Sunday, May 31, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: May 31, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"The left is at war with America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, May 29, 2015, 3rd hour of his radio show.

Comment: This is "war" rhetoric.

"I don't think the guy has a soul. I said it and I mean it."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, May 28, 2015, 2nd hour of his radio show, referring to President Barack Obama, and responding to White House spokesman Josh Earnest's remarks that day that, "The United States is not going to be responsible for securing the security situation inside of Iraq".

Comment: Levin is demonizing – or, perhaps, dehumanizing – Obama. Is it really the case that the only explanation for Obama's Iraq policy that he doesn't care about human suffering (i.e., that he has no soul)? Consider, as a conservative, Levin opposes a lot of welfare spending that aids the poor and many minorities; is the only explanation for Levin's position that he doesn't care about the suffering of the poor and minorities? Would that be any more unfair than his remarks about Obama?

RUSH: The host says to David Shipler, the author of Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword, "You write about people like Rush Limbaugh using racial imagery to criticize Obama with no repercussions. But you write in the book about an ice cream store employee who put racial epithets of Obama online and was fired. One's punished, one is rewarded," meaning me. Here's the reply.

SHIPLER: Let's face it, it's money. Rush Limbaugh does make millions of dollars, and he brings in -- has a huge audience. I think he's America's master propagandist. If you use the definition of propaganda that I heard when I was a Moscow correspondent from a Soviet professor, who described it as a truth, a truth, a truth, and then a lie. You weave in facts that are indisputable, or then half facts, semi-truths, and then by the time you got the listener engaged, you put in a lie or a semi-lie. I love to listen to Rush Limbaugh, actually. I do listen to him when I'm driving at the right time. There's practically no place in the country where you can't pick him up in the early afternoon because I really want to know how he does this. It's very clever.

RUSH: Can you imagine this, a full-fledged leftist admitting or claiming that he doesn't know how to lie and massage things to move his agenda forward? This is projection. This is exactly what these guys do. They are the ones that propagandize, and worse than that, they indoctrinate, which is what public and private education is becoming, and certainly university education. It's not mind opening, it's mind closing in its indoctrination.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, May 27, 2015, regarding remarks made about him by pundit David Shipler posted May 26, 2015.

Comment: Both Limbaugh and Shipler are resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature in accusing one another of dishonesty (perhaps "big lie" theory). Shipler is also accusing Limbaugh of racism.

RAMOS: You've said that Americans should fear immigrants more than ISIS.


RAMOS: Most immigrants are not terrorists, not criminals –

COULTER: I have a little tip for you. If you don't want to be killed by ISIS, don't go to Syria. If you don't want to be killed by a Mexican, there's nothing I can tell you.
-- Pundit Ann Coulter, May 26, 2015, during interview with Univision's Jorge Ramos.

Comment: Coulter's point is that, if Americans want to avoid being killed by a member of ISIS (aka, Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) then all they have to do is not go to Syria. But, to avoid being killed by a Mexican immigrant who is already in America, there's no such easy answer. However, the same argument could be made about avoiding being killed by a Polish, or Vietnamese immigrant (whether they're here legally or not), so why pick out Mexican immigrants in particular? Also, US citizens also sometimes kill Americans, and there's just as little solution for Americans to avoid that, right?

"He wants to give Iran a nuclear weapon."
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, May 26, 2015, referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is demonizing. Just because Obama isn't negotiating with Iran the way Hannity would, does that mean Obama wants Iran to get nuclear weapons? If so, why did he authorize the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran's nuclear program? Would Hannity think it fair if someone said, "Hannity doesn't support as much social welfare spending as I do; therefore, he wants poor people to starve"?

HARWOOD: Have you seen some of the quotations from people on Wall Street, people in business? Some have even likened the progressive Democratic crusade to Hitler's Germany hunting down the Jews.

SANDERS: It's sick. And I think these people are so greedy, they're so out of touch with reality, that they can come up and say that. They think they own the world. What a disgusting remark. I'm sorry to have to tell them, they live in the United States, they benefit from the United States, we have kids who are hungry in this country. We have people who are working two, three, four jobs, who can't send their kids to college. You know what? Sorry, you're all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes. If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.

HARWOOD: When you think about 90 percent, you don't think that's obviously too high?

SANDERS: No. That's not 90 percent of your income, you know? That's the marginal. I'm sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I'm not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it's the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you.

HARWOOD: It came out in disclosure forms the other day that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, in the last 16 months, have made $30 million. What does that kind of money do to a politician's perspective on the struggles you were just talking about? Does it make it difficult for recipients of that kind of income to take on the system?

SANDERS: Well, theoretically, you could be a multibillionaire and, in fact, be very concerned about the issues of working people. Theoretically, that's true. I think sometimes what can happen is that—it's not just the Clintons—when you hustle money like that, you don't sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you're spending—I don't know what they spend—hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That's the world that you're accustomed to, and that's the world view that you adopt. You're not worrying about a kid three blocks away from here whose mom can't afford to feed him. So yes, I think that can isolate you—that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), posted May 26, 2015, during interview with CNBC's John Harwood.

Comment: First, there's no citation provided for Harwood's claim that today's progressive movement has been compared to the Nazis hunting down Jews, but such a comparison would require clarification at the very least, given that people on Wall Street aren't being sent to concentration camps. Second, Sanders engages in "out of touch" rhetoric. Third, Sanders believes it's unfair to call his tax policy "radical" given that it is no different from the tax policy in place under President Eisenhower. But he does think it's fair to disparage opponents of his tax policy "nut types". Lastly, Sanders engages in "you don't know what it's like" rhetoric.

Just look at ads that fill the spaces between content on The Blaze network: In one hour, I counted spots for Goldline, emergency food preparedness supplies, steel safes, solar energy emergency generators, a DVD series on conceal carry practices, a manpurse with a hidden holster (it’s called “The Stalker”—fun!), Lifelock identity protection and a self-defense how-to book that promises to teach “the SECRET to defeating bigger, stronger attackers with only your bare hands” (in case you lose The Stalker, I guess!) [Glenn] Beck isn’t an entertainer, he’s a merchant of fear, and whatever ideological pitch he makes is mostly a wrapper for that terror.
-- Pundit Ana Marie Cox, May 25, 2015.

Comment: Cox is engaging in "fear-mongering" rhetoric.

On immigration, Hillary Clinton is a work in progress – and has been since she entered politics more than a dozen years ago. Depending on which audience she is trying to please, she assumes one of two conflicting personas: Restrictionist Hillary or Reform Hillary. In 2003, Restrictionist Hillary told conservative radio host John Grambling that she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants” and that “we’ve got to do more at our borders.” … Then there is Reform Hillary, who has emerged recently now that Clinton is once again running for president and needs the support of Latino voters who favor a more honest and more common-sense approach to the problem. … Reform Hillary celebrated Cinco de Mayo by speaking at a mostly Latino high school in Las Vegas, where she called for illegal immigrants to be given “a path to full and equal citizenship.” She also accused Republicans who support legal status for the undocumented but not citizenship of pushing “second-class status.” But what was Clinton pushing? A poison pill. “Full and equal citizenship” will never get through Congress. So by setting the bar impossibly high, Reform Hillary all but ensures nothing will be done. This suits her fine because she doesn’t want to be known as a pro-amnesty Democrat any more than Obama did, and she’d rather have a wedge issue than a workable solution.
-- Pundit Ruben Navarrette, May 24, 2015.

Comment: First, Navarrette is accusing Clinton of flip-flopping. Second, he is engaging in "common sense" rhetoric. Third, he seems to be demonizing those who are "restrictionists" as not being in favor of honesty and common sense. Lastly, he resorts to "wedge issue" rhetoric.


No comments: