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McCain/Palin campaign rebuked: “incendiary mendacity”

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Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Ninety-one college and university professors of communications—the people who write the textbooks that teach our kids how to tell truth from propaganda—have called out the McCain/Palin campaign for deceptive and inflammatory statements.

Yesterday, they wrote:

… the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Surely it is not wise to elect people who claim to be “country first” yet, for their own benefit, inflame the sad fears and racial divisions that still lie among us.  We need presidents who lead the way against those things.

Statement Concerning Recent Discourse of the McCain/Palin Campaign

October 23, 2008

This statement is signed by research faculty of communication programs from across the nation. We speak as concerned educators and scholars of communication but do not claim to speak for our home institutions.

We wish to express our great concern over unethical communication behavior that threatens to dominate the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Both major campaigns have been criticized by fact-checking organizations for prevarications. We call on both campaigns to halt blatant misrepresentations of their opponent’s positions.  [Bravo! – Monte]

It would be misleading, however, to imply that since “both sides do it” there is no qualitative difference worth noting. In recent weeks, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Making decisions in a democracy requires an informed electorate. The health of our democracy and our ability to make a good decision about who should lead our nation require the very best in communication practices, not the worst.

Media investigations have debunked the notion that Senator Obama “worked closely” or “palled around” with “terrorist” Bill Ayers. Governor Palin cited a New York Times article that actually contradicts her claim by noting “the two men do not appear to have been close.” Nonetheless, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to repeat the canard, most recently with so-called “robocalls” in battleground states.[i]

The McCain/Palin ticket now describes the Obama/Biden tax plan with such terms as “socialist” and “welfare.” Such descriptions are false. Even if they were not, they would apply equally to the McCain/Palin tax proposals.[ii]

The repeated use of “Joe the Plumber” as a symbol by the McCain/Palin ticket is more deceptive than truthful. Despite the fact that media reports have revealed that the person is not a licensed plumber, owes back taxes, and his current personal income tax would decrease under the Obama tax plan, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to take Obama’s words to Joe out of context to repeat the false claim that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class and thus hurt the American Dream.[iii]

Such discourse is inflammatory as well as deceptive. Behind in the polls, the McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates now appear intent on marking Obama as “other” to elicit racist fears. Senator McCain’s odd question “Who is Barack Obama?” is answered by Governor Palin’s assertion that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do,” along with her comment “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic. . . pro-America areas of this great nation.”

We see an effort to color code the election as between an urban, African-American Obama falsely linked to terms like “terrorist,” “unpatriotic,” and “welfare” versus small town, white, “patriotic” Americans like the mythical Joe the Plumber. “Intended” or not, the message is getting through, as reports have emerged of ugly scenes at some Republican rallies and racists hanging Obama in effigy in Oregon and Ohio. In an echo of McCarthyism, Representative Michelle Bachmann has called for investigations into un-American members of Congress, pointing to Senator Obama as the prime suspect. Speaking to warm up the crowd before a McCain rally, Representative Robin Hayes continued the theme: “Folks, there’s a real America, and liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” The official website of the Sacramento County Republican Party compared Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and urged people to “Waterboard Barack Obama.” The October newsletter of the Chaffey Community Republican Women in California depicts Obama on a food stamp surrounded by a watermelon, ribs, and a bucket of fried chicken. The McCain/Palin campaign has not repudiated such actions taken on its behalf, nor has it done enough to respond to reprehensible behavior at rallies.[iv]

The McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates, of course, will deny explicit racism. But their purposeful repetition of inflammatory false statements is unethical and stokes the fires of racism.

The code of ethical conduct for the National Communication Association reads in part We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason as essential to the integrity of communication.”[v] We believe the integrity of political communication in our nation is being seriously threatened and we call on the McCain/Palin campaign to put a stop to such efforts immediately.

To see the endnotes and a list of the signers, click here.


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Written by Monte

October 23, 2008 at 11:32 pm

Which states have the most Medicaid-funded births?

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I wonder why it is that the states that most decry government spending are the ones that take the most federal money per capita to deliver their babies? Note Huckabee’s Arkansas and Palin’s Alaska and McCain’s Arizona and Barbour’s Mississippi and Jindal’s Louisiana and Demint’s S. Carolina:
clipped from facts.kff.org

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Dazzling: Olbermann indicts elected officials on healthcare-funded campaigns

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Watch this video!

Keith Olbermann reveals the numbers behind those Senators and Congressmen and women who have funded their elections with health industry money, and who now deliver the goods by killing the public option.

I believe that Iowa’s own Chuck Grassley (who lately has joined in the “death panels” fabrication)  is among the top ten recipients of health industry contributions in the Senate.  Sen. Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, received more campaign money from the industry than from his home state.

The public option is the single greatest cost-cutting measure of this entire process.  It creates competition for an industry that operates in near-monopoly conditions. It takes the need to make a profit out of the choices doctors offer their patients.

It is good for Americans but bad for health industry millionaires.  And the CEOs are calling in their debts.

The politicians who rode industry money into office know what’s at stake:  choke the the public option, or find other money to fund your re-election.

Write your elected officials today.  Tell them you want the option to choose insurance that doesn’t connect care with profits.  You can find their addresses in the right sidebar, under the heading “E-mail.”

They’ve got the money.  But we cast the votes.

sig1_100w

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The irony of the “empathy” hearings

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From the party of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Antonin Scalia:

Lectures on the peril of emotional reasoning

Maureen Dowd writes:
clipped from www.nytimes.com
Like the president who picked her, Sotomayor has been a model of professorial rationality. … it’s delicious watching Republicans go after Democrats for being too emotional and irrational
W. and Dick Cheney made all their bad decisions about Iraq, W.M.D.’s, domestic surveillance, torture, rendition and secret hit squads from the gut, based on false intuitions, fear, paranoia and revenge.
Sarah Palin is the definition of irrational, a volatile and scattered country-music queen without the music. Her Republican fans defend her lack of application and intellect, happy to settle for her emotional electricity.
Republican Lindsey Graham read Sotomayor some anonymous comments made by lawyers about her, complaining that she was “temperamental,” “nasty,” “a bit of a bully.” Then he patronizingly lectured her about how this was the moment for “self-reflection.” Maybe Graham thinks Nino Scalia has those traits covered.
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Gunmen prove Homeland Security right

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The Department of Homeland Security is formed ...

On April 7, the Dept of Homeland Security issued a report warning of the dangers of domestic terrorism from right-wing extremists.

Outraged, some leading conservatives demanded apologies and terminations.

A month later, the assassinations began.

Follow the story:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
April 7, 2009: The Department of Homeland Security releases a nine-page assessment document entitled “Rightwing Extremism […] [It] warned of “a heightened level of extremist paranoia” and “lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
April 14, 2009: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich:

The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired […]

April 14, 2009: Conservative commentator Sean Hannity intentionally misrepresents the focus of the assessment as targetting “people who have pro-life bumper stickers.”
April 14, 2009: Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin:

The “report” … was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real. …By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.

April 15, 2009: House Republican leader John Boehner demands an apology from the Department of Homeland Security for the report.

May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller [killed in Wichita church] … suspect apprehended is a right-wing extremist […]

June 10, 2009: [Lone gunman opens fire at] U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum … suspected shooter is a right-wing extremist […]

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Far-right speakers have continually pooh-poohed the idea that their over-blown exaggerations could stimulate some to actual violence.
The evidence is on the table.

Enough. Time to stop crying “socialism” (Sarah Palin) andif somebody doesn’t stop him, America will cease to exist… and Obama is “the focus of evil” (Alan Keyes) and “… the tree of liberty will be fed with the blood of tyrants and patriots. You are the patriots.” (Rep. Michael McCaul). Time for Republicans to utterly reject demagogues and their hyperbole – for what right-winger would believe a Democrat’s plea?

Just as the world waited to hear from reasonable Muslims after 9/11, our nation should hear now from reasonable conservatives, who should be vigorous in their denunciations of the irresponsible, emotional, and self-serving claims of Limbaugh, Hannity, Gingrich, Palin, Malkin, Boehner and the lot.

Stop it. Tragedy has begun.

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