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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

The ethanol effect: When alt fuels go bad

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Iowa grows corn. Miles and miles and miles of it. We don’t eat it, of course—it’s not that kind. We feed it to cattle and hogs, and we send it by the trainload to processing plants that make it into that “high-fructose corn syrup” that’s in everything else we eat. Read the labels in your pantry.

And, this year especially (the angst of the times being as it is), we plant corn in every available corner in order to save the planet (and make pretty good money) by selling it to ethanol plants.

Trouble is, it’s a little like tobacco and Kentucky: government subsidies contribute to the growth of something that we’d probably be better off without. Check out MotherJones excellent explanation:

clipped from www.motherjones.com
EVERYTHING ABOUT ETHANOL IS GOOD, GOOD, GOOD,” crows Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, echoing the conventional wisdom that corn-based ethanol will help us kick the oil habit, line the pockets of farmers, and usher in a new era of guilt-free motoring. But despite the wishes of Iowans (and the candidates courting them) the “dot-corn bubble” is too good to be true.

Click the thumbnail below to see the larger image
The Ethanol Effect
  blog it

And it’s impact on soil conservation is not good.

Corn is a hot potato here in Iowa. Though not a lot of us are still farmers, our friends, our industry, and our economy are linked to corn in a big way. But in the long run, it’ll be a bust. We need another scheme for agriculture, and we need pioneers and politicians and professors who’ll help us get there.


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Written by Monte

April 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Environment, Iowa, Politics

A better look at Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity Church

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So OK: let’s really look at Barack Obama’s pastor and church

Here are excerpts from people in a position to offer an informed view. The emphases are mine.

First, Prof. Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago, one of America’s most distinguished professors of religion, quoted at the urban legends debunker Snopes.com:

Martin E. MartyTrinity is the largest congregation in the whole United Church of Christ, the ex-Congregational (think Jonathan Edwards) and Reformed (think Reinhold Niebuhr) mainline church body. Trinity’s rubric is “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.” So far as I can tell Trinity shapes a kind of ellipse around these two “centers,” neither of which makes sense without the other.

This you would never know from the slanders of its enemies or the incomprehension and naiveté of some reporters who lack background in the civil rights and African-American movements of several decades ago, a background out of which Trinity’s stirrings first rose and on which it transformatively trades. So Trinity is “Africentric,” and deals internationally and ecumenically with the heritage of “black is beautiful.”

Despite what one sometimes hears, Wright and his parishioners, an 8,000-member mingling of everyone from the disadvantaged to the middle class, and not a few shakers and movers in Chicago, are “keepin’ the faith.” To those in range of Chicago TV I’d recommend a watching of Trinity’s Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything “cultic” or “sectarian” about them.

More important, for Trinity, being “unashamedly black” does not mean being “anti-white.” My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.

Second, Dean Snyder, the current senior minister of the Foundry United Methodist Churchthe church the Clintons attended while living in the White House:

Dean Snyder“The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader whom I have heard speak a number of times,” Snyder wrote. “He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his
congregation, and the African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and violence.

Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear. Those of us who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr. Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize.”

A few entertainer/commenter types (not to mention Candidate Clinton) have distorted the record of this church and pastor in an effort to smear Mr. Obama. Their criticism doesn’t stand up under more careful – and less partisan – examination.

Thanks for reading!


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Written by Monte

March 26, 2008 at 7:19 pm

US shame in the making, part 2

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Josh wrote to question the thesis of US shame in the making: Vote on Iraq oil law nears.  I’ll use this post to accumulate evidence. It may change from day to day.

This has been a hidden story. Apparently language de-nationalizing the Iraqi oil industry is not found in the US benchmark itself, but in the Iraqi draft bill. And it looks like that draft may be the only oil bill under consideration there (you’ll read of it as “the Iraqi hydrocarbon law,” below). Hence, forcing an oil benchmark amounts to a US oil industry bonanza at the expense of the Iraqi people. Follow the links for details:

[Tuesday, June 12: Finally the story is getting into the mainstream media. See How Will Iraq Share the Oil? for a helpful discussion from the Christian Science Monitor:

“While we can’t confirm it, there are enough reports out there that appear to indicate that undue, unfair preference and the influence of our oil companies are part of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law, and if that is true, that is not correct,” says Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania, a former admiral and defense adviser to the Clinton administration.]

Next, Ann Wright, retired Army colonel and former diplomat, writes at Truthout, in a post called What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq’s Oil for US Companies:

If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms – given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)

And Congressman Kucinich, quoted from a press release.

“There has been a broad deception about the content of the hydrocarbon law, a deception which has taken in members of Congress and the media. Misdescribed tactically as a revenue sharing plan, it is in fact a radical plan to privatize Iraq’s oil.

The law before the Iraq Parliament contains 3 vague lines about revenue sharing and 33 solid pages of a complex legal restructuring, facilitating the privatization of Iraq’s oil resources. The sharing will not be 1/3 of 100%. The sharing is more likely to be 1/3 of 20% at most, after private oil interests take their cut. The stage is being set for theft on a historic scale. […]
FULL TEXT


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Written by Monte

June 11, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism

1/3 of China religious?

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Beijing shoppersA quote from the BBC (click the title to see the story):

Survey finds 300m China believers

A poll of 4,500 people by Shanghai university professors found 31.4% of people above the age of 16 considered themselves as religious. This suggests 300 million people nationwide could be religious, compared to the official figure of 100 million. … The survey found that Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity and Islam are the country’s five major religions – China considers Catholicism as separate to Christianity, which covers Protestantism. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 9, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Religion