Sunday, April 26, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: April 26, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind. After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s. … The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community.
-- Pundit Mark Lynas, April 24, 2015.

Comment: This is caricaturing people who disagree with the safety of genetically modified foods (GMOs) by saying they are against science. Also, this is "war" rhetoric.

KARL: And the memorandum of understanding that governed Hillary Clinton’s financial dealings, the financial dealings of the foundation and her husband’s speaking fees -- first of all, can you make that memorandum public? Because I don't think we’ve ever seen it.

EARNEST: This is a memorandum of understanding that resides at the State Department, so you can ask them about their policy for disclosing it or not.

KARL: Okay, we’ve asked for that. I’m wondering if you can -- I mean, this is -- I mean, in the interest of transparency this was supposed to be all about transparency. Can we see that memorandum?

EARNEST: I think the goal of the memorandum was to ensure that even the appearance of a conflict of interest was avoided by ensuring that there was greater transparency and greater knowledge about the contributions that were being accepted by the Clinton Foundation for the charitable work that they do. That was the goal of the memorandum.

KARL: I mean, essentially, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that she would make public the donations to the Clinton Foundation and also speaking fees for President Clinton. Isn’t it clear now that Secretary Clinton did not abide by her own memorandum of understanding with the President?

EARNEST: I’m not sure that that's clear, but you should go ask Secretary Clinton’s team about that.

KARL: Well, I’m asking you, because we now read that Uranium One, a foreign company, donated over $2 million to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State. That would seem to be a pretty clear violation of a memorandum of understanding as it’s been explained to us by you.

EARNEST: Well, again, for the details of this transaction I’d refer to either the State Department or Secretary Clinton’s team. Obviously, that's not something that was reviewed at this level.

KARL: And we also know that, previously, that a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government went to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. Again, isn’t this a clear violation of a memorandum of understanding that said that, first of all, there was going to be an end to foreign donations, and these donations would -- and donations to the foundation would be made public?

EARNEST: Again, I’d refer to you Secretary Clinton’s team about that.

KARL: Well, can you check in on this, as well? This is an understanding with the President, right? This was --

EARNEST: Yes, but you're asking about their compliance with this particular matter and whether it lived up to the standards that Secretary Clinton had set for herself. And so I’d refer you to Secretary Clinton’s team to render some judgment on that.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, April 23, 2015, being questioned by ABC news reporter Jonathan Karl regarding the financial dealings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was part of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is an evasion, perhaps of the "not my decision" sort. The memorandum in question was an understanding reached between Clinton and the Obama administration, so the administration can reasonably be asked whether she lived up to what it outlined. And, even if the standards were simply something Clinton outlined for herself, she did it while she was a member of Obama's cabinet and it concerned her behavior in that position. So, again, what reason does the Obama administration have for not weighing in on whether those standards were fulfilled?

Clint Eastwood doesn't hold a grudge against Michael Moore, and denies he ever threatened to kill the filmmaker.

Eastwood told a CinemaCon audience Wednesday that Moore, an outspoken critic of Eastwood's film American Sniper, even helped the film's record-breaking box office success.

"Everyone keeps saying I threatened to kill Michael Moore. That's not true," said Eastwood, before adding with a laugh. "It isn't a bad idea."

The comment received rousing applause and laughter from the audience filled with theater owners at the national convention.
-- USA Today story, April 22, 2015 by Bryan Alexander.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, though it's intended to be taken comedically.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has found herself on the defensive during her first presidential campaign visit to New Hampshire this year, pushing back against swirling questions about her family foundation.

Clinton is taking part in a discussion of jobs creation Tuesday with students and teachers at New Hampshire Technical Institute, a community college.

But she spent much of Monday dismissing accusations that foreign governments that made donations to the Clinton Foundation received preferential treatment from the State Department while she served in the Obama administration.

“We will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and attacks,” she told reporters during a stop in the liberal bastion of Keene. “I’m ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory.”

In her early campaign stops, Clinton has cast herself as above the political back-and-forth, vowing to change the harsh partisan tone in Washington. “I am tired of the mean-spiritedness in politics,” she told voters who gathered in a supporter’s living room in Claremont. “Enough with the attacks and the anger, let’s find answers together and figure out what we’re going to do.”
-- Associated Press story, April 21, 2015 – titled "Clinton: ‘I Am Tired Of The Mean-Spiritedness In Politics’" – concerning remarks made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 20, 2015.

Comment: This is "distractions" rhetoric. Also, Clinton is calling for a higher standard of political debate, but without admitting to any of her own acts of incivility, leaving the impression that it's others who are mostly responsible for uncivil discourse.

Sad to see the full, Olympics-quality flip-flop by a former boss today. I guess some people think they can do what Romney did in 08 + win.
-- Political consultant Liz Mair, April 20, 2015, in a Tweet. Her remarks concerned the past and current immigration policies of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: Mair is accusing Walker of hypocrisy.

KELLY: Obviously, you're trying to paint her as out of touch … what is the evidence of that?

WALKER: Well, I think you could look at a whole pattern of things – even the way she reacted to the emails. I mean, I think the fact, instead of saying "hey, this was a mistake", it was almost like when she stood in front of the UN and talked about this, like she couldn't believe that she actually had to respond to that. When you look at saying you were dead broke when you came out of the White House, when she had a book deal pending and two houses out there. When she talked about not having driven for 18 years. I think those are all things that everyday people really wonder, what is this that they're talking about. This is not someone who's connected with everyday Americans.
-- Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), April 20, 2015, being interviewed by Fox News' Megyn Kelly.

Comment: This is "out of touch" and "real Americans" rhetoric.

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