Political Polarization and Trust in Media Sources

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following chart is taken from a new report by the Pew Research Center, measuring public trust, by political ideology, in various media outlets.

Trust in News Sources

The takeaways from this survey are fairly obvious from the chart.

On the whole, UK-based news sources are trusted by a broader range of Americans than U.S. news sources.

Those who identify as consistently liberal, mostly liberal, and mixed in their political views trust a much broader spectrum of news outlets than those who identify as mostly conservative or consistently conservative.

Likewise, with the exception of The Blaze and FOX News, conservative news sources are more distrusted than trusted.

At one end of the spectrum, MSNBC’s The Ed Schultz Show is trusted by as narrow an audience as Al Jazeera, while, at the other end of the spectrum, Rush Limbaugh’s radio broadcast is trusted fewer listeners than even Glenn Beck’s and Sean Hannity’s broadcasts.

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Shamelessness, Not Moxie

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Jon Husted, who has done more than any secretary of state outside of Florida and North Carolina to restrict voting opportunities, is running ads touting his efforts to insure that all military personnel have had the opportunity to vote.

Husted’s efforts to restrict early voting and to disqualify provisional ballots just ahead of the 2012 presidential elections earned him considerable national attention, little of it positive. But, although he is standing for re-election this November, he has approached this election cycle in much the same blatantly partisan manner.

Here are the opening paragraphs of an article published by Plunderbund, a progressive blog, in May 2014:

“On February 25th, 2014 Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted released information about voting hours for the November 2014 election.   Husted said would not be allowing any early in-person voting during the evenings or on the two days before the election, and he would not be allowing…

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The Language and the Marketing of “Intelligence”

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I have recently posted an item on the controversy generated by the Department of Defense’s when it made available to its employees with Appalachian backgrounds a course on how to talk less obviously like hillbillies [http://academeblog.org/2014/08/31/do-you-speak-hillbilly-and-wish-that-you-didnt/]. And, even more recently, I have posted an item on the ways in which armed conflicts often involve battles over language and, alternatively,  the ways in which battles over language often suggest what we feel most threatened by [http://academeblog.org/2014/09/05/wars-on-language-and-the-language-of-wars/].

Here is another linguistic item related to the Department of Defense, one which relates as well to the series of eighteen posts that I recently finished called “National (In)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels” [http://academeblog.org/2014/08/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-49-50/; this final post in the series includes links to all of the others].

Perhaps you have at some point considered a career in espionage, or perhaps you have considered writing an espionage novel, or…

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You Can’t Get Off the Ballot in Kansas

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Chad Taylor, the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat in Kansas currently held by the long-serving but vulnerable Republican Senator Pat Roberts, recently announced that he was withdrawing from the race.

The move was widely seen as an attempt to improve the chances of the Independent candidate Greg Orman, who was consistently finishing ahead of Taylor in the polling and seemed to be competing with him for the support of many of the same voters. Roberts’ support is also being siphoned off by Randall Batson, the Libertarian candidate. So it was not very surprising that, following Taylor’s withdrawal from the race, Orman has surged significantly in the polls, rising in some polls to within a point or two of Roberts.

Now, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, has denied Democrat Chad Taylor’s request to be removed from the Kansas Senate ballot.

Kobach told reporters that, after evaluating state…

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Wars on Language and the Language of Wars

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following paragraphs open a recent post on Dennis Baron’s site The Web of Language:

“2014 marks the centennial of World War I, time to take a closer look at one of its offshoots, America’s little-known War on Language.

“In April, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. In addition to sending troops to fight in Europe, Americans waged war on the language of the enemy at home. German was the second most commonly-spoken language in America, and banning it seemed the way to stop German spies cold. Plus, immigrants had always been encouraged to switch from their mother tongue to English to signal their assimilation and their acceptance of American values. Now speaking English became a badge of patriotism as well, a way to prove that you were not a spy.

“The war on language was fought on two fronts, one legal, the other, in the schools. Its…

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What Passes for Victories in an Era of Political Gridlock

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Here is the opening of a recent item from The Hill [http://thehill.com/homenews/house/319443-immigration-advocates-claim-resounding-win-for-their-side-in-quiet-august]:

“Advocates for comprehensive immigration reform are claiming victory in the August recess. Their argument? They won because they didn’t lose.

“With legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled House, the push to overhaul the immigration system has not dominated the national headlines or evening news during the four weeks that Congress has been taking its annual summer vacation.

“Proponents of reform say they entered the recess worried that foes of the effort would flood town-hall meetings and stage large rallies, in a repeat of the Tea Party uprising that threw the push for healthcare reform off track in the summer of 2009.

“Despite efforts by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and others, that dynamic hasn’t materialized.

“’What’s more important than what we have seen is what we haven’t seen,’ said Jeremy Robbins, director of the Partnership for a New…

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When Congressional Staff Become Wikipedia Contributors

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following passage is excerpted from a news report from The Hill:

“For days, someone in the House had been editing multiple pages related to transgender issues that critics called ‘transphobic.’ The situation came to a head this week when the person changed the description of Orange Is the New Black actor Laverne Cox from ‘a real transgender woman’ to ‘a real man pretending to be a woman.’

“That move caused an administrator to ban anonymous edits from the IP address for a month.

“Gay rights group Human Rights Campaign called for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to launch an investigation into which office was responsible.

“The person behind the edits—presumably a congressional staffer—remains anonymous but said in one of the Wikipedia’s behind-the-scenes pages that they were promoting ‘official business that has been explicitly authourized [sic] by the Representative.’”

The full article can be found at: http://thehill.com/policy/technology/technology/215796-congress-turns-wikipedia-into-forum-for-pranks-battle#ixzz3BWFln7WS

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Some Concerning Statistics on Drones

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Several months ago, I posted this brief item:

Snarkiest Headline on the Torturously Slow Winding Down of the Afghanistan War

I receive a number of e-mailed newsletters from political blogs, and this was the headline of the daily newsletter from HuffPost Hill:

How Do You Ask a Drone to Be the Last Drone to Crash for a Mistake?

Then, in last week’s e-mail, I received the following news alert from the Washington Post:

More Than 400 U.S. Military Drones Crashed Since 2001

U.S. military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways over the past decade, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to a yearlong Washington Post investigation.

Documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and…

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You Might Just as Well Try to Rehabilitate Charles Manson

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Here’s a news item that you may have missed:

“Beachgoers in New York and New Jersey were outraged when they saw a plane towing a banner with swastika imagery Saturday afternoon.

“Promoting the Web site proswastika.org, an organization called The International Raelian Movement aimed to reclaim the swastika symbol, saying it was ‘hijacked by the Nazis.’

“The plane flew over Coney Island and Long Beach as part of what the group has dubbed Swastika Rehabilitation Week 2014 to promote peace. The banner contained a swastika, Star of David and a peace sign.

“Similar events have occurred in Miami, London and Brisbane, Australia.”

Other sources have reported that, as part of this international effort to rehabilitate this symbol of hate, selected tattoo parlors have also been offering reduced prices on tattoos featuring swastikas.

At first when I read these news items, I thought that all of this was either another…

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Louis Gohmert Said Something Stupid–Again

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert has jumped on the Far Right bandwagon that has become very crowded with those eager to denounce President Obama’s most recent “failure of leadership”: specifically, his “failure” to visit the U.S.-Mexican border while he was in Texas to discuss possible responses to the “flood” of desperate Central American children who are now overwhelming the available detention centers in the U.S.

Gohmert stated in an interview on FOX News: “’You remember the abuse that President Bush took when that picture came to light of him looking out the window of the plane down at New Orleans after Katrina? Well, this president won’t even look out the window.’”

I am certain that Gohmert thinks that this was a very witty attack on President Obama, a comparison that makes him look worse than George W. Bush and therefore makes George W. Bush look better by comparison–even if the comparison…

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