demonizing Republicans, accusing them of racism.
"We're afraid of the police of what they can do and the power that we think that they wield as far as if something happens to me from a police officer, will it be covered up? Will there be justice for me, whatever? With the cops, we don't live in these neighborhoods, we just know what we see on television or what other people have told us. And we're just as frightened as these people, you know, but we have guns. And when you deal with human nature, human nature, not just this is an officer who's dealing with things professionally, he's still a human being. And when that fear kicks in, you never know what can happen. I just made an analogy the other day about how someone can tap you on the shoulder, scare the mess out of you and your first reaction is to turn and you might smack them. Imagine if you have a gun in your hand? It's the same thing. Now, With this thing that happened in Ferguson just now with the two officers, sad, very sad. I hate to say that that FBI report kind of played into this and these things shouldn't be happening, but you reap what you sow in a sense. If that FBI report would have never came out and the scandal or whatever and how they're basically giving people -- paying the city by giving people tickets and things like that. That is incredibly insane but we knew this already, this is common knowledge in the ghetto. When they come in the hood -- I mean, guys used to sit out and drink beer in public, stuff like that, never a problem at times. But when they are trying to make quotas everybody sticks it in their pocket."-- Rapper Method Man, posted March 13, 2015. His remarks concerned protests on March 13, 2015, against the Ferguson, MO, police department (which has been cited for racial discrimination by the federal government), protests in which two police officers were shot.
Comment: With the phrase, "you reap what you sow", Method Man seems to be explaining that someone (though it's not clear who) "brought it on themselves". Is he referring to the officers who were shot, or law enforcement in general, or someone or something else?
"I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest. But there was no excuse for criminal acts. And whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue. They're criminals, they need to be arrested. … What we have to make sure of is, is that the folks who disregard and disrespect the other side, people who resort to violence that they're marginalized … But they're not the majority. In the same way that you can't generalize about police officers who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly they do it professionally. You can't generalize about protesters who, it turns out, had some very legitimate grievances. The Justice Department report showed they were being stopped -- African-Americans were being stopped disproportionately, mainly so the city could raise money, even though these were unjust."-- President Barack Obama, March 12, 2015, on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. His remarks concerned protests that day against the Ferguson, MO, police department (which has been cited for racial discrimination by the federal government), protests in which two police officers were shot.
Comment: Obama is explaining the protests and anger at police, but not justifying the violence against the police. He is also saying that the violence against the police shouldn't detract – i.e., "distract"? – from the misbehavior of the police department.
“What is deeply concerning is that 47 Republican members decided to play politics with this because they don’t like this president. He is our president. He was elected twice by a majority of people in this country. They may not like that, but it’s a fact.”-- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), reported March 11, 2015, concerning a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: This is "politicizing" rhetoric and demonizing, accusing the Republicans of opposing Obama's negotiations with Iran simply because they don't like Obama.
STEWART: Now, Congressional subversion vis-a-vis foreign policy, how new is that?-- Pundit Jon Stewart, March 11, 2015, showing clips of politicians and pundits, contrasting their position on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2007 during the Iraq Surge (when Syria was aiding – or at least abetting – the Sunni insurgency in Iraq), with a letter sent by 47 Republican senators in March 2015 to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
NBC NEWS: Defied White House objections to her visit, Pelosi met this week with Bashar al-Assad, an attempt to open a dialogue with a leader the president has sought to isolate.
STEWART: Oh, (bleep). Democrats did the same thing to President Bush. You know what this means. Juxtapositional Soundbite! Juxtaposition Soundbite Theater! Yeah, we do work hard to make this (bleep) Interesting. So… How did the Democrats feel about Pelosi’s interference in foreign policy in 2007?
HILLARY CLINTON: I applaud Speaker Pelosi. I have long advocated engagement with countries in the region including Iran and Syria.
FEINSTEIN: Time has come for members to begin to go to some of these countries and establish their own dialogue.
MATTHEWS: Why did “The Washington Post” trashing Nancy Pelosi for doing basically what Jim Bakker and Lee Hamilton said to do, engage the neighborhood over there in the Middle East?
STEWART: And how do they feel about the Republican letter now?
HILLARY CLINTON: Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the Commander-in-chief.
ANCHOR: Democratic senator Diane Feinstein called it “A highly inappropriate and unprecedented incursion.”
MATTHEWS: Is this where we stand in this country where the opposition Republicans will try anything to scuttle a noble president’s effort to avoid a war?
STEWART: Both look like exactly the same people!
Comment: Stewart is pointing out the hypocrisy of several of these individuals, noting that they've taking inconsistent positions, though Stewart doesn't attempt to draw any conclusions about which position they've taken is the correct one (which would risk ad hominem reasoning).
Traitors-- Headline on the New York Daily News, March 10, 2015. The headline concerns a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: This is demonizing the Republican senators, and perhaps questioning their patriotism, as well. How does the letter amount to an effort to betray the country, any more than Obama's negotiations with Iran amount to an effort to provide Iran with a nuclear weapon?
"Remember the Republican congressman who yelled out, "you lie" during a State of the Union? How about inviting Bibi Netanyahu into the US Capitol so that he could undercut the President? Now for the trifecta: 47 Republican senators have written to hardliners in Tehran, asking them to scuttle the Iranian nuclear talks, explode them before a deal can even be reached, telling them whatever deal President Obama signs will be printed in disappearing ink, and can't be relied upon once he leaves office. Is this where we stand in this country, where the opposition Republicans will try anything to scuttle an American president's noble effort to avoid a war? … There's no principle involved with the opposition position on this thing. These 47 senators today, I don't know whether it was sedition under the law, whatever it was, but it was an attempt to bring down this president on foreign policy."-- Pundit Chris Matthews, March 10, 2015. His remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: Matthews is accusing Republicans of wanting to risk war in an effort to thwart Obama, which is just as much demonizing as when Obama's critics have accused Obama of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon. He also seems to be questioning their patriotism.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Isn't it time for Hillary Clinton to speak out? If you were advising her, should she address these issues?-- Pundit and political strategist James Carville, March 9, 2015, being interviewed by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell regarding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a non-governmental email server while she was in office.
JAMES CARVILLE: I wouldn't -- I don't know exactly -- it was legal. It wasn't against regulations. Colin Powell and Jeb Bush did the same thing, but oh, my God. Do you remember Whitewater? Do you remember Filegate? Do you remember Travelgate? Do you remember Pardongate? Do you remember Benghazi? All of this is just the same cockamamie stuff that we go through. The Times got something from right-wing talking points. They print the story. They've got to walk the story back. And everybody -- the chin scratchers go 'Oh, my God. The story's not right, but it says something larger about the Clintons.' This is never going to end. We've lived with this for 20 years. We'll live with it for the rest of the campaign. It's all about nothing. That's my view of the whole thing. … If I were a member of the press and I realized that right-wing talking points helped get us into a war, I would probably rethink the way I get my information.
MITCHELL: Isn't this a distraction that she does not need and that the Democrats are very concerned about?
CARVILLE: First of all, there is always going to be a distraction in Clintonland. There never is a time when there's not. I've lived through this for 20 years. Don't you think that next week there will be some other thing that they'll crop up?
Comment: What is the relevance of the claim that these accusations are "talking points"? What does it mean, and what does it tell us about whether the accusations are true? Just because an accusation is scripted or comes from a person's enemies doesn't prove that the accusations are false. Mitchell suggests the issue is a "distraction", but a distraction from what? Does being a distraction imply that the accusations aren't well-founded? Finally, Carville resorts to ad hominem reasoning, saying that, because Republicans (i.e., "right-wingers") were wrong about WMDs in Iraq, therefore they shouldn't be believed on the accusations about Clinton. But being wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in no way guarantees that they are wrong about Clinton. Think: how would Carville's argument work against someone who took the same position as the "right-wingers" on Clinton but not on WMDs? Would the accusation about Clinton suddenly stop being false?
"When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, we should put partisanship aside. Sadly, though, the judgment of my Republican colleagues seems to be clouded by their abhorrence of President Obama. Today Republican senators sent a letter to the Iranian regime’s leaders aimed at sabotaging these negotiations. Let’s be clear – Republicans are undermining our Commander-in-Chief while empowering the Ayatollahs. … But it is unprecedented for one political party to directly intervene in an international negotiation, with the sole goal of embarrassing the President. … This is a hard slap in the face of not only the United States and the world. This is not a time to undermine our Commander-in-Chief purely out of spite. … So I say to my Republican colleagues, do you so dislike President Obama that you would take this extraordinary step? Barack Obama is the President. I have agreed with him on certain things and I have disagreed with him on certain things, but he is my President and he is your President. It is time for Republicans to accept that the citizens of our country have twice elected President Obama by large margins. … Today’s unprecedented letter, originated by a United States Senator who took his oath of office merely 62 days ago, is the kind of pettiness that diminishes us as a country in the eyes of the world. Republicans need to find a way to get over their animosity of President Obama. I can only hope they do it sooner rather than later."-- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), March 9, 2015. His remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: Reid is accusing the GOP senators of having crass political, "partisan" motives for their actions. This is unfair, because there are legitimate reasons to at least question the deal being considered with Iran. As to the action being "unprecedented", there have been cases of members of Congress holding discussions with foreign heads of state in the past (Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2007 during the Iraq Surge (when Syria was aiding – or at least abetting – the Sunni insurgency in Iraq), and Reps. David Bonior (D-MI), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) went to Iraq in 2002 months prior to the US invasion of that country). Reid offers no evidence that the GOP's letter was motivated by hatred of Obama; is there any reason to think the actions of Pelosi et al were motivated by hatred of President George W. Bush?
Hillary's Watergate-- Synopsis of an article posted on Lucianne Goldberg's website, March 9, 2015.
It's nearly impossible to tell the truth when you never have.
Comment: This is demonizing, describing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as always lying.
Q [unidentified]: Can you comment on the Republican letter to Iran? Can you comment on that?-- President Barack Obama, March 9, 2015. His remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition. I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do -- if we do -- then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I'm confident we’ll be able to implement it. All right. Thank you very much.
Comment: This is guilt by association rhetoric. Just because GOP senators – like hardliners in Iran – are opposed to the nuclear deal currently in the works doesn't mean they agree with hardliners in Iran on everything. It doesn't even mean the GOP senators oppose the nuclear deal for the same reasons at the hardliners in Iran. Consider the same argument being turned on Obama: he, like Iran, is in favor of fighting the Islamic State (aka, ISIS). Does that mean he agrees with Iran on all other things, and supports Iran's position on terrorism or it's killing of US troops in Iraq in 2007-2008? Of course it doesn't.
PLANTE: After that scathing report about police conduct in Ferguson, do you think the police chief or others should be fired?-- President Barack Obama, during interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, posted March 8, 2015. The remarks concern a federal report on racial discrimination by the police department in Ferguson, MO.
OBAMA: Well, ultimately, those are going to be local decisions. But, the Justice Department, obviously, in light of this investigation and the well-documented instances of bias, is going to, I think, be in a position to press for action at that local level.
Comment: Obama is offering a "not my decision" evasion. Granted, it is not in the president's authority to fire a local police chief, but that doesn't mean he can't express any opinion about whether the police chief ought to be fired.
PLANTE: Hillary Clinton used an email system outside the US government for official business while she was Secretary of State … Were you disappointed?-- President Barack Obama, during interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, posted March 8, 2015. The remarks concern former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a non-governmental email server while she was in office.
OBAMA: Let me just say that, Hillary Clinton is and has been an outstanding public servant. She was a great Secretary of State for me. The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency, and that's why my emails, the BlackBerry that I carry around, all those records are available and archived. And I'm glad that Hillary has instructed that those emails that had to do with official business need to be disclosed.
Comment: This is an evasion. Obama never addresses the matter of whether Clinton's release of the emails at this time – a year after leaving office – is consistent with Obama's commitment to transparency and other standards of good conduct, or whether it is a failure (i.e., a "disappointment").
"The broader point, though, is not one specific law. It's, do we have a structure in place that allows enforcement of laws that, not only does the overwhelming number of Americans already agree with, but for which a lot of blood and sweat and tears was shed for us to secure. This is not a partisan issue. Historically, Republicans were at least as important as Democrats in achieving. Back then, there were a lot of Democrats who were the ones who were opposed to it. And Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush signed reauthorizations of this. This is something that should transcend party. This has to do with whether or not we believe in the basic notions of self-government upon which so much of our other rights and freedoms depend."-- President Barack Obama, during interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, posted March 8, 2015. The remarks concern Obama's support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
Comment: This is "politicizing" or perhaps "bipartisan" rhetoric. Just because there has been bipartisan support from something in the past doesn't mean there has to be now. There is a legitimate debate about how the VRA should apply to southern states 50 years after the end of segregation. It's demonizing to suggest that opponents of reauthorizing the VRA could only have crassly political motives, or are somehow opposed to the basic notions of self-government.