Sunday, June 21, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: June 21, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
In 1956, Georgia changed its state flag to incorporate the Confederate flag. In Texas, at least, there was a fad of naming schools after Robert E. Lee, another coded message.
-- Pundit Steve Chapman, June 21, 2015.

Comment: This is "code words" rhetoric.

"I know I'm getting all preachy, or religious, but our country has no choice. We can either look to man, and I'll tell you who is going to be there. Al Sharpton is going to be there. He's on a plane now. He's landing and he'll be at a prayer vigil today at noon. And do you think he is going to say 'let's all come together.' Do you think all the people who went into political mode last night when thy first heard about this shooting. Do you think they are going to bring us together? Or do you think they are going to use this community to drive a wedge? Let's hold the arms up of this community and let them show us how to heal."
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, June 19, 2015.

Comment: This is "politicizing" and "unify the country" rhetoric.

President Barack Obama is in a "race to politicize" the shooting in Charleston, SC.
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, June 18, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio show.

Comment: This is "politicizing" rhetoric.

This year is the 10th anniversary of a book called "The Republican War on Science." I could just as easily write a book called "The Democratic War on Science." The conflict conservatives have with science is mostly caused by religion. Some religious conservatives reject evolution, and some oppose stem cell research. But neither belief has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. … By contrast, the left's bad ideas about science do more harm. Many on the left -- including a few of my fellow libertarians -- are paranoid about genetically modified organisms. … The left's anti-science fears also prevent us from building new nuclear reactors, especially after Fukushima and Chernobyl.
-- Pundit John Stossel, June 17, 2015.

Comment: This is "anti-science" rhetoric, and "war" rhetoric. Stossel seems to be arguing that, if this sort of rhetoric is fair to use against conservatives, then it's hypocritical not to use it on liberals and progressives, too. I'm not sure if he's advocating the rhetoric as a means of retaliating in kind.

Now Islamic State, or ISIS, announces it has taken 86 more Christians hostage, their likely fate a grisly martyrdom. On the same day, June 8, at the G-7 summit, President Obama admitted that he lacks a “complete strategy” to defeat the Islamic extremists now bedeviling Iraq, much of the rest of the Middle East, and beyond. … We may begin to wonder: Is this irresolution or resolution? I do not like to ascribe darker motives but necessarily wonder what explains the commander in chief’s uncertain trumpet. … As it has with others on the front lines of the fight against ISIS and its like, America has been shortchanging de facto allies in the Middle East such as Iraq’s embattled Kurds, sending supplies the slow-or-no way through a balky Baghdad. The Egyptians have not received the F-16 jets for which they have already paid. The Apache helicopters they have received lack defense systems, and the U.S. tanks delivered to them lack spare parts. None of these people are pure enough for our president. … Can our administration not make a strategic choice between Egypt’s President Sisi and the Islamic State’s would-be caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? You do wonder.
-- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), June 17, 2015.

Comment: First, this is a distortion, as President Barack Obama never said there was no complete strategy to defeat ISIS. Rather, he said there was no complete strategy for training Iraqi troops. Second, it is one thing to say that Obama's strategy is inadequate, but it is demonizing to say it can only be explained by sinister motives. For instance, aid given to allies has sometimes later been used against America or its other allies, as was the case with Afghanistan's mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union, as well as Humvees given to the Iraqi Army that were effectively surrendered to ISIS.

"I've said Barack Obama has a screw loose, so does his wife."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, June 16, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio program. His remarks referred to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Comment: This is name-calling of the "stupid" variety.

“I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”
-- Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), June 16, 2015. Bush was referring to opinions expressed by Pope Francis in an encyclical titled "Laudato Si".

Comment: This is ad hominem reasoning. Why should anyone be disqualified from giving sound advice on economic policy (or any other policy, for that matter) simply based on being clergy? We should evaluate claims based on the content of what is said, not based on who says it.

"I think the bigger problem is not being personally rich. FDR was very wealthy, had his own train line to his own summer house and was a great progressive president. But the question is for all politicians, especially her today, when you live in a bubble of privilege, surrounded by and marinating in the world view of elites, business elites, rich donors, can you really connect with the policy concerns of people outside of the bubble? It's a challenge for her, for Bush, for everyone in Congress where everyone's net worth is getting higher and higher every year."
-- Pundit Nicholas Confessore, posted June 15, 2015.

Comment: This is "you don't know what it's like" rhetoric.

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