Monday, June 8, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: June 7, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
Ohio Governor John Kasich lambasted Clinton after a campaign stop in Concord, New Hampshire. “For her to say that there are Republicans who are deliberately trying to keep people from voting is just pure demagoguery,” he told reporters

Kasich added that he doesn't “know who put her up to this,'' but said the election should be focused on “who's going to improve America, not who's going to divide America better than somebody else.”
-- Governor John Kasich, June 5, 2015, as reported in a story on Bloomberg by Emily Greenhouse and Mark Niquette.

Comment: Kasich is using "demagogue" and "unify the country" rhetoric.

If the talks fail, no sweat. We’ll just apply tougher sanctions until the Iranians come crawling back to the table. This is currently the position of close to 100 percent of Republicans in Congress. If only it were so simple. In the real world that these muddle-headed hardliners apparently don’t inhabit, the multi-lateral sanctions that Obama so painstakingly built during his first term are crumbling. Russia is already selling a sophisticated missile defense system to Teheran and European corporations are itching to trade again with Iran. Congress could impose the harshest sanctions imaginable and Iran would easily circumvent them.
-- Pundit Jonathan Alter, June 4, 2015.

Comment: Alter is saying Republican critics of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran are divorced from reality.

"[Democrats] are the anti-American party."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, June 4, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio show.

Comment: Levin is demonizing Democrats, questioning their patriotism.

"Here in Texas, former Governor Rick Perry signed a law that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters. He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted, and said the lost protections were “outdated and unnecessary.” But Governor Perry is hardly alone in his crusade against voting rights. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote. In New Jersey, Governor Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting. And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000. Thankfully in 2004 a plan to purge even more voters was headed off. So today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? I believe every citizen has the right to vote. And I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote. I call on Republicans at all levels of government with all manner of ambition to stop fear mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they’re so scared of letting citizens have their say. Yes, this is about democracy. But it’s also about dignity. About the ability to stand up and say, yes, I am a citizen. I am an American. My voice counts. And no matter where you come from or what you look like or how much money you have, that means something. In fact, it means a lot."
-- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 4, 2015.

Comment: "Crusade" is a form of "war" rhetoric, though I think it's generally understood to be metaphorical. More worrying is that she is demonizing Republicans, accusing them of wanting to take people's right to vote away. She is also using "fear-mongering" rhetoric.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ: Are you kidding me? The Department of Justice gives themselves a five out of five on proactive disclosure. Do you really think anybody in the world believes the Dept. of Justice is at the top of their game, they've got an A+. Five for five?


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ: You live in la-la-land. You live in a fantasy land because it ain't working. I'm sure you're a very nice person, and I'm sure most of the people are very nice people. It ain't working. 550,000 times Americans put forward requests, and got a rejection saying it doesn't qualify. Do you think that is working? Do you think that is presumption of openness? Do you think that is proactive disclosure?
-- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), June 3, 2015, during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Comment: Chaffetz is saying Pustay is divorced from reality.

One supporter, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), described the legislation as “the most significant surveillance reform in decades.”

“We’ve done it by setting aside ideology, setting aside fear-mongering,” said Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’ll protect the security of the United States, but we’ll also protect the privacy of Americans.”
-- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), June 2, 2015, from a story that day by Mike DeBonis in The Washington Post. Leahy's remarks concerned the USA Freedom Act.

Comment: Leahy is using "ideologues" and "fear-mongering" rhetoric.

Think about how the Democratic presidential race is lining up. According to the Washington Post, “Hillary Rodham Clinton is running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades, with positions on issues … that would, in past elections, have put her at her party’s precarious left edge.” Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is running to her left. And Bernie Sanders is running to his left. And yet despite this, Democrats and liberals continue to act as if it’s Republicans and conservatives who are extreme, radical, revolutionary, on the fringe. Progressives have created an alternate reality in which they are moderate, temperate, centrist, the very model of reasonableness. They are blind to their own zeal and dogmatism, their own immoderation and intolerance. The Democratic Party was once a great party. It may be a great party again. But for now, it is a radical party — and growing more radical by the day.
-- Pundit Peter Wehner, June 2, 2015.

Comment: Wehner is using "extremist" rhetoric, essentially saying that Democrats are ideologues who are divorced from reality.

RUSH: Here's Tom in Orlando. Great to have you on the program, sir. I'm glad you waited. You're up next. Hello.

CALLER: Hey, listen, I walk dogs for a living. I'm out walking dogs, and you might hear 'em pulling me or yanking me, but I clean up after 'em, too. I call 'em little piles of liberals.

RUSH: (laughing) Yes.

CALLER: I clean 'em up every day, piles and piles of 'em.
-- A caller to the Rush Limbaugh show, June 1, 2015.

Comment: The caller is name-calling, using the language of disgust.

RUSH: Here's Ken in Miami. I'm glad you waited, sir. Great to have you on the program.

CALLER: The reason I called was that Republicans were elected to stop Obama. Obama publicly endorsed the USA Freedom Act, so shouldn't that be enough for the Republicans to be against it?

RUSH: Yeah. I feel your pain. The Republicans even acknowledged that they were elected to stop Obama, but then when they have the chance, they don't. Like in the trade deal. This transpacific partnership that still remains a big mystery. It's the Republicans that are gonna pull Obama -- it's caused me to be on the same page as Elizabeth Warren on this. Imagine how bad this thing must be. Actually, Elizabeth Warren's on the same page with me on this thing.
-- A caller to the Rush Limbaugh show, June 1, 2015.

Comment: The caller is saying Republicans have a mandate to stop Obama – or, perhaps, that they have not mandate to NOT stop Obama. The caller also argues that Obama's support for the USA Freedom Act is cause to oppose it, which is something of a reverse appeal to authority (and still invalid reasoning). Limbaugh notes that he agrees with his opponents on the transpacific trade deal, but doesn't seem to use that as an "ad hostes" argument.

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